Thursday, June 13, 2013

Here I Am On Bended Knees

Frankie held steady for its penultimate episode on Tuesday night, overnight data shows. Eve Myles's BBC1 medical drama gained around seventy thousand viewers from the previous week to earn 3.99 million punters at 9pm. Later, music documentary Agnetha: ABBA And After was seen by 2.58m at 10.45pm. On BBC2, Springwatch captured 2.49m at 8pm, followed by Town with Nicholas Crane with 1.36m at 9pm. ITV's River Monsters attracted but 2.01m viewers at 7.30pm. Animal Heroes had an even smaller audience, 1.75m at 8pm, while Dirty Britain secured 2.08m at 9pm on what was, frankly, a dreadful primetime for the commercial broadcaster, soaps aside. On Channel Four, Embarrassing Bodies was seen by 1.26m at 8pm. The new documentary series Child Genius debuted with 1.76m at 9pm. Dates continued with 1.13m at 10pm, dipping four hundred thousand from the opening episode on the previous night. Channel Five's new series Gibraltar: Britain in the Sun attracted 1.58m at 8pm. CSI continued with 1.79m for its latest episode at 9.15pm, followed by the final Body of Proof with 1.16m at 10pm. BBC3's extremely shouty documentary series The Call Centre was the most watched show on the multichannels with 1.00m at 9pm. Sky1's Mad Dogs dropped one hundred thousand viewers from the previous week's opener to three hundred and thirty eight thousand punters at 9pm.
Melvyn Bragg will present a two-part documentary on the radical political thinkers, John Ball and Thomas Paine, as part of a fresh line-up of arts programming on BBC2. The writer and broadcaster will front the show, Melvyn Bragg's Radical Lives, as it looks at the cultural impact of two men who were at the heart of historic revolts in Britain and overseas. Bragg returns to the BBC for the documentary just weeks after he revealed that he is 'in talks' to extend his current deal with Sky Arts by a further two years. The novelist, broadcaster and peer fronts The South Bank Show and other programming on Sky's digital channel. Mark Bell, the BBC's arts commissioning editor, said: 'Melvyn Bragg is one of the great writers of our time. He has a particular knack for digging out influential figures we should all have heard of, but often haven't, then bringing them to life with his inimitable insight.' The two-part documentary was announced by the BBC on Wednesday as it unveiled three other arts programmes to be shown on on BBC2. Mark Gatiss, the actor, broadcaster, Doctor Who writer and Sherlock co-creator, will present a documentary on the life and works of the Edwardian ghost story author and academic MR James. The show is expected to be broadcast during BBC2's Christmas holiday schedule, alongside a drama adaptation of James' classic novel, The Tractate Middoth, which Mark his very self will write and direct. A three-part series on the British renaissance will be fronted by art historian James Fox, the presenter of BBC4's British Masters and A History of Art in Three Colours. BBC2 will also broadcast a four-part history of science fiction, called My God, It's Full of Stars: A Journey to the Edge of Science Fiction. The BBC2 controller, Janice Hadlow, said: 'I'm delighted to be bringing such an exciting range of intelligent new arts programmes for BBC2. Melvyn Bragg returns to bring viewers his extraordinary insights into the lives of two radical writers and I'm pleased to bring James Fox's authority and passion to the channel as he explores Britain's Renaissance. It's a pleasure to bring Mark Gatiss back to BBC2 with a new look at one of Britain's genre defining writers and we'll be setting a channel first as we take an in-depth look at the cult of science fiction.'

