Saturday, August 31, 2013

Week Thirty Seven: Am I Just A Hypocrite Another Piece Of Your Bullshit?

BBC1's Celebrity MasterChef came top of the overnight ratings outside of soaps on Thursday evening, although it was down around one hundred thousand punters from its previous episode to 4.29m at 8pm. DIY SOS brought in 3.67m viewers at 9pm. On BBC2, Only Connect was up to 1.40m at 7.30pm. Dara O'Briain's Science School was watched by 1.08m at 8pm. The Men Who Made Us Thin pulled in a similar figure, 1.06m, at 9pm. ITV's repeat of For The Love Of Dogs appealed to 2.78m at 8.30pm. Tom Hardy's Poaching Wars continued to the complete indifference of 1.31m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Location, Location, Location drew in 1.49m at 8pm to watch the latest example of bossy musmy Tory Kirstie and put-upon Phil trying to find accommodation for some picky couples in the home counties who've got 'that's not a real job'-type jobs. Which, let's face it, is always entertaining. The documentary Burgled attracted 1.50m at 9pm. Channel Five's latest Celebrity Big Brother fiasco was seen by 1.78m crushed victims of society at 9pm, followed by The Man Who Ate Himself To Death with 1.30m at 10pm.

Wretched, unfunny alleged sitcom Big School's latest episode attracted a fraction over three million overnight punters on BBC1 on Friday. The so-called comedy - although actually it's about as funny a knee reet in the nadgers - which features David Walliams, Catherine Tate and Philip Glenister, was down over six hundred thousand punters on last week's episode, which was in turn down roughly the same number from the previous Friday's debut. So, in other words, Big School has lost almost a third of its audience in just two weeks. How very satisfying. Earlier, The ONE Show was watched by 3.13m from 7pm, after which Nigel Slater's Dish of the Day appealed to 3.98m at 7.30pm. The latest episode of Celebrity MasterChef attracted 4.62m an hour later, earning the highest ratings of the night outside soaps and news programmes. Mrs Brown's Boys took 3.25m at 9.30pm. BBC2 broadcast Only Connect to 1.24m at 7.30pm. It was followed by Mastermind with 1.44m at 8pm and Gardeners' World on 2.05m at 8.30pm. The Burrowers: Animals Underground and The Trip then pulled in audiences of 1.44m and five hundred and seventy thousand punters respectively from 9pm. On ITV, UEFA Super Cup Live - featuring Moscow Chelski FC's penalty defeat by Bayern München - was seen by 3.28m from 7.30pm. Channel Four's Four Rooms secured seven hundred and seventy thousand viewers at 8pm, followed by Big Fat Gypsy Weddings with 1.66m at 9pm. Alan Carr: Chatty Man had 1.12m at 10pm. On Channel Five, World's Biggest Pets earned eight hundred and seventeen thousand at 7pm and Construction Squad: Operation Homefront took five hundred and sixteen thousand at 8pm. Big Ron Atkinson's eviction on Celebrity Big Brother scored 1.93m. Barclay's Premier League Preview was the most watched broadcast on the multichannels, interesting seven hundred and seventy thousand on Sky Sports 1 from 10pm. a repeat of the Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour was a close second with seven hundred and sixty five thousand on ITV3 at 8pm.

Tom Hughes and Brian Cox are to star in BBC1's new spy drama The Game. The Cold War thriller - which starts shooting this month - has been devised by Being Human creator Toby Whithouse. The Game will follow the activities of 'a secret committee' investigating 'a potentially devastating Soviet plot', codenamed Operation Glass. The head of MI5 - codenamed Daddy (played by yer man Coxy) - assembles a team of top operatives, including troubled but genius interrogator Joe Lambe (Hughes) and the rakish head of counter-espionage Bobby Waterhouse (Paul Ritter). Making up the rest of the team are Waterhouse's quick-witted deputy Sarah Montag (Victoria Hamilton), her husband Alan (Jonathan Aris) - an expert in bugging and interception - Special Branch detective Jim Fenchurch (Shaun Dooley) and secretary Wendy Straw (Chloe Pirrie). Each episode, the team will uncover a new Soviet sleeper agent working on Operation Glass in Britain - and each name on their list brings them one step closer to understanding Operation Glass. Toby Whithouse promised that The Game will be 'a thrilling mystery, with exciting and complex characters. These are some of the finest actors working in television today and it's an honour to have them on our show,' said the writer and executive producer. Tom Hughes said: 'Joe is the type of character that you come across very rarely - on the surface one person, but inside someone entirely different. He's running away from himself. It is those parts that always attract me, the ones that don't just tick a box, they challenge. I couldn't be more delighted to have signed up for this project.' Cox added: 'I am delighted to be part of the new BBC1 drama The Game. The rich character-driven storylines were a real draw, and really capture the intense feeling of the cold war period.' A six-part hour-long drama, The Game will film in Birmingham, London and Wales.

Top Gear presenter James May has completed a lap of the Isle of Man TT course on an electric-powered motorbike and sidecar made from Meccano. Mister Slowly and fellow presenter Oz Clark started on Wednesday and had to overcome a series of mechanical issues on their lap of the thirty seven-mile course. James said: 'It is a great honour to have done it.' The challenge will be broadcast on the BBC2 programme Toy Stories to be aired this Christmas. The programme, of course, sees May exploring the capabilities of toys from his childhood. The bike was made using thousands of pieces of the once popular children's construction toy. May continued: 'We reached twenty five mph coming down the mountain - according to the pace car. There was a certain amount of flexibility and a couple of minor problems with bearings, steering, comfort, electricity and the passenger, but apart from that it was a very smooth run and very heroic I think.' He added: 'It is lovely to be here on the Isle of Man and everyone has been extremely helpful, encouraging, hospitable and kind. We will be back.' The team completed their epic lap in front of a packed grandstand on Glencrutchery Road in Douglas. The lap coincided with the ninetieth anniversary of the island's Manx Grand Prix, which is held on the Isle of Man's Mountain Course.

BBC3 is planning to broadcast a show 'celebrating fifty years of Doctor Who.' So, that'll be worth avoiding. The digital channel is thought to have commissioned one of those genuinely appalling 'greatest moments'-type programme, with comments 'from fans of the series' (or, whatever z-list celebrities they can round up at short notice). So, in other words, a clip show with talking heads of the kind so beloved by Channel Four back in the day. A pox on it, and all those who sail in it. For example, the 'comedian' Tom Craine - no, me neither I'm afraid - revealed that he would be taking part in the special on his official website on Friday. 'Delighted that I'll be appearing as a guest on a forthcoming BBC3 show celebrating fifty years of Doctor Who,' he posted. 'Wouldn't put it past me to have a few stern words to say about The Daleks.' Other events taking place to mark the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama's milestone include a takeover of London's Heathrow Airport and a celebratory weekend convention at the city's ExCeL exhibition centre.
And, speaking of ill-thought-out fiascoes, national newspapers were not slow to react to the House of Commons vote against the UK joining in any potential military action in Syria, changing late print editions to run new headlines and comment. The front page headlines will certainly make uncomfortable reading for (soon to be former) prime minister David "'I get that' Cameron. Every title refers to him being 'humiliated' and that his authority has been 'diminished' and 'belittled.' Tory-supporting titles were noticeably critical and scathing. The humbling of Cameron, dribbled the Daily Scum Mail. No to war, blow to Cameron, said the Daily Torygraph. CAM DOWN: PM humiliated as MPs say NO to military strikes, said the Sun. And The Times headline underscored the same message: Cameron humiliated as MPs veto missile strikes on Syria. Shock commons defeat, thundered the Daily Scum Express in a page one splash pointing to a piece inside headlined: Cameron rocked as MPs say no to air strikes against Syria. The paper also carried the result of an online opinion poll recording that a majority of the public were against military action on this occasion. A similar message was delivered by the non-Tory press: We don't want your war, said the Daily Mirra. MPs force Cameron to rule out British assault on Syria, said the Gruniad Morning Star. The Financial Times's splash heading said: US ready to act alone as MPs reject Syria strike: Embarrassing vote defeat for Cameron. The Independent's main headline, A tale of two wars, was rather odd, but the sub-deck said: PM suffers dramatic commons defeat as Labour hardens opposition to air strikes. Metro's front page said: Cameron defeated on Syria air strikes. The Torygraph's leader - A nation haunted by mistakes of the past - claimed that it was the Iraq war which had poisoned Cameron's authority. Memories of being taken to war on a false prospectus, mentioned by the PM during his speech, played an overriding part in the rejection of his call for military action. Though the paper thought the commons performance of Cameron was better than that of Ed Milimolimandi it conceded that the nation owed the Labour leader a debt 'for the political manoeuvrings that delayed any hasty decision on military action.' It concluded: 'The resulting vote leaves both British policy on Syria, and Mr Cameron's own leadership, mired in the deepest uncertainty.' The Torygraph also carried a piece by Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, 'David Cameron failed the test of trust, and paid the price', in which he wrote: 'British prime ministers are just not supposed to lose votes on issues as fundamental as war and peace. This represents not just an extraordinary defeat, but a catastrophic political misjudgment.' The Gruniad's - frankly, crowing - leading article saw the vote as 'a victory for parliament' - which was, of course, predictable. You really shouldn't have had your bully boy spooks detain that journalists boyfriend at Heathrow, Dave, baby. They've absolutely got it in for you now: 'The government was prevented from mounting a premature and foolish attack on Syria because it could not muster enough votes to support it. Parliament, in other words, did its job when it mattered.' It spoke of Cameron as 'the principal loser' who, despite a 'a polished performance', lost control of a key issue of foreign policy (not to mention his own party) and, therefore, suffered 'an almost unprecedented failure.' It licked Milimolimandi's ring-piece but good for 'insisting that Britain holds to the line of proper process and law', adding that 'Cameron's readiness to change his approach should be noted too. Both of them have learned some lessons from 2003.' The Times, which open favoured intervention because nothing sells papers like a good bit of carpet-bombing, said that the vote was a disaster: 'It was a disaster for the prime minister who misjudged his party. It was a disaster for the country, which turned its back on its tradition of standing up to tyranny. It was a disaster for the western alliance, split apart by British failure to stand with its allies. And most important of all, it was a disaster for the people of Syria, who know that they have fewer friends in their hour of need.' But, The Times thought 'the only crumb of comfort is that the vote will not have stopped western action altogether' because the US may act alone. And it concluded: 'Military strikes to deter the Assad regime from further use of chemical weapons and limit its ability to deploy them would not preclude continued diplomatic efforts. At best they could even force it to negotiate. There are many worse scenarios, including retaliation by Iran against Israel, but the worst at this bleak juncture is for America to send the clear message that its warnings mean nothing.' The Scum Mail's opening sentence to its front page news story said that Cameron's 'authority in parliament and on the world stage was dealt an unprecedented blow' and called it 'an extraordinary assault' on his authority. In its editorial, the Scum Mail said the 'shock defeat inflicted by a combination of Tory rebels and Labour unquestionably marks the low point' in Cameron's premiership. He had 'staked his personal credibility on committing the British military to join America in missile strikes on Syria. That credibility is in tatters.' More positively, said the paper, the vote represented 'an undoubted triumph of parliament over the executive – a day in which MPs voted with their consciences and represented the wishes of a deeply sceptical public.' The Scum Mail gave Max Hastings a full page in which to froth at the mouth against the prime minister: 'What is it about British prime ministers that they appear to succumb to madness in foreign affairs? After the ghastly example of Blair's wars, how could Cameron for a moment contemplate dragging this country into a struggle in which we have no national interest and there is almost nil prospect of achieving a good outcome for the Syrian people or the region?' The Sun's political editor, Tom Newton-Dunn, reflected the prevailing view among journalists working in Westminster: 'Even veteran parliament watchers were left aghast by last night's shock vote. David Cameron and George Osborne sat silently on the front bench, hunched over their knees and frowning.' Now they know how the rest of the country feels. He concluded: 'Prime ministers simply don't lose votes on war, leaving us in truly uncharted territory. Mr Cameron can survive this, but his authority will never be the same again.' Newton-Dunn's shock was shared by Sky News's political veteran, Adam Boulton. Live on-camera immediately after the vote he struggled to convey its significance for Cameron. He variously described it as 'a savage rebuff', 'a massive rebuff', 'an unprecedented rebuff' and 'a massive miscalculation.' That opinion was reflected also by The Times's sketch writer, Ann Treneman: 'No one could believe it when it happened.' Least of all, of course, the prime minister. And one American newspaper has weighed in with a critical report. The headline on the front page of the New York Daily News says: The British aren't coming! The article begins: 'President Obama's attempts to form a coalition of nations willing to attack Syria appear to be splintering. The biggest blow was dealt by the - normally reliable - Brits, whose parliament stunned Obama on Thursday by voting down prime minister David Cameron's proposal to join the attack on Bashar Assad's government.'
And, from that story, to this.
A woman who worked in a pharmacy in Sandhurst military academy has pleaded extremely guilty to selling stories to the Sun. Tracy Bell, thirty five, from Goldthorpe in South Yorkshire, has been charged with committing misconduct in a public office and will be sentenced at a later date. Bell, who was employed by the Ministry of Defence as a pharmacy assistant at Sandhurst Medical Centre, is said to have accepted payments totalling twelve hundred and fifty smackers between October 2005 and July 2006 for five articles published in the Sun about various goings-on at Sandhurst. She was charged in April and pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Which brings us to the latest batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips in the area dear blog reader:-

