Friday, November 29, 2013

Read All The Pamphlets And Watch The Tapes

Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary episode The Day Of The Doctor - remember that, dear blog reader? - has made more than ten million dollars in US box office takings in its first three days being shown in cinemas around the world. Digitally, The Day Of The Doctor has also raced to the top of episodes purchased on Apple's iTunes in America and Amazon's television chart. Based on the first day of sales it is set to be the most downloaded episode of 2013 for the BBC on iTunes. The BBC launched the The Day Of The Doctor in 3D in cinemas in fifteen countries from Russia to Ecuador on Saturday, and by the end of the day of Monday fans had forked out $10.2m (that's over six million quid) to watch it. In the UK, box office revenues from the anniversary edition – which featured three doctors, Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt as well as a cameo by Tom Baker – came to £1.8m in its first three days. This was good enough to rank it third after Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Gravity in the weekly box office chart. The BBC said that in the US the film took $4.7m on Monday night alone, selling three hundred and twenty thousand tickets, which made it the second biggest film of the day after Hunger Games. In terms of average revenue per screen the BBC said it was number one in the US on Monday, with six hundred and fifty cinemas airing the seventy five-minute anniversary edition for an average of seven thousand one hundred and fifty five bucks. Hunger Games, on much wider release in over four thousand cinemas, made two thousand six hundred dollars per screen on average. More than seventy thousand Australian fans made it to the cinema to watch Doctor Who on Sunday. 'We organised the global cinema events to give the fans an opportunity to get together and enjoy a unique moment in Doctor Who history as one,' said the BBC Worldwide chief brands officer, Amanda Hill. 'It also gave those same fans who didn't have 3D TVs a chance to see the special in its biggest and most amazing form. We had no idea that there would be such a demand at the global box office. This demonstrates how huge the show remains in the UK and how far it's come internationally over the last few years.' The anniversary episode is also being screened in cinemas in countries including Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Spain, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. The Day Of The Doctor also attracted the biggest ever audience on the BBC's US cable channel, BBC America, averaging 2.4 million viewers. This was despite being shown at 2.50pm on the US East coast (and at 11.50am in California). A primetime repeat attracted a further 1.2 million viewers. The BBC is also claiming a world record as 'the world's largest ever simulcast of a TV drama', with the episode being broadcast in an estimated ninety four countries. The most anticipated episode since the show was regenerated in 2005 attracted more than ten million overnight viewers to BBC1 on Saturday night, the most popular episode outside of a handful of Christmas and New Year specials. It also currently heads the BBC's iPlayer chart rankings.

Tributes have been paid to Doctor Who in the House of Lords, the second chamber of the British Parliament. The debate was that 'This House takes note of the contribution of broadcast media to the United Kingdom economy', moved by Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, a Liberal Democrat peer who has worked for both the BBC and Channel Four. In the debate Baroness Grender, in her maiden speech, referred specifically to Doctor Who and its record breaking weekend. 'This debate necessarily starts with the record we have in public service broadcasting, of which the cornerstone is the BBC. BBC Worldwide is the largest TV programme distributor outside the major US studios, and its impact on the reputation of the United Kingdom overseas is one which increases our ability to trade worldwide and way beyond broadcasting. My noble friend Lady Bonham-Carter’s timing for this debate is perfect, following the amazing weekend marking the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who. Simulcast in ninety four countries, setting a Guinness world record, with record-breaking figures in America, it was event TV drama at its best, delivered around the globe. That thrill of seeing all the Doctors saving Gallifrey is something my eight year-old son will remember until the one hundredth anniversary.' Their noble Lordships all sort of mumbled in a vaguely approving way at this point. Lord Birt, former BBC Director General John Birt, also paid tribute to The Doctor. 'Our comic, eccentric and very British superhero, Doctor Who, who rightly has been much mentioned today, reached fifty last Saturday with a near-simultaneous broadcast in ninety four different countries, as the noble Baroness, Lady Grender, mentioned. Nothing like that has ever happened before.' Certainly not under your watch, pal. Baroness Humphreys, who is President of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, paid tribute to the BBC investment in Wales, in particular at the drama centre of excellence on Cardiff Bay. 'Programmes such as Doctor Who, Merlin and Sherlock and many others have been produced in Cardiff over a number of years but they are now produced in the BBC’s new drama facility in the recently built drama village at Roath Lock in the Porth Teigr, or Tiger Bay, area of Cardiff Bay. The drama studios there are the length of three football pitches, and more than six hundred actors, camera operators and technicians are employed there—all, of course, contributing to the local economy.' Lord Gardiner of Kimble mentioned the weekend global simulcast. 'Your Lordships have already mentioned Doctor Who. Its fiftieth anniversary special has just had a record-breaking global simultaneous broadcast—I am informed by officials that it is called a simulcast—that reached ninety four countries across all the continents.' In closing the debate Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury looked back to the past and directed a question directly at Lord Grade, previous Director of Programmes at the BBC Michael Grade. 'Finally, as Doctor Who has dominated the debate and I see my noble friend Lord Grade in his seat, I cannot resist wondering whether, had he known that Sylvester McCoy would regenerate into John Hurt, he would still have cancelled the programme?' Lord Grade nodded vigorously to indicate the affirmative. Of course, Sylvester didn't regenerate into John Hurt, he regenerated into Paul McGann (we saw that in 1996), who in turn regenerated into John Hurt (we saw that last week). Get yer bloody facts right, yer very knobships.
Fancy a job working on Doctor Who, dear blog reader? No, me neither, I prefer watching it to working on it but still, if you do, the BBC is looking for floor and office runners to work on the production in Cardiff. Applications for the first post must have previous drama experience working on the floor and be used to transporting artists. They need to be able to cover for the third AD as required, and demonstrate they have the stamina required for this demanding role. For the second post applicants should have previous running experience in television or film production with the ability to use proficiently a range of software packages including Word, Excel, Outlook, Screenwriter and Final Draft with interpersonal and communication skills sufficient to establish and maintain effective working relations with a wide range of internal and external contacts. They will have the ability to express oneself concisely both orally and in writing along with excellent telephone skills, effective time management and organisational skills and the initiative to work both independently and as part of a team. They should also be able to prioritise a conflicting workload efficiently and to maintain standards of accuracy and attention to detail when working to deadlines or changing priorities. The closing date for both jobs is 1 December with interviews taking place on 5 December. Good luck and, remember, working in TV is nowhere near as glamorous as watching TV.

