Thursday, January 10, 2013

I'm Gonna Get Some Concrete Mix And Fill Your Back Door Up With Bricks

Time Lord or detective? It's not quite Sophie's Choice, admittedly, but asking Doctor Who and Sherlock supremo The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat to decide between the two characters who have defined his career is still a jolly tough one. 'I think I'd want to be The Doctor because he's gonna live a lot longer – obviously that's a tremendous advantage,' yer actual Moffat his very self was quoted as saying by the Radio Times. 'Also, I think The Doctor is fundamentally quite happy and I think Sherlock Holmes isn't as content – somehow he's striving for something he won't have. I think, probably, in the dark of night, The Doctor is probably slightly happier. I'm wondering if that's true now – I'm wondering if he is actually happier,' continued Moffat, speaking during a video interview with his son Joshua. 'I'm talking myself out of that answer already. Okay, I think they're probably equally demented when they're on their own but of the two of them only one has got a fully functioning space-time machine so I'm going with that guy.' Hard luck, Sherlock. Always the bridesmaid, eh? Yer actual Moffat also says that he is terrified by having to write Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary episode. Steven admitted that he was 'feeling the pressure' to pull out all the stops to please fans of the Time Lord. He said: 'I'm writing the fiftieth anniversary episode right now and it's half exciting and it's half absolutely terrifying. I feel tremendous pressure not to let people down. So that's very hard. You can't please everybody all the time and it's a mistake in a way to try. But you don't want anybody to feel let down by a big anniversary episode.'

The broadcaster Andrew Marr is recovering in hospital after suffering a stroke, the BBC has confirmed. The journalist and television presenter was taken ill on Tuesday, the corporation said in a statement. 'The hospital confirmed he has had a stroke. His doctors say he is responding to treatment,' it said. His programmes, The Andrew Marr Show on BBc1 and Radio 4's Start The Week will continue to be broadcast with guest presenters in his absence. The statement added: 'His family have asked for their privacy to be respected as he recovers. His colleagues and the whole BBC wish him a speedy recovery.' Born in Glasgow, Marr began his career in journalism on the Scotsman newspaper in 1981, later moving to London to become its political correspondent. He was part of the team which launched the Independent in 1986, later becoming its editor. He joined the BBC as political editor, in May 2000. Marr is married to the journalist Jackie Ashley and has three children. Everyone at From The North wishes Andrew a speedy recovery.

As mentioned in one of last week's blog updates, former national heart-throb David Tennant and his wife, Georgia Moffett, are expecting their second child together. The news was revealed on The Jonathan Ross Show last Saturday. During the show, David also talked about how he is still recognised as The Doctor in spite of four years away from the role: 'It does carry on, yeah, because people are enthusiastic about it, it's one of those shows that people love. It becomes part of what you do, it's not a difficult thing to deal with.' Talking about filming Spies of Warsaw, he commented on how wide-reaching his recognition is: 'I didn't realise Doctor Who plays in Poland – but it obviously does. I've had a few fans coming up, wanting to say hello, or get a photograph or a signature. It doesn't happen quite on the scale that it happens at home – but then I don't think I've been to a country yet where I haven't met someone who's a Doctor Who fan. Except maybe Uganda.' Well, we'll have to put that right.

A baking-tray full of comics are to take part in a charity series of The Great British Bake Off. Jo Brand, Ed Byrne, Stephen K Amos and Bob Mortimer are among the contestants taking part in a four-part Comic Relief special over consecutive nights from 21 January. The BBC will also be using the show to raise the profile of double-act Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver, who have a second series of their eponymous (and, actually, half-way decent) sketch show on the way, as the pair will also be among the celebrity bakers. Despite the fact that hardly anybody has heard of them. The line-up is completed by Warwick Davis, Duncan Bannatyne, Paralympic gold medalist Ellie Simmonds, Olympian and Superstars winner Helen Glover, journalist Martha Kearney and TV presenters Andy Akinwolere, Simon Reeve, Julia Bradbury, Kirsty Wark and Claudia Winkleman. The series will be hosted by Mel Giedroyc – without her usual partner Sue Perkins – and judged by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.

