Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Love Just Like Addiction Now I'm Hooked On You

Former national heartthrob yer actual David Tennant has spoken publicly for the first time about his return to Doctor Who. The actor is coming back to the BBC show for the fiftieth anniversary special, just in case you've been living in a cave on Mars for the last month or so. Speaking to the Radio Times, Tennant discussed how he felt about getting back into his old suit and baseball boots. 'It is strange being back in the same suit, but it also feels very familiar and comfortable,' he said. And the boots? Not a word. 'There's nothing quite like Doctor Who. It has a wonderful excitement about it. I always had happy times there.' Tennant added: 'It's lovely to be around Billie again, even though I see her all the time anyway.' Discussing which monsters will feature in the fiftieth, former Doctor Who writer Robert Banks Stewart revealed this week that his creation, The Zygons, could be joined by 'others - particularly the Daleks and the Cybermen. [But] nobody yet knows what the plot of the fiftieth will be - Steven Moffat and his team in Cardiff, they are quite rightly keeping it all secret.' Quite rightly. At least, until you opened your month, Bobby. Mind you, he had something vastly important to plug at the time - see below.

The Syndicate won the Tuesday ratings battle for BBC1, overnight data has revealed. The penultimate episode of the drama climbed slightly from last week's overnight audience to 5.23 million viewers at 9pm. Earlier, The ONE Show brought in 4.12m at 7pm, while The Matt Lucas Awards spectacularly failed to amuse 1.62m sad lonely people at 10.45pm. On BBC2, The Hairy Bikers' Best of British attracted 1.61m at 7pm. The Great British Sewing Bee continued to pull in very decent figures - 2.52m - at 8pm, while Keeping Britain Alive: NHS in a Day achieved 1.74m at 9pm. ITV's Tonight special was seen by 1.51m at 7.30pm, followed by a repeat of Midsomer Murders with 2.51m at 8pm. Prince Charles's Royal Paintbox attracted 1.14m at 10.45pm. On Channel Four, Bedtime Live was watched by five hundred thousand punters at 8pm. New series Secrets of the Shoplifters opened to a decent 1.93m at 9pm. Channel Five's highlight was the latest CSI with 1.52m at 9.15pm.

In Tuesday night's - repeated - episode of Midsomer Murders one of the characters (a scientist) asked Detective Inspector Barnaby if he's ever heard of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Neil Dudgeon, displaying more than decent comic timing, paused for a split second before replying 'I'm not sure!' Heh. Very good. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping at that point noted that's one more joke than Jack Whitehall has managed in his entire career.
Just occasionally, dear blog reader, yer actual From The North, gets the most bizarre of traffic heading its way. Case in point, I'm sure you'll all remember the 'Anna Meares bum' malarkey from last year. If not, trust me, it was a cracker. On Wednesday of this week, the blog had possibly the single strangest of hits yet upon its unworthy doorstep. Someone - from Syosset, New York, apparently - landed on From The North having, seemingly, done a Google search using the phrase 'Keith Topping arrested, federal.' Blimey. I'm not sure exactly what this person thought yer actual Keith Telly Topping had done to get himself of the FBI's most wanted list. 'Reviewing a Doctor Who episodes in a loud shirt in the built-up area during the hours of darkness' possibly. I threw meself upon the mercy of this court, yer honour and ask for seventeen hundred and nine other offences to be taken into consideration. I'm just a simple recidivist. Or, as Madness once noted, 'I'm as honest as the day is longer. The longer the daylight, the less I do wrong.'
Yer actual Dara O Briain has said that the Mock The Week panel became 'a bear pit' during the period when Mad Frankie Boyle was its star turn. Indeed. That's why most of us watched it, to be fair. The show's host discussed his feelings on the series, which will be celebrating its one hundredth episode next month. O Briain told the Radio Times: 'We've been through a few different versions of it in the one hundred years it feels like we've been doing it. If you look back at the first series there are eight rounds! But even Have I Got News For You had that phase, where they tried every round for a minute and a half each. Way too much stuff.' The host also discussed how the show has changed since Mad Frankie Boyle left. 'Now it's much more reflective. It may be we're all a little bit older. Or maybe it's because Frankie has gone,' he said. 'But there's not the same emphasis on savage one-liners. It's much more of a messing-around kind of show, which for me is a lot more fun.' He added: 'Frankie would distill the discussion into a brilliantly punchy killer line. Some [comedians] are open-ended: they say something to add to the discussion and move it along, riffing on it. Frankie would be more: bang! That's the end of that. That's the last word on that topic. That was his genius – and it was perfectly suited for the editing of this kind of show - but it did breed an atmosphere where everyone had to get in there as quickly as possible. We became a bit of a bear pit. People who do it now don't find that.' O Briain also felt that Russell Howard's departure soon after Boyle's affected how the show has mellowed. 'It wasn't just that Frankie's comedy was dark: he and Russell would bang it across to each other and the other four, and me, would have to find windows within that,' he said. 'When Chris Addison came in, his natural thing is to pick up things that have been said and run with them, to be listening as much as talking and look for off-the-cuff things – that's my instinct too. That's why it's shifted in that direction.'

