Monday, February 04, 2013

Please! Stay Off My Back Or I Will Attack - And You Don't Want That

BBC3's supernatural drama Being Human returned for its fifth series with an average of seven hundred and thirty one thousand overnight viewers on Sunday night. This was Being Human's lowest first episode overnight audience since its full series début in 2009. However, the episode, which averaged a four per cent share in the 10pm hour, was the second most-watched non-sports programme of the day in multichannel, behind only ITV2's Magaluf Weekend (eight hundred and ninety five thousand punters). Being Human was down on the 1.1 million viewers who watched the fourth series launch last year and the 1.37 million who watched series three begin in 2011. The highest launch to date was the 1.41 million viewers who watched its second run begin in 2010. BBC1's Call The Midwife continues to dominate Sunday nights with an average of 9.22 million viewers from 8pm, narrowly below the drama's biggest-ever overnight audience of 9.3 million for the second series opener on 20 January. ITV took the ratings honours at 9pm, with Mr Selfridge, watched by an average of 5.59 million viewers once again having a slight edge over BBC1's Ripper Street - recently recomissioned for a second series - which was watched by a steady 5.1 million viewers. At the same time on BBC2, the second outing for Professor Brian Cox's Wonders of Life had 2.7 million viewers including two hundred and seventy five thousand on BBC HD. It was followed by another Cox outing in Brian Cox's A Night with the Stars, a repeat of an unlikely, but rewarding, combination of celebrity and physics watched by 1.6 million viewers between 10pm and 11pm. The second episode of the new series of BBC2's Top Gear had 5.2 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm, including 1.06 million people watching on BBC HD, much to the obvious disappointment of various lice of no concern at the Daily Scum Mail and the Gruniad Morning Star. It was marginally down on the 5.3 million people who tuned-in to last week's series opener. Top Gear beat ITV's All Star Family Fortunes (5.14m) and was only fractionally behind Twatting About On on Ice: The Skate-Off, which had 5.39 million viewers from 8.30pm. Earlier, Twatting About On Ice averaged 6.73 million crushed victims of society for its main show from 6.15pm where it was, satisfyingly, beaten by BBC1's Countryfile with 6.9m. Channel Four terrestrial movie premiere Source Code, directed by David Bowie's son the extremely talented Duncan Jones, averaged 1.7 million viewers between 9pm and 10.50pm. BBC2's Super Bowl coverage peaked with eight hundred thousand viewers on BBC2 and three hundred and twenty four thousand on Sky Sports 1. Full ratings for the Baltimore Ravens narrow victory over the San Francisco 49ers are not available because the overnights stop measuring audiences at 1am. Up until then, BBC2 had an average audience of seven hundred thousand from 11pm. Sky Sports 1 had two hundred and thirty three thousand from 10.30pm. Overall, BBC1 easily won the primetime battle with 25.1 per cent of the audience share versus ITV's twenty per cent.

The Z-List Celebrity Drowning final was the most-watched TV programme on Saturday night. And, in that one sentence, dear blog reader, we have a perfect summation of everything - every single sodding thing - that is wrong with television in the Twenty First Century. Tom Daley's risible, odious five-part ITV diving format, won by Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards (which just about sums it up), concluded with 5.33m sad, lonely victims of society - the reality competition's second highest audience behind the launch show. Opposite it, Britain's Brightest, fronted by Clare Balding, mustered but 4.34m for BBC1, though the channel fared better with Six Nations Rugby: England versus Scotland (5.39m), In It To Win It (4.9m), Casualty (5.16m), a Mrs Brown's Boys repeat (4.78m) and Match of the Day (3.94m). Laughably dreadful Take Me Out maintained 3.99m for ITV whilst The Jonathan Ross Show capped the evening living up to ITV's low Saturday winter standards with 2.9m. Elsewhere, Dad's Army's 1.75m was as good as it got for BBC2, while Channel Four had an even quieter evening with World Without End its best-rated broadcast from 9pm with 1.02m. Nine hundred and fifty six thousand punters caught NCIS on Five. Overall, BBC1 led primetime with 21.7 per cent of the audience share, above ITV's nineteen per cent.

