Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Grand Dame Herself Is Back

Sherlock and yer actual Doctor Who - the two best TV dramas in the world that don't have the word 'Borgen' in the title - are up against each other for two prizes at the National Television Awards later this month. The popular BBC shows - both overseen by writer and producer The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat - are up for best drama, along with Downton Abbey and Merlin. Yer actual Matt Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch his very self are also in the running for the best actor award. Winners will be announced at London's O2 Arena on 23 January. Moffat said: 'This is very flattering, but also terrifying. I hope everyone votes with tremendous care and the result is an exact draw between both shows.' Karen Gillan, who bowed out last year as the Doctor's companion Amy Pond, is nominated for the best female drama performance. She is up against Miranda Hart for her role in Call The Midwife, Suranne Jones for Scott & Bailey and Sheridan Smith for Mrs Biggs. In the best male drama performance category, Smith and Cumberbatch face competition from Colin Morgan, the star of Merlin and Daniel Mays for his performance as Ronnie Biggs in Mrs Biggs. Ant and/or Dec, who have won the best entertainment presenter prize for the past eleven years, are shortlisted for the title yet again. They will do battle with Alan Carr, Leigh Francis and Dermot O'Dreary. Their show I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) is nominated for the entertainment programme award, against Alan Carr: Chatty Man, The Graham Norton Show and The Only Way Is Essex. The Great British Bake-Off competes with The Apprentice, Top Gear and Paul O'Grady's For The Love Of Dogs for the best factual entertainment award. The talent show shortlist sees the first series of the BBC1 singing contest The Voice up against established shows Britain's Got Talent, Twatting About On Ice, Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor. Frozen Planet is up for best documentary series. Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks are nominated for best serial drama. There will also be a special award to celebrate the success of the Olympics and Paralympics.

It's been a while since yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch complained about 'posh-bashing' and people castigating him as a 'moaning, rich, public school bastard.' Thus, it's something of a surprise to find him apparently complaining again in the latest issue of Radio Times, about the assumptions people make about him based on the characters he plays. 'They know you from the trail you leave with your work,' Benny told the listings magazine. 'They assume things about you because of who you play and how you play them, and the other scraps floating around in the ether. People try to sew together a narrative out of scant fact.' Cumberbatch, whose upcoming screen roles include playing the baddie in JJ Abrams' big screen Star Trek sequel, added: 'I don't want to complain or explain. It's a thing that will pass. It's part of a predictable pattern.' It's a dirty rotten shame, and no mistake.

And now, here's the final consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Three programmes for week-ending 30 December 2012:-
1 Mrs Brown's Boys - Mon BBC1 - 11.68m
2 Miranda - Wed BBC1 - 11.55m
3 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 11.31m
4 Call The Midwife - Tues BBC1 - 10.18m
5 The Royle Family - Tues BBC1 - 9.90m
6 Doctor Who - Tues BBC1 - 9.87m
7 Coronation Street - Tues ITV - 9.84m
8 Downton Abbey - Tues ITV - 9.69m
9 Outnumbered - Mon BBC1 - 9.39m
10 Strictly Come Dancing - Tues BBC1 - 9.17m
11 Ripper Street - Sun BBC1 - 7.89m
12 Merlin - Mon BBC1 - 7.80m
13 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 7.49m
14 BBC News - Fri BBC1 - 7.07m
15 Restless - Thurs BBC1 - 7.00m
16 Wild At Heart - Sun ITV - 6.71m
17 The Queen's Christmas Message - Tues BBC1 - 6.58m
18 The Snowman & The Snowdog - Mon Channel Four - 6.44m
19 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.40m
20 Superstars - Sat BBC1 - 6.28m
21 Room On The Broom - Tues BBC1 - 6.09m
22 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.65m
23 Pointless Celebrities - Thurs BBC1 - 5.45m

