Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Frost

There's the small matter of a Christmas special to come later this week before we turn our full attention to the next series of Doctor Who (and, who may or may not be in it). But, already a few stray snippets of yer actual information are filtering through from on high a-top the thing, with this week's official screening of Last Christmas revealing the provisional title of The Doctor's next adventure. Series nine of Doctor Who will kick off with an episode called The Magician's Apprentice. As The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat noted at a Q&A following the Last Christmas screening, there seem to be an equal number of rumours flying around that Jenna Coleman is staying and that she's leaving - with, as this blog has previously noted, the Daily Mirra totally hedging their bets and saying both - but if it turns out to be the latter, then the title of the next episode could be a reference to a new companion. Or, not. Time will tell. It usually does.
The terrifying SF chiller Alien is, one might consider, an unlikely inspiration for a festive family TV treat. But the monsters in the Christmas edition of Doctor Who bear more than a passing resemblance to the 'facehuggers' from Ridley Scott's classic horror film. The hour-long special, Last Christmas, the centrepiece of BBC1's Christmas Day line-up, also features The Doctor's first-ever encounter with Santa Claus, played by Hot Fuzz star Nick Frost. Such is the resemblance of The Doctor's latest adversaries to the monster in Alien that one of the characters in the episode even refers to the 1979 movie. But The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, the show's lead writer and executive producer, said that he did not seek permission from its makers. 'They never asked Doctor Who if they could borrow the plot of The Ark in Space,' said Moffat, a reference to the four-part Doctor Who story, starring Tom Baker, from 1975. (Alien, and its sequel, Aliens were also directly or indirectly alluded to in at least three other Doctor Who stories, 1981's Warriors' Gate, 1987's Dragonfire and 2013's Cold War.) 'I thought, what are the paradigm scary adventures of Doctor Who that have been serially ripped off in the cinema,' said The Moffat his very self. 'Essentially, it's Alien. [It] has scenes like you get in Alien, but with Santa. I really wanted to do Doctor Who meets Santa ... but, I thought it would be useless if Santa came into one of The Doctor's lighter adventures. Santa should be at The Doctor's side during a really scary adventure, a really nasty one.' Moffat defended the level of shocks in the show, saying that it was 'fun scary.' He added: 'The thing that people never say is that hiding behind the sofa is itself fun. Kids like being scared of Doctor Who – it doesn't horrify them, it doesn't petrify them. It's an enjoyable thrill. The Doctor turning up in any scene anywhere makes the scene less scary. A man in stupid clothes walks out of a phone box and says: "I can save the world." Kids have nightmares about monsters whether or not Doctor Who happens. But Doctor Who gives them The Doctor, the man who fights monsters but does not become one.' He added: 'The thing about children is they are much more serious than we are, they live in a more frightening world than adults do, in a civilised country anyway. Imagine living in a world where everyone is taller than you.' The first festive special to feature yer actual Peter Capaldi as The Doctor also ends his first year in the role after Matt Smith. The festive edition, being broadcast at 6.15pm, is likely to be one of the most popular programmes on Christmas Day. Capaldi said: 'I can’t believe it's gone so quickly, we just had the read-through for the first of next year's series. When I went through the same thing last year, I was absolutely terrified because I didn't know anyone. It's been fabulous.' Asked at the programme launch on Wednesday if it was a difficult role, Peter said: 'No, it's the easiest thing I have ever done in my life. People keep saying to me: "Is it weird suddenly being recognised?" You walk down the street and people smile as if they are happy to see Doctor Who. That's a lovely and very special experience.' Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) said that the Christmas special had to appeal to everyone from hardcore fans 'to people who watch [the series] three times a year.' He added: 'I think most people would agree that Doctor Who meeting Santa Claus is overdue – that just seems like automatically a good idea.'