And, still on the subject of ratings, here's the final and consolidated figures for the Top Nineteen shows for week-ending 27 January 2013. You'll notice, if you're sharp like that, a singular lack of any ITV shows in the list. That's because, yet again, it appears they don't seem to have submitted any figures to BARB this week. Thus, it's a BBC-only list:-
1 Call The Midwife - BBC1 Sun - 10.24m
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 9.79m
3 Mrs Brown's Boys - BBC1 Mon - 9.26m
4 Miranda - BBC1 Mon - 8.44m
5 Death In Paradise - BBC1 Tues - 7.98m
6 Africa - BBC1 Wed - 7.58m
7 Silent Witness - BBC1 Thurs - 7.39m
8 Top Gear - BBC2/BBC HD Sun - 6.65m
9 Ripper Street - BBC1 Sun - 6.47m
10 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 6.31m
11 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 6.14m
12 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 6.00m
13 The ONE Show - BBC1 Mon - 5.72m
14 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 5.42m
15 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - BBC1 Sat - 5.20m
16 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 5.03m
17 Holby City - BBc1 Tues - 5.02m
18 The Great Comic Relief Bake Off - BBC2/ BBC HD Thurs - 4.90m
Hopefully next week ITV might just get their shit together and we can have an accurate picture of what, exactly, people are watching on their channel instead of having to rely on overnights.

Thunderbirds, the classic children's TV series will return to ITV in 2015, fifty years after Thunderbird 1 first launched from under the swimming pool on Tracy Island and Parker drove Lady Penelope around in a pink Rolls-Royce, number plate FAB1. The new series, which has the working title Thunderbirds Are Go!, will be made with the New Zealand special effects studio that worked on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Thunderbirds first appeared on ITV in 1965 featuring Gerry Anderson's famous 'supermarionation' puppet techniques. Anderson, whose other TV shows included Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons, Joe 90, UFO, Stingray and Space: 1999, died on 26 December last year, aged eighty three. The twenty six-part series will be made in collaboration with the Oscar-winning Weta Workshop, which worked on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and will be broadcast in the UK on ITV and the CITV channel. It will feature 'a unique mix of CGI animation and live-action model sets,' according to the producers, ITV Studios and Wellington-based Pukeko Pictures. The programme-makers said it would 'deliver a whole new level of action-adventure animation for today's audience, whilst also affectionately paying tribute to the legacy of model locations from the classic series.' ITV Studios UK managing director Denise O'Donoghue said: 'Thunderbirds is a highly respected brand that continues to hold recognition around the world. This cult series is often credited as changing the history of animation and action-adventure, and we look forward to taking the show to another level while retaining the much-loved heritage that has endured over the past fifty years.' Head writer on the new series will be Rob Hoegee, whose credits include Ben Ten, Generator Rex, Teen Titans and Slugterra, names with which Thunderbirds fans who watched the show first time round may not be immediately familiar. Plans for a revival of the much-loved series were first revealed two years ago when Anderson said that the show would be updated using 'all the mod cons.' Richard Taylor, co-owner of Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, said: 'Thunderbirds was a hugely influential television series in my childhood. Having watched it originally in black and white, it was only years later that I discovered the full and rich world that Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Derek Meddings, Mike Trimm and their team created. It is thrilling therefore to think we have the opportunity to work with ITV on this new series inspired by this most wonderful of British shows. I personally, together with the teams here at Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop, look forward to designing and creating an inspirational world that will engage the imagination of a whole new generation as it did for us nearly half a century ago.' ITV Studios retains the worldwide rights to the Thunderbirds brand, and is global distributor of the new series and all its spin-off merchandise. Thunderbirds was turned into a live action film in 2004 but the Hollywood production was poorly received by fans and critics alike. Anderson described it as 'the biggest load of crap I have ever seen in my life.' And, coming from the man who made Space: 1999, that's some statement. Anderson and ITV collaborated on a new CGI version of another of his 1960s supermarionation shows, Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons, broadcast in 2005. Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet was filmed in what was described as 'hypermarionation' – a combination of CGI and motion capture special effects. But, it wasn't very good.