Boosted by the London Olympics and three helpings of Big Brother (respectively), BBC1 and Channel Five were the only two of the five main TV channels to increase their share of the audience in 2012. The London Olympics, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Euro 2012 football championships, plus some massive hits dramas like Sherlock and Call The Midwife, and a very good Christmas period all combined to boost BBC1's all-day share of the audience from 20.7 per cent to 21.3 per cent, reversing a steady annual decline that stretches back to the mid 1990s. BBC1 performed even better in peaktime, with a 23.5 per cent share of viewing between 6pm and 10.30pm, up from 22.6 per cent last year. Richard Desmond's Channel Five was also up, albeit marginally, in a year in which its summer schedule was dominated by Big Brother, bookended by two z-list celebrity editions of the long-running reality show. Channel Five's all-day share of the audience (including Channel Five+1) grew from 4.4 per cent to 4.5 per cent, with its peaktime share up from 4.3 per cent to 4.4 per cent. It was the channel's first uplift, on both measures, since 2004. With the growth in digital TV and multichannel viewing, all five of the mainstream channels have been in long-term decline. In relative terms BBC2 suffered the biggest fall, its all-day share slipping from 6.6 per cent to 6.1 per cent in 2012, almost half the 11.4 per cent share it had ten years ago. In peak, BBC2's share fell from 7.8 per cent to 7.3 [er cent. It is perhaps no coincidence that the channel missed out on the corporation's Olympic ratings bonanza, with BBC1 and BBC3 carrying London 2012 coverage while regular programming shifted to BBC2 in the evenings. ITV's all-day share, including ITV+1, fell from 16.6 per cent to 15.7 per cent. The ITV flagship channel's share has fallen every year since 1990, when it had forty four per cent of all TV viewing. The network's peaktime share of the audience fell from 21.9 per cent to 20.6 per cent. Five years ago ITV was ahead of BBC1 in peak, with 24.5 per cent in 2007 compared to BBC1's 23.9 per cent. Channel Four's all-day share fell from 6.8 per cent to 6.5 per cent, and from seven per cent to 6.7 per cent in peak. BBC1's audience gains are the biggest of any channel in the last ten years. Its lead over ITV (excluding ITV+1) is its biggest on record, of 6.4 per cent. Without its timeshifted channel, ITV's all-day share was 14.9 per cent, down from sixteen per cent in 2011. In peak, it had 19.9 per cent of the audience, down from 21.2 per cent. Channel Four said its portfolio of channels, which includes E4, More4, Film4 and Channel 4Seven, which launched last July, was only marginally down, with an 11.51 per cent share in 2012 against 11.58 per cent in 2011. The BBC said BBC1's audience share was already up year-on-year before the Queen's Diamond Jubilee kicked-off its extraordinary run of summer programming in June. BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said: 'The Olympics were undoubtedly a centrepiece moment for us but it was seventeen days out of three hundred and sixty five and you can't get that growth, and growth in peak, without a strong year overall.' Cohen pointed to some 'big new comedies with Mrs Brown's Boys and Miranda, a really strong year for Strictly Come Dancing and factual programmes doing very well for us across the board.' He also said the channel had made a 'big impact' with the first series of Saturday night talent show The Voice, although ratings for the show fell away somewhat after initially overshadowing ITV's Britain's Got Talent, it still pulled in an average of nine million punters across the series. Cohen said BBC1 was also in a 'very strong place' with its drama offerings, including Last Tango In Halifax and Death In Paradise, which returned this week for a second series with nearly seven million viewers. He said the challenge was to look for new factual entertainment hits to play in peaktime. 'We continue to look for new factual and factual entertainment hits that can sit alongside The Apprentice, MasterChef and Who Do You Think You Are,' he added.

Celebrity Big Brother's first eviction show brought in a solid overnight audience on Wednesday, early viewing figures indicate. Channel Five's ninety-minute broadcast of the reality show, culminating in Paula Hamilton's departure, pulled in 2.1m sad, lonely victims of society from 9pm, which broadly matches the numbers for the opening eviction programme from last year's series. Celebrity Big Brother pipped Channel Four's One Born Every Minute, which held 2.07m in the 9pm hour - rating as the broadcaster's most-watched show of the night. However, the Richard Desmond network lost out to BBC2, which also managed 2.1m for 8pm's Stargazing Live. Some 1.63m stayed on after 9.30pm on BBC2 for World's Most Dangerous Roads. Midsomer Murders boosted ITV by rising nearly six hundred thousand punters week-on-week to 5.69m between 8pm and 10pm, denting David Attenborough's Africa, which, although down on last week's opening episode, still had a slot-winning audience of 5.75m.