FOX has pulled a recent episode of Family Guy that depicted people being run over by a car at the Boston Marathon from its websites. The television network says it has 'no plans' to broadcast it again 'soon.' Whatever the hell that means. In the episode, Peter Griffin has a flashback about crashing into runners to win the race. A hoax clip making its way around the web has also been criticised after it joined that scene together showing Griffin making friends with an extremist. When Peter dials a mobile phone a friend has given him, explosions and screams are heard in the background. The edited clip makes it seem as though the explosions were at the marathon but they appear later in the same episode, called Turban Cowboy and are unrelated. Some commentators - with, seemingly, less braincells than the average mollusc - have since claimed that the show 'predicted' the bombings. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane criticised the hoax clip on Twitter and offered his condolences to the victims of Monday's bombings at the Boston marathon in which three people died and at least one hundred and seventy were injured. He said: 'The edited Family Guy clip currently circulating is abhorrent. The event was a crime and a tragedy and my thoughts are with the victims.' Officials at FOX say they are 'working with YouTube' to take down edited clips on the site. Meanwhile, Film4 has taken the film Four Lions out of its schedule for next week. Chris Morris's much-acclaimed satire is about a group of - rather incompetent - British Muslims planning a bomb attack at the London Marathon.

Veteran television writer Robert Banks Stewart - see above - has claimed that older writers are 'neglected' by today's television industry. Of course, he did this whilst doing interviews to plug his début novel because, as they always used to say in Hollywood, good publicity is great, bad publicity is good but no publicity is effing terrible. Banks Stewart - who created the popular detective dramas Bergerac and Shoestring thirty odd years ago - spoke to the Digital Spy website about his decision to adapt his TV pitch The Hurricane's Tail into his first novel. 'Back when I was still firing in possible new series, I began to feel that the attitude was "He's nearly seventy, this guy - forget it." It was a bit deflating when a Head of Drama doesn't write back to you, but gets his secretary to do it,' whinged the eighty one-year-old who also wrote for The Avengers, The Sweeney, Doctor Who, The Darling Buds of May and Lovejoy. Mostly about forty years ago. 'That was my experience then and there's a lot of writers I know - especially around my age - who have been finding it very hard to get any ideas over.' Banks Stewart also criticised 'top executives' for 'relying' on tried and tested TV formats. 'I think it's a bit boring that the BBC goes along with Silent Witness and Casualty and Holby City and New Tricks - I just think a lot of today's younger writers must have a lot of marvellous ideas that don't get taken up,' he said. And on and on this bitter, whinging old gabag went; this blogger has never understood this obsession that many TV professionals seem to have with dissing the work of other people in the industry, seemingly under the - wholly inaccurate - assumption that it'll get them more work. As though this interview is suddenly going to get the BBC drama department thinking: 'My God, he's so right, we've been fools onto ourselves' rather than, the far more likely 'don't let the door bump into your arse on the way out, granddad.' 'The top executives are too scared to make a decision,' he claimed. Although, since he wasn't worked in TV, by his own admission, for a decade or more how, exactly, he knows this, he didn't elaborate. 'The BBC has got into ratings - it's all-important that they mustn't lose their grip and they must continue to challenge ITV,' Banks Stewart continued. But then, he seemed to sense that his career suicide note was, possibly, going a shade too far and he, hurriedly, added: 'I'm not suggesting that, across the board, the BBC doesn't mount many fine programmes - of course it does. But I think possibly in the thriller area, they've taken to doing these two- or three-part things which are all terribly alike. I'm not the only person to say that - I think it's been shocking recently.' Banks Stewart's novel The Hurricane's Tail is out now. he'd like you to buy it. Although, I don't imagine too many people in the BBC are going to be flocking to Waterstones after that example of throwing toys out of prams.
ITV is developing a new real-life crime drama titled The Widower. The project will be based on the life of Malcolm Webster - a nurse who was convicted of killing his first wife and attempting to murder his second, Broadcast reports. It is currently unclear if The Widower will be made as a one-off or a multi-episode drama. The dramatisation is being co-produced by Jeff Pope for ITV Studios - Pope previously worked on Fred West drama Appropriate Adult.