Warren Brown has revealed that his BBC1 drama Good Cop will not return for a second series. The crime thriller premiered in August 2012, but its four-part run was interrupted following a real-life tragedy involving two female police officers. The final episode - which featured scenes of a violent attack on a female police officer - was delayed by three weeks, attracting 1.9m viewers - considerably down from the previous episode's 4.39m. Brown, who played John Paul Rocksavage, revealed on Twitter that a second run is 'not happening.' Good Cop followed Rocksavage as he pursued a violent quest for revenge following the brutal murder of his partner (Tom Hopper) by a gang of criminals. Brown will next be seen reprising his role as Justin Ripley in the third series of Luther, which is currently filming and will be shown on BBC1 later this year.

New seasons of Castle and Body of Proof are to broadcast in the UK on Alibi. The UKTV channel has struck a new deal to shown the fifth and sixth seasons of Nathan Fillion crime drama Castle. A third and potential fourth season of Body of Proof is also part of the deal, making Alibi the first UK channel to premiere new episodes of the hit shows. 'Castle and Body of Proof have been huge successes both Stateside and in the UK and this deal ensures Alibi remains a must-have channel for all fans of crime drama,' said UKTV's head of acquisitions and co-productions Alexandra Finlay. Body of Proof is Alibi's highest-ever rating programme, with season two averaging almost six hundred thousand viewers per episode, up four hundred and fifty per cent on the channel's slot average. The fourth season of Castle averaged three hundred and sixty six thousand viewers - that show's highest ratings yet on Alibi and up sixty five per cent on the slot average. Castle season five will début in the UK in March (although yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been watching preview episodes sent over from the US since last September! - just a bit of bragging, there), while the revamped Body of Proof will follow in July.

A skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park has been confirmed as that of King Richard III. Experts from the University of Leicester said that DNA from the bones matched those of descendants of the monarch's family. Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, from the University of Leicester, told a press conference to applause: 'Beyond reasonable doubt it's Richard.' Richard, who died in 1485, will be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral. His skeleton had suffered ten injuries, including eight to the skull. Upon hearing this, the Department of Work and Pensions immediately declared that Richard III was fit for work. The bones, which are of a man in his late twenties or early thirties, have been carbon dated to a period from 1455 to 1540. Richard was thirty two when he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. By Edmund Blackadder. Allegedly. Speaking at the press conference at the University of Leicester, Doctor Turi King, project geneticist, said there had been 'concern' DNA in the bones would be too degraded: 'The question was could we get a sample of DNA to work with, and I am extremely pleased to tell you that we could.' She added: 'There is a DNA match between the maternal DNA of the descendants of the family of Richard III and the skeletal remains we found at the Greyfriars dig. In short, the DNA evidence points to these being the remains of Richard III.' Richard was killed at Bosworth in 1485 after only two years on the throne. He was given a low-key burial beneath in the church of Greyfriars in the centre of Leicester. But when this building was demolished in the Sixteenth Century the exact location became uncertain and was eventually forgotten. Despite this, a team of enthusiasts and historians traced the likely area - and, crucially, also found a seventeenth-generation descendant of Richard's sister with whose DNA they could compare any remains recovered. In August 2012, an excavation began in a city council car park - the only open space remaining in the likely area - which quickly identified buildings connected to the church. The bones were found during the first days of the dig.

Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev have won the hotly-contested battle for the local TV licence for London, with Ofcom awarding the franchise to the Evening Standard's London Live bid. The victory is significant for Independent proprietors the Lebedevs, with the London franchise regarded as the most lucrative new UK TV licence to be awarded since the launch of Channel Five in 1997. London Live was one of five bids for the licence, and the Lebedevs will be banking on their entry into the UK TV market helping to move their newspaper assets to profitability. The new Evening Standard-backed channel – which will initially offer an eighteen-hour-a-day service covering news, current affairs, entertainment, weather and sport – is critical to building a cross-media portfolio including the loss-making Independent, Independent on Sunday and the i, that will significantly boost appeal for advertisers. An initial five-year plan for London Live will include annual marketing support of five million quid, and it has been indicated that it could launch as soon as September. London Live will be broadcast on channel eight on Freeview, which will give access to potentially four million homes. In its submission the Evening Standard said that it will also launch London Live on Sky and Virgin Media to give blanket coverage of the capital, although this will 'require separate negotiations.' Sky has earmarked channel seventeen, but Virgin Media has not yet assigned a channel. It will cost the Evening Standard up to one million a year in fees to launch across the two platforms, the vast majority on satellite capacity, uplink and playout fees. These are not charges Sky levies – it is satellite companies such as Astra and Eurobird – as it costs each channel on Sky less than one hundred thousand knicker a year in electronic programme guide and platform fees. The Lebedevs' bid won out against four other high-profile rivals competing for the most lucrative of the nineteen licences advertised by Ofcom last year as the first wave of a new generation of local TV services, a concept championed by former lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt. LondonTV, led by former newspaper executive Richard Horwood, was owned by a consortium including newspaper publishers Archant, Tindle and Trinity Mirra. Executives involved in the bid include chairman Clive Jones, the former ITV executive, and former editor-in-chief of ITV News David Mannion. Sir Michael Lyons, the former BBC Trust chairman, headed the bid of YourTV. Steven Norris, the former Conservative MP and candidate for London Mayor, is chairman of YourTV's London bid. Ex-Channel Four chairman Luke Johnson chaired a bid called LondonEight, which was supported by ITN, MeteoGroup, Riverside Studios, Time Out and the Press Association. Other key LondonEight figures include Paul Jackson, the ex-BBC and ITV entertainment executive and producer, William Burdett-Coutts, the producer of Black Books and theatre director Paulette Randall, appointed by Danny Boyle as associate director for the London Olympic 2012 opening ceremony. Former Sky executive and co-founder of pay-TV firm Top Up TV Ian West chaired a bid by Made Television.
News International is closing down the compensation scheme it set up for Scum of the World phone-hacking victims fourteen months after it was launched. The former Scum of the World publisher has decided that applications for damages for alleged phone-hacking will not be considered after 8 April, leaving the company vulnerable to more civil claims through the courts. News International's compensation scheme was set up in November 2011 as part of a move to deal with the apocalyptic fallout from the phone-hacking scandal, which has seen the company pay out millions of pounds in damages and legal costs to high-profile victims ranging from Jude Law to former Labour cabinet ministers Lord Prescott, Tessa Jowell and David Blunkett. 'News Group Newspapers [the News International subsidiary that published the Scum of the World] considers it to be in the interests of all concerned that there be clarity as to the duration of operation of the compensation scheme,' the company said in a statement. The decision to close the scheme demonstrates News International parent company News Corporation's desire to move on from the phone-hacking scandal, which has overshadowed its business for the past two years. With a separate flotation of its global newspaper and book publishing business schedule for later this year, News Corp will want to be perceived as a new company cleansed of much of its toxic past. On Friday the high court will hear formally that at least one hundred and thirty out of one hundred and sixty seven civil claims filed last autumn from individuals including Cherie Blair and David Beckham's father have settled out of court. 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 disgraced and disgraceful tabloid relate to a period between 2000 and 2006, when her husband, Tony Blair, was prime minister. She was one of more than one hundred and seventy people who chose to sue News International in the high court as part of the second wave of claims being presided over by Mr Justice Vos. Vos has been progressing the claims towards a handful of test cases which would set a 'tariff' of damages payable to any future victims. When Vos planned to do this last year with the first tranche of civil cases, the test cases never materialised as News International moved to settle all claims ensuring no trial ever took place. With more than one thousand 'likely' victims identified by Scotland Yard and with only two hundred and thirty eight agreed settlements, News International will continue to be vulnerable to claims even with the closure of its compensation scheme. In September, Sue Akers, the outgoing deputy assistant commissioner in charge of the phone-hacking inquiry at the Metropolitan police, said there were four thousand seven hundred 'potential phone-hacking victims.' Of these, one thousand and sixty nine were 'likely victims' and six hundred and fifty eight had been contacted at that stage. But three hundred and eighty eight were uncontactable and Scotland Yard had chosen not to contact twenty three others 'for operational reasons,' Akers told the home affairs select committee. A spokesman for News International said the company was 'keen from the beginning to settle these cases with minimum delay and minimum stress for all involved.' One imagines they are 'keen.' The compensation scheme launched in April 2011, according to News International – although it did not publicly announce the scheme until November 2011.

