Friday, April 19, 2013

I Will Take You From This Sickness

The title of the series finale of Doctor Who has been revealed alongside a -rather spiffing - new poster. The BBC announced that the last episode in the current series will be called The Name Of The Doctor. The poster confirms that Alex Kingston will reprise her role as River Song to join Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman for the finale. A teaser for the remaining five episodes reads: 'We've a trip to a haunted house, a journey to the centre of the TARDIS and a nightmare clash with the mighty Cybermen.' Which is nice.
The BBC has also unveiled three further Doctor Who posters. The first image is for Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS by Steve Thompson - which is due for broadcast on Saturday 27 April. The Crimson Horror - yer actual Mark Gatiss's second episode of 2013, which features guest-star Diana Rigg - is the subject of the second picture. The final image showcases Nightmare in Silver. Neil Gaiman's latest Doctor Who script will reintroduce the classic monsters.
Doctor Who is to celebrate its fiftieth year with a third visit to The Proms. The BBC Proms 2013 will mark the popular long-running family SF drama's anniversary with a host of special guests. The first Doctor Who Prom was held in 2008, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 on 27 July and later edited highlights were shown on television on on 1 January 2009. A second concert followed in 2010, hosted by yer actual Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. The BBC Proms 2013 will run from 12 July to 7 September.
MasterChef continued its Thursday dominance topping - or, if you will, telly topping - the overnight ratings for BBC1. The latest heat of the popular cooking competition attracted 4.69 million viewers at 8pm on Thursday evening, only slightly lower than the previous week's equivalent episode. Maureen Lipman's documentary If Memory Serves Me Right was watched by 2.56m at 9pm. Question Time brought in 2.72m at 10.45pm. On BBC2, The Hairy Bikers' Best of British attracted 1.57m at 7pm, followed by James May's Man Lab with 1.69m at 8pm. The documentary Could We Survive A Mega-Tsunami? was seen by 2.24m at 9pm. ITV's thoroughly, noxiously shite two-hour coverage of The 2013 British Animal Honours was watched by 3.20m hapless, crushed victims of society from 8pm. A collective who had, clearly, left their brain-cell in their other suit for the night. BBC4's broadcast of the classic sitcom Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? brought in an impressive six hundred and sixty five thousand at 8pm, and Danny Baker's new series Brushing Up On ... attracted four hundred and forty three thousand half-an-hour later. The final episode of Arty Andrew Graham-Dixon's excellent High Art of the Low Countries had an audience of four hundred and seventy nine thousand at 9pm. Including yer actual Keith Telly Topping once he got in from The Record Player. Just a bit of historical context there, in case future biographers might be interested.
A newspaper - well, the Sun anyway, if you can call it that - has revealed that yer actual Rolf Harris his very self has been questioned by police over historical allegations of sexual offences. The eighty three-year-old entertainer and artist was interviewed under caution after attending police premises in South London by appointment in November. This, of course, is only 'news', per se, to anyone who doesn't have access to a computer. Although the broadcaster Mark Williams-Thomas announced this on Twitter on the day that it happened, no newspaper in Britain named the individual on legal advice from the police. There was, as you'd probably expect, plenty of Internet speculation as to the identity of the man interviewed under caution and that he was, indeed, Rolf Harris. Like this one, for instance - something of a scoop for that particular blogger. On 28 March, the same eighty two year old man, who was said to be from Berkshire, was reported to have been arrested and bailed until May, though he still wasn't named. He was questioned as part of the inquiry set up after claims were made against naughty old scallywag Jimmy Savile although his arrest is unrelated to the former DJ and TV presenter. Operation Yewtree was set up following the death of Savile in 2011, when hundreds of sex abuse allegations came to light. The Metropolitan Police did not name the man either when he was first questioned or following his arrest and have still not formally identified him even at this stage. He is merely described by them as 'Yewtree Five.' Although much of the media in Britain was - seemingly - aware of the individual's identity in November, they chose only to report that an eighty two-year-old man had been questioned. His name was finally reported by the Sun (as a 'world exclusive') on its website and later editions of the newspaper on Friday of this week. Curiously, all this occurred on the very same day that news the Sun's own executive editor, Fergus Shanahan, was to face prosecution over an allegation that he authorised payments totalling seven thousand smackers to a public official broke. Allegations which, of course, Shanahan strongly denies. Although, obviously, the timing of the two stories appearing is completely coincidental. The Sun also reported that Rolf Harris 'vehemently denies' any alleged wrongdoing and does go out of its way to note that, at this time, no charges have been laid against him. Scotland Yard said in March: 'An eighty two-year-old man from Berkshire was arrested by officers on Operation Yewtree on suspicion of sexual offences. He has been bailed to a date in May pending further inquiries. The individual falls under the strand of the investigation we have termed "others."' Rolf, one of twelve people arrested so far as part of Operation Yewtree, has not yet made any public comment. Other high-profile names who have been questioned in connection with the investigation are PR consultant Max Clifford, Freddie Starr, Dave Lee Travis and Jim Davidson - all of whom deny any wrongdoing. Gary Glitter, who was also arrested, has not yet made a public statement. A former driver for the BBC, David Smith, is the only person so far to have been charged with historical sex offences following his arrest in December. A former BBC producer, Wilfred De'Ath, arrested last year in Cambridgeshire over an allegation of indecent assault on a girl in the 1960s, has been told he will not face any charges. The eighty three-year-old Australian, a TV fixture for five decades for his music, art and as a presenter of a variety of television shows about animals, first came to Britain more than sixty years ago. The entertainer, made a CBE in 2006 and Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen's birthday honours last year, had been named in various blogs - although, certainly not this one - and on social media but not by mainstream media until Friday. Channel Five almost immediately has confirmed that the current run of Rolf's Animal Clinic has been removed from its schedules. The channel's Twitter feed stated: 'While this legal matter involving Rolf Harris is on-going we have removed his shows from the Channel Five schedule.'

