Sunday, June 30, 2013

Week Twenty Eight: Gathering Remarkably Little Moss

Yer actual Rolling Stones' hit-packed Glastonbury début has been hailed as 'the high spot of forty three years' of the festival by organiser Michael Eavis. Mind you, he always says that after the headliners have, as it were, rocked the shack. Or, rocked the field, anyway. Still, it must be said, for a bunch of old age pensioners, Mick, Keef, Charlie, Rockin' Ronnie and their pals were on jolly fine form on Saturday evening. The veteran rockers opened their set with 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', with yer actual Mick Jagger prowling the stage in a green sequinned jacket like a gloriously camp auld queen. So, you know, no change there, then! Sir Mick The Jag repeatedly thanked the massive crowd and, after 'It's Only Rock 'N' Roll', joked that organisers had 'finally got round to asking us' to play. In actual fact, according to Eavis, the Stones have been begged to grace Britain's longest-running festival with their presence for most of the last thirty years. Tens of thousands of fans raucously cheered the two-hour-plus set featuring twenty songs. The BBC, as previously arranged, broadcast an hour's worth of the set - basically, the second half, introduced by Mark Radcliffe - which included 'Miss You', a startling eleven minute version of 'Midnight Rambler', the surprise of the evening a version of 1967's 'Two Thousand Light Years From Home', a virtual sing-a-long 'Sympathy For The Devil', 'Start Me Up', 'Tumbling Dice', 'Brown Sugar' and an encore of 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' before their traditional set-closer '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'. Among the songs the Beeb didn't get to broadcast were 'Paint It Black', a glorious 'Gimme Shelter', 'Wild Horses' and Keef's standard solo spot, 'Happy'. The Stones' former guitarist Mick Taylor made one of his now-regular appearances with the band, playing on 'Can't You Hear Me Knocking?', 'Midnight Rambler' and the final encore. Chief among the highlights was a new version of the relatively obscure 1968 song 'Factory Girl' (from Beggars Banquet), re-titled 'Glastonbury Girl' and featuring new lyrics, including a - possibly pointed - reference to Primal Scream, the band which preceded The Stones on The Pyramid Stage. Jagger, who has been camping on site – albeit in a luxury yurt – said that the rearrangement had been inspired by a visit to Shangri-La, the festival’s notorious late-night party district. Speaking immediately after the band came off-stage, festival organiser and landowner Eavis called it 'the high spot of forty three years of Glastonbury. They finally did it, and it was fantastic.' Eavis also said that he had bumped into Prince Harry at the festival during the day, 'and I recommended he stay the night.' The Stones had arrived on stage after playing an intro tape featuring the sounds of Worthy Farm's usual residents, three hundred and fifty dairy cows. Eavis was heard saying 'we waited a long time' as the unmistakable rhythm track of 'Sympathy For The Devil' played and the crowd spontaneously broke into the familiar 'whoo whoo' chant. 'It's great to be here doing this show, doing this festival,' said Jagger after 'It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (But I Like It)'. 'After all these years they finally got round to asking us,' he added. Charlie Watts gave the joke a desultory 'boom-tish' cymbal crash. The band had modified The Pyramid stage with three catwalks, allowing Jagger to bridge the cavernous gap which separates most Glastonbury performers from the audience. It was in almost constant use as the sixty nine-year-old knight of the realm strutted back and forth, clapping his hands and thrusting his thick-lipped pout into the air. So, a normal Stones gig in other words. Yer man Saint Keef Richards his very self, his guitar slung low around his skinny jeans, was handed the microphone for a couple of songs (Let It Bleed's 'You Got The Silver' along with the regular 'Happy'), and former Stones' guitarist Mick Taylor joined the band to layer an intricate blues solo over 1969's 'Midnight Rambler'. Taylor was the only 'surprise' guest of the night (and, to be fair, it wasn't that much of a surprise), despite ridiculous rumours that Adele or even Bruce Springsteen would make an appearance. After ninety minutes, 'Sympathy For The Devil' got an airing, as flares turned the sky red and a mechanical phoenix rose from atop the Pyramid stage. Jagger said: 'We've been doing this for fifty years or something. And if this is the first time you've seen a band, please come again.' Fireworks lit up the farm and the band took a series of bows, while the audience continued to chant the riff to 'Satisfaction'. Meanwhile, at the Acoustic Tent, The Bootleg Beatles played a few Stones riffs and commented: 'Sign of a good band - you've got to know when to split up!' Earlier on Saturday proceedings had started with Malian musician Rokia Traore, whose upbeat blend of African roots, blues and jazz gave early risers a chance to dance off the fog of a late night watching Chic's astonishing set on Friday. A headliner at this year's Womad festival, Traore was offered a Glastonbury slot as a gesture of solidarity with Mali, where Islamist militants have all but banned music in some areas of the country. Yer man Billy Bragg got into the spirit of the day by playing the classic Stones ballad 'Dead Flowers' during his set, while soul singer Laura Mvula welcomed the sun by breaking into a sing-a-long rendition of Bob Marley's 'One Love'. Mvula, who only released her début CD Sing To The Moon, in March, said that stepping out on the festival's main stage was 'overwhelming. There's nothing like it. A sort of nervousness I've never experienced before. It was like a mental battle - the goal was to get through it and enjoy as many moments as possible.' Other highlights from a very impressive Saturday's line-up included Aussie Bollywood-surf fusion outfit The Bombay Royle, a great mid-afternoon hit-packed set from Elvis Costello & The Imposters, a masterful set from rap pioneers Public Enemy, The Orb, Rudimental in the dance tent (particularly a staggering version of 'Waiting All Night' featuring Becky Hill), Johnny Marr and Primal Scream being joined for an apocalyptic version of The Stones-like anthem 'Rocks' by Californian female nu-rock trio Haim. And for Bobby Gillespie wearing just about the campest pink suit y'ever did see in all the live-long day. There was also another very Stones-like moment on The John Peel Stage with a star-making performance by Northern Irish teenage garageband The Strypes. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping predicts big times ahead for those four young chaps by the look of things. Mind you, there was also Noah and the Whale. Who were utter shite. And Foals. Who were also shite. So, something for everyone in fact. Including lovers of shite.
As reported, briefly, in the last blog update, five former staff members of the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, including ex-editors well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and the prime minister's ex, if you will, 'chum', Andy Coulson, have lost a quite ludicrous legal attempt to block their forthcoming prosecution on phone-hacking charges. Revelations about hacking led to the closure of the disgraced and disgraceful scum tabloid in total shame and ignominy in July 2011. The trial of the five is due to take place in September, after Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge dismissed their appeals. The five had attempted to claim that accessing voicemails through hacking, after they had been listened to by the intended recipient, was not a criminal offence. Which some might regard as tantamount to a bare-faced admission of guilt; that these individuals did, indeed, access hacked telephone conversations, something which, to date, they have all strenuously denied. Although perhaps it's open to a different interpretation, you'll have to be the judge of that one, dear blog reader. Or, actually, in a much more literal sense, the jury at their forthcoming trial will. The two former Scum of the World editors, alongside former senior reporter James Weatherup, former managing editor Stuart Kuttner and former news editor Ian Edmondson, have all denied conspiracy to intercept mobile phone voicemails between 3 October 2000 and 9 August 2006. Lord Judge allowed the names of the defendants to be reported, saying: 'We can see no possible prejudice to the fairness of the forthcoming trial. We must not be unrealistic - there can hardly be anyone in the country who does not know to whom this case applies.' The five defendants argued that the accessing of voicemails through hacking, after they had been listened to by the intended recipient, was not an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The Court of Appeal disagreed, saying 'contrary to the submission on behalf of the appellants, the resulting situation is not lacking in legal certainty.' The Court also refused to give the go-ahead for the five defendants to take up the issue with the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. Lord Judge said the five would only pay legal costs if they are convicted. In addition to these charges well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks with others (including her husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie), face charges of corruption and perverting the course of justice. In a separate case, Coulson is additionally charged with perjury in relation to the Tommy Sheridan trial. All of those indicted deny the charges laid against them. These charges were made a year after the Metropolitan Police Service reopened its dormant investigation into phone-hacking, three years after the then Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Champagne John Yates, told the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee that 'no additional evidence has come to light,' five years after News International executives began claiming that phone-hacking was the work of but a single 'rogue reporter', nine years after the Gruniad Morning Star began reporting that the Met had evidence of widespread illegal acquisition of confidential information, and ten years after the Met began accumulating 'boxloads' of that evidence, including information sources for Scum of the World journalists, but kept it unexamined in bin-liner bags at Scotland Yard.

A bit of politics now and Eric Pickles' department has been fined for having an unauthorised bank overdraft, it has emerged. Just two days ago, Pickles was praised by Chancellor George Osborne as 'a model of lean government.' The irony of which was, presumably, not lost on anyone as Pickles himself is, in fact, as fat as fuck. The Department for Communities and Local Government ended the financial year two hundred and seventeen million smackers overdrawn and was fined twenty grand by the Treasury. Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said it was 'a shocking example of incompetence.' Osborne had hailed Communities Secretary Pickles for his work in cutting costs at the department, which has agreed to a ten per cent budget-cut in 2015-16. In particular, Pickles was praised for reducing the size of the department by sixty per cent and abolishing twelve quangos. But the National Audit Office is concerned that the DCLG - which is responsible for controlling spending by local councils - has not been keeping a proper eye on its own books. The department went over its cash spending limits towards the end of the financial year and took out an unauthorised bank overdraft, the National Audit Office has revealed. Despite this, Downing Street said Prime Minister David Cameron still shared Osborne's favourable opinion of Pickles. 'I think the prime minister agrees with the chancellor's assessment,' a No 10 spokesman said. The department said its accounts showed that it stayed 'well within' the Treasury's overall spending limits.

The cost of refurbishing two toilets in the Palace of Westminster could cost up to one hundred thousand knicker, according to a Commons contract published on a government website. Lavatories in the Salisbury Room area of the House of Lords have not been updated since the 1990s and are said to be in an 'unacceptable condition.' Peers, staff, and visiting dignitaries use the rest rooms, which give a 'poor image' of the Palace, the document says. The work is expected to begin in August and will be completed in about forty two days. To be fair, it's an undeniable fact that the improvements are probably needed. After all, politicians unquestionably have a lot more faeces in them than, you know, 'normal people.'