Top of the Pops reruns will continue on the BBC, despite the decision to shelve a number of episodes in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal last year. A spokeswoman for BBC4, which has broadcast the reruns since 2011, confirmed the weekly shows would be retained. Which is good since they've just reached 1978, when it was getting good. In November, BBC4's Richard Klein said broadcasting the repeats had 'become complex' since revelations of Savile's history of abuse last autumn. 'Top Of The Pops is continuing with 1978 this year,' a BBC4 spokesman said, in a statement. Several programmes were pulled after a slew of allegations emerged regarding former DJ and sometime Top of the Pops host Savile. The arrest of Dave Lee Travis and his questioning about sex offences also led to an episode being postponed. 'These are judgment decisions that we're making about what we think is right, and it's largely case-by-case,' said Klein, in November. 'I think it requires us to be cautious and careful without overreacting, to take into account public sensibilities to take into account legalities.'

Whitechapel's Phil Davis has discussed his 'very clever and very funny' character in the new series of BBC3's cult hit Being Human. It was announced last summer that the popular actor had been cast as a character called Captain Hatch in the upcoming fifth series. Interviewed by SFX in the magazine's latest issue, Phil revealed: 'It was irresistible, because it's so well-written. He's very clever and very funny. He kills people with a smile on his face – or persuades them to kill themselves. I want the audience to enjoy his evil and be scared of him at the same time. I want them to be laughing and then stopping dead.' He added: 'I'm one of those rare actors who comes out of make-up looking far worse than when he went in! They blacken my teeth, paint veins on my forehead and put earwax dripping out of my ears – it's a pretty disgusting sight. He's described as "a little angry fist of a man" to start with, but as he gets more powerful, he becomes more relaxed and urbane.' Being Human creator Toby Whithouse added: 'It's a brilliant performance, imbued with such presence and danger, and that effortless evil that Phil does so well. I wrote it, but I'm genuinely chilled by some of the stuff he does. And he's not afraid of making himself look ghastly. Hatch goes through a transformation as we get towards the end, but up until that point Phil was happy to make himself look utterly rancid!' Series five of Being Human is expected to begin on BBC3 next month.
News International has agreed to settle one hundred and thirty civil damages claims for disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World phone-hacking with individuals including Cherie Blair, David Beckham's father, and Murphy's Law and Jekyll actor James Nesbitt, at a cost to the company expected to run into millions. Total mad wonga, so it is. Well, that's what you get for hacking people's phones and then denying you've done so for four years until the overwhelming weight of evidence against you forces you to tell the truth. The publisher of the Sunday tabloid, closed in disgrace and ignominy, faces one hundred and sixty seven phone-hacking damages claims filed by September from almost one hundred and eighty individuals, after settling more than fifty earlier in 2012 from individuals including Lord Prescott, Jude Law and Sienna Miller. And, a whopping bill. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, which could barely conceal its sniggering glee in reporting the story, alleged 'informed sources' allegedly say that News International has now allegedly settled approximately one hundred and thirty of those claims. The total number will be confirmed at a high court case-management conference on 8 February, when more details of the amounts News International has agreed (for which read, been forced) to pay are likely to emerge. Cherie Blair launched her claim last year for damages 'in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails.' It is not known when Blair was targeted, but the vast majority of claims being made against billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct tabloid relate to a period between 2000 and 2006, when her husband, Tony Blair, was the prime minister. It is understood that many of the one hundred and thirty settlements were agreed just before Christmas, including those involving Ted Beckham and Jimmy Nesbitt, who most recently featured in The Hobbit. Others who have settled include former transport secretary Stephen Byers and Emma Noble, the former daughter-in-law of ex-prime minister John Major. Disgraced former-Tory MP Neil Hamilton and his pushy, publicity-obsessed wife, Christine (third in Celebrity MasterChef 2010) are also believed to be the recipients of lots and lots and lots of lover-err-lee coin. Lord Blencathra, a former Tory minister, has also settled. He has multiple sclerosis and believes, according to the Gruniad, that he was hacked because someone at the Scum of the World mistook his condition for excessive drinking. News International are also said to have agreed payments to former Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws footballer Neil Razor Ruddock, Jeff Brazier, the ex-partner of reality TV regular the late self-confessed racist Jade Goody and the actress Tamzin Outhwaite. Leslie Grantham, the former EastEnders actor, is also understood to have settled, along with Charlotte Church's parish priest, Father Richard Reardon. The singer and her family received three hundred thousand smackers in phone-hacking damages from News International, along with another three hundred grand in legal costs in February 2012. Reardon and one of Church's former-boyfriends launched separate cases when they were told by the Metropolitan police that there was evidence they, too, had had their phones hacked by the Scum of the World. News International's barrister, Michael Silverleaf QC, told the high court last year that Reardon's solicitor, Mark Thomson, was 'plain wrong' to suggest that the only way the Scum of the World could have got 'certain stories' about Church was by listening to the priest's voicemails. Seemingly, now that News International have chosen to settle the case, that comment would appear to be, like so much else connected to News International, a load of dribbly diarrhoea. Lewis Sproston, the former boyfriend of the murdered model Sally Anne Bowman has settled, as has Michelle Bayford, the girlfriend of a trainee plumber who became known as 'elephant man' in a series of tabloid articles after a drugs trial for he volunteered to participate in went terribly wrong and left six men critically ill. Margaret Atkinson, a friend of the mother of Eimear Cook, ex-wife of the golfer Colin Montgomery, is also believed to have accepted damages from News International. The number of claims News International has agreed to settle has risen from twenty two to approximately one hundred and thirty since mid-December. Those who are already known to have settled include yer actual Hugh Grant and TV presenter Jamie Theakston. High court judge Mr Justice Vos has been managing the second batch of claims against News International with a view to trying some lead cases in June this year. However, News International is believed to infinitely prefer settling the claims out of court rather than going to court and having the details of their illegal and wrong activities discussed in the public domain in front of the media. News International will also be heavy under pressure from News Corporation shareholders in New York to get the phone-hacking scandal out of the way ahead of the demerger of the company's newspaper business, expected this summer, as it could have a toxic effect on the share price.