The vile and odious rascal Miller, the lack of culture secretary, has insisted that allegedly 'controversial' draft legislation to allow courts to impose massive and swingeing 'exemplary' damages on newspapers who lose libel cases do not breach human rights laws, and marks 'an improvement' in press regulation. The proposal to introduce exemplary damages remains arguably the biggest stumbling block for the government in gaining the backing of the newspaper industry for its plan to introduce press reforms prompted by Lord Justice Leveson's report. Labour MP Paul Farrelly, a member of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee which quizzed the vile and odious rascal Miller on Tuesday, asked if she was sure the exemplary damages proposal was 'legally watertight.' Farrelly said the press industry called in lawyers to give a legal opinion which warned that the exemplary damages proposal breached Article Ten of the European convention on human rights, which protects freedom of expression. The vile and odious rascal Miller replied: 'I believe, absolutely, this is going to be something that we will be happy to see not only put in place in terms of the approach that we want to take to press regulation in this country but that it is absolutely right in terms of European law as well. We are absolutely clear that what's been put forward here is not only good in terms of an improvement of the regulation available in Britain but it is also absolutely compliant with all legislation.' That's four uses of the word 'absolutely' in a sentence. Don't these people ever read a Thesaurus? Farrelly then asked Oliver Letwin, the cabinet office minister and one of the key architects of the government's press reform proposals, why he was smirking as Miller made her defence of the exemplary damages clause. That's because he's a smug, odious, oily Tory git and finds himself entirely unable to get that look off his boat, Paul. It's a problem he shares with several of his colleagues. See also Hunt, Jeremy, Osborne, George, Duncan-Smith, Iain, et cetera. Et cetera. This blogger's own theory is that, when they were young and their mothers told them if the wind changed, their collective face would stay like that, the wind, actually, did change. Absolutely. 'I was only smiling at the thought that somehow we would have entered into this without seeking legal advice,' he smarmed. 'We did, not only within government but from [outside] counsel, and we are very confident.' Conservative MP John Whittingdale, the culture select committee chairman, asked if the government's plans were 'doomed to failure' given there had been a 'wholly negative' reaction from the newspaper industry to signing up to the new royal charter-backed system. Of course, there's also wholly-negative reaction from within the bank robbing industry to the law which says armed blaggers get fifteen years in stir. 'I believe the incentives to be part of the self-regulatory body are strong and compelling when you look at the opportunities afforded,' the vile and odious rascal Miller responded. 'The other side is the potential for exemplary damages if they aren't part of the system. I'm an optimist in this case. Lord Justice Leveson in his report made it clear it is important in the process we follow that we take both the public and press with us. We've made a great deal of progress with the proposals and we are now pursuing working with the press with, I think, quite legitimate issues they raised.' The vile and odious rascal Miller and smug, oily Letwin were repeatedly questioned about the 'viability' of the government's plans, with right-wing Conservative louse Philip Davies accusing them of being 'in denial' about the prospects of getting the newspaper industry on board. The vile and odious rascal Miller replied: 'Hush your mouth, ass-wipe, or we get Big Dave to send some pipe-hittin' homies roun' your drum to administer a well-heavy punishment beatin' an' ting.' Well, no, actually she didn't. But it would've been pure dead funny if she had. Instead, she droned: 'We haven't yet set this up, it is a little premature to say not signed up. It is important not to develop an approach in blessed isolation of the people who are actually going to be setting up the self regulation itself. I believe what we set out is a fair approach and something which given conversations we've had is something industry will want to carefully consider.' Letwin spent considerable time attempting to debunk what he viewed as a 'glorious mythology' that has built up around the role that campaigning group Hacked Off played in the late-night talks between the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems which resulted in the political deal last month that allowed the press reform legislation to move forward. Letwin claimed that the press reform pressure group's involvement in the cross party talks in the late night and early morning of the Sunday 17 and Monday 18 March came after the main elements had already been hammered out. 'The things that we put forward at an earlier hour were broadly accepted,' he said. 'There was no major negotiation that went on, I'm sorry to say, to disabuse you of this glorious mythology, in the course of the early hours [of Monday morning]. What did happen was we documented a heads of terms that reflected what we had put forward at 3pm and 6pm [on Sunday, before Hacked Off became involved]. Negotiation was complete effectively by 6pm.'