Sky Living has announced a roster of talent for its new Drama Matters pilot season. Suranne Jones, Anna Friel, Russell Tovey, Sophie Rundle and Freema Agyeman are among the names confirmed for five new hour-long drama pilots. Jones will play a new judge battling to keep her head above the water in the murky depths of the justice system in Lawless, from Torchwood writer Jacquetta May. Chris Coghill, Jonathan Cake and Lindsay Duncan will also star. The Psychopath Next Door - from Julie Rutterford - will feature Friel in the lead role and is billed as a 'creepy and intriguing drama' about 'what happens when real evil moves in next door.' Katherine Kelly and Anne Reid will lead the cast of supernatural tale The Last Witch - a story of two feuding sisters from Scott & Bailey writer Sally Wainwright and also starring Gregg Chillin, James Thornton and Maimie McCoy. Golden Globe nominee Gwyneth Hughes has written Talking To The Dead - a two-part adaptation of Harry Bingham's novel, which stars Sophie Rundle, Russell Tovey and Keith Allen. The final pilot is Rubenesque - the story of a female football referee who lands a new job as a model. Written by Fresh Meat's Annie Griffin, Scottish female international goalkeeper Gemma Fay plays the lead, with Freema Agyeman, Daniela Nardini and Gabriel Quigley in supporting roles. 'It's fantastic to be welcoming this incredible line-up of talent to the channel - both in front of and behind the camera,' said Sky Living director Antonia Hurford-Jones. 'I'm really proud of Drama Matters; each story is unique but together they form a strand of engaging, entertaining quality drama which I think our customers will really enjoy.'

BBC Radio 2 has told the Doctor Who News website that it is to produce a documentary entitled Who Is The Doctor? to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who. The ninety-minute programme will be broadcast on Thursday 21 November, just two days before the celebration date.

Jemima Slade's eviction on Big Brother brought in 1.48 overnight million viewers to Channel Five on Friday. The show, which was broadcast from 9.15pm until 10.30pm, was down two hundred thousand punters on the previous week's eviction episode. On BBC1, 3.47m tuned in to watch Miranda at 9pm and Mrs Brown's Boys had 3.93m half an hour later. Earlier, Would I Lie To You grabbed 3.17m at 8.30pm, while The Graham Norton Show was seen by 3.72m at 10.45pm. The early part of the the evening's scheduled on BBC1 was completely arsed-up by a last minute decision to switch coverage of Andy Murray hitting some balls about from BBC2 and push The ONE Show and A Question of Sport onto the second channel. Thankfully, Murray wrapped up his ball hitting endeavours in time for EastEnders at 8pm. On BBC2, Today At Wimbledon interested 1.82m from 8pm and Wild Shepherdess With Kate Humble had an audience of 2.03m viewers at 9pm. Coverage of the Glastonbury Festival - and Chic's magnificent performance in particular - then took 1.41m from 10pm. Ben Fogle's Harbour Lives continued with 2.82m as part of a thoroughly wretched night for ITV at 8pm. Britain's Secret Homes had but 1.95m at 9pm and the movie Music & Lyrics, starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, attracted four hundred and ninety thousand punters from 10.45pm. Meanwhile, Channel Four's The Million Pound Drop Live had 1.16m. Dizzee Rascal at Glastonbury was the highest rated broadcast across the digital channels, earning seven hundred and forty four thousand viewers for BBC3 at 9pm.

Top Telly Tips time, now, dear blog reader:-

Saturday 6 July
A repeat, but a jolly fine one is The Late Great Eric Sykes 9:45 BBC2. Eddie Izzard, Michael Palin and film director Mike Newell are some of the celebrities paying tribute to Eric Sykes in this documentary celebrating the life and work of the late comedian and writer. Sykes, who died last year aged eighty nine, was a master at teasing big laughs from unpromising material: a plank, a missing cat, fishing. And, he was steeped in comedy greatness, writing for Tony Hancock and Frankie Howerd, and collaborating with Spike Milligan on The Goon Show. But it's for his sitcoms (especially Sykes in the 1960s and 70s), that he's probably best remembered. Palin and Bruce Forsyth are among those to doff their caps, and how nice to see Denis Norden, who talks of Sykes's 'repertoire of gestures and sudden stillness.' Another British legend with a link to Hattie Jacques, John Le Mesurier, is also profiled tonight, by Gold, at 6pm.

Forever Young: How Rock 'n' Roll Grew Up - 11:00 BBC4 - is a documentary exploring the ways in which rock 'n' roll stars have coped with growing old after being symbols of rebellion from the genre's roots in the 1950s. The programme uncovers how artists have enjoyed comebacks in the Twenty First Century, and examines what happened to the mantra 'live fast, die young.' Featuring contributions from yer actual Iggy Pop, Lemmy, Rick Wakeman his very self, Suggsy from Madness and Alison Moyet. Narrated by Cherie Lunghi.

Sunday 7 July
As yer actual Richard Hammond his very self said about one of the hot hatches which he tested on last week's episode, 'If ten-year-olds could drive, they'd love this.' Yes they would, and like the Renaultsport Clio, Top Gear itself - 8:00 BBC2 - is generally at its very best when it appeals to the ten-year-old in all of us: forget dufferish grumbles from gobshite hippie Communist wankers who write for (and read) the odious Gruniad Morning Star, we want the fun stuff, the slapstick, the larks, the Mexican stand-offs, the Daily Scum Mail whinging about everything. The stuff which - allegedly - 'offends' hippie Communists wankers at the Gruniad Morning Star, in fact. Or, at least, which they pretend does. In this week's episode, Jezza Clarkson gets behind the wheel of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, sampling the punch of its 730bhp V12 engine on the open roads of Scotland, shouting 'POWER!' a lot and, generally, getting The Horn. Expect odious unfunny louse Stewart Lee to be furiously scribbling a new 'hilarious' routine about that as we speak. Oh, it'll be slap-yer-thigh funny, to be sure. The Hamster, meanwhile, harnesses the power of motorsport on a quest to find the world's best taxi, and James May pays tribute to the former BBC Television Centre in White City, using a motorcyclist and a pair of parkour runners to do so. What could possibly go wrong? Plus, the BAC Mono - an astonishingly fast car with just one seat - is put through its paces on the test track, and film director Ron Howard goes for a spin in the new Reasonably Priced Car. Not even when he was hanging out with Fronzie in Happy Days was he exposed to such levels of coolness.

The Returned - 9:00 Channel Four - is a properly spellbinding series, full of the most delicate writing which hovers between minutely drawing the painful realities of family breakdown, and delivering subtle but stomach-clenching shocks. Slowly, more pieces of a sinister jigsaw are beginning to fall into place. The drying reservoir yields bizarre secrets while the young woman attacked by the underpass serial killer is healing in a way that's medically impossible. Then, there are the dead – the murderer and eater of women who is taking care of Léna while her returned sister, frightened teen Camille (brilliantly played by Yara Pilartz), just wants her old boyfriend back. And what of little, saucer-eyed Victor? We know who killed him, and he wants revenge. if you're not watching this, dear blog reader, you really should be.

Apart from a few fragmentary stories, Griff Rhys Jones's father never really talked about his time as a medical officer during the Second World War. In Burma, My Father And The Forgotten Army - 9:00 BBC2 - the actor and comedian explores the stories of Africans and Asians who fought for the Allies, travelling first to Ghana and then to the jungles of Burma in the company of ninety-year-old veteran Joshua. One of the reasons this documentary about the Burma campaign in the Second World War is so strong is that Griff Rhys Jones resists the temptation to dramatise. From what we gather, Griff's father – a young Welsh doctor called up in 1941 – went through unimaginable horrors as a medic in the Burma campaign. One three-week period surrounded and under bombardment by the Japanese, with dwindling medical supplies, sounds particularly nightmarish. But Griff doesn't overplay any of this; he trusts the story to speak for itself. And he highlights an aspect of the Burma campaign most of us know nothing about – the role in the fighting of thousands of soldiers from West Africa. This, dear blog reader, is what yer actual Keith Telly Topping pays his licence fee for.

Monday 8 July
Comedian Max Baker dies and his son Michael is asked to write a biography of him in the opening episode of Count Arthur Strong - 8:30 BBC2. After struggling to find a starting point for the book, Michael visits his father's former comedy partner, the eponymous Arthur Strong, and is treated to a performance of the fading variety star's 'memory man' act. This comedy, starring Steve Delaney and co-created by Delaney and Graham Linehan is possibly something of an acquired taste featuring, as it does, a central character who is an exquisitely dreadful old fool, a hopeless former self-aggrandising variety show turn with delusions of greatness. He was always a divisive figure on Radio 4 where the character first appeared, so doubtless he'll split TV audiences, too. But, give him a chance, parts of this are really funny. Who can resist nonsense lines like 'She's choking, give her the Heineken manoeuvre!' Rory Kinnear provides some sanity as the son of an old friend of the Count's, who's writing his dad's biography.

In 1976, the Australian media mogul Kerry Packer was furious that the Aussie Cricket Board has given the television broadcasting rights for all domestic and international cricket to ABC, a rival of his commercial Nine Network. He was persuaded - more as an act of bolshy defiance than anything else - to establish his own, rival, cricket tournament, later named World Series Cricket, and aroused national and international controversy when he set about signing up the best players in the world to come and work for him, a story told in the first of the two-part Howzat! Kerry Packer's War - 9:00 BBC4. The drama, based on a true story - which ultimately changed cricket forever (and, in many ways, for the better), starring Lachy Hulme, Abe Forsythe and Damon Gameau.
Five years ago, billionaire (and hairdo) Donald Trump offered to bring six thousand alleged jobs and a billion alleged smackers in investment to Scotland with two world-class golf courses, a five-star hotel and hundreds of homes. But, this would mean sacrificing an environmentally protected part of the Aberdeenshire coastline. Needless to say, utter Alesha Dixon-style greed persuaded those who were in charge on the decision to give billionaire (and hairdo) trump exactly what he wanted. As things stand, however, only two hundred jobs have been created, and one golf course built - although the land is now estimated to be worth ten times what it was thanks to planning consents. In tonight's Panorama - 8:30 BBC1 - John Sweeney what the fuck is going on? Did the Scottish government know enough about the American billionaire (and hairdo) before giving the green light to the project? Sweeney challenges billionaire (and hairdo) Trump to reveal what's behind the Trump brand.

Tuesday 9 July
The Shoreditch Creeper isn't a species of foliage peculiar to East London as you might have thought, dear blog reader. Oh no, rather he (or she) is a serial killer of women who appears to be the subject of a copycat admirer in Luther - 9:00 BBC1. Detective Chief Inspector John Luther (Idris Elba, who keeps this most barking mad of cop dramas just about on the rails) stalks his prey alone, and at one point leaps onto the roof of a white van for a better view of a fleeing suspect he can't possibly recognise, having previously seen him, out of the corner of his eye, only fleetingly. Still, Luther isn't known for a grim pursuit of authenticity – even Elba himself told Radio Times that 'it's not like the show is close to reality.' Just as well, really, as there are some unintentionally ridiculous and - consequently - hilarious moments amid the gloom that keep the whole thing fascinatingly watchable. The promise of romance is put on hold when news of another murder interrupts Luther's date with Mary. Determined to predict the copycat fetishist's next move, he throws himself into a pile of cold case files and orders Ripley to investigate the killing of Jared Cass on his own. Meanwhile, a care-home cancer patient receives a chilling gift from a visitor, and three girls look forward to a night in - unaware of the terrible naughty danger lurking in their home. Crime drama, starring Idris Elba, Warren Brown and Ned Dennehy.

