Tuesday, May 27, 2014

To Mock A Killing Bird (A Tit, As It Happens)

The BBC reportedly 'considered' cancelling one of its biggest money-spinners, Doctor Who, when David Tennant left the series. No, this blogger has real difficulty believing that statement, dear blog reader, but, we have it on good authority. Then-showrunner Russell Davies departed from the popular long-running family SF drama along with yer man Tennant his very self in 2009. 'I think there were plans, maybe, to consider ending it,' Rusty's replacement The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat claimed at the Hay Festival over the weekend, according to the DoctorWhoTV website. So, to recap: 'I think', 'maybe' and 'consider' all in the same sentence - yer actual Steven Moffat couldn't have hedged his bets any more than that if he'd included the word 'allegedly' - and yet, still, every online headline on this subject which you'll read in the next few days (and, probably, every tabloid one too) won't include any of those quantifiers. Of that you can be certain dear blog reader. 'It was Russell T Davies saying, "You are not allowed to end it" [that kept the show going],' The Moffinator continued. Although one does have to wonder exactly how some people at a senior level within the BBC believed they were going to replace the huge income which Doctor Who generates via its overseas sales and merchandising had they actually taken the decision to cancel it at the end of 2009. Perhaps that's a question best left for another day. The Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) added that it was 'a huge question' within the BBC whether Doctor Who could continue without Tennant. 'David owned that role in a spectacular way, gave it an all-new cheeky sexy performance and [he] became a national treasure,' Steven added. 'So the idea that Doctor Who could go on at all in the absence of David was a huge question. I didn't realise how many people thought it wouldn't succeed at all. That was quite terrifying when I found out about it later.' Without wishing to stir the shite up too much, one would really love to know who, exactly, these mysterious 'they' within the Beeb were given that most of the executives who would have had any say in whether Doctor Who continued or otherwise - Head of Vision Jana Bennett, Head of BBC1 Jay Hunt and Head of Drama at BBC Wales Piers Wenger - are no longer with the corporation. On the other hand, the Head of Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson is still in post (and, to be fair, he has been one of Doctor Who's most vocal supporters within the BBC in recent years). Yer actual Matt Smith, of course, ultimately succeeded Tennant in 2010, remaining with Doctor Who until Christmas 2013. In the meantime, The Moffinator his very self, mercifully, elected to let Zygons be Zygons. Oh yes he did.
Doctor Who, of course, did continue and has made the BBC geet masses of wonga in the four years since. Filming is currently under way for its eighth series with yer actual Peter Capaldi in the title role. Here's the latest on-location shot from over the weekend on a beach just outside Port Talbot.
The history of showbiz is, of course, overloaded to bursting with tales of short-sighted executives making grand and wrongly wrong judgements about people and things which subsequently turned out to be world-shatteringly brilliant. There's the famous line in the report on Fred Astaire's RKO screen-test in the late thirties, for instance: 'Can't act, can't sing ... can dance a bit.' Dick Rowe of Decca Records, provides an even more infamous example. Dick will always be remembered not as the man who signed The Rolling Stones, The Small Faces, Lulu and Tom Jones to the label but, rather, as the chap who is reported to have told Brian Epstein, when turning down The Be-Atles, 'guitar groups are on the way out.' Now, it seems, we can add two further - tragically anonymous - individuals to the list of narrow escapes. For, it would appear that some arseholes of - sadly - considerable importance within the Beeb (at least, at the time) claimed that both yer actual David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch his very self were 'not sexy enough' to play the roles which ultimately catapulted them to the very toppermost stars in the firmament. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, in addressing the audience at the Hay Festival over the weekend, described making the casting choices for the leading men in both Sherlock and Doctor Who and also Russell Davies' involvement in casting Tennant in Casanova. And, the frankly strange feedback they got from a couple of - as noted, anonymous - commissioning editors. He explained: 'They said of casting David Tennant as Casanova, "Damn, you should have cast someone sexier." With Benedict Cumberbatch, we were told the same thing. "You promised us a sexy Sherlock, not him."' So, once again, the question has to be asked who, exactly, were these 'commissioning editors'? Casanova, for instance, was originally commissioned from Davies by Julie Gardner when she was working at London Weekend Television. However, after Gardner moved on to become Head Of Drama at BBC Wales in 2003, she commissioned Davies to write the drama for the Beeb instead, as part of the deal which also saw him installed as Executive Producer and showrunner on a revival of Doctor Who. Lorraine Heggessey (Head of BBC1) and Jane Tranter (Head of Drama Commissioning) were Julie's immediate bosses at the time (and, of course, it should be noted that all three were to become hugely important in the commissioning and astounding success of Doctor Who a year later and, of the casting of David Tennant as The Doctor a year after that). Nevertheless, yer man Moffat seems well-happy to have been proved correct over his own casting choices, especially as Benny's subsequent career has been such a pan-continental success story: 'You don’t get to see it on your watch often that someone goes from to being a big international movie star. It can be quite annoying too if you're scheduling a damn show.' Steven’s story of the casting of Matt Smith as The Doctor bears repeating too, especially as it proves quite how singular Smudger is as a physical presence: 'I said, "we are seeing too many young actors." Then Matt Smith comes in, and this is what happens when you get casting right. The moment Matt started saying that dialogue, with his strange manners and his extraordinary face, he was a hot young guy but he also looked kind of like your barmy uncle. I said I really like him. What age is he? They said twenty six!'

The first of Britain's Got Toilets live shows helped ITV secure a strong ratings performance on Bank Holiday Monday, collecting an audience of over 9 million. The opening semi-final, which was won by boy band Collabro (apparently), attracted an average audience of 9.12 million from 7.30pm. Figures dropped for the subsequent results show at 9.30pm, which pulled in 7.86 million. On BBC1, a showing of the movie Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides drew 3.07 million at 8pm. BBC2's fiftieth birthday celebrations continued with 1.49 million tuning in for the second Fast Show special at 9pm and 1.49 million watching the Goodness Gracious Me reunion at 10pm. Channel Four's reality series The Island With Bear Grylls pulled in 1.67 million at 9pm, while What The Dambusters Did Next attracted 1.01 million at the same time on Channel Five.

The British Soap Awards appealed to over five million overnight viewers on Sunday night. The annual ceremony attracted 5.15m sad, crushed victims of society at 8.15pm on ITV - down around two hundred and fifty thousand punters from last year's ceremony. The final Britain's Got Toilets before this series' week of live shows topped the evening's ratings with 7.76m at 7pm, while Perspectives pulled in 1.44m for ITV later. BBC1's new Gabriel Byrne series Quirke was watched by 4.18m at 9pm, while Sunday evening stalwarts Countryfile and Antiques Roadshow interested 4.80m and 4.82m respectively. BBC2's spoof comedy mockumentary Harry And Paul's Story Of The Twos was watched by 1.26m at 9pm, followed by an Absolutely Fabulous repeat an hour later with 1.29m. Tropic Of Cancer had earlier attracted four hundred and ninety thousand viewers at 7pm and a Best Of Top Gear repeat brought in nine hundred and ten thousand at 8pm. Fargo continued on Channel Four with nine hundred and fifty thousand at 9pm and Kick-Ass drew six hundred and fifty thousand at 10.05pm. For The Love Of Cars was watched by with seven hundred and twenty thousand at 8.30pm. Meanwhile, the Nicolas Cage double header Ghost Rider and Drive Angry had audiences of six hundred and sixty five thousand and six hundred and eighty nine thousand respectively on Channel Five.

As mentioned in a previous blog update, Real Madrid's victory over their city rivals Atlético in the Champions League final was watched by an average audience of 4.9 million on ITV, down on the audiences of previous finals which had benefited from involving an English (or, in one case, a Russian) team. The match was shown on ITV between 7pm and 11pm, over-running its scheduled finish time of 10.15pm as the game was won by Real after extra time. The live match coverage averaged 4.9 million viewers, which equated to a twenty four per cent share of the available audience. The match was also shown live on Sky Sports 1 from 6pm to 10.30pm, pulling in 1.18 million viewers. ITV could not match of the heights of the 2012 final between Moscow Chelski FC and Bayern München, which averaged 8.2 million viewers, or the 2011 final in which an average audience of 7.9 million watched Barcelona beat The Scum.
Here's the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty programmes, week-ending Sunday 18 May 2014:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sat ITV - 10.12m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.42m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.10m
4 Prey - Mon ITV - 6.84m
5 Happy Valley - Tues BBC1 - 6.79m
6 MasterChef - Fri BBC1 - 6.58m
7 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV 6.57m
8 Vera - Sun ITV - 5.86m*
9 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.78m
10 The FA Cup Final - Sat ITV - 5.69m
11 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 5.44m
12 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.32m
13 The British Academy Television Awards - Sun BBC1 - 5.18m
14 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.11m
15 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.69m
16 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.64m
17 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.42m
18 A Party European Election Broadcast On Behalf Of Some Waste-Of-Space Pondscum - Mon BBC1 - 4.38m
19 Watchdog - Wed BBC1 - 4.25m
20 DIY SOS: The Big Build - Mon BBC1 - 4.11m
ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top-rated programme of the week was The Big Allotment Challenge with 2.22m viewers followed by Great British Menu (2.15m) and Coast Australia (2.04m). Channel Four's highest-rated show was, as usual, Googlebox with 3.12m. The Mentalist was Channel Five's best performer with 1.57m. Once again, E4's The Big Bang Theory attracted more than anything which Channel Five pulled in all week (1.97m). Sky Atlantic's Game Of Thrones (1.66m) also surpassed the final and consolidated audiences for all programmes on the fifth terrestrial channel. Credit should also, once again, be given to MasterChef where two of the three episodes of finals week topped six million viewers (6.58m, and 6.23m) and the third attracted 5.93m.