Chris Addison has addressed rumours that he could be cast as the lead in Doctor Who (mainly, it should be noted, down to Danny Baker making his mouth go about how Addison was 'a hot tip' for the role on his 5Live radio show over the weekend) by posing in a Tom Baker-esque scarf and hat costume. Which, as with most things yer man Addison is involved in, was briefly funny but then, after a while, got on everyone's tit-end. And, he's looks like a complete and total cheb in it. So, no change there, then. The stand-up comedian and actor will appear in the outfit in Thursday night's edition of Mock The Week, where he, as it were, mocks the 'surprisingly' short odds of him replacing Matt Smith as The Doctor. Addison is one of the bookmakers' strongest tips for the role. To which, one can only note that you've seldom met a poor bookmaker, have you? Christ, this story doesn't half bring out the ladgeful glake in pretty much everyone, it would seem.
Meanwhile, on a broadly similar subject, Dominic Cooper has played down the possibility of him taking over from Matt Smith in Doctor Who, insisting that he hasn't been contacted by anyone about playing The Doctor. The actor appeared at the gala screening of his new movie Summer in February this week and said that it was 'nice to be thought about' in connection to the role, but that rumours linking him to the part were 'off the mark.' Cooper's name first surfaced as one of three which Starburst magazine claimed had been given to the by a 'source'. Red sauce or brown sauce, we simply don't know. '"I've heard absolutely nothing of this,' he told the Daily Scum Express. 'It's nice to be thought about though, wherever it came from. It's a very nice acknowledgement.' Cooper said that whoever did land the role would have 'a very hard job' following on from Smith, describing his performance as 'intriguing, interesting and brave.' Tomorrow, dear blog reader, expect several more people whom some clueless plank of a journalist named as a potential 'next Doctor' - with absolutely no supporting evidence whatsoever - to cop themselves a nice bit of free-publicity by saying they're 'flattered by the idea' but haven't, as yet, been contacted by the production office.

Things we learned from TV this week: Number one - 'Rock the Casbah' used to be Chris Packham's favourite Clash song but now, according to the latest episode of Springwatch, it's 'White Man (in Hammersmith Palais)'. Connoisseurs choice that, matey! This blogger's personal favourite is, obviously, still 'Complete Control'.

Wor geet canny Robson Green, like, will front two new factual series for ITV. The programmes have been ordered by ITV's commissioning team and will draw on the actor's Northern roots and celebrate the area's heritage. Oh great. It's Ant & Dec's History of Tyneside all over again! Well, maybe not. The first commission is an eight-part series with the working title Robson Green's Northumberland. The show will see Robson guiding viewers through his home county, showcasing the unique experiences and landmarks it has to offer in what is, of course, God's own country. The second project How the North Was Built (also a working title) will consist of two sixty-minute programmes which will see Green delving into history to tell the story of how the industrial revolution shaped the North. He will explore the impact of major industries such as coal mining, cotton and steel, as well as looking at how leisure, education and politics was changed by industrial life. ITV Controller of Factual Jo Clinton-Davis said: 'Both projects offer an enriching approach to Britain's Northern heritage and Robson Green's passion for and authentic experience of both subjects makes him the perfect person to mine this rich seam of our history, culture and landscape.'

The Fall's producers have defended the show's divisive cliffhanger ending, which was heavily criticised by some full of their own importance tossers on Twitter on Monday night. Plakish viewers with the attention span of seven seconds who enjoy being spoon-fed all the answers were, according to various newspapers, 'left with lots of unanswered questions' at the end of series one and the central serial killer case remains unsolved heading into series two. This is unlikely to be broadcast until the autumn of 2014. Speaking about the drama - which stars Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan - Artists' Studio creative director Gub Neal defended writer Allan Cubitt's decision to not resolve the crime. 'Allan has always been very committed to taking the long view on stories. A critical part of what he's trying to do is change the nature of the way these stories are told. TV cops often live in the world of TV cops. It's a TV rhetoric, not reality,' he told Broadcast. 'What we know is that life's not like that. It's not that easy to catch serial killers - detectives aren't superhumans.' He added: 'Many dramas don't personalise their victims; you don't see the father breaking down in the police corridor. The whole thing is often a game and this was not a game but a chance to recharge some of those key issues about morality that are forgotten sometimes in general rhetoric.' The Fall has been a huge ratings hit for BBC2 over the last five weeks, pulling in 3.6 million overnight viewers for the finale.