On 6 July 1988, the Piper Alpha oil platform exploded one hundred and twelve miles off-shore in the North Sea, killing one hundred and sixty seven men as the rig was engulfed in a fireball. Sixty-one of the crew survived. These are the bare facts but Piper Alpha: Fire In The Night - 9:00 BBC2 - does an incredible job of conveying much more, re-creating the atmosphere of an oil rig of the time and the horror of that night's events. It sets the scene with footage of ships pitching like toys on huge seas. It also makes us marvel at the engineering involved in the rigs – 'as much religion as engineering,' according to the voiceover on an early documentary. Then, the survivors give heart-stopping accounts of the blow-out and their attempts to escape. Some climbed up to the helideck, one hundred and seventy five feet above the waves: 'It was either stay there and get fried or jump,' one man recalls. It's a terrifying story, shot through with tragedy and powerfully told.

In Robson Green: How The North Was Built - 9:00 ITV - according to the actor, singer, angler and miner’s son, The North (which, contrary to what the media believes doesn't start at Watford and end at Iceland) is 'rugged, untamed.' Yes. Especially this blogger's garden, dear blog reader. Anyway, Wor geet canny Robson uses the word 'rugged' an awful lot as he strides around in the snow for this two-part potted industrial history: 'I love the landscape, the cities and, of course, the people.' Whether the feel is mutual, you'll have to watch to find out. Naturally he mines rich seams of banal cliché – he goes down a pit, meets racing-pigeon fanciers and attends a brass band concert. You won't have any trouble keeping up with his observations, from the advent of the steam engine, which 'made Britain top dog on the world stage', to the Northern climate, where 'weather comes in all forms imaginable.' And, indeed, some that aren't. In the first edition, he tells the story of coal - an industry which shaped his life and that of his family - and finds out how the cotton-mill workers of Lancashire created the profits that helped to develop Manchester. He then explores advances in transport as canals and railways linked cities, factories and ports, allowing larger numbers of working people easy access to the seaside for well-earned breaks.

Asperger's-like lab technician David Hodges' impossibly attractive Italian fiancée appears to be cheating on him in the latest episode of CSI - 9:00 Channel Five. Elisabeta her very self is a somewhat cartoon Latin beauty, all curves and elongated vowels, and nobody can believe that she's going out with a nerd like Hodges (played by the excellent Wallace Langham). Sure enough, there she is in the opening sequence sharing a moonlit mud bath with a total stranger. But it's the opening sequence of an episode of CSI, so, of course, that means there's also a body bobbing in the mud. And so begins the kind of absurd, winding procedural plotline that only the presence of Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue can prevent from becoming laughable. Which, thankfully, it doesn't. 'Something better start making sense,' sighs Shue halfway though. DB and the CSIs have the bath drained and identity the murder victim as Justin Wade, who worked for a giant pharmaceuticals firm, and uncover evidence which leads them to question two of the employees at the spiritual retreat.

Wednesday 10 July The boardroom has been a hot-bed of faux drama this series of The Apprentice - 9:00 BBC1. Natalie blubbed like a girl, Jordan practically vomited and Jason had to be called back in for a late compliment when it looked like he was going to shite in his own pants, appearing like a small, woodland creature entering an abattoir. But tonight, it all goes up a gear. We're down to the final five and, after submitting to the interview sessions with Lord's Sugar-Sweetie's 'toughest taskmasters' ('I'd rather give birth again than do this,' mutters one candidate ... presumably female), they're back in the boardroom for a soul-baring face-to-face. In the early rounds, these sessions around the white table are all about game-playing. It's like murder in the dark with platitudes. There are slanging matches and tripwires, but we know it's essentially a game show. Tonight, though, it feels nastily real. The future of Lord Sugar-Sweetie's two hundred and fifty grand investment hangs in the balance and the atmosphere throbs with emotion, honesty and the hint of a tear where you'd least expect it. Plus, the pungent whiff of bullshit. As usual. The final five are told to brush up on their business plans, for this week's task is the old favourite in which the candidates undergo gruelling interviews by Margaret Mountford, Claude Littner, Mike Soutar and Claudine Collins - who leave no stone unturned as they scrutinise the hopefuls' CVs and professional capabilities. It's a nerve-racking process for the entrepreneurs, as egos are bruised, lies are uncovered and personalities are attacked. When it's all over, the advisers give their opinions in the boardroom before three candidates' dreams come to an end, leaving the remaining two to battle it out in next week's final.

'As you get older, are things better, the same or worse than you thought they would be?' It's a simple enough question, but it turns out to be a killer in its way as told in the latest Horizon - 9:00 BBC2. Michael Mosley learns that having positive beliefs about ageing, as revealed via questions like this, has been shown to give people an improvement in life-expectancy of, on average – and this is the staggering bit – seven-and-a-half years. It's one of many eye-opening findings explored in this well-put-together film. Mosley has become TV's wellbeing guru via brilliant programmes on dieting and exercise, but he is habitually anxious, negative and stressed: can the latest science help? It's almost as interesting to see the magical home movies of Mosley as a child. Then, at least, he was happy.

Thursday 11 July
Nick and Margaret: We All Pay Your Benefits - 9:00 BBC1 - is the first of a two-part special in which former Apprentice colleagues Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford try to find out how much unemployment benefit is enough to survive on - and whether having a job is actually worth it. Travelling to Ipswich, a town with typical out-of-work figures, they bring four claimants and four taxpayers together to compare one another's lives, examine their values and speak their minds. First up are the workers, who explore the claimants' spending habits to see where their own taxes are going.

Fifty years ago, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley began their child-killing spree across North-West England, claiming five victims, a dreadful story told in Brady and Hindley: Possession - 9:00 ITV. This documentary exploring the Moors murders includes Hindley's version of events, recorded from her prison cell, and details of a photographic system that Brady used to celebrate their crimes, which could hold the key to finding the grave of twelve-year-old victim Keith Bennett. Paul McGann narrates.

Yer actual Ewan McGregor narrates Hebrides: Islands on the Edge - 9:00 BBC2 - following the lives of animals struggling to survive on the archipelago off the West coast of mainland Scotland. Young swallows, otters and grey seals face the biggest storms and highest tides of the year as autumn arrives, while thousands of geese and swans migrate to the islands for winter, only to find white-tailed eagles ready to hunt them.

Friday 12 July
The BBC Proms begin tonight - 8:00 BBC2. Katie Derham presents as the one hundred and nineteenth season of the classical music event gets under way at the Royal Albert Hall with music on a sea-inspired theme by English composers Vaughan Williams and Britten. There are also two sets of Paganini variations by Rachmaninov and Lutoslawski and the world premiere of Julian Anderson's Harmony. Sakari Oramo conducts the BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra and the BBC Proms Youth Choir and soloists Stephen Hough (piano), Sally Matthews (soprano) and Roderick Williams (baritone).
Or, if you prefer, on BBC3 there's highlights from the opening day at T in The Park - 9:30 till late. Greg James and Sarah-Jane Crawford introduce performances by indie-rock singer-songwriter Jake Bugg and soul and R'n'B star Emeli Sande at the music festival in Balado, Kinross-shire. Also includes performances by headlining folk-rock act boring posh boys Mumford & Sons as well as tracks by drum 'n' bass duo Chase and Status.

The bigoted views which Alf Garnett spouted on Till Death Us Do Part were meant by the show's author, Johnny Speight, to make him a laughing stock. But it has now been revealed that viewers found his prejudices 'quite reasonable.' The corporation conducted a survey into the hit sitcom in 1973, towards the end of its ten-year run on TV, and the results reportedly 'caused alarm' among the higher ranks. In a meeting at the time, director-general Sir Charles Curran said the report had diminished his confidence that it was possible to make 'anti-prejudicial comedy.' More than seven hundred people were quizzed about Alf's sentiments such as: 'Women's lib is a load of rubbish' and 'Bloody foreigners come over here and sponge off us.' The results showed that rather than exposing opinions by satire, the series 'reinforced existing illiberal and anti-trade union attitudes.' The BBC never made its findings public, claiming they were 'unscientific.'
The settings and themes will be familiar to Dennis Potter enthusiasts: suburban living rooms, hospitals, remote woods in which unsettling dramas centred on alienation, class and repression are played out. For the first time this weekend deep in Potter's forest homeland, fans will be able to view unpublished works and fragments which give glimpses into the mind of the man celebrated for television classics such as The Singing Detective and Pennies from Heaven. During his lifetime Potter claimed he destroyed his drafts and unmade works, but after his death dozens of cardboard boxes crammed with his writing, much of it in his painfully neat handwriting, were found in an agent's offices. Following an extraordinary fundraising effort by residents of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, where Potter was born and raised, the archive was secured for the area and is being painstakingly archived at a heritage centre. John Cook, a professor of media at Glasgow Caledonian University, said the hunt through Potter's papers, still in its early stages, had yielded treasures. Among them are several drafts of a novel called The Country Boy, believed to have been started in the late 1950s. It appears to be partly autobiographical. Like Potter, the eponymous boy comes from 'the Forest, the land on its own' and like Potter's, his father is a miner, his face etched with 'blue coal scars.' It was not published but Cook said scenes and ideas from The Country Boy appeared in later Potter works including The Singing Detective, when the hospitalised protagonist has flashbacks to his childhood in the forest. Also found was a fragment of an unmade television play called In Memoriam, in which Potter imagined the camera 'drifting down a long suburban road hedged with privet.' A voiceover recites a rhyme: 'To be with you in the same old way/Would be my dearest wish today.' The play was never produced but one of the principal characters in Brimstone and Treacle (which featured odious full-of-his-own-importance balding tone-deaf world-saviour Sting in the film version) was a writer of verse for bereavement cards. 'What is interesting is how Potter had an idea for a scene or character and then constantly played around with it and eventually wove it in somewhere,' said Cook. 'With Potter nothing got wasted, he constantly recycled. It means there are hundreds, thousands of connections running through the work.' One of the most intriguing fragments is seven pages of an untitled play set in a hospital. Blake is a 'short, stocky, seedy-looking forty-year-old' man waiting in a hospital for an appointment. Nurses bustle through while 'an occasional godlike doctor with his magic stethoscope' appears. Casual Potter-watchers may be reminded of the setting for The Singing Detective while the dedicated fan may recognise the scene from his 1969 play Moonlight on the Highway. The aficionados might even recall that Blake is the name of a character (played by Bob Hoskins) in the 1974 BBC drama Schmoedipus (later remade for cinema as Track 29). A full text of an unproduced television play called Mushroom on Toast from the early seventies can also be viewed by visitors to the Dean Heritage Centre. A wife and mother in her mid-thirties 'thickening a bit but attractive still' is 'enduring a surprise visit from two menacing young Americans.' According to Potter's detailed stage directions, written in block capitals, they look at her 'with huntsman-like intensity.' It is a familiar Potter theme of the period – a lonely housewife longing to break free visited by strange representatives – with an interesting subplot about genetically modified food. On the front of one work Potter has calculated the number of words he has written – Potter was also keen to keep track – and in another he has scribbled football results from the 1966 World Cup. Though several of the pieces have the haunting voiceovers for which Potter's work is well-known, they are largely devoid of the non-naturalistic devices such as the lip-synch technique in which characters would mime to popular songs in Pennies From Heaven, The Singing Detective and Lipstick On Your Collar. 'I suppose this is Dennis Potter before he became Dennis Potter,' said Cook. Collections officer Phillippa Turner, one of those overseeing the archiving, said Potter continued to split opinion in the Forest of Dean, which he portrayed with brutal honesty in the documentary Between Two Rivers and in his plays like Blue Remembered Hills and A Beast With Two Backs. 'I don't think he would mind that, it's not art if it doesn't divide,' she said. When there seemed a danger the Potter archive would be sold to America, however, local people leaped into action. The community group, Voices in the Forest, together with the Dean Heritage Centre and the University of Gloucestershire worked to make sure the archive was secured for the area. Jason Griffiths, a leading light in the Voices group, said: 'The forest was an essential part of who Potter is and I think this archive will inspire a new generation of academics as well as fans and local people to look more deeply into his life and work.'