Saturday 7 September
As a curtain-raiser to the new series of yer actual Strictly Come Dancing which starts at the end of the month, Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly host a red-carpet event in which this year's fifteen celebrities are paired up with their professional partners - 6:50 BBC1. These include Strictly favourites Brendan Cole, Anton du Beke, James Jordan, Artem Chigvintsev, Ola Jordan and Kristina Rhianoff. Flavia Cacace is, sadly, not returning - because she got the tin-tack - although she is back for this special, performing the Charleston with last year's partner and eventual winner Louis Smith; thus giving this series' line-up an insight into what's expected of them as they take to the floor for their first group number in front of the ever-critical Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell. There's also music by Jessie J )probably the last time you'll be seeing her on the BBC any time soon) and Rockin' Rod Stewart, performing their latest singles.

The Young Montalbano - 9:00 BBC4 - in, just in case you hadn't put two and two together, a prequel to the popular Italian imported drama Inspector Montalbano. So, it's a bit like Endeavour then, only you know, with more wine and pizza and rather less real ale and cheese sandwiches. Anyway, in this opening episode, the detective moves to a remote village in the Sicilian mountains, where he investigates the case of an attempted murder at the hands of a vulnerable woman, whose motives appear at first to be unfathomable. But, with Montalbano on the case, they won't be for long. Drama series - with subtitles, so expect David Blunkett to be pissed off - set in the early 1990s and starring Michele Riondino.

Tonight's ITV line up, incidentally, is Strictly rip-off Stepping Out, followed by The X Factor and then Through the Keyhole With Keith Lemon. Which says it all, really. Oh, and there's Jamie's Money Saving Meals on Channel Four. So, if you've got a TV you might want to change channels at that point otherwise you're likely to be throwing things at the odious gobshite within seconds.

Sunday 8 September
Now in a new Sunday slot in Qi XL - 10:00 BBC2 - with yer actual Stephen Fry hosting an extended edition of Friday's episode of the quiz with a difference. Thus, we begin the eleventh, 'K', series with a range of fiendish questions on such topics as Knees and Knockers. Ooo, err missus. Expect some bell-end glake Daily Scum Mail reading waste-of-space to find some reason to whinge about some aspect of the episode before it's even finished. Mind you, the fact that Jack Whitehall is in it is reason enough, frankly. Regular panellist Alan Davies is joined by Sara Pascoe, David Mitchell and the lanky, unfunny, risible streak-of-piss, with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct ones.
Requiem For Detroit - 9:00 BBC4 - is a rather fine-looking documentary examining how the city of Detroit has fallen into disrepair. It thrived alongside its booming car industry, becoming the fourth biggest city in America (although yer actual Keith Telly Topping is reliably informed by his good friend and regular dear blog reader Roberta, a Detroit native, this it was actually the fifth biggest city in the US during the 1960s and 70s ... so the press release is talking bollocks, clearly), but a legacy of the 1968 race riots, union struggles and civil unrest has left it a shell of its former self. Berry Gordy relocating Motown to LA in 1972 didn't help either. Though much of the land in the city centre has been abandoned and is becoming overrun with greenery, the post-industrial environment is also being seized on as an opportunity for regeneration. Roberta also states: 'My dad's pharmacy was across from one of the National Guard staging areas. He would have told you that one of the reasons Detroit is in is current state is a string of corrupt mayors.' Sounds about right. Anyway, the documentary is directed by the very excellent Julien Temple, best known for films including The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle and Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten.

Len begins to uncover the truth about the fragile lives of the residents of number eight and it seems he has really made headway when it turns out that one of them had an intimate relationship with Melissa in the third episode of What Remains - 9:00 BBC1. But, before Len can go any further, the retired detective is rocked by a personal tragedy of life-changing proportions, leaving Vidya and Patricia to follow up this new lead. Mystery drama, starring David Threlfall, Claudie Blakley, Amber Rose Revah and Russell Tovey.

Monday 9 September
The GP is left holding the baby after upsetting the new child-minder in the latest Doc Martin - 9:00 ITV. But, luckily Mike agrees to look after James at short notice. However, Louisa is not happy with the arrangement and an argument erupts between the newlyweds just as their guests, Dennis and Karen Dodds, arrive for dinner - and that's only the first of the evening's problems. Meanwhile, Ruth is roped into taking part in a phone-in programme on Radio Portwenn and unwittingly answers a call from PC Penhale, who wants to know how to make friends in the village.

Blackout - 9:00 Channel four - is a feature-length docudrama exploring the effects of a devastating cyber attack on Britain's national grid. Based on expert advice and research, allegedly, the film combines actual footage recorded during power cuts and other emergencies with fictional scenes and news stories to build what's claimed to be 'a realistic account of the nation being plunged into darkness.' And, not at all alarmist nonsense which is based on a worst case scenario that's never likely to happen and will probably scare a decent-sized section of its audience to a brown-trousered evening. Oh no, very hot water. Eyewitness reports reveal the impact of the crisis on hospitals, law and order, transport and food and water supplies, as the programme reveals how society might descend into chaos and anarchy during a prolonged blackout. Featuring Anthony Shuster, Kirsty Dillon, Scarlett Brookes, Richard Graham, Jemima Abey, Theo Barklem-Biggs, Jada Wallace-Mitchell, David Pentek, Andrew Gibson, Ethan Fairclough, Michelle Bonnard, Dixon Weinor and lots of other people you've never heard of.

Tuesday 10 September
Sandra and her colleagues reopen the case of a political aide's murder when a dormant offshore bank account containing forty grand is discovered in his name in the latest New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1. Ben Ransley was extremely killed in 1997 on the evening of Labour's landslide victory (ah, happy memories) and in his wallet was a photo of a beautiful blonde. But neither his mother nor his best friend was able to identify whom the mystery woman actually was. Is she the key to the crime? Drama, with former Brookside star John McArdle, Jason Durr of Heartbeat and one-time Bad Girls actress Kika Mirylees joining Amanda Redman, Denis Lawson, Dennis Waterman and yer actual Nicholas Lyndhurst his very self.

A second series of the fascinating Britain On Film begins tonight - 8:30 BBC4. This is a documentary examining Look at Life's coverage of Britain's fondness for boats, revealing how the films documented a period in which British sailors sought endurance world records, and boatmen and women strived to halt the decline of the country's rivers and canals. The clips also capture the tension caused by disputes over fishing rights.

Architecture critic Tom Dyckhoff explores the new Library of Birmingham, the largest such facility in Europe in the latest episode of The Culture Show - 10:00 BBC2. He finds out how the cutting-edge building functions and asks what role it has to play in the digital age, chatting to local artists, photographers and musicians about what it will offer the city.