The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive is returning to the Internet, courtesy of the Gallifrey Base forum. The highly praised website which consists of newspaper cuttings related to Doctor Who, was launched by an old mate of yer actual Keith Telly Topping, Roger Anderson his very self in 1998. Earlier this year, Roger, who ran the original website from through to its closure in 2010, agreed to provide his collection of newspaper and magazine articles to Steven Hill, co-owner of Gallifrey Base, in order to make them available again to the public. Although the transfer of Roger's materials is still in progress, the new Cuttings Archive is available now with over two hundred articles. The new archive curator is John Lavalie, whose focus has been on making the information accessible and useful, articles are being converted to text so the entire archive can be searched. The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive can be found here.
Sherlock is to return to BBC1 on 1 January 2014, two years to the day after the last series began. After months of speculation, the BBC confirmed that the hit detective drama's third series will premiere on New Year's Day. As part of publicity for the series, a black hearse - containing the phrase 'Sherlock - 01 01 14' - visited a number of the drama's shooting locations, including North Gower Street (which doubles for Baker Street in the show) and St Bart's Hospital. St Bart's is where Sherlock Holmes appeared to plummet to his grisly and untimely death in the show's much-discussed series two finale, The Reichenbach Fall. It has been two years since Sherlock was last on the BBC, a period which has seen its two stars - yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch, via the Star Trek sequel Into Darkness and Martin Freeman his very self, in The Hobbit - both catapulted into the top tier of big-screen talent. The second episode of the new series will be broadcast on the following Sunday, 5 January, with the final episode of the new series on 12 January. The third series was filmed in two chunks, with the first two episodes filmed in April and May of this year before the cast and crew reconvened to make the third episode later in the summer. Mark Gatiss has written the openingt episode, The Empty Hearse, with Stephen Thompson - who previously scripted the episodes The Blind Banker and The Reichenbach Fall - scripting the second, The Sign of Three. Showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat takes responsibility for the final episode, His Last Vow. Given the anticipation surrounding the show and the way its audience built over the first two series, Sherlock's return is likely to be close to - if not above - ten million viewers and be one of the highest-rating shows of the BBC's Christmas and New Year season. The opening episode of the first series in July 2010 - A Study In Pink - was watched by 7.5 million viewers in July 2010, returning with 8.8 million viewers for its second series on New Year's Day 2010.
Meanwhile, yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch has admitted that he would like to try acting in a comedy. The actor said that he would like to 'step away' from his serious roles eventually. He said in a Reddit webchat: 'I love my comedy and when the right project comes up I won't shy away from it. There's a lot of humour in what I do, specifically Sherlock, but it would be great to play a "normal guy" in a "normal comedy."' Benny added that he had been learning about comic timing from his co-star, saying: 'I learned from the master, Martin Freeman.'
ITV has unveiled the trailer for its much-anticipated upcoming drama Lucan. Rory Kinnear appears in the clip as the infamous Lord Lucan, while former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston is seen playing his friend the late John Aspinall. Michael Gambon will also appear in the two-part drama, which was first announced by ITV in June. The drama will deal with the collapse of Lucan's marriage as well as his involvement in The Clermont Set. It will also, much more controversially, include the murder of Sandra Rivett, the nanny to Lucan's children. The first part of Lucan will be broadcast on ITV on 11 December.
Last Tango In Halifax climbed to a new overnight peak this series on BBC1 on Tuesday, early figures show. The romantic drama gained over three hundred thousand viewers from last week, climbing to 6.3 million at 9pm. Last week, it was up against England's match against Germany on ITV. This week on ITV, Arsenal's Champions League win over Marseille scored 3.41m on average at 7.30pm. BBC2's Celebrity Antiques Road Trip appealed to 2.2m at 7pm, followed by MasterChef: The Professionals with 3.25m at 8pm. Strange Days - Cold War Britain concluded with 1.1m at 9pm, whilst the latest episode of the brilliant Hebburn had one million overnight punters at 10pm. On Channel Four, Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners was watched by 1.82m at 8pm. The Sound Of Musicals drew and audience of nine hundred and thirty six thousand punters at 9pm, followed by the latest Masters Of Sex with five hundred and forty four thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Cowboy Builders attracted seven hundred and forty three thousand at 8pm. The Mentalist was watched by 1.11m at 9pm, while Castle had seven hundred and eighty one thousand at 10pm.

I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was easily top in the Wednesday ratings, according to overnight data. Returning after a day away due to the football, the ITV show was down over half a million viewers from Monday's episode to 8.93 million at 9pm. Earlier, Mystery Map attracted 3.10m at 8pm. On BBC1, Farm Kitchen interested 3.66m at 8pm, while a repeat of New Tricks brought in 2.89m at 9pm. BBC2's Celebrity Antiques Road Trip appealed to 1.79m at 7pm, followed by MasterChef: The Professionals with 3.14m at 8pm. Tudor Monastery Farm continued with 1.61m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Location, Location, Location garnered 1.21m at 8pm. Twenty Four Hours in A&E was watched by 1.32m at 9pm, while Gogglebox attracted 1.22m at 10pm. Channel Five's Animal Clinic was seen by eight hundred and five thousand punters at 8pm, followed by the documentary Treblinka: Inside Hitler's Secret Death Camp with eight hundred and nineteen thousand at 9pm.

And, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) also topped the overnight ratings on Thursday although it dipped again from the previous evening's figure. The latest episode was down over five hundred thousand viewers from last Thursday's equivalent episode and it was two hundred thousand punters down on Wednesday's episode to 8.72 million at 9pm. Earlier, Britain's Secret Treasures brought in 2.74m at 8.30pm. On BBC1, Animal Odd Couples attracted 4.45m for its second episode, down four hundred thousand from last week. Crimewatch was watched by 2.98m at 9pm. BBC2's Celebrity Antiques Road Trip continued with 1.87m at 7pm, followed by MasterChef: The Professionals with 3.08m at 8pm to see big Adam and little Adam progress to the semi-finals. The first part of Alan Judd's spy drama Legacy interested 1.59m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Amazing Spaces appealed to 1.19m at 8pm. Getting Rich In The Recession has an audience of 1.29m at 9pm, while the first episode of What Happens In Kavos was seen by nine hundred and twenty six thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's USA Adventure With Charley Boorman was watched by five hundred and six thousand at 8pm, while the latest Person Of Interest had six hundred and twenty thousand at 10pm.

It's not just old Doctor Who episodes that have been rediscovered by the BBC of late, it seems. It would appear that they've also recently relocated their long-missing spine. The BBC's Director General, Tony Hall, has said that the corporation should be 'more aggressive' and 'less British' about arguing the case for the licence fee. At last. Well, it's about time that somebody in authority at the BBC showed a bit of frigging backbone and stood up to the crass and ignorant bullies and cowards in parliament and the media. What took you so long, Tony? Some of us have been waiting for years for somebody to get up out of a foetal position that they'd curled themselves into in the hope that nobody would hurt them any more and tell the odious shit scum lice at the Daily Scum Mail to, frankly, and with the greatest possible respect, go fuck themselves. Hall said that the corporation will use its 'own airwaves' to tackle hostility towards the £145.50 cost of the licence fee in the future. Lord Hall said a TV licence worked out at 'just forty pence a day' for the BBC's news, drama, radio and online content. But, he told The Voice Of The Listener And Viewer conference that the message needed to be communicated more clearly. Lord Hall, who took over the top job at the corporation in April, said the BBC was currently providing better value for money than it had done for twenty years. He revealed he had a team working on ways to promote the BBC's position, in the run-up to charter renewal negotiations in 2016. Employ me, Tony, I'll tell those who would do the BBC down where they can go and stick their effing nonsense. 'We've got to get aggressive, frankly, about making this case to people,' said Lord Hall. He argued that, adjusted for inflation, the licence fee had dropped in price over the last twenty years - from one hundred and forty seven smackers in 1993, to its current level of £145.50. At the same time, audiences had seen the number of services increase - with four times as many television channels and twice as many national radio stations, compared to 1993. 'We are delivering more without costing more and will continue to do that. In fact, as the licence fee is frozen - with no account taken of inflation and it's paying for more things - it will cost you less,' said Lord Hall. However, faced with the task of saving the corporation more money he warned: 'We must not stretch the elastic too thin.' He said the BBC was currently going through budgets in detail to get a clearer understanding of where its money is going, but added it was 'too early to get into discussions about "can you dump this or dump that?"' Lord Hall, who previously ran the Royal Opera House and, prior to that, was the BBC's head of news, rejected what he called an 'old-fashioned view' that the BBC dominates the media. Earlier this month, Question Time host David Dimbleby said the corporation needed to 'redefine' its role and examine 'whether it is too powerful for its own good.' But the Director General told Richard Bacon's 5Live show that the BBC could 'maybe cut back a bit on its number of television channels.' However Hall said that he was mindful of the backlash around the proposed closure of digital radio station 6Music in 2010. 'People will pick on things and say, "you can lose that" and a whole lot of other licence fee-payers will rightly say, "that's of huge value."'