And now to probably the saddest story that From The North has been required to cover in this blog's eight year history. In early 1980, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping was a spotty, fat and rather tragic sixteen year old schoolboy and in the process of taking his O-Levels. He even passed a few of them (well, six actually, if you're taking notes) one of which was English Literature, his second favourite subject after history. Among the books that yer actual Keith Telly Topping studied during that year were John Steinbeck's Of Mice & Men (which, to be honest, he found rather hard work but, ultimately, rewarding), George Orwell's Animal Farm (loved that), James Vance Marshall's Walkabout (which Keith Telly Topping thought was 'a bit boring' at the time but re-read a few years later and was riveted by), Nina Bawden's Carrie's War (bloody little twenty four carat masterpiece, that one), A Christmas Carol (which formed the basis for Keith Telly Topping's life-long opinion that Dickens is, actually, vastly over-rated) and, most significantly, To Kill A Mockingbird. The latter really struck a chord with this blogger; it was as relevant to Britain in the early 1980s (an era of race-riots, huge unemployment and social division and conflict) as it had been to America's Deep South in 1960 when it was written. It remains relevant to this day covering important themes as diverse as bigotry and racial intolerance, childhood fears of those different than oneself, integrity and of people who do the right thing even if it isn't the easy thing. Harper Lee's only novel is, in short, a book which everyone should read at least once in their life and if you chose to live that life in the manner of any of the novel's three central characters - Atticus Finch, Scout Finch or Boo Radley - then, to be honest, you are a credit to humanity and you should be jolly proud of yourself. This blogger mentions all of this because news was announced over the weekend that To Kill A Mockingbird (and Of Mice and Men) are among the American literary classics which are to be dropped by a GCSE exam board after the lack of education secretary the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove was said to have called for 'more British works' to be studied. Neither book is on OCR's draft GCSE English Literature syllabus in England. The rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove's overhaul has also seen Arthur Miller's 1953 play The Crucible - another angry blast against ignorance and intolerance - left out. The rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove later denounced 'culture warriors on Twitter' for fanning the flames of the - righteous - furore the announcement had caused. 'Do I think Of Mice And Men and To Kill A Mockingbird are bad books? Of course not. I read and loved them all as a child. And I want children in the future to be able to read them,' the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove claimed, unconvincingly. 'But sometimes a rogue meme can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on. Just because one chap at one exam board claimed I didn't like Of Mice And Men, the myth took hold that it – and every other pesky American author – had been banned. There are, in reality, four exam boards that can offer GCSE English literature and there are no rules requiring them to exclude or marginalise any writer. If they wish to include Steinbeck – whether it's Of Mice And Men or The Grapes If Wrath – no one would be more delighted than me, because I want children to read more widely and range more freely intellectually in every subject. As an English literature graduate - and indeed unabashed Americanophile - I am rather pleased on one level that so many rhetorical swords should have leapt [sic] from their scabbards to defend both literature and the unity of the Anglosphere. But, sadly, I can't take too much delight in these protestations of literary affection. Because they are - in more than just one sense - rooted in fiction.' The Department for Education said that its document about new content for the subject, published in December, 'doesn't ban any authors, books or genres.' Labour said that the changes were 'ideological and backward-looking.' The new GCSE course content will include at least one play by William Shakespeare, a selection of work by the Romantic poets, a Nineteenth Century novel, a selection of poetry since 1850 and a Twentieth Century novel or drama. OCR said that the decision to drop the works by American authors was because of the DfE's 'desire' for the exam to be 'more focused on tradition' and there were fewer opportunities to include them in the new syllabus. Announcing his reforms last year, the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove also said the new exam questions would be 'more rigorous' and designed to ensure that pupils had 'read the whole book.' It has been claimed that the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove, who studied English at Oxford University, has in the past highlighted his 'concern' that pupils were reading Of Mice and Men in particular. Paul Dodd, OCR's head of GCSE and A-Level reform, suggested that the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove 'had a particular dislike for Of Mice And Men and was 'disappointed' that more than ninety per cent of candidates were studying it. Of course, since the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove has denied this is the case then we appear to have something of a conundrum here. For it would appear that either Paul Dodd, OCR's head of GCSE and A-Level reform, is lying or, if he isn't, then the lack of education secretary, the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove, is. I'll leave the choice in which of these two individuals you believe and which you do not entirely up to you, dear blog reader. Steinbeck's six-chapter novella written in 1937 about displaced ranch workers during the Great Depression and To Kill A Mockingbird have become a mainstay of GCSE exams. Some academics have pointed out the reason schools opt to study the works is because they are 'accessible' to students across a range of abilities. Last year, the rat-faced tit Gove said that children should be reading fifty books a year from the age of eleven - something this blogger entirely agrees with - and told a conference of independent school heads that he would much prefer to see a child reading George Eliot's Middlemarch than one of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight vampire novels. Something this blogger does not agree with. Any book has literary merit, even bad ones. If you never read any bad ones how do you know how good a good one is? The furious reaction from Twitter about the dropping of To Kill A Mockingbird in particular comes from many who studied the novel themselves at school, describing reading it as 'a rite of passage.' Although again - and this blogger is genuinely sorry to have to agree with the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove twice in one day - let us all remember that. despite what most of the journalists at the Gruniad Morning Star seems to believe, Twitter is not The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things and anybody who thinks it is, frankly, needs a damned good kick, hard, in the Jacob's Cream Crackers to set them straight. So there you have it, dear blog reader, like a broken clock, even the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby (and tit) lookalike Gove can be right twice a day. OCR's draft syllabus is about to be presented to exams regulator Ofqual for accreditation. About three-quarters of the books on it are from the 'canon of English literature' and most are pre-Twentieth Century. Pupils will still be able to study modern work by British authors. Anita and Me, Meera Syal's excellent 1996 autobiographical novel of a British Punjabi girl in the Midlands and Dennis Kelly's 2007 play about bullying, DNA, are understood to be among the most recent works included in the draft syllabus. A Labour spokesperson said: 'True to form, Michael Gove is putting his own ideological interests ahead of the interests of our children. His vision is backward-looking and preventing the rich, broad and balanced curriculum we need in our schools if our children are to succeed in the future economy.' And Bethan Marshall, chair of the National Association for the Teaching of English and a senior lecturer in English at King's College London, said: 'Many teenagers will think that being made to read Dickens aged sixteen is just tedious. This will just grind children down.' Meanwhile, the lack of education secretary's wife, the Daily Scum Mail journalist Sarah Vine, has whinged that the couple's two children - Beatrice and William - are becoming 'traumatised' and are suffering 'emotional damage' from the 'hate' which is being hurled at their father. And, we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for them? 'There are a lot of people who really hate Michael, who send e-mails saying, "I hope you die"', she claimed. Which is probably true. And, again, we're supposed to feel sorry for him? I think that ship might've said long since Sarah, m'darlin'. One piece of good news to come out of all this; the controversy seems to have boosted sales for To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee's famous tale of racism in the American south rose to number nine on Amazon UK's bestseller list on Monday. 'Dear Mr Gove, please dis another one of our books,' staff at publishers William Heinemann tweeted. Sarky buggers!
Behind the painted smiles, the blame game seems to have already begun at ITV's latest post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare breakfast TV flop Good Morning Britain, which shows little sign of pegging back the ratings lead of Susanna Reid's former BBC colleagues at Breakfast. But, more constructive approaches are, reportedly, being tried out too: Someone has noticed, you might think somewhat belatedly, that the presenters' chat and body language are 'somewhat stiff' and sop, 'team bonding' will be taking place at a swanky members' club and hotel in West London. Although mind you, this is according to some tosser of little or no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star so, frankly, I'd take this information with a pinch of salt if I were you. 'It sounds as if orange juice and Scrabble will be about as exciting as it gets' the Gruniad claims, as 'the poor lambs are required to be up at 4am and so normally have to stick to children's bedtimes and drinking restrictions.'
A report on David Cameron flying out to meet other EU leaders doesn't normally get the pulse racing, so a bunch of nice ripe bananas should be winging their way to Sky News chief political correspondent, Jon Craig, for livening up an otherwise dull segment by dropping 'the F-bomb' from Westminster. During a pre-recorded report, Craig was interrupted by the chimes of Big Ben and turned to the building, exclaiming: 'Oh, fucking hell!' The following seconds of awkward silence from the Sky anchor seemed to go on and on for eternity before she apologised to viewers, claiming it was 'a much earlier recording.'
EastEnders actor Khali Best has, reportedly, been suspended from the soap for three months. The twenty six-year-old plays Dexter Hartman on the BBC1 drama. Details of exactly why the actor, who recently won the National Television Award for best newcomer, has been reprimanded are yet to be revealed. 'Khali Best has been suspended from EastEnders for three months. We will not comment any further on this matter,' said a spokesman.
A 'very ugly and cynical' cover-up operation swung into action when the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World's royal editor was arrested for phone-hacking offences, the Old Bailey has heard. Clive Goodman was being 'groomed' as the 'fall guy' for the wider hacking at the defunct tabloid back in 2006 and was even told that he could keep a job if he went to prison, his barrister, David Spens QC, has claimed. Quoting American president Lyndon B Johnson's description of FBI chief Edgar J Hoover, Spens said that it was as if the Scum of the World had decided it was 'better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.' In his closing speech Spens said that the editor at the time, the Primie Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Andy Coulson 'and others' adopted 'a carrot and stick' approach to ensure Goodman's silence on the wider criminality at the paper. 'We say that the cover-up is a very ugly story. Mr Goodman was vulnerable. Promises and inducements were made to him. He was gong to have his legal expenses paid, he was suspended on full pay, and he was being offered the prospect he might return to work and he was, we suggest, being groomed to be the fall guy,' said Spens. He said that it was 'a somewhat shocking and cynical strategy of carrot and stick at the News of the World to ensure Mr Goodman's silence as to the extent of phone-hacking.' Goodman was arrested in August 2006 on suspicion of phone-hacking and a few months later decided to plead guilty to the offences, meaning there would be no criminal trial. Spens told the jurors that once Goodman was extremely jailed for his crimes, at the end of January 2007, his previous supporters 'abandoned him.' He was 'sacked and discarded' after imprisonment and the Scum of the World ship 'steamed on without him', said Spens. The lawyer also questioned claims by Stuart Kuttner, the former managing editor of the paper and co-defendant in the current trial, that Kuttner 'put the supportive arm of the company' around Goodman in the months after his arrest. He claimed that Kuttner's visit to Goodman following Goodman's release from the police station that August was 'a charade' and was, actually, 'a fact-finding mission' designed to 'pump' Goodman for information about the police's case. Spens said that Coulson had 'a golden opportunity' to dismiss Goodman after he not only admitted that he had broken the Press Complaints Commission code of practice but 'admitted to the world that he had committed a criminal offence.' He added: 'Why didn't Coulson dismiss him? Answer: He couldn't take the risk of upsetting Mr Goodman.' The jury was shown an e-mail from a member of the editorial staff to Coulson about some questions which 'might be asked' that 'will be difficult' to 'brush off' in 'the long gap' between a potential statement about Goodman pleading guilty and his sentencing. 'So this is [the unnamed executive] about what Goodman could say between 28 November and sentencing. He had to be kept in line.; The jury was also reminded of an e-mail from Coulson to a News International executive - who, again, cannot be named for legal reasons - about a potential press statement to be issued after Goodman's guilty plea. In the first draft, Coulson told the executive that he intended to say he would 'put in place additional measures' to ensure Goodman's offences were 'not repeated.' Spens said that this suggested measures were 'already in place' warning staff that hacking was not tolerated. He said Coulson 'must have realised' this as he said in an e-mail sent a minute later that his proposed statement should, actually, say he had 'put in place measures.' Spens told the jury that News International increased its severance settlement with Goodman from fifty thousand smackers to one hundred and forty grand plus legal costs after he launched an appeal against his dismissal. There was a confidentiality clause and the 'truth' about the true extent of hacking may 'never have seen the light of day' were it not for the judge's decision to allow Goodman's charges to be heard along with Coulson's. 'Bad luck to Mr Coulson,' Spens said, because this meant Goodman could be asked about hacking. Coulson, Goodman and Kuttner deny all charges against them. The trial extremely continues.
Rolf Harris has denied abusing a friend of his daughter as he began giving evidence in his own defence at his trial for alleged indecent assaults. Rolf told Southwark Crown Court that he is 'a touchy-feely sort of person' but disputed the claims made by the woman that his touching extended to naughty stuff. He said that an allegation he 'performed a sex act' on her when she was a teenager was 'ludicrous' and said that he felt 'guilt' over an affair they had when an adult. The eighty four-year-old popular entertainer denies twelve indecent assaults between 1968 and 1986. Asked about a claim that he assaulted the girl after she left the shower while on holiday in 1978 when she was thirteen, Rolf said: 'Nope, didn't happen.' He also denied allegations that he abused the girl after she had been swimming in the sea and later in the holiday, while she was lying on a bunk bed. Asked about an allegation of indecent assault on the girl on a separate occasion while she was still a teenager, he said: 'No. Ludicrous really.' Rolf told the jury how, on a later occasion when the girl was an adult, during another visit to his family home, he had taken a cup of tea to her in the morning. He said that she 'kicked the duvet off the bed' revealing her bare legs. Rolf said that she became 'flirtatious' with him, saying: 'It was a very flattering feeling for this young lady to be showing an interest in me.' He told the jury that, on this occasion, he touched the outside of her leg, adding: 'I can remember my heart was thumping away like mad. I didn't know what to do, I left the room.' Asked if he would have touched her leg if he had not been invited to do so, Rolf claimed that he would not. 'I find it very hard to discuss this. It's very embarrassing,' he said. 'It's just a married man, a much younger girl, I shouldn't have been doing it.' On her next visit, however, he described how he had again taken a cup of tea to the bedroom she was staying in. 'I think it was just an excuse. It stayed un-touched on the bedside table. There were some whispered nothings between us, I think I kissed her and there was some foreplay.' He said that he then performed a sex act on her, but claimed that it was consensual. Asked how he felt when he started the relationship, Rolf said: 'Illicit and a guilty feeling.' He said that there were 'further sexual encounters' between the pair, but added: 'She seemed to be welcoming the whole business and enjoying it.' The alleged victim is the subject of seven of the twelve charges Rolf faces, including six alleged assaults when she was aged sixteen or under. At the start of his evidence, Rolf outlined his early life in Australia. He said that he had been a talented swimmer as a teenager and went to university but 'didn't really understand it' and was asked to leave. He said that he then started teaching but 'became unwell' after picking up an infection while swimming in a river and became 'totally paralysed.' It was while he was recovering from the illness in hospital that he decided to pursue a career in painting (taking inspiration from his aunt, the acclaimed caricaturist and cartoonist Pixie O'Harris) and moved to London to study art in March 1952, arriving when he was twenty two. The entertainer said that he got his first break in television in 1953, despite 'an appalling audition.' Rolf was given a five minute slot on a programme called Jigsaw, the jury was told, before he was signed by the BBC in 1954. He was asked about his musical background, telling the jury he had invented the wobbleboard in 1959 while coating a portrait painted on a piece of hardboard with turpentine. Harris also gave details of some of his musical recordings, singing a section of his song 'Jake the Peg' (with his extra leg) to the jury and demonstrating the sounds made by a didgeridoo. The jury heard how Rolf went on to become an MBE, CBE and OBE and was commissioned to paint a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen in 2005.

Ofcom has launched a major review of public service broadcasting, but will not seek to 'ask or answer questions' relating to the BBC that will be covered in the royal charter review, such as top-slicing the licence fee. Launching its third major review of the sector, Ofcom said it will look at 'new intermediaries which control platforms' – presumably firms such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple – 'including their control of potentially valuable direct relationships with audiences.' Ofcom said that 'new intermediaries' means any new platform, service or device that might 'sit between' a PSB and the audience. 'Examples might include smart-TVs, new on-demand streaming services, smartphones and games consoles,' said a spokeswoman. Channel Four will also come under particular scrutiny, with Ofcom to look 'in depth' at the competition provided from 'large, well-funded global media companies and a range of innovative online providers. Both offer compelling alternatives for the younger audiences that Channel Four seeks to appeal to,' said Ofcom. 'Will Channel Four be of sufficient scale to compete successfully and retain its younger audience?' Ofcom made it clear that it will not look to pre-empt the wide ranging review of the BBC that will be part of the royal charter renewal process, which is due to begin 'relatively shortly' and be put in place from 2017. 'We will not seek to ask or answer questions in relation to the BBC which are matters for the forthcoming charter review process,' said Ofcom. 'Our work on the BBC will focus on its role in the overall delivery of the public service broadcasting purposes and objectives, to establish both the contribution and impact of the BBC as part of the system of public service broadcasting.' For example, Ofcom said that it has 'no intention' of 'considering further additional work' into areas including 'top-slicing', a hot topic of debate in its last review. Ofcom said this matter was covered extensively in previous PSB reviews. An Ofcom spokeswoman said that the charter review is 'a matter for government.'

James May has suggested that he is buying a BMW i3 REx electric car. Truly, dear bog reader, we are living in The End Of Days. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's You & Yours on Bank Holiday Monday, the fifty one-year old Top Gear presenter not only admitted that he 'quite likes' electric cars but also said that he's going to buy one. 'We've known for a long time that the electric motor is the ideal way to propel an electric car,' he said. 'We're discovering that there's a different sort of pleasure in motoring in an electric car because of the smoothness, the silence.' Extolling the evolutionary jumps made in electric car technology since the heyday of the electric milk float twenty or thirty years ago, Mister Slowly said that electric cars are no-longer seen as the 'anti-car' and that modern electric car battery technology has made electric cars practical for the first time. James's interview - part of the same show chronicling a trip made a few weeks ago by the BBC reporter Samantha Fenwick - provided a balanced view of electric cars, from the different models available to some of the current issues surrounding unreliable charging infrastructure. Fenwick recently drove from Nissan's Sunderland factory in a Nissan LEAF to the company's technical centre in Bedfordshire. She experienced some major delays due to an Ecotricity Electric Highway DC quick charging station which failed to accept her RFID card. Fenwick, who was forced to wait several hours to be 'rescued' by another LEAF driver with a working RFID card, was eventually able to continue on the rest of her journey unimpeded, successfully using other Ecotricity Electric Highway DC quick charging points along the way. Talking about the challenges Fenwick faced, James admitted that the charging infrastructure is still the weakest point. 'In terms of technology, the electric car works perfectly well,' James said. 'The problem is still electricity, the difficulty in charging, the difficulty in storing it. You do still have to think ahead,' he concluded. 'I sort of want to be part of the "experiment." I don't know what the answer is — or if a car like the i3 is the long term future of the car,' James said. 'It's not that small. It's actually quite roomy inside. It's almost a small people carrier.' Having been part of the Top Gear team for many years — a show which has often criticised and made fun of those electric cars it has tested — James said it was, perhaps, time to go green. 'I talk about cars. I make a living out of doing that. I sort of feel obliged to,' he said of his BMW i3 purchase. Later in the show, James discussed range extended electric cars and said that he is buying the BMW i3 REx range-extended EV rather than the all-electric i3 EV. 'It's called a range extender,' he said of the i3 REx’s tiny petrol engine. 'It really ought to be branded "pure cowardice," because that's what it is and that's why I've got one,' he said. 'You don't have to use it and I will try not to use it. It's a bit like when I tell the doctor I'm not going to do any drinking or smoking but I will do a bit. I will try to use the electric car infrastructure as much as possible.' Of course, that isn't James's only car. 'It's a Ferrari,' he said on his other motor. Talking of a gradual transition from petrol to electric and a future where multiple different fuel options exist, James reiterated that the change from petrol to electric will be a little bit the change from horse-drawn carriage to cars in the first place. 'The real world is about money and a lot of people have to make ends meet,' he said. 'It sounds pompous I know, but electric cars are currently for the wealthy and electric cars will proliferate if they are made cheaper and more attractive. I really don't want anybody to think I'm buying an electric car so the Government is pleased with me. I couldn't care less,' he said. 'I'm buying an electric car because I'm thinking it's exciting and I'm in the fortunate position of being able to do it and take part in this rather interesting experiment.' As for improving electric cars for the future? Aside from the obvious points like price, range and charging capabilities, James says that car makers need to work harder to improve the on-board noise generators used to alert pedestrians to an electric car's presence. 'They kind of sound like vomiting robots,' he said. 'They could sound like bird chirps or snatches of Oasis riffs or something. They need to make a bit more effort.'