Doctor Who fans tuning in to the popular family SF drama's Christmas special should keep their mincers peeled for a subtle plug for rival fantasy drama Game Of Thrones. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat his very self included a character detailing their plan for a perfect Christmas Day TV schedule in the episode - which includes the classic film Miracle On Thirty Fourth Street and 'a Thrones marathon'. Moffat admitted that he originally intended the character to mention Doctor Who in their list, but decided it would be 'too self-reverential.'
Neil Gaiman has said that he will likely not write for Doctor Who's forthcoming ninth series because of his busy schedule. Gaiman previously wrote a pair of episodes, The Doctor's Wife and Nightmare In Silver, for Matt Smith's Doctor. One of which was really very good indeed. The other one wasn't. The writer recently explained that he is currently 'too busy' to make the 'enormous time commitment' necessary to write for the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama. 'I'm not writing for series nine right now, just because of ridiculous work commitments I'm trying to get out from under,' Gaiman told the Radio Times. 'I am determined to write for Peter Capaldi. As long as Peter is Doctor Who, I will write for him. And every time I'm in the UK, I go and see the Doctor Who people. I go see [producer] Brian Minchin and Steven Moffat, and none of us are going to let me go off the boil.' Neil went on to discuss the difficulties that come with writing for Doctor Who. He explained: 'You're trying something that's never been done before with every episode. Then you write it, then you give in a script, then they tell you how much it would actually cost to shoot your script as written. Then you write a different script, then they tell you how much that script would cost, but they tell you you're [moving] in the right direction. Then it's the third script. How Steven Moffat does it and Sherlock and retains his sanity, I do not know. I just look at him and I am in awe.'
The Yorkshire Building Society - who, obviously, don't have anything more important to do with their time at the moment - undertook a survey in November to discover whom children would like to see on new banknotes, with the favourite among the two thousand seven to sixteen year olds wanting it to be The Doctor. The popular character has been chosen as the face of future currency in the survey to mark the Building Society's one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. The Time Lord was the overwhelming favourite to be featured on the next banknote with one in six children selecting him. 'Mum and Dad' were the next most popular choice with just over ten per cent, followed by Cheryl Thingy-Whatsit, One Direction and Wayne Rooney. Other answers given for the survey of two thousand children included Radio 1 breakfast DJ Nick Grimshaw, Winston Churchill, Stephen Hawking and Sherlock Holmes. And, this is all 'news', apparently. If The Doctor were to appear in his current incarnation (or, indeed, in two of his previous regenerations) on the note, he would be the third Scotsman to be featured on a Bank of England note. Eighteenth Century economist Adam Smith became the first Scotsman to feature on an English banknote in March 2007 when he appeared on the new series of twenty quid notes. Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer, James Watt, was the second in 2011 on a fifty smackers note.
Steph & Dom Meet Nigel Farage was seen by nearly two million overnight viewers on a quiet Monday evening, a truly shocking and horrifying statistic which probably says more about what a right shite state of affairs exists in Britain today than any other, dear blog reader. The Gogglebox-type persons' dinner with the odious UKiP leader drew 1.92m at 10pm on Channel Four. Appalling. Earlier, Dogs: Their Secret Lives appealed to 1.11m at 8pm, followed by Skint with 1.58m at 9pm. The across-the-board low-rated evening saw BBC1's The ONE Show topping the evening on overnights outside soaps with 4.30m at 7pm, followed by a Fake Britain repeat with 3.37m at 7.30pm. Panorama interested 2.43m at 8.30pm (and annoyed Apple in the process), whilst Wild Weather With Richard Hammond brought in 2.76m at 9pm. On BBC2, University Challenge attracted 2.81m at 8pm, followed by Only Connect with 2.33m at 8.30pm. Canterbury Cathedral was seen by 1.45m at 9pm, while Never Mind The Buzzcocks was watched by eight hundred and ninety seven thousand at 10pm. ITV's Bette Midler: One Night Only failed to entertain 2.77m at 9pm. On Channel Five, the latest episode of Gotham - one of the best thus far, as it happens - had an audience of 1.18m at 9pm. Russell Brand's End The Drugs War was watched by five hundred and ninety one thousand at 9pm on BBC3.

