Sunday, June 29, 2014

Week Twenty Eight: Stir It Up

Word up, dear blog reader, this is the one we've all been waiting for. The BBC have confirmed that Doctor Who's eighth series will begin transmission on BBC1 on Bank Holiday Saturday, 23 August 2014 with BBC America also confirming that the US première will be later that same date. The Beeb have also released new promo images of yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self plus a new trailer entitled 'Am I A Good Man?' The first episode - written by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat - is, apparently, called Deep Breath and is described as being 'feature-length'. Peter and Jenna will be going on a worldwide tour to promote the return of Doctor Who, with stops planned for Cardiff, London, New York City, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul and Sydney. This year, however, the Doctor Who production team are not expected to attend San Diego Comic-Con International next month due to the event clashing with ongoing production dates.
The sharp-eyed viewers among you, dear blog readers - so, that's all of fandom, basically - may notice that the new Doctor is, seemingly, wearing a wedding ring. Which is fair enough since he is married. Possibly twice.
And, so is Peter, obviously.

Meanwhile, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has confirmed both the commissioning of a ninth series of Doctor Who - not that there was ever much doubt that would be announced sooner rather than later - and, the post-apocalyptic fact that he will be showrunning it. Which is, of course, utterly fantabulous news on several levels not least of which is the notion that this will piss off a small but highly vocal bunch of Special People who really deserve pissing off on an almost daily basis. So, that's today's dose sorted and delivered. Good. In his latest column for Doctor Who Magazine, The Moffinator his very self (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) revealed that he plans to stick with the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama for at least one more year. 'Sitting here, right now, just before the [series eight] finale shooting block, I've figured out the cliffhanger to the penultimate episode of the next series,' he wrote. 'And it's a whopper. Ohh [sic], I don't think you'll see this coming!' Ooo, you little tease! Mind you, as DWM's editor, the lovely and talented Tom Spilsbury, told this blogger: 'I thought he'd already confirmed both those things when we talked about "the next two series" in the interview I did with him in the first issue of this year! I love how these things go over everyone's heads sometimes!' Well, they certainly go over yer actual Keith Telly Topping's head anyway, Good old Tom, though. He's always first on the ball!
Indeed, Steven subsequently confirmed to this blogger: 'Series nine [was] confirmed ages ago. Even before the amazing ratings and string of awards for The Day Of The Doctor, so how surprising can it be? How can it still be news. To hell with it - I'll announce it again next week!' And, From The North will report it, Steven. it's what we're here for.

And, speaking of the DWM, Vastra, Jenny and Strax take centre stage in the latest issue, which is out now and can be bought in all good newsagents (and, some bad ones as well). Inside this month's issue is an exclusive interview with the actors who have brought The Paternoster Gang to life: Neve McIntosh, Catrin Stewart and Dan Starkey. Also, former script editor Andrew Cartmel talks to the writers he employed on Doctor Who's silver anniversary season in 1988: Ben Aaronovitch, Graeme Curry and Stephen Wyatt and the great Terrance Dicks – script editor, writer, novelist and genuinely wonderful human being – talks about his work on Doctor Who in the 1960s and 1970s. Buy one, several or lots immediately. That's an order.
A new trailer for the upcoming ABC sitcom Selfie, starring yer actual Karen Gillan, has been released. Selfie sees Gillan play a vain, social media-obsessed airhead, Eliza Dooley, forced to learn humility from a marketing consultant. The show is described as 'a modern update to My Fair Lady.' Although, to be strictly accurate, that was a modern update of Pygmalion - only, with singing - so, we're talking about wheels-within-wheels here. And, as usual, Kazza her very self looks effing lush in it.
What with it being a rest day at the World Cup on Friday, Andy Murray's third round Wimbledon win was seen by an average of 4.66 million on BBC1. Murray beat Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets to progress to the fourth round in the early evening. The action peaked with 4.78 million punter as the reigning champion closed in on the victory. BBC1's evening continued with 3.82 million for a ninety minute episode of Celebrity Masterchef at 8.30pm. Looking back at the best bits from the latest series, The Graham Norton Show was seen by 2.69 million at 10.35pm. It was followed by nine hundred and fifty thousand for Uncle at 11.20pm. Because of the delayed start to the tennis, The ONE Show was broadcast at 7pm on BBC2. It was seen by 1.66 million, while 1.19 million watched Today At Wimbledon at 8.15pm. Gardeners' World pulled in 1.81 million at 9pm, while a Qi repeat was seen by 1.17 million immediately after. BBC2's first visit to Glastonbury entertained 1.51 million at 10pm. Glastonbury coverage also did well on BBC3 and BBC4. Paolo Nutini's performance reeled in seven hundred and eighty five thousand at 9pm. Elbow's set - which climaxed with a beautiful version of 'One Day Like This' - attracted six hundred and eighty thousand at the same time on BBC4, while Haim's really rather decent and Lily Allen's utterly wretched sets were watched by six hundred thousand punters at 8pm on BBC3 whilst anybody sensible (all five hundred thousand of us) were watching Blondie on BBC4! Presented by Griff Rhys Jones, It'll Be Alright On The Night was ITV's highest-rated show outside of soaps, pulling in a risible low 2.37 million at 9pm. Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown was once again Channel Four's most popular show, with audiences of 1.21 million tuning in at 9pm. It was preceded by Celebrity Fifteen To One, which drew nine hundred and ninety thousand at 8pm. The evening ended with Friday Night Dinner, which was seen eight hundred and ninety thousand at 10pm. Elsewhere, Big Brother's latest live eviction was seen by 1.21 million at 9pm on Channel Five.

Speaking of Glastonbury, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's highlight of the opening day of the annual music festival was watching Blondie on BBC4. My God, that Clem Burke can still spank a drum kit like there's no tomorrow, can't he?!
Rodrigo y Gabriela's thoroughly spunky little set was also definitely worth an hour of your time, dear blog reader. Particularly Gabriela's shorts. Hábil!
Thursday's episode of Celebrity MasterChef bounced back in the ratings this week, according to overnight data. The BBC1 cookery competition rose by around one-and-a-half million viewers after the previous week's episode had clashed with England's calamitous post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare of a World Cup exit. Celebrity MasterChef's latest collection of desperate z-listers attracted 3.53m at 8pm. Later, Question Time interested 2.19m at 10.35pm. The extent to which England's knackerless World Cup exit had kicked the legs from under both major channels was ably demonstrated by the fact that ITV's - wretched, as usual - World Cup coverage of South Korea versus Belgium actually topped the ratings outside soaps but with a mere 3.93m at 8.30pm. Just a week ago, non-England primetime games were regularly attracted between six and eight million viewers on both the BBC and ITV. On BBC2, Today At Wimbledon scored 1.83m at 8.30pm. Hot Property: Business Boomers was watched by nine hundred and seventy thousand at 9pm, while Mock The Week - featuring poor Angela Barnes as this week's token female - had 1.18m at 10pm. Channel Four's Amazing Spaces brought in 1.5m at 8pm. Beauty Queen Or Bust appealed to seven hundred and forty nine thousand punters at 9pm, followed by Meet The Mormons with seven hundred and eighty four thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! was seen by 1.08m at 8pm, followed by Trauma Doctors with 1.19m at 9pm. Big Brother: Power Trip continued with 1.20m at 10pm.

All-Star Mr & Mrs gained back around half a million overnight viewers on Wednesday. The ITV show was watched by 3.52m at 8pm. A repeat of Benidorm then brought in 2.24m at 9pm. BBC1's Watchdog had an audience of 3.86m at 7.30pm, while the World Cup coverage of France versus Ecuador scored 5.19m at 8.30pm. On BBC2, Today At Wimbledon gathered 1.29m at 8pm, followed by Panorama with eight hundred and twenty two thousand at 9pm and Episodes with six hundred and ninety seven thousand at 10pm. Channel Four's This Old Thing: Victorian Clothes Show appealed to nine hundred and sixty four thousand at 8pm. One Born Every Minute was seen by 1.73m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Brand New Home for Five Thousand Pounds interested eight hundred and thirty one thousand at 8pm, followed by The Hotel Inspector Returns with 1.34m at 9pm. Big Brother: Power Trip continued with 1.06m at 10pm. BBC3's Orphan Black was watched by one hundred and ninety two thousand viewers at 11pm. Sky1's 24: Live Another Day continued with three hundred and eighty three thousand at 9pm.