Executives in charge of BBC4 have launched a robust defence of the channel after its future was questioned by David Dimbleby and the corporation's former Olympics supremo, Roger Mosey. Cassian Harrison, put in day-to-day charge of the channel when he was appointed its first editor last month, said BBC4 was 'absolutely central' to the vision of BBC director general Tony Hall. BBC4 had its budget cut as part of a seven hundred million quid savings initiative implemented by Hall's predecessor-but-one, notorious slapheed Mark Thompson, and no longer has its own controller – the channel is overseen by BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow. But despite no longer showing drama, history and virtually no entertainment programmes, Harrison said BBC4 had 'a unique role' to play and was the most cherished of any BBC TV channel. 'I know some people have made some carping comments about [the channel] recently in the press,' said Harrison. 'It's important to say BBC4 remains, and it's been absolutely made clear to me and everybody else involved, it is absolutely central to what Tony Hall thinks and what everybody thinks is the future and the future vision of the BBC. BBC4 has one thing which is unique across the portfolio of channels of the BBC. Fundamentally, it is the most loved channel of all the channels we have. Basically, the people that watch BBC4 content enjoy it and love it and think it's brilliant – more than anything else we do.' Which is very true. Harrison denied that BBC4 was 'just a channel for opinion formers. It's absolutely not. When BBC4 works well and it gets good numbers, when we look at the demographics, it's talking to the entire BBC audience, the audience that comes to BBC1, 2 and 3.' Harrison said BBC4 offered viewers an 'amazing journey into a secret garden. What we are doing is saying, these are things you might think are familiar, something you might think you know, and let us take you into a journey behind that and show you something quite magical, a realm of information, knowledge and surprise that you didn't know at all. You can make films about chaos theory, thermodynamics, the existential problem of existence, and we can bring audiences which are a million-plus to those subjects because they find those subjects absolutely fascinating.' Harrison was speaking at a launch dinner on Tuesday night for a new season of science programmes across BBC2 and BBC4. Among BBC4's programmes will be two shows dissecting the human hand and the human foot. Harrison said it was a 'classic BBC4 subject. You think you know it, but believe me, you really don't.' Hadlow said that BBC4 was 'able to explore intellectually rigorous subjects', free from the pressure for ratings that comes with the bigger channels. 'BBC4 is the most intellectually ambitious of what we do, in that it is allowed to be itself in a way that is more challenging for big channels,' she said. 'If you are running BBC2, you have to have an eye not only on the intellectual element, which is a crucial part of what we do, but also a sense that BBC2 has to be a big channel in a way, or it is not quite doing its job.' BBC2's all-day share of the audience has taken a hit this year after nearly all original programming in its afternoon schedule was replaced by repeats, as part of the corporation's Destroying Quality First cost savings initiative. But Hadlow said that the effect on its audience was 'not as dramatic' as some people had predicted. 'We have had a challenging year, DQF took daytime away from us and in the face of quite a lot of challenges we have had a fantastic year in peak,' she said. 'I am very proud of what we have done. With a combination of intellectual ambition and an eye on what the broad audience want, if we can make that work, that's brilliant. We are in a better place than you might have thought.'

A radio drama from the makers of hit Danish TV series Borgen will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from December. Borgen: Outside The Castle is set against the backdrop of the first series of the political TV drama, which saw Birgitte Nyborg, played by Sidse Babett Knudsen, become Denmark's first female prime minister. The spin-off moves the drama away from the politicians to focus on the world of the civil service. The third and final series of Borgen began on BBC4 earlier this month. And, if you're not watching it, dear blog reader, then you really should be. Both the TV and radio series have the Danish parliament at their centre. The radio drama follows the character Hans Gammelgaard, the Private Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment, played by yer actual Tim Pigott-Smith. The plot sees Gammelgaard trying to gain approval for the controlled use of genetically modified crops by Danish farmers, meeting opposition from unseen enemies who are prepared to go to any lengths to pursue their own agenda. Director Anders Lundorph told the BBC the radio adaptation was developed alongside the TV show, sharing the same editor to make sure the stories complimented each other. 'We were allowed to read some of the scripts in advance so that we could follow the [TV] storyline, but seen from a different perspective,' said Lundorph. He said Borgen: Outside The Castle could be followed by those who had not seen the TV show, as it was a 'story in its own right. It's just an added bonus that when they talk about this politician or this minister you can go, "Okay, I remember her from TV,"' he added. Earlier this year, Sidse Babett Knudsen told the BBC that she thought the success of fellow Danish drama The Killing, also shown on BBC4 in the UK, had paved the way for Borgen. However the TV show was still an unexpected - though, very welcome - hit when it first aired in Britain, as producers did not expect the political subject matter to travel. The radio drama was originally produced for Denmark's national broadcaster DR and Lundorph said that they tried hard to make the BBC version 'sound Danish. I did bring a lot of background sounds with me, so what you hear in the background will actually be from Copenhagen and from Denmark,' he said. 'But, obviously, we needed to have actors from Britain, and it didn't seem like a good idea to have them do Danish accents,' he added.

For the latest Examples of things that are, like, totally geet cush, and make the world a better place by their very existence, number thirty one: Catsuits.
And, that's followed by the return of another of our semi-regular series here at From The North, Great Daft Moments From TV History. Number twenty three: A very drunk Steve Jones describing an equally drunk Bill Grundy on The Today Show as 'A fuckin' rotter!' These days, of course, John Lydon is doing 'I can't believe it's not butter' commercials. It's a funny old life, innit?
Yer actual Eddie Izzard is to star in an upcoming BBC2 science drama. The comic actor and action transvestite will portray radar developer Robert Watson Watt in the one-off film Castles In The Sky. The film will centre around the Scotsman's invention of the airborne detection system with a group of fellow scientists. Breaking Bad's Laura Fraser will play Watt's wife, Margaret, while other cast members will include Alex Jennings, Tim McInnerny (as Winston Churchill), David Hayman and Julian Rhind-Tutt. Eddie his very self said of the project: 'I feel very privileged to be playing the role of Robert Watson-Watt. Hopefully our production will allow him, along with Arnold Skip Wilkins and their team, to finally take their places in the pantheon of British greats of World War II, as the inventors of radar.' Elsewhere, BBC2 has also commissioned a new five-part series titled Human Universe, presented by Professor Brian Cox. Foxy Coxy his very self will seek to tackle some of mankind's biggest questions in the series, including who we are and why are we here. Among the other shows commissioned by BBC2 and BBC4 include Kate Humble visiting Australia's fire departments ahead of wildfire season in Inside The Wildfire. Michael Mosley will also delve into the world of parasites in Infested, infecting himself with creatures including tapeworms and leeches. Urgh. Might be an idea to give that one a miss if you're of a squeamish disposition. Janice Hadlow, controller of BBC2 and BBC5, said: 'Looking ahead, I'm delighted to be announcing such a strong and varied mix of new commissions, from a major series asking some of the biggest questions we can ask, to a factual drama telling the poignant and little known story of the invention of radar.'