Mrs Brown’s Boys creator and star Brendan O'Carroll has revealed that he once worked as Margaret Thatcher's butler. He spent four days 'attending' to the former Prime Minister during a 1984 EU leaders' summit in Dublin Castle, as part of a hospitality team looking after foreign leaders. 'The first thing Mrs Thatcher said to me when she got out of the helicopter was that she wanted an Irish whiskey,' O'Carroll recalled. 'She said it was her first time in Ireland and she had always wanted to try an Irish whiskey.' But the comedian, whose mother Maureen was a Labour Party MP, was no fan of The Iron Lady. 'I didn't like her,’ he told Dublin's Herald newspaper. 'Being from a strong trade union family, a Labour family, I wasn't predisposed to like her, but at the same time, I was very professional in my gig and tried to look after her the best I could.' O'Carroll confirmed that Thatcher worked late into the early hours of the morning. 'I can remember being woken up one night by Mrs Thatcher's MI5 security team, who told me that the Prime Minister wanted "hot milk and pepper." I brought it down to her, and years later when RTE offered me a quiz show and asked what I should call it, I said Hot Milk And Pepper,' he added. The show ran for two series between 1996 and 1998. O'Carroll confessed to mixed feelings about Baroness Thatcher's recently death: 'A family is mourning the loss of their mother but the miners in England, they had families and Bobby Sands had a family. There were too many negatives.' O'Carroll is about to start writing two Christmas specials of Mrs Browns' Boys for the BBC. He recently announced a 2014 stage tour of the show for Australia and has just signed a publishing deal for Mrs Brown’s Family Handbook, an illustrated hardback with comic tips on running a household.

Craig Revel Horwood has said that he feels The Voice loses its appeal once the coaches' chairs spin round. And, in today's other big news, apparently, the Pope is Catholic, after all. The Strictly Come Dancing judge said that the BBC talent show's mentors should stay facing the opposite way until the final stage of the competition. 'I really like the fact they are listening to people without having to see them,' he told Richard Bacon's BBC Radio 5Live show. 'But as soon as they turn around in the chairs it becomes like any other talent show.' Yes. We'd noticed. He added: 'It could work quite easily by people singing behind screens right up until the end and then it is only in the final when the judges don't have any say that they get to see them. I might suggest it to the BBC and make millions!' Revel Horwood also said that his former Strictly colleague the odious greed bucket (and drag) Alesha Dixon made a 'terrible mistake' leaving for Britain's Got Talent, saying: 'We are the highest-rating show on telly.' However, he added that her replacement, Darcey Bussell, is 'a better judge,' stating: 'Alesha is the only one of that panel that has actually been down those stairs and had to dance in front of fourteen million people - and she went on to win it. But Darcey is a more accomplished judge as she has been a prima ballerina for the past twenty five years.' As opposed to a greedy prima donna, like Alesha, one presumes.