Wednesday 11 September
Wor Geet Canny Sarah Millican researches her family tree in the latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1. The popular South Shields born comedienne and chat show host learns that her great-great-great-grandfather had a key role in the world of deep-sea diving. She then follows the trail of his father to Canada, where he worked for the country's oldest retailer, The Hudson's Bay Company. Sarah also learns he was sent to a remote outpost involved in the fur trade - but as she digs deeper, a shocking discovery comes to light.
In the bombed-out ruins of the Belgian town of Ypres in 1916, Captain Fred Roberts and Lieutenant Jack Pearson discover a printing press and decide to start a satirical newspaper to raise the spirits of the British troops, a true story told in The Wipers Times - 9:00 BBC2. The paper proves to be hugely popular with the men in the trenches - but their superior officers see it as an act of insubordination and subversion and call for it to be banned. The excellent looking feature-length factual drama was written by yer actual Ian Hislop and Nick Newman and stars Ben Chaplin, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Michael Palin and Emilia Fox.
A connection to a Sixteenth Century murder seems to confirm someone is killing 'witches' in East London in the second episode of the new series of Whitechapel - 9:00 ITV. Chandler is on the mother, but is there a malign influence at work from within the team? The police station itself appears to pulsate with unexplained phenomena and even the usually hard-bitten Sergeant Miles starts to ask questions about the occult. Demented over-the-top (but quite fun) crime thriller, starring Rupert Penry-Jones, Phil Davis and Steve Pemberton.
Professor Alice Roberts investigates how science came to understand sex in Horizon - 9:00 BBC4. It's such a simple word for a very complex set of desires, including individual passions, wants and emotions. Alice looks at how the world of science has struggled to solve people's sexual problems, and searched for ways of improving performance.

Thursday 12 September
Just after the end of the First World War, Thomas Shelby and his family run the most feared and powerful gang in Birmingham - making money from illegal betting, protection and the black market. That's the basis for a new six-part drama Peaky Blinders - 9:00 BBC2. Thomas recognises an opportunity to move up in the world when a crate of guns goes missing from an arms factory, but government minister Winston Churchill sends in a ruthless police chief from Belfast to impose order on the increasingly lawless city and recover the weapons. Drama, starring Cillian Murphy and Sam Neill.

Old wounds are reopened when Maggie interviews Callum's parents and their neighbours, who find themselves under suspicion once again in The Guilty - 9:00 ITV. Daniel is brought in for questioning, but the secret the detective uncovers is not what she was expecting. Meanwhile, a trip to Germany puts a key witness statement in a disturbing light and Claire makes a shocking discovery closer to home. Crime drama set across two timelines, starring Tamsin Greig, Katherine Kelly and Darren Boyd.

Neil Brand celebrates the art of the film soundtrack by exploring the work of movie composers and demonstrating their techniques in the first of the three-part Sound of Cinema: The Music that Made the Movies - 9:00 BBC4. He begins by looking at how the classical orchestral score emerged, and investigates how its popularity remains strong today. He sheds light on the 1930s European composers such as Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold who brought their Viennese training to Hollywood for movies including King Kong and The Adventures of Robin Hood and how it took an American talent to produce a darker, more modern sound. He also meets film-maker Martin Scorsese and composer Hans Zimmer to discuss their work.

The Teenage Exorcists - 9:00 BBC3 - follows three American girls as they travel to London to perform public exorcisms. No, really. Sorry, this is 2013, isn't it? For a second there I thought it was 1642. Brynne Larson and Tess and Savannah Sherkenback enjoy horse riding and karate (hey, who doesn't?), but they also believe that most of the world's population are possessed by evil spirits, causing addictions, depression and suffering. They've obviously been to St James' Park recently. The girls have previously toured the United States in a battle to 'cleanse' its citizens of their naughty badness and ways and have now decided to travel to England and the city they believe to be a sink of Bohemian depravity and one of the most spiritually corrupt in the world. Blimey. Criminally, it's not Swindon. Would that it were, dear blog reader, would that it were.
Which brings us to the news, dear blog reader.

Lucy Adams, the BBC's head of Human Resources, who had been accused of presiding over 'corporate fraud and cronyism' for her role in six-figure severance pay deals to top executives, is to leave the corporation. Adams has been under pressure since an unconvincing performance before the public accounts committee in July, where Tory MP Stewart Jackson subjected her to a scathing attack. 'If this [were] any other organisation, that would be called corporate fraud and cronyism, and you presided over it,' he claimed, in reference to the scandal that erupted following a series of controversial severance deals including almost one million smackers for Mark Byford, the former deputy director general. The National Audit Office and the Metropolitan police found no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing at the BBC over severance pay, however, though Jackson is yet to apologise for his comments. Adams, who is on three hundred and thirty grand a year herself, will not receive a severance payment and will leave at the end of the BBC's financial year, in March. 'I have been discussing my decision to leave the BBC with Tony Hall for some time now,' Adams said. 'By next spring I will have been at the BBC for five years which feels like a good time to try something new.' What that something new will be and who might be willing to employ her was not discussed. Adams made a passing reference to the furore adding that she was 'extremely proud' of the work of her team 'in spite of the challenges along the way.' At her PAC appearance another Tory MP, Richard Bacon, claimed that a 'super-stratum' of senior managers had been 'gouging the licence fee payer.' Recent deals included a six hundred and eighty thousand smackers package for Caroline Thomson, the former chief operating officer who lost the race to be director general to George Entwistle. Entwistle himself received a package worth more than four hundred and seventy thousand quid when he resigned as a result of the Savile fiasco after just fifty four days in post. Sharon Baylay, director of marketing who left in 2011 after two years of service, got just under four hundred thousand knicker while Patrick Loughrey, director of nations and regions, landed a eight hundred and sixty six thousand notes deal in 2009. Former BBC1 controller Peter Fincham, now director of television at ITV, was given a half-a-million quid pay-off following his resignation in the wake of the so-called 'Crowngate' affair. The National Audit Office, which is currently looking at one hundred and fifty severance deals worth twenty five million smackers with senior BBC executives in the three-year period between 2010 and 2012, found that since 2005 sixty million quid (or, you know, the entire annual cost of the BBC's local radio service) has been paid out to departing senior executives. Director general Tony Hall, who has put a one hundred and fifty grand cap on all future severance payments, has admitted the corporation 'lost its way' over severance deals and that they were 'not done in accordance with best practice.' Commenting on Adams decision to leave, he said he 'will be very sorry to see her go next spring. She has done a great job and contributed a huge amount to the BBC,' he said. 'I am pleased that, in the short term at least, she will continue to help me simplify the way we do business in the BBC so that we can spend more time concentrating on our programmes and services.' Following her lacklustre performance in front of the PAC, Adams faces a second appointment with the headmaster for a grilling next month, which a spokeswoman for the BBC confirmed she will still attend.

Meanwhile, BBC management has been accused of 'orchestrating a dirty tricks campaign' against members of the National Union of Journalists, including spying on sensitive e-mails and forcing representatives from their jobs. In what the Gruniad Morning Star describes as 'an extraordinary attack', the National Union of Journalists claimed that the BBC's human resources department had undermined its officials using tactics that included 'hacking staff e-mails and bullying employees into spying on colleagues.' The union claimed that it had been 'provided with evidence' of 'a deliberate dirty tricks campaign' in 'a sworn witness statement' by 'a former BBC HR employee turned whistleblower.' However, the BBC described the allegations as 'false and without foundation.' Red Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ general secretary, claimed that the evidence exposed 'poison at the heart of BBC management' and called for an urgent investigation. 'This tale of dirty tricks at the BBC would win a BAFTA as a television series,' she suggested. 'But as a way of treating hard-working staff at our public service broadcaster it is an utter disgrace.' Stanistreet called for an investigation at the BBC into whether Lucy Adams, the corporation's HR director, knew about the alleged dirty tricks campaign. Adams has, reportedly, instructed lawyers to 'take matters further' against what she says are 'highly defamatory' claims. 'I totally reject the claims that have been made against me by the NUJ,' she said. 'There is no truth in them whatsoever and they are highly defamatory. This is an unwarranted and very personal attack and I have instructed a lawyer to take matters further.' The union alleged that the tactics were 'co-ordinated' through the BBC's so-called Management Reference Group. A BBC spokesman added: 'The NUJ's suggestion that Lucy Adams hacked e-mails or authorised anyone else to do so or that she orchestrated or authorised any smear campaign against any BBC staff is false and without foundation. It is extremely disappointing that these allegations have been made by the NUJ when they cannot be substantiated. BBC Management remains committed to working with the NUJ but today's actions make that significantly harder and that benefits no one.' It is understood that the BBC director general, Tony Hall, has been 'made aware' of the 'substance of the allegations' and that the NUJ will provide 'a fuller account' to both him and the BBC Trust. Some of the allegations are understood to be contained within a whistleblower's witness statement to the BBC's pensions ombudsman. Red Michelle added: 'The endless revelations in recent months have exposed the poison at the heart of BBC management. Tony Hall must now ensure that proper industrial relations are restored and that his staff are treated fairly and with respect. He can start by ensuring those responsible for this huge breach of trust are dealt with. It is also vital now that the whole pension settlement is reopened and conducted in good faith. It is shocking that BBC executives resorted to union-busting tactics that included hacking into staff emails, making employees spy on colleagues and inventing trumped-up charges to force people out of their jobs. The obvious conclusion is that the BBC's pension changes, together with the misuse of performance management techniques, were used simply as a ruse to get rid of experienced staff.'

When BBC Today programme presenter Evan Davis tried to get a job for a Latvian he met at a friend's barbecue by telling his one hundred and twenty five thousand Twitter followers that this 'lovely guy' would have to go home unless he got one, he evidently didn't think Latvia would take offence. But it has. Oh yes, big-style(e). The broadcaster has found himself 'under fire' (not literally, though it's be an effing laugh if he was) from the Latvian authorities who have accused him of comparing their country to Mordor, the realm of the evil Sauron in The Lord of the Rings. 'Latvia is not Mordor. Economy is on the rise for the twelve consecutive quarter and unemployment down plus the country is gorgeous,' the Latvia Institute tweeted back, testily.