The surviving members of the Monty Python's Flying Circus team have doubled the number of their reunion shows, by announcing five further dates at London's O2 Arena. Tickets for the new shows go on sale on Friday, following the sell-out success of the first batch on 1 to 5 July. The new dates will see the team perform again on 15, 16, 18, 19 and 20 July. John Cleese called the response to the reunion 'very silly' but said that the group were 'touched that so many fans still want to see such old people perform.' Tickets for the 1 July date sold out in just forty three seconds. Once announced, the other concerts sold out shortly afterwards. Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme, Cleese said it was 'extraordinary to have such a positive reaction.' The reunion will see the seventy four-year-old appear alongside Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Eric Idle. Not everyone has welcomed the team's partial reformation, with sacked former Fleet Street editor - and odious risible twat - Piers Morgan declaring himself 'distraught' by the news. 'They once parodied the ludicrous,' wrote Morgan. 'Now they are in severe danger of becoming the very thing they parodied.' But then, nobody actually gives a shit what that obnoxious, oily waste-of-oxygen has to say. About anything. The Pythons themselves have not ruled out the possibility of performing elsewhere in the UK.
Adam Hills is to take a year off his Australian TV talk show – for fear of burnout. He has written a blog saying: 'After nine years of hosting my own shows on Australian TV, basically I need a rest.' Adam splits his time between Australia, where he had been expected to host another series of Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight for the ABC next year, and the UK. His British career is taking off on the back of Channel Four's The Last Leg, which has been commissioned for another two series. And, the show has been sold to Australian TV, so he will still be seen on screens down under. The comic said: 'I fear that in trying to combine a career on UK TV as well as one in Australia, I am in danger of, to put it simply, running out of funny. I love what I do, and am very lucky to do it, but it is also important to recharge every now and then.' The forty three-year-old also added that he wanted to make sure he spent some time with his family. His wife, the opera singer Ali McGregor, is expecting their second child, a sister for three-year-old Beatrice, 'any day.' Adam said that he hoped to return with his chat show, and another stand-up tour, in 2015. Spicks And Specks, the Australian comedy music quiz Hills once hosted, is also making a comeback, but with a new presenter, Josh Earl.

N-Dubz rapper has been taken to hospital after, reportedly, being kicked in the face by a horse in Hertfordshire. I'm not quite sure why that's hilariously funny, dear blog reader, but it undeniably is.
Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks discussed phone-hacking at David Cameron's birthday party at Chequers in October 2010, describing the technique for accessing other people's voicemail and suggesting that it was being done by journalists, an Old Bailey court has heard claimed. Dom Loehnis, who was described as 'a close friend' of Cameron's, told the jury in the phone-hacking trial that he had been seated next to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks at the dinner party, and that she had described publicity around the affair as a story that 'could not easily be closed down', adding that she did not think Andy Coulson could survive as the prime minister's director of communications. The prime minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Coulson, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's successor at the Scum of The World resigned three months later, in January 2011. Loehnis said there were about sixty guests at the party, seated at tables of six to eight people. His role was to deliver a speech for Cameron in the form of a poem. Asked if it was a party to celebrate the election victory in May 2010, he said: 'It was a big party. The pretext was the birthday, but it was a celebration of all sorts of things.' Loehnis said he had begun the conversation with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks by asking whether she thought Coulson – who was not at the dinner – could survive the press speculation about him. 'She said that she wasn't sure he could survive,' he continued. 'She said that she felt the story wouldn't go away and the reason for that was that, at a certain point in time, people had discovered that you could get into mobile phone voicemail by tapping in a default code.' She had told Loehnis that so many people knew how to do it that 'it wasn't a story that could easily be closed down.' He added that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks had 'made it clear' that she was talking 'in the context of journalists' and that he understood her to mean that the hacking had been happening since the late 1990s, when the use of mobile phones had become widespread. 'The impression I took was that it started out as something you discovered you can do. You do it almost because you can.' He continued: 'What she said, as far as I can remember, was that there was one default code and nobody changed it, and essentially if you rang somebody's voicemail and were asked for the code, some people put that code in and discovered they got voicemail.' Loehnis said he had met well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks before this dinner and had later written to her when she resigned as chief executive of News International in July 2011. 'The main import of the letter was to say "I'm sorry that this has happened to you and hope that you come out of it well."' Cross-examined by Jonathan Laidlaw QC for well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, Loehnis agreed that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks had not said anything to indicate or even to hint that she, herself, had any knowledge of phone-hacking when she was editing the Scum of the World, or that she had ever been involved in commissioning phone-hacking. Separately the court heard that following the arrest in August 2006 of the paper's royal editor, Clive Goodman, who was charged with hacking the voicemail of three members of the royal household, the in-house lawyer, Tom Crone, on 15 September, had e-mailed Coulson - by then the Scum of the World's editor - with information which, he wrote, had been provided by police to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, then editing the Sun. Referring to the paper's specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, who had also been arrested, Crone reported: 'The raids on his properties produced numerous voice recordings and ver batim notes of his accesses to voicemails. From these, they have a list of one hundred to one hundred and ten "victims". The recordings and notes demonstrate a pattern of "victims" being focused on for a given period and then being replaced by the next one who becomes flavour of the week.' Seven weeks later, on 3 November 2006, the court heard, the prime minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Coulson arranged for Goodman's solicitor, Henri Brandman, to provide two thousand pages of police paperwork which had been served on Goodman by the prosecution. On Monday, the jury heard the tape-recording of a phone call, dated five days later, on 8 November, when Goodman told his editor of the 'quite massive' case which the police had assembled against Mulcaire.