The inventor of the classic toy Etch A Sketch®™ has died at the age of eighty six. Andre Cassagnes died in Paris on 16 January, the Ohio Art Company, the US-based firm that made the toy, said. Cassagnes came up with the idea for a mechanical toy which creates erasable drawings by twisting two dials in the late 1950s, while working as an electrical technician. Picked by the Ohio Art Company at a toy fair in 1959, Etch A Sketch®™ went on to sell more than one hundred million copies. Etch A Sketch®™, with its familiar red-frame, grey screen and two white dials, allows children to draw something and shake it away to start again. Cassagnes saw the potential for the toy when he noticed, while working with metal powders, that marks in a coating of aluminium powder could be seen from the other side of a translucent plate. The Ohio Art Company spotted the invention at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in 1959, and the next year it became the top-selling toy in the United States. 'Etch A Sketch®™ has brought much success to the Ohio Art Company, and we will be eternally grateful to Andre for that,' the firm's president Larry Killgallon said. 'His invention brought joy to so many over such a long period of time.' The toy may seem old-fashioned in an age of tablet computers, but the Ohio Art Company says it still has a steady market, thanks in no small part to its appearance in the Toy Story movies. And it became a feature of last year's US presidential campaign, when an aide to Republican candidate Mitt Romney likened his campaign to the toy. 'You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again,' said campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom, a comment seized upon by his rivals as evidence that Romney was willing to change his position simply to get elected. Etch A Sketch®™ has been named by the American Toy Industry Association as one of the most memorable toys of the Twentieth Century. As well as being the man behind Etch A Sketch®™, Cassagnes also developed a reputation as the most successful designer of competition kites in France during the 1980s.

Labour has called for an official investigation into claims that special advisers to the education secretary, rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove, have used the social networking site Twitter to make anonymous attacks on journalists. Stephen Twigglett, the shadow education secretary, has written to the cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, the most senior civil servant, asking for a formal investigation into the claims in the Observer on Sunday, and previous allegations, that staff in the education department were behind an attack on the former children's minister Tim Loughton which labelled him 'a lazy, incompetent narcissist.' As well as looking into the newspaper's claims that the Tory Education Twitter feed is linked to rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove's advisers Dominic Cummings and Henry de Zoete, and the insulting of Loughton, Twigglett wants Heywood to find out if 'official departmental resources' such as computers, BlackBerrys or phones have been used. 'As you will be aware, the special advisers' code specifies that personal attacks are prohibited,' writes Twigglett. 'The highest standards of conduct are expected of special advisers and, specifically, the preparation or dissemination of inappropriate material or personal attacks has no part to play in the job of being a special adviser as it has no part to play in the conduct of public life. Any special adviser ever found to be disseminating inappropriate material will automatically be dismissed by their appointing minister.' The Cabinet Office said that the complaints would be handled by the Department for Education. On Sunday, the Department for Education issued a statement saying: 'If we were to receive any evidence anyone had broken the special advisers' code or civil service code [much of which also covers special advisers], we'd take appropriate steps, but so far no such evidence has been provided.' The Observer said that it had launched an investigation into Tory Education after its political editor, Toby Helm, was personally attacked last week for, among other things, 'being a Labour stooge.' The Twitter feed has previously made personal attacks on the Financial Times's former education correspondent Chris Cook, the Gruniad Morning Star's former education correspondent Jeevan Vasagar and former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell. The Tory Education feed also retweeted an insult from rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove's wife, the odious Sarah Vine, which appears to have been sent a year ago, in which she seems to have said: 'When does Toby Helm stop pretending to objectivity and admit he's a political activist not a neutral reporter.' When contacted by the Observer, De Zoete stated: 'I am not Tory Education' and claimed that he 'did not know' who was involved. Cummings said in an e-mail to the paper that Helm and Cook should take 'a Twitter detox because it's melting your brains, focus on what's important, stop behaving like eight-year-olds.' Loughton, who lost his job in the September reshuffle, has also asked the education department's permanent secretary, Chris Wormald, to investigate an attack on him in the Spectator magazine's Coffee House blog, after he told a select committee that the education department was not making children's issues enough of a priority.