His absence from The X Factor judging panel has been compared to 'The Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger.' But Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads made a fleeting appearance at the talent show's glitzy launch event in London on Thursday – and thanked the media for making him 'loads of money.' The odious tosser. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads will be absent from the judging line-up when The X Factor returns to the small screen for its tenth year on Saturday night. But he will 'be keeping a watchful eye' over the ITV juggernaut when it is broadcast with a new-look format in an attempt to turn around a fall in viewing figures over the last two years. Sharon Osbourne, dubbed the 'Queen of The X Factor', returns to the judging panel this series alongside the singer Nicole Scherzinger, Take That's Gary Barlow and boy band manager Louis Walsh. There were no signs of a ratings crisis at The X Factor's press launch at the Mayfair hotel, where Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads made a surprise fifty-second appearance to celebrate the 'fresh' look of his decade-old show. 'It's so easy after ten years to get lazy, make the same show again,' Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads said. 'But the enthusiasm, the changes, the judging panel is fantastic. It feels fresh, fantastic, and I'm very proud to be part of this show. Once again I feel like a very proud daddy.' Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads thanked The X Factor host, Dermot O'Dreary, and Caroline Flack, the presenter of its ITV2 spin-off show The Xtra Factor, before appearing briefly to forget the name of the show's new co-host, Matt Richardson. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads added: 'I want to thank ITV for their continued support and, most of all, all of you guys in the room who've slagged us off, written nice things, but it's all been great – you've made us successful, loads of money – so thank you very much indeed.' Osbourne, who quit the show six years ago amid reports of a fall-out with fellow judge Danni Minogue, said it was 'wonderful' to return to the panel and declared: 'The bitch is back!' She added: 'I kind of left under a cloud last time around and it wasn't really professional of me – I left two weeks before the show was due to start. It wasn't the right thing to do. So this sort of makes it all right. It's gone full cycle and it ends on a high note.' Many aspects of the show remain familiar, with ordinary-looking people showing off their extraordinary talent (or, sometimes, lack of it) and many over-ambitious hopefuls failing to hit the right note and looking like a total fool on national telly. But, the audition stages of The X Factor have been given a makeover. In a return to the early years of talent shows, contestants will initially perform only in front of the judges instead of auditioning before a sell-out stadium crowd. If they are successful at this stage, contestants will perform again before a crowd of four thousand fans. The show's 'cruel factor' promises to return in the boot camp stage, where contestants look set to go through to the next phase of the competition before being replaced by another singer. Walsh last week said the 'gladiatorial, Jerry Springer-ish' boot camp stage had made The X Factor 'a whole new show.'

A crime-themed TV book club is coming to ITV3 in September, as part of the channel's new crime thriller season. The Crime Thriller Book Club will feature six titles chosen by Amanda Ross of Cactus TV, who previously created The Richard & Judy Book Club. 'All the titles we've picked are great,' Ross claimed. 'With a wide range of styles to suit every type of crime fan, [it will] hopefully encourage some new readers to the crime thriller genre.' The six books are: Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay, Dare Me by Megan Abbott, Bryant and May and the Invisible Code by Christopher Fowler, The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay, City of Devils by Diana Bretherick and The Scent of Death by Andrew Taylor. The book club will be a six-part series which starts on ITV3 on 16 September, and will feature interviews with authors Martina Cole, Nicci French, Harlan Coben, Patricia Cornwell, Wilbur Smith and Frederick Forsyth. The season builds up to the channel's annual Crime Thriller Awards, which honour TV, books and film and will take place on 24 October at London's Grosvenor House Hotel.

The NFL and the Super Bowl will be broadcast on Channel Four in the UK, after the American football league signed a two-year deal with the terrestrial broadcaster. Channel Four will shown the NFL's annual games at Wembley Stadium live, a weekly highlights show and Hard Knocks, a fly-on-the-wall documentary about life at an NFL training camp, among other specialised programming. Jamie Aitchison, Channel Four's sports editor, said: 'The NFL has always had a connection with the Channel Four audience and it's fantastic that after the return of Sunday Night Football we now can tell the story of the whole season right up to its spectacular conclusion. The Super Bowl is an iconic event and alongside the live Wembley games we can showcase the sport in all its glory. We are proud to be the NFL's sole terrestrial partner.' Alistair Kirkwood, managing director of NFL UK, said: 'We are thrilled to be announcing a new partnership with Channel Four and very pleased with the commitment to the sport the station is demonstrating through its extensive line-up of NFL programming across a range of time slots. NFL popularity is at an all-time high in the UK as we continue to grow more fans and this new deal will help introduce even more people to our incredibly dynamic sport. Alongside our long-standing relationship with Sky Sports, who have been partners for more than two decades and will be airing approximately seventy live games again this year, we feel we have the ideal television package for the UK.' Channel Four was, of course, the first UK broadcaster to show regular NFL highlights in 1982. After a twelve-year absence from the station, the US sport returned to Channel Four in 2010 with a weekly live broadcast of Sunday Night Football. The new deal begins when the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants on Sunday 8 September.

The character actor Christopher Burgess has died at the age of eighty six. Christopher had three roles in Doctor Who, appearing in eleven episodes in total. He played Swann, the leader of Salamander's underground community of scientists in the 1967 story The Enemy of the World. He returned to Doctor Who in 1971 playing Professor George Philips, a scientist under the control of The Master, in The Terror of the Autons. His final appearance was as Barnes, a resident of the meditation centre, in the 1974 story Planet of the Spiders. He appeared in many British television dramas in a thirty five year career including The Bill, Jossy's Giants, David Copperfield, Two People, Danger UXB, Menace, The Onedin Line, Treasure Island, The Growing Pains of PC Penrose, The Enigma Files Z Cars, This Man Craig, Softly Softly: Task Force, Take Three Girls, Dixon of Dock Green, Shadow of The Noose, Sherlock Holmes, Deadline Midnight and the TV movie Who Killed Menna Lorraine?

Who says that TV is obsessed with youth? (Well, David Blunkett, obviously. But apart from him...) ITV is making another pilot of the planned panel show Battle Of The Ages, which pits two comic generations against each other. The Golden Oldies team will be captained by sixty one-year-old Dave Spikey – but The Current Crop is led by Jo Brand her very self, who is but five years younger than Dave at fifty six. And she's been in comedy a lot longer than Spikey. The pilot, to be recorded in October, will be hosted by Alexander Armstrong. Hopefully it will fall flat on his face and it will hurt.

Nigerian authorities have arrested a man who posed as a CNN correspondent in an effort to con politicians into giving him money in exchange for airtime. So, this is somebody trying to con Nigerians using a scam? Oh, the irony. Claiming that he was working on a documentary for the American news channel, Paul Yempe set up a series of interviews with officials in Southern Nigeria's Bayelsa state who hold the purse strings to state coffers awash - awash, I say - with yer actual petrodollars. The oil-rich state is served by poorly paid journalists who routinely collect bribes to write crack-licking stories about their sponsors, or poisonous ones about their sponsors' rivals. 'He [Yempe] was parading himself as a correspondent of CNN who was following some ongoing oil strikes there,' Bayelsa police spokesperson Alex Akhigbe told the Gruniad Morning Star. 'He had actually travelled from another state where he lives, so it's possible he's had been going up and down the place doing this.' Yempe's luck ran out when he arrived at the energy commissioner's office at the same time as the local chairman of the National Union of Journalists. 'He walked in and said he was a CNN reporter,' said Tare Akuno, head of the local NUJ chapter. 'I welcomed him and wondered why he failed to report to the NUJ secretariat first. I asked him for his camera but he said he is using his mobile handset as a recorder.' Another witness in the room added: 'The reporter started fumbling and his attitude fuelled suspicion. When he was asked to produce his camera, he said he wanted to conduct the interview through his [mobile phone] handset.' The thirty six-year-old was arrested on the spot after producing only a card for a local radio station. Enforcement officers, who said 'investigations were ongoing', declined to comment on how much money may have exchanged hands, saying only that Yempe had 'defrauded a few commissioners.' Years of soaring economic growth have failed to translate into jobs for Nigeria's swollen youth population – an economic gap which has been filled by a boom in fraud. The West African country is notorious for online scams in particular. Last year researchers discovered foreign tricksters frequently pose as Nigerians to put off all but the most gullible victims. As online security tightens, big-league scammers have increasingly targeted the opaque oil sector, which has enriched a small elite. A security worker in Port Harcourt, capital of Nigeria's oil-producing coast, said that up to a dozen foreign businessmen a year were lured to 'fake business meetings' by elaborate swindles. 'It's not just crude kidnapping. The boys have offices, company logos, the works. By the time a businessman comes to Nigeria for the meeting, they can be held until a ransom has been paid. You're talking of anything from five to two hundred thousand dollars [for ransoms].' Sociologist Joshua Aransiola said that many of the extortionists focus exclusively on the rich pickings offered by the oil sector. 'The main victims of Nigerian scams are Nigerians; the scammers themselves are victims. These are smart university graduates who see [fraud] as their only option,' claimed Aransiola, who has been the target of a crime syndicate he had been investigating. Though the number of victims fell last year, cyberfraud cost the Nigerian economy an estimated $13.5 billion in 2012.

Yer actual Hatem Ben Arfa's late strike against Fulham ended Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle's run of four home games without a goal and secured their first Premier League win of the season. Both teams struggled early on but the hosts improved after the hour mark when Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy came on and Papiss Cisse headed against the bar. Adel Taarabt's effort was saved by Tim Krul in an isolated Fulham attack. But Ben Arfa won it with four minutes left, cutting in from the right and curling superbly into the top corner. Yoan Gouffran - another second-half substitute - and Cabaye almost added goals toward the end but were both denied by Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale. It was a welcome late flurry from the hosts, who for the majority of the game lacked the required urgency to break down a Fulham side which looked intent on gaining a point from the off. And it will be a huge relief for Newcastle boss Alan Pardew, whose side struggled last season and finished fifth from bottom in the Premier League. Pardew has admitted it has been a hard time for the club after recruiting only Remy on loan during the summer and being unsettled by The Arse's ten million smackers bid for Cabaye on the eve of their first game of the season - a 4-0 thumping by Sheikh Yer Man City. Following that defeat, this was Newcastle's third consecutive clean sheet, including their mid-week win in the Carling Cup. Cabaye came on to a mixed reception after refusing to play against West Ham last weekend, but he played his part in injecting his side with some much-needed energy and the Newcastle fans will hope that the club can hang onto him beyond the transfer window which shuts on Monday evening. Coming into the game, the Magpies' goal drought stretched back to 7 April when they beat Fulham 1-0 at St James' Park thanks to an injury-time Cisse strike. Yet the Senegalese striker looked short of confidence in front of goal and much of Newcastle's fortunes in the first half were summed up when Fabricio Coloccini's goal-bound fifth-minute header from a corner was blocked by team-mate Cisse. The hosts had lots of possession and plenty of good build-up play but they were missing the required dynamism in the final third and Cisse spurned a trio of half-decent chances before the break. Fulham, who handed Darren Bent his first start, rarely troubled the Newcastle goal, though the on-loan Aston Villa man did come close to getting on the end of Sascha Riether's near-post cross. The striker also gave Tim Krul a worry with a second-half header, while Bryan Ruiz's free-kick was also well-stopped by the Dutch goalkeeper. Once Newcastle introduced their fire power from the bench though, they took control of the game and Ben Arfa's wonderful goal was worthy of winning any contest.