Miranda and Mrs Brown's Boys, meanwhile, lost a share of their audience as they clashed with the return of Lewis on Monday night. The BBC1 comedies pulled in near identical audiences of 6.81m at 9pm for Miranda Hart's sitcom and 6.79m half-an-hour later for Brendan O'Carroll's Irish comedy. Meanwhile, the seventh - and, rumoured to be final - series of ITV's flagship detective drama premiered with 6.26m, adding a million viewers on last year's opener. Unlike in previous years, ITV has decided to split the Lewis stories into two hour-long episodes, meaning the Kevin Whately-fronted drama will broadcast for six weeks this year instead of three. Elsewhere on the two main channels, the utterly pointless Cornwall with Caroline Quentin returned with 3.9m, whilst the equally crass and banal Rip-Off Britain was watched by 3.45m in BBC1's 8.30pm slot which Panorama normally fills. What Happens In Kavos, a new factual reality format, topped Channel Four's night with 1.61m from 10pm. Embarrassing Fat Bodies launched with 1.32m voyeurs getting the chance to giggle at some wobble-bottoms an hour earlier. Celebrity Big Brother continued with a just about respectable 1.91m on Channel Five. The Gadget Show preceded the reality show with seven hundred and eighty one thousand punters. University Challenge was BBC2's highest-rated broadcast with 2.98m at 8pm, while The Polar Bear Family and Me appealed to 2.29m later at 9.30pm. BBC4's Only Connect topped the multichannels with nine hundred and twenty eight thousand in its usual 8.30pm slot, beating Stacey Dooley's BBC3 show The Truth about Magaluf which had seven hundred and twenty two thousand punters.

Documentary maker Gordon Buchanan got nearer to the action than usual in his latest TV mini-series, which sees the presenter scarily close and personal to his latest subject. Buchanan's follow-up to his highly-rated The Bear Family and Me, which involved him monitoring black bears in Minnesota, finds him documenting the lives of polar bears living in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Buchanan's show attempts to bring extreme close-up visuals of a polar bear family with two cubs across three seasons. A team of survival experts join the filmmaker as he follows the lives of Lyra and her offspring Miki and Luca from their birth den in the spring, all the way through to winter. To get as close to the action as possible, Buchannan films from a Perspex cage which can protect him from the bears. However, when one animal sniffs at his box and attempts to attack the cameraman and break the cage, things quickly become scary for the TV presenter. The series, which is being broadcast across the week on the BBC, will have unprecedented access to the animal, as Buchanan secures tracking collars on the mum and cubs, who are trying to survive in tough conditions.

Pamela Anderson has blamed her Twatting About On Ice exit on 'a wardrobe malfunction' which saw her infamously massive Wally Jumblats fall out of her dress. Which was a sight to see, dear blog readers, and I mean a sight to see. She has vowed never to do reality TV again. Can we have that in writing, please? Anderson reportedly cost ITV producers one hundred and fifty thousand knicker for her one episode stint on Twatting About On Ice. That's roughly a thousand smackers per second of her three-minute routine. 'Pammy is the biggest star we have had in years and we hoped she would pull in millions of viewers for weeks and weeks,' an alleged 'source' allegedly told the Mirra, speaking in exactly the sort of way that real people don't. 'Her skating partner, Matt Evers, flew to America for weeks of training. We had to book first class flights for her and source plush accommodation for months too in case she got to the final stages. All in all, we've spent about one hundred and fifty thousand pounds on Pammy and she has lasted one week. It's a disaster.' Oh dear. How sad. never mind. The American was the first celebrity to be voted out in the ITV show's premiere after stumbling in the skate-off against yer actual Keith Chegwin.
The first author of a new series of Doctor Who short stories has been confirmed as Eoin Colfer. Best known for writing the Artemis Fowl series of books, Colfer's 'e-short' will feature the first Doctor, as played by William Hartnell from 1963 to 1966. The story will be available to buy on 23 January and a number of other famous children's authors will be writing further stories in 2013. Colfer's tale will be set in London in 1900 and deal with 'a missing hand.' The blurb reads: 'The First Doctor is missing his hand and his granddaughter, Susan. Faced with the search for Susan, a strange beam of soporific light, and a host of marauding Soul Pirates, the Doctor is promised a dangerous journey into a land he may never forge.' The author adds: 'As a boy I had been reading the Doctor Who books for years before I ever saw a single episode and I found that the on-screen version of the First Doctor was almost identical to the version in my imagination.' Eoin has also written novels for adults and his latest book W.A.R.P: The Reluctant Assassin is the first in a major new time travel series, due in April. Doctor Who is, just in case you've been living in a cave for the last five decades, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in November 2013.