The BBC's best-loved comedies and dramas will no longer be seen first on its Australian counterpart, the ABC, but on Rupert Murdoch's fifty per cent-owned pay TV channel, Foxtel, as of the middle of next year. In a deal that took the ABC by surprise, BBC Worldwide will launch a Drama and Lifestyle channel on Foxtel, Australia's major pay-TV network. It means BBC drama and comedy will be fast-tracked to Australia on Foxtel, with free-to-air broadcasters having the right to bid to run programmes twelve months later. The main exception to the deal is, Doctor Who, for which the ABC has a 'lifetime series agreement' - much to the popular family SF drama's legion of loyal fans down under. Factual programmes such as Qi - also hugely popular in Oz - and Grand Designs will also remain on the ABC. 'This deal represents a strategic opportunity for BBC Worldwide to further expand our opportunities to showcase outstanding British creativity in Australia,' said Jon Penn, managing director of BBC Worldwide Australasia. The BBC already has four existing channels on Foxtel: BBC Knowledge, UKTV, CBeebies and BBC World News, which will remain unchanged. The Foxtel clief executive, Richard Freudenstein, said the BBC is 'loved across the world' by millions of viewers. Yes, it is. Although your boss isn't a fan, matey. 'By strengthening our relationship with the BBC we will greatly enhance the viewing experience we offer our subscribers, with even more high-quality content that can only be seen on the Foxtel platform and which we show as soon as possible after its original broadcast,' he said. Foxtel is half owned by News Corporation, with the remaining stake held by Australia's biggest telecommunications company, Telstra. Foxtel says it has a thirty per cent 'market penetration', though some analysts put it at closer to twenty five per cent. This is significantly lower than the pay-TV take-up in the UK (more than fifty per cent) and in the US (nearly ninety per cent). Recently Foxtel's emphasis has been on acquiring quality drama to complement its sports channels. 'We recognise that home TV drama is now the place to be,' said Bruce Meagher, Foxtel's director of corporate affairs in Australia. The ABC was 'not aware' the BBC was negotiating with another broadcaster for the first-play rights to its comedies and dramas until the day before the deal was announced and is said to be righteously pissed-off about the whole affair, fair dinkum, y'Pommy barstard. It did not get the opportunity to rebid for its ten million smackers, three-year contract. The new deal with Foxtel is thought to be worth significantly more. 'The ABC is "disappointed" that this decision was taken without any consultation,' a spokesperson said, through gritted teeth. 'There have been previous attempts by commercial media to outbid the ABC for BBC programming aired in Australia. In the past, the ABC has been able to point to our audience share, distinctive reach and the unique relationship between the two organisations which has lasted fifty years.' Communications analyst Paul Budde says acquiring of BBC comedies and dramas in this way is unlikely to reverse the fortunes of pay-TV in Australia, where penetration has remained relatively low, largely because of the high costs of subscription (the monthly cost for receiving the new BBC Drama and Lifestyle channel on Foxtel will be sixty three Australian dollars, which is about forty quid in proper money). 'People can pick up TV series from the Internet, including from Britain,' he said. Yes, but that's very naughty. 'There will always be ways to by-pass the sorts of elements that the BBC and Foxtel want to put in place.'

The Football Association has confirmed that the FA Cup final will kick-off at 5.15pm and be broadcast on ITV and ESPN. The Saturday 11 May clash at Wembley will be between odious Wigan Athletic, who beat Millwall 2-0 in their Saturday semi-final, and Sheikh Yer Man City, who overcame Moscow Chelski FC 2-1 a day later. Both semi-finals were also played at 5.15pm, with claims that all-day drinking was a factor in the violence of Millwall fans in the stands. Prior to those ties, FA general secretary Alex Horne defended the late kick-off, telling the Gruniad Morning Star: 'We're now used to consuming our football in those time slots. It really works. Lunchtime kick-offs just haven't got the same appeal. The 5.15pm kick-off for the final was really successful. We added a couple of million viewers. It's a sensible compromise.' And, the fact that supporters of both of the teams appearing in the final will have a mad-scramble down the Jubilee Line to Euston to get the last trains back up to Lancashire doesn't appear to have factored into the FA's decision in the slightest, certainly not ahead of TV ratings figures and money. As usual. As this blogger had noted previously the day he first realised football was changing, rapidly, for the worse was back in 1990 during the BBC's coverage of that year's FA Cup Final. One of the teams taking part was second division Crystal Palace (who, eventually lost in the replay to The Scum). Their chairman, Ron Noades, was interviewed and said something genuinely chilling (this isn't an exact quote, incidentally, but it's close enough): Gone are the days, he noted, when fans could make demands of clubs based on the old "I pay the players wages with my money through the turnstiles" reasoning. Attendance receipts probably only make up around fifty per cent of clubs income these days, the rest coming from merchandising, advertising and sponsorship. Now, remember, this was 1990, two whole years before the Sky TV deal came in and made the situation a whole hell of a lot worse with the vast amount of wonga it poured into (and then, straight out of) the game. I remember thinking at the time: 'That may well be true, Ron me auld son, but I'll tell you what. You and all of the other wide-boys who run our clubs would all shite in yer own pants and run and effing mile if next week no one turned up. Then we'd see how long such a cavalier attitude would exist from clubs to what their fans did and didn't want from them.' But, of course, that will never happen. Our fandom always works against us. Anyway, back to this odious glake Horne (what an apt name, incidentally), who added: 'When we designed the new national stadium, we knew we needed to put content in it. That's what is paying for the stadium. Over time we are paying off the debt we had to incur to build the stadium. Investing in Wembley is investing in football. It's a positive for all of football.' And there you have it, dear blog reader, the perfect example of why football is in the state it's in. Because now, instead of matches it's 'content.'