Alex Hales scored a blistering ninety four as England beat Australia by twenty seven runs at Chester-le-Street to draw their Twenty/20 series one game each apiece. Hales and his Nottinghamshire team-mate Michael Lumb (forty three) put on one hundred and eleven for the first wicket to help propel England to a total of one hundred and ninety five for five, with Fawad Ahmed taking three for twenty dive. Opener David Warner's fifty two off forty three balls kept Australia in contention well into their run chase. But Jade Dernbach took three wickets as the tourists collapsed from one hundred and eleven for three to finish well short on one hundred and sixty eight for nine. Dernbach finished with figures of three for twenty three to back up his impressive return of three for thirty four in the first match on Thursday, when Aaron Finch's record one hundred and fifty six catapulted Australia to a thirty nine-run victory. This time, though, the power of England's openers proved decisive as the hosts made light of losing the toss by posting an imposing total. Hales and Lumb, under pressure for their places from Hampshire's in-form Michael Carberry, peppered the boundary and found the gaps in the large Chester-le-Street outfield to keep the scoreboard moving apace. After Lumb's dismissal, Luke Wright (thirty) and Eoin Morgan (twenty) ensured England remained on course for a big score, only for three wickets in the last seven balls to keep the hosts in range for Australia. Hales, who scored ninety nine against West Indies last year, fell six short of that elusive century when he slapped James Faulkner to long-on. Ahmed then removed Jos Buttler and Morgan in the last over of the innings, which yielded eight runs. England captain Stuart Broad removed Finch in Australia's second over and Morgan's direct hit ran out Shane Watson in the third to leave the tourists in difficulty on fifteen for two. Warner countered with three sixes and five fours before slicing Dernbach to Hales at deep cover to initiate a dramatic slump. First Hampshire left-arm spinner Briggs removed George Bailey and Matthew Wade and when Dernbach dismissed Glenn Maxwell (twenty seven) and Faulkner from successive balls, the game was, effectively, up. England play a one-day international against Ireland in Dublin on Tuesday, while the Australians take on Scotland in Edinburgh. The Ashes rivals will then contest a five-match one-day series, starting at Headingley on Friday.

Meanwhile England's triumphant ladygirls squad beat Australia by seven wickets to win the third and final Twenty/20 international and wrap up a twelve to four points victory in the Women's Ashes series. Durham-born spinner Danielle Hazell took two for twenty as Australia were restricted to ninety one for seven at Chester-le-Street in a match which took place immediately before the men's game. Although England slumped to fourteen for three, Lydia Greenway (thirty five not out) and Natalie Sciver (thirty seven not out) added seventy eight in a fourth wicket partnership to see England home with twenty two balls to spare. England were already assured of winning the multi-format series. After the test match was drawn and Australia won the opening one-day international at Lord's, England have recovered with five straight ODI and T20 wins. And it was another assured batting performance by Kent left-hander Greenway - who had hit eighty not out two days previously when the Ashes were regained at Southampton - which was key to England's victory, her thirty five coming from thirty four balls after the top three fell cheaply. Player of the series Heather Knight was caught behind - and helped off with a suspected hamstring injury - wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor spooned a catch to mid-wicket and captain Charlotte Edwards chopped teenage pace bowler Holly Ferling onto her stumps. But that brought Greenway together with Sciver, playing only her ninth international match and once the singles started flowing, the result never looked in any serious doubt. Earlier, England pace bowler Katherine Brunt earned the player of the match award, taking one for fourteen, taking her four overs straight through with the new ball in a fine spell of hostile pace bowling. Brunt set the tone by trapping Elyse Villani LBW in the first over and then running out fellow opener Alyssa Healy with a direct hit from deep cover. Meg Lanning (thirty two) took the Australian girls past fifty, but was caught behind off Danielle Wyatt's first ball. That sparked a succession of wickets as Hazell bowled Alex Blackwell and Ellyse Perry in the same over. Their departure meant the tourists never looked like posting a competitive total, despite a late flurry by Erin Osborne (fifteen not out), and England rounded off their international season in some style.

Eating more fruit, particularly blueberries, apples and grapes, is linked to a reduced risk of developing type-two diabetes like what yer actual Keith Telly Topping has got, suggests a study in the British Medical Journal. Blueberries cut the risk by twenty six per cent compared with two per cent for three servings of any whole fruit, or indeed, a plate of chips for that matter - but fruit juice did not appear to have the same effect. The research looked at the diets of more than one hundred and eighty seven thousand people in the US. So, that'll be burgers, basically. But Diabetes UK said that the results of the study should be 'treated with caution.' Researchers from the UK, US and Singapore used data from three large studies of nurses and health professionals in the US to examine the link between fruit consumption and the risk of contracting type-two diabetes. In these studies, six and a half per cent of participants (just over twelve thousand people) developed type-two diabetes. The studies used food frequency questionnaires to follow up the participants every four years, asking how often, on average, they ate a standard portion of each fruit. The fruits used in the study were grapes or raisins, peaches, plums or apricots, prunes, bananas, cantaloupe, apples or pears, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and blueberries. The researchers' analysis of the data showed that three servings per week of blueberries, grapes and raisins and apples and pears significantly reduced the risk of type-two diabetes. Both of which yer actual Keith telly Topping eats lots of and he still got it so, you know ... While all fruit was shown to reduce the risk, these fruits appeared to be particularly effective. The researchers said this 'could' be due to the fact these fruits contain high levels of anthocyanins, which have been shown to enhance glucose uptake in mice. The same fruits contain naturally-occurring polyphenols which are known to have beneficial effects. In the study paper, they wrote: 'Fruits have highly variable contents of fibre, antioxidants, other nutrients, and phytochemicals that jointly may influence the risk.' But the glycaemic load of different types of fruit - the quality and quantity of carbohydrate they contain - did not fully explain the results, the study said. When they looked at the effects of fruit juice consumption, the researchers found a slightly increased risk of type-two diabetes. The study calculated that replacing weekly fruit juice consumption with whole fruits could bring health benefits. For example, replacing fruit juice with blueberries could reduce the risk of contracting type-two diabetes by thirty three per cent, with grapes and raisins by nineteen per cent, apples and pears by thirteen per cent - and with any combination of whole fruit by seven per cent. Replacing fruit juice with oranges, peaches, plums and apricots had a similar effect. Qi Sun, study author and assistant professor at Harvard School of Public Health, said, in general, fruit juices contained less of the beneficial compounds found in whole fruits. 'The juicing process gets rid of the fruit, just leaving fluids which are absorbed more quickly, causing blood sugars and insulin levels to rise if they contain sugars. To try to minimise the risk of type-two diabetes as much as possible it is reasonable to reduce fruit juice consumption and increase consumption of whole fruits.' Experts say the best way to reduce your risk of developing type-two diabetes is to try and eat a balanced, healthy diet which includes a variety of fruits and vegetables and to be as physically active as possible. Doctor Matthew Hobbs, head of research for Diabetes UK, said the study provided further evidence that eating plenty of whole fruit was a key part of the balanced diet that will minimise the risk of developing type-two diabetes. However, he said the links between type-two diabetes and specific types of fruit or fruit drinks should be treated with caution. 'Some of the findings are based on a number of assumptions and models which may have distorted the results significantly. For example, the researchers used surveys to ask participants how often they ate certain foods. This type of survey can often be unreliable as people are more likely to remember certain types of food.' Kamlesh Khunti, professor of primary care diabetes and vascular medicine at the University of Leicester, said the large study showed that eating any fruit, generally, is good. 'Eating all kinds of fruit works and there is still a reduction in risk. The government recommends eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.'

Scientists believe they have figured out why it takes us so long to adapt when we travel to new time zones. Researchers at Oxford University say they have found the 'molecular brakes' which prevent light resetting the body clock when we fly - causing yer actual jet lag. Experiments, reported in the journal Cell, showed 'uncoupling' these brakes in mice allowed them to rapidly adapt. Researchers hope the discovery will help find new drugs for jet lag and mental health treatments. The body clock keeps us in-tune with the pattern of day and night. It means we sleep at night, but also affects hunger, mood and blood pressure. Light acts like a reset button to keep the clock to time, but when we fly around the world it takes time for our body clocks to adjust. The resulting fatigue, which can last for several days, is commonly known as jet lag. The research team, funded by The Wellcome Trust, was trying to work out why people do not instantly adapt. They looked in mice as all mammals have the same core body clock mechanisms. They focused on the 'master clock' in a part of the brain, which keeps the rest of the body in sync, called the suprachiasmatic nuclei. They were looking for sections of DNA that changed their activity levels in response to light. They found a huge numbers of genes were activated, but then a protein called SIK1 went round turning them all off again. It was acting as a brake by limiting the effect of light. Experiments to reduce the function of SIK1 meant the mice could rapidly adjust their body clock when it was shifted six hours - the equivalent of a flight from the UK to India. Professor Russell Foster told the BBC: 'We reduced levels by fifty to sixty per cent, which is big enough to get a very, very big effect. What we saw was the mice would actually advance their clock six hours within a day [rather than taking six days for untreated mice]. We've know there's been a brake on the clock for some time, but we had absolutely no idea what it is, this provides a molecular basis for jet lag and as a result new targets for potentially developing new drugs.' He said that some mental health disorders - including schizophrenia - were linked to an out-of-tune body clock, so these findings may open up new areas for research. The brakes are likely to be in place to prevent the body clock from becoming erratic and being reset by artificial or moon light. Doctor Akhilesh Reddy, a specialist in the body clock, at the University of Cambridge, was 'very confident' that treatments would follow as 'it is a very drugable target and I would suspect there are lots of potential drugs already developed.' He told the BBC: 'We have known a lot about the basis of jet lag and why it occurs. This shows how you can get into the brain and manipulated the clock, which is why this study is important. We have drugs which can make the clock shorter or longer, what we need is to shift it to a new time zone and that is what they have done.'