Well-known Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, Mary Berry and Sheridan Smith will take part in the tenth series of Who Do You Think You Are? The family ancestry series will celebrate its tenth anniversary and its one hundredth episode during the upcoming series on BBC1 this summer. Big, mad shouty Brian Blessed, Julie Walters, Mrs Brown's Boys star Brendan O'Carroll and Reggie Yates will also appear. Tamzin Outhwaite, Martin Shaw and Twiggy complete the line-up for the series. A one-hour special will also accompany the series, looking back at some of its most surprising discoveries, including Jezza Paxman and JK Rowling. Maxine Watson, the BBC's Commissioning Editor of Documentaries, said: 'Since its launch in 2004, audiences have savoured the often unexpected and emotional journeys into family history. As we celebrate ten fantastic years in 2014, another ten famous faces discover more about themselves through their past. The new series promises to continue to deliver BBC1 audiences the laughter, tears and surprising revelations of family ancestry as only Who Do You Think You Are? can.'

Meanwhile, yer actual Jezza Paxman has revealed that his conservative leanings clashed with the majority of his Newsnight colleagues. The former presenter of the BBC's politics programme said that the show is 'made by thirteen-year-olds' and that he had become 'a one-nation Tory.' Paxman presented his last edition of the BBC2 show after twenty five years earlier this month. Speaking at the Chalke Valley History Festival, he spoke about the final edition which featured a tandem bike ride through London with Boris Johnson, in which the London Mayor called Jezza the 'last one-nation Tory' at the BBC. 'I have to be frank, I suppose I am a one-nation Tory,' Paxman said. 'Look, Newsnight is made by thirteen-year-olds. It's perfectly normal when you're young that you want to change the world. The older you get, the more you realise what a fools' errand much of that is and that the thing to do is to manage the best you can to the advantage of as many people as possible.' When asked if he was truly the last Conservative at the BBC, he said: 'I think I'll plead the fifth on that one.' Paxo will continue to present University Challenge on BBC2, while he will appear in a one-man show at the Edinburgh Festival later this year.

Jean Alexander's brother has spoken about the former Coronation Street actress's recent 'health scare.' The Mirra reported in a front page shitehawk 'exclusive' on Thursday that the eighty eight-year-old actress, who played Hilda Ogden in the popular Manchester soap for more than twenty years, had been rushed to hospital after an emergency call to her Merseyside home. A, nameless, neighbour had seemingly contacted the newspaper and told them how she 'became concerned' for the actress after spotting an ambulance outside her home. So concerned, obviously, that her first call was to a national newspaper like a filthy stinking Copper's Nark. God, some people are just disgraceful scum, dear blog reader. Of course, within hours of the Mirra's story appearing all manner of lurid and inaccurate rumours began to spread on the Internet concerning Jean's condition. Jean's brother, Kenneth Hodgkinson, has now spoken publicly and thanked fans for their support since the reports emerged whilst revealing that Jean is, actually, out of hospital and recuperating. 'She is very grateful for all the interest shown by the public in her. It is very kind of people to still be interested in her,' Hodgkinson said. 'She was taken in hospital on Monday. She did not feel too well in the morning. She was a little bit shaky so she was taken in and they tried to assess her to see what was the matter. We don't think it is serious, she is getting on very well,' he said. He added that Jean still has 'a bit of difficulty with walking', but is managing to get about with the aid of a walking frame. 'I've heard from the people there, in the home, that she is quite cheerful and she feels all right,' he said. 'She seems reasonably chirpy and not in danger. From what I hear she is pottering about and so on. It seems to have passed over.'

And so to the latest batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 5 July
Today sees BBC coverage of the third quarter-final at the world Cup, which takes place at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia. That'll be between either Argentina or Switzerland versus either Belgium or the USA (kick-off 5.00pm). Argentina and Belgium were considered the favourites to progress from the their last-sixteen fixtures after each having won all three of their group-stage matches. Lionel Messi was in good goal-scoring form during those games, scoring four of his country's six goals, but like many among the talented Argentine squad he was yet to produce his best form. The Belgies had also laboured to victory during their three matches, which was perhaps due to the burden of expectancy placed on the squad that has been labelled as 'the golden generation' for the country, and it remained to be seen whether they could raise their game against an American team which has been determined to capitalise on the increase in exposure back home where thousands are standing around gormlessly bellowing 'You-Ess-Aay' at every given opportunity. So, no change there, then. The side to emerge triumphant in this clash will progress to a semi-final against the victors of tonight's other fixture in Salvador, which features teams from groups A to D. That's on ITV and will feature the Netherlands versus Costa Rica (kick-off 9.00pm).

If you don't fancy the football then you're, clearly, strange. But, as an alternative how about a nice juicy murder or several? When an Oxford housewife is found hanged in her own home, the police initially mark it down as suicide in Expiation, another classic episode of Lewis - 7:00 ITV3. However, a meeting with an Oxford law professor prompts a sceptical Robbie Lewis and James Hathaway to believe something more sinister is afoot - a suspicion confirmed by the death of another woman in suspicious circumstances. Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox, as usual, star.

It's all maverick Geordie detectives tonight, it would seem. A murder at a remote cottage in Northumberland takes DCI Vera Stanhope back to a place full of childhood memories and reminds her of an unsolved case from earlier in her career in Vera - 9:00 ITV Encore. Delving into the local politics surrounding a controversial proposal to dig a quarry, she and her team find motives in the unlikeliest of places - until they realise that the truth could be hidden within the land itself. Brenda Blethyn's dishevelled titular heroine keeps her temper under wraps (or maybe under that capacious mac) and her accent under development whilst she investigates the murder of a middle-aged woman. Bella (played by Jane Holman) was once a suspect in an unsolved case involving a missing boy. Here, though, it seems that Bella's home stands in the way of a controversial proposal to dig a quarry nearby and that, Vera suspects, is the key motive for the killing. Drama, adapted from Ann Cleeves' novel The Crow Trap, guest starring This Life's Daniela Nardini, John Lynch and Elizabeth Carling). And, as usual, for anyone living within a twenty five mile radius of Newcastle, it's a location-spotters dream.

Sunday 6 July
Common - 9:00 BBC1 - is a one-off drama from miserable bitter old Red Jimmy McGovern, 'exploring the possible consequences of the UK's Joint Enterprise law, by which more than one person can be charged with the same offence.' Oh Christ, this sounds as miserable as fuck, as with just about all of McGovern's previous work. Seventeen-year-old Johnjo gives his cousin Tony and some friends a lift to a pizza parlour for food, unaware their real intention is to 'sort out' a local loudmouth. Things soon get out of hand, however, and an innocent bystander is fatally stabbed - and despite being in the car all the time, Johnjo finds himself charged with murder along with everyone else. Blah, blah, blah. Nico Mirallegro heads a cast that also includes Susan Lynch, Daniel Mays, Jodhi May, Robert Pugh and Michelle Fairley. If your idea of fun is an afternoon at the genital torturers, then this may very well be the virry drama to float your boat, dear  blog reader. Otherwise, I'd stick with the tennis, the Formula 1 and the Tour De France if I were you. Or, better yet, try reading a book and expanding your mind instead of watching shitehawk 'worthy' drivel like this.

From 'Dancing in the Street' to 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine' via 'This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)' and 'What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?', the various Motown labels produced some of the most era-defining music that still proves popular today. In The Nation's Favourite Motown Song 9:00 ITV - a ninety-minute 'special', Craig Charles counts down the Detroit record company's greatest hits, as voted for by the great unwashed British public. Founded by Berry Gordy in 1959, the legendary group of labels launched the careers of superstars such as Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations and Marvin Gaye. This programme features the story behind twenty Motown classics as told by the men and women who made pop history. Or, better yet, just get out a couple of the Motown Charbuster CDs which all decent homes should have in them somewhere (this blogger particularly recommends volume three). That'll save you from having to watch this programme.