Thousands of people gathered in Gloucestershire on Bank Holiday Monday for the traditional cheese-rolling races on Cooper's Hill. The unofficial event was organised by 'rebel cheese rollers' (I'm not making this up, honest), after plans for an official event were shelved in 2010. An estimated five thousand people turned out to watch thrill-seekers chase a three and a half kilogramme wheel of Double Gloucester down the one-in-two gradient hill. In total, four eight pound and three smaller three pound cheeses are used - made by Diana Smart, aged eighty seven, who has been producing them for the event for more than twenty five years. Last year, in a bid to make the race safer, revellers had to chase a foam imitation of a Double Gloucester two hundred metres down the hill at Brockworth. But this year, the fake fromage was binned in favour of a real cheese. The winner of the first race, unemployed Josh Shepherd - from Brockworth - said that he was 'really proud' of himself. 'I've run quite a few times before but it is the first time I've won,' he said. 'My tactic was to stay on my feet and go as fast as I can and roll with the flow. But I don't know what I'm going to do with the cheese. I don't really like cheese unless it's melted, cheese on toast.' The second race was won by another local man, Ryan Fairley, from Brockworth, who said that his tactic was 'just to go. I didn't do the first race this year but it's absolutely brilliant to have won,' he added. 'I also won a cheese last year.' The women's race was won for the third year running by Lucy Townsend, aged seventeen, also from Brockworth. The tradition dates back to at least the early Nineteenth Century. In 2009, the official event was cancelled after more than fifteen thousand people turned up, sparking safety fears over numbers at the site. Every year since then unofficial races have been organised during the late spring bank holiday by local enthusiasts. This year, Gloucestershire County Council closed roads up to two and a half miles around the slope to keep disruption for residents to a minimum.

Mercedes team boss Niki Lauda says that he 'will talk' to whinging sour-faced child and bad loser Lewis Hamilton before the next F1 race in Canada to 'smooth over' the tense situation within the team. Whinging sour-faced child and bad loser Hamilton accused his team-mate, Nico Rosberg, of deliberately going off the Monaco track to stop him challenging for pole. 'Give him time,' Lauda said. 'I'll speak to him and I guarantee it will be fixed. If there are more issues I will call him and say "Lewis, come on." We're going to work it out in a nice way.' Hamilton finished second to Rosberg in Sunday's Grand Prix but, afterwards, was still clearly unhappy about the incident the previous day. He had a right lip on, so he did. During qualifying, Rosberg ran into the escape road at the Mirabeau corner and Hamilton, who was behind him on the track, had to slow down because there were caution flags. Hamilton said he believed that the lap he was on at that point would have been good enough to take pole from Rosberg. He did not directly accuse Rosberg of foul play in public - though he came about as close as it's possible to do without actually using those words - but Lauda admitted that he had done so in private. Rosberg was cleared of any wrongdoing by race stewards. Lauda said: 'They were arguing about whether Nico did it deliberately but the stewards cleared him, which is for me the most important thing, and Nico said: "No, I'm sorry, I braked too late", for which I have respect. And we had a race incident before in Barcelona [the previous race] where Lewis did something and then we said "Hey, this is not correct." And he said he was sorry. They're not children,' he added. Although Hamilton certainly appears to be. 'They're grown-up professionals who have their difficulties, but I will help them to overcome them in a nice way and they will understand.' Lauda said it was 'normal' for two team-mates who are competing for the championship to have a tense relationship, likening the situation to his own battle for the title in 1984 with Alain Prost when they were team-mates at McLaren and the Frenchman's later infamous fall-out with Ayrton Senna during the 1988-89 seasons. 'All I have to do is make sure it doesn't get out of hand,' Lauda said. 'I will tell you they will continue in a highly professional way, hard fighting each other. There is nothing more you can expect.' He added: 'The tension is building up, no question, but the team has to make sure the tension does not get out of hand and I know with my experience with other drivers in the past when it does get out of hand.'

The Rolling Stones returned to the stage on Monday for their first show since the death of Mick Jagger's girlfriend L'Wren Scott in March. Playing to a sold-out crowd of twenty three at Oslo's Telenor Arena, Mick did not mention Scott directly, but said he was 'happy' to be back on the stage. 'We first played Oslo in June 1965,' he said. 'We played nine songs - we've played more than that already!' 'Condensation literally ran down the walls,' said Swedish newspaper Goteborgs-Posten in its review. 'Despite all the years, the size of the arena and the giant video screens, The Rolling Stones are still that little blues-rock band from the clubs in London,' said writer Johan Lindqvist. Tabloid newspaper Dagbladet also praised the band's 'scrawny and seedy' performance, saying the Stones sounded like 'a garage rock band coming straight out of the rehearsal room. It's rock and roll and we like it.' 'The whole band sounded hungry,' agreed Hakan Steen in Aftonbladet. Mick Jagger was 'hungry and on tiptoe, with light-footed dance steps,' he added, concluding: 'This should not be expected of a man who is soon to turn seventy one.' In March, The Stones interrupted their tour and later rescheduled all their Australia and New Zealand tour dates following the news that Scott - Jagger's partner since 2001 - had committed suicide. Jagger said on his website just after her death that he was 'struggling to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way.' Some reviewers said that, although he did not mention the tragedy on stage in Oslo, it loaned a poignancy to songs like 'Worried About You' and 'Miss You'. The band spent a week in the Norwegian capital rehearsing for their comeback at Filmparken, a film studio complex in the suburbs. A dress rehearsal also took place at the Telenor arena on Saturday, attended by the E Street Band's Steve Van Zandt - who was in town filming the Netflix series Lilyhammer. 'They sounded absolutely stunning,' Little Stevie told Dagbladet. 'I'd rather not reveal too much, but let me just say one thing: I have never heard them better.' Although Van Zandt was pictured backstage with Keith Richards on Monday night, the guitarist did not take to the stage during the show. The set was broadly similar to the Stones' fiftieth anniversary shows last year, but included a couple of rarities, including 'Can't Be Seen' and 'You Got The Silver', both with Keith Richards on vocals. Fans were also given the opportunity to vote for a song before the show. Jagger told the audience the favourite suggestion had been A-Ha's 'Take On Me', but it was too high pitched for him to sing. Instead, the band launched into 'Let's Spend the Night Together', which they have not played live since 2007. The Fourteen On Fire tour continues in Portugal on Thursday, where the band headline the Rock In Rio festival. Concerts in Switzerland, Israel and the Netherlands follow, while the rescheduled Australian and New Zealand dates beginning in Adelaide on 25 October.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's a tasty slab of Revenge.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Week Twenty Three: Been A Long Time Coming

Yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self were pictured in bright orange space suits as they filmed the latest scenes for the forthcoming eighth series of Doctor Who earlier this week. Peter, who was recently described as having 'madness in his eyes' by Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss (but, one imagines, in a good way), was seen standing next to the TARDIS along with Coleman on Aberavon Beach in Port Talbot. That's in wales, just in case you didn't know. The pair were later spotted wearing sunglasses and laughing and joking in between takes. Ah, bless 'em.
Hermione Norris was also spotted in the sand dunes wearing a silver space suit. The BBC recently confirmed that the former [spooks] actress will feature in an episode of series eight of Doctor Who which is set in Lanzarote and written by Wallander's Peter Harness. Hermione said of appearing in the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama: 'It's exciting to be part of such an iconic show, and one that my kids can watch!'
Meanwhile, Frank Skinner has admitted that securing a role in Doctor Who has led him 'deep into bad dad territory.' Total post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare in the area, and that. The actor, comedian, writer, chat show host, presenter, celebrity West Brom fan and pop sensation (well, he's had more number one hit singles than most people reading this blog, I'll wager) will miss his son's second birthday while he is away filming for his episode. Speaking to Absolute Radio, Frankie admitted that he has 'thought about being in Doctor Who about every four and a half minutes' for years. However, his love for the BBC show has left him feeling 'a bit bad' on more than one occasion. He explained: 'I'm afraid I've gone deep into bad dad territory, because in order to be in Doctor Who, one of the filming days is Buzz's birthday. So I'm having to miss it. I feel a bit bad because I missed his first steps because I was at a screening of Remembrance Of The Daleks,' he added. Frankie will appear in an episode from Being Human writer Jamie Mathieson, though details of his character are yet to be announced.

Doctor Who series eight has released its first teaser trailer. The short clip which was broadcast on BBC1 on Friday evening before The ONE Show features what appears to be the silhouette of new Doctor, Peter Capaldi his very self, inside the TARDIS. It was followed, soon afterwards by a second, even better - albeit, unofficial - one, the so-called 'Rain' teaser featuring Peter and Jenna. Magical. The BBC has also confirmed that the eighth series will commence in August on BBC1, almost certainly kicking-off on Bank Holiday Saturday 23 August.
Friday night saw another terrific episode of Have I Got News For You on BBC1 featuring a second appearance by the great punk poet John Cooper Clarke. If you missed it, check it out on iPlayer dear blog reader.
Best comedy bit of the episode, however, was Paul Merton's failed attempts to get the audience to laugh at a series of Archers-based puns on Smiths song titles (following the story that Mozza his very self had been offered a part in the long-running BBC radio soap about country folk). 'These are bloody good jokes' Paul bemoaned after 'This Farming Man' (a joint effort with wor geet canny Ross Noble) and 'Heaven Known I'm Miss Arable Farming Now' had gone down like a brick in a swimming pool. 'Not much is known about the character, but he will come from the neighbouring village of Umbridge,' said guest-host Kirsty Young. That got a laugh.
It was also jolly nice to hear Our Kirst using the word 'twat' (famously, one of JCC's poem titles) in relation to the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove. One can never have too much of that, frankly.

Three further episodes of the new, "L", series of Qi were recorded last week. Episode seven in the current production block, Location and Labiomancy will features guest appearances by the Irish comedienne Aisling Bea along with semi-regulars Jason Manford and Johnny Vegas. The titles of neither of the following two episodes to be filmed - on Wednesday - are known at this time but the first will include Ronni Ancona, Jimmy Carr and David Mitchell and the second, Sue Perkins, Frank Skinner (presumably taking a couple of hours out from thinking about his forthcoming role on Doctor Who) and Josh Widdicombe. Details of the previous six episodes, filmed earlier in May, can be found here. Episode ten will be shot next week whilst a further six episodes are due into production during the first two weeks of June. Although no official date has yet been announced, the series is expected to begin broadcasting on BBC2 from around September.

Christopher Biggins, JLS singer JB (no, me neither), model Jodie Kidd and former soap actor Todd Carty are among the z-list former alleged 'celebrities' taking part in the next series of Celebrity MasterChef. Christ, they're really scraping the bottom of the barrel this time around. Made In Chelsea-type person Millie Macintosh, actress Leslie Ash and former Coronation Street actor Ken Morley have also signed up to be judged by hosts John Torode and Gregg Wallace. The full list of twenty z-listers also includes: Tina Hobley, Alex Ferns, Amanda Burton, Sophie Thompson, Emma Barton, Kiki Dee, Jason Connery, Alison Hammond, Tania Bryer, Russell Grant, Charley Boorman, Wayne Sleep and Susannah Constantine. None of whom, seemingly, have anything else on at the moment. That's a line-up which is almost worthy of 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). Almost, dear blog reader. But not quite. Six weeks of shows will see the celebrities whittled down through a series of challenges, which will include cooking for past MasterChef champions, the first ever 'Relay Invention Test', facing the dreaded restaurant sour-faced critics and feeding the 'Italian cooking-mafia' - Antonio Carluccio, Aldo Zilli, Theo Randall and Giorgio Locatelli. Not the actual mafia, you understand, because that would be dangerous. The winner will follow in the footsteps of previous champions Ade Edmondson, Emma Kennedy, Phil Vickery, Lisa Faulkner, Jayne Middlemiss, Liz McClarnon, Nadia Sawalha and Matt Dawson. 'Each year we approach Celebrity with a mixture of fear and hope - will any of them actually be able to cook?' said creative director of Shine: Soho, Karen Ross. 'It is often a terrifyingly rocky road to get from the early disasters to the real hard core-cooking talent. This year will not disappoint!' But, with that line-up, it almost certainly will.
The Champions League final in Lisbon pulled in 4.8m on Saturday night, according to overnight data. ITV's coverage of the showpiece match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, which saw Los Blancos seal a 4-1 victory after extra time, averaged 4.84m from 7pm. The audience peaked just after 10pm with 6.72m during the second half of extra time, which saw Gareth Bale score a crucial headed goal for Real. The game was also shown on Sky Sports 1, taking 1.18m from 6pm. On BBC1, Pointless Celebrities was watched by 4.5m from 7pm, with The National Lottery: In It To Win It following with 3.73m. The latest episode of Casualty was watched by 3.82m afterwards, and The Guess List appealed to but 2.41m. Chances of a second series of that rank charmless fiasco, slim-to-none this blogger guesses. BBC2's The Mysterious Mr Webster drew in four hundred and fifty two thousand between 7.30pm and 8.30pm, before coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show averaged 1.43m). Channel Four's alternative to the footie was of The Restoration Man (six hundred and seventeen thousand) and Grand Designs (nine hundred and twenty eight thousand) before the movie Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 was seen by 1.11m. Repeats of NCIS managed four hundred and ninety one thousand and six hundred and thirty four thousand for its 8.30pm and 9.30pm episodes respectively.

ITV's Tonight: The Rise of Discount Supermarkets was Friday's highest rated overnight show outside of soaps. Exploring the success of budget supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl, Tonight was seen by an average audience of 4.73m viewers at 8pm. ITV's evening continued with 2.63 million for a repeat of Lewis at 9pm, whilst the James Bond movie Die Another Day played to eight hundred and seventy seven thousand at 10.35pm. Have I Got News For You continued to be a ratings success for BBC1, attracting 4.01 million at 9pm. It was followed by 3.09 million for Room 101 at 9.30pm, while 3.21 million tuned in to watch Julie Andrews, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill on The Graham Norton Show at 10.40pm. BBC1's evening had kicked off with an average audience of 3.22 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by 2.6m for The Chelsea Flower Show and 2.63 million for The Food Inspectors at 8pm. BBC2's coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show continued with 2.46 million at 8pm. It was sandwiched between ratings of 1.49 million for Great British Menu at 7.30pm and eight hundred and thirty thousand for Amanda Vickery's excellent The Story Of Women And Art at 9pm. BBC2's evening concluded with 1.46 million for the first of two twentieth anniversary The Fast Show specials at 10pm. pretty good it was too. This blogger particularly enjoyed Channel Nine's football results - 'Shanty Town 0, Death Squad 1' et cetera. Gogglebox once again topped Channel Four's ratings with 2.91 million at 9pm, followed by 1.2m for Alan Carr: Chatty Man at 10pm. Elsewhere, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD played to a slightly increased audience of 1.03 million at 8pm. Channel Five's highest-rated show was NCIS with 1.06 million at 9pm. It was preceded by six hundred and seventy one thousand for Eddie Stobart's Excellent Adventures at 8pm and was followed by five hundred and thirty seven thousand for NCIS: Los Angeles at 10pm. One BBC3, the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End was the highest performing multichannel offering, racking up seven hundred and fifty four thousand viewers at 7.25pm.
From There To Here topped the overnight ratings outside of soaps upon its launch on Thursday. The Philip Glenister-led drama was seen by 4.5 million punter at 9pm on BBC1. Later, Question Time appealed to 3.1m at 10.35pm, followed by the first part of Vote 2014 with a million insomniacs at 11.35pm. On BBC2, The Chelsea Flower Show coverage continued with 2.4m at 8pm, followed by Horizon with nine hundred and twenty one thousand green-fingered punters at 9pm. ITV's broadcast of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 had an audience of 2.7m at 7.30pm. On Channel Four, Posh Pawn brought in 1.5m at 8pm, while Heston's Great British Food appealed to nine hundred and thirteen thousand at 9pm. Channel Five's Trauma Doctors attracted 1.3m at 9pm, followed by Person Of Interest with six hundred and ninety eight thousand at 10pm. On BBC3, Tyger Takes On ... interested two hundred and sixty three thousand at 9pm, while Jonah From Tonga garnered two hundred and twenty three thousand at 10pm. BBC4's Ray Mears special How The Wild West Was Won was watched by eight hundred and fifty nine thousand at 9pm. On E4, The Big Bang Theory pulled in 1.3m at 8pm.