Meanwhile, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks apparently ordered the deletion of millions of e-mails on News International servers, but many of the messages survived as a result of 'technical problems' and the instructions of other senior executives, the phone-hacking trial was told. The jury at the Old Bailey heard that ninety million e-mails had been recovered from the company's system but that many millions of others had been lost permanently whether by accident or deliberate policy. Some of the recovered e-mails were read out in court as part of a set of agreed facts about the lost material. The jury heard that from the period before 2005, very few messages survived simply because the company had no archiving system. After an archive was created in 2005, some 10.4m messages were naturally purged from the servers over the following five years and could not be recovered since there was no back-up system. The court was told that by 2008 the servers were struggling to deal with the weight of stored traffic and that some users were having to wait thirty minutes to log on. In November 2009 – at a time when, the jury had been told, there was publicity about phone-hacking – surviving e-mails recorded that senior executives were asking for 'a more aggressive purging policy.' In January 2010, an e-mail recorded a new official policy whose stated aim was 'to eliminate in a consistent manner across NI (subject to compliance with legal and regulatory requirements as to retention) e-mails that could be "unhelpful" in the context of future litigation in which an NI company is a defendant.' By May 2010, it had been agreed that the company would delete from the system all messages sent up to 1 December 2007. The jury heard that police originally investigated phone-hacking at the Scum of the World during 2006 and that the paper's specialist hacker Mulcaire was jailed along with the royal editor Goodman in January 2007. In August 2010, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks e-mailed the IT department asking 'what progress' had been made with the deletions. She was told: 'This has and is being done' but that they had not sent out a company-wide message about their deletion plans 'because it could be misconstrued if leaked externally.' In the same message, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks suggested a new cut-off date, saying that 'everyone needs to know that anything before January 2010 will not be kept.' The IT department replied, pointing out that the agreed policy was to delete only up to 1 December 2007. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks replied: 'Yes to Jan 2010. Clean sweep.' During the following month, however, as the IT department attempted to implement the policy at the same time as they moved all their data to new servers in the company's new offices, they found 'the task was putting extreme strain on the servers' and they halted the process. On 7 October, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks wrote to ask about progress on e-mail deletion. On 8 October, the company's legal director, Jon Chapman, wrote to the IT department referring to 'current interest in the News of the World 2005-6 voicemail interceptions' and asking them to preserve messages sent by the prime minister's former, if you will,, 'chum' Andy Coulson and eight other named individuals. From 10 January 2011, the company's new general manager, Will Lewis, sent a sequence of instructions asking for the preservation of more messages in connection with an internal inquiry which he was leading into Ian Edmondson, who, the jury heard, had been suspended the previous month from his job as the Scum of the World's assistant editor. At first, Lewis asked for the retention of messages sent and received by Coulson and eleven other named individuals. The following day, Lewis added nineteen more names from the news and features departments. On 18 January, he added fifty two more names. By 20 January, he was asking for some or all of the messages involving a total of one hundred and five users to be extracted from the servers before any further deletions were made. The court was told that their messages were saved on to a laptop. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, the prime minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Coulson, Stuart Kuttner and Edmondson deny conspiring to intercept communications. The trial extremely continues.

More than one hundred 'prominent people' from literature, the arts, science, academia, human rights and the law have signed a declaration urging newspaper and magazine publishers to embrace the Royal Charter system of press regulation. They join people who have been victims of press misbehaviour in arguing that charter will give 'vital protection to the vulnerable' from abuse of power by the press. The signatories include broadcasters yer actual Stephen Fry, Clare Balding, Gary Lineker and Rory Bremner his very self. Actress Emma Thompson has also signed the document, as have Professor Richard Dawkins and Sir Jonathan Miller. Several film directors are on the list, such as Stephen Frears, Alan Parker, Mike Leigh, Beeban Kidron, Guy Ritchie, Stephen Daldry, Bill Forsyth, Peter Kosminsky, Terry Gilliam and Michael Apted. Among the writers and playwrights are Alan Bennett, William Boyd, Alan Ayckbourn, Tom Stoppard, Monica Ali, Helen Fielding, Michael Frayn, Ian McEwan, AC Grayling, David Hare, Alan Hollinghurst, JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie, Willy Russell, Claire Tomalin and Irvine Welsh. Comedians are represented by John Cleese, Terry Jones, John Bishop, Rufus Hound and Marcus Brigstocke. And Victoria Wood although whether you can actually describe her as a comedian since she's about as funny as a boil on the bell-end is a matter of some debate. James Blunt is also there. Christ almighty, dear blog reader, that's a bunch of people you really want to be associated with if you've been stitched up like a kipper by some scum tabloid, isn't it? Four leading lawyers have also signed: Helena Kennedy, Michael Mansfield, Geoffrey Bindman and John Bowers. And there are a handful of journalists: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, an Independent columnist, Nick Davies and Polly Toynbee of the Gruniad Morning Star, former Observer and Independent writer Neal Ascherson and the former Sun editor David Yelland. The launch of the declaration is timed to coincide with the anniversary of the publication of The Leveson Report. The full declaration, which was co-ordinated by the victims' body Hacked Off, states: 'We believe that a free press is a cornerstone of democracy. It should be fearless in exposing corruption, holding the powerful to account and championing the powerless. It has nothing to lose, and can only be enhanced, by acknowledging unethical practice in its midst and acting firmly to ensure it is not repeated. We also believe that editors and journalists will rise in public esteem when they accept a form of self-regulation that is independently audited on the lines recommended by Lord Justice Leveson and laid down in the royal charter of 30 October 2013. It is our view that this charter safeguards the press from political interference while also giving vital protection to the vulnerable. That is why we support it and that is why we urge newspaper publishers to embrace it.' Hacked Off's director, Brian Cathcart, said: 'Leading figures in free expression and this country's cultural life, like the public, are expecting change in the conduct of the press and are backing the Royal Charter as the only credible way to deliver it. It is time for newspaper publishers to put aside groundless claims of a threat to free expression, embrace the improvements offered under the royal charter system and rebuild the public's trust."'

The Personal Assistants of Nigella Lawson - she has her knockers - and Charles Saatchi were spending an average of seventy six grand a month between them, a court has heard. Accountant Rahul Gajjar told the trial of Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, that he 'did not tell' his employers about his suspicions that they were spending so much. Gajjar told Isleworth Crown Court that other assistants employed by Saatchi spent a maximum of eight thousand smackers. The Grillo sisters both deny fraud. Saatchi was funding a monthly household credit card bill of one hundred thousand notes, with his then wife spending seven grand a month, the jury heard. Gajjar told the court that he did not tell millionaire art dealer Saatchi and Lawson of his suspicions that their personal assistants were spending thousands of pounds of their money, as he 'did not want to bother them.' One is sure Nigella - seen left, poking around in her own pantry - would have noted something along the lines of 'really, it's no bother.' Asked by the prosecution why he did not go to his employer with his suspicions straight away, Gajjar said: 'It was on the back burner. We were dealing with more corporate matters - more serious corporate matters - and Mr Saatchi and Ms Lawson normally didn't have time for what we thought were trivial matters.' Seventy grand a month is trivial? Jesus, the lifestyles of the filthy rich and decadent, dear blog reader. Read it and weap. The court has already heard that Saatchi accused Lawson of allowing their staff to spend to cover her use of drugs. The defendants have alleged that Nigella spent much of her time snorting Charlie (not a euphemism for something she was doing with her husband, incidentally). Saatchi arrived at court to give evidence. However, shortly afterwards he was told that his evidence would not be heard on Thursday. Francesca Grillo's average monthly spending was forty eight thousand knicker and Elisabetta's was twenty eight grand, the court heard. Francesca ran up a sixty four thousand quid bill in June last year, the court heard. Her expenses included more than four thousand seven hundred smackers on flights to New York, where she spent eighteen hundred and fifty quid at fashion store Miu Miu and more than two grand on hotels. She also used the credit card to pay a twelve hundred and eighty notes bill at the Ritz hotel in Paris and bought a seven hundred and twenty three knicker Chloe dress on the same day. Her expenses also included over five grand at Miu Miu in London and two thousand six hundred and fifty quid at designer store Prada. Francesca Grillo's credit limit went up from twenty five grand in June 2008 to fifty thousand smackers in February 2010, rising to one hundred grand in June 2011, the jury heard. Gajjar, who has been the finance director of Saatchi Gallery Group since June 2002, said Saatchi and Lawson had several personal assistants who worked 'flexible' hours for them. Asked about their roles, he told the court: 'It could be personal matters, looking after the home. It could be some work-related matters very close to Charles and Nigella.' Gajjar said that when the sisters were confronted over their expenses they were initially apologetic and open about their spending. But when they were sent a formal letter outlining how they would pay off their debts they became 'agitated' and claimed 'We're being treated worse than Filipino slaves', the accountant told the court. He told the jury that he suggested they continue on their current salaries but Francesca Grillo, who allegedly spent five hundred and eighty thousand quid, would be expected to pay back a grand a month, while her sister Elisabetta would have to pay back two hundred and fifty quid a month. 'They felt it tied them to the company for the rest of their lives,' he added. Anthony Metzer QC, representing Elisabetta, suggested to the accountant that the defendants were 'under the impression' that they could use the credit cards 'on themselves' and the matter 'was a misunderstanding.' The millionaire art dealer and the celebrity chef divorced earlier this year after ten years of marriage. The Grillo sisters, both of Kensington Gardens Square, deny fraudulently using company credit cards to buy luxuries between 2008 and 2012. The trial continues.