Since the last blog update's, if you will, doggy-tale proved to be so popular, the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day comes from The Specials. And it is, of course, specifically for all you Punks and all you Teds, National Front and Natty Dreads, Mods, Rockers, Hippies and Skinheads. Because From The North believes in equal opportunities.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Had Rather Hear My Dog Bark At A Crow Than A Man Swear He Loves Me

The Thick Of It's Joanna Scanlan has praised Peter Capaldi's casting in Doctor Who. The actress - who starred alongside Capaldi in the BBC's satirical political comedy - said that she was 'delighted' for her former cast mate. Capaldi was confirmed as Matt Smith's successor on the long-running popular family SF drama earlier this month. She told the Press Association: 'I'm delighted for him. It seems to me he's the essence of [The] Doctor. I think Peter is sort of like the Chippendale of Doctor Whos, he's the true thing. A true fine article.' Scanlan added that Capaldi's casting in Doctor Who makes the chance of a fifth series of The Thick Of It 'very difficult.' She explained: 'There was never much chance because I think Armando [Iannucci] very much felt that he'd completed one section of British politics if you like and there was a new stage in politics, and he's opened up into American politics, so I think there was very little chance in that respect. But now that Peter is The Doctor I would have thought that makes it very difficult to come back. You can't do The Thick Of It without Peter Capaldi.'

There's a very good interview with Doctor Who novel author Alex Scarrow in the Gruniad Morning Star. But, typically, it's utterly ruined by some sub-editor's inability to do a bit of proper research into how 'John Pertwee' and 'Christopher Ecclestone' are, actually, spelled. They only needed 'Peter Davidson' for a full set, dear blog reader.
Yer actual Celebrity MasterChef topped Wednesday's ratings outside of soaps, according to overnight data. The latest episode of the cooking competition dipped by over three hundred thousand punters from last week's equivalent episode to 4.4 million at 8pm. Nick Hewer's appearance on Who Do You Think You Are? was almost a million less than Gary Lineker's last week, attracting 4.08m at 9pm. On BBC2, Only Connect was watched by nine hundred and seventy four thousand at 7.30pm, followed by Restoration Home with 1.77m at 8pm. Documentary Martin Luther King and the March on Washington had an audience of 1.02m at 9pm. ITV's repeat of Midsomer Murders brought in but 2.88m at 8pm. On Channel Four, How Not To Get Old appealed to eight hundred and eighty nine thousand at 8pm, while Twenty Four Hours in A&E continued with 1.92m at 9pm. Channel Five's first live Celebrity Big Brother eviction attracted 1.79m at 9pm. Australian prison drama Wentworth premiered to 1.67m at 10pm.

Len Goodman has revealed that he has no plans to leave Strictly Come Dancing. The veteran judge explained that he fears the BBC could axe him and his fellow judges 'at any moment' if it wanted to. Which, since it's the BBC's bloody show and they pay for its production is factually correct. He told the Sun: 'The BBC will get rid of me before I want to get rid of the BBC. I have no desire to retire because once you retire you never have a day off. I'm happy doing this. But there will come a time when the bosses think, "We've had enough of old Len - he's getting dithery and doddery" and all that.' He continued: 'As long as I feel I do the show to the best of my ability, then I'll keep going until they kick me out. And I think I've got a few more series in me yet. But there are loads of people who could replace me. I'm sure they would find someone. The producer, Izzie Pick, once told me that if a plane crashed and all the judges were killed - with Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly - the show would still go on. They would find new people to replace us. But I don't worry about that call saying that I am being dropped - it is what it is.'
The BBC Trust has described as 'unfortunate and regrettable' a moment in an episode of the BBC2 quiz show Qi in which host Stephen Fry recited a limerick which it described as 'about paedophilia' - although it was, actually, nothing of sort - minutes before a Newsnight report on the Jimmy Savile fiasco. The watchdog concluded that no subject should be absolutely off limits for humour, but said that context is vital – and that Qi was not making light of victims' suffering. An unspecified number of viewers - clearly with nothing more important to do with their time, it would appear - whinged in January that Fry's limerick 'trivialised the subject of paedophilia' when it was aired less than three minutes before a Newsnight report on the Savile saga. Which it didn't or anything even remotely like it but the Trust, showing their usual rank cowardice in the face of potential 'tutting' from the Daily Scum Mail, shat in their own pants and ran a mile. The Trust's editorial standards committee said on Thursday that the proximity of Fry's limerick to the news broadcast was 'unfortunate and regrettable' and 'capable of causing offence.' Which it was. To those who've had a sense of humour bypass. However the Trust's editorial standards committee ruled that the programme was not in breach of the corporation's editorial guidelines, adding: '[The ESC] considered this was at the margins of acceptability given the heightened sensitivities surrounding the Jimmy Savile case.' The ESC said that the decision to broadcast the limerick was 'finely balanced', but concluded that most viewers would not consider the the content strong enough to link it to Newsnight's subsequent Savile report. The Qi episode in question had been recorded months earlier, in May 2012, but was broadcast on 11 January, two minutes and fifty seconds before a Newsnight report summing up the allegations made in a police report against the former Jim'll Fix It host. The limerick, which Fry recited as the last item of the comedy quiz show, went, 'There was a young chaplain from King's, who talked about God and such things. But his real desire, was a boy in the choir, with a bottom like jelly on springs.' The ESC concluded that the limerick 'would not have exceeded generally accepted standards' given the audience's expectations of Qi. Ludicrous. Cowards and spineless weasels.
Meanwhile, back in the - slightly horrific - real world, TV presenter, artist and singer Rolf Harris has been charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of children, police have said. Harris was first arrested in March by officers investigating historical allegations of child sexual abuse. Six offences relate to the indecent assault of a girl aged fifteen to sixteen between 1980 and 1981 and three relate to a girl aged fourteen in 1984. The indecent images of children were alleged to have been made last year. Harris will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 23 September. Alison Saunders, chief Crown prosecutor for London, said: 'Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr Harris to be charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of a child. The alleged indecent assaults date from 1980 to 1986 and relate to two complainants aged fourteen and fifteen at the time of the alleged offending.'

Odious greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles is returning to the BBC, three years after quitting for an ill-fated - albeit, effing hilarious - stint on ITV's breakfast fiasco Daybreak. Greedy scum Chiles has come crawling back to BBC 5Live to present the weekly Friday edition of Drive, alongside Anna Foster. He was one of the first presenters on 5Live when it launched in 1994. The station also revealed Christian O'Connell, Jonathan Pearce and Matt Johnson would be sharing hosting duties on sports panel show Fighting Talk. The trio will alternate presenting the irreverent Saturday morning discussion programme following the departure of the equally odious Colin Murray, who left for TalkSport last month, and good riddance. O'Connell currently fronts Absolute Radio's breakfast show and Pearce provides football commentary, while Johnson is a presenter on ITV's This Morning. Odious greed bucket (and drag) Chiles left the BBC's The ONE Show in 2010 for mucho disgraceful wonga to front ITV's re-launched morning show, alongside his ONE Show co-host The Curiously Orange Christine Bleakley. It was a total and utter bloody disaster and provided huge, thigh-slapping amusement for the entire country as it fell flat on its arse with spectacularly dreadful ratings and even worse audience appreciation figures. The pair got the tin-tack from Daybreak a little over a year later, which was even funnier. Chiles continues to present football coverage on ITV. Badly.

ITV2 is planning a post-apocalyptic sitcom from odious, unfunny, lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall's writer Freddy Syborn. The channel has ordered a pilot of Cockroaches from independent production house Big Talk, makers of the pre-apocalyptic Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg movie The World's End. Syborn started writing jokes with Whitehall while at school - so, it's his fault that the the odious Whitehall is about as funny as a growth on the bell-end, seemingly. So, that bodes well for this production, doesn't it? Since leaving Cambridge University in 2009, Syborn has written material for Mock The Week, Dave's One Night Stand and Stand Up For The Week among others, as well as co-writing Bad Education and Channel Four's Hit The Road, Jack. Oh, how we wish he would do just that. The commission was announced by trade magazine Broadcast, which said that no other details were known. Which is probably just as well. ITV2 has just ordered a second series of Plebs instead of flushing it into the gutter along with all the other turds as every other network would have, will become home to The Job Lot, previously seen on ITV, and bought the first ten series of Two And A Half Men, as well as the new series from its creator Chuck Lorre, Mom.

Just when you think television has reached the bottom of the dignity barrel and can't, possibly, get any lower, along comes good old Celebrity Big Brother to prove you wrong. Geordie Shore-type person Charlotte Crosby woke up to find she had wet her bed on Tuesday. Crosby had needed to be carried to bed by her fellow housemates on Monday night, after she 'replicated her drunken antics' from the MTV show. As you do. Upon waking up the following morning reeking of piss, she announced: 'I've weed me bed. I'm having a disaster.' A wet disaster, at that.
Yer actual Bill Bailey has revealed that he was asked to write the Matilda musical – but turned it down. The comic and musician said that he was 'too busy' to work on the songs for the show, which were subsequently written by Tim Minchin. Bill said: 'I was approached to write the music for a musical called Matilda. But I couldn't do it because I was doing something else, so, I passed it over. [Minchin] did it great, and that turned out all right for him.' The critically acclaimed musical, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and with a script by Dennis Kelly has proved lucrative. It has been running in the West End since 2011, where it won seven Olivier Awards, and opened on Broadway in April – with US and Australian tours ahead. In the interview to promote his Qualmpeddler tour Bill also said that he was now 'at a crossroads' in his career, as his contract to produce live DVDs has ended, reducing the pressure on him to tour. He said: 'I've no more DVDs to make. So I can do what the hell I like. I think I'm gonna take a slight break and then a TV show. I've been writing a TV show for the last year, so that's in the offing. And I'm very pleased with it and the way it's turned out. It's nearly there. But I'm not going to go and blab it around until it's finished. It's a comedy drama. And it's very funny, I think. And it's something I've been working on for the best part of a year now.’