24: Live Another Day dipped by around one hundred thousand for its latest episode on Wednesday, according to overnight data. Sky1's action drama attracted five hundred and fifty three thousand viewers at 9pm, falling from last week's audience of over six hundred and fifty thousand. On BBC1, Watchdog attracted 3.8m at 8pm, while the new documentary series Del Boys & Dealers topped the overnight ratings outside soaps with 3.9m at 9pm. Which, in and of itself - both in terms of the subject matter and the actual audience size, says something about something. BBC2's The Chelsea Flower Show coverage continued with 2.5m at 8pm, followed by Coast Australia with to million viewers at 9pm. Episodes dipped from last week's launch to eight hundred and forty thousand at 10pm. On ITV, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1 brought in 2.4m at 7.30pm. Channel Four's Supervet was seen by 1.4m at 8pm, followed by Twenty Four Hours in A&E with 2.1m at 9pm and Derek with eight hundred and ninety two thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, King's Cross: Inferno On The Tube interested six hundred and sixteen thousand at 8pm. The latest NCIS excited nine hundred and seventy nine thousand at 9pm. BBC3's Orphan Black continued with one hundred and forty seven thousand viewers at 10pm. On ITV2, odious, stinking, pox-ridden horrorshow (and drag) Fearne Cotton and ... McBusted was watched by a risibly tiny audience of three hundred and seventy three thousand at 9pm. Which was funny.

Happy Valley rose again in the ratings to top Tuesday's overnights outside of soaps. The BBC1 crime drama was up to 5.8 million at 9pm. Earlier, A Question Of Sport limped along with 3.2m at 7.30pm. On BBC2, Great British Menu brought in 1.6m at 7.30pm, followed by coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show with 2.7m at 8pm. The latest episode of Watermen appealed to 1.7m at 9pm. ITV's repeat of Endeavour was seen by two million punters at 8pm. On Channel Four, Embarrassing Bodies attracted eight hundred and ninety eight thousand at 8pm. Mr Drew's School For Boys gathered 1.3m at 9pm, followed by Sixteen Kids and Counting with seven hundred and fifty five thousand at 10pm. Ben Fogle's Animal Clinic brought in five hundred and ninety nine thousand at 8pm, followed by Behind Closed Doors with eight hundred and seventy four thousand at 9pm. The Mentalist had an audience of nine hundred and twenty seven thousand at 10pm.

Meanwhile, speaking of The Chelsea Flower Show, guess who decided to take his mum along to the opening day?
What a dutiful son, eh?

Millions of Happy Valley viewers were left on tenterhooks following last week's episode of the BBC1 drama, when police sergeant Catherine Cawood was badly injured at the climax. After a savage beating by a psychopathic kidnapper, she collapsed in the street, her bloodied face filling the screen just before the end credits rolled. These scenes, and similarly strong scenes from earlier in the series, have prompted criticism of the programme's creator-writer, Sally Wainwright, from the odious, scummish right-wing Mediawatch-UK, a gobshite, self-important pressure group - elected by, and speaking on behalf of, precisely no one - which 'campaigns for more regulation.' Or, in other words, attempts to decide for viewers, what they can and can't watch in their own homes. Some newspapers - the usual suspects, basically - have also remarked on what they see as 'gratuitous' violence against women. Did the BBC's brutal Happy Valley go too far?" some pond-scum louse of utterly no importance at, of course, the Daily Scum Mail asked rhetorically. To which the fairly obvious answer is 'if you think so, pal, then almost certainly not.' In a robust response, Wainwright her very self told the Observer that she was 'saddened' that the Scum Mail had picked up on the attack on Cawood – played by BAFTA-winner Sarah Lancashire – and a previous incident when a young woman police officer was crushed to death and had 'tried to make a thing of it, when shows like Game Of Thrones have so much gratuitous violence against lots of people.' Wainwright said: 'This is a quality, well-written drama. I think it is childish [of the Daily Scum Mail]. I think it has backfired on them. Judging by the amount of e-mail, texts, tweets I've had, I don't think anyone is asking me to apologise. I'm sorry if some people found it too much. You can always turn the telly off. I directed and edited last week's episode, the first time I have done so,' she said, adding that all the close-up shots and treatment were carefully considered. 'It showed what a heroic and responsible human being Catherine is. How she is prepared to put her life on the line in order to save someone else [a kidnapped, raped and drugged woman, Ann].' Cawood finds Ann, the daughter of a local millionaire businessman, imprisoned in a cellar. One of the kidnappers, a psychopathic murderer called Tommy Lee Royce, attacks Cawood, but Ann struggles free in time to knock him out. Wainwright said: 'What was particularly uplifting was that Ann, though suffering a terrible ordeal, had the presence of mind to rescue the woman who went to save her. Out of darkness something uplifting and beautiful happened. The Daily Mail have shot themselves in the foot.' And the bloodied close-up of Cawood's face which closed the episode? 'If you get your head smacked against the wall, you bleed. It's life,' said Wainwright. 'Drama is about the dark side. How bad things happen to good people. All the women in this are seen to suffer in some way.' Cawood is already haunted by the death of her raped daughter Becky, which is the theme of the final episodes. Wainwright explained that the brutal death of the young policewoman was 'all part of the dynamics' of the drama, to deliberately change the tempo. 'It showed how much of a psychopath [Tommy] is. It upped the ante hugely – just what is this man is capable of? I think violence is shocking. If violence on screen was so regular and people barely noticed it, that would be gratuitous. I hate gratuitous violence. I used to be a feminist. Then I became a post-feminist. But I do worry about the levels of violence in video games, and how casually they treat women. It is run of the mill. I don't think we can be complacent.'

ITV has announced new castings for Broadchurch's second series. Marianne Jean-Baptiste, James D'Arcy, Eve Myles and Phoebe Waller-Bridge have joined the cast of the popular crime drama. Torchwood and Frankie star Eve will play 'a central role' in the new series, along with Bad Education's Waller-Bridge. Details of the characters are currently being 'kept under wraps'. Creator and writer Chris Chibnall said: 'As if we didn't have enough fabulous actresses, it's a thrill to be joined by Wales's finest, Eve Myles. Having worked together on Torchwood, it's a joy to be able to welcome her to Broadchurch. And anyone who's seen Phoebe Waller-Bridge perform knows she's already on the way to being a superstar. We're lucky to have them both on board.' Oscar and BAFTA-nominated Marianne Jean-Baptiste will also play 'a leading role' in the series. 'We're over the moon to have wooed Marianne back from Los Angeles to join us in Broadchurch,' said The Chibs. 'Marianne is one of Britain's finest actresses, so it's an honour and a coup for us. It's a role written specifically for her and I would've wept for months if she'd turned us down. Luckily she didn't and her character is going to make an indelible impact on the world of Broadchurch.' Producer Jane Featherstone said of D'Arcy: 'James's extraordinary recent work in movies such as Cloud Atlas and opposite Anthony Hopkins in Hitchcock makes him another thrilling and important addition to the Broadchurch cast.' yer actual David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Arthur Darvill and Charlotte Rampling will also return for the second series. Chibnall has also confirmed that filming will return to Dorset and North Somerset. 'We're finally able to talk a little about preparations for the next series of Broadchurch and confirm we're coming back to film around West Bay and Clevedon,' he said. 'We're all thrilled about returning, especially given how supportive the whole community was last time. And if the community are able to keep our secrets as well as they did last time, we'll be ever so grateful.' The main cast assembled for a read-through in London on Thursday. As this photo proves.
Tennant's looking a bit less rough than he did last time around. Not sure about Arty's new facial fungus, however!

And, on that bombshell, dear blog reader, here's the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips, and that:-

Saturday 31 May
Goody, goody yum yum. As part of BBC2's fiftieth anniversary celebrations tonight we're getting a very rare outing on terrestrial TV for an episode of The Goodies - 8:35. Which was - Doctor Who aside - yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite TV show when he was ten. And Bill Oddie was still funny. I know, I know, it was a long, long time ago, dear blog reader. Probably before most of you lot were even born. Sadly, many of the episodes have aged horribly - dated by topical references, et cetera - but it remains something that, when it got its unusual mix of childish humour and sharp satire right, could produce telly brilliance. Kitten Kong is the episode chosen for the occasion (it's the 1972 Golden Rose of Montreux remake rather than the original version which is the only one of the series episodes which is currently missing from the BBC's archives). Personally, this blogger would've gone for the less well known Superstar instead but, the fact that the 1973 episode features John Peel doing an impression of dirty old scallywag and filthy rotten rotter Jimmy Savile on the Top Of The Pops set might make that one unlikely to ever be seen in public again. So, we're stuck with Kitten Kong. At least you get to see Michael Aspel being crushed to death by a giant cat's paw. That's always worthwhile. The trio's animal clinic looks after various problem animals, but when Twinkle the kitten is given Graeme's growth serum it grows to a massive size and terrorises London, leaving The Goodies as the only ones who can save the capital from destruction. Which they do by dressing up as mice and taking to their air in a hot-air balloon-fuelled tricycle. No, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith telly Topping is not bombed out of his skull on very hard drugs. And neither, as far as this blogger knows, were yer actual Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden his very self and Oddie when they made the episode back in 1972.
Once murdered by a passing knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail, Sir Kenneth Clark was one of the most influential and important figures in the history of Twentieth Century British art, holding posts including director of the National Gallery. He was also a founding member of the Arts Council. He is probably best remembered, however, as the father of the Tory MP, diarist and scoundrel Alan Clark and, as the presenter of landmark 1969 BBC series Civilisation, which told the history of the Western world through its art. To coincide with Tate Britain's current exhibition about him, a Culture Show special, Sir Kenneth Clark: Portrait Of A Civilised Man - 7:00 BBC2 - profiles a contradictory and elusive character who transformed the UK's cultural landscape.

Mystery surrounds the murder of the wife of a successful and inspirational author whose body is found on the beach close to her home in the latest episode of Wallander - 9:00 BBC4. The couple were going through an acrimonious divorce and their daughter has not spoken to her father for many months. The finger of suspicion in the ghastly and awful crime points squarely at a mysterious builder who had been working in the couple's house, but Kurt Wallander and the Ystad police department can find no evidence of him having been in there at all. Swedish version of the epically dark Henning Mankell detective stories, starring the excellent Krister Henriksson and Johanna Sallstrom.

Drama's repeat run of Waking The Dead - 9:00 - reaches the blood-soaked conclusion to the sixth series with the classic two-parter Yahrzeit. Peter Boyd receives a Nazi ceremonial dagger in an anonymous package in the post. The weapon prompts him to reopen the unsolved murder file of a young girl whose body was found on a London street in May 1945 - a case last examined, unbeknown to her colleagues, by their former colleague Mel Silver shortly before her untimely death. Boyd discovers that the last person to look in the file was Mel, just two weeks before her death, and that a pendant sent to Mel around the same time once, seemingly, belonged to the young girl in question. Discovering that the dagger is, in fact, the murder weapon, investigations reveal that it was found by two Polish builders working for the Dusniak family - Jewish immigrants who made a fortune, post-war, in property development. They then took the dagger to a military artefacts dealer who was, himself, subsequently murdered. Discovering that the Dusniak family may not be whom they claim to be, the family's solicitor admits that the head of the family, the fearsome Abigail, forced him to witness her father signing over powers of attorney to her, shortly before his death at the hands of a cyanide pill. And when Abigail's grandson, Ben, disappears from the local Synagogue, the case unravels with loads of nefarious skulduggery afoot. Properly absorbing feature-length crime drama, starring the great Trevor Eve, Sue Johnston, Tara FitzGerald, Wil Johnson and Felicite Du Jeu. With a deliciously so-far-over-the-top-she's-down-the-other-side guest turn from Eileen Atkins as the episode's main baddie. Watch out, too, for an appearance by Star Trek: The Next Generation's Michelle Forbes as a kick-ass Mossad agent who finds Boyd curiously fascinating.

Sunday 1 June
In the second episode of the crime drama Quirke - 9:00 BBC1 - the family has been rocked by the revelation that Quirke is the natural father of Phoebe, prompting her to move out and take up with a dangerous man called Leslie White. The name soon becomes familiar to the pathologist, who is currently investigating two apparent suicides - one a rich society woman, the other the wife of a former student - and when he is led into Dublin's seedy underworld of drugs and erotica, he has reason to fear for his daughter's safety. Period drama set in the 1950s, starring Gabriel Byrne, Michael Gambon, Geraldine Somerville, Branwell Donaghey, Nick Dunning, Aisling Franciosi, Brian Gleeson and Lee Ingleby.

In The Town That Loves Books: BBC Arts at Hay - 8:00 BBC4 - Martha Kearney presents from Hay-on-Wye, a town straddling the border between England and Wales where thousands of punters gather each year for a festival which celebrates literature and ideas. The presenter looks at how the way people read is changing in the era of electronic publishing and globalised media. She also reports on the stories, themes and issues that have preoccupied the contributors and crowds at the festival in a year that saw increasing concerns about mass surveillance, a series of books called the Norwegian equivalent of Mein Kampf become bestsellers, and prompted sombre reflection on the First World War as its centenary approaches. With Stephen Smith.

A barmaid's murder leads Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately) and James Hathaway (Laurence Fox) to a respected professor, who admits that he once had an affair with the woman in the repeated Lewis episode Allegory Of Love - 9:00 ITV3. However, they then discover the killing - murder by mirror - was copied straight from the pages of a popular fantasy novel written by an Oxford tutor, suggesting that it may be the work of a crazed fan - or something even more sinister. Something even more sinister than the horrifying thought of fandom with weaponry? What could that possibly entail? Guest starring Art Malik, Tom Mison and, keeping it in the family, James Fox his very self appearing opposite his son for, I think, the first time ever. Mind you, he's not as good in this as he was in Performance, it should be noted. Clare Holman and Rebecca Front get a few pithy one-liners to Kev and Lozza as usual.