Peaches Geldof could face a criminal investigation and a possible jail term after naming on Twitter two women who allowed their babies to be abused by Ian Watkins. Former Lostprophets frontman, Watkins, from Pontypridd, admitted the attempted rape of a baby on Tuesday. Publishing details which might identify the young children is a criminal offence, the Attorney General's Office said. As, frankly, any bloody fool with half a brain in their head should know. Which probably explains why airhead waste-of-space Peaches was immune from such basic common sense. South Wales Police said that it was 'discussing' the issue with the Crown Prosecution Service. Geldof, who is the daughter of Band Aid founder Saint Bob Geldof and late TV presenter Paula Yates, is understood to have tweeted the women's names to her one hundred and sixty thousand followers after reportedly reading them on a US-based website. It is understood the tweet was subsequently deleted. Although it would appear that the real crime here is that one hundred and sixty thousand people seemingly have nothing better to do with their time than follow the witterings of Peaches Geldof, fer Christ's sake. As the Daily Mirra noted in an article entitled Peaches Geldof and Twitter don't mix, this exceptionally silly little girl is reported to have tweeted: 'I can't bring myself to comment' before 'commenting so much she woke up the Attorney General.' Watkins was described as a 'determined and committed paedophile' after he pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted rape and twelve other offences including sexual assault and taking, making and distributing indecent images of children. A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office said: 'We understand that the names of the co-defendants in the Ian Watkins case were posted online but have now been removed. As has been previously reported, the co-defendants were the mothers of the victims. Victims of sexual offences have automatic lifetime anonymity and the publication of names or information which can lead to their being identified is a criminal offence. This is a police matter.' Following the case - and prior to Peaches Geldof's witless tweets - South Wales Police had warned people about the 'very real risk' of identifying Watkins' victims on social media. The IPCC is investigating whether South Wales Police acted 'in a timely manner' in the Watkins' case after the force referred itself to the commission in January. Watkins committed some of the child sex offences which he later admitted to while he was already on bail after being initially arrested in September 2012. he was then rearrested and charged in December. One of the crimes he pleaded guilty to was conspiring to rape a child on 31 October. The force said that the delay between Watkins' first and subsequent arrests was 'one of the things' the IPCC would be investigating. Meanwhile, the American-based celebrity news website E! Online says that it 'deeply regrets' using an image of Ian 'H' Watkins formerly of the pop group Steps on its story about his disgraced and disgraceful namesake. Earlier this week, a man who tweeted images purporting to be James Bulger's killer, Jon Venables, received a fourteen-month suspended prison sentence after admitting contempt of court. There is a global ban on publishing anything revealing the identity of Venables who - along with Robert Thompson - killed the two-year-old Bulger in 1993 when aged just ten. Ignorance of the law is never a defence. Last November nine people were prosecuted and told to pay six hundred and twenty four quid to a woman raped by the footballer Ched Evans after they admitted to naming her on Twitter and Facebook. All nine claimed that they 'did not know' that publishing the name of a rape victim was a criminal offence. That didn't prevent their prosecution, however. The Evans case points up an important truth. Twitter and Facebook - and, indeed, blogs for that matter - might be considered by many as a traditional 'spoken' conversation, but the reality is that anything posted on the Internet amounts to 'publication' - just as much as if it was printed in a newspaper, a magazine or a book. Tweets and posts can go viral at an astonishing rate. Undoubtedly, many people are ignorant of the law which prevents the publication of material leading to the identification of a victim of a sexual offence, but they are being educated the hard way, as Peaches her very self may be about to find out. Geldof subsequently apologised for her rank stupidly although whether that will stop her from ending up a'fore the beak facing a short, sharp spell in pokey is, as yet unknown.

CBS News has suspended its chief foreign affairs correspondent, Lara Logan, over the erroneous report on the 2012 Benghazi attack which the network broadcast last month. Logan's 'leave of absence' coincided with the release of an internal review enumerating a damning series of failures behind the broadcast. These included a failure to vet sources, to disclose conflicts of interest and to perform follow-up reporting. The review, by CBS standards and practices director Al Ortiz, also found that the reporting team failed to heed a 'red flag' admission by a central source, and was hampered by its own blinkered search 'from the start' for 'a different angle.' The Benghazi report, which aired on the program Sixty Minutes, has been withdrawn by CBS News and removed from YouTube. Although, if you have a search around the Interweb you may well still find a copy of it. 'There is a lot to learn from this mistake for the entire organisation,' CBS News chairman Jeff Fager wrote in a memo to staff announcing the suspensions. 'As executive producer, I am responsible for what gets on the air. I pride myself in catching almost everything, but this deception got through and it shouldn't have.' A producer on the report, Max McClellan, was also suspended. The terms of the suspensions were not disclosed. The move came after an on-air apology by Logan that was derided by media critics as 'severely lacking' and 'flimsy.' The Sixty Minutes report drew heavily on the testimony of a security contractor to accuse the US government of mishandling the Benghazi attack in Libya, in which ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. The contractor, Dylan Davies, told Logan that he had 'grappled' with an attacker at a US compound and later 'sneaked' into a hospital and saw the ambassador's body. It was the same story which he told in a book that was being published, simultaneously, by another arm of the CBS corporation. Key elements of the story - ie. almost all of it - were entirely untrue. The Sixty Minutes team knew that Davies had given a different account to his employer, a fact that the internal review said should have been 'a red flag.' Instead, Sixty Minutes accepted Davies's explanation that he had lied to his employer to cover up for the fact that he should not have left his villa on the night of the attack. Eleven days after the report aired, the New York Times revealed that Davies had also told the FBI he had not been to the compound or the hospital that night. CBS News reporters were able to corroborate the New York Times report 'within hours,' the internal review found. The CBS internal review faulted the Sixty Minutes report for not disclosing the book deal. It also faulted Logan herself for continuing to report on the Benghazi attack after making a public speech criticising the government's handling of the affair and its broader counter-terrorism policies. CBS News wound down its relationship with long-time anchor Dan Rather in 2005, a year after the network broadcast a report on George W Bush's absenteeism during his time with the Air National Guard. Critics said the report drew on fake documents. Rather continues to defend the report as true.