Peter Andre has revealed that he plans to quit his reality TV show next year. Oh dear. How sad.

An undercover Sunday Times reporter had sex with a dentist during a sting set up by so-called 'Fake Sheikh' Mazher Mahmood, a misconduct hearing has been told. The unknown journalist 'went to extra lengths' to get dentist, Omar Addow, to offer to perform female circumcision on her two young nieces. The hearing heard that Addow at first insisted he was against the illegal 'ritual' but then disappeared into a room with the woman for an hour. Of hot squelching noises, possibly. On his return he was recorded on her handbag camera saying: 'I will do it for you. Between you, me and Allah only'. Addow was arrested two weeks after the story appeared in The Sunday Times, but was not charged. The allegations emerged during a misconduct hearing before the General Dental Council in London on Tuesday. The Sunday Times stands by its story and claims that the journalist denies having sex with the dentist. 'The journalist in question was a freelance engaged in a legitimate undercover investigation by The Sunday Times into female genital mutilation, which is a matter of public interest. She categorically denies having had sexual intercourse or any other sexually intimate contact with Doctor Addow,' said a spokesman on Wednesday. Tom Kark QC, for the General Dental Council, which is investigating Addow, told the hearing that the basis for the article, which appeared in the newspaper in April 2012, was that the reporter, who has not been named, 'pretended to be looking for someone who would circumcise children, [and] was referred to Doctor Addow by a GP.' Initially, Addow appeared 'very reluctant' and refused her request, the hearing was told. Kark said Addow was then 'recorded undercover indicating that he was prepared to carry out female circumcisions on two girls', Kark said: '[Addow] says it is against the law. He claims that when he practised in Italy he campaigned against female circumcision. He talks about the danger in taking the girls to old women who perform the operation.' According to Kark, Addow told the reporter: 'It is dangerous. I am against the ritual circumcision of girls', but the dentist later agreed to describe the procedure in some detail and displayed the instruments needed for female circumcision – including surgical scissors and a clamp. When the reporter's stomach started rumbling Addow carried out 'percussion' and examined her abdomen and then other parts of her body, the hearing was told. Mahmood, whose targets have included Sarah Ferguson, the former Duchess of York (she had ten thousand quid), supplied his reporter with fresh batteries for her 'handbag cam' moments before she went to his flat, the hearing was told. Soon after arriving, she disappeared into the bedroom with Addow, reappearing after an hour wearing what appeared to be a sarong, the hearing was told. 'It appears he and the journalist had sexual intercourse,' said Kark. 'We may form the view that the journalist had gone to extra lengths to get her story.' Addow is then heard agreeing for the first time to perform the circumcisions. The journalist, referred to only as 'a female undercover investigator', claims on the secret video to be thirty three and of Ghanaian origin. Neither she nor 'senior investigator' Mahmood will be called to give evidence, the hearing was told. Both Addow and the GP who is said to have referred the journalist to him were arrested on 4 May for conspiring to perform female genital mutilation. They were both released without charge. 'It is the General Dental Council's submission that although he appeared to be very reluctant to take part in such a procedure, he was eventually persuaded to do so,' Kark said. At his police interview, Addow again claimed to be a vocal opponent of 'cutting', the tribunal heard. Addow told police he 'campaigned against it because his mother and his wife had both been badly circumcised in Somalia.' However, he freely admitted to police that he examined the reporter and had sex with her, the hearing was told. 'We did sex', Addow told police, matter-of-factly. Performing or assisting female genital mutilation carries a maximum jail term of fourteen years in pokey, although no successful prosecution has ever been brought in this country. Addow, who is not represented, faces no charges in relation to having sex with the journalist, as she was not his patient and they did not have sex in his surgery. But he is accused of performing a medical examination on the woman while unregistered with the General Medical Council, as well as planning to carry out the two circumcisions. The hearing is scheduled to continue to 3 September.

California is considering a law which would make it illegal to post 'revenge porn' in the state. The state assembly bill would make it a crime to post naughty pictures of anyone online in a state of full or partial undress. Crucially, the latest version of the bill makes it illegal to post pictures even with that person's consent. But prosecutors would have to prove 'the intent to cause serious emotional distress, and [that] the other person suffers serious emotional distress.' First offenders could expect up to six months in pokey, a thousand dollars fine, or both. Many websites have sprung up devoted to so-called 'revenge porn', which consists of intimate pictures of ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends or ex-partners. Many people partaking in 'sexting' can find the pictures of themselves taken in the naughty nuddy nude come back to haunt them some time later. New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner recently found his campaign in trouble after admitting sending lewd images of himself via text - having resigned from Congress in 2011 over a similar scandal. A notorious site,, which would publish the unwilling subject's full name and link to social networking profiles, attracted more than three hundred thousand hits per day. The owner, Hunter Moore, employed four people to help him administer the site and would refuse to remove the pictures, even if threatened with legal action. The site closed last year and its domain was taken over by an anti-bullying group. The picture-sharing phone app Snapchat, launched in 2011, allows users to send and receive images that 'self-destruct' after a few seconds, just like in Mission: Impossible. Snapchat users around the world send about two hundred million images a day - although, only some of them are filthy. But in May the company admitted that deleted data could 'sometimes be recovered.' It is also possible to save a photo by taking a snapshot of the screen before it disappears.

The Welsh rugby international and broadcaster Cliff Morgan has died after a long illness aged eighty three. Morgan was one of the most talented fly-halves in the game, before becoming a respected commentator, writer and head of BBC outside broadcasts. He won twenty nine caps for Wales, his first in 1951 and captained the British and Irish Lions. Morgan will be forever associated with his commentary on the Barbarians versus All Blacks match in 1973, particularly his breathless description of Gareth Edwards's early try, one of the great moments of sports broadcasting. Cliff's easy-going charm and passionate love of sport was familiar to both rugby supporters and radio and television audiences. He enjoyed a successful career as a mercurial fly-half for Cardiff, Wales, the Barbarians and the Lions before finding a new career in broadcasting. Clifford Isaac Morgan was born on 7 April 1930 in the village of Trebanog in the heart of the Rhondda. The son of a coal miner who turned down an offer to play football for Stottingtot Hotshots, the young Cliff combined a love of singing and woodwork with a burgeoning ability on the rugby pitch. His rugby master played the young Morgan at every position from prop to wing, before allowing him to excel at fly-half, a role which could have been created for him. Short, stocky and with an innate sense of balance, Cliff cut through opposition defences, often cheekily showing the other sides' players the ball before darting away and passing it. Aged nineteen, he was picked to play for Cardiff and proved to be an inspirational presence who, within a year, won the first of twenty nine caps for his country. He was a pivotal member of the Welsh Grand Slam-winning team of 1952, more than holding his own alongside giants of the game like Bleddyn Williams and Ken Jones. The following year, Morgan inspired first Cardiff, and then Wales, to victory against the All Blacks. In 1955, he dazzled for the Lions on their tour of South Africa, scoring a crucial try against the Springboks in Johannesburg. The Lions' 23-22 victory, in front of a crowd of ninety six thousand in the rarefied air of the Transvaal, was considered by Morgan to have been the greatest day of his sporting life. Three years later, he retired from rugby at just twenty eight, leaving behind many memories and admirers. He moved effortlessly from player to broadcaster, first with the BBC in Wales before making the move to London. If anything, his broadcasting career eclipsed his efforts on the rugby field. As editor of Grandstand and head of outside broadcasts, he helped define the way the corporation covered major sporting events. To the surprise of many of his colleagues, he quit the BBC to edit This Week, the successful current affairs programme on ITV. A stroke in 1972 left Morgan speechless and paralysed down one side, but he completed a remarkable recovery when, having returned to the BBC, he commentated on the legendary 1973 match between the Barbarians and the All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park. As Gareth Edwards crashed over for that try, Morgan's commentary rose magnificently to the occasion: 'If the greatest writer of the written word would have written that story, you'd never have believed it.' Ironically it was rugby's other great voice, that of the late Bill McLaren, which should have told the story of the try, but the Scot was forced to withdraw with 'flu on the morning of the game. In many ways it was fitting that Morgan should have been in the commentator's seat. A true Barbarian, he played in the famous black and white shirt before ever being picked for Wales and his view of how sport should be played reflected the amateur ethos. He was uncomfortable with the flood of money going into sport and openly criticised those players who came to the game with a win-at-all-costs mentality. A spell as resident captain on A Question of Sport was followed by what for many was his crowning achievement, the eleven years behind the microphone on Sport on 4. For many Radio 4 listeners, the weekend had not properly begun until they had tuned in to Morgan's perceptive take on the sporting world, delivered in what fellow presenter Des Lynam described as 'one of the best broadcasting voices of all time.' In 2007 he received a lifetime achievement award from BBC Wales and a tribute from fellow Barbarian, Tony O'Reilly. 'He's a man apart because of his gaiety, his grandeur, eloquence, because of his skills as a football player and his generosity to other players, which was enormous,' said O'Reilly. Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport said that Morgan was 'an inspiration' to fellow broadcasters. 'Cliff Morgan was not only a superstar in rugby union, but also a pioneer in sports broadcasting and an inspiration to so many of the great voices of BBC Sport,' said Slater. 'He was a scholar and a wordsmith, who had a wonderful understanding of the use of language in broadcasting. His commentary of the 1973 Barbarians match against the All Blacks, and in particular Gareth Edwards' famous try, was sublime in its simplicity and will be remembered for many years to come. Off-air, he played a huge role in the success of BBC Sport in the 1970s and 80s, across a number of senior positions, delivering coverage of huge events including World Cups, Commonwealth and Olympic Games. He will be sorely missed by all in the sports broadcasting community.'