The Missing climbed to a new high rating for its finale episode on Tuesday, overnight data reveals. The BBC1 drama rose by 1.3 million viewers from the previous week to an overnight average 6.61m at 9pm, easily making it the highest-rated episode of the series. On BBC2, The Great British Bake Off Christmas Masterclass appealed to 2.81m at 8pm, followed by The Choir: New Military Wives with 2.11m at 9pm. Brian Pern: A Life In Rock attracted six hundred and seven four thousand punters at 10pm. ITV's broadcast of Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix was watched by 2.88m at 7.30pm. On Channel Four, Supervet brought in 1.25m at 8pm (157k/0.7%), followed by Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror: White Christmas with eight hundred and thirty two thousand at 9pm. Channel Five's Gibraltar: Britain In The Sun was watched by seven hundred and thirty one thousand at 8pm, while Kids' Hospital At Christmas got eight hundred and forty three thousand at 9pm.

Meanwhile, the BBC's abduction thriller The Missing is to return for a second series, the corporation has confirmed. The second series will keep The Missing's overall structure – a story told over two time frames – but with a fresh case, new characters and a new location. James Nesbitt and Frances O’Connor starred in the first series as a couple struggling, in the present day, to come to terms with the abduction of their son on a family holiday in France during the 2006 World Cup. Nesbitt's character, Tony Hughes, works with a now retired French detective to solve the mystery. The BBC gave viewers a taster trail of the second series as the first run ended on Tuesday evening. The trail gave viewers clues pointing towards series two, accompanied by a voiceover from the character of Julien Baptiste, played by Tcheky Karyo. Karyo says: 'To lose somebody can destroy a person. But to find them again, when so much has passed ... Sometimes, that can be worse.' The eight-part drama was written by Jack and Harry Williams, attracting a consolidated audience of nearly eight million viewers per episode including seven-day catch up viewing.
The Apprentice climbed back to its third-highest-rated episode of the series on Wednesday, overnight data reveals. The interview stage of the BBC1 bully-boy competition rose by around eight hundred thousand viewers week-on-week to 6.38 million at 9pm. BBC2's You're Fired! spin-off brought in 2.42m at 10pm. Earlier on BBC2, MasterChef: The Professionals continued with 3.10m at 8pm, followed by Secrets Of The Castle with 1.64m at 9pm. On ITV, Surprise, Surprise spectacularly failed to entertain 3.05m at 8pm, whilst the documentary Hit & Run interested a mere 1.76m at 9pm. Channel Four's Posh Pawn appealed to 1.64m at 8pm, followed by the 2014 Comedy Awards with 1.27m at 9pm. This is down slightly from last year's ceremony, which brought in 1.34m. On Channel Five, Gibraltar: Britain In The Sun was seen by six hundred and twenty nine thousand at 8pm. Benefits Britain attracted 1.27m at 9pm, while My Crazy Christmas Obsession brought in six hundred and sixty one thousand at 10pm.

Lord Sugar-Sweetie's adviser on The Apprentice Nick Hewer is to leave the BBC1 show after a decade. The seventy-year-old PR expert, who has been on the show since it began in 2005, described his decision as 'relief tinged with regret.' Hewer started working with Lord Sugar-Sweetie in 1983 when he promoted the Labour peer's Amstrad electronics brand. A period when Sugar-Sweetie was the man behind the ninth best all-in-one stereo system on the market. And, the second best satellite TV system on the market. When there were only two satellite TV systems on the market. He was, also, the owner of Stottingtot Hotshots football club. When they were crap. Hewer's exit was announced as he filmed the final of this year's series, which will be screened on Sunday. Viewers will see Bianca Miller and Mark Wright fight it out for the chance to win a two hundred and fifty grand investment from crass, full-of-his-own-importance bully thug Lord Sugar-Sweetie. Candidates on The Apprentice compete to go into business with Sugar-Sweetie, with Hewer and fellow adviser Karren Brady keeping an eye on the hopefuls. At the end of the show they sit alongside Lord Sugar-Sweetie in a boardroom, giving him feedback before he makes his final decision as to who is going to be fired and who, you know, isn't. Baroness Brady is the second adviser to have worked with Hewer, following Margaret Mountford's departure from The Apprentice in 2009. Lord Sugar-Sweetie tweeted his response to the announcement, saying: 'It's with a heavy heart I have to say farewell to my good friend Nick Hewer from The Apprentice. I thank him sincerely for the past ten years.' Earlier, Hewer himself tweeted: 'So farewell Apprentice - it's been ten years of fun working on a worthwhile show but now it's time to file the notebook and throttle back.' Explaining his decision in a statement, Hewer said: 'I've been pondering my departure from The Apprentice for a while and have decided that year ten is the appropriate time. So I leave with relief, tinged with regret. Anyone can do what Karren and I have been doing, but it takes stamina to follow the candidates week after week, and my stamina is not up to those long weeks.' He also paid his own tribute to the candidates on the show. 'I think The Apprentice is a truly valuable programme, teaching young people the basics of business - not in a classroom setting, but in a wonderfully entertaining format. And the winners each year validate the value of the show - talented, creative and hard working young people, all of whom are making a great success of their businesses.' Hewer also hosts Channel Four's Countdown.