Robert Peston, the BBC's business editor, has criticised the Daily Scum Mail for revealing that his late wife had cancer without calling her to check the story and before she had told her youngest son about her condition. His wife, the writer and film-maker Sian Busby, died in September 2012 from lung cancer. Peston told an audience of journalists, academics and journalism students: 'There was no public interest justification for the disclosure of Sian's serious illness. Surely it would have been reasonable to ask if we wanted this very private element of our lives shouted to the world.' Peston, who was delivering the annual James Cameron Memorial Lecture at City University London, also pointed out that the Scum Mail's diary item, published in January 2008, contained two major inaccuracies. He said that he accepted the fact the paper had previously published 'unpleasant features, columns and diary items' about him. 'I regard myself as a fair target,' he said. But the story about his wife 'went beyond what I regarded as acceptable"' The first they knew of the story was when Busby, a Daily Scum Mail reader, opened the paper at breakfast. He said: 'My instinct was to complain to the Mail and its editors. Sian asked me not to, because she was frail and did not want the added stress of seeing me go to war with a powerful newspaper. So the Mail got away with it. As it often does.' A Daily Scum Mail spokesman claimed: 'We very much regret the distress clearly caused by our 2008 diary piece.' Not a single, solitary person believed them. The spokesman added that it was 'important' to 'understand the background', which was that the paper's diary reporter was introduced to Busby as a Daily Scum Mail journalist and had 'a friendly conversation' with her during which she volunteered information about her forthcoming book and her illness and posed for a picture with her husband. 'We are sorry to learn some six years later that the story was not accurate and offer our sincere apologies,' the spokesman said. In a wide-ranging speech in which he expressed his enjoyment of the 'trade' of journalism, Peston said: 'Some way has to be found to force improved standards of common decency on newspapers. And the essence of this is that there must be a cheap, easy, independent and reliable arbitration process to force speedy, prominent corrections on newspapers, and deliver ample compensation in a timely fashion.' But, he does not favour the government's press regulation Royal Charter. State-underpinned regulation 'would make all us poorer – and less free – in the long run', Peston said. Instead, he argued, the press had to improve its behaviour. Rather than 'invading precious privacy without good cause', he said that if newspapers 'are going to defend their right to investigate free of state-empowered scrutiny, they have to do more proper investigating that's plainly in the public interest rather than just of interest to the public.' He praised the Scum Mail on Sunday for its 'pretty good scoop' on the Co-op Bank chairman, Paul Flowers, contending that it 'shone a light on how an important institution had been chronically mismanaged.' But, Peston, who is soon to move to a new role as the BBC's economics editor, said that such stories 'were the exception.' He called on editors 'to shine the brightest light on the institutions of the state, and on the powerful in general, by exposing actual rot and not just hypocrisy and double standards.' He also touched on the huge changes wrought 'by the advent of the 24/7, multi-platform, digital and social media world.' In the past, after a big story, he said he would be on a high for several days. 'Technology has changed the nature of the drug. On a big story today, you can be high – at a lower level of intensity – pretty much the whole time. Because you are always "on", always able to get the story out – in audio, in video, in blogs, on social media, every waking minute of the day.'
A further nineteen hospitals are to carry out investigations after receiving police information about serial sex attacker, the dirty old scallywag and rotten rotter Jimmy Savile, the government has said. The Metropolitan Police have passed material about Savile to the Department of Health, which has given it to the nineteen hospital trusts to investigate. Health Secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt said he expected reports on visits by the late DJ and TV presenter to those hospitals by next June. It brings the total number of hospitals under investigation to thirty two.

Meanwhile, convicted sex offender Stuart Hall has appeared in court facing fifteen charges of rape and one count of indecent assault involving two girls. The allegations relate to girls aged sixteen or under and are said to have taken place in Greater Manchester and Cheshire between 1976 and 1981. He sat in the dock at Preston Crown Court as future hearing dates were set. The next appearance at court will be on 28 February, when he is expected to enter a plea.

Phillip Schofield has suggested that Rebecca Adlington should not have taken part in I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want). The former Olympic swimmer and Mad Frankie Boyle punchline has been 'exempt' from taking part in several Bushtucker Trials on 'unspecified' medical grounds. Speaking on This Morning on Wednesday, the one-time 'Paedo-Finder Pursuivant' Schofield - someone seldom short of an opinion, one pretty much any subject, most of them nothing whatsoever to do with him - debated whether Adlington is actually claustrophobic. He said: 'Whether it's severe enough or whether they are being soft on her out there or whatever but I'm sticking my flag in that and I'm saying claustrophobia. I'm saying if you are that claustrophobic then you shouldn't have gone in the first place.' As for this blogger, I have but one comment to make about Adlington's acceptance of the I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) gig. For several years I, as a tax payer - along with every other tax payer in this country - through that portion of our taxes which went to Sport UK, funded Adlington's life whilst she prepared, night and day we must assume, for her finest hour, getting spanked in an Olympic final by a fifteen year old. Thus, my sole thought about her current drama queen antics in the jungle is a simple one. 'Can we have our money back, please, Rebecca?'

Cheryl Cole has won a - reportedly massive - payout from the producers of The X Factor USA, who dropped her like a ton of hot shit after filming just one episode in 2011. Wor geet canny Cheryl - seen right, on South Shields beach pre-massive arse tattoo, obviously - was reportedly removed from the show over fears that viewers in kick-ass Nebraska would not understand her Newcastle accent, like. She successfully sued producers Blue Orbit for $2.3m for loss of earnings earlier this year. The case has now been settled out-of-court, with the production company paying Cole 'an undisclosed sum.' Cole was replaced by Nicole Scherzinger in May 2011, after attending The X Factor auditions in two US cities. Her footage was used in the first hour of the show's premiere later that year, leaving some US critics confused. The Chicago Tribune said Scherzinger was not 'an obvious improvement', while the Los Angeles Times complemented Cole's 'fabulous Geordie accent'. Producers never gave an official reason for her departure, but it transpired that Cole had, initially, been signed up for two series of Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's talent show. According to legal papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, the singer was 'promised' a salary of $1.8m for the first season, and an additional two million bucks for the second. The contract was a so-called 'pay or play' deal, where the salary is payable, even if the signee is given the tin-tack. In her legal case, Cole said that she had been paid for the first series, but the rest of her salary was 'not forthcoming.' She was also not paid further expenses, including a one hundred thousand dollars wardrobe allowance, a twenty five thousand allowance for her stylist, fifteen thousand bucks per month for a hotel or apartment in LA and a two and half grand monthly 'living allowance.' Ones heart, literally, bleeds for her, I'm sure you'll agree dear blog reader. Her legal case asked for the money, plus interest, legal fees and 'further relief as the court may deem just and appropriate.' Lots and lots and lots of lovely wonga in other words. The singer's spokesman 'could not disclose' details of the settlement but confirmed to the BBC: 'Cheryl's dispute with Blue Orbit has been resolved amicably.' Blue Orbit did not make a comment so, seemingly it wasn't that amicable.