It really does say something very significant about Sherlock that a repeat of the classic second-series opener, A Scandal in Belgravia - 9:00 Alibi - is one of the biggest things on TV tonight. Or, indeed, any other night. And, not by a little bit, either. But then, normal rules simply don't apply to these pulsating capers from The Lord Thy God Steven and Mark Gatiss which flatter our intelligence and assault our visual cortex with pleasurable imagery. In this particular case, Lara Pulvar pure dead nekked so she was, which gave the Daily Scum Mail The Horn - and not in a remotely good way, either. No spoon-feeding allowed. It's all laser-tipped dialogue, gymnastic plotting, super-stylish direction and performances that crackle and hum. A Scandal in Belgravia starts with a glorious gag to unhitch the Moriarty cliffhanger from the first series (Andrew Scott is at his piss-taking best, as usual), then whisks into a plot about Irene Adler, a society dominatrix who finds emotional bondage with our hero. Sherlock and John visit the Palace and then investigate a case of blackmail threatening to topple the monarchy, uncovering links with international terrorism, apparently rogue CIA agents and a conspiracy at the very heart of government. However, the Baker Street boffin in 'The Hat' finds himself involved on a more personal level when he becomes locked in a battle of wits with Irene, a woman (or, actually The Woman) who is as cold, ruthless and brilliant as he is. It's war, dear blog reader. A battle to the death. Well, at least, that's what everybody is supposed to think. Yer actual Benny Cumberbatch and Marty Freeman his very self star in the award-winning drama, with Mark Gatiss as his sly and insidious best as Mycroft.

Monday 2 June
If you enjoy nothing better than an hour of looking at pussies, dear blog reader (steady) then Secret Life Of Cats - 9:00 ITV - would appear to be the very programme for you. This is, just in case you were wondering, a rather good-looking an insight into the world of the much-loved family pet, using new filming techniques to uncover the qualities possessed by every cat, from pedigree breeds to the ordinary household moggie. The documentary, narrated by ITV's tame animal documentary go-to Martin Clunes, reveals how these animals employ acute senses and excellent balance to explore their surroundings and tells some remarkable individual stories, from the surprising relationship between a blind Labrador and his feline friend, to the cat that survived falling from a nineteenth-floor flat. Secret Life Of Babies is tomorrow at 9pm.

In the final edition of The Island With Bear Grylls - 9:00 Channel Four - the survivors' minds and bodies are beginning to show the strain of the experiment, and even when a stingray arrives in the fishing nets, arguments soon follow. To put an end to the crisis, the group calls an election for a leader. Manifestos are preached and votes cast, but not everyone appears ready to support the new man in charge. As their time on the island draws to a close and the participants look forward to returning to civilisation, there are moments of redemption for some.

With the football World Cup just about upon us, dear blog reader, World Cup Brush Up With Danny Baker - 9:00 BBC4 - is a new four-part series which will run up to the start of the tournament. In this, the much-beloved presenter, Millwall fan and national treasure 'goes for a ramble around the periphery of the tournament', uncovering unusual tales involving fans, players and mascots - including endless hours of TV build-up, strange Kevin Keegan dolls and the sad death of Pickles the dog.

Jack Dee guest stars in tonight's repeated episode of Jonathan Creek - 9:00 Drama - as a successful composer who wonders how his new lover has managed to miraculously regrow a full head of hair in just two days. Carla resolves to work it out for herself, while Jonathan finds himself at the centre of some unwanted attention. Popular light-hearted crime drama, starring Alan Davies and Julia Sawalha.

Tuesday 3 June
Local councils across the nation have seen their budgets cut in difficult economic times and they have had to up their game to deal with persistent long-term whingers, as we discover in The Complainers - 9:00 Channel Four. In West Yorkshire, the programme makers meets a man (who is obviously not mental nor nothing), who confronts officials with a camera strapped to his body and whose unresolved dispute with Kirklees Council has been ongoing since 1988. In Croydon, a resident voices (loudly) his 'concerns' about waste material several times a day, while in Cardiff, a man patrols his neighbourhood daily on the lookout for vandalism and disrepair. No one has asked him to, he just does it because he can.
The Devil & DB Russell is the opening episode of the latest, fourteenth, series of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, beginning its terrestrial run tonight on Channel Five - 9:00 - just a few days after the series ended in the US. Ah, Channel Five. Still living in the days when you buy a series and show it not mere hours of days after it debuted in America, but almost a year. Well done, Channel Five. Jolly well done. The crime drama picks up the action from where the last season ended, with DB (the excellent Ted Danson) and the team searching for the serial killer who abducted Morgan and Jim Brass's prostitute daughter, Ellie and gets his sadistic inspiration from Dante's The Divine Comedy. The first clue to their whereabouts comes when journalist John Merchiston brings the detectives a flash drive he found outside his hotel room that contains a video of Morgan (Elisabeth Harnois) telling them they have six hours to choose whether she or Ellie will survive. With Elisabeth Shue, George Eads, Jorja Fox, Eric Szmanda, Robert David Hall, Wallace Langham, David Berman, Jon Wellner, Marc Vann and Paul Guilfoyle. The guest cast includes Eric Roberts, The West Wing's Tim Matheson and Battlestar Galactica's James Callis. Terrific episode although I expect, if you're any sought of fan of the series you'll have already seen in months ago ... by some means or other.

As The Chesapeake Ripper adds a core member of Jack Graham's FBI team to his tally, Will is temporarily released from his incarceration in the Baltimore Hospital For The Terminally Bewildered to assess the monstrous crime scene first-hand in Hannibal - 10:00 Sky Living. He gathers evidence to support his theory that the Ripper and the Copycat Killer are, in fact, one and the same person, and the return of Abel Gideon (a grand guest turn by Eddie Izzard) gives Will hope that Gideon will back up his own claims about Hannibal Lecter. However, the doctor has other ideas and plants a grisly notion in the troubled profiler's mind about how to stop Hannibal once and for all. With Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas, Hettienne Park, Scott Thompson, Aaron Abrams and Gillian Anderson. Incidentally, dear blog reader, this very week the final episode of the series has been shown in the US and yer actual Keith Telly Topping was sent a preview copy. This blogger doesn't wish to give anything away but I certainly didn't see anything that happens in the last ten minute coming. Especially not the final scene. And, on that bombshell ...

Uri continues to be troubled by the mystery of the picture that hangs in both the villa at Jabaliya and at the house in Al Ajar village, and Haim orders him and Iris to investigate its significance in the latest episode of the acclaimed Prisoners Of War - 10:00 Sky Arts1. Yussuf's situation becomes graver when his wife Leila starts to dig into the details of his past, while Nimrode struggles to adapt to his new life. Award-winning Israeli drama, in Hebrew with English subtitles.
Wednesday 4 June
In the latest episode of Coast Australia - 9:00 BBC2 - the team heads to the island of Tasmania, where Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) investigates the penal history of Port Arthur during the colonial era and visits the southern hemisphere's largest wooden boat festival. Brendan Moar examines life in the grip of a lighthouse on a remote island, while Emma Johnston finds out how science and industry are saving the marine neighbourhood. Tim Flannery investigates state capital Hobart's long and illustrious role in Antarctic exploration and Xanthe Mallett delves into the history of whaling.

The Watch channel begins a repeat run of Derren Brown's award-winning series Tricks of The Mind - 100:00 (with the second episode following immediately afterwards). To start off with, the illusionist and master of mesmerism and prestidigitation - a particular favourite of this blogger - travels to Portmeirion in North Wales, the village made famous by the 1960s TV show The Prisoner, where he holds a staring contest with a group of locals and attempts to fool a trio of opticians by using a Victorian trick of 'seeing' with his fingertips. The actor Simon Pegg is left reeling after being subjected to Dazzling Dezza's peculiar blend of suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship. Subsequently, he also entices a group of women with the prospect of winning an expensive diamond ring, while Jonathan Ross and his wife Jane are deceived by a card con trick which defies all logical reason.

Former stripper turned criminal, Badger, and her accomplice, Fox, are holed up in a hotel with the man that they have just kidnapped, but a phone call from their cold, calculating boss Mrs Dalloway reveals they have abducted the twin of their intended target in Foxtrot, the latest Playhouse Presents - 10:30 Sky Arts1. Their victim has learning difficulties and struggles to communicate with them, but while Badger wants to ditch him and run, Fox's conscience gets the better of her. Surreal, often disturbing drama by Polly Stenham, starring Billie Piper, Alice Sanders, Ben Whishaw and Lindsay Duncan. Writer Stenham's tale of lowlifes, dodgy budget hotels and kidnapping follows the logic of a nightmare, a disconcerting mix of the surreal and mundane. Billie plays a stripper out to revenge herself on a hoodlum who played rough with her friends. Tart lines of dialogue offer a wry take on gender identity. Piper's character wears a burka on stage because 'punters like it topical, sometimes.' It's a dizzying mix that nevertheless manages to be hopeful. Every nightmare ends with the morning.

Former operatives for MI5 and the FBI and ex-military personnel talk about security consultant Kevin Halligen, who touted himself as a spy and set up an investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2008 in The McCanns & The Conman - 9:00 Channel Five. It transpired that Halligen was not, in fact, a secret agent at all or anything even remotely like it, but significant information and leads uncovered during his Operation Omega have gone on to form a part of the current Scotland Yard inquiry to find out what happened to the missing girl.

Thursday 5 June
Mike Read presents an edition of Top Of The Pops from 14 June 1979, featuring performances by Match (no, me neither), McFadden & Whitehead, yer actual Edwin Starr his very self, Tubeway Army, Janet Key, Chas & Dave and Anita Ward. Plus, dance sequences by Legs & Co.
The annual extravaganza The Channel Four Comedy Gala, in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, returns for a fifth year to the O2 in London - 9:00. It promises 'an evening of top entertainment and laughter.' Good cause and all that, however it features odious waste-of-space James Corden. And wretched plank Paddy McGuinness. So, use your remote controls very wisely, dear blog reader.

Daniel's worst nightmare comes true as he awakes in hospital to find the lies about his double life finally out in the open in the final episode of From There To Here - 9:00 BBC1. However, while his former secret may now be public knowledge, it seems the rest of his family still have things to hide - Charlie is out of his depth trying to run the business, Louise's government seat could be under threat if the truth about her private life is exposed and Robbo is at risk of losing his club - or worse. As if they weren't bad enough, Samuel is harbouring a fifty-year-old secret that might blow his son's life apart again.

Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games report live on all the latest wildlife stories at the end of their second week at the RSPB's Minsmere nature reserve in Suffolk in tonight's Springwatch - 8:00 BBC2. Chris catches up with the fox family in Brighton, and Iolo Williams presents from his base on the West coast of Scotland.
Friday 6 June
In Normandy '44: The Battle Beyond D-Day - 9:30 BBC2 - the historian James Holland reassesses the brutal seventy seven-day campaign for control of Normandy which followed the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944 exactly seventy years ago today, challenging some of the many myths which have grown up around this vital offensive. He examines the nature of the fighting and the higher aims of both Allied and Axis forces, and also looks at the battle on an operational level to reveal the true complexity of this bitter and bloody struggle for supremacy.

In You've Got a Friend: The Carole King Story - 9:00 BBC4 - the award-winning US singer-songwriter tells the story of her career, looking back on her upbringing in Brooklyn, and the subsequent success she enjoyed as part of husband-and-wife songwriting team with Gerry Goffin in the 1960s, including the creation of global hits, 'Take Good Care of My Baby', 'It Might as well Rain Until September', 'The Locomotion' and 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow?' Not to mention her - hugely under-rated - work with The Monkees including 'As We Go Along', by a distance the best song she ever wrote according to yer actual Keith Telly Topping (and, when you take into account 'It's Too Late', 'You've Got A Friend', et al, that's a bold claim). By 1970 she was divorced and had moved to Los Angeles, where she created her classic solo LP Tapestry. Today, Carole talks about life in her seventies as an environmental activist, lobbying Congress in defence of the wildlife and eco-systems in her beloved Idaho.

Tony Hill's twitchy suspicions are aroused by his latest PhD student, a notorious double murderer once known as 'Mack The Knife', who has just been released from The Big House, claiming to be a reformed man in a classic episode of Wire In The Blood - 10:00 ITV3. Three killings take place soon afterwards, all bearing the hallmarks of Mack's saucy crimes of thirty years earlier. However, the chap appears to have a cast-iron alibi for the latest shocking horrors - he is disabled with severe arthritis. Watch out for a terrific, chilling guest turn by Sharpe's Daragh O'Malley and an early appearance by Life On Mars's Dean Andrews. With Wor Geet Canny Robson Green, Hermione Norris, Emma Handy and Mark Letheren.
To the news now: With less than a month remaining in his role as Newsnight's resident rottweiler-in-chief, Jezza Paxman has added another high-profile scalp to his legacy of public-figure grillings. Demonstrating that his decision to leave the programme after twenty five years has not doused any of the fire in his notoriously combative interview technique - indeed, if anything, it's given him more coal to put on it - he rendered the former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, temporarily speechless after asking him: 'Do you have a particular problem with Angela Merkel? Is it true you called her "an unfuckable lard-arse?"' The question, which followed a series of innocuous warm-up questions posed to the scandal-ridden former Italian leader about the EU and the Euro, appeared to leave Berlusconi momentarily stunned and lost for words as an interpreter relayed it to him through an earpiece. I mean, when was the last time Silvio Berlusconi genuinely couldn't think of what to say to a question asked of him. Normally, you can hardly get a word in edgewise. When he recovered his composure, the convicted fraudster said that he had never insulted anyone in twenty years of politics - that gave Have I Got News For You the opportunity to dig back into the archives and prove this is, in fact, somewhat less than accurate - and that the alleged insult was 'made up by someone who wanted to turn Angela Merkel against me.' Warming to the theme, an amused-looking Paxo also asked Berlusconi if the incident when he jumped out from behind a monument and said 'cuckoo' to the German chancellor 'was just a joke.' The former Italian leader, who was forced to resign in November 2011 after losing his parliamentary majority, insisted that far from being an insult, it was testament to his 'close relationship' with Merkel. 'She enjoyed it,' he replied. 'I explained why I did the cuckoo thing. A few days earlier I had been to St Petersburg to visit Putin. Putin hid behind a pillar and did cuckoo to me from behind. Merkel and I were on really good terms so when she came to Trieste, I thought of what Putin had done and I basically hid behind a monument and did the same thing. It was funny.' The seventy seven-year-old billionaire's time in office was blighted by a succession of scandals, leading Paxo to say that it was 'unfortunate that as far as much of the rest of the world is concerned, the reputation you have is all about your private life. It's about corruption and unpaid taxes and bunga bunga parties.' Berlusconi responded that forty six out of forty seven cases against him were dismissed - conveniently glossing over the forty seventh, his conviction for fraud in 2013 - and that 'lies' were responsible for his reputation abroad. 'Italians know very well that none of these facts are true,' he claimed, adding that the bunga bunga accusations – that he had sex with teenage prostitutes – were 'ridiculous.' Berlusconi used the interview to denounce Beppe Grillo, the head of Italy's anti-establishment Five Star party, comparing him to Stalin and Pol Pot, and concluding: 'I want to go down in history as a father of the country and as my legacy, a conservative centre-right government to protect Italy from a dictator like Grillo.' Meanwhile, Paxo has secured his own legacy of making the likes of Berlusconi squirm under the public gaze. The interview is likely to be filed alongside other memorable moments such as when he asked Michael Howard the same question a dozen times before he got the answer he was looking for and questioned Tony Blair as to whether he and the US president, George W Bush, prayed together.