The second series finale of The Fall climbed in the overnight ratings on Thursday. The sixth and last episode of the series rose by around half-a-million punters week-on-week to an average 2.54 million at 9pm. The Northern Ireland-set thriller, starring the magnificent Gillian Anderson (who will, surely, be up for a BAFTA for her performance) and Jamie Dornan concluded with a feature-length ninety minute episode, which posted a 12.7 per cent share of the available audience. Earlier, MasterChef: The Professionals appealed to 2.74m at 8pm. BBC1's DIY SOS: The Big Build topped the ratings outside soaps with 3.71m at 8pm, followed by Panorama with 2.24m at 9pm. The Apprentice: Why I Fired Them gathered 1.83m at 10.35pm. On ITV, The Sun Military Awards 2014 attracted 2.48m viewers from 8.30pm. Channel Four's Amazing Spaces brought in 1.21m at 8pm, followed by the final Twenty Four Hours in A&E with 1.92m at 9pm. Babylon concluded with three hundred and forty seven thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, The Railway was seen by six hundred and sixty two thousand at 8pm, followed by Britain's Bloodiest Dynasties with forty hundred and forty three thousand at 9pm. On Sky1, Arrow continued with three hundred and seventy eight thousand at 8pm and two hundred and sixty one thousand for a second episode at 9pm.

Whether there will be a third series of The Fall - particularly after the somewhat bloody (if dramatically inconclusive) climax to the final episode is, at the present time, unknown. Nevertheless, if that is all we get from Alan Cubitt then the fifteen minutes of Thursday's episode in which Stella Gibson and Paul Spector finally, after two series, found themselves in the same room confronting each other and their collective demons might, just, have been the best bit of sustained drama British TV has produced not just this year but, possibly, this decade. God, it was good, dear blog reader. Of course, not everybody thought so. But, those that didn't are just wrong. Case in point, the odious, wretched waste-of-space reviewers in the Gruniad Morning Star and the Daily Scum Mail both disliked it, and in the process agreed for only the second time in living memory on any subject (the other, obviously, was their mutual loathing of Top Gear). Not that either of those worthless bell-end smears know anything about anything at the best of time and, especially, not on this subject. Michael Hogan in the Torygraph, on the other hand, appeared to rather enjoy it. As did the lady from the Huffington Post. This blogger thought it was great, if you were wondering.
Text Santa was seen by an average audience of 4.2 million overnight viewers on Friday evening, slightly down on last year's overnight audience. The ITV charity 'special' (and, one uses that word quite wrongly), which saw George Clooney show up in Downton Abbey and Ant and/or Dec hold a festive Bushtucker Trial, peaked with 5.4 million punters around 9pm. BBC1's evening kicked off with 3.71 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by 3.57 million for A Question Of Sport. Citizen Khan was seen by an average audience of 2.92 million, an evening high of 3.83 million tuned in to Have I Got News For You at 9pm, while three million watched Not Going Out at 9pm. With guests including Ben Stiller and Ricky Gervais, The Graham Norton Show rounded the evening off with 2.67 million. The final Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two started BBC2's evening with 1.93 million at 6.30pm, followed by 1.44 million for Tom Kerridge Cooks Christmas. Mary Berry's Absolute Christmas Favourites secured an evening high of 2.46 million for the channel. That was preceded by 2.05 million for Mastermind and followed by Canterbury Cathedral with 1.22 million. After the previous week's dip in viewers, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD was seen by an increased audience of nine hundred thousand viewers at 8pm on Channel Four. Gogglebox was Channel Four's highest-rated show, with 2.25 million at 9pm. The evening ended with nine hundred and thirty thousand for Alan Carr: Chatty Man at 10pm. Overnight figures for Channel Five's Ice Road Truckers continue to rise, with nine hundred and fifty nine thousand tuning in to this week's episode. The evening movie Trespass secured eight hundred and seventy nine thousand immediately afterwards.