When Luther was first broadcast on BBC1 in 2010, some full-of-their-own-shit critics were rather sniffy about what they perceived to be its broad-brushstrokes approach to cop drama. The Torygraph, for example, said it was 'formulaic'; some louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star called it 'try-hard.' It may have had Idris Elba as its moody lead, but the kind of acclaim that greeted The Wire was not initially forthcoming. Ratings dropped off as the first series went along. A recommission looked unlikely. In the three years since then, Luther has not only survived but flourished, slowly and surely becoming a bona fide cult hit during its acclaimed second series. Back in February, a teaser confirming a third run with a sketchy graphic of Elba looking intense was enough to send fans into a frenzy. Luther is dark but it's also, fundamentally, odd which may be why it took time to embed itself in viewers' minds. On paper, it reads like a straightforward police procedural drama. There's a grisly murder, the workaday investigators are stumped, then maverick DCI John Luther comes along and solves it with his finely honed instincts and leaps of faith. There's some moral ambiguity – he'll rough up crims to get what he wants, he's not a very good husband, and his most trusted ally is a patricidal psychopath – but, in theory at least, there's little to differentiate it from, say, Prime Suspect, Cracker or Waking The Dead. Yet it is different. Its visual flair is part of what makes Luther so scary. It looks like the stuff of nightmares. That was particularly true about the opening episode of the second series - the one that really began to make viewers sit up and take notice - with it's masked serial killer taunting the police on CCTV footage. It has a knack for tapping into common fears with cases that play out like urban myths. There's the killer who attacks, apparently, at random wearing a gruesome mask and knocking on doors until some sorry victim makes the unfortunate decision to answer. There's the satanic bogeyman who charms his way into women's houses, then licks their faces before imprisoning them in a freezer. It's often so baroque that it borders on the absurd. Warren Brown, who plays Luther's partner, Sergeant Ripley, was recently asked if he thinks the show ever goes too far. 'I do often think, "What's going on in your head, Neil?"' he notes, referring to Neil Cross, the show's creator and writer. 'Although it's naturalistic, it's very heightened. It is comic-book. We do push the boundaries. I love that about the show. It's one of the things that makes it stand out.' Elba himself believes that this boldness has helped Luther translate to an international audience; he was nominated for a best actor Golden Globe in 2011, and won it a year later. 'The audacity of the show is what really appeals to Americans,' he explains. 'Luther plays like a film, like an American show. They're not seeing "stiff upper lip" TV. They're actually seeing this ballsy, fucking six-foot tall black guy kicking some arse. If it's on, you'll end up watching, because you'll see some bizarre shit you haven't seen before.' In Luther's eighteen-month absence, terrifying TV has become far creepier, and far more common. This year, we've already had Utopia burning that chilli scene on to our retinas, Broadchurch lifting the veil on seaside postcard small-town Britain and Jamie Dornan shredded nerves just by standing at a window in The Fall. So can Luther maintain its menace with other gruesome dramas snapping at its heels? Series three opens with a jumpy trick that deftly, confidently swats away the competition – and it only gets weirder from there. There's a killer on the loose who likes to dress his victims in black clothes and shredded tights. They call him The Shoreditch Creeper and ascertain that he's a Siouxsie & The Banshees fan. Luther and Ripley then proceed to bicker for an entire scene over what musical genre The Banshees are: 'Post-punk.' 'Goth?' 'Post-punk.' It's very funny. Without these flashes of self-awareness, Luther would indeed be too dark, too visceral. The knowing tone redeems it. Sienna Guillory, who plays John Luther's new love interest, Mary Day – surely a thankless role, given what usually happens to the people who get tangled up in his life – has her own theories as to why people love the programme. 'It's a graphic novel revenge tragedy,' she offers, before suggesting it's the appealingly dialogue which sets the show apart. 'All the women have a completely different vernacular, and they bring that out in Luther. Then there's this wonderful, cracking, audacious dialogue between Luther and Alice. Neil Cross is brilliant.' There's a clear sense of finality running through this third series, so what this means for Luther's resurgent love life is anyone's pessimistic guess. Finally, Cross has realised that even in a hyper-real, comic-book world, policemen can't ring up the number of bodies that Luther does and continue to get away with it. He's lost his wife and his best friend, and countless criminals have expired on his watch. He's been in trouble and on the run. He may be morally straight, but he's professionally bent. Yet up until now, he's remained a serving officer. The main story arc of the new season suggests that time is running out for Luther's less-than conventional working methods. Ned Dennehy joins the cast as a recently un-retired officer charged with weeding out corruption in the force, assisted by Luther's one-time colleague and now foe, Erin Gray. They plot to hit him where it hurts by turning Ripley against him. If the strategy's a success, it could mark the tragic end of a solid bromance. Sweetly, it seems that Brown and Elba are close friends in real life. 'I was a massive fan of The Wire,' reveals Brown. 'I think I actually had the theme as a ringtone for a bit. Then I got a call: "You've got Luther." Great! That's the ringtone off.'

A quiz show fronted by Carol Vorderman has not been commissioned after failing to impress with its pilot. Revolution was planned to take ITV's primetime slot on Saturday evenings. The show featured three teams answering general knowledge questions for a chance to win three million smackers. Viewers could also play along on a mobile phone app. An alleged 'insider' allegedly told the Sun: 'Revolution was always a non-broadcast pilot and it was one we decided not to go ahead with. On the strength of the pilot we didn't feel like it was ready to go on to a series.' The big budget quiz, which had TV's largest ever cash prize, was said to not be 'up to scratch.'
Ronnie Corbett is to present new BBC1 pet show Ronnie's Pedigree Pals. The six-part series will follow the eighty two-year-old entertainer, comedian and lifelong dog owner as he uncovers how much the British public love their animals. The series will feature breeders (steady) and owners of everything from dogs, cats, miniature pigs, camels and skunks as they compete in competitions, while revealing the lengths some people will go to for their animals to be the best in show. Corbett said: 'This series celebrates our nation's love of animals which I share. Though I am finding the latest addition to my family a bit of handful; he's a very playful rescue dog called Baz, and this series will also be following his progress as he adapts to life in the Corbett household.' Meanwhile BBC Commissioning Editor for Factual Features and Formats Alison Kirkham added: 'It is fantastic to be able to welcome a true national treasure, Ronnie Corbett, back to BBC1. Ronnie combined with one of Britain's favourite passions, pets, feels like a real treat.'

Daniel Rigby is set to star in his own sitcom as an undercover police officer. The stand-up and actor – who won a BAFTA for his role as the young Eric Morecambe – has recorded a pilot of Undercover for the Dave channel. In it, he plays a policeman called Chris who infiltrates an Armenian crime family, but starts to enjoy his new life and the respect he gets from his position. The pilot was first announced in December – without casting news – but now the TVWise website reports that the pilot will be make it to air later this year. Described as 'a Police Squad-style spoof', the show has been written by Sacha Alexander, Simon Dean and Andy Milligan and is made by Bonafide Films and Baby Cow. Rigby is also about to play a major role in the David Walliams and Catherine Tate BBC1 comedy Big School, as music teacher and would-be rock star Martin. He is also heading to Edinburgh this August with a show at Assembly Called Berk In Progress, while also appearing in Tom Basden’s Holes – a play being staged at a secret seaside location. And, all of those really annoying BT Internet adverts, of course.

A TV channel is advertising for historical leader lookalikes to appear in a documentary drama. An advert was placed on Craigslist asking for people who 'look like Adolf Hitler or Winston Churchill' to star in a new History Channel mini-series. They are also looking for somebody to play Franklin D Roosevelt. The advertisement says: 'The most important thing is a physical resemblance to the actual historical figures. German accent [for Hitler] and British accent [for Churchill] is also helpful, but also not required. Previous acting experience is not required.' Any suitable candidates that apply will then be invited for an audition.
The X Factor judge Sharon Osbourne reportedly swore and threw her pen at a pensioner who criticised her husband Ozzy Osbourne. The returning judge was reportedly furious when seventy three-year-old Jonnie Rocco insulted Ozzy's talent after an unsuccessful audition, reports the Sun. So, it must be true.
Banned ex-Pakistan captain Salman Butt has - finally - admitted his involvement in a spot-fixing scandal for the first time. Butt twenty eight, Mohammad Amir, twenty one, and Mohammad Asif, thirty, were found extremely guilty of being part of a betting scam in 2011. 'I want to apologise to my countrymen and cricket followers all over the world for having done wrong,' Butt said. 'I am sorry for having hurt the sentiments of the Pakistani people and cricket lovers. I am ready to undergo any rehabilitation programme.' Butt was jailed for thirty months after being found guilty of performing a key role in the scheme in which illegal payments were made to deliberately bowl no-balls during the Lord's Test against England in August 2010. He is currently banned for ten years by the ICC, with five years of that ban suspended. In April, both Butt and Asif lost their appeals at the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have their bans from cricket overturned. After that decision, International Cricket Council chief Dave Richardson urged the pair to 'start the process of rebuilding their lives and reputations by apologising for their actions.' Speaking at a news conference in Lahore, Butt added that he had asked the Pakistan Cricket Board's chief Najam Sethi to lobby the ICC - which is currently sitting for its annual conference in London - to reduce the severity of his ban. 'I request the interim chairman to request the ICC to reduce my and Asif's bans,' he said. 'I have two years' ban left so if the ICC allows me to play domestic cricket then I will be ready for international matches once my ban ends. I have enough cricket left in me and when my ban ends I am ready to play for the country again.'