Yer actual Paxo's probing interview with convicted fraudster Berlusconi may have garnered plenty of headlines, but Newsnight reportedly had a narrow escape after a bungle in the e-mailed transcript of the exchanges was sent, under embargo, to journalists. At least, this is according to a typically stir-stirring and trouble-making piece in, of course, the Gruniad Morning Star. Really fucking pleased with themselves, so they were. You could tell. In the broadcast interview, Berlusconi claimed that the comic and activist Beppe Grillo 'has many things in common with Robespierre, Stalin and Pol Pot, so he is not someone to be taken lightly.' However, in the transcript sent out to press it said he 'has many things in common with Robespierre, Stalin and Hitler.' Cue an 'urgent correction' e-mail from what one assumes was a frantic member of the Newsnight team.

Ripper Street has begun filming its third series. Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg will all reprise their roles as Victorian crime-fighters Detective Inspector Edmund Reid, Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake and Captain Homer Jackson for the Manchester shoot, the show's first in the UK. Also returning is MyAnna Buring as Long Susan, alongside a raft of new characters. Ripper Street was axed by the BBC last year due to declining viewing figures, but won a reprieve when it was picked up by Amazon Prime Instant Video as a co-production with the Beeb.
Jessica Chastain will not be joining the cast of True Detective. The Zero Dark Thirty actress was reported - at least, on certain Internet websites - earlier last week to be 'in negotiations' to play one of the lead characters in season two of Nic Pizzolatto's crime drama anthology. Rumours - not, seemingly, based on anything more solid than speculation - had suggested that the next outing of True Detective would be driven by a female-centric main cast. Representatives for Chastain and HBO have now clarified to E! News that there have been 'no negotiations' for the actress to join True Detective. The acclaimed first season of True Detective starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as feuding investigators on the case of ritualistic murders in Louisiana over the course of a decade and a half. McConaughey confirmed in March that he would not be returning for season two.
Colin Salmon has revealed that he has found it hard to get acting roles in the UK. The actor - who has recently appeared in American dramas like 24: Live Another Day and Arrow - explained why many British actors have chosen to find work in the US. He told ITV's Loose Women: 'It's been really hard here in Britain for actors and therefore we've had to up our game. I think we have incredible voice coaches now because it's all muscle memory. We are trained a different way. It's not like we're imagining it, we know, we're specific. We know the areas.' He continued: 'I've worked with Cicely Berry from the Royal Shakespeare Company, the best voice coach in the world and Paul Robeson, so we have all the backstory. You've got the young actors - I'm about to do The Musketeers - and the young guys on that, the discipline level is another level. So yes, we're good, we're disciplined and it's all about the work.' Speaking about working as a black actor in America, Salmon said: 'There's a bigger presence so therefore there are more opportunities for people out there. It's interesting at the moment, for example The Musketeers, Howard [Charles] playing Porthos and Dumas - who wrote it - was of African descent and we're exploring that, so African diaspora in Europe. Alexander Pushkin - we've had a great history in Europe which we don't really know about and if I have a cause in life, it would be to fill those gaps a bit.' Salmon also spoke about the chances of playing the first black James Bond. He said: 'I played Bond below the line. I auditioned all the girls, so I played the James Bond role for three films. They're actors and obviously they are being judged as beautiful women but my job was to act with them to make them feel secure, regardless of the Victoria Secret outfit or whatever they had to do. It was eye contact and really bring it out of them. I did three films and Pierce saw them and he keeps putting my name in the hat.'

Fame comes at a price, it would seem as the star of Sky Atlantic's comedy drama Mr Sloane believes his co-star has been priced out of the market after winning big at the BAFTAs for the second year in a row. The Sun reports Nick Frost as saying that his one-time co-star in Hot Fuzz Olivia Colman would be 'far too expensive' to bring back as his on-screen wife for a second series of Mr Sloane after she scored a hat-trick at the TV awards. 'We could never afford her now,' said Nick. 'If we do a second series, we'll have to have a chimp play my wife.' Or, you know, Simon Pegg possibly. He's probably cheaper than Colly these days.
A US dating show featuring a Prince Harry impersonator from Hertfordshire has been criticised as 'shameless' and 'predictable'. Matthew Hicks won a role in FOX TV's I Wanna Marry Harry - snappy title - which sees him attempt to convince women that he is the royal. Since the women in question are all American and, therefore, as gullible as fuck, one imagines he doesn't have too much difficulty in pulling it off. I Wanna Marry Harry - yeah, it gets less funny every time you say it, doesn't it? - has faced criticism after being broadcast in America on Tuesday. Hicks, an environmental consultant, said that he never thought the premise was 'mean or deceiving' to the girls in question. The Southampton University graduate tries to persuade twelve girls that they are competing to date the fourth in line to the throne in the show. 'They put themselves in this situation,' he said, attempting to shift the blame onto women. Well, what a hero you are, Matthew. 'They're not weak, mentally fragile girls who especially might break down, and at the end of the day we're all there for a laugh.' He said that he thought the real Prince Harry would 'think it was quite funny.' But some critics were scathing in reviews of the show. Writing on the Time website, James Poniewozik described it as 'shameless', while Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times said it 'conforms to every British stereotype of Americans.' The Daily Beast website, meanwhile, said it was 'irrelevant'. Kensington Palace declined to comment on the show. Hicks, who was 'spotted' by producers on a celebrity lookalike website, was given 'training in royal history.' Presumably in how to be patronising to 'the ordinary people' and, racist towards foreigners (if you're Prince Philip). The geology and oceanography graduate, whose parents live in Henlow, also allegedly played cricket for the county. As well as a history briefing, he had his blond hair dyed ginger and was housed in an English manor house with guards to film the show. Over five weeks and a series of dates, he had to persuade the women who included a pre-school teacher and student studying for a PhD in physical therapy, he really was the prince. Incidentally, in the UK, I Wanna Marry Harry has been bought by ITV2. Which says it all, really.

William Roache is to resume filming on Coronation Street, almost five months after being cleared of historic rape and indecent assault charges. Roache has played Ken Barlow since the ITV soap began in 1960. The actor has been off screens since his arrest last May but was found extremely not guilty of two rapes and four indecent assaults in February. He will resume filming in the next two weeks, with the scenes due to reach screens in August. After his arrest, Roache's character was written out of the soap and viewers were told that Ken was visiting his grandson, Adam, in Canada. Upon his return, Ken will whisk his long-suffering wife, Deirdre, off on holiday, producer Stuart Blackburn said. 'I can't wait to see Bill back on screen,' he added. 'I'm going to give Ken and Deirdre a little holiday - a caravan in North Wales. What could possibly go wrong? Ken raises the idea of going on holiday and she's busy scanning the papers for places in Monaco or Barbados, something like that. Then he pulls up in a hired caravan going, "Let's go to North Wales!"'

The News Corp journalist Chris Kenny has refused to withdraw his defamation case against the ABC despite an apology from the ABC managing director, Mark Scott, last month and an offer to settle out of court. On Thursday, the ABC offered to pay the conservative commentator's legal costs if he dropped the appeal he had lodged in his defamation case in the New South Wales supreme court. The ABC also offered to instruct its lawyer to read another apology in court, saying the ABC should not have put the comedy sketch that Kenny has taken so much umbridge over on air, if Kenny agreed to end the matter. But Kenny told The Australian: 'No apology has yet been broadcast on the ABC and none received from the producers of the programme. And despite Mr Scott saying he was sorry for the distress caused to me and my family by the programme and the delay in the apology, the best the ABC can do is try to bully me by circulating a letter to journalists before I was even aware of it.' Kenny said that if he had received 'a personal apology' from Scott and a broadcast or print apology from the ABC: 'It all would have gone away.' Scott apologised in April for the broadcast on a TV comedy programme of a mocked-up image depicting Kenny in a sexual act with a dog. The image was flashed across the screen during an episode of the satirical election show The Hamster Decides September 2013, and was a reference to Kenny being a critic of the public broadcaster. 'I have come to the view with the director of television that the ABC should not have put the skit to air,' Scott said in the apology, which he also made to The Australian newspaper columnist in a telephone call. The parties are awaiting a decision from the court. The ABC's lawyers have told Kenny's lawyers they believe he will lose the appeal. 'We understand from various media coverage of the proceedings that your client has stated that an apology from the ABC would have avoided litigation,' the letter says. 'Further we note that your client indicated in an interview given to Channel Nine on 5 March, 2014, that he did not believe that taxpayers should be paying for the ABC to defend this matter.' The court has struck out one of the grounds on which Kenny had sued the ABC: that no reasonable viewer would have thought he actually had sex with a dog because the image was 'clearly concocted.'

Yer actual Bruce Forsyth has spoken about quitting Strictly Come Dancing, admitting that another series would have left him 'mentally and physically shattered.' The eighty six-year-old, who will be replaced by Claudia Winkleman, has hosted the show since it began in 2004. Speaking to the Sun, Forsyth said: 'You do start to feel a bit stale, like a bit of fruit you've put in a bowl. You look at it one day and think, "Oh - that's going off." There are many reasons why I packed it in, but one was that I didn't want to do this series and suddenly in the middle of the show say, "I can't do it any more." I would have hated that.' Claiming to work as hard as the dancers, Forsyth said that he knew the previous series would be his last when it came to an end. 'I had to announce each couple, run upstairs for their dance, rush down to talk to the judges, rush upstairs for the scores, rush down to introduce the next pair. If there were sixteen couples I would do that forty or fifty times a show. When you are working the adrenaline gets you through. I never came off asking for an oxygen mask. But I knew at end of the last series it would be the end for me.' Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC1 in the autumn.

Netflix is to launch in six more European countries, including the key markets of Germany and France, before the end of the year. The US TV and film streaming company, which launched in the UK and Ireland in January 2012, will also be available in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Netflix will face competition from digital services offered by pay-TV companies including Sky Deutschland's Snap, and Vivendi's Watchever. It also faces the problem of not having the rights to broadcast all of its own shows, such as Kevin Spacey's House Of Cards, in all of the markets where it is launching. The company has eyed international expansion as a key growth driver, just a quarter of its forty six million paying subscribers come from outside Netflix's home market of the US.

And now one from the Big Fight, Little People column. Wor geet canny Denise Welch has 'hit out' (that's tabloid-speak for ... well, in Denise's case, 'hit out' actually) at snooty waste-of-space full-of-her-own-importance non-entity Myleene Klass over comments that Klass made about Loose Women. Welch - who quit the ITV talk show in October of last year in a reet stroppy kerfuffle following a row with producers over changes to the programme - took to Twitter to say how 'disappointed' she was in Klass, who claimed that the show was previously - ie. when Welch was a regular - 'too ranty and misogynistic' before she herself joined it in January. After reading the comments, Welch tweeted: 'Disappointed Myleene Klass. Sadly ratings suggest most viewers don't agree with you. Just saying.' Go on, Denise, pet. Give her both barrels like you would some woman doon The Bigg Market givin' yer cheek!
And, speaking of geet rive-on and that, yer actual Joey Barton of recently promoted Queens Park Strangers is a surprise booking for the panel on next week's edition of Question Time. Those appearing on the discussion programme with the former Manchester City, Newcastle United and (very briefly) England midfielder are advised to avoid getting nutted in the mush or having their heads stamped on like he did with that kid outside a Merseyside McDonalds at two in the morning if at all possible. Barton will be joined on the panel by former sacked Daily Mirra editor, sacked US chat show host and odious lump of phlegm Piers Morgan, whom Barton has previously had spats with on Twitter. Yeah, you know that bit about avoiding getting nutted or stamped on ...? There are, in life, always exceptions to every rule, dear blog reader.
A woman who claims that she was groped by Rolf Harris in a pub at the age of fifteen has admitted that she was wrong about the date of the alleged attack. However Tonya Lee, who has waived her right to anonymity, told jurors that there was 'no doubt' the assault took place. She dismissed prosecution claims she was 'motivated by money' to complain after making a thirty three thousand knicker deal with an Australian Public Relations agent to give interviews. Rolf denies twelve counts of indecent assault. He is accused of assaulting four girls in the UK between 1968 and 1986, when they were aged between seven or eight and nineteen. Three of the counts relate to Lee. Rolf was branded 'The Octopus' after repeatedly groping a TV make-up artist, the court heard alleged. The woman who made the allegation, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told Southwark Crown Court that there were 'more than two dozen' such assaults during the day. The former TV makeup artist, who gave evidence from behind a screen, claimed that Rolf was known as The Octopus because 'it was all hands.' The entertainer repeatedly put his hands inside the freelancer's baggy denim shorts as far as her hips while making a programme in Australia in 1986, she claimed. The court heard that on one occasion while groping her that day, Rolf discussed her legs with the programme's male director, who was standing next to them. The woman told the jury that she later complained to her female supervisor: 'That dirty old man groped me all day.' The woman, who was in her twenties at the time, is providing evidence in support of the prosecution case. However, none of the charges relate to her. Three of the twelve counts relate to Lee, forty three, from Australia, who claims that she was in London on a theatre trip in 1986. Lee, who has waived her right to anonymity, had previously told the court that Rolf had assaulted her at the start of her group's six-week visit to the UK. However, on Wednesday, she admitted that she had got the date of one of the alleged assaults wrong. An itinerary of the tour produced by Sonia Woodley QC, for the defence, said that there would be 'a celebratory meal with Rolf Harris' in a public house in Greenwich at the end of their tour. Lee told the court that she was 'not a robot' with a head for dates but that she had 'no doubt' the assault did take place. 'There is no doubt in my mind what occurred to me,' she said. 'Both assaults are very clear in my mind. I got the dates wrong, I admit to that.' Lee also dismissed prosecution claims that she had made up the entire story because she was motivated by money. The court was told that she had made a thirty three thousand quid deal with a Sydney publicity agent to give interviews to an Australian TV station and a magazine. The jurors were also shown a newspaper article in which Lee complained that not all of the money due to her had been paid. She added: 'That was blood money. That's not money for frivolity or fun.' Wednesday's second witness, a former partner of Rolf's daughter, Bindi, said that he was told by one of the complainants that the entertainer had an under-age sexual relationship with her. Malcolm Cox said that the woman, a friend of Bindi Harris, was visiting the Harris family home in Bray, in either 1996 or 1997 when she told him there had been 'a sexual relationship' between Rolf and her, and that it had occurred before the age of sixteen. He said: 'The gist was, in my opinion, that someone had been abused.' No independent evidence exists to prove that Rolf was at events where he allegedly groped two girls, the court was told. It was stated that there was 'no trace' of him appearing at a community centre near Portsmouth in 1969 or at an event in Cambridge in 1975. Nothing was found despite searches of newspaper archives, the jury heard. One alleged victim claimed that Rolf groped her bottom, when she was thirteen or fourteen, outside a Celebrity It's a Knockout event in Cambridge. Woodley put it to senior investigating officer Detective Sergeant Gary Pankhurst: 'There is no independent evidence of any kind to put Mr Harris in Cambridge in the year of 1975.' Pankhurst said that the alleged victim had 'not been entirely sure' of the date, but '1975 was, clearly she felt, the most certain.' Another woman claimed that Rolf touched her intimately when she was seven or eight after she queued to get his autograph at a community centre near Portsmouth in 1969. However, no confirmation could be found that Rolf had ever been there, despite searches of local newspaper archives, council records and letter drops appealing for witnesses. This included looking at copies of the Portsmouth News between January 1967 and May 1974. When the allegation was put to Rolf, he told police: 'I would simply never touch a child inappropriately.' Earlier, the jury of six men and six women was shown cine film footage of a third alleged victim who was friends with Rolf's daughter, Bindi. The footage, taken in Australia in 1978, showed the alleged victim swimming in a pool wearing a light-coloured bikini. Pankhurst told the court that officers from Operation Yewtree 'received a referral' from the child abuse charity, the NSPCC, three weeks after the investigation was set up. A counsellor claimed they had been 'dealing' with a woman since 1998 who claimed that she had been abused by Rolf. The women herself - the third alleged victim - came forward the following day. The next month police searched Rolf's home whilst he was abroad but his daughter was present. They seized exhibits including the film. In a prepared statement to police, Rolf said about his daughter's friend: 'I categorically deny having had any sexual contact with the complainant whatsoever while she was under the age of sixteen. I accept that I did have a consensual sexual relationship with the complainant when she was an adult. I finished the relationship and she was extremely upset.' Pankhurst said that the police spoke to Lee separately from her boyfriend, Fian McDaid, because he was 'controlling.' The officer said: 'He was very suspicious of us and appeared to want to manage the whole situation.' Jurors heard that Lee gave a magazine and a television interview in Australian in return for a fee. Rolf told police in a statement: 'I'm afraid that her actions do suggest that she may be motivated by a desire for fame and financial reward.' The court was told that McDaid, who served a jail term for assaulting Lee, claimed Lee had 'invented the allegations' against Rolf. The trial will resume on Tuesday when the defence case is set to begin, and is expected to start with Rolf himself giving evidence.