The Teletubbies' co-creator has - in a spectacularly alarmist and disgustingly whingy fashion - accused the BBC of 'ghettoising children's programmes' by ending shows for young viewers on BBC1 and BBC2. Not that the BBC have done than or anything even remotely like it, of course. Still why let a little fact like that get in the way of a good headline in a number of newspapers with a sick anti-BBC agenda about them? Children's programmes were moved to the digital channels CBBC and CBeebies as part of the corporation's cost-cutting measures. 'It ghettoises children's programmes. It is a completely different attitude to the one that scheduled The Magic Roundabout before the 5.40pm news,' moaned Anne Wood, who also co-produces the hit show In The Night Garden. She told the Radio Times: 'On the one hand it is inevitable, but it is dismissive of children. There is a certain amount of overlooking of the fact that children's programmes do get a wider audience than people are aware of. I have frequently had letters from older people who have enjoyed my programmes as much as children do. A lot of the reason older people like to watch children's programming is because it is life-enhancing.' And, by frequently, she actually means, about five. However, Terry Deary, author of the Horrible Histories children's books, which have been adapted for TV, said the separation was merely an example of progress. 'It doesn't matter at all,' he said. 'The fact that children's shows have been on BBC1 since the war doesn't mean they should continue, and to hang on to them would be a very backward step.' Deary also disagreed with Wood's particularly ignorant use of the word 'ghetto' to describe children's channels. 'Ghetto is a very emotive word and implies the children's channels are inferior. Not at all. If you're interested in sport, you go to a sport "ghetto." If I want to watch history, I'll watch the history channel. Putting children's shows on the children's channels is perfectly logical,' he said. Joe Godwin, head of BBC Children's, said: 'Our young viewers are our priority and the vast majority of children in the UK already tune in to CBeebies and CBBC to find their favourite BBC children's programmes. Far from being a "cynical" move, we're just following where our audience has already gone. It's simply not true that we're "ghettoising" children's programmes – CBBC and CBeebies are the nation's most popular children's television channels and we also know that lots of "former children" enjoy sitting down with their own kids to watch our programmes.'
So, that's you told, Anne Wood. And, I wouldn't expect to be getting any commissions from CBBC any time soon for your insolence, either.
A former counter-terrorism detective offered information about the phone-hacking inquiry to the Scum of the World for money, a court has heard. Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn is accused over Operation Varec, which considered whether Scotland Yard's inquiry into phone-hacking should be reopened. Prosecutor Mark Bryant-Heron claimed that Casburn 'sought to undermine a highly sensitive and high-profile investigation.' Casburn denies one charge of misconduct in public office. The charge relates to 11 September 2010 when she was working in counter-terrorism, managing the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit. Southwark Crown Court heard one of her team had been asked to carry out financial investigations as part of the Scotland Yard inquiry into phone-hacking. It is alleged that Casburn rang the Scum of the World's news desk at 7.51am to offer information in exchange for payment. She gave the names of two of the people under investigation during the conversation, it is claimed. Bryant-Heron said: 'The prosecution says she sought to undermine a highly sensitive and high-profile investigation at the point of its launch. The prosecution says, and it's a matter for you twelve, that the act of telephoning the News of the World to offer to sell information and the provision of some information during that call was misconduct, it was misconduct in public office. 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.' The newspaper did not publish a story resulting from the information allegedly provided and no payment changed hands, the court heard. Bryant-Heron said that Casburn admits to making the call but denies that she asked for money, and says she had 'a reasonable excuse' for doing so. She says that she was 'concerned' resources that were supposed to be used to combat terrorism were being allocated to the phone-hacking investigation, and that much of the information was 'already public knowledge.' The court heard that the call was taken by Scum of the World journalist Tim Wood - who said that Casburn refused to give her name, but introduced herself as a senior police officer. Wood told the jury: 'The one thing that stands out in my mind is the fact that she kept going on about Lord Prescott. Saying that he was pressing for them to put charges on the News of the World, and she was saying that she felt it was wrong that he was interfering in the scandal, so to speak, and she resented that.' He added: 'She was almost justifying her call by saying that it was this interference by Prescott that had upset her.' The detective allegedly told Wood that six people were under investigation including former Scum of the World editor Andy Coulson and reporter Sean Hoare, Wood said. The court then heard from Detective Superintendent Christos Kalamatianos who led the sixty-strong National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit. He said his relationship with Casburn was 'cordial,' but she had accused him of 'failing to support her' and the unit on one or two occasions. Casburn reportedly broke down in tears in the dock as her former colleague gave evidence against her and she had to be comforted by a member of her legal team. Casburn, fifty three, from Hatfield Peverel, is also facing a separate charge under the Official Secrets Act, which can only be dealt with by magistrates. It is alleged that she had secret documents at her home without permission to keep them there.