Hollywood director James Cameron has been sued by British artist Roger Dean for fifty million dollars over claims he copied ideas for the 3D film Avatar. Dean, who designed LP covers for a whole range of despicable old hippies including the likes of prog-rock bands Yes and Asia, filed a legal action at a court in New York last week. He has accused Cameron of 'wilful and deliberate copying, dissemination and exploitation' of his original images. Man. Nine time Oscar-nominated Avatar is the highest-grossing film of all time. Since its release in 2009, the film, which used groundbreaking 3D technology, has made more than $2.8bn internationally. It won three of the Academy Awards for which it was nominated in 2010, including best art direction, best cinematography and best visual effects. Set on the alien planet of Pandora, the computer generated landscapes include vast floating islands, jungle wildlife and huge tree-dwellings. In his legal action, Dean - described in the papers as 'an international artist and designer, whose evocative and visionary images created a new genre of work' - has claimed Cameron had 'studied and referenced his art in preparation for the film.' The papers continued: 'The similarities of each such work are substantial, continuing, and direct so as to rule out any accidental copying or similarity in scenes common to the genre.' Dean, who graduated from the Royal College of Art, in London, in 1968 said that, in particular, his paintings of floating islands and huge graceful arches in the sky, painted over the course of forty years, were copied by the director. The artist also pointed out the similarities between The Tree of Life and the Home Tree of Avatar's fictional alien race the Na'vi, and his works Pathway and Floating Jungle. Dean said his claims were backed up by 'numerous comments on the Internet.' Cameron - who won a best director Oscar for the film Titanic - has said publicly that he first came up with the idea for Avatar in 1995. Dean said he took a similar proposal to the Cannes Film Festival in 2005, four years before the film's release. Dean's is the second legal action currently being faced by Cameron over Avatar. In March, a judge gave the go-ahead to screenwriter Bryant Moore, who claimed parts of two scripts he sent to Cameron's company were used in Avatar. In 2012, Cameron won two separate judgements against similar accusations. The filmmaker has already announced two sequels to Avatar are already in pre-production. The first is due in December 2014 with the second to follow twelve months later. He said: 'We will not back off the throttle of Avatar's visual and emotional horse-power.' Walt Disney is also to build attractions based on the film at its theme parks.
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg held off Red Bull's Mark Webber to win a dramatic British Grand Prix overshadowed by a series of tyre failures. In a race featuring two safety car interventions and tyre failures on five cars, Red Bull's championship leader Sebastian Vettel retired from the lead. His rival Ferrari's Fernando Alonso fought up to third from ninth. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton dropped to last with tyre failure, but fought to fourth ahead of Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen. Alonso's third-place finish combined with Vettel's retirement with a loss of drive cut the German's advantage in the championship to twenty one points. Raikkonen remains third but is now eleven points adrift of the Spaniard. The race boiled down to a seven-lap sprint at the end following a safety car intervention to recover Vettel's Red Bull, which was stranded on the pit straight. Rosberg was in the lead from Raikkonen and Force India's Adrian Sutil, with Webber fifth, Alonso eighth and Hamilton ninth. Rosberg, Webber, Alonso and Hamilton were all on fresh tyres, the others around them not. Webber passed Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo for fourth and then Sutil and Raikkonen on consecutive laps, and although he closed in on Rosberg the German held him off to win by under a second. Meanwhile, Alonso and Hamilton were scything through from eighth - to which he had dropped from fifth because his tyre stop had come just before the caution period, meaning he lost more time than the drivers who stopped only after the safety car was deployed. But the thrill of the battle was overshadowed by a worrying sequence of tyres failures, all but one on the left-rear of the cars involved. They affected Hamilton, Ferrari's Felipe Massa, Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and McLaren's Sergio Perez, who had also had a similar failure in final practice. There was a fifth failure, of the left-front tyre, on Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber. McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale described the situation as 'very concerning', adding: 'We have to ensure racing is safe. We can't afford instantaneous failures like this.' Hamilton had earlier led away from pole, with Vettel passing Rosberg for second, only to suffer the first of the tyre failures on lap eight, going down the Wellington Straight. Massa's tyre failed two laps later, at Turn Four, a couple of hundred metres before Hamilton's. That put Vettel into the lead, from which he controlled the race ahead of Rosberg, through and beyond the first safety car period triggered by the need to clear the debris left by Vergne's tyre failure. But he lost drive heading into Club corner with eleven laps to go, closing up the title race. Vettel and Rosberg were among a number of drivers whose teams discovered were also on the verge of failure when they took them off at a pit stop. 'It definitely needs to be looked into,' Rosberg said, 'because there were too many today.' Behind Vettel and Rosberg, the race was characterised by Raikkonen and Alonso making ground from their starting positions of eighth and ninth. Webber recovered from a poor start that dropped him to thirteenth on the first lap - on which he also suffered a damaged front wing after being hit by Lotus's Romain Grosjean at the start - and Hamilton fought back from his tyre failure. It was a grand prix full of close racing and incident but the over-riding impression will be of tyres that were not up to the task. Pirelli had introduced a new bonding process for this race in an attempt to prevent a series of delaminations that happened through the season. There have now been twenty tyre failures so far this season.

A protester has been arrested after gluing a photograph to a John Constable masterpiece in the National Gallery. The man, thought to be linked to Fathers4Justice, stuck a photograph of a young boy to the 1821 painting The Hay Wain at the gallery in Trafalgar Square on Saturday. He was arrested in the gallery and is now in custody, Scotland Yard said. The attack did no lasting damage to the work of art, a gallery spokeswoman said. The painting is back on display. She added: 'Conservation staff were on the scene very rapidly and the painting was removed for treatment. No damage to Constable's original paint occurred and there is no lasting damage to the painting.' The spokeswoman praised 'the prompt action and quick thinking' of staff who intervened before any permanent damage could be done. Constable's world-famous oil painting shows an idyllic rural scene with a cart in the River Stour in Suffolk. It comes as Fathers4Justice said it was abandoning its five-year 'attempted engagement with the political establishment.' The protest group said on Friday that it was refusing to engage with the government, police, courts, the judiciary or any other organisations involved in family law. It also says it is refusing to deal with the national media because of its 'deliberately inaccurate and misleading reporting of the campaign.' The National Gallery incident coincided with a Fathers4Justice campaigner appearing in court accused of vandalising a portrait of the Queen in Westminster Abbey. Tim Haries, from Doncaster, appeared at Southwark Crown Court in London charged with criminal damage to the Ralph Heimans canvas, which was daubed with spray paint on 13 June.
Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky' has become the first single released in 2013 to reach one million sales in the UK. The achievement makes it the biggest-selling single of 2013 so far and has reached the milestone sixty nine days after going on sale. 'I'm awestruck,' said Nile Rodgers who features on the Daft Punk song along with Pharrell Williams. 'It's amazing,' the legendary guitarist and producer added. The last time a single took less than three months to hit a million sales was this year for X Factor winner James Arthur's 'Impossible'. The French duo Daft Punk are only the second French act to ever achieve a million-selling single in the UK. The song spent one month at the top of the chart and is the one hundred and thirty sixth single to reach one million sales in the sixty years of the Official UK Singles Top 100. It is the lead single from Daft Punk's fourth studio CD Random Access Memories.
For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's another one of Nile Rodgers' masterpieces.

Friday, June 28, 2013

This Boy's Too Young To Be Singing The Blues

Yer actual John Lloyd has launched 'a broadside' (that's broadsheet-speak for 'having a right bloody good whinge') against 'timid, interfering and indecisive TV executives' – and hinted that Qi could become an online incubator for new ideas. The creator of the Stephen Fry-fronted panel show has also produced Blackadder, Not The Nine O’Clock News and Have I Got News For You over an illustrious forty-year-career, but said that he 'despaired' about the current state of commissioning, which was 'top-heavy' with office-bound administrators too scared to put their faith in creative talent. 'I'm very cross about the current system,' he told the Chortle website's Comedy Conference on Friday. And, you wouldn't like to see him when he's cross, dear blog reader, much less very cross. Ooh, pure dear vexed, so he was. Havin' a right stroppy moment. 'I'm bleak about it,' he continued. No shit. 'I despair about it actually and it's a crying shame for our culture that television's not what it was.' Yeah. Lots of things are not what they were, John, mate. It's called progress - you're an intelligent man, supposedly, you should be familiar with the concept. Not that this blogger, necessarily, disagrees with a single word yer man Lloyd has to say on the subject, it's just that it always gets right on my effing tit-end watching people employed in an industry that many would give their right arm and all their worldly possession to get into whinging like a comedy version of Freddie Trueman because things 'were like this in t'maaa day.' Grow up, fer Christ's sake, it's 2013 not 1983. 'I don't want to boast,' Lloyd said, boastfully. 'But I've been doing this for forty years and I've been involved in some pretty good things across a huge variety of genres, but I've still got to sit and listen to someone who's never done five minutes of stand-up, who's never written a funny line, who's never produced a sitcom. You've got to listen to their opinions. It's not about me, it's about finding people to know how to do it, and let it go. There is no point, or need, for half-a-dozen people or hierarchies or committees of people to sit around bothering the producer or the director or the stand-up comedian – they know best; it's their necks on the line. I actively do get very cross about it, and I know from talking to comedy writers, actors, performers that everyone feels the same way. I don't know what people are doing in those offices or those development departments. There were no development departments in television companies in the Eighties. A producer had an office and a PA and you sat in your office and every so often you had an idea – about twice a year, usually – and you'd rush into your head of department and say: "I've had this brilliant idea, or I've got this script."' Lloyd then described how the TV version of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy was commissioned on the strength of one script from Douglas Adams, explaining that there was no pitching, nor trying to find shows which fitted into pre-defined slots in those days. 'But the way commissioning works now is they ask, "We're looking for two pink ones and a green one, have you got any of those?" It used to be the creative people driving the bus and the administrative people enabling them, not the other way around. It's the only thing I get cross about. It's such a waste because the talent out there is fabulous.' However, calming down slightly, Lloyd did say that he was encouraged by how Netflix is commissioning shows – 'getting good people and saying "you do it"' with little interference – and said the first British broadcaster who finds a hit that way will have struck 'a winning formula.' Lloyd also said that broadcasters should have more confidence in comedians and producers to get their shows right – if they are given a chance to fix any problems without meddling. 'All the things I've done were quite honestly ragged, if not flops, in the first series,' Lloyd confessed. 'The pilot of Not The Nine O’Clock News was described by Mel Smith as "the single worst half-hour of television I've ever watched." But that's creativity, you get it wrong because it's ambitious and strange, but you move it about a bit and eventually you get it right. But it's not helped by people going: "Ooh dear, it's not working, we should cancel it. We should move it late night! Oh no, it's not working there! Oh no, it's dead! That's the end of it!" There used to be this confidence [within broadcasters] but that's lacking now. Everyone thinks a show is going to work and when it doesn't they panic.' He said that comedy is 'more lively and more exciting' than ever, but this is not always reflected in what makes it to the screen. However, he advised the aspiring comedians at the conference to take a leaf out of Mrs Brown's Boys book, and 'work hard to make something' that becomes 'so huge that people are begging you to do it. That's the only way to get past the commissioning system relatively unscathed.' Lloyd said that the Internet hadn't democratised the process and created as many comedy stars as some people would have hoped, because making the best comedy takes work, 'and the only way to get that is for these publicly funded corporations [the BBC and Channel Four] to support those people. The Internet isn't producing a gigantic flood of brilliant new stuff. What we all do is get pissed and noodle around on YouTube all night trying to find something that's entertaining – and you end up watching old Two Ronnies sketches.’ Lloyd, who his making his solo Edinburgh Fringe début this August, was once part of an online comedy venture called Comedy Box, which he said 'failed from lack of money' – but added that he hadn't ruled out returning to the idea. 'It was set up to encourage young stand-ups to come and make stuff online,' he said, 'and I still think that will happen. I think that's probably what Qi is going to do next, we're going to mutate online and start doing stuff where we can develop at our own speed.'