Life may have started on Mars before arriving on Earth, a major scientific conference has heard. New research supports the theory that the Red Planet was a better place to kick-start biology billions of years ago than the early Earth was. The evidence is based on how the first molecules necessary for life were assembled. Details of the theory were outlined by Professor Steven Benner at The Goldschmidt Meeting in Florence. Scientists have long wondered how atoms first came together to make up the three crucial molecular components of living organisms: RNA, DNA and proteins. The molecules that combined to form genetic material are far more complex than the primordial 'pre-biotic' soup of organic (carbon-based) chemicals thought to have existed on the Earth more than three billion years ago, and RNA (ribonucleic acid) is thought to have been the first of them to appear. Simply adding energy such as heat or light to the more basic organic molecules in the 'soup' does not generate RNA. Instead, it generates tar. RNA needs to be coaxed into shape by 'templating' atoms at the crystalline surfaces of minerals. The minerals most effective at templating RNA would have dissolved in the oceans of the early Earth, but would have been more abundant on Mars, according to Benner. This could suggest that life started on the Red Planet before being transported to Earth on meteorites, argues Benner, of the Westheimer Institute of Science and Technology in Gainesville. The idea that life originated on Mars and was then transported to our planet has been mooted before, and not just in The X Files. But Benner's ideas add another twist to the theory of a Martian origin for the terrestrial biosphere. In Florence, Benner presented results that suggest minerals containing the elements boron and molybdenum are key in assembling atoms into life-forming molecules. The researcher points out that boron minerals help carbohydrate rings to form from pre-biotic chemicals, and then molybdenum takes that intermediate molecule and rearranges it to form ribose, and hence RNA. This raises problems for how life began on Earth, since the early Earth is thought to have been unsuitable for the formation of the necessary boron and molybdenum minerals. It is thought that the boron minerals needed to form RNA from pre-biotic soups were not available on early Earth in sufficient quantity, and the molybdenum minerals were not available in the correct chemical form. Benner explained: 'It's only when molybdenum becomes highly oxidised that it is able to influence how early life formed. "This form of molybdenum couldn’t have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because three billion years ago, the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did. It's yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet.' Early Mars is also thought to have had a drier environment, and this is also crucial to its favourable location for life's origins. 'What's quite clear is that boron, as an element, is quite scarce in Earth’s crust,' Benner told BBC News, 'but Mars has been drier than Earth and more oxidising, so if Earth is not suitable for the chemistry, Mars might be. The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock,' he commented. 'It's lucky that we ended up here, nevertheless - as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life. If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there may not have been a story to tell.'

A man targeted by marketing companies is making money from cold calls with his own premium-rate phone number. In November 2011 Lee Beaumont paid ten smackers - plus VAT - to set up his personal 0871 line - so to call him now costs ten pence, from which he receives seven pence. The Leeds businessman told BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme that the premium line had so far made three hundred notes. Phone Pay Plus, which regulates premium numbers, tuttingly said that it 'strongly discouraged' people from adopting the idea. Well, of course they do, why am I not surprised by that? Beaumont came up with the plan when he grew sick of calls offering to help him reclaim payment protection insurance, or install solar panels. He said: 'I don't use my normal Leeds number for anyone but my friends and family.' Once he had set up the 0871 line, every time a bank, gas or electricity supplier asked him for his details online, he submitted it as his contact number. He added he was 'very honest' and the companies did ask why he had a premium number. He told the programme he replied: 'Because I'm getting annoyed with PPI phone calls when I'm trying to watch Coronation Street so I'd rather make ten pence a minute.' He said that 'almost all' of the companies he dealt with were happy to use it and if they refused he asked them to e-mail. The number of calls received by Beaumont has fallen from between twenty and thirty a month to just thirteen last month. Because he works from home, Beaumont has been able to increase his revenue by keeping cold callers talking - asking for more details about their services. He admitted the scheme had 'changed his attitude', saying: 'I want cold calls' and that he had moved on to encouraging companies to make contact. After a recent problem with his online shopping, he declined to call an 0845 number but posted his number on Twitter in the knowledge that the number could be picked up by marketing companies. But the premium number regulator Phone Pay Plus claims that the public should 'think twice' before setting up their own lines. They say phone line providers must meet consumer protection standards, which include transparency, fairness and complaint handling, which would mean clearly setting out the cost of each call to any organisation that rang. They told You and Yours: 'Premium-rate numbers are not designed to be used in this way and we would strongly discourage any listeners from adopting this idea, as they will be liable under our code for any breaches and subsequent fines that result.' A survey for charity Citizens Advice found that two-thirds of those asked had received unwanted calls, texts, e-mails or letters about PPI mis-selling. More than half said that they had been contacted more than ten times in the past year.

Late goals from yer actual Shola Ameobi and his younger brother Sammy Ameobi his very self sent yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Magpies through to round three of the Capital One Cup at the expense of Morecambe on Wednesday night. Wouldn't it be beyond lovely, dear blog reader, to report that, in the next round, the Toon had been drawn against And Wise. But, they weren't. Although they are due to play another top quality comedy side, Dirty Leeds. Shola's deflected shot from twenty yards and Sammy's impressive individual effort in deep into injury time settled a contest in which the Premier League team were second best for long spells. Except when it came to, you know, putting the ball in the net - which is, after all, the whole point of the game in the first place. Dan Gosling made two goal-line clearances, while Padraig Amond was denied twice by goalkeeper Rob Elliot. Newcastle's late rally eased some of the pressure on Magpies boss Alan Pardew, who has had to deal with questions about his club's lack of transfer activity and the future of unsettled midfielder Yohan Cabbage in the early weeks of the season. A first win of the campaign will be a relief to Pardew, although his side were made to work extremely hard for victory by a team three divisions below them. Morecambe were probably the better side during a goalless first period and had their fair share of opportunities but, couldn't take nay of them. The visitors, who made eight changes from their weekend draw against West Ham, were twice indebted to Gosling, the former Everton midfielder clearing headers from Shrimps captain Mark Hughes and striker Amond off the line. Newcastle attacks were rare, with Gael Bigirimana's free-kick forcing the only save of note from home keeper Barry Roche. Shola Ameobi's half-time introduction almost brought immediate rewards, but after latching onto Gosling's defence-splitting pass, he blazed over from eighteen yards with only Roche to beat. A long-range shot from young defender Paul Dummett fizzed wide as the prospect of extra-time loomed, while Pardew turned to Hatem Ben Arfa to inject some life into Newcastle display. It was the French international who teed up the elder of the Ameobi brothers to fire the visitors in front and punish Morecambe for their wastefulness in front of goal. As the hosts pressed for an equaliser, the younger Ameobi broke clear and slotted underneath Roche from close range to secure Newcastle's place in the last thirty two, where they will host Championship outfit Dirty Leeds at yer actual St James' Park. .

Anything the chaps can do, it would seem, the ladies can do equally as well. England regained the Women's Ashes by thrashing Australia by five wickets in their second Twenty/20 match. Lydia Greenway rescued England with a match-winning eighty not out from sixty four deliveries after they had been reduced to nine for three, chasing one hundred and twenty eight for victory. Captain Charlotte Edwards hit twenty four in a fourth-wicket stand of sixty seven while Natalie Sciver's thirteen helped steer England home. Meg Lanning top scored for the tourists with sixty before she was run out by Holly Colvin as Australia posted one hundred and twenty seven for seven. England went into the game leading the new multi-format series eight-four and, with two points for a win, knowing a victory would be enough to regain the Ashes. England were always on top during the Australia innings with Katherine Brunt bowling through and taking one for fifteen from her four overs as the tourists were restricted to twenty six for one off the opening six powerplay overs. Lanning upped the pace midway through the innings, flicking Jenny Gunn for a leg-side six to bring up her third T20 half century but just as she looked set to push Australia on to a competitive total, she was run out in unfortunate fashion. Alex Blackwell drove a Holly Colvin delivery straight back down the pitch and in trying to field the ball, the England spinner deflected it onto the stumps with Lanning out of her ground to leave Australia ninety five for three. The wicket sparked a collapse as Australia scored just thirty five runs for the loss of five wickets in the final five overs. Danielle Hazell (two for eleven) took both her wickets in a final over which also saw Aussie captain Jodie Fields run out as three wickets fell in successive deliveries. However, England's reply was soon in tatters after Heather Knight was bowled by Julie Hunter in the second over, while in the next, Sarah Taylor was well caught by Sarah Coyte off her own bowling and the Australian then bowled Danielle Wyatt for a second-ball duck. Edwards and Greenway steadied the innings with the former pushing singles while the latter used the reverse sweep and deft leg-side flicks to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The pair moved the total on to seventy six before Edwards tried to hit a ball over the top but was caught by Jess Cameron at mid-off. Greenway continued to deflect the ball behind the stumps though and the left-hander brought up her fifty with a paddle sweep for four as she reduced the run-rate from eight-an-over to a run-a-ball. Sciver chipped in with a vital thirteen before being run-out in the eighteenth over but by then England had advanced to one hundred and sixteen and Greenway wasted no time in knocking off the remaining runs, cracking two boundaries in the penultimate over before fittingly hitting the winning run. The solitary test match between the two sides was drawn and, after Australia had won the first one-day match, England won the next two before wrapping up the series with victories in the first two Twenty/20 games. With two points for a win, England lead the series ten-four with just Saturday's final Twenty/20 game at Durham to come.
A giant tarantula is reportedly on the loose in Torquay. The creature, described as being 'brown and hairy and about the size of a man's hand', was spotted by a local landlady in the garden of her property in Ellacombe. 'I thought it was a mouse at first but then I saw these big hairy legs,' Sonia McGrath told the Herald Express. 'I dropped everything and went home,' she claimed, before adding: 'It's big and it's hairy and I be a'feared of it.' Probably. She returned with her husband, loaded with a large fishing net and broom handle, but the over-sized spider managed to escape through a fence panel and has been missing ever since. It is believed to have been left by a previous tenant and is not thought to be dangerous. '[Experts] told me it was harmless but won't survive if it gets too cold so I desperately want to find it,' McGrath added. 'I can't see myself picking it up but I want to make sure it is safe.'

Resiting the temptation to go for something from the Spiders From Mars oeuvre, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day dear blog reader we have, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is proud to say, quite simply one of the most shite records of the 1980s - the decade that taste forgot. And, the fact that the tune is a complete rip-off from The Jam's 'Circus' only makes it worse. All of this, however, is slightly made-up-for by the persistent rumour that it was actually Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads (on whose label, the single was released) in the doggy costume when it got performed on Top Of The Pops. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads denies it, of course.