Channel Four has commissioned a three-episode series based around a fried chicken shop. The news comes after the success of one-off Cutting Edge documentary The Fried Chicken Shop: Life in a Day, which gave an insight into the running of The Rooster Spot in Clapham and was the most tweeted-about show in the week that it was broadcast in February. Not that there's necessarily any correlation between something that is tweeted about and massive ratings, but there you go. The three sixty-minute programmes will be based in the same establishment and will feature some familiar faces from the documentary as well as new customer stories. In a change from the original format, the show will also follow take-away customers into their homes. 'Chicken Shop really captured the imagination of viewers,' said Hannah Wyatt, Director of Programmes at Mentorn Media. Well, of some viewers, anyway. The sort that like to post 'OMG, LOL Dd U C that?!!!!!!!!!' [sic] The fact that, by a considerable distance, the most tweeted about TV in Britain in The Only Way Is Essex which pulls in an average weekly audience on about one million sad, crushed victims of society when, for instance, University Challenge gets three times as many viewers but, probably, about one hundred times less tweets about it is not, entirely, insignificant at this juncture. 'The enthusiastic response on Twitter showed the immediate support – including John Prescott, Boy George and Lily Allen all loving it. We saw that it really was a talking point and we're delighted that we'll be able to offer all those fans more views from the shop and beyond.' Channel Four's Commissioning Editor Emma Cooper said: 'The Fried Chicken Shop really struck a chord with the nation. The team worked hard to make a film that felt significantly fresh and innovative for us to want to serve up more of it.'

BBC staff have, apparently, won a victory after they were banned from making their own toast - but they are still barred from picking up hot sausages. A new contractor, BBC Club, had changed the rules at the corporation's canteen at the Media Centre at White City in West London, sparking complaints from staff. It has now installed a special toaster at a 'remote point' in the café. One alleged BBC worker allegedly told the Mirra: 'I resent the fact that someone in a pinny can tell me I can't take care of myself. I'm perfectly capable of making a meal at home, so can easily manage a bit of self-service.' The BBC told the Torygraph that the changes were due to 'space limitations and not any health and safety rules.'
Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif have lost their appeals at the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have their bans from cricket overturned. Ex-Pakistan captain Butt, bowler Asif and team-mate Mohammad Amir were all found to be extremely guilty of spot-fixing in 2011 and were jailed and declared to be very naughty men. Butt is said to be 'bitterly disappointed' and his legal team plan to continue to fight the ban. 'In the coming days and weeks, we will be exploring every other available avenue,' said one of his legal team. Butt is banned for ten years, with five years suspended, while bowler Asif is banned for seven years, two of which are suspended. 'Salman has been in a very dark place over the last few years and he was hoping that he would be successful in this appeal,' added Butt's legal advisor Amer Rahman. 'The dark place', presumably, being Strangeways. Butt, Amir and Asif were found to have deliberately bowled no-balls as part of a ham-fisted betting scam during the Lord's Test against England in August 2010. All three were subsequently convicted and jailed in November 2011 for their badness. 'Anyone that has met Salman will know of his passion for cricket. It's in his heart and soul,' said Daniel Rajah, Butt's solicitor. 'All Salman has ever wanted is to play the sport he loves. It is therefore extremely disappointing that the decision has gone against him. Over the coming weeks and months we will do our best to support Salman and we will be doing everything we can for him.' Asif also had his appeal heard on Thursday and discovered shortly after Butt that he, too, had failed to have his ban overturned. The third cricketer, Amir, who was eighteen at the time of the offence, was banned for five years and sentenced to six months in jail. He did not appeal against his ban.

For Wednesday's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's Vince and Alf and a little pop classic, managing to ignore the ignominy of being introduced on Top of the Pops by Simon Bates.