A Champions League tie played in England is one of three hundred and eighty matches across Europe investigators say was or may have been fixed. European police did not reveal the identity of the match they believe was corrupt in England. But Europol did say that they had uncovered 'an organised crime syndicate' based in Asia which was 'co-ordinating the operation.' Some four hundred and twenty five match officials, club officials, players and criminals are suspected of being involved. At a news conference in The Hague, Europol claimed: the fixed Champions League tie in England took place in 'last three or four years'; the identity of that match cannot be revealed due to 'on-going judicial proceedings'; other 'corrupt' matches included World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and 'several top football matches in European leagues'; in Germany-based matches alone, criminals wagered £13.8m on rigged matches and made £6.9m in profits. Officials fear this is merely 'the tip of the iceberg.' Rob Wainwright, director of Europol - the European Union's law enforcement agency, said: 'This is the work of a suspected organised crime syndicate based in Asia and operated with criminal networks around Europe. It is clear to us this is the biggest-ever investigation into suspected match-fixing in Europe. It has yielded major results which we think have uncovered a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe. We have uncovered an extensive criminal network.' Europol, which has been investigating for eighteen months, said suspected matches included World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, two Champions League ties and 'several top football matches in European leagues.' In addition to the £13.8m wagered on Germany-based matches, payments of £1.73m are thought to have been paid to those involved. The biggest payment to an individual was one hundred and twenty one thousand notes, according to investigators. Europol believes a crime syndicate based in Asia was liaising with criminal networks throughout Europe. It believes match-fixing has taken place in fifteen countries and fifty people have so far been arrested. In total, thirty countries and close to seven hundred matches worldwide were examined. Many of the allegations involved matches in lower divisions around Europe. Criminal convictions have been secured in Germany, Finland, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria following investigations. Asked specifically about the allegations surrounding the Champions League tie held in England, Wainwright declined to identify the match because of 'on-going judicial proceedings.' However he did say it happened in the last three to four years, before adding: 'The focus has been on other countries, not the United Kingdom. However we were surprised by the scale generally of the criminal enterprise and just how widespread it was. It would be naive and complacent of those in the UK to think such a criminal conspiracy does not involve the English game and all the football in Europe.'