A senior female Metropolitan Police officer faces jail after being convicted of trying to sell details of the phone-hacking inquiry to the Scum of the World. Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn was found extremely guilty and faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment or an unlimited fine. She claimed that she had made the call because she felt the public should be told that counter-terrorism officers were being seconded to the hacking inquiry instead of 'saving lives.' But, a jury at Southwark Crown Courtdid not believe a word of it and unanimously decided that, actually, Casburn was motivated by nothing more than sheer greed. She will be sentenced later by Mr Justice Fulford. Her barrister said that he would be seeking a suspended sentence but Mr Justice Fulford warned Casburn, a mother of three, that she faced 'an immediate custodial sentence.' The Gruniad Morning Star claims that alleged 'sources' allegedly close to Casburn have allegedly said that she was 'reeling' after being told she could face a five-year jail term because the judge 'wanted to make an example of her.' At the end of a four-day trail, the jury convicted Casburn, from Essex, of serious misconduct in public office. The counter-terrorism officer was the first person to be prosecuted under Operation Elveden, the probe into naughty and corrupt payments by journalists to officials. The trial is the first of what promises to be a series of high profile trials over the illegal hacking of phones and alleged backhanders to police and Government employees by journalists. The Scum of the World closed in disgrace and ignominy amid the scandal of its hacking of voicemails. The long-running scandal has led to dozens of arrests. It involved allegations of illegal snooping of not only celebrities but also the victims of crime and their families, politicians and others. Detective Chief Superintendent Gordon Briggs, who oversees Operations Weeting, Elvedon and Tuleta – the linked investigations into phone-hacking, corrupting public officials and other naughty badness related to billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's News International, said: 'It is a great disappointment that a detective chief inspector in the counter-terrorism command should have abused her position in this way. There's no place for corrupt officers or staff in the Metropolitan police service. We hope that the prosecution demonstrates that leaking or in this case trying to sell confidential information to journalists for personal gain will not be tolerated. There may be occasions when putting certain information into the public domain, so called whisteblowing, can be justified. This was not one of them. In this case DCI Casburn approached the News of the World, the very newspaper being investigated, to make money.' It was not disputed that Casburn telephoned the now disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid early on 11 September 2010 and spoke to a journalist complaining about 'pressure' from Lord Prescott - a victim of phone-hacking - and giving the names of two former Scum of the World journalists who were then under investigation - the Prime Minister's 'chum' Andy Coulson and Sean Hoare. The jury was told that at 7.50am on the Saturday morning, Casburn – then working for the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit - rang the Scum of the World newsdesk as she walked to Tesco's. The call was taken by overnight reporter, Tim Wood, at the end of his thirteen-hour shift who sent a report of his conversation with Casburn to his boss. Wood's memo stated that Casburn was 'looking for money' in return for providing the paper with 'an inside steer' on the phone-hacking inquiry. Casburn remained impassive as the guilty verdict was given. She said that she had attended a meeting with colleagues the day before in which it was revealed that Champagne John Yates, the then assistant commissioner, was to reopen the phone-hacking investigation. She claimed that she made the call because she was angry that counter-terrorist resources were to be used in the investigation. Prosecutors said that she had tried to undermine the hacking investigation by offering to leak details. Prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron said Casburn 'sought to undermine a highly sensitive and high-profile investigation. It was a gross breach of the trust that the public places in a police officer not to disclose information on a current investigation in an unauthorised way, or to offer to do so in the future for payment.' He said that her conduct was 'disgraceful' and the phone call itself was 'malicious.' Casburn, who had earlier in the case blubbed in court when a colleague gave evidence against her, admitted to contacting the newspaper, but denied asking for money or offering any information which was not already in the public domain, adding that such claims were 'ludicrous.' The jury, seemingly, did not believe her. Casburn was not working on the probe, Operation Varec, but colleagues in the counter-terrorism command were secondary to the investigation. The detective, who joined the force in 1993, claimed she feared colleagues saw the phone-hacking probe as 'a bit of fun,' getting to travel and meet celebrities, and was worried about counter-terrorism resources being 'wasted.' But Bryant-Heron said that she had not mentioned any of these concerns in her call to the Scum of the World, according to the e-mail memo written by Wood just fifteen minutes after he had spoken to her. It read: 'A senior policewoman who claims to be working on the phone-tapping investigation wants to sell inside info on the police inquiry. She says the investigation was launched yesterday (Friday) by Yates and he is using "counter-terrorist assets," which is highly unusual. An intelligence development team is being used and they are looking at six people. Coulson, Hoare and a woman she cannot remember the name of. The three other people used to work for the News of the World and police do not know where they are now (she did not know their names either). Pressure to conduct the inquiry is coming from Lord Prescott. The problem police have is that the offences committed are probably not criminal but summary offences which only have a six-month prosecution period, which has now been used up. Therefore no charges can be brought. Another factor to do with any charges is that if the messages were listened to after the owner of the phone had accessed the messages the case is civil. If the messages were listened to before they were accessed by the phone's owner then it is a telecommunications offence. The caller refused to give her name and is happy for us to call her back but start by asking her "if she is alright to talk."' Casburn was arrested some fifteen months after she made the phone call as a result of a huge tranche of evidence – including three hundred million e-mails – handed to the police by the management and standards committee of News International. She also faces a further charge and internal police disciplinary proceedings. Fourteen individuals, including the former News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, another ex-Scum of the World editor and former No 10 director of communications, face trial later this year for offences including perverting the course of justice, perjury and conspiracy to illegally intercept phone-messages. All fourteen deny the charges.