CLANG! That chord (G eleventh suspended fourth, if you're taking notes) on George Harrison's Rickenbacker 360 12-string and we're off. The Be-Atles (a popular beat-combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) are running for their lives down Boston Place towards Marylebone Station. And, simultaneously, into cinema history. It's been said before but it bears repeating, A Hard Day's Night isn't just an evocation of Beatlemania, it is Beatlemania made flesh. At a time when Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard were still making old-style musicals, A Hard Day's Night - 7:35 BBC4 - entirely smashed the mould of what sort of movie a pop group could make. Satirising the endless round of banal inquisition, petty regulation and screaming adoration to which The Fab Four were subjected on a daily basis, this musical odyssey enabled The Be-Atles to mock authority and shirk duty without allowing such anti-establishment rebelliousness to detract from the carefully constructed working-class respectability of their lovable, parent-friendly Mop Top image. And to answer the sodding daft questions they were constantly asked by journalists - 'how did you find America?' - with equally sodding daft answers - 'we turned left at Greenland!' The film was only made at all because United Artists discovered a loophole in The Be-Atles US record deal with Capitol which didn't cover movie soundtracks. The company's thinking was, even if the film was a flop, they could still recover their costs in record sales. The chosen scriptwriter was a TV dramatist, Armchair Theatre veteran Alun Owen (Paul McCartney had particularly admired his 1959 kitchen-sink teleplay No Trams To Lime Street). Owen accompanied The Beatles for a few days in Dublin in November 1963 and quickly picked up their personality traits. Lennon would, subsequently, accuse Owen of being 'a professional Liverpudlian' to which Owen memorably replied 'it's better than being an amateur one!' Owen's script - 'there you go hidin' behind a series of bourgeois clichés!' - was sharp, pacey and very witty (and helped get the Scouse slang-expression 'grotty' - from grotesque - into the Oxford English Dictionary). It followed a - barely - fictionalise version of two days in The Be-Atles lives and was, as Ringo Starr memorably noted: 'A train and a room and a car and a room and a room and a room.' However, Richard Lester's film is not just a homage to Buster Keaton-style slapstick and Busby Berkeley-style lavish spectacle; it's also a handbook of new-wave film techniques, from Federico Fellini and the nouvelle vague to Free Cinema and the Czech Film Miracle. The plot is simple: John, Paul, George and Ringo board a train and set off for London, where they are due to take part in a live TV show. But the antics of Paul's mischievous - yet very clean - grandfather throw the performance into jeopardy. Wilfred Brambell, Britain's then-favourite dirty old man in the sitcom Steptoe & Son is terrific as granddad McCartney whilst Norman Rossington and John Junkin were cast as Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans substitutes Norm and Shake. Interestingly, there is no Brian Epstein figure in the movie. The rest of the cast was made up from reliable character actors (watch out, for instance, Frank Thornton in a tiny role). Ringo got most plaudits for his scene with the teenage David Janson and alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie Lennon had a fine solo spot – an amusing exchange with Anna Quayle. George was the unexpected bonus, casually throwing off atom-bombs of caustic wit from the sidelines ('filled his head with notions, seemingly'). He also met his future wife, Patti Boyd, on-set - she plays one of the schoolgirls on the train. Ironically, it was Paul - the 'theatrical' Be-Atle, the one who was, at the time, living with an actress - who seemed the most self-conscious. His big solo scene (with a young Isla Blair) ended up on the cutting room floor. Includes the classic songs 'A Hard Day's Night', 'I Should Have Known Better', 'If I Fell', 'She Loves You', 'This Boy', 'Can't Buy Me Love' (used over the brilliant sequence in the field), 'All My Loving' and others. With Victor Spinetti, Kenneth Haigh (as the advertising executive who tries to get George to like some 'grotty' shirts) and Richard Vernon as the man on the train who 'fought the war for your lot.' 'Bet you're sorry you won,' replies Ringo. Rite on, brother! A Hard Day’s Night was made ludicrously quickly by Lester and his crew – just seven weeks principal filming in March and April 1964. It had to be. United Artists (fearing the Beatles' popularity might crumble at any moment) needed it in cinemas by July. In the event, the film was a huge hit - both commercially and, more surprising, critically - memorably described by Andrew Sallis in Village Voice as 'the Citizen Kane of jukebox movies.' Flattering as that description is, it actually manages to undersell A Hard Day’s Night's achievements. Citizen Kane is, merely, a very great movie. A Hard Day's Night, on the other hand, is arguably a part - and a pretty damn big part at that - of a socio-political revolution in action. For many, A Hard Day's Night remains the truest celluloid portrait of The Be-Atles and, in the 'Can't Buy Me Love' sequence, the perfect evocation of an era. At the end of three minutes of joyous abandon, an angry representative of authority arrives to put an end to all this frivolity. 'Sorry we hurt your field, Mister,' says George with sad resignation. At the end of the day, it was still their world. But it wouldn't be for much longer. 'He's very fussy about his drums. They loom large in his legend!'

Monday 7 July
And, speaking of cheeky-chappie Scousers, in 1992, the then twenty five-year-old John Bishop rode a bicycle through Australia and back to Liverpool. But having spent all day on the road, he always felt he missed out on so much of the country he rode through. In the appropriately titled two-parter John Bishop's Australia - 9:00 BBC1 - Bishop returns to retrace his journey Down Under, using his original diary as a guidebook, meeting a range of extraordinary characters and experiencing true natural wonders. The comic begins by talking about his life back in Britain twenty two years ago, and why he decided to set off on the journey in the first place, before he travels to Sydney and sets off up the east coast.

For the student teams who appear on University Challenge, their quest begins months before they arrive in the programme's studio to meet formidable host Jezza Paxman. In the two-part documentary University Challenge: Class of 2014 - 7:30 BBC2 - cameras follow the would-be contestants as they strive to be among the twenty eight universities and colleges to win a coveted place in the competition, revealing how teams are selected and the preparation they go through for the gruelling audition stage. Richard Osman narrates. Paxo terrifies the living bejesus out of everyone in sight, As usual.

In Tales From The Royal Wardrobe with Lucy Worsley - 9:00 BBC4 - the historian and curator (of whom, we're all big fans of here at From The North) looks at the fashion styles of former kings and queens, contemplating whether their wardrobes are intended to be a personal statement to the people. From Elizabeth I to the present queen, Doctor Lucy looks at how most monarchs have carefully choreographed their clothes - and the disastrous consequences for those who did not. And, gets dressed up like a Christmas cake at one point. As this photographic evidence proves. That sounds entertaining.
Tuesday 8 July
The BBC and ITV both have the rights to cover the World Cup semi-finals and final and the first of these matches (kick-off 9.00pm), which takes place at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte is on tonight. It features the winning sides from the first and second quarter-finals. So, the really good news is that from this point in the competition onwards, no one will have to suffer watching the World Cup on ITV any longer. Bye Chiles, you odious greed bucket (and drag). I can't say it was a pleasure. With the host nation having reached the last sixteen as winners of Group A, hopes will be high that they have progressed this far, and should they do so, they will still be on course to banish the memories of their defeat in the final match of the 1950 tournament, which was the only other time the event has been staged here. Three of the semi-finalists in South Africa four years ago hailed from Europe, as the Netherlands defeated a resolute Uruguayan side three-two in the opening encounter, before eventual champions Spain registered a narrow one-nil win over Germany. One thing is certain, Spain won't be there to repeat their triumph of four years ago. Neither will Uruguay for that matter. Or, indeed, England.

A sinister partnership develops between Hannibal and Will Graham, while Lecter's curiosity is piqued by the revelation that the brother of his troubled patient, Margot, has trained pigs to consume human flesh in Hannibal - 10:00 Sky Living. Meanwhile, Jack Crawford investigates the grisly case of Randall Tier, whose mutilated body has been found in the museum where he worked. Michael Pitt (from Boardwalk Empire) joins the cast.

In the latest episode of CSI - 9:00 Channel Five - A homeless man goes on a winning streak at a casino that nets him three hundred and fifty thousand dollars, but his luck runs out big-style when he is later found stabbed to death in an alley. After scouring the crime scene for clues, the CSI team learn that the victim recently visited a pawn shop, where the investigators discover his winnings hidden in a stereo speaker taken in by a security guard from the casino.
In the second of the two-part Rebels of Oz: Germaine, Clive, Barry and Bob - 9:00 BBC4 - Howard Jacobson continues to chart the rise of Germaine Greer, Clive James, Barry Humphries and Robert Hughes, exploring how they became influential figures around the world. He looks at their achievements as young adults and how they become renowned as a man-hating journalist, an annoying show-off of no obvious talent, a comedian (of sorts) and an art critic respectively.

Wednesday 9 July
The second World Cup semi-final (kick-off 9.00pm) is, again, on both BBC1 and ITV. So, that'll be BBC1, then. No contest, really. All the action from the clash at the Arena de Sao Paulo, as the line-up for the biggest match in football is confirmed.

'This distinctive island nation! This great southern land called Australia!' The - rather bombastic - documentary series Coast Australia ends with that declaration - 9:00 BBC2. Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) and his band of brothers and sisters end with a final bundle of mini-reports. Scottish Neil visits a thriving shack community without power or running water and where one lady’s idea of a good time is tanning fish skins. We also meet a whale shark, or 'this mysterious giant of the ocean', a lovely creature with a mouth like an open handbag. We dip quickly into the obligatory Coast Australia naval battle of the week (HMAS Sydney and the Nazi vessel the Kormoran) and admire some living, breathing fossils that look like dirty big rocks. Xanthe Mallett heads to the Houtman Abrolhos islands to unravel the gruesome tale of the Dutch Batavia murders of 1629. Emma Johnston learns why the world's largest fish keeps returning to the crystal waters of Ningaloo Reef and Brendan Moar catches up with coastal nomads living off the grid on the edge of the continent. Last in the series.