Maggie Gyllenhaal is to take the lead role in a BBC2 thriller set against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Gyllenhaal, whose film credits include The Dark Knight, Crazy Heart and Secretary, will play a British life peer who is drawn into the world of international relations and espionage following the murder of a Palestinian businessman in The Honourable Woman. She joins a growing roster of American acting talent signing up for the channel's dramas. BBC2 viewers have just seen former X Files star Gillian Anderson shine in the serial killer drama The Fall and, shortly, Elisabeth Moss – from Mad Men and The West Wing – will play a police detective in Jane Campion's New Zealand-set thriller Top of the Lake, which will be shown on the channel in the summer. Christopher Walken and Winona Ryder will feature in the second BBC2 instalment of David Hare's Worricker Trilogy, Turks & Caicos, in which Bill Nighy reprises his Page Eight role as an MI5 officer. Ralph Fiennes also returns. BBC2 is reaping the rewards of a decision three years ago to invest an extra ten million quid a year in drama, doubling the channel's budget in the genre, which has resulted in shows including The Shadow Line, The Hour, last summer's Shakespeare history play adaptations The Hollow Crown and Line of Duty. The Honourable Woman is the latest project from The Shadow Line creator Hugo Blick and features Gyllenhaal as Nessa Stein, the daughter of a Zionist arms procurer who is made a life peer for her promotion of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Like Top of the Lake it is a co-production with Robert Redford's Sundance Channel. Filming is due to begin in London next month, with foreign location shoots also planned for a story that spans the UK, America and Middle East. 'The Honourable Woman is scintillating drama: it is both a tightly plotted international political thriller and a superbly wrought character piece about hope, compromise, guilt and families,' said Sarah Barnett, Sundance Channel president. Ben Stephenson, the BBC drama controller, said he had been keen to work with Blick again after The Shadow Line and described The Honourable Woman as a 'really grown up, complicated' drama. Stephenson said the expansion of BBC2's drama output had been inspired in part by the channel's rich heritage in the genre, which includes Boys From The Blackstuff, Edge of Darkness and Our Friends in the North. 'I would like writers to feel they can do high concept pieces, fantasy, or relationship dramas,' he said, and 'tell big stories and come at things from a different angle.' Other upcoming BBC2 dramas include an adaptation of Hilary Mantel's historical novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, with Mark Rylance reportedly lined-up to play the lead role as Thomas Cromwell. A second series of Jed Mercurio's police corruption thriller Line of Duty has been commissioned and BBC2 will also be showing Peaky Blinders, a historical gangster drama set in Birmingham in 1919 and starring Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill and Helen McCrory. Stephenson said the channel should not shy away from risky material – including sex, violence and bad language – 'but never for the sake of it.' He added that he had been struck the strong feedback, both positive and negative, for shows such as The Shadow Line and The Fall. 'BBC2 drama is about taking risks,' said Stephenson. 'Some people are going to love these pieces, some people are going to hate them.' Indeed. Whingers, basically. Seems to be something of a running theme on today's blog.
The Apprentice saw a dip in the ratings on Wednesday night for BBC1, overnight figures show. Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie's latest firing - following Jason Leech's departure last week - lost almost three hundred thousand viewers, falling to 5.85 million at 9pm. However, it was still the most-watched show outside of soaps and by a comfortable distance as we reach that point in the year where, for many people, watching telly is just too much like hard work. The Apprentice: You're Fired! was seen by 2.25m on BBC2. Earlier, Rhys Jones's Wildlife Patrol interested 2.06m at 7.30pm, whilst A Question of Sport has an overnight audience of 2.12m punters at 10.45pm. BBC2's Today At Wimbledon rose to 3.39m at 8.30pm, followed by Horizon with 1.45m at 9pm. On ITV, risible odious and wretched All-Star Mr & Mrs held steady from last week with 3.67m at 8pm, while Love & Marriage fell to 2.96m at 9pm. Channel Four's Twenty Four Hours in A&E continued with 1.96m at 9pm, followed by the latest Dates with six hundred and seventy six thousand viewers at 10pm. Why Am I Still Single? attracted four hundred and ninety four thousand punters at 10.30pm. On Channel Five, NCIS was watched by 1.51m at 9.15pm, followed by the latest Big Brother with 1.20m at 10pm. BBC3's coverage of the Confederations Cup match (and riot) between Brazil and Uruguay scored 1.60m at 7.30pm.

In selecting yer actual Charlotte Moore as the new BBC1 controller, one of the most powerful posts in British telly, the Beeb's director general Tony Hall has opted to promote a comparatively new face – a personable, friendly executive by all accounts and one who, at least according to the Gruniad Morning Star, 'does not stand on her own ego.' Which, considering it comes from a newspaper entirely made up of wankers who do, is perhaps, not quite the ringing endorsement you'd expect it to be. As commissioning editor of documentaries since 2009, Moore has led her team in providing a wide range of challenging and often highly acclaimed documentaries to all four BBC channels. Her stand-out programmes include Protecting Our Children, 7/7: One Day in London, The Great British Bake Off, Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die, The Choir, Inside Claridges and The Call Centre. She has no direct experience of picking popular 'shiny floor' light entertainment, comedy or drama, the key drivers which ensure BBC1 remains the UK's most popular channel, and where most of its near one billion smackers annual budget is spent. Nor has she the benefit of the 'nursery slopes' of a running digital channel, like her BBC1 predecessor Danny Cohen and BBC2 counterpart Janice Hadlow. However, since 2012 she has been responsible for all BBC knowledge programmes, including the award-winning BBC3 documentary series Our War and the forthcoming mental health season. Moore was, in the past year, marked out for promotion, selected first to step in to temporarily run BBC daytime and then, when Cohen was promoted to director of TV in April, to be acting controller of BBC1. She executed this responsibility with aplomb thanks to a calm and unshowy personality in an organisation still tragically riven with divisions. In addition, Moore is not one of those 'BBC lifers' so disdained by BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten, tarnished by internal politics or prone to corporate jargon. She joined in 2006 from Ideal World, the Scottish company behind shows including Location, Location, Location, having worked in the independent production sector since the 1990s. Yet her understanding of the difficulties of programme-making means she is widely respected and well-liked by producers inside and outside the BBC, because she remains close to the creative community. Brian Woods, whose independent company True Vision makes social action documentaries such as Poor Kids for BBC1, said: 'She's absolutely delightful and very thoughtful.' Woods added that in meetings 'she gives you her full attention, appearing not to be very busy even if she is, and the notes at the end of a programme are helpful.' Moore, a graduate of Bristol University, is, according to the Gruniad profile, 'married to another television maker and has two school-age children. She has been known to push back meetings to attend school events, and often e-mails late at night once her children are in bed.' At an April breakfast panel at BAFTA where ambitious documentary makers hung on her every word – she commissioned about two hundred and twenty hours last year – she delivered a clear message about how the BBC's public service broadcasting remit translated into factual programming. 'I am looking for the next turn of the wheel,' she said. 'What are we saying about the modern world? Be ambitious.' Moore then provided a concise outline of what she was looking for, noting that The Secret Life Of Our Streets had been an unexpected hit. Moore has enjoyed a rapid rise, but she has been conscious of being in the right place at the right time: 'I think we are enjoying a boom time – there has never been such a demand for documentaries,' she said. Her appointment signals a rising appreciation of collaborative team players with an eye on the greater good of the BBC.

ITV's Myfanwy Moore has described the flop sitcoms Vicious and The Job Lot as 'a learning curve.' And a jolly steep one, at that. The comedy commissioning editor claimed that ITV is 'really proud' of both series, but added that 'no decision' has been made on whether they will be recommissioned, Broadcast reports. Moore added that in addition to their current Monday night comedy double-bill, the channel is looking for new hour-long shows to fill the Friday night Benidorm slot. 'It's the white heat of primetime - we have to play things in punchy places, so we know there's nowhere to hide,' suggested Moore in explanation as to how to shows could lose four fifths of their initial audience in just six weeks. Sir Derek Jacobi recently claimed that a second series of Vicious might not shoot until 2014, due to his co-star Sir Ian McKellen's busy film schedule. That's, if ITV recommission it at all after its disastrous slump in the ratings. 'We've done a Christmas special to remind people that we're still around, because Ian, of course, is a movie star,' Jacobi explained. 'He goes off and does the movies, and he's not free now 'til this time [May] next year, so we can't do another one until he's free.'
Lord Justice Leveson his very self is to appear before MPs for the first time to discuss his report on press regulation and the ensuing impasse over setting up a new industry watchdog – but not before the autumn. Leveson has accepted an invitation from the Commons culture, media and sport select committee to give evidence as part of its inquiry into the future of the press regulation. However, he said that existing commitments meant he would not be able to appear before parliament's summer recess begins on 18 July. Parliament returns on 2 September. Leveson was responding to a letter from John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP who chairs the culture select committee. 'Lord Justice Leveson has now received an invitation from the culture, media and sport select committee,' a spokeswoman for the committee said on Thursday. 'He has written to the committee chair accepting the invitation but explaining that existing commitments make it impossible for him to attend before 18 July. Lord Justice Leveson has offered to make arrangements for when parliament returns after the summer recess.' The court of appeal judge has spoken publicly just once since the publication of his report on the future of press regulation on 29 November, giving a speech in Melbourne, titled Hold the front page: newsgathering in a time of change in mid-December. MPs will undoubtedly want to hear Leveson's views on the current stand-off between politicians and the industry over setting up a new press regulator. And, perhaps on why the prime minister appointed him to chair his inquiry in the first place since he, seemingly, had no intention of putting the judge's recommendations into action. Last week the Financial Times editor, Lionel Barber, proposed at a culture select committee hearing that Lord Grade, the former BBC and ITV chairman, act as mediator between the two sides.