The directors of Homeland are among those nominated for Directors Guild of America TV awards. The terrorist thriller was recognised in the dramatic series category for two separate episodes. They will compete against the directors of episodes from series like Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Aaron Sorkin's hugely disappointing The Newsroom. The DGA honours directors of individual episodes of TV shows, unlike the EMMYs and Golden Globe awards that honour a series as a whole. In the comedy category, Lena Dunham was nominated for the pilot of her coming-of-age series Girls, with Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston recognised for directing an episode of Modern Family. Also nominated were the people behind The Big Bang Theory, 30 Rock and comedian Louis CK for his self-titled show. The television movies and mini-series category sees nominations for the HBO film Game Change - the behind-the-scenes drama about John McCain and Sarah Palin's 2008 run for the White House - Hatfields & McCoys, Political Animals, Hemingway & Gellhorn and American Horror Story: Asylum. Soap opera General Hospital dominates the daytime serial category with three of the five nominations, alongside Days Of Our Lives and One Life To Live. The annual awards will also hand out trophies to the directors of movies, children's TV, commercials, reality shows and documentaries. Winners will be announced at a Hollywood ceremony hosted by actor Kelsey Grammer on 2 February.

Highlights from the London 2012 Olympics have notched up a new record to become the best-selling sport DVD in the history of sport DVDs. The release features more than seven hours of memorable footage from last summer's games, as well as film director Danny Boyle's acclaimed Opening Ceremony. BBC Worldwide said five hundred and fifty thousand copies of the five-disc DVD/Blu-Ray set have now been sold, compared with just over five hundred thousand of the previous top title, The Ashes 2005 - The Greatest Series. The Olympics compilation, which hit the shops on 29 October last year and also features the closing ceremony and several extras (including a director's commentary from Boyle), has become the best-selling sport and fitness DVD in the UK, the Official Charts Company and British Video Association said. Although the retail price in £19.99, yer actual Keith Telly Topping, as it happens, picked up his copy for just eleven quid in Asda shortly before Christmas, dear blog readers. Little tip for you there, shop around, there's bargains to be hard. Fiona Eastwood, product development director at BBC Worldwide, said: 'The London Olympics marked a phenomenal year for British sport and we are delighted that so many people have bought this wonderful souvenir of the Games and the fantastic achievements of Team GB.'

Meanwhile, here's King Charlie Brooker's beautifully nuanced (and piss-yer-pants funny) take on the Olympics. Awesome.

The BBC's hugely popular drama Call The Midwife will return for its second series later this month. The period drama, set in 1950s London, will return to BBC1 on Sunday 20 January at 8pm it has been announced. Call The Midwife proved to be a huge success for BBC1 when the first series was broadcast early last year with ratings beating even those of ITV's Downton Abbey. It was the most successful new drama on BBC1 in over a decade and the series won praise from many critics. Call The Midwife's success continued for its recent festive outing which pulled in over ten million viewers on Christmas Day making it the fifth most watched programme on BBC1 that week. The figure is also significantly higher than Downton Abbey's 8.5 million viewers with some press outlets trying to big up a 'ratings battle' between the two period dramas.