Armour-plated killing machine Jack Bauer continues his battle to bring down embittered widow Margot Al-Harazi, with the help of CIA agent Kate Morgan and his trusty old sidekick, Chloe O'Brian in the second-to-last episode of 24: Live Another Day - 9:00 Sky1. Kiefer Sutherland stars, with Yvonne Strahovski, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Michelle Fairley and Stephen Fry.

Thursday 10 July
After four weeks of intense competition, the best eight cooks put of the desperate z-lisers lined-up for this year's Celebrity MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1 - have made it through to the semi-finals. And thus are guaranteed another couple of hours of primetime which, you suspect, is the main reason that most of them have volunteered for the gig. let's face it, it's certainly not because they're mad about cooking, is it? Their first challenge sees them going back in time as they cater for one hundred members of The Shakespeare Society, who have gathered to celebrate what would have been the writer's four hundred and fiftieth birthday and get a free meal on the licence fee payer into the bargain. Nice work if you can get it. It's a battle between the boys and girls and proves especially difficult as they cook centuries-old recipes on equipment they have never used before. Back in the studio, the contestants choose a box, each of which contains the ingredients for a classic British dish. At the end of this challenge, two of the hopefuls will be hanging up their aprons. John Torode and Gregg Wallace present this, curiously addictive daftness.

Peter Bowell presents an edition of Top Of The Pops - 7:30 BBc4 - first broadcast on 2 August 1979. Featuring performances by Sham 69, The Olympic Runners, ABBA, The Korgis, BA Robertson, Dave Edmunds, Sparks, The Specials (aw, yeah!), Darts, The Boomtown Rats and The Gibson Brothers. Plus, dance sequences by Legs & Co.
With the hunt on for Atika's son, Hayden-Hoyle starts to investigate who killed Meshal and why, but his enquiries are blocked by his boss Dame Julia Walsh on the instructions of the CIA, and the MI6 chief directs his attention elsewhere in the second part of The Honourable Woman - 9:00 BBC2. Meanwhile, as more of her past is uncovered, Nessa receives a mysterious phone call from a man who threatens to divulge secrets from the period when she and Atika were kidnapped eight years previously in Gaza. Political thriller written and directed by Hugo Blick, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stephen Rea and Janet McTeer.
And, if you can't find anything else to your liking tonight, Dave have a Would I Lie To You? marathon starting at 9pm. Though, be warned, they're mostly episodes from the early series' of the comedy panel show when Angus Deayton was hosting it and before it got really good.

Friday 11 July
Even without a game on, it's almost impossible to get away from the football at the moment. Which is okay as far as this blogger is concerned but some miserable old waste-of-oxygen is probably whinging about it somewhere. In the pages of the Daily Scum Mail, like as not. In Alan Hansen: Player And Pundit - 10:35 BBC1 - Gary Lineker presents a look at the respective careers of the ex-Liverpool centre back, who is soon to retire from his role at the BBC, which has seen him serve as an expert analyst since 1992. Unbelievable. As a player Hansen represented Liverpool in over four hundred appearances between 1977 and 1991, during a glittering era which saw the club win eight league titles and three European Cups, among other honours. Hansen was also a member of the team during the infamous disasters at Hillsborough in 1989 and the Heysel Stadium during the 1985 European Cup final, both of which he talks about candidly, revealing the impact they have had on him personally. After retiring as a player he went on to become one of the more respected TV analysts in the game, and was known for his passionate, forthright and intelligent views that led to him being referred to as 'the King of the Pundits' by his colleague Lineker - if not anyone less impartial. Lineker his very self is joined by the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Des Lynam, Gary Neville and Mark Lawrenson in offering their opinions on the Scot. There are also contributions from Hansen's wife Janet, as well as their two children Lucy and Adam.

Britain's Most Dangerous Songs: Listen To The Banned - 9:00 BBC4 - tells the stories of ten songs, dating from the 1930s to the present day, which were considered 'unsuitable' by the BBC for broadcasting on its radio and television stations. Tunes include 'Lola' by The Kinks (not because it was about a transvestite but, rather, because it 'advertised' Coca Cola in the lyrics), 'Jackie' by Scott Walker (for including the shocking word 'bordello') and '(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang' by Heaven 17. Though it is, perhaps, surprising that Bing Crosby and The Munchkins are among the other performers on the list. The reasons why these records were censored reveals much of the changing controversies around youth culture. Contributors include Carrie Grant, Paul Morley, Stuart Maconie, Glen Matlock (because 'God Save The Queen' is featured, obviously), Mike Read - presumably still trying to justify how he, single-handedly, persuaded the BBC not to play 'Relax' - and Jon Robb. That's immediately followed by the companion show More Dangerous Songs: And The Banned Played On - 10:00 - which plays said records in full.

Tony Hill investigates a series of mysterious deaths resembling the martyrdom of Christian saints and realises that they are being instigated by a shadowy figure who presides over a sinister suicide cult in Hole In The Heart another properly gripping episode of the much-missed Wire In The Blood - ITV3 10:00. A local vicar seems the most likely suspect, but his own death soon afterwards rules him out of the investigation - and events culminate in a surprise revelation. Psychological thriller, starring Wor Geet Canny Robson Green, Simone Lahbib, Mark Letheren and Emma Handy. Fine guests turns by the great Michael Cochran, Peter Sullivan and Felix Scott are also notable as is Colin Stinton's memorably twitchy murderer.
It's the 2010 series of Mock The Week which is getting the strip-scheduling marathon treatment on Dave tonight - five episodes in a row from 9pm. This might bring back some happy memories of a time before Chris Addison and his needy, 'everybody look at me, me, me, me, me, me, me' malarkey infected Mock The Week. And, when Russell Howard was still quite funny. It was a long, long time ago, dear blog reader, in a galaxy far, far away.

The BBC has apologised after sending two test 'breaking news' alerts in error to BBC News app subscribers. The text of the alerts included the headline: NYPD Twitter campaign 'backfires' after hashtag hijacked. They were sent to millions of UK subscribers to BBC News alerts on iOS devices. 'We've been in the process of testing new functionality for our apps and a test message was sent in error this morning,' a spokesman said. 'We apologise to our app users who were unnecessarily interrupted with the alert.' Push alerts for users of BBC News mobile apps, on iOS and Android, were introduced in July 2013. App users receive alerts when there are major breaking news stories. The person who sent the erroneous alerts has since, reportedly, been locked in a little room and given a good kicking in their naughty bits as punishment for being such a bloody fool.
And, so the real news.
Next week, six very naughty men will be sentenced for their involvement in the interception of voicemail messages on mobile phones at the Scum of the World. Between them, they were either responsible for hacking into the phones - or knowing about such nefarious skulduggery and doing nothing about it. Which was bad and wrong of them. During an eight-month trial, jurors were told of hacking on 'an industrial scale' at the disgraced, disgraceful and now-defunct Scum of the World. Many thousands of messages on the phones of up to five thousand people were illegally accessed. The six are former, the editor and the Prime Minister's, if you will, 'chum', convicted phone-hacker Andy Coulson, three senior executives at the scum tabloid, Greg Miskiw, James Weatherup and Neville Thurlbeck, plus the reporter Dan Evans and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire who did most of the actual hacking. These men committed crimes to which five pleaded guilty while one, the convicted hacker Coulson, having denied it, was found extremely guilty by the jury.

A new play about the press, politics and the police is to be staged by the National Theatre in the wake of the phone-hacking trial. Great Britain, which has been written by One Man, Two Guv'nors playwright Richard Bean, will open next week. Directed by Sir Nicholas Hytner, it stars yer actual Billie Piper as Paige Britain, an ambitious tabloid news editor who isn't, in any way, like well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike and wholly innocent individual Rebekah Brooks. Oh no, very hot water. It comes after former Scum of the World editor Andy Coulson was found extremely guilty of conspiracy to hack phones. His predecessor as editor, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was cleared of all charges after the eight-month Old Bailey trial. The play was delayed while the theatre awaited the trial verdicts, but it will now open at the National's Lyttleton auditorium on Monday 30 June without any previews. Sir Nicholas told the BBC that phone-hacking 'does feature' but only 'as one element of the play. It's a satire about a network of relationships between the press and the police and the political establishment,' he said. 'It is in no sense a docu-drama, it's a fiction.' The director denied that any characters were based on well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks or the Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' and convicted phone-hacker Coulson. 'There aren't any specific characters who encapsulate in their entirety any specific individuals - but the culture that gave rise to the criminality that has been uncovered by the trial - that is represented on stage,' Sir Nicholas said. He suggested that Bean - who most recently wrote the script for the Gemma Arterton musical Made Ln Dagenham - had been 'spurred' to write by his anger at the 'cosy' relationship between the press, politicians and police. 'It's a comedy - with teeth,' claimed Sir Nicholas. 'It doesn't set out merely to entertain.' The play will run until 23 August.