Meanwhile, five phone-hacking defendants, including well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and the prime minister's former 'chum' Andy Coulson, have lost a last ditch legal bid to block their prosecution over alleged phone hacking and other alleged naughty badness. Former News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks has pleaded not guilty to phone-hacking charges and has Coulson. Revelations about phone-hacking led to the closure of the Scum of the World in shame and ignominy in July 2011. Brooks, forty five, also denies conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and obstruction of justice.

Britain's Got Toilets winner Pudsey the dog was reportedly replaced by stand-in dogs for a TV show last year. Expect the Daily Scum Mail to have an article on the public being deceive by 'wicked TV bosses' on stand-by as we speak. David Walliams's Christmas BBC1 show Mr Stink hired Pudsey to play Hugh Bonneville's canine sidekick Duchess. However, two of Pudsey's puppies Crumpet and Dillon were apparently used on-screen for some scenes when Pudsey was 'too tired', reports the Sun. Pudsey won Britain's Got Toilets in 2012 for his dancing tricks alongside owner and trainer Ashleigh Butler. Handlers are said to have applied make-up to Crumpet and Dillon, while their coats were altered to make them look like Pudsey. Pudsey's agent Jonathan Shalit said: 'Yes, there is a spare Pudsey because if you do a film it's expensive, and if Pudsey gets ill or goes above and beyond the number of hours, you need to have a spare Pudsey so he isn't abused. There aren't any rules - but it's about caring and not abusing animals.' He added: 'We've got a Hollywood film coming up and it starts filming in September. We'll need several doubles then. Lassie had five doubles. It's not unusual. In fact we're looking for more dogs that look just like Pudsey because his own family don't quite look the same.' A BBC spokesman said: 'Pudsey was the consummate professional. But never too proud to ask family members for a helping paw.'

Sky Sports 1 will be made available for free on the first day of the 2013-14 Premier League football season. On Saturday 17 August, the channel will replace Sky 2 (on Sky and other pay TV services) and Pick TV (on Freeview and YouView). Managing director of Sky Sports Barney Francis said: 'It's our biggest ever season of Premier League football and we're inviting every home in Britain to enjoy the opening day. All fans can join the action as we launch our new Saturday schedule for the most eagerly awaited Premier League season in years.' Pundit Jamie Redknapp added: 'This is a brilliant way for everyone to follow the action from the first day of the Premier League season with Sky Sports.' Although, when asked to walk in a straight line and talk at the same time, the former Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and Stottingtot Hotshots midfielder developed a mysterious groin-strain and had to spend the rest of the day on the treatment table. So, no change there, then. The announcement marks the relaunch of the Sky Sports weekend - which includes Sky's 5.30pm Saturday evening Premier League fixture as part of Saturday Night Football.

The Sun's new editor David Dinsmore has pledged to retain pictures of topless women on page three of the tabloid. No surprise there, of course. But more than a few eyebrows may well have been raised in Liverpool at another of the articles in Dinsmore's paper on Wednesday (though, of course, the city's continuing Sun boycott means that few Merseysiders will have actually seen it). Wednesday's Sun contained in a policy spread attacking the police for a series of 'disastrous failures' such as the Jimmy Savile fiasco, the deaths of Jean Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson and, wait for it, Hillsborough. The paper ran its piece alongside a facsimile of its The Real Truth"front page from last year rather than its more family and despicable front page of 1989, just after the tragedy which cost ninety people their lives. That's not to say that the Sun is, necessarily, wrong about the disgrace of the various police cover-ups related to Hillsborough. Similarly, its other case histories of policing scandals, including the latest Stephen Lawrence revelations, make some genuinely excellent points. But, they cynically overlook the uncomfortable truth that the Sun itself was responsible for crass and ignorant reporting failures in at least some of those instances. Sometimes, it was the result of unquestioningly accepting what reporters were told by police officers; sometimes it was due to a knee-jerk pro-police prejudice which the newspaper cultivated over many years. In all cases, the end result was the smearing of innocent victims (just as with Hillsborough). For example, following the death of Ian Tomlinson in 2009, the Sun reported: 'New photos show paper seller Ian Tomlinson — unsteady on his feet through booze — being shoved aside after he blocked a police van and refused to move. The pictures cast doubt on claims the forty seven-year-old dad-of-nine was on his way home and got caught up in trouble accidentally. And they add to the confusion surrounding the cause of his death.' The picture - which is still up on the paper's website for all the world to see - actually shows no such thing. He happens to be walking in front of the van and it is impossible to know what the driver was saying to him. There is no shoving of any kind, no is there any indication of how the knows him to be 'unsteady on his feet through booze' except that that's what they had been told by one of their police friends. Then there was the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian man killed by police officers who mistook him for a bomber in the wake of the July 2005 tube and bus atrocities. It was the Sun that reported he was carrying a large 'suspicious' bag into Stockwell tube station prior to the shooting. He did not have a bag. It was the Sun which carried a report saying that he had been accused of raping a woman. This falsehood, attributed to 'anonymous police sources', led to de Menezes's body being exhumed, against the wishes of his family, to obtain a DNA sample. This proved that he had not raped the woman. Of course, it's fair to say the paper was often misled by the police. But that didn't stop it from continually allowing itself to be misled down the years. There are two overlapping reasons why the Sun has, seemingly, chosen to attack the police at this time, one of which is touched upon in the leading article itself - hostility towards the Leveson report. The other one, of course, is about the arrest of numerous Sun journalists - often on charges of colluding with, and paying police officers and other public officials, for stories. The editorial, states: 'The key to a better [police] force is more scrutiny by the media, not less.' Hard to argue with this. But, in his column accompanying the feature, the odious scum Trevor Kavanagh writes: 'Too often, like a dog returning to its vomit, the police insist on investigating their own crimes and misdemeanours.' Also hard to argue with that. But didn't the odious scum Kavanagh and the Sun say something entirely different about press dogs returning to their own vomit by insisting on investigating their own crimes by preserving press self-regulation? The article the odious scum Kavanagh writes is entitled As our cops are shamed by cover-ups and corruption, we ask: can we ever trust them? One might well ask the same thing about journalism.

As speaking of odious louse organs of the press, the Daily Scum Mail has been forced to grovellingly apologise and pay one hundred and ten thousand smackers in libel damages to a London defence firm it wrongly linked with an alleged chemical weapons plot in Syria. Britam Defence Limited complained that an article on the Daily Scum Mail's website falsely accused two of its executives of conspiring in a 'nefarious and illegal plot' in the Middle Eastern state 'for enormous financial reward.' The article quoted one e-mail supposedly sent between two executives at the company which claimed to show that Britam had agreed to supply chemical weapons to Homs for use in an attack. However, the e-mails turned out to be forged. In a statement at the high court in London on Wednesday, a lawyer for Britam said its founder, Philip Doughty, and its business development director, David Goulding, had 'suffered considerable distress and embarrassment' over the article. Adam Tudor, a solicitor at law firm Carter-Ruck, said on behalf on Britam: 'The e-mails were not written or sent by the claimants (or by anyone at Britam Defence Limited or anyone associated with them), and the illegal hacking of Britam Defence's website remains the subject of a criminal investigation. The claimants had no involvement in any chemical weapons plot and would never contemplate becoming involved in the heinous activities which were the subject of the article.' The Daily Scum Mail publisher, Associated Newspapers, agreed the six-figure libel settlement after accepting that the e-mails were fabricated and that the allegation of a chemical weapons plot was entirely untrue. Martin Wood, for Associated Newspapers, said in a truly heart-warmingly sycophantic statement before the judge, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies: 'On behalf of the defendant, I confirm that the defendant offers its sincere apologies to the claimants for the damage and distress caused by the publication of these false allegations, which had appeared on US websites. The defendant acknowledges that the e-mails in question were completely fabricated and that there is no question of any of the claimants being involved – or even considering becoming involved – in the heinous actions to which the article referred. The defendant is pleased to set the record straight.' The case is the second six-figure libel payout by Associated Newspapers in under a week. Last Thursday, the Daily Scum Mail paid one hundred and twenty thousand notes in damages to the alleged TV psychic Sally Morgan over an article which made an untrue allegation that she had used a hidden earpiece to deceive a theatre audience.

Meanwhile, one Daily Scum Mail louse might be about to have a very nasty brush with celebrity vengeance. Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin has threatened to 'fuck up' the Daily Scum Mail's LA-based showbiz reporter, and then promptly deleted his Twitter account, after being outraged by a story claiming that his wife tweeted during the funeral of the late actor James Gandolfini. The Scum Mail's George Stark had claimed that Hilaria Baldwin 'made a string of tweets and retweets' about things including 'smoothie recipes and shopping tips' during the funeral of The Sopranos actor. Baldwin, who was once infamously caught on tape calling his young daughter a 'rude, thoughtless little pig', went into attack mode, calling Stark a 'toxic little queen' whom he intended to 'find and fuck up.' He followed that up with a bit of trash talk saying that he would 'put my foot up your fucking ass. But I'm sure you'd dig it too much.' Ooo, get her. Baldwin then deleted his Twitter account and was last seen prowling the streets of Santa Monica wearing a pair of Doc Martens. It's a response that Tony Soprano, everybody's favourite gangster with a violent streak, would have been proud of.

The Glastonbury Festival starts in earnest on Friday, as the main musical programme gets under way. Acts on the opening day include Rita Ora, Chic, Dizzee Rascal and headliners The Arctic Monkeys. Drummer Matt Helders told the BBC that the band would 'have some fun' with their set. By Thursday evening, one hundred and eighteen thousand ticket holders were on site - giving Worthy Farm in rural Somerset a population about the same size as Chester. Another sixty two thousand people are due to arrive by the time the festival is fully underway. The three-day event caters to all tastes, with cutting-edge dance acts Skrillex and Rudimental rubbing shoulders with veteran entertainers like Kenny Rogers and Sir Bruce Forsyth. As tradition dictates, the site was drenched with rain on Thursday and, on Friday morning, everybody was knee-deep in clarts. What was forecast as a short, sharp shower turned into an all-day deluge. It did little to dampen spirits of those attending, however. Revellers either retreated to indoor arenas or made the most of the sludge - creating impromptu mud slides and assault courses around the nine hundred-acre site.