Meanwhile, lawyers acting for Rolf Harris used 'a controversial passage in The Leveson Report' to try to dissuade the media from naming the entertainer after his arrest, according to the Gruniad. The London law firm Harbottle & Lewis cited Lord Justice Leveson's contentious proposal that the public should be 'prevented from knowing the names of arrest suspects' in all but 'exceptional' circumstances. The Gruniad claims that lawyers told one - anonymous - publisher 'there is no public interest in publishing such content as is entirely self-evident following the publication of The Leveson Report.' Which is a matter of opinion. They go on to state that a publisher - presumably not the same one - was allegedly warned it could be hit with 'an expensive damages bill', even if it correctly named a police suspect, in line with a proposal the lawyers said had been recommended by two high court judges. In the attempt to suppress reports naming Rolf, the law firm seems to have written that the judges, Lord Justice Treacy and Mr Justice Tugendhat. They have been reported to believe 'publications should be forced to pay damages to police suspects who are named by the media, even where they accurately report they have been arrested.' Just to be clear about this, however, there is - at least at the present time - no law against identifying a person who has been formally arrested. Whether there will be one in the future is a different matter entirely and, to be honest, this blogger isn't too bothered if there is. If that's the law, that's the law. But, at the moment, there is not. And it's certainly not illegal to report that someone else - in this case, the Sun - has reported someone has been arrested. That's a matter of public record. The Gruniad goes on to state: 'The BBC and some newspapers, not including the Guardian, are understood to have received a warning letter from Harbottle & Lewis. In one correspondence, the lawyers mentioned the inaccurate BBC Newsnight programme that erroneously linked Lord McAlpine with an allegation of child sex abuse, and the Sun's false story about Louis Walsh that left it with a five hundred thousand Euro damages bill.' The paper also claims that the law firm wrote to one of the websites which named Harris after his arrest - although, somewhat unhelpfully, it doesn't reveal which one - saying: 'Given recent events we are very surprised and indeed highly concerned to note the content on your website.' The firm, allegedly, added that 'the serious consequences of your acting in the manner detailed will not be lost on you' and warned that it 'would appear to us to be without a defence to a libel action.' Except, of course, that it was merely reporting that someone had been arrested and, most certainly not, that he was guilty. Or anything even remotely like it. In its article naming Rolf, the Sun offered what seems to be a defence for publishing the story: 'The Met have repeatedly refused to confirm that Harris had been quizzed -  amid public concerns over "secret" arrests,' it says. Though, as the Gruniad's Roy Greenslade points out, it wasn't 'secret', per se - it was anonymous. Nevertheless, the paper's substantive argument sounds reasonable enough. If someone is arrested, then it is surely justifiable to report that fact, without further comment or any editorialising. Or, maybe it isn't. Time will tell. 'We can't have a situation in which the police decide whether an arrested person is named or not, which appears to be current practice,' Greenslade argues. This one is probably going to end up in a test case being fought somewhere and, as usual, From The North will abide by the law as it currently stands, whatever that ends up as.
The former Blue Peter presenter John Leslie has settled his phone-hacking legal claim against the publishers of Sun's former sister newspaper, the defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. News Group Newspapers, owned by billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch, has agreed to pay Leslie 'substantial' damages, his lawyers told the High Court. He was among the hundreds of victims of the illegal practice which led to the closure of the disgusting tabloid in 2011. Former Tory MP Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine also settled their claim, the court in London heard. The couple received a - hopefully, very grovelling - public apology and accepted 'substantial damages.' None of the claimants was at the hearing, where lawyers read out statements detailing the settlements. The hearing was the fifteenth case management conference relating to phone-hacking legal action brought by scores of prominent figures. Mr Justice Voss also heard that claims brought by the estate of the late reality TV regular - and self-confessed racist - Jade Goody and by political adviser Matthew Doyle had also been settled. Nearly one hundred and fifty people have settled claims over phone hacking with News Group Newspapers so far. Other recently settled cases include those of singer James Blunt and former minister Geoffrey Robinson.