Idris Elba has revealed that his character in Luther could be left feeling 'fragile' by the end of the third series. Or, more fragile that usual, anyway. The actor suggested that 'lots of bad stuff' happens in the crime drama's new four-part run, which will be shown next month on the BBC. Again, nothing too unusual in that, 'bad stuff' seems to follow John Luther around like an eager puppy. He said: 'Lots happens in this season, lots of bad stuff, I don't know where it's going to leave Luther. He's not a fragile man, but he might end up becoming fragile after what he goes through.' Idris also discussed Luther's new love interest Mary - who will be played by Resident Evil actress Sienna Guillory - and said the storyline gives viewers a chance to see a different side to the detective. 'Luther can be quite a dark and gloomy character and to be in love is good for him. I think he welcomes this relationship with open arms. It's good to see him in love and to see him smiling and enjoying himself. It's part of the idea of getting to know him a bit more and seeing what he's like with a lover. In Luther's style, things probably won't go to plan but it certainly helps to get to know Luther a bit better. I think Luther wants a really great relationship and I think he's going for it. Considering Luther's job and how dedicated he is to his work I think it's tough for him to relax and be a boyfriend but I think he gives it a good attempt. His marriage failed because of his work and he's putting a lot of work into making things better this time.' The BBC recently released plot details from the upcoming series of the detective drama. Episode one will see John Luther torn between two cases, the first involving a copycat killer and the other a 'malicious Internet tormentor.'

Police hav, reportedly, warned Channel Five about the risks of having a former police officer as a contestant on Big Brother. The Daily Lies has claimed that an ex-detective constable who 'played a key role in Operation Yewtree', will be involved in the next series of the reality show due to begin later this week. Scotland Yard as said to have written to Channel Five about the broadcaster's responsibility in connection with live investigations. Channel Five said procedures were 'in place' to ensure that 'nothing problematic' would be broadcast. A Yard spokesman said: 'We are aware of reports concerning the proposed media appearance of a former detective constable. We have been in contact with Channel Five and made them fully aware of potential risks and their responsibility to live investigations. All officers joining the MPS and leaving the MPS are required to sign the Official Secrets Act.' The former officer is reportedly expected to enter the Big Brother house on Friday; the new series started on Thursday when the first contestants arrived. Channel Five uses time delays to ensure 'unsuitable material' does not go out on air. A spokesman for the broadcaster said: 'Channel Five takes its obligations as a broadcaster seriously and, as has been made clear to New Scotland Yard, extensive procedures are in place to ensure that nothing will be broadcast during the course of Big Brother which would involve the former police officer breaching confidentiality, invading the privacy of others, committing libel or a contempt of court.' The Daily Lies is owned by soft core pornographer Richard Desmond, who also owns Channel Five.

Greek political parties and unions are urging the Greek government to reverse its surprise decision to shut down the state broadcaster ERT. The move is designed to help Greece meet its debt bailout obligations. Most of the broadcaster's output has been taken off-air, although shortwave radio and Internet broadcasts continue. Greek opposition leader Alexis Tsipras is urging President Carolos Papoulias to cancel an executive order closing ERT with the loss of nearly two thousand seven hundred jobs. Protest rallies are being held in support of the broadcaster's staff, with thousands rallying outside ERT's headquarters in Athens. Journalists' unions have called a twenty four-hour national strike across Greece's broadcasters - except for those ERT stations broadcasting rogue broadcasts maintained by workers who have refused to leave their posts. Tsipras described the closure as 'illegal', adding: 'Many times the word "coup" is used as an exaggeration. In this case, it is not an exaggeration.' The decision to close down ERT was taken by conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras despite the opposition of allies in the coalition government. 'We absolutely disagree with the government's particular decisions and management,' the socialist Pasok party said in a statement. 'We will not vote in favour of the law validating this legislative act.' The shutdown has been condemned by the head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos, who said the state broadcaster had been 'violently' closed and that its employees were being 'sacrificed' to pay for decades of wasteful administration. The Geneva-based European Broadcasting Union expressed 'profound dismay' at the closure in a letter to Samaras, calling on him to reverse the decision. The head of ERT's foreign desk, Odin Linardatou, said the announcement had taken journalists by surprise. 'We are very shocked, we are angry,' she told the BBC's Newshour programme. 'What I cannot accept in a democracy is that Greece will not have a public broadcaster.' The government says that ERT was 'a huge drain on public resources', and will reopen at a later date under a new format and with considerably fewer staff. All two thousand six hundred and fifty five employees 'will be compensated' and allowed to apply for jobs at the revamped organisation. 'ERT is a case of an exceptional lack of transparency and incredible extravagance. This ends now,' government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told a news conference. The announcement came after months of strikes by ERT employees in opposition to plans to restructure the broadcaster. Athens has pledged to cut thousands of public-sector jobs as part of agreements under which it receives billions of Euros in rescue loans from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. ERT, which began broadcasting in 1938, is funded by a direct payment of 4.30 Euros added monthly to the electricity bills of Greeks. It ran three domestic TV channels, four national radio stations, as well regional radio stations and an external service, The Voice of Greece.