Gillian Taylforth's 1994 court case against the Sun is to be the subject of a drama on Channel Five. The Trial Of Gillian Taylforth will reconstruct the high-profile libel trial's courtroom events based on contemporary news coverage and transcripts, as well as featuring interviews with witnesses and legal experts. The EastEnders and Hollyoaks actress originally filed against the scummy tabloid after it had reported that police had seen her 'performing a sex act' on her boyfriend in her car whilst parked in a lay-by. Taylforth claimed that she had simply been giving her partner, Geoff Knights, 'medical assistance' during 'a bout of abdominal pain' and sought to dismiss the officers' claims. On the stand, Taylforth described how she had been 'subjected to a torrent of abuse' since the story broke and claimed what the policeman said he had witnessed was physically impossible. As a result, she and Knights were, infamously, made to re-enact the situation in the car park of the Royal Courts of Justice in order to prove their innocence. After two Sun journalists proved that the set up was entirely possible, the paper's counsel submitted a damning thirty five-minute home video of Taylforth simulating sex acts with a wine bottle and making lewd suggestions about her sexual prowess, including a particularly notorious bit with a sausage. The jury found in favour of the Sun and after the verdict was announced, Taylforth collapsed in the courtroom and was taken away by ambulance. The Trial Of Gillian Taylforth will be broadcast on Channel Five next month.

Ian McKellen has spoken about the return of ITV sitcom Vicious and 'getting it better.' Cos, let's face it, it couldn't, possibly, get much worse. The comedy series drew a mixed reception from critics, with McKellen telling The Advocate website that his own performance 'needs attention.' Though, to be honest, that was the least of its many, many problems. 'It was particularly difficult for me to work out how to play to an audience of five hundred people - who are in the studio with us - and play more subtly to the camera,' he claimed. 'I think there's a level of playing that I'm interested in getting right [this time].' McKellen also voiced his desire for there to be 'more signs of modern gay life' in the second series. 'I've heard hints that the characters are going to be getting out of the house a bit more, and I like that,' he said. However, the veteran actor defended Vicious from accusations that it is homophobic. 'I think there's been some confusion with people who've been critical of these exaggerated eccentrics that we're playing and worry we're going back to the stereotypical gays you would get in sitcoms twenty or thirty years ago,' he said. 'Well, the fact is these characters are different. These guys are out and have no problem with being gay. They're not hiding it. They're not making sly jokes about it. The comedy in this can be full-throated and you're not laughing at these guys, you're laughing with them, I hope.' Actually Ian, sadly, most people were doing neither, as the shows rapidly dwindling audience kind of proved. Vicious was recommissioned by ITV in August 2013 after its opening episode had brought in a large audience. One images the channel was regretting that decision six week later when three quarters of them had fled. The channel's comedy commissioning editor Myfanwy Moore has described the first series as 'a learning curve.'

Father Ted fans have attempted to bring 'My Lovely Horse' to the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. The Irish parliament has rejected the petition, titled legislate to make 'My Lovely Horse' Ireland's entry for Eurovision 2015, which was formally submitted to the dáil in May. The petition was launched by a group named 'The People of Ireland (and interested Britons too)' (ie. some nutters on the Internet). While the Oireachtas petitions committee considered the request on Wednesday, it said that it couldn't force Ireland's national broadcaster to submit the entry. Chairman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said that the committee 'didn't have the musical expertise' it needed to realistically consider the issue. Which, to be fair, neither did Father Ted and Father Douglas their very selves. The song - performed in reality by The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon who also wrote the Father Ted theme - appeared in the Father Ted episode A Song For Europe, in which Ted and Dougal find themselves representing Ireland with the worst song imaginable so that the country will not win the competition and, thus, be saddled with the cost of staging the following year's event. This blogger would like to throw From The North's weight behind this wonderful endeavour but, perhaps, lose the sax solo. Just a thought.

US pay-TV company Scripps is understood to have offered the BBC as much as five hundred million smackers to take full control of UKTV, operator of channels including Gold, Dave and Watch. Scripps, which looked at buying Channel Five earlier this year and owns TV brands including The Food Network, which broadcasts shows such as Nigella Express, bought out Virgin Media’s fifty per cent stake in UKTV for three hundred and thirty nine million knicker in 2011. UKTV, the pay-TV business formed in 1997 as a fifty-fifty joint venture with BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, is home to a portfolio of ten pay-TV channels, with shows including Dynamo: Magician Impossible, Suits, Top Gear, QiCastle and Red Dwarf. The BBC news website suggests that Scripps has made multiple attempts to convince BBC Worldwide to sell up, with the best offer thought to be in the region of five hundred million notes. However, BBC Worldwide is also understood to be interested in increasing its UKTV stake. When Scripps bought into UKTV in 2011, the BBC included an option in the new joint venture agreement to increase its stake to up to sixty per cent, using a combination of cash and digital rights. This option was never exercised, as BBC Worldwide lacks the financial muscle or flexibility within its three hundred and fifty million quid borrowing facility. UKTV made a healthy operating profit of seventy one million smackers last year, with Scripps boosting programme investment to a record high of one hundred and ten million mucho wonga. 'We have no plans to sell our stake in UKTV,' said a spokeswoman for BBC Worldwide. Scripps' talks with BBC Worldwide, which are no longer thought to be live, reveal the ongoing appetite big US firms have for major UK media assets. In early May, MTV-owner Viacom paid four hundred and fifty million notes to buy Channel Five from soft-core pornographer Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell. Days later, Discovery, a failed bidder for Channel Five, and Virgin Media-owner Liberty Global acquired All3Media, the UK independent behind shows including Skins and Midsomer Murders, for five hundred and fifty million quid. Barely a week later, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's Twenty First Century Fox struck a deal with the private equity firm that controls Big Brother maker Endemol and American Idol parent Core Media Group to create a production company giant. Scripps Networks has been on a major expansion drive internationally, taking stakes in numerous channels.