Melanie Sykes has been arrested by the police and cautioned for assaulting her husband at their North-West London home. The forty three-year-old spent Tuesday night banged up in custody before admitting the offence and accepting a caution, police said. Manchester-born Sykes married Jack Cockings in May. He did not require hospital treatment, a Scotland Yard spokesman added. The couple met on Twitter after he used the social networking site to ask her out on a date. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'Police were called at approximately 21:45 on Tuesday, 26 November, to a residential address in Hampstead following reports of an assault. A forty three-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of common assault and taken to a North London police station. She has since been given a caution for common assault.' Former model Sykes has appeared on TV shows including Let's Do Lunch with Gino and Mel, The Big Breakfast and Today with Des and Mel. She has two children from her marriage to Italian actor Daniel Caltagirone, which ended in 2009.

Alec Baldwin's US chat show has been cancelled, after it was suspended following reports the actor had used an anti-gay slur. TV network MSNBC and Baldwin jointly confirmed that Up Late With Alec Baldwin 'will not continue.' 'This is a mutual parting and we wish Alec all the best,' said a statement. Baldwin claimed gay activists had 'killed' his show, but acknowledged that he had to take 'some responsibility' for his actions. Which was big of him. The show was suspended for two weeks when Baldwin was caught on video, apparently insulting a photographer using a homophobic slur. The Thirty Rock star disputed using the term, claiming that the audio was 'unclear', but he nonetheless posted an apology on the MSNBC website. 'I did not intend to hurt or offend anyone with my choice of words, but clearly I have,' he wrote earlier this month. 'Words are important. I understand that and will choose mine with great care going forward.' The show, which had dropped considerably in the ratings since its mid-October debut, was due to return on Friday. Baldwin said a 'fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy' had 'played a part' in the show's cancellation.

A flurry of promotions tied to Black Friday have caused a frenzy for some UK retailers, with a fight breaking out in one ASDA shop apparently over discounted televisions. In scenes reminiscent of some sort of pre-apocalyptic mayhem, violence erupted with kids were getting sparked and all sorts. It was quite a sight, dear blog reader. The rush to secure the best deals led to one women ending up in hospital. The ambulance service confirmed that it was called to an incident at a West Belfast shopping centre, where a fight had broken out at an ASDA branch. The woman was taken to hospital with a suspected broken wrist after a scene that was described by one onlooker as 'bedlam.' Several hundred people had queued outside the shop from 5am for the promotion which started three hours later. There were also reports of scuffles inside the ASDA Superstore at Cribbs Causeway near Bristol, leading to the arrest of a thirty five year old man. Another shopper in Birkenhead spoke of 'absolute chaos' as people pushed and jostled to get to the discounted goods.
Comet Ison, or some part of it, may have survived its encounter with the Sun, say scientists. The giant ball of ice and dust was initially declared dead as a very dead thing when it failed to re-emerge from behind the Sun with the expected brightness. All that could be seen was a dull smudge in space telescope images - its nucleus and tail assumed destroyed. But recent pictures have indicated a brightening of what may be a small fragment of the comet. Astronomers admit to being 'surprised and delighted', but now caution that anything could happen in the coming hours and days. This remnant of Ison could continue to brighten, or it could simply fizzle out altogether. 'We've been following this comet for a year now and all the way it has been surprising us and confusing us,' said astrophysicist Karl Battams, who operates the US space agency-funded Sungrazing Comets Project. 'It's just typical that right at the end, when we said, "yes, it has faded out, it's died, we've lost it in the Sun", that a couple of hours later it should pop right back up again,' he told BBC News. The European Space Agency, too, which had been among the first organisations to call the death of Ison, has had to re-assess the situation. A small part of the nucleus may be intact, its experts say. How much of the once two kilometre-wide hunk of dirty ice could have survived is impossible to say. Passing just 1.2 million kilometres above the surface of the Sun would have severely disrupted Ison. Its ices would have vaporized rapidly in temperatures over two thousand degrees. And the immense gravity of the star would also have pulled and squeezed on the object as it tumbled end over end. Karl Battams said: 'We would like people to give us a couple of days, just to look at more images as they come from the spacecraft, and that will allow us to assess the brightness of the object that we're seeing now, and how that brightness changes. That will give us an idea of maybe what the object is composed of and what it might do in the coming days and weeks.' Whatever happens next, comets are going to be a big feature in the news over the next year. In eleven months' time, Comet Siding Spring will breeze past Mars at a distance of little more than one hundred thousand kilometres from Earth. And then in November 2014, ESA's Rosetta mission will attempt to place a probe on the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Some very sad news now. The Professionals actor Lewis Collins has died aged sixty seven, his agent has said. The actor, who played Bodie in the cult 1970s TV series, alongside Martin Shaw, died in Los Angeles after a five-year struggle with cancer. His agent said: 'He died peacefully at his home surrounded by his family. Privacy is asked for at this very sad time.' The Professionals was based around the adventures of a fictional crime fighting unit called CI5. The ITV show was a bit mental with politics for the under-fives but, frequently, a lot of fun and became huge hit in the late 1970s and early 1980s both in Britain and around the world. Collins's other notable roles included SAS captain Peter Skellen in 1982's Who Dares Wins. Which might well be the single worst film ever made in the history of cinema. By anyone. God, it's tragic dear blog reader. If you've never seen it, yer actual Keith Telly Topping urges you to seek it out at your nearest video rental store (probably in the bargain bin), your life simply isn't complete until you've sat through Who Dares Wins and marvelled at the sheer awfulness of it. Shaw, currently appearing in a West End production of Twelve Angry Men, said that he was 'saddened' by the news of his former co-star's death. 'We spent a very tough four years together in making The Professionals and shared in the production of what has become an icon of British television,' Shaw said. 'He will be remembered as part of the childhood of so many people, and mourned by his fans. I send my love and condolences to his family, and the great many who will miss him.' Lewis was born in May 1946 in Cheshire, and worked as a drummer and a hairdresser before breaking into acting. Early work included minor roles in popular TV series such as Z Cars and The New Avengers, as well as a recurring part in the sitcom The Cuckoo Waltz. However, he became a household name with the debut of The Professionals in 1977, which ran for five series and won him a global following as hard man William Bodie. Around the time time he made Who Dares Wins, he allegedly auditioned for the role of James Bond: 'I was in Albert R Broccoli's office for five minutes, but it was really over for me in seconds,' he is reported to have said. 'He was expecting another Connery to walk through the door and there are few of them around.' Unlike his co-star, Lewis was never able to match his success in The Professionals. He continued working across the 1980s and 90s and was last seen on screen in 2002 in an episode of The Bill. Colin Baker tweeted: 'Sad to hear that Lewis Collins has died. He was the year below me at drama school. Had style!' Brian Conley, who co-starred with Collins in the 1999 TV series The Grimleys, also paid his respects: 'God bless Lewis Collins, my dad in The Grimleys. A great actor and a lovely man.' Lewis is survived by his wife, Michelle - whom he married in 1992 - and three sons.

Oh Thursdsay evening, dear blog reader, as is usual these days yer actual his very self attended the latest of Uncle Scunthorpe's Record Player events at the Tyneside. This week it was an LP that yer actual Keith Telly Topping wasn't greatly familiar with previously, Sound Of Silver by yer actual LCD Soundsystem their very selves. And, jolly good it was too - very relaxed and informal, as usual and the LP itself contained some properly bangin' tunes to such an extent that The Soundies got a download purchase out of that. Yer actual KTT also won the quiz with his mate Bruce. And, the five English pounds prize will be put to good use. So, anyway, that's today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day taken care of.