An Elvis impersonator from Mississippi has been charged with allegedly sending a letter containing suspected ricin to US President, Barack Obama. Presumably the idea was to get everybody at The White House, if you will, all shook up. No, you're absolutely right, this isn't really a joking matter. I'm going to have a go, though - it's too good an opportunity to pass up. Paul Kevin Curtis, forty five, was detained on Wednesday in his rhinestone jumpsuit after letters were found addressed to Obama and to a senator. An attorney for Curtis said her client was 'surprised' by the arrest, blamed the situation of suspcious minds and maintained his innocence. But that all of his trials will soon be over. Glory, glory, hallelujah. The FBI earlier said that there was 'no indication of a connection' between the letters and Monday's apparent terrorist attack in Boston. Curtis has also been charged with threatening to harm others, the Department of Justice said. He appeared in court on Thursday for a brief hearing but said little, the Associated Press reports. It mostly consisted of incoherent mumbles and concluded 'thangyouverymusssh.' His attorney, Christi McCoy, told reporters that Curtis 'maintains one hundred per cent that he did not do this.' Initial tests on the letters, identified at remote facilities, showed the presence of the lethal toxin. The letters addressed to the president and Republican Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker were both postmarked Memphis, Tennessee and dated 8 April. They read: 'Maybe I have your attention now even if that means someone must die. To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance,' according to an FBI affidavit released on Thursday. The FBI said that Curtis also, allegedly, sent a third letter positively identified for ricin to a Mississippi justice official. The contents of the letter intended for President Obama were forwarded to an accredited laboratory for further analysis, the FBI said, with results expected in twenty four to forty eight hours. Curtis' relatives earlier expressed shock at the news of his arrest, describing him as 'a natural musical performer' who would impersonate Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. The suspect also wrote online posts about his belief that the government was running 'an illegal trade in human body parts', his cousin, Ricky Curtis, told the Associated Press. Ricin, extracted from castor beans, is one thousand times more toxic than cyanide. It can be fatal when inhaled, swallowed or injected, although it is possible to recover from exposure.

BBC iPlayer saw a record-equalling two hundred and seventy two million requests in March. The on-demand service also saw a higher volume of traffic from tablet than mobiles for the first time, with combined requests from these devices making up thirty per cent of overall viewers. Radio listening grew month-on-month to a record-breaking seventy two million requests - a seven per cent rise on the previous best. Neil Gaiman's Radio 4 science fiction drama adaptation Neverwhere was the most requested radio programme during the month, warding off competition from the ever-popular Radio 4 comedy programming. On the television part of the platform, the two-part Top Gear: Africa Special fared well, pulling in over five an a half million viewers across both episodes. One-off specials Comic Relief 2013 Funny for Money and Our Girl were also popular, as was new series The Voice. Average daily requests reached 8.1 million in March, while weekly requests peaked at sixty one million in the second week of the month. There was a slight downturn in the final week of March, attributed to the Easter holiday.