The Liberal Democrats have 'let women down', their leader, Nick Clegg has said. Yep, that sounds about right. And men. Don't forget men, Nick. And, some dogs as well ...

Barrister and judge Constance Briscoe is to be charged with two counts of 'intending to pervert the course of justice', prosecutors say. It is alleged that she gave 'inaccurate statements' to police investigating the speeding points case which saw ex-minister Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce jailed for naughty badness. Briscoe is accused over statements given to Essex Police between May 2011 and October last year. She has denied the allegations. The first count alleges that, between 16 May 2011 and 6 October last year, Briscoe provided Essex Police with two statements that were inaccurate, the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement. The second alleges that on 6 October last year she produced a copy of her witness statement which had been altered and maintained that it was the correct version. CPS senior lawyer Deborah Walsh said the CPS had decided there was 'sufficient evidence' for a realistic prospect of conviction and charges were 'in the public interest.' Briscoe is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 24 June. In a statement, Briscoe said: 'I am deeply distressed at the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service to charge me today. I have not committed the offences alleged against me and I will fight the allegations in court. There is a great deal more I would like to say now but I have been advised that I should not do so at this stage. I ask only that no judgement is reached against me on the basis of this prosecution decision and before the full facts are heard. I will make no further comment.' The former Liberal Democrat MP and government minister Huhne, and Pryce, both served two months of an eight-month sentence in the pokey for perverting the course of justice after Pryce took Huhne's speeding points for him and then, after they had divorced some years later, told the press what she'd done. They were released last month. The speeding incident took place in March 2003 when Huhne's BMW car was caught by a speed camera on the M11 between Stansted Airport and London. Huhne, a former energy secretary, changed his plea to guilty on the first day of his trial in February after failing to have the case dismissed. He resigned as an MP on the same day. Pryce was found guilty in March after a retrial. Briscoe, a neighbour of Pryce in Clapham, was arrested in October 2012 and suspended by the Office of Judicial Complaints. It had been expected that Briscoe would give evidence during the Pryce trial. However, the prosecution dropped her as a witness, telling the court that she could 'no longer be put forward' as a 'witness of the truth' because she was being investigated by police on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. The charges are the result of that investigation.

Max Clifford will stand trial on charges of indecent assault on 4 March next year, a judge has ruled. Clifford, from Hersham, did not appear at the administrative hearing at the Old Bailey. He has pleaded not guilty to eleven counts of indecent assault. The historical charges relate to alleged offences against seven different women and girls, ranging in age from fourteen to nineteen, and allegedly committed between 1966 and 1985. Clifford denied the charges at a hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 28 May. Speaking outside court, he claimed he was 'totally innocent' of the allegations.