More than thirteen thousand households across the UK are still using black-and-white television sets, according to the TV Licensing authority. London had the highest number of monochrome licences, at two thousand seven hundred, followed by Birmingham and Manchester, it said. The number of licences issued each year has dwindled from two hundred and twelve thousand in 2000. A total of thirteen thousand two hundred and two monochrome licences were in force at the start of 2013. A black-and-white TV licence costs forty nine smackers a year, a colour licence costs £145.50. TV Licensing spokesman Stephen Farmer said: 'It's remarkable that with the digital switchover complete, forty one per cent of UK households owning HDTVs and Britons leading the world in accessing TV content over the Internet, more than thirteen thousand households still watch their favourite programmes on a black-and-white telly.' Television and radio technology historian John Trenouth said their continued use could largely be explained by low-income households wanting to save money on the licence fee. But he added: 'There will always be a small number of users who prefer monochrome images, don't want to throw away a working piece of technology or collect old TV sets. Maybe these will still be around in ten years from now, when the number of black-and-white licences will have fallen to a few hundred - about the same number of black-and-white sets that were in use on the opening night of BBC television seventy years ago.'

Admittedly, the view will not be quite so amazing. But fans of the BBC4 Swedish/Danish import The Bridge will be relieved to hear that a British remake for Sky Atlantic does keep one essential ingredient: the subtitles. The Tunnel, the working title for a new ten-part Anglo-French co-production based on The Bridge format, is expected on screen later this year, with production on the Sky Atlantic and Canal+ collaboration due to commence shortly. Folkestone and Calais will fill in for Copenhagen and Malmö, and the series will be bilingual – which producers claim will be a first in broadcasting for the UK and France – with subtitles for viewers less than fluent in their neighbour country's language. Crime fans hoping for an unlikely meeting of their favourite British and French detectives – John Luther and Spiral's Laure Berthaud possibly? – will, instead, have a new pair of investigators to follow. When a prominent French politician is found dead on the border between the UK and France, presumably under the sea, detectives Karl Roebuck and Elise Wassermann are sent to investigate. As with the Scandinavian original, the police are forced into an uneasy international alliance after a shocking crime scene discovery. Adapted by an Anglo-French team led by [spooks], Party Animals and Outcasts writer Ben Richards, and made by Kudos and Shine France Films, The Tunnel is set against the backdrop of Europe in crisis, with the killer using elaborate methods to highlight the moral bankruptcy of modern society. When The Bridge premiered on BBC4 last spring, it out-rated the channel's hugely discussed Danish crime thriller The Killing, with detectives Saga Noren and Martin Rhode capturing the imagination of a million regular UK viewers. But revisiting Scandinavian drama can be risky: while BBC1's Wallander series starring Kenneth Branagh has garnered both viewers and acclaim, Channel Four's imported US remake of The Killing largely failed to engage audiences anywhere. Because it was shit, basically. 'The state and future of the European Union has never been more part of the public conversation,' said Anne Mensah, head of drama at Sky. 'We're absolutely thrilled to be working with Canal+ and Kudos Film and TV on this exceptional series. The Tunnel's journey into the mind of a politically motivated serial killer will really build on Sky Atlantic's ambition to be the home of world class storytelling.' Fabrice De La Patellière, director of French fiction for Canal+ said: 'This partnership combines Franco-British talents both in the writing and production of the drama … our objective is to develop a major series that is undeniably original and unique.'