He may have an image as television's 'Mister Clean', but Phillip Schofield has revealed he had a much wilder lifestyle in the 80s. In an interview by This Morning co-host, witless airhead Holly Willoughby. for fashion magazine Hunger, Schofield claimed that when he was co-presenting Going Live! for the BBC with Gordon the Gopher he was 'a lad' who 'partied a bit.' Blimey. Shocktric shocks. Asked how he managed to hide his 'dark side', the Daily Scum Mail reports that he said: 'It wasn't a case of hiding it. I did the same as everybody else. I was a lad; we partied a bit, but I didn't hide anything. It's just that nobody bothered to look in the right place. You have to remember that doing kids' TV then, you were expected to be the son of Enid Blyton, and that was very difficult. Now you can be much more open, and have a proper life. But then, it was almost, "Oh, you've got a girlfriend. What type of girl is she?" But my mates and I very quickly realised don't go into Central London and have a wild time. By the way, when I say partying, my weakness has always been booze. I never got into drugs, because I wasn't very good at it.' Gordon the Gopher on the other hand ... why do you think you haven't seen him on your screens for so long. I'm just sayin'.

Jennifer Saunders has said that there won't be another series of French and Saunders. So, it seems there is some good news this week after all.

Storm Thorgerson, whose LP cover artwork includes Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, has died aged sixty nine, the band's management has confirmed. A childhood friend of the founding members of the band, Storm became their designer-in-chief, fashioning a string of eye-catching creations. His credits also include Lps by various other long-haired hippies like Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel and Muse. His family released a statement saying that he died peacefully on Thursday 'surrounded by family and friends. He had been ill for some time with cancer though he had made a remarkable recovery from his stroke in 2003,' it said. 'He is survived by his mother Vanji, his son Bill, his wife Barbie Antonis and her two children Adam and Georgia.' The Pink Floyd guitarist and vocalist Dave Gilmour released a statement of his own in which he said the artworks Storm created for the band had been 'an inseparable part of our work.' He said: 'We first met in our early teens. We would gather at Sheep's Green, a spot by the river in Cambridge and Storm would always be there holding forth, making the most noise, bursting with ideas and enthusiasm. Nothing has ever really changed. He has been a constant force in my life, both at work and in private, a shoulder to cry on and a great friend. I will miss him.' A statement on the band's official site said: 'We are saddened by the news that long-time Pink Floyd graphic genius, friend and collaborator, Storm Thorgerson, has died. Our thoughts are with his family and many friends.' Storm began his career with UK design group Hipgnosis, founded in the late 1960s and his distinctive style made him one of the industry's most recognisable artists. There was the mournful-looking cow on the front of Atom Heart Mother, the burning businessman on the sleeve of Wish You Were Here, the giant pig flying over Battersea Power Station on Animals and the prism spreading a spectrum of colour across The Dark Side Of The Moon. He told the BBC in 2009: 'It's a nice but simple idea. Refracting light through a prism is a common feature in nature, as in a rainbow. I would like to claim it, but unfortunately it's not mine!' The idea, he said, was sparked by Pink Floyd's keyboard player, the late Richard Wright. 'He said, somewhat provocatively, "Let's not have one of your photos, we've had your photos before. Can't we have a change? A cool graphic - something smart, tidy, elegant."'

Police have renewed their appeal to try to catch alleged fraudster Peter Stead who had apparently claimed he was Peter Kay’s brother Danny, to try to trick pub landlords out of cash by offering to put on comedy nights. The incidents took place in Derby in 2009, but they are still no closer to catching him – despite an appeal on Crimewatch. The bobbies are also said to be looking for Kay himself. For crimes against comedy.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day which, for the second day running, I'm afraid, is Pulp's Different Class. Simply because Thursday night's Record Player at the Tyneside was such a stone groove. Three weeks off and you forget how good it can be to just gather with some mates, have a beer (or, in yer actual Keith Telly Topping's case, a mineral water cos he's "on pills" at the moment) and listen to a, genuinely, great record. As yer Uncle Scunthorpe his very self noted: 'A splendid night was had by all. The Pulp Group's long player is a fine piece of work, 'I Spy' is worth the price of admission alone. Thanks to all who came along.' Whom is yer actual Keith Telly Topping to argue, dear blog reader? Kate Bush next week. The Kick Inside. Wild and Windy, tho' it be. Anyway, here's limp-wristed pansy-fop - and national treasure - yer actual Jervis Cockup and his friends (with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by the great Anne Dudley), with a sodding masterpiece.