The former Radio 1 DJ Chris Denning is to be charged with forty one sexual offences, the Crown Prosecution Service has said. The alleged offences, dating from 1967 to 1985, are related to twenty two boys aged nine to sixteen. Denning was one of the original Radio 1 team when the station was launched in 1967. He was initially arrested under Operation Yewtree in June 2013 and appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday. Denning, who is in his early seventies, also worked as a music producer and helped launch the Bay City Rollers. He also ran his own music and video production business. Many news outlets when reporting on this case have also continued to repeat an oft-quoted urban myth, that Denning 'produced The Be-Atles.' In actual fact, the producers of The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, dear blog reader, you might have heard of them), were Sir George Martin (for most of their career), Chris Thomas (during some of The White Album sessions), Glyn Johns (for the initial Get Back sessions) and Phil Spector (who was recruited by John Lennon to remix the Let It Be movie soundtrack). None of whom, as far as this blogger is aware, has ever been accused of committing any form of sexual offences (although the latter is a convicted murderer, admittedly). Denning's only connection with The Be-Atles was that he interviewed them several times on the radio. Along with Kenny Everett, Denning co-hosted a show called Where It's At?, initially on The Light Programme, then later, after it launched in 1967, on Radio 1. Various Be-Atles occasionally appeared on this during the 1966-67 period. For example, on 25 November 1967 yer actual Paul McCartney and well-known alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon were interviewed on Where it's At? to plug their forthcoming TV movie The Magical Mystery Tour. Macca performed a brief song with the lyrics 'Kenny Everett and Chris Denning/All together on the wireless machine' which crops up on Be-Atles bootlegs every now and then. And, indeed, on You Tube. But Denning never, despite what you may have read in, for example, the Daily Scum Mail, 'produced' the Be-Atles. Not even a little bit. Baljit Ubhey, London chief crown prosecutor, said: 'The decision to prosecute has been taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and Crown Prosecution Service legal guidance on rape and child sexual abuse. We have determined that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.' Prosecutors found that there was not enough evidence to prosecute in connection with three further alleged victims. Denning is the fifth person to be prosecuted as part of Operation Yewtree.
The BBC's review on the subject of who knew what about dirty old scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile and what he got up to has been delayed until after the trial of Dave Lee Travis. The report was delayed in January pending the outcome of criminal proceedings against the former BBC presenter Stuart Hall on the grounds the review might prejudice the trial. On Friday, convicted kiddie-fiddler Hall was sentenced to an extra two years and six months in jail for his badness and his dirty rotten ways. Travis, who was cleared of twelve counts of indecent assault in February, still faces trial on two outstanding charges. The DJ's forthcoming trial is expected to take place in September. Whilst the charges brought against Travis do not fall directly within the review's terms of reference they do, in part, relate to his work for the BBC. Dame Janet Smith - who is leading the BBC's independent inquiry - said 'the possibility does exist that publication of the report may affect the fairness of the trial of Dave Lee Travis.' A statement said: 'For that reason and in the interests of ensuring that the independence and fairness of the criminal process is maintained, Dame Janet has decided that her report should not be delivered until after the conclusion of the trial of Dave Lee Travis. The BBC is aware of and agrees with this decision.' Representatives of the review attended the recent trial of Hall in Preston Crown Court and the proceedings will be considered as part of the process of finalising the report. Dame Janet's inquiry was launched after allegations of decades of abuse committed by former BBC DJ and dirty old scallywag Savile emerged following his death in 2011. The review is into 'the culture and practices' of the corporation during the Savile years. As part of the report, they have been in contact with seven hundred and twenty people and interviewed one hundred and forty witnesses. The NSPCC says it has now been contacted by three hundred and twenty six people in connection with alleged abuse by Savile.

Convicted kiddie-fiddler Stuart Hall has been sentenced to an extra two years and six months in jail for two counts of indecently assaulting a girl. Hall was found extremely guilty of one count of indecent assault on 16 May in a majority jury verdict at Preston Crown Court. At the beginning of the trial he admitted indecently assaulting the same girl when she was aged thirteen. He was also cleared of fifteen charges of rape and four of indecent assault. The charge Hall admitted involved an incident at a dinner party where he crept into his victim's bedroom and assaulted her. Sentencing him, Mr Justice Turner, said that there had been 'an element of grooming' to his offences. The judge said there had been a 'breach of trust' in relation to the assault on the girl when she was thirteen. He said that Hall had acted with 'a sense of arrogance and immunity, vile bravado and horrible betrayal.' He added that the eighty four-year-old had shown 'a lack of candour or remorse' and criticised him for not admitting to these offences when he was convicted of others in 2013. Hall did not react to the sentence as he listened to the proceedings through headphones, while his victim, who was also in court, wiped away tears with a handkerchief as details of the offences were mentioned. The former broadcaster, who was accused of abusing two girls between 1976 and 1981, is already serving a thirty-month jail term after he pleaded very guilty to indecently assaulting thirteen other girls, one as young as nine. His original fifteen-month sentence, for abuse that occurred between 1967 and 1985, was later doubled at the Court of Appeal.

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is - unwillingly - at the centre of a reported bidding war for a photo which, allegedly, shows her bare backside, according to a tabloid report. A photographer claims to have caught the candid picture in Australia's Blue Mountains when the Duchess's dress blew up a she disembarked a helicopter. She was wearing a blue and white Diane Von Furstenberg at the time, which seemingly got on the wrong side of the gusts from the chopper. At least, that's her excuse and she's stick to it. An alleged - though entirely anonymous and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious - 'source' allegedly told the Daily Lies: 'Poor Kate. Even though, for once, it's her bum everyone's talking about and not her sister Pippa's, it would cause huge embarrassment and if if this photo got out.' Told the Daily Lies, seemingly, in exactly that sort of crass 'tabloid-speak' way which no real person has been heard to use, ever, in the history of the world.

Sports TV channel ESPN has been fined one hundred and twenty grand by media regulator Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - for failing to provide enough audio description on its programmes. ESPN provided the service for visually impaired viewers on 2.3 per cent of programmes in 2012 - short of its five per cent target. The channel had also missed its target in 2011. Ofcom said that the breach of its rules was 'both serious and repeated.' ESPN complained that live sport was 'not generally suitable for audio description on television.' Audio description provides a commentary on what is happening on-screen, describing things like body language, expressions and movements. ESPN broadcasts a range of sports from around the world and had the rights to some English Premier League and FA Cup football matches between 2009 and 2013. The Ofcom ruling said that as a result of ESPN's shortfall, 'people with visual impairments have been excluded from access to its programmes.' The watchdog said that the channel had argued 'television sports commentary does give visually impaired people some level of description by its nature.' But Ofcom went on: 'Television commentary of live sport presumes the viewer can see the action. It is unlike radio commentary in this respect, and is not provided with the needs of the visually impaired in mind.' ESPN's UK channel was launched by its US parent company in 2009 but the British channel was bought by BT in July 2013. An ESPN statement said: 'It is acknowledged that live sport is not generally suitable for audio description on television and ESPN regrets it was not possible to reach an understanding with Ofcom in this regard.' A spokesman said ESPN and BT would 'work together with Ofcom on the matter to ensure that the payment is made.' A statement from BT said: 'This sanction relates to a period before BT acquired the ESPN UK TV channel. BT takes compliance of audio description very seriously and meets the quotas set by Ofcom. We constantly monitor our obligations to ensure this remains the case.'

The BBC has been forced to apologise after a Conservative MP swore during a live political TV show. Although, quite why they felt they had to apologise for the actions of the third party instead of telling those who whinged about such nonsense to 'just grow the fuck up' is, as usual with questions about the BBC's collective backbone when it comes to whingers, unknown. Which is a pity, frankly. Nick Herbert, a former police minister, used the term 'fuckwit' whilst appearing as one of the guests on BBC2's The Daily Politics. He initially defended his words and pointed out that he used the term 'disapprovingly' as he quoted from a disparaging comment made by a fellow guest, former police office Peter Kirkham, in reference to the Home Secretary Theresa May. Presenter Jo Coburn interrupted Herbert, telling him sternly 'we won't have any more of that' and cautioning him to speak 'without repeating any of those expletives.' Whether Jo also threatened to take Herbert's trousers down and give his bottom a jolly good smack is unclear - as, indeed, is the question of whether Herbert would have enjoyed it if she had. You normally have to pay good money for that sort of thing. Or, so this blogger is told. Anyway, at the end of the programme Coburn offered a full apology to viewers, saying that it was unacceptable and would not be repeated. Explaining his actions on Twitter following the broadcast, Herbert tried to weasel his way out of his wrongdoing by claiming: 'Shame on the former police officer on the programme who used the word to describe the Home Secretary and who I was quoting, disapprovingly.' A BBC spokeswoman said: 'The Daily Politics is a live programme and, as with any live broadcast, occasionally slip-ups may happen. We apologised to viewers immediately for any offence caused.' A number of people - who, seemingly, haven't got anything more constructive to do with their time - 'expressed their disapproval' on Twitter that such language was used on a daytime political discussion. As gleefully reported by the Gruniad Morning Star. Because, as we all known, according to those middle-class hippie Communist lice, Twitter is The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things.
BBC News staff have been told by a senior executive: 'Don't do anything stupid' on social media in the wake of the row over a BBC News channel editor posting an anti-UKiP tweet. Mary Hockaday, head of the BBC newsroom, sent an e-mail to journalists on Thursday reminding them of the corporation's 'very clear social media guidance.' It came after the impartiality row prompted by news channel editor Jasmine Lawrence who tweeted: "Why I'm Voting UKiP – to stand up for white, middle-class, middle-aged men w[ith] sexist/racist views, totally under represented in politics today.' Sounds like a reasonably observant political comment to this blogger but then, I'm not a BBC journalist. The tweet was posted the day before the start of the local council and European elections. Lawrence subsequently deleted her account, but she was taken off the BBC's election coverage, with the corporation saying that it would 'launch an investigation' into the affair. And, possibly, send Jo Coburn round to give Jasmine a jolly good talking to. Or something. Hockaday said: 'Social media is now a vital part of our work, allowing us to get our journalism to new audiences, connect with people, and gather news as it happens.' She reminded them of the BBC's guidelines on social media, laid out on its website: 'But the guidance is clear when it comes to personal activity: As a BBC member of staff – and especially as someone who works in News – there are particular considerations to bear in mind. They can all be summarised as: "Don't do anything stupid."' She went on: 'I'd also specifically draw your attention to the following section: "You shouldn't state your political preferences or say anything that compromises your impartiality. Don't sound off about things in an openly partisan way. Don't be seduced by the informality of social media into bringing the BBC into disrepute."' This, dear blog reader, is why this blogger never has and never will set up a Twitter account. it's more hassle than it's and it gets more people into trouble than virtually any other form of communication.

Victoria Coren-Mitchell has waded into the sexism row engulfing the opera singer Tara Erraught, saying that she doesn't know how those critics who have criticised Erruaght's appearance could 'sleep at night.' That's not normally a problem for the ignorant, Victoria, sad to say. They usually don't realise what they're saying is offensive so sleeping at night is no trouble for them. Victoria said that she was 'astonished' by the extraordinarily personal nature of the attacks on Erraught which appeared across a number of national newspapers. Some, no doubt perfect specimin of humanity, in the Daily Torygraph described Erraught as 'dumpy of stature', The Times critic described her as 'unbelievable, unsightly and unappealing' while a review of the Glyndebourne Opera Festival in the Financial Times referred to her as 'a chubby bundle of puppy-fat.' So, admittedly, no newspapers that any normal person would want to be seen dead with, but still ... 'Yes, of course, if you are going to write anything about anything, you've got to say the truth and be honest,' said Victoria, speaking at the Periodical Publishers Association annual conference on Thursday. 'But then you read what they actually said and that this is a very beautiful and talented young women early in her career and they [critics] think it's there place to say whether or not she is attractive, whether or not she is fat!' Victoria said that she had read only 'one or two' reviews of Glyndebourne, which had questioned whether Erraught was the right fit to play an androgynous role. 'A lot of the time, [the critics] are just saying they don't think she is pretty enough,' she said. Asked which newspapers in particular she thought were guilty of stepping over the mark, she added: 'It's literally everywhere from the Mail to the Financial Times. They just all seem to do it. In this individual case, I read the examples of things they have said about this woman and thought "I don't know how they sleep at night."' While making a pointed attack on art critics, Victoria admitted that they had a difficult job. 'Partly I don't envy them, I would not want to be a critic,' she said. 'I think in any endeavour artistically - whether it's a TV show or opera - it's a group of well-meaning people trying to make something special. I don't envy anyone the job of coming along and saying nasty things and bursting the bubble. If it was me I would find it difficult enough just to say something was boring and badly translated.'