Tom Daley's mother has got all stroppy and discombobulated and defended the teenage Olympic bronze medalist after a British swimming boss condemned his decision to appear in celebrity diving show - the risible Splash! The eighteen-year-old came under fire from the organisation's chief executive, David Sparkes, who told the media that Daley should have waited until after his competitive career was over before entering television and accused him of 'putting the cart before the horse.' Or, indeed, the belly before the flop. As it were.

And now, the least exciting sports news possibly ever. The BBC will remain the primary UK broadcaster of snooker's biggest domestic tournaments until at least 2017, after extending its current deal with World Snooker. How bowel-shatteringly thrilling. I may pass out. The World Championship, the UK Championship and the Masters will continue to be shown on the BBC up to the end of the 2016-17 season. Under the deal, there is also the option to add 'one further event' after 2014. Financial terms were not disclosed. Probably because, if it was any more than three pence it was a waste of money. All the three major snooker events will be given live network coverage on the BBC throughout the UK, and coverage will also be made available on BBC iPlayer. And disrupt other, far more popular, programmes when they over-run. And, almost certainly, cause a series of Top gear (which gets five times the number of viewers) to get delayed halfway through because of some 'vitally important' example of fat men with bow-ties (which aren't cool, whatever Matt Smith reckons) shoving balls around a table with sticks. Risible. World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said that the deal extension is 'wonderful news' for the 'millions' (for which read tens) of snooker fans who enjoy watching the BBC's coverage. He said that there was over two hundred and sixty hours of coverage of snooker shown on the BBC last season, and the 2012 World Championship was watched by 28.5 million people, which 'proves what a wide appeal there is for snooker.' Yes. Twenty eight million people if you add all of the audience's together for over a week's worth of coverage. That's a mendacious trick ITV attempted to pull a couple of years ago in seeking to prove that risible flop Red Or Black? had, actually, been a massive hit. When it wasn't. It didn't work then and it's sure as shit not gonna work now, Barry. Nice try, though. 'The World Championship, the UK Championship and the Masters are among the highlights of the sporting calendar so it's terrific that they will remain on terrestrial television,' Hearn claimed, which the guffaws of laughter from viewers could, clearly, be heard in the background. 'Snooker has made huge progress in recent years and is growing rapidly as a worldwide sport. The BBC remains one of our most important partners and we look forward to many years working with them.' World number one snooker player Mark Selby added: 'Everyone's first memories of snooker are watching the big events on the BBC so it's great for the players and fans to know that those tournaments will remain on terrestrial TV for at least the next four years.' BBC Sport director Barbara Slater said that the World Snooker Championships are 'an important part of our sports rights portfolio' and so she was 'delighted' to extend the deal with World Snooker. Or, in other words, 'we've only got football highlights, we can't get the cricket, the Olympics is only ever four years so, snooker it is then.'