Meanwhile, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self is indebted to the excellent Doug Morris for today's Thought For Today. Which comes from a piece in the Independent by the, occasional wee-yer-pants-funny, Grace Dent in a piece entitled Spare me your "Glastonbury vibes." At our age, the only reason to camp is a humanitarian disaster: 'I don't like hippies,' begins yer actual Grace, positively. 'There is not one person in the Green Field doling out positive vibes and head massages whom I don't believe wouldn't benefit from some solid employment and regular exposure to a bar of Cussons Imperial Leather. And while I'm here, people dragging your toddlers to Glastonbury: this is child cruelty. Your kids would rather be in a tiddlers club on a Thomas Cook holiday in Lanzarote, not observing you skanking to The Two Bears, in scenes that they will vividly retell during therapy sessions in 2036.' Never trust a hippie, dear blog reader. It's this blog's mission statement.

More4 has announced an evening of tribute programmes to Mick Aston. The archaeologist and author - who was best known for his appearances in Time Team from 1994 to 2011 - died earlier this week. The night will include a selection of classic Time Team episodes featuring Aston, along with his former colleagues sharing their memories and stories. Channel Four's head of factual programming, Ralph Lee, said: 'We have been terribly saddened by the death of Professor Mick Aston. We are broadcasting a tribute night, recognising his important contribution to Time Team over the years, and the key role he played in making archaeology so popular.' Time Team's executive producer Philip Clarke said: 'Mick was a one-off. He was really irreplaceable as the heart and soul of Time Team. Thousands of people were not only inspired by him but truly warmed to him and felt they knew him. He was a television natural whilst professing to have no interest in the medium. He lived for the thing he loved, which was archaeology.' Sir Tony Robinson said of his close friend: 'Mick Aston was a great British eccentric; an atheist whose life's work was medieval monasticism, an anarchist who for many decades loyally fulfilled the labyrinthine requirements of his university and British television, and a grumpy old curmudgeon with the kindest of hearts and a great capacity for friendship. His mission was sharing his passion for archaeology with ordinary people rather than keeping its secrets locked away behind the walls of Britain's universities. This made him a contentious figure among some of his contemporaries and he was deeply wounded by the vociferous attacks he suffered, particularly in the early years of Time Team. But archaeology is now a subject that tens of thousands of people enjoy and value, and this is almost solely down to him. I hope he'll receive belated recognition for that fact. He will be sorely missed by all of us who worked closely with him over the years.'

Channel Five has axed the live feed from this year's Big Brother house. The two hours aired every evening from 7pm to 9pm on 5* will cease from 6 July. 'Big Brother's live streaming has been removed from the 5* schedule from next week,' a spokesperson confirmed matter-of-factly to the Digital Spy website. No reason has been given for the decision, but a fuller statement will follow from producers, the spokesperson said. On its launch in the UK in 2000, Big Brother had a round-the-clock live feed, broadcast with a ten-minute delay. Channel Four reduced its red button live feed output in 2008 due to falling viewer figures. It reinstated a round-the-clock live feed for Big Brother series eleven, the final series on the station, exclusively online - priced at forty nine pence for a day pass, £1.99 for a week pass and £14.99 for a season pass. When Channel Five bought the rights to the show in 2011, it announced that it would not be featuring a twenty four-hour live feed and would instead focus on social media to engage with viewers. 'We can confirm there will not be a twenty four-hour live feed from the house available online or on-air,' it said at the time. 'This year, we have decided to focus on the nightly highlights show and on directly engaging with the show's viewers through social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and specially created iPhone, iPad and Android apps.' Short bursts of live footage from the house were reintroduced on sister channel 5* for 2012's Celebrity Big Brother after major events such as evictions or new housemates arriving on the show.

Previously unheard sketches from cult sketch team Absolutely are to be broadcast for the first time. The group got together in April for their first stage appearance in the twenty years since their Channel Four show ended. They recorded scenes for Radio 4's Sketchorama show, sharing the bill with other acts. But the predominantly Scottish team actually performed almost forty five minutes of material – and now a one-off special has been commissioned to accommodate it. Radio 4 commissioning editor Caroline Raphael said: 'Having heard the sketches chosen for the recent episode of Sketchorama, I was delighted to learn there was more. The Absolutely crew are still held in high esteem and remembered with affection. This is a comeback treat.' Pete Baikie, Morwenna Banks, Moray Hunter, Gordon Kennedy and John Sparkes all took part in the Sketchorama reunion, which was recorded in Glasgow. Sketchorama: Absolutely Special will be broadcast on 8 August at 6.30pm and promises characters such as Frank Hovis and The Old Lady Artist and more from the Stoneybridge council and Calum Gilhooley. Skill.

A man is reportedly suing Japanese television for using 'too many foreign words'. Hoji Takahashi, seventy one, is suing Japan's national broadcaster for 'emotional distress' and demands 1.41 million yen (which is about nine grand) in damages, AFP reports. The pensioner, who is a member of The Treat Japanese As Important Association, believes that the broadcasters in Japan are 'too reliant' on using English words instead of traditional, Japanese ones. His lawyer, Mutsuo Miyata said: 'The basis of his concern is that Japan is being too Americanised. There is a sense of crisis that this country is becoming just a province of America.' Since World War II, Japan has regularly borrowed words from other languages. For example, most Japanese speakers use 'trouble', 'risk', 'drive' and 'parking' during everyday conversations. Japan also uses words from other countries, such as Germany, France and Spain.

Billionaire tyrant (and drag) Rupert Murdoch's FOX News Channel threatened to sue the makers of The Simpsons over a spoof news ticker, the show's creator Matt Groening has claimed. Groening said FOX News raised the unlikely prospect of suing a show broadcast by its sister channel, FOX Entertainment, because it wanted to stop The Simpsons parodying its famously anti-Democratic party agenda. The alleged row centred on a parody of FOX News' rolling news ticker, which included headlines such as 'Do Democrats cause cancer?' Groening claimed that the news channel backed down because it would have caused FOX to bring a lawsuit against itself. 'FOX said they would sue the show and we called their bluff because we didn't think Rupert Murdoch would pay for FOX to sue itself. We got away with it,' Groening told National Public Radio in the US. 'But now FOX has a new rule that we can't do those little fake news crawls on the bottom of the screen in a cartoon because it might confuse the viewers into thinking it's real news,' he added on NPR's Fresh Air programme. The episode of The Simpsons in question showed a rolling news ticker at the bottom of the screen, which read: 'Pointless news crawls up thirty seven per cent ... Do Democrats cause cancer? Find out at ... Rupert Murdoch: Terrific dancer ... Dow down five thousand points ... Study: Ninety two per cent of Democrats are gay ... JFK posthumously joins Republican Party ... Oil slicks found to keep seals young, supple...' FOX News denied that the channel had ever threatened legal action. 'We are scratching our heads over here. We liked the cartoon. We thought it was great,' Robert Zimmerman, a FOX News spokesman, claimed to the Independent. So, either Matt Groening is lying, or Robert Zimmerman from FOX News is. Which one do you believe, dear blog reader?
It has become fashionable - not to mention entirely accurate - of late to describe Coldplay as boring middle-class tits. However, that has not stopped the tedious Chris Martin-fronted rock band being the highest ranked Britons on Forbes's 2013 global celebrity power list. A list, seemingly, full of, and indeed voted for by, lots and lots and lots middle-class tits. It's so nice to see them all sticking together, isn't it?

Russia really knows how to celebrate Pride Month, it would appear. After the country's public feuds with Madonna, Pussy Riot and their own LGBT community, it's no secret what the Russian establishment thinks of 'the homosexual lifestyle.' Now, the Communists of Russia, a small group in the south of the country, are threatening to protest an upcoming Elton John gig in the city of Krasnodar if the singer doesn't change his flamboyant outfits. Mikhail Abramyan, who heads the local chapter of the Communists of Russia, called Sir Elt's outfits 'homosexual propaganda.' But he didn't stop there - he even suggested a 'more appropriate' wardrobe for the musician: 'a knee-length caftan, a fur hat and leather boots.' In other words, looking like Rasputin. Cos, that's not camp at all, is it? Even though the concert promoters have rejected the idea, Abramyan hopes Sir Elt will reconsider. Madonna was sued last year for ten million dollars by Russian anti-gay groups because they claimed her concert in St Petersburg 'promoted homosexuality,' a criminal offence in many regions in the country. Hopefully Sir Elt his very self will pull a few of the more outrageous costumes, if you will, out of his closet in his own form of protest when he rocks the Urals in July.
And indeed, dear blog reader, that brings us to the first of today's two (yes two) Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day. For on Thursday evening, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self attended the final Uncle Scunthorpe's Record Player of the 2012-2013 season at the Tyneside. Fear not, however, dear blog reader, there is a one-off end-of-season special featuring Kraftwerk next Friday and then the next series kicks off in September so yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will still be getting out of the house. Anyway, the final vinyl of the season was yer actual Sir Elt's magnificent 1974 epic Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which thoroughly entertained a full house. And the slide-show this week was particularly fun (although one doubts the Communists of Russia would have approved of much of it. Particularly those images involving animals).
Tell 'em all about it, Sir Elt.
Some very sad news now. Alan Myers, the long-time drummer for the US new wave band Devo, has died, aged fifty eight, after suffering from cancer. Myers died on Monday in Los Angeles, the band said. He was Devo's drummer from 1976 to 1985, when they produced the massively influential LP, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, and on several hit singles, including the classic 'Whip It'. One of the band's two founders, Gerald Casale, called Myers 'the human metronome. People watching him thought we were using a drum machine,' he told the Associated Press. 'Nobody had ever drummed like that.' Myers played on classic Devo songs such as 'Mongoloid', 'Jocko Homo' and the band's minimalist version of The Rolling Stones' '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'. The comments were echoed by Mark Mothersbaugh, Devo's co-founder. 'I think he probably influenced a lot of drummers that are out there now because he was really great at being very precise and minimalist,' he told the Reuters news agency. Myers, the band's third drummer, played on Devo's first seven LPs, but was increasingly unfulfilled, according to the 2003 book We Are Devo! 'He could not tolerate being replaced by the Fairlight and autocratic machine music. I agreed,' tweeted Casale. Myers parted company with Devo after their LP Shout, to pursue jazz and music 'off the beaten path', Mothersbaugh said, adding: 'We always regretted it when he left.' Following his departure from the band, he worked as an electrical contractor in Los Angeles, and since 2005 had played improvisational music with his wife, Christine Myers, in the group Skyline Electric, and more recently Swahili Blonde, whose line-up features his daughter Laena Myers-Ionita.

So, for today's second Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, a somewhat obvious choice, but a great one, and Alan Myers at his finest.