The family of IRA 'Disappeared' victim Jean McConville have welcomed reports that NBC News in the United States is going to the American courts to obtain the controversial Boston College tapes which are central to the arrest of Gerry Adams in connection with the widow's murder. NBC News argues that a US supreme court judgment means it should receive copies of the tapes because they are 'a matter of public interest.' Boston College's 'Belfast project' archive has dozens of taped testimonies from ex-IRA and loyalist paramilitaries speaking, frankly, about their role, and the role of others, in violence during the Troubles. A number of these tapes seized by the Police Service of Northern Ireland through the US courts are being used to examine if there is a case against Adams, over his alleged involvement in the 1972 kidnapping, murder and secret burial of McConville – a crime which has dogged the Sinn Féin president's career. Adams has vehemently denied claims of former Republican comrades – including Belfast IRA commander Brendan Hughes – that it was he who ordered the murder and secret 'disappearance' of the mother of ten for being an alleged informer. Indeed, the former West Belfast MP denies ever being a member of the IRA, merely of its political wing, Sinn Féin. Helen McKendry, the eldest of Jean McConville's ten children, along with her husband, Seamus McKendry, said that seeking to broadcast the material allegedly relating to the murder and secret burial 'would do our campaign no harm.' They added: 'Anything relating to Jean's murder and disappearance that is amplified in public is to be welcomed. We have nothing to be afraid of so obviously it doesn't worry us if NBC News or any other news organisation were to make that material public, if course they won their case in the States. We have nothing to hide.' The founder of the Belfast project, the award-winning journalist Ed Moloney, said on Wednesday morning that NBC News had written to judge William Young, requesting it be handed the tapes. In the letter to the Boston district court judge, which has been published on Moloney's website, Thomas Winter of NBC's news investigations unit says: 'This case or any case involving incidents of terrorism and criminality committed by several and various parties representing diverse ideologies both political and religious is a matter of great public interest.' NBC News said that it wanted the documents released 'as soon as possible.' Winter argues that US citizens have the right under a 1978 supreme court judgment to gain access to judicial documents. Moloney and his key researcher on the Belfast project, the ex-IRA prisoner-turned-author Anthony McIntyre, lost a legal battle to prevent the PSNI seizing tapes that Belfast detectives believed were related to the McConville murder. The seizure led to the arrest of seven people, including Adams, as PSNI conducts a fresh inquiry into the murder. Adams's arrest earlier this month, in the middle of European and local government elections on both sides of the Irish border, created a fresh crisis in the political process in Northern Ireland. Sinn Féin leaders threatened to withdraw support for the PSNI while Adams was held for four days in an Antrim police station. However, on his release - without charge - Adams insisted that his party still backed the PSNI and the new policing and judicial arrangements in Northern Ireland. Even if Northern Irish prosecutors decide that there is no criminal case for Adams to answer regarding the McConville murder, the family of the most famous of the 'disappeared' have vowed to take civil action against the Sinn Féin leader.

The dog days of summer have come early to the Daily Scum Express and Daily Lies. Owner and soft core pornographer Richard Desmond has been away but, at the weekend, his dog was brought into the office. Perhaps surprisingly, it's not a rottweiler (that'd be billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's), it's an Alsatian and is, apparently, called Star. An office snitch grassed to the Gruniad that Star was 'rather sweet and was welcomed' into the newsroom until it decided to relieve itself on the carpet near the picture desk. Well, we've all wanted to walk into the offices of the Express group and piss over something, be fair.

Former manager of The Scum, David Moyes is reportedly being investigated by police after a scuffle in a Lancashire wine bar. Officers were called to The Emporium Bar in Clitheroe at about 10pm on Wednesday eveing following reports of a geet rive-on with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts and a twenty three-year-old man being assaulted. Lancashire Police said that the man had not needed hospital treatment. A spokesman added that officers were 'looking into differing accounts' of what happened had occurred there and that no-one had been arrested. Yet. The scuffle reportedly happened outside The Emporium, a spokesman for the bar said. Moyes was extremely sacked as The Scum's manager in May after ten months in the role. Before he took over at the club, he had been in charge at Everton for more than a decade.

A 'legal dispute' allegedly faces Led Zeppelin over the song 'Stairway To Heaven', widely seen as one of the longest and most boringly tripe hippie anthems of all time. Though, to be fair, yer actual does like the bit where Jimy Page plays some twelve string arpeggios in the middle. That's quite good. The copyright infringement action is reportedly being taken on behalf of late American guitarist Randy California, who played on the same bill as Led Zeppelin in the 1960s. His lawyers claim that he should be given a writing credit on the 1971 song. Why, you may be wondering, has it taken someone over forty years to make this claim, dear blog reader? One trusts that, should this case ever come to trial - unlikely, but possible - that will be the first question asked by the judge. Bloomberg Businessweek said that the eight-minute song had earned over three hundred and thirty million smackers as of 2008. The magazine added that the song was so profitable in part because Led Zeppelin never released it as a single, leaving fans with no option but to buy the entire LP, untitled but usually referred to as either Led Zeppelin IV or Four Symbols. Both the surviving members of Led Zeppelin and Warner Music have said they will not comment on the allegations. Media reports say that the court case is likely to be based on allegations that 'Stairway To Heaven' opening guitar riff broadly resembles guitar work on an instrumental called 'Taurus'. Which it does. A bit. Judge for yourself, dear blog reader. Here's 'Stairway To Heaven'. And, here's 'Taurus'. As you can hear, there's certainly a vague family resemblance. But then, there was in 1971, quite why, in 2014, someone has got their greed on and decided they want a piece of the action is, at this time, unknown. 'Taurus' was written by Randy California's Los Angeles-based psychedelic band, Spirit, in 1968 and appeared on their self-title debut LP. Interestingly, the introduction and opening guitar arpeggios of 'Taurus' itself bear a close similarity to the 1959 instrumental 'Cry Me A River' by the late Scottish folk musician Davey Graham. The plaintiffs include Spirit's founding bassist, Mark Andes, and a trust that manages royalties for Randy California, who died in 1997 trying to save his son from drowning. California was quoted during his lifetime as describing 'Stairway To Heaven' as 'a rip-off' of his song but, seemingly, he wasn't that bothered about it since he never got around to suing anybody over it. 'It is fairly blatant, and note for note,' Andes told Bloomberg Businessweek. 'It would just be nice if the Led Zeppelin guys gave Randy a little nod. That would be lovely.' yeah. But one imagines, a huge wadge of dirty wonga is more the motivation for this. Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page is reputed to have begun writing 'Stairway To Heaven' in 1970 in a remote cottage in Bron-Yr-Aur in Wales during writing sessions for the previous LP, Led Zeppelin III (a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping, that one). Earlier this month the band unveiled two previously unheard recordings ahead of the re-issue in June of its first three LPs. Page, now seventy, meanwhile has scotched rumours of a reunion concert. For a band that broke up in 1980, following the death of the drummer John Bonham, interest in Led Zeppelin remains intense. The surviving members - Page, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant - did reunite for Live Aid (albeit, the poor sods got lumbered with balding tragedy Phil Collins on drums) and again seven years ago for a one-off concert at London's O2 arena. It was rather good, actually.

Sir Paul McCartney MBE has said that he was 'extremely moved' by messages of support from fans after he fell ill while in Japan. The singer had to cancel a string of tour dates after reportedly contracting a virus. Tour dates in Japan and South Korea were be cancelled when doctors said that the former Be-Atle was not fit enough to perform. The seventy one-year-old has spent some time in hospital in Tokyo but is expected to make a full recovery, organisers said. A statement released on his behalf said that his treatment had been 'successful' and that doctors had 'ordered [him] to take a few days rest.' It also said: 'Paul has been extremely moved by all the messages and well wishes he has received from fans all over the world.' Sir Paul was in Asia as part of a world tour and was scheduled to perform at Jamsil Sports Complex Main Stadium in Seoul next Wednesday in what would have been his first ever concert in South Korea. But his illness caused him to cancel the gig and also miss four other scheduled concerts in Japan, including two in Tokyo. He is still expected to play nineteen American performances between June and August.

Nico Rosberg beat his Mercedes team-mate the increasingly annoying, whinging sour-faced child and bad loser Lewis Hamilton in a tense fight for victory in the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. Hamilton, still seemingly incandescent with impotent rage from what he saw as Rosberg's alleged 'gamesmanship' to seal pole in qualifying a day earlier, tracked the German for much of the race. But, he dropped back with what he claimed to be 'an eye problem' in the closing stages, though he still managed to hold off a determined charge from Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo to claim second place. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was fourth in a race punctuated by two safety car periods. The race was something of a slow-burner which came alive in the closing laps as Ricciardo challenged whinging sour-faced child and bad loser Hamilton, and a series of dramatic incidents led to constant changes in the lower points positions. The race started with enormous tension between Hamilton and Rosberg on the grid following the controversial outcome of qualifying. Rosberg was cleared of any wrongdoing on Saturday after a stewards' investigation into a trip into the escape road on his final qualifying lap, which prevented Hamilton from completing his own flying lap and, thus, challenging Rosberg for pole position. The stewards declared it to be an innocent driver error, caused by the German pushing too hard on his final qualifying lap. But, Hamilton clearly believed that Rosberg had done the dirty deed deliberately, a view which was shared by a number of ex-F1 drivers in the paddock. Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said before the race: 'This thing we have with Lewis accusing the other of doing something stupid; I tried to fix this this morning with Lewis but I couldn't. If they hit each other at the first corner then they have a problem with me.' They didn't, Rosberg converting his pole into a comfortable lead as Ricciardo's slow getaway left Alonso boxed in behind him and team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Kimi Raikkonen took advantage, slotting into fourth place at the first corner behind Rosberg, Hamilton and Vettel and ahead of Ricciardo and Alonso. The first safety car had to be employed on the opening lap after McLaren's Jenson Button knocked Sergio Perez's Force India into a spin on the exit of Mirabeau, the Mexican becoming the first of eight drivers not to complete the race for a variety of reasons. Vettel retired soon afterwards with an engine problem as the race was re-started on lap four and there was a typical Monaco stalemate until another safety car was deployed on lap twenty eight - triggered by a crash at the chicane by Sauber's Adrian Sutil. Almost the entire field took the opportunity to make a speedy pit stop for fresh tyres, but the whinging sour-face child and bad loser Hamilton whinged to his team over the radio, saying that they should have brought him in immediately they saw the crash, rather than wait for a further lap until the safety car was deployed and then deciding to bring both himself and Rosberg in at the same time. 'Why didn't we stop the lap before?' the whinging sour-faced child and bad loser whinged, like a whinging sour-faced childish whinger, heightening the sense of paranoid competition building in the team. 'I knew we should have pitted on that lap. I also knew you wouldn't call me in.' After the re-start on lap thirty one, Rosberg began to get messages over the team radio that he was using too much fuel. Hamilton tracked him closely, but was never able to get close enough to make an attempt to pass him. Then, Hamilton suddenly dropped back with around twelve laps to go, coming on the radio to claim that he 'couldn't see out of my left eye - it's impossible.' But, although the team prepared for a pit stop, Hamilton then increased his pace. In the closing stages, Ricciardo closed in quickly, catching Hamilton by lap seventy two, with six laps to go, but the Mercedes driver managed to hold him off until the end. The result moves Rosberg back into the championship lead, four points clear of his team-mate. 'Lewis drove really well and pushed me massively hard but I was able to hold on,' said Rosberg. 'I had great pace,' the whinging sour-faced child and bad loser Hamilton whinged. 'I felt I was really strong today but it's a very difficult place to overtake.' The body language between the two as Rosberg received his trophy from Prince Albert spoke volumes. Raikkonen ran third until the first pit stops, after which he needed to stop again on the next lap to replace a tyre punctured when he was hit by Marussia's Max Chilton, dropping him to fourteenth place. Raikkonen recovered to challenge Kevin Magnussen for seventh place in the closing stages, only to try an over-ambitious move on the Dane into The Loews Hairpin on lap seventy three. Both ended up stuck in the barriers, dropping Magnussen to tenth and forcing Raikkonen to pit once more for a new nose cone. He finished twelfth. Button had passed Magnussen for sixth behind Force India's Nico Hulkenberg at the start of the same lap and he finished there, ahead of Williams' Felipe Massa and Marussia's Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman's eighth place was the best finish in the popular Marussia team's four-year history and Bianchi managed to score their first points for ninth place despite a penalty for serving a previous punishment in an incorrect fashion. Lotus's Romain Grosjean was promoted to eighth in the final standings. But, the best thing about the entire Monaco weekend was, as usual, the BBC's Suzi Perry wearing a pink miniskirt. Oh yes.
And, because we are, of course, an equal opportunities blog here at From The North, let's also have a collective gasp of astonishment at the eye-balling dazzling shirt yer man Eddie Jordan was sporting. Disco shit, baby!
For those who are wondering - all three of you - yes, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's back pain continues on a reasonably regular basis. It's been diagnosed as a disc issue which is causing the current bout of sciatica and this blogger does have an appointment with a specialist about it, albeit, not until early August. So, that's the summer gone. Nevertheless, on medical advise, Keith Telly Topping had started swimming again. Well, I say swimming, actually it's more like doing a couple of lengths, floating on my back for ten minutes and then retiring to the steam room and/or the sauna. still, it's supposed to be doing yer actual some good. On Wednesday, therefore, I went to the pool for the third time in three days. The plan had been to go every day of last week but, somewhere between leaving the pool on Wednesday, limping up to ASDA for a loaf of bread and bottle of milk and then getting the bus back to Stately Telly Topping Manor, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's back had clearly decided enough was enough and the sciatica pain and numbness started to kick in, big-style. So, Keith Telly Topping took this under advisement and gave it a rest for a couple of days.

On Thursday, dear blog reader, before going to the Record Player yer actual Keith Telly Topping went and voted, as he has done in every single election (national, local and European) since he was eighteen in 1981. Keith Telly Topping votes because he believes in the old West Wing truism that decisions are made by those who show up and that if you don't take part in a process you have abdicate any right to complain about the outcome. But, he came as close as he ever has this week to not bothering (or, at a pinch, to spoiling his ballot as a protest against the whole bastard lot of them). It was a hell of a choice, frankly. Tories (scum), Liberals (deceitful promise-breaking scum who will say and do anything for a sniff of power), Labour (deceitful promise breaking scum who will say and do anything for a chance of getting back into power), UKiP (deceitful, mostly racist, often sexist, often homophobic, stuck-in-the-Century-before-last scum), the Greens (middle-class hippie Communist scum who could all do with a damn good fracking), the BNP (neo-Nazi scum) and various sub-UKiP-type 'independents' (about-to-lose-their-deposit scum). Seriously, the wish to be a politician, as Billy Connolly once famously noted, should instantly disbar anybody from actually becoming one. Keith Telly Topping has no intention of telling you for whom he, with a very heavy heart, eventually put his cross next to since we have a voting process in this country that, if you want it to, assures anonymity. But, rest assured, it was a horribly dispiriting moment for this blogger - a case of picking 'the least worst' of a thoroughly wretched, odious, stinking miserable and rotten lot. Keith Telly Topping felt rancid afterwards, like he needed a wash following doing the deed. And then, politicians wonder why it is that just about everybody hates the bloody lot of them and wants throw eggs at them. Democracy, eh? Whose bright idea was that.

So, after that, on Thursday evening dear blog reader, Uncle Scunthorpe's Record Player at the Tyneside was an event that yer actual Keith Telly Topping had been looking forward to since it was first announced. The Goddamn Queen of Soul her very self Aretha's I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You versus a record that yer actual Keith Telly Topping first bought when he was sixteen, Otis Blue. That was far more important than any shite European election fiasco. Ironic really, since both of those LPs included a version of 'A Change Is Gonna Come'. In the event it was absolutely stunning; a full house, two great records, a geet difficult quiz and yer actual getting asked an unanswerable question (it was 'I've Got The Blues', Christian!) So, here and here are Keith Telly Topping's (two) 33(s) of the Day. Skill.