Alasdair Milne, the former BBC director general who was forced out following a series of rows with the Thatcher government, has died aged eighty two. His family said that Milne, the oldest living former director general, had suffered a series of strokes and died on Tuesday. Milne was force to resign his post in 1987 at the behest of the then BBC chairman, Marmaduke Hussey, who had been appointed by Thatcher a her personal boot-boy to 'bring the broadcaster to heel.' Milne's five-year tenure had seen repeated conflicts with the then Conservative government over a variety of issues including the BBC News coverage of the miners' strike and the US bombing of Libya, reflecting the highly polarised politics of the era. But the particular controversy which led directly to the fall of Milne began two years earlier, in 1985, over a documentary which had initially been kept secret from him because its contents were so sensitive. The Real Lives programme had secured an extended interview with the Sinn Fein politician Martin McGuinness, at a time when the conflict in Northern Ireland was intense, with Thatcher having demanded that year that terrorists be starved of the 'oxygen of publicity.' When the interview's existence was revealed ahead of transmission, the Home Secretary Leon Brittan demanded that the BBC drop the film. Its board of governors - showing the sort of lack of backbone that BBC boards still do to this day - immediately pulled the programme while Milne was away on holiday. A strike at the BBC followed, and upon his return, Milne fought with the governors, arguing the programme should be broadcast so everyone could see what all the fuss was about. Eventually, after at least one stormy meeting on the sixth floor Real Lives was broadcast in October 1985. But relations between Milne and the governors were seriously damaged – Milne later described the governors as 'a bunch of amateurs.' Michael Grade, who was brought in to run BBC1 during Milne's tenure, said that he thought there was 'nobody who cared more deeply about the BBC' than Milne and that he was 'an inspirational figure who was caught up in difficult times. The whole BBC didn't understand that the world was changing with Thatcher.' There were also political rows about Kate Adie's coverage of the 1986 US bombing raids in Tripoli, while Milne – again under pressure from the governors – did intervene to prevent the broadcast of an investigative programme by Duncan Campbell (Secret Society) about the five hundred million smackers of tax payers money spent of the Zircon spy satellite at the end of 1986. Eventually Hussey summoned Milne to a meeting in January 1987, in which Milne was told that the governors wanted him out. He resigned, ending one period of turmoil at a broadcaster which regularly battles to be independent of ministers. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Grade added that Milne never recovered from the summary manner of his dismissal after devoting his professional life to the broadcaster. 'I thought he was extremely badly treated, the way they bundled him out. I don't think he ever got over it.' Milne was the first programme-maker to be appointed BBC director general and during his tenure the corporation broadcast Live Aid, launched EastEnders and introduced breakfast TV. Born on 8 October 1930 in India to Scottish parents, Milne was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford. He served as an officer in the British army regiment the Gordon Highlanders from 1949 after his first degree, before returning to study further at Oxford. He joined the BBC in 1954 and spent almost his whole career at the public service broadcaster until his ousting. He produced and edited Tonight in the early 1960s and also edited That Was The Week That Was. He rose further through the ranks at the BBC after a short spell in the independent production sector in the late 1960s. As managing director of television, shortly before his elevation to director general, Milne went to visit the Conservative backbench 1922 committee to defend the BBC's coverage of the Falklands conflict in 1982, amid objections over the broadcaster's efforts to adopt a neutral tone, using phrases such as 'British forces.' The meeting reportedly descended into a shouting match. Milne married his wife, Sheila Graucob, in 1954. She died in 1992. He is survived by his three children, two sons and a daughter. His son, Seumas Milne, is a Grunaid Morning Star columnist and associate editor.

Some desperately sad news now, Wilko Johnson, the legendary former guitarist with Doctor Feelgood, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas. His manager wrote on the musician's Facebook page that the sixty five-year-old had chosen not to receive any chemotherapy, but was 'in good spirits.' Despite the diagnosis, Johnson plans to finish a new CD and carry out a short tour of France. There are also plans for a series of farewell gigs in the UK. Manager Robert Hoy said: 'He is not yet suffering any physical effects and can expect to enjoy at least another few months of reasonable health and activity. Wilko wishes to offer his sincere thanks for all the support he has had over his long career,' he added. 'From those who have worked with him to, above all, those devoted fans and admirers who have attended his live gigs, bought his recordings and generally made his life such an extraordinarily full and eventful experience.' Although he was not a household name, Johnson was considered one of the most influential guitarists for his signature choppy guitar playing style - thought to have been one of the major influences for the British punk rock scene. Paul Weller, Mick Jones and Brian James were among Wilko's devoted disciples. The BBC4 three-part documentary series Punk Britannia, first broadcast in May 2012, also stressed the importance of the Feelgoods as 'pub rockers, a generation of bands sandwiched between sixties hippies and mid-seventies punks who will help pave the way towards the short, sharp shock of punk.' After leaving Doctor Feelgood in 1977, Johnson joined Ian Dury's Blockheads and then formed his own group, The Wilko Johnson Band. Wilko appeared in the 2009 documentary film Oil City Confidential where he recalled his memories with Doctor Feelgood. It sparked a revival of interest in the guitarist and a box set of all four Feelgood LPs Johnson wrote and played on, was released last year, as well as an autobiography. Johnson has also had a recurring role in US fantasy series Game of Thrones, playing a mute executioner.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping, of course, sends his most sincere best wishes to Wilko and his family and friends at this most difficult of times. And, for my own small tribute to a seminal moment in my life, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's Wilko, the late Lee Brilleaux, John B Sparks and The Big Figure live on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975 virtually inventing punk rock in one of the greatest two minutes and forty seconds of telly, ever. Spank that plank one more time, Wilko.