Channel Four has been censured by Ofcom for broadcasting the X-Men film, Wolverine before the nine o'clock watershed. The media watchdog highlighted six instances of violence which were 'unsuitable for children.' They included Wolverine growing talons and stabbing a man. Channel Four argued that the film has a 12A certificate and was 'carefully edited' to reduce the level of violence. It listed twenty seven edits made to the film, and said the fourth feature film in the X-Men series was 'scheduled with care to avoid programmes specifically made for children.' The broadcaster also pointed out that the film, starring Hugh Jackman, which was shown on Sunday 26 August at 18:55, had been broadcast previously pre-watershed on Channel Four, and had not attracted a single complaint. However, following up on a viewer complaint, Ofcom found various scenes of violence in breach of its guidelines. These included an 'intense' scene involving a surgical procedure in which Wolverine's head and body are drilled with holes and two violent fights between Wolverine and his brother during which stab wounds are shown. Ofcom said while it took into account that Channel Four had 'clearly taken measures to ensure the fantasy violence was toned down,' it said some edits were 'insufficient to address the ongoing violent themes throughout the film.' It said that almost twelve per cent of the audience was aged four to fifteen and viewers, particularly parents, would not have expected a film with such levels of intense violence to be shown at that time on a Sunday evening. Ofcom also said that viewers had not been sufficiently warned about the nature of the content when the film was introduced as: 'Film fantasy action now on Four. Hugh Jackman seeks revenge as the troubled superhero Wolverine. X-Men Origins.' 'In Ofcom's opinion, this announcement did not make sufficiently clear that the film would have a dark and violent theme and scenes of violence, aggression and menace throughout,' said the media watchdog. 'We also noted that Channel Four has recently shown films which have a wide family appeal such as Inkheart, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Hairspray and The Golden Compass in similar time slots (although scheduled up to an hour earlier than 18:55).' Ofcom found Channel Four in breach of Rule 1.3 of the broadcasting code, which states children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them. Quite why Channel Four didn't tell Ofcom, a politically appointed quango, elected by no one, to go shoved itself and the horse it rode in on is, at this time, unknown.