The BBC has been accused of being too 'squeamish' and 'simplistic' in its coverage of rural life, according to a new report. Not by anybody that actually matters, of course. The allegedly 'independent' review carried out by one Heather Hancock who formally chaired the BBC's rural affairs committee, suggested that its coverage was 'generally impartial' and praised flagship shows including Countryfile. But the BBC Trust, the corporation’s governing body which commissioned the review, found 'some people' thought that coverage had 'a metropolitan bias.' It said: 'Audiences feel network news coverage can be simplistic and, on contentious stories, too often focuses on protest rather than the underlying issues.' BBC coverage of the trial badger cull was generally praised but it was criticised for 'the predominant use of images of healthy badgers to open or conclude a report' which were seen to favour those opposed to the cull. The report stated: 'People asked where were the pictures of sick badgers with TB, or infected cows being shot, or a distraught farming family coming to terms with the loss of their animals.' One witness, Country Life editor Mark Hedges, said coverage was often 'sanitised' and did 'the countryside a real disservice in the process.' He said: 'You've got to show how food comes about – what the realities of life are. The BBC is incredibly squeamish about the countryside.' The report is one of a regular series of impartiality reviews of corporation coverage commissioned by the Trust. Hancock said: 'Overall, the BBC does a good job in reporting accurate, balanced and impartial rural stories. However, there is room for improvement. In England particularly, rural stories and rural lives could be more fully represented in nationwide output. I found that the BBC relied disproportionately on a small number of external bodies for input and comment. A wider range of voices would broaden the opinions offered to audiences. There was a tendency to focus on the environmental aspects of rural UK: this should be balanced by the economic and social dimensions.' Among her recommendations was that the BBC should re-establish the role of rural affairs correspondent. BBC trustee Alison Hastings said: 'The twelve million people in the UK living in rural areas must have confidence that the BBC is both reflecting their lives and, where relevant, telling national stories from a rural perspective. We welcome Heather Hancock's overall conclusion that the BBC’s rural coverage is impartial and her praise for many areas of BBC programming, but the BBC must serve all audiences. To this end it must tackle the deficit in its network coverage of rural England, and broaden the range of voices it features on rural issues on network news.' A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We take our commitment to the reporting of rural affairs very seriously and welcome the report's endorsement of our programming and overall impartiality. Whilst the report finds overall we do a good job reflecting and reporting rural affairs there are areas where we can do better and we have committed to a range of steps to help improve the coverage further.'
The former health minister Edwina Currie has said that she 'regrets ever setting eyes' on dirty old scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile, after an inquiry into his catalogue of sexual abuse of NHS patients criticised the access she allowed him into Broadmoor hospital. The former Conservative MP told the Gruniad Morning Star she was 'shocked, surprised, startled [and] disgusted' by the revelations that Savile had molested patients in high-security care, adding that the reports were 'upsetting for everyone involved.' She denied appointing Savile – who was not a doctor or NHS employee – to a 'governance taskforce' which took charge of Broadmoor in 1988 and stressed that she was only responsible for that portfolio for 'around four months.' However, an NHS inquiry found that a senior civil servant, Cliff Graham, appointed Savile to the managerial role and Currie retrospectively rubber-stamped that decision. Currie was subsequently supportive of Savile's promises to confront the Prisoner Officers Association about working practices and issued a press release at the time sycophantically praising his work. The statement ended: '[Savile] is an amazing man and has my full confidence.' Senior civil servants were aware of rumours of Savile's reputation in relation to 'young ladies' but still did not question him taking a senior managerial role at Broadmoor, the investigation revealed. It found that Savile's inclusion on the taskforce allowed him to tell Broadmoor staff he was 'running the hospital.' Currie said that she was 'still reading the report' but that most of the revelations were 'completely new' to her and Savile's abusive behaviour had been 'entirely hidden' at the time. 'Regrets? Absolutely. I wish we had never seen hide nor hair from him,' she said. The inquiry found that Currie had met Savile in 1988, when he was already on the taskforce and put forward proposals for improving the management of the hospital. The former entertainer claimed to know about 'fiddling of overtime' and 'fraudulent occupation of hospital accommodation' by prison guards. Currie told the inquiry that Savile had 'looked at everything he could use to blackmail the POA', and she thought this approach was a 'pretty classy piece of operation' typical of how things were done at the time. Records of the meeting between Savile and Currie show that he asked for the minister to 'press the button' on his plans for the hospital and note that she promised to give him her 'full support' as long as the public were protected and inmates' lives improved. The note, written by a civil servant, ends: 'You might have warned me of his penchant for kissing ladies full on the mouth.' In evidence to the inquiry, Currie said that the taskforce was 'dreamed up and seemed like a very good idea and step forward by Jimmy Savile who knew the place backwards and was more than happy to volunteer his time to do this.' However, the report concluded that the approach was 'based on tolerating fraudulent and possibly illegal activity in exchange for greater compliance from the POA, when the activity should have been investigated and dealt with properly.' It added: 'If true, it would of course have given Savile a hold over staff that he could have misused in other ways.' Tom Watson (power to the people!), the Labour MP who has been investigating historic allegations of child sex abuse, said that Currie and other ministers still had further questions to answer about the access granted to Savile, who had senior political connections including a lengthy 'friendship' with Margaret Thatcher. 'How reprehensible that Currie was seduced by a plan to blackmail staff at Broadmoor over their working conditions. In her naivety, it allowed a dangerous, predatory sex abuser unfettered access to some of the most vulnerable people in the country,' he said. 'How on earth did this state of affairs come about?'

Believe in better, say those really annoying Sky adverts, a philosophy hard to marry with the very old-tech idea of paying salesmen to go door-to-door flogging television and broadband contracts. Door-to-door selling is what gas and electricity suppliers do. Or, used to do, often landing themselves in hot water with their regulator when the sales techniques proved too aggressive or plain misleading. The market leader in pay-television, you might have assumed, would wish to set a loftier tone. Now it will, probably. BSkyB is proposing to axe all its five hundred and fifty door-to-door salesmen, or 'Sky Walkers', and has taken them off the streets while it conducts a consultation with employees. But this, note, is not because whistleblowers among the so-called Sky Walkers came forward to the Gruniad Morning Star to allege sharp selling practices and hard-to-meet sales targets. It is because, as BSkyB explains, 'as customers choose other ways to buy our products, door-to-door sales are becoming less viable.' The review of door-to-door selling, apparently, was already taking place before the allegations were made, recently. But it's becoming harder to see why any mass-market consumer-facing business would wish to take the risk of running a commission-based door-to-door sales operation. The danger of damaging the brand is simply too great.

North Korea has promised 'merciless retaliation' if a forthcoming Hollywood movie about a plan to assassinate Kim Jong-Un is released, according to press agencies. A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said in state media that the movie's release would be 'an act of war.' So, clearly not mental, then, or anything like it. He did not mention the title, but a Hollywood movie called The Interview with a similar plot is due in October. James Franco and Seth Rogen star in the movies which is described as 'an action-comedy.' They play a talk show host and his producer who are invited to interview Kim Jong-Un in Pyongyang and are subsequently recruited by the CIA to assassinate the fat, deranged dictator. Who smells. Apparently. That's called 'freedom of speech' North Korea. Get used to it. By the way, if Stately Telly Topping Manor happens to disappear and be replaced by a large, smoking hole in the ground any time in the immediate future, dear blog reader, you'll know that what your mother told you was right, if you haven't got anything nice to say about anyone, don't say anything at all. Anyway, one trusts that the US State department's response to such breast-beating nonsense is something along the lines of 'oh, for fuck's sake, grown up, will you?' The film's teaser trailer, posted on Youtube, shows a lookalike actor playing Kim Jong-un, as well as fight scenes involving what appear to be North Korean tanks and helicopters and a nuclear missile launch. The North Korean spokesman was quoted by the state KCNA news agency as saying: 'Making and releasing a movie on a plot to hurt our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated.' He added that the 'reckless US provocative insanity' of mobilising 'a gangster filmmaker' to challenge the North's leadership was triggering 'a gust of hatred and rage' among North Korean people and soldiers. 'If the US administration allows and defends the showing of the film, a merciless counter-measure will be taken,' the spokesman was quoted as saying. So, definitely not mental or anything. Apparent evidence emerged last week supporting claims that North Korea is further developing its missile technology. Some experts said they had identified a new anti-ship cruise missile shown in a North Korean propaganda film. Other observers were more sceptical, some even going so far as to suggest that they couldn't hit a barn door from two feet away with a pea shooter. Rogen, one of the directors of The Interview, recently said that he was inspired to make the movie by journalists' trips to North Korea. He told Yahoo: 'People have the, hypothetical, discussion about how journalists have access to the world's most dangerous people and they, hypothetically, would be in a good situation to assassinate them.' He added that the film was originally about meeting Kim Jong-Il, but they had to revise the script when he died in 2011 and his son Kim Jong-Un took power.

Naughty little scamp and tinker Luis Suarez has been extremely suspended from 'all football-related activity' for four months for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini. Whether such a ban also includes watching matches on telly, doing keepy-ups in the garden on his own or playing Subbuteo is not, at this time, entirely clear. The Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws player has also been banned for nine international matches for Uruguay, ruling him out of the rest of the 2014 World Cup competition. He will also miss the first nine games of the Premier League season and the opening rounds of both the Champions League and the Capital One Cup for his club - who are, understandably, a bit pissed-off about all this since it occurred whilst he wasn't playing for them. The incident occurred during Tuesday in the Group D game, which Uruguay won to qualify for the last sixteen. Suarez has also been fined one hundred thousand Swiss francs (or, about a day's wages). The ban is the largest in World Cup history, beating the eight game suspension given to Italy's Mauro Tassotti for elbowing Spain's Luis Enrique in 1994. 'Such behaviour cannot be tolerated on any football pitch and, in particular, not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field,' Claudio Sulser, chairman of the FIFA disciplinary committee, said in a statement. Suarez's first match back for the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws - if, indeed, he is still at Anfield at the time - could be in round four of the Capital One Cup, with matches due to take place in the week commencing 27 October. Suarez has now been found guilty of biting three opponents during his career. He was banned for ten games for biting Moscow Chelski FC's Branislav Ivanovic during a Premier League match in 2013 and was also suspended for seven games for biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal in 2010 when he was playing for Ajax. His ban includes 'all football-relate activity', including presumably, training. He also has a total worldwide stadium ban for the same four month period. Under the terms of the ban, Suarez is prohibited from entering the confines of any stadium, even just for a look around. FIFA, however, did stop short of telling him that he must sit in silence and 'think about what he's done.' However, Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws would not be prevented from selling the player this summer should they decide to offload him to another club. Uruguay say that they will appeal, calling it an 'excessive decision' for which 'there was not enough evidence.'