Smiley Culture plunged a kitchen knife into his own chest after being arrested at his home in Surrey, an inquest jury has been told. The reggae toaster, whose real name was David Emmanuel, was said by a police officer to have 'changed completely' after a chat over mugs of tea in his kitchen. Surrey Coroner Richard Travers told the jury that the incident happened during a police search of Smiley's Warlingham home. He said that four Metropolitan Police officers went to Smiley's home, arriving at 7am on 15 March 2011 to arrest the singer and search the premises in Hillbury Road as part of an inquiry into allegations of conspiring to import Class A drugs, Travers said. At the time of his death, Smiley was awaiting trial at Croydon Crown Court along with two co-defendants over allegations of 'being concerned' in the supply of a Class A drug, claims which he denied. Travers told the jury that they would hear from a police officer, who would be named only as Witness Two, that when police were coming to the end of their search, Smiley 'very suddenly and without warning' stood up. Witness Two realised for the first time that Smiley had a large kitchen knife in his hand. 'The officer says that he shouted out "knife" so as to warn his colleagues, at which point, Mr Emmanuel, he says, held out his arm and screamed at Witness Two: "Do you want some of this?" Witness Two will tell you that Mr Emmanuel's face and body language had completely changed, he became angry and was screaming. He will tell you that Mr Emmanuel then held the knife with both hands and plunged it into his own chest.' The forty eight-year-old, who found fame with a string of 1980s hits including the epic 'Cockney Translation', was found to have died from a single stab wound to the heart. The four police officers present in Smiley's house in Hillbury Road at the time of his death have been granted anonymity by Travers. The inquest continues.

Last week, The ONE Show ran an item about the 1950s libel action against the Daily Mirra by Liberace. The item was tied to the release of Stephen Soderbergh's TV movie, Behind the Candelabra, in which Michael Douglas gives an award-winning performance as Liberace. Throughout his life, Liberace publicly denied that he was gay. In Britain, where he was popular enough to enjoy sell-out tours and be mobbed wherever he went, homosexuality was still illegal. For some reason, despite Liberace's popularity, or more likely because of it, the Mirra's acerbic (if generally liberal) columnist, Cassandra (William Connor), decided in 1956 to take the hatchet to the entertainer's image. He wrote of Liberace as 'the summit of sex — the pinnacle of masculine, feminine, and neuter. Everything that he, she, and it can ever want, a deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love.' Crikey. Liberace, of course, sued for libel and the case went to trial in 1959. It was something of a soap-opera style fiasco. Liberace immediately perjured himself by denying that he was homosexual. As for the Mirra, both Cassandra and the paper's editorial director, Hugh Cudlipp, stretched credulity beyond breaking point by saying in evidence that the column was 'not meant to imply that Liberace was homosexual.' The jury found for Liberace, who was awarded damages of eight thousand smackers (according to The ONE Show, in today's money that would be half a million quid). It's no wonder that when he was appearing at the London Palladium some years later, Liberace told the Mirra's then show business editor, Bill Hagerty, he 'owed a great deal to the Daily Mirror.' The trial was an early example of the syndrome that national newspaper publishers and editors gradually came to recognise as - sometimes understandable - jury bias against 'the press.' Because they all a bunch of scum. It seems that in re-researching the case a couple of weeks ago, the Gruniad's Roy Greenslade noted that the Mirra man who covered the trial was Howard Johnson, then the paper's chief reporter. Greenslade asked the Mirra alumni if anyone knew whether Johnson was still alive. It transpired that Johnny Johnson, as he was known, passed away some years ago, but it stimulated many memories of the man. By far the best anecdote coming from photographer Eddy Rawlinson: 'I was in Northern Ireland photographing the funeral of two police officers shot by the IRA. In the background to my pictures were the Mountains of Mourne. Back at the office, once Howard saw the pictures, his intro went something like "They buried two Ulster policemen here today and the Mountains of Mourne wept down to the sea."' Another Mirra photographer, Bill Kennedy, told Greenslade that he remembered the incident too, recollecting that the headline read: The Mountains of Mourning.

The BBC may not be on best terms with North Korea after John Sweeney's undercover Panorama on the secretive country in April – but the corporation might have more in common with Pyongyang than it thought. A BBC World Service journalist, Saleem Patka, makes this observation in a letter to the in-house magazine Ariel: 'After the mass hysteria caused by the visit of The Queen to the NBH newsroom, I trust the journalists who took part will remember their excitable behaviour next time they write mockingly about the sometimes bizarre reaction of North Koreans when they get to meet Kim Jong-Un.'

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is yet more Northern Soul in a Detroit style(e). And, a bit of rarity to boot. (Albeit, nowhere near the rarity value of the record that it's a cover version, thereof, of course!)