Channel Four News is also being investigated by Ofcom over the broadcast of the Duchess of Cambridge prank royal phone call featuring nurse Jacintha Saldanha hours after she had been found dead. The news bulletin replayed the opening exchanges of the call, by Australian radio presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian, to the King Edward VII hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated. The edition of Channel Four News aired on 7 December. Earlier that day Saldanha, who transferred the call to the nurse treating the duchess, had been found dead in the nurses' quarters of the hospital in Central London. Ofcom said that it had received two complaints about the broadcast. The regulator is investigating the bulletin under section two of its broadcasting code, relating to harm and offence, requiring that 'generally accepted standards' be applied to broadcasts to provide 'adequate protection for members of the public from harmful and/or offensive material.' Saldanha, who worked at the private hospital for four years, answered the call from the DJs on the Austereo-owned station 2Day FM early on the morning of 4 December. The pair pretended to be the Queen and the Prince of Wales. The nurse was found dead in an apparent suicide three days later. Separately in the regulator's broadcasting code, it also warns against broadcasting footage or audio of people caught up in a 'personal tragedy.' It adds that broadcasters should 'try to reduce the potential distress to victims and/or relatives when making or broadcasting programmes intended to examine past events that involve trauma to individuals.' An ITN spokeswoman said: 'At Channel Four News the editorial team works hard to treat sensitive news events in a compassionate and appropriate way. In this instance, an editorial judgement was made on the day to broadcast a small segment (less than ten seconds) of the call for clarity. Although we do not accept there was a breach of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, with hindsight we may have made a different editorial decision and we regret any offence caused.'

A petition from gun lobbyists demanding that Piers Morgan be deported from the US for his views on gun control has received an initial - dismissive - response from The White House. Morgan went head-to-head with radio host Alex Jones, who created the petition, during Monday evening's edition of Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN. White House spokesperson Jay Carney has now issued a statement saying: 'The White House responds to all petitions that cross the [twenty five thousand-signature] threshold and we will respond to this one. In the meantime, it is worth remembering that the freedom of expression is a bedrock principle in our democracy.' So, they're keeping him, it would seem? Hurrah, for that!

A Swedish news channel 'accidentally' aired a porn film in the background of a live broadcast. Viewers of the TV4 News network were, reportedly, surprised - if somewhat delighted - to see the erotic movie on a TV during a discussion about Russia's support of Syria. Viewer Danyal Ek told The Local: 'At first I realised I was looking at a naked woman and it quickly became clear she was having sex. It didn't take long before I realised it was a porn film. The image wasn't exactly in focus, but it wasn't hard to figure out what was going on. I had two theories. One is that someone was pissed off after getting fired and put the porno up as act of revenge. My other thought was that someone had simply screwed up.' yeah. That'd be the woman in the film, probably. The channel said that the movie was 'probably' playing because the screen was connected to its parent company computers used by other channels, some of which broadcast erotic content. News editor Andreas Haglind said: 'It's not like we were directly broadcasting porn. Put simply, it's crap that it happened. We're going to do everything we can so that it doesn't happen again.'

Yer actual Bill Bailey is to present a BBC documentary about pioneering naturalist Alfred Wallace. The comic has spent two months filming the show in Borneo and Indonesia, and the documentary is set to be broadcast later this year, to mark the centenary of the scientist's death. Wallace was a contemporary of Charles Darwin who independently came up with a theory of natural selection at around the same time. The pair jointly published papers on the subject and were close friends. Bill has previously performed stand-up based on the naturalist and last year became a patron of The Wallace Memorial Fund. He previously said: 'Wallace has sort of been eased out of history, finessed out of the picture. It's a class thing as much as anything else. Darwin came from a wealthy family, but Wallace had no background and no money and needed to make a crust, mostly - and bizarrely - by shooting lots of animals.' On the subject of his new two-part series, he told the Mirra: 'It was a pure passion project. I've been very fortunate. I managed to fit in a lot in the last few years. But writing comedy is what gets me up in the morning.' Bailey has previously fronted the ITV wildlife mini-series Baboons With Bill Bailey and Sky's Bill Bailey's Big Bird Watch. This week will unveil an oil painting of Wallace in the central hall of London's National History Museum. It was previously hung in the same spot, near the Darwin statue, from 1923 to 1973. Bailey and the rest of The Wallace Memorial Fund are trying to raise funds to erect a statue to the scientist at the museum.