There was a twenty-four carat classic moment on Sky Sports News on Friday when the idiotic Bryan Swanson with his ludicrous over-pronunciation excitedly told viewers: 'We have heard unconfirmed reports that Liverpool and Barcelona have opened talks on the subject of Suarez. The source was not associated with either Liverpool or Barcelona.' So, that'd be just 'some bloke' you've been talking to then, Brian?
Meanwhile Suarez's grandmother, Lila Piriz Da Rosa, has claimed that her grandson has been 'treated like a dog' by FIFA after he was thrown out of the World Cup for the third biting incident of his professional career. Not, perhaps, the most sensible of similes to use in this case since a dog which bites people usually gets humanely destroyed rather than a four month ban (on full pay). A necessary difference, one feels.
Brazil secured a dramatic penalty shootout win against Chile to reach the last eight and set up an all-South American quarter-final against Colombia on Saturday. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar was the hero, making two crucial spot-kick saves, to thwart a relentless Chile side who were denied victory themselves by the woodwork with seconds to spare in extra time. That the hosts came as close as they did to making an unexpected exit in Belo Horizonte had a nation of more than two hundred million people holding its breath. Cesar, who made just one appearance for Queens Park Strangers last season and went on loan to FC Toronto, redeemed an error he made which cost Brazil dear in the quarter-finals against The Netherlands in 2010. He saved from Mauricio Pinilla and Alexis Sanchez as Brazil went on to win a tense shootout three-two. Gonzalo Jara hit a post with the decisive spot-kick to prompt wild celebrations inside the Estadio Mineirao - and across the rest of the nation. David Luiz and Marcelo had converted their efforts for Brazil, but with Willian and Hulk missing theirs, it fell to the hosts' star striker Neymar to step up under intense pressure and calmly slot home what proved the winning kick. Luiz had earlier put the hosts in front, only for the hugely impressive Alexis Sanchez to equalise. Hulk then had a strike disallowed for handball by referee Howard Webb - fairly, as it turned out but, but much to the geet stroppy anger of the home fans. Pinilla also hit the crossbar for Chile in the final minute of extra time. A high-tempo and high-quality first half, was followed by a more sedate second period which always suggested extra time might follow. Brazil's fans roared with relief while Chile were defeated, yet with their reputation as one of the game's most dangerous sides significantly enhanced. Having never lost to La Roja on home soil and having beaten them on all three of their previous World Cup meetings, Brazil arrived with history on their side. Chile earned a two-two draw at the same venue last year but that was one of only two encounters in which they avoided defeat since last beating Brazil fourteen years ago. The noise in the stadium before before kick-off was astonishing, swathes of yellow dominating the pockets of red, and the atmosphere only intensified when Fernandinho went in late on Charles Aranguiz and the Chile midfielder and team-mate Gary Medel responded in kind by kicking Neymar up a height. After Webb turned down a penalty appeal at either end, Brazil soon took control and were rewarded for their pressure when Neymar's corner was flicked on by captain Thiago Silva and steered into the net by what appeared to be a combination of Luiz and Chile defender Jara. Brazil's main threat was once again Neymar, the twenty two-year-old dragging a shot wide after racing towards goal and then being sent flying by Arturo Vidal's reckless challenge. Luiz Felipe Scolari had warned his side they could not afford to make any mistakes in the knockout stage and he would have been furious with the way Chile were allowed back into contention. Hulk's poor control from Marcelo's throw-in gifted possession to Eduardo Vargas and he quickly found Sanchez in the penalty area to drill a low finish across Cesar. Brazil worked hard to regain the lead but the half ended with the hosts frantically scrambling to deny Aranguiz after carelessness from Luiz Gustavo. The second half felt comparatively subdued compared to the frantic pace of the first until Webb's big call arrived, with Hulk judged to have controlled a pass with his arm before beating Bravo. It was a tough and unpopular decision but seemed, on the basis of television replays, to be the correct one. It must also have severely pissed-off Guy Mowbray commentating for the BBC who had, clearly, waited all tournament to have the opportunity to say 'Hulk! Incredible!' only to then see the goal disallowed. Don't get him angry, Mister Mowbray. You wouldn't like him when he's angry. A period of Chile pressure ensued as Cesar superbly denied Aranguiz from close range. Former Sheikh Yer Man City striker Jo replaced the once again ineffectual Fred and might have made a quick impact, but failed to connect with Hulk's cross. Bravo did well to repel a Neymar header and Hulk's powerful, ahem, smash, before again thwarting the much-improved Hulk in the first period of extra time. Scolari played his final card by introducing Moscow Chelski's Willian for a disappointing Oscar, but the weary Chileans - for whom the excellent Medel was carried off on a stretcher in tears - switched from an aggressive three-one-four-two formation to a defensive five-one-three-one and appeared intent on holding on for penalties. They could, however, have snatched the most incredible of winners when substitute Pinilla rattled the bar powerfully in the final minute. Penalties would be needed and Brazil held their nerve to make the last eight as Chile's arse fell out at and their bottle went at the most unfortunate of times.

But as one South American surprise package left the tournament they had so lit up, another just kept on going. James Rodriguez confirmed his status as the World Cup's newest star with a virtuoso display as Colombia took advantage of mad bitey Luis Suarez's absence to beat a poor Uruguay in Rio. As the controversial Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws striker watched back in Uruguay after being banned for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini, twenty two-year-old Rodriguez elevated his name alongside Brazil hero Neymar and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi. Suarez had been crucial to Uruguay's progress to the last sixteen but Oscar Tabarez's side were struggling against the odds once FIFA imposed a nine-match international ban and four-month suspension from all football-related activity on their star striker. If one superstar had left the stage, another has emerged as Monaco's Rodriguez volleyed arguably the goal of the tournament in the first half then crowned a superb team move for the second. In the absence of the injured Radamel Falcao, Rodriguez has become Colombia's new pin-up and is making his mark on the global stage as the tournament's current top-scorer with five goals. His side will now meet hosts Brazil in the quarter-final in Fortaleza on Friday - and have shown they have the capacity to wreck the hopes of the host nation. He may not have been inside the Maracana but Suarez was here in spirit as Uruguay fans showed their solidarity with the shamed striker, sporting masks, brandishing flags of support and ensuring the game kicked off to the sound of his name. But, for all Tabarez's bold talk of using a perceived injustice to inspire his team, they simply never coped without Suarez's brilliance and Colombia's victory was thoroughly merited. After the heat of the off-field debate, the game itself was actually threatening an anti-climax until the magical intervention of Rodriguez before the half-hour delivered yet another moment to illuminate this World Cup. Rodriguez was aware enough to glance over his shoulder and check his own position and that of Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera before cushioning a header on his chest and striking a stunning twenty five-yard left-foot volley in off the bar. It was the most perfect combination of technique and talent, drawing gasps from around the iconic stadium when it was replayed on the four giant screens that hang from the roof of the vast bowl. If his first goal was a testimony to his individual ability, the second five minutes after half-time was an illustration of Colombia's combination of talent and teamwork. After a period of possession, Pablo Armero's cross found Juan Cuadrado, who showed great athleticism to guide his header into the path of Rodriguez, who made no mistake from eight yards. Uruguay responded but their World Cup was over - although Maximiliano Pereira and Edinson Cavani forced fine saves from Colombia keeper David Ospina. Rodriguez was removed in the closing minutes to conserve energy for the meeting with Brazil. He will pose a serious threat to Luiz Felipe Scolari's side - as will a highly impressive Colombia.

Yer man Danny Baker has criticised the amount of former footballers as pundits currently on TV. The broadcaster described football punditry as 'a bogus science' and said that the type of contributors on the BBC and ITV at this year's World Cup are not reflecting the interests of fans. Baker - who presents a World Cup show on BT Sport - told Radio Times: 'Anyone who takes football in any degree seriously and treats it like a science that we study - mainly the people who sit on sofas on mainstream television like Mount Rushmore and pore over this stuff like Nostradamus like you can predict it, are wrong. It's the same old thing. Football punditry is the most bogus science. You know, [England] are not the best team in the world, but it is very hard to say consistently who is. Football's chaos. If we played the World Cup again next week, we probably wouldn't get the same results and we might do well. You cannot predict it.' Talking about ex-footballers dominating the TV line-ups, he said: 'It's not really about four-five-ones and all these terrible things journalists and ex-pros go on about. And that's the trouble with too many ex-pros doing football coverage. They'd rather have someone who can barely speak English just because they're an inspirational ex-footballer than someone who can enlighten and entertain. It is an extraordinary closed club.' However, he praised Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker, describing him as 'one of the best broadcasters in the world', but that he 'sometimes gets saddled with people who don't match the energy of the games.' Baker added that footballers have criticised professional broadcasters who have never played the sport, responding: 'They're quite willing to walk into my industry and assume they can do that.' He said: 'I think having exclusively footballers punditing football matches makes as much sense as having actors review films. As far as I know, the BBC doesn't have actors reviewing films because they used to be in them, but that applies to football for some reason, you know. It makes as much sense as replacing Mark Kermode with Tim Roth.'