France's biggest-selling and highly influential sports newspaper L'equipe believes their country has 'saved' yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United. And they don't mind boasting about it. As is the French way. Their front page headline after The Magpies' win at Aston Villains last Tuesday night read Ils Les Aiment Déjà, which translates to They like them already referring to the trio of French débutants who made such a fine first impression. Even better, in the inside pages they claimed Le made in France, ça marche – 'Made in France, it's working!' There will, no doubt, be more of that sort of thing after Saturday's result when Moussa Sissoko's two goals sank Moscow Cheslski FC. But, don't think for a second dear blog reader that the French football public, and the media at large, are overly happy that so many of their best players have left their own country behind for Tyneside. However, that does not mean they are not fascinated that so many of their Frenchmen call Newcastle their home. L’equipe, which sells half a million copies on a daily basis, also has its own television channel in France, and Newcastle United have become big news. One of their journalists, Damien Dubras, was in the city last week to interview Alan Pardew and many of United's French contingent for his popular TV show. He revealed that France doesn't quite know what to make of this French Revolution that is taking place in the North East of a country they've always had an uneasy relationship with. Dubras said: 'We don't like the idea of losing so many of our best players, but there isn't much our clubs can do. And it's crazy that Newcastle have signed so many French players. That would not happen back home. Having seven or eight Englishmen in a French side. We just would not put up with that. Paris St Germain, who are backed by Qatari owners, have the money to buy lots of good foreign players, which they have done, but that has not gone down well with everyone. But in saying that, Newcastle is a big story back home. There were a few French journalists at Alan Pardew's press conference two weeks ago, I was sent over last week and there is another part from L'equipe due next week.' Dubras believes that money more than any other reason is behind the French influx and he is probably right. France president François Hollande recently announced a plan to impose a whopping seventy five per cent tax on footballers’ salaries, a proposal which prompted another headline that read The Death of French Football. The French FA estimated the measure would cost French clubs one billion smackers, albeit it now looks as if the tax rate won't rise to quite so high a figure. Relegation-threatened Queens Park Strangers have signed Loic Remy, a Newcastle target, from Marseille, a move which simply would not have happened ten years ago. As Rennes manager Frédéric Antonetti said: 'The bottom club in England has just nicked one of our best players! Does that not make you wonder what is happening to French football?' Newcastle chief scout Graham Carr - Alan's dad - is the man behind the signings this month of Mathieu Debuchy, Yoan Gouffran, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haidara and Moussa Sissoko, plus the French players already at the club like Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Sylvian Marveaux. 'Will I go on signing players from France? Yes, because I love France and the French players,' Carr told L'Equipe in an interview last week. 'We sign them because we had a lot of success working with Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye. They are really good players very professional, which is essential these days. They are clever, they understand quickly what we want and they have a very interesting tactical culture, and that is because French education is excellent, really.' Not only do Newcastle have to thank France for good footballers, they have also brought some class gourmet as well. Thursday’s menu training ground was soupe a l’oignon, canard, coquille saint jacques, selection de fromages. But, don't think this is all one-way. France have taken ownership of an Englishman this season when Joey Barton signed for Marseille. It does seem that England, and Newcastle in particular, have the better deal.

Shoegazing Irish noisy fuckers My Bloody Valentine have released a new LP - their first record in twenty two years. Called simply MBV it was made available through the band's new official website at midnight on Saturday, although the site crashed shortly afterwards. The four piece, formed in Dublin in 1984 before they moved to London, released their last LP, the acclaimed Loveless in 1991. It went on to become one of the most critically-lauded releases of all time. While MBV is the band's first record in twenty two years, they did perform live at Bestival on the Isle of Wight in 2008. The band's frontman, Kevin Shields revealed plans to release new material in an interview with the NME in November 2012. 'I think with this record, people who like us will immediately connect with something,' he said. 'Based on the very, very few people who've heard stuff - some engineers, the band, and that's about it - some people think it's stranger than Loveless. I don't. I feel like it really frees us up, and in the bigger picture it's one hundred per cent necessary.' It was announced in January that My Bloody Valentine would join Blur and Jessie Ware as part of the line-up at this year's Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona. The band recently played London's Brixton Electric when Shields revealed the new work would be released in a matter of days. On Saturday, an announcement on the band's Facebook page read: 'We are preparing to go live with the new album/website this evening. We will make an announcement as soon as its up.' However, as reported in the NME, the new website crashed 'almost immediately after launching' at midnight on Saturday. The new nine-song work is available exclusively from the band's website. My Bloody Valentine are due to tour the UK in March, following a series of gigs in Japan and Australia in February.

And, on that bombshell here's today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Snap to it.