Charles Dance has said that reality TV is 'mind-numbing shite.' And, you've only just noticed this, Chas? The Game of Thrones actor told Metro that aside from reality shows, British TV is improving. 'It seems to be getting better. Every now and then we'll come up with something really good - the tried-and-tested format of Downton Abbey goes on and The Hour is very well made,' Dance said. 'Secret State was pretty bloody good but we also turn out a load of shit - I'm thinking principally of the worst of reality TV, which is mind-numbing.' Asked if he ever watched such shows, he added: 'Only Gareth Malone's choir shows - his love of what he does and his enthusiasm is infectious and he finds great talent in people who probably think they didn't have any. That's the only one I watch. I think the rest is shite.'

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has exchanged tweets from space with his fellow countryman yer actual William Shatner. When The Shat asked if Commander Hadfield was tweeting from space, the astronaut replied: 'Yes, Standard Orbit, Captain. And we're detecting signs of life on the surface.' Hadfield arrived at the International Space Station on 21 December for a five-month mission. To seek out new worlds and new civilisations. Or something. The exchange, in which Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin also participated in, has delighted Star Trek fans. Commander Hadfield has been tweeting images of Earth, including photographs of snow-covered rice fields in Japan and the coast of Italy. The Canadian Space Agency has offered to arrange a live tweeting session between the actor and the astronaut.

Astronomers say that one in six stars hosts an Earth-sized planet in a close orbit - suggesting a total of seventeen billion such planets in our galaxy alone. The result comes from an analysis of planet candidates gathered by NASA's Kepler space observatory. The Kepler scientists also announced four hundred and sixty one new planet candidates, bringing the satellites' total haul to two thousand seven hundred and forty. Their findings were announced at the two hundred and twenty first meeting of the American Astronomical Society in California. Since its launch into orbit in 2009, Kepler has stared at a fixed part of the sky, peering at more than one hundred and fifty thousand stars in its field of view. It detects the minute dip in light coming from a star if a planet passes in front of it, in what is called a transit. But it is a tricky measurement to make, with the total light changing just tiny fractions of a percent, and not every dip in light is due to a planet. So Francois Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics - who discovered the first Earth-sized planets set about trying to find out not only which Kepler candidates might not be planets, but also which planets might not have been visible to Kepler. 'We have to correct for two things - first [the Kepler candidate list] is incomplete,' he told BBC News. 'We only see the planets that are transiting their host stars, stars that happen to have a planet that is well-aligned for us to see it, and [for each of those] there are dozens that do not. The second major correction is in the list of candidates - there are some that are not true planets transiting their host star; they are other astrophysical configurations.' These might include, for example, binary stars, where one star orbits another, blocking some of the light as the stars transit each other. 'We simulated all the possible configurations we could think of - and we found out that they could only account for 9.5 per cent of Kepler planets, and all the rest are bona fide planets,' Fressin explained. The results suggest that seventeen per cent of stars host a planet up to 1.25 times the size of the Earth, in close orbits lasting just eighty five days or fewer - much like the planet Mercury. That means our Milky Way galaxy hosts at least seventeen billion Earth-sized or near-Earth-sized planets. Even as Fressin reported an analysis of the most recent Kepler catalogue, it was increased substantially by results reported by Christopher Burke of the Seti Institute. Dr Burke announced four hundred and sixty one new candidate planets, a substantial fraction of which were Earth-sized or not much larger - planets which have until now been particularly difficult to detect. 'What's particularly interesting is four new planets - less than twice the size of Earth - that are potentially in the habitable zone, the location around a star where it could potentially have liquid water to sustain life,' Burke told BBC News. One of the four, dubbed KOI 172.02, is a mere one and a half times the size of the Earth and around a star like our own Sun - perhaps as near as the current data allow to finding an Earth 2.0. 'It's very exciting because we're really starting to pick up the sensitivity to these things in the habitable zone - we're just really getting to the frontier of potentially life-bearing planets.' William Borucki, the driving force behind and principal investigator on the Kepler mission, said he was 'delighted' by the fresh batch of results. 'The most important thing is the statistics - not to find one Earth but to find one hundred Earths. That's what we'll be seeing as the years go on with the Kepler mission, because it was designed to find many Earths.'