The Dutch World Cup squad, it is fair to say, have exceed the expectations of many. A lot of pundits had tipped them for elimination in a tight Group B which also included Spain and Chile but they trounced Spain before seeing off Australia and Chile to easily make it to the last sixteen. Louis van Gaal, who is set to take over at The Scum after the World Cup, has been a revelation as he has managed to get the best out of a young and talented squad. The level of their performances have seen the Dutch move from the position of outsiders to that of dark horses to win the tournament – and now they have been offered an incredible added incentive to claim glory. A Dutch aerospace engineering company, Ruimtevaartbedrijf SXC, have said that if Oranje win the whole thing then they will fly the squad and coach Van Gaal into space. The company plan to do their first commercial flights in 2016.

Top female tennis players said on Friday that it would be 'creepy' if Wimbledon officials went around inspecting their knickers to check if they were flouting the competition's strict all-white clothing rule. Players said that they understood the All England Club's rules and traditions but would find it 'weird' if they suddenly had to start having their underwear inspected an official. They were reacting after former men's champion Pat Cash claimed that some women had been 'forced' to change their bras because they did not conform to the strict dress code. Caroline Wozniacki said it would be 'disturbing' to have anyone doing an inspection. 'I don't think anyone is showing off their underwear like that and getting it checked. That would be pretty creepy,' she said. 'Usually I don't wear coloured underwear whenever you have white,' she added. 'You can see through. Obviously, if the colour of the bra is really bright, the top is see-through, you can see it through.' Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, who faces Wozniacki in the fourth round after knocking out Chinese star Li Na, voiced her opposition to the notion of any form of knicker checks. 'I think it's very weird to check under my skirt if I'm wearing white underwear,' she said. 'If we are playing in white, we should wear white underwear. But it's kind of weird officials coming and checking. I think it's strange. But we should follow the rules.' Wozniacki also said that there was little excuse for flouting the regulations. 'Everyone was told before Wimbledon you have to wear white. I don't think there should be any surprises. White is white. It should be pretty simple,' the Dane said. Romania's Simona Halep said the dress code was part of what makes the tournament unique. 'It's special to play here. They have the special rules because you have to be in white. It's not really difficult to get white clothes,' the third seed said. 'I like this tradition. It's really nice to see everybody in white.' Earlier, 1987 Wimbledon champion Cash claimed that the All England Club had 'absolutely gone ridiculous' in imposing their dress code. The Australian claimed some women had been sent back to 'change their bras and tops because they had slight colour on them', he told BBC radio. The forty nine-year-old said he believed some women had not had suitable sports bras with them, and had to 'go without.' He also claimed that one male player was hauled into the referees' office because his blue underwear 'showed through when he got sweaty.' The long-standing whites tradition at Wimbledon was formalised by entry conditions laid down in 1963. 'Any competitor who appears on court dressed in a manner deemed unsuitable by the committee will be liable to be defaulted,' the Wimbledon compendium says. A Wimbledon spokeswoman confirmed that all competitors had been given written notice of the Championships' clothing rules, but did not confirm if there had been any breaches of the code. Items of clothing — including shoes and their soles - must be totally white except for a single trim of colour no wider than one centimetre, the club letter says. The rule also applies to 'any undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration).' White 'does not include off-white or cream', players are warned. Anyone fearing an underwear inspection could resort to the following words also issued to players: 'In addition, common standards of decency are required at all times.'

The legendary soul singer and songwriter Bobby Womack, who wrote hits for many of the greatest musicians of the Twentieth Century, has died at the age of seventy. The cause of death was not announced, but Bobby had suffered from cancer and Alzheimer's disease and battled with drug addiction. His most famous songs included 'It's All Over Now', performed by The Rolling Stones and 'Lookin' For Love'. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. Bopbby was born in 1944 in Cleveland, Ohio and began singing in a gospel group in the 1950s with his brothers. He later gained attention after the siblings signed to SAR Records in 1960. The brothers, including Cecil, Curtis, Harry and Friendly, cut two R&B LPs as The Valentinos. Later the group broke up and Bobby turned to songwriting and a solo career. He outlived many of the acts with whom he played and with whom he was friendly, including Jimi Hendrix and Wilson Pickett. His songs were recorded by Pickett, Janis Joplin and many others. His friend Sam Cooke persuaded him to let The Rolling Stones record 'It's All Over Now' in 1964. 'He said, "One day you'll be part of history, this group is gonna be huge,"' Bobby told BBC Newsnight in 2012. 'I said, "Why don't they get their own songs?"' In March 1965, just three months after Cooke's death, the then twenty one-year old Womack created something of a scandal by marrying Cooke's twenty nine-year old widow, Barbara Campbell. Bobby claimed he initially went to Barbara's side to console her following Cooke's death for fear that, if she were left alone, she would 'do something crazy.' By 1976, Bobby and Barbara were divorced after she found out that he had an affair with his step-daughter. Vincent Womack, his son with Barbara, took his own life in 1988. Bobby Womack's third marriage was to Regina Banks with whom he had a son, Bobby Truth (who died in infacy) and a daughter, Gina. From his relationship with Jody Laba he fathered two sons, Cory and Jordan. He also worked as a session guitarist, appearing on recordings by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Dusty Springfield among others. From 1970 to 1990, Bobby charted thirty six singles including 'That's the Way I Feel About Cha' and 'Woman's Gotta Have It'. Bobby's 1968 cover of 'California Dreamin' featured prominently in the 2009 British film Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold, where the main character, Mia, dances to it and uses it as her audition piece. Another of his classic singles, 'Across One Hundred And Tenth Street' featured in Quentin Tarantion's Jackie Brown. It was used again in the Denzel Washington movie American Gangster. A series of personal tragedies including the deaths of two sons led Bobby to drug abuse, something which he described in detail in his 2006 memoir Midnight Mover. After a long musical hiatus, in 2009 he was contacted by Damon Albarn to record a song, 'Stylo', for Gorillaz third CD. In 2012, Bobby released his first CD in more than ten years, entitled The Bravest Man In The Universe produced by Albarn and Richard Russell. Bobby told the BBC in 2013 that 'drugs had a lot to do with' a period spent away from the music industry prior to 2009. 'I've always been my worst critic,' he said. 'I think that keeps me reaching. I never take the audience for granted.' Just two weeks before his death, Bobby performed at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.

Eli Wallach, whose best known films included The Magnificent Seven and Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, has died aged ninety eight. The character actor - who began his film career in 1956 after ten years on stage - was widely admired for his wide range, in a career spanning six decades. His portrayal of the bandit chief Calvera in The Magnificent Seven was regarded by many as his definitive role. A 'quintessential chameleon', he won an honorary Oscar in 2011. His other films included roles in How The West Was Won, Baby Doll, The Misfits, Lord Jim, The Two Jakes, The Godfather Part III and The Holiday. Arguably best known for his villains, he was also successful in light comedy and appeared in many TV shows including one of his finest performances in the Tales Of The Unexpected episode Shatterproof in 1981. Wallach appeared as the supervillain Mr Freeze in the 1960s Batman television series. He said that he received more fan mail about that than about all of his other roles combined. Born in Brooklyn, he took a degree in education and also trained for the stage. After war service he concentrated on acting. He first appeared on the New York stage in 1945, and was in many successful productions - including The Rose Tattoo, Camino Real, Waltz of the Toreadors and The Diary of Anne Frank. He made his London debut in 1954 with The Teahouse of the August Moon. His screen debut came two years later, playing an unscrupulous seducer in Baby Doll. Eli Wallach was married to the actress Anne Jackson. In 1974 the two appeared with their two daughters in Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Eli is survived Anne, his wife of sixty six years, their three children Peter, Roberta and Katherine, five grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

It was something of a trying start to Thursday morning for yer actual Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader. He went to see Doctor Chris - that was the trying bit, he was lovely, as always - and then to the pharmacy to get his repeat prescription filled. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping waited nearly half an hour for it, eventually got it and was three quarters of the way home on the bus when he looked at the packaging and noticed the drugs inside were, actually, for one 'Mr B Topping (Snr)' of an address which wasn't Stately Telly Topping Manor. So, Keith Telly Topping his very self had to go all the sodding way back to get the right one. Ooo, pure dead vexed, so he was. His mad was right up, and that. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping, his very self, was aal geet stroppy and discombobulated with the world in general and Boots the Chemist in particular. Anyway, enough of aal that however because, that very evening yer actual his very self attended Uncle Scunthorpe final Record Player of the current season. And, since it was a happy slice of yer actual Saint Bob Marley and his many Wailers their very selves, that, at least, ended the day on a slightly more positive note than what it started on. So, for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, dear blog reader, a small piece of advice. Don't worry, 'bout a 'ting.