A stranded squirrel has been rescued from the middle of a pond in Watford by three fire crews. Firefighters used two ladders to rescue the grey squirrel on Sunday, reports the Daily Scum Mail. Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service responded to a call from a member of the public who was apparently 'concerned' that passers-by could put themselves at risk of drowning by attempting to rescue the animal themselves. 'The first call we received about this indicated people were in the water. We were concerned about their safety so sent the necessary crews to assist with what we understood to be a water rescue,' said a spokesperson for the service. 'Had it been made clear during the first 999 call that no-one was in the water, we would have left the squirrel to the RSPCA.' Local councillor Steven Giles-Medhurst - who sounds like a right charming individual - commented: 'They would normally send out three fire engines for a potential loss of human life, such as if a person had fallen into a pond. On the face of it, three fire engines for a squirrel sounds excessive, and maybe questions should be asked as to why there were so many.' To save the squirrel's life, you heartless bastard! Still, apparently, the story had a happy outcome. As detailed here.
Yer actual Dame David Bowie her very self has released a new single on her sixty sixth birthday, following years of silence and speculation that she'd retired for good. Thankfully, judging by the excellence of the new recording, that doesn't appear to have been the case. Interestingly enough, 8 January was also yer actual Elvis Presley's birthday too, but we didn't get a new single from him. Pfft. Lightweight. The legendary musician, singer and songwriter- Bowie, this is, not Elvis - has released the recording 'Where Are We Now?' as a video and download. It will be followed by a new CD, The Next Day, in March. the Grand Dame's first new work in a decade. Bowie has not performed live since 2006 and she has rarely been seen in public since then. The new song was recorded in New York and produced by the singer's long-time collaborator Tony Visconti. The single's appearance online was 'a genuine surprise,' said John Wilson, presenter of BBC Radio 4's Front Row. 'He's a proper artist. He doesn't release records because it's time for another record. He releases records when there's something for him to say.' 'Where Are We Now?' is a simple, unfussy ballad - Bowie singing mournfully over a piano motif that slowly builds to an understated crescendo. The song includes several references to the city of Berlin, where Bowie, Visconti and Brian Eno produced a critically-acclaimed trilogy of LPs - Low, Heroes and Lodger - in the late 1970s. 'If you listen to each of the verses, there are lyrical references to Berlin, to Potsdamer Platz, to Nuremberg Straße,' said Wilson. 'Places where he lived when he was making those albums. And there is an elegiac quality. There's a sadness, I think. A weariness to his voice.' According to a statement released through his press representatives, 'throwing shadows and avoiding the industry treadmill is very David Bowie.' The singer, it continued, was 'the kind of artist who writes and performs what he wants when he wants.' The single precedes a new fourteen-song CD, The Next Day, which is due to be released in March. 'Where Are We Now?' is accompanied by a video directed by multimedia and installation artist Tony Oursler, which harks back to Bowie's time in Berlin. The promo, which can be viewed via the singer's website, features his face projected onto the body of a puppet. The face of a woman is projected onto the mannequin beside him, with Bowie appearing in more conventional form later on in the video. Bowie, who was last reported to be living in New York with his wife and daughter, has not released material since his 2003 CD Reality. In September, Bowie denied reports he was involved in an upcoming exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum in London charting his career.

Which, I suppose, brings us nicely to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's MP3 Download of the Day. Here's the Grand Dame her very self.
Well, that's the best thing she's done since 'Hallo Spaceboy' by about a million miles. Or, indeed, since this masterpiece. Nice to have you back, Dame David.