The final of Strictly Come Dancing peaked with more than 11.4 million overnight viewers on Saturday. BBC1's dancing competition managed a peak of 11.43m around 7.30pm. The first part of the final averaged 10.65 million punters from 6.30pm, while the results show - which saw Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev lift the glitterball trophy - was watched by 10.21m from 8.50pm. Flack beat Frankie Bridge, Simon Webbe and Mark Wright in the ballroom contest. Last year the audience peak was as high as 12.6 million when model Abbey Clancy won the show and in 2010 it was close to thirteen million. In between the two episodes of Strictly, the latest episode of Atlantis drew 4.74 million. On BBC2, a repeat of Dad's Army entertained 2.53m from 7.55pm. It was followed by Christmas University Challenge and a repeat of last year's Qi XL Christmas special, which attracted 1.79m and 1.07m respectively. Rik Mayall Lord Of Misrule drew 1.4m. ITV broadcast Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince for about the fifteenth time from 7pm, which was watched by 2.91m. The Jonathan Ross Show followed with 2.24m. Channel Four's Rewind The Christmas Hits appealed to 1.21m from 8pm, before Four Christmases was seen by eight hundred and thirty five thousand. Channel Five showed the Albert Finney movie Scrooge, which managed seven hundred and twenty five thousand from 7.55pm.

Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman has offered a health update on her daughter. Winkleman was absent from the BBC1 show for several weeks after her eight-year-old daughter, Matilda, was injured in a fire-related accident in October. The presenter praised a group of 'incredible' NHS staffers in attendance at the Strictly Come Dancing final on Saturday for taking great care of Matilda. 'She's fine now, but some special people are here, the people who looked after her. Thank you all so much.'

The Apprentice easily topped the overnight ratings on Sunday evening. The two-hour final averaged 6.18 million viewers at 9pm. The show peaked with 7.49m at around 9.45pm, at the time of crass bully boy Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie's winner announcement. This was over four hundred thousand punters more than the 2013 final's average overnight score. However, last year's final was broadcast on a Wednesday night in June so the increase is, perhaps, to be expected. The total was also higher than 2012's overnight rating of 5.98m. Earlier, Countryfile appealed to 5.59m at 7pm, followed by Antiques Roadshow with 5.38m at 8pm. On BBC2, the romantic comedy Salmon Fishing In The Yemen brought in 1.57m at 8pm. ITV's archive clip show You've Got To Love Christmas attracted 2.10m at 7pm. Surprise, Surprise gathered 3.44m at 8pm, whilst a Midsomer Murders repeat was seen by 2.56m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Men In Black 3 had an audience of 3.24m at 7pm, followed by the latest episode of Homeland with 1.30m at 9pm. Channel Five's broadcast of the Clint Eastwood thriller Gran Torino interested 1.61m at 9pm.

Here are the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Four programmes for week-ending Sunday 14 December 2014:-
1 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 10.98m
2 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 9.88m
3 Coronation Street - Wed ITV - 8.35m
4 The Missing - Tues BBC1 - 7.33m
5 The Apprentice - Wed BBC1 - 7.31m
6 The Royal Variety Performance - Mon ITV - 7.23m
7 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 7.21m
8 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.86m
9 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): Coming Out - Wed ITV - 6.85m
10 Emmerdale - Wed ITV - 6.66m
11 BBC Sports Personality Of The Year - Sun BBC1 - 6.16m
12 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.73m
13 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.41m
14 Six O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 5.22m
15 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.10m
16 Atlantis - Sat BBC1 - 4.68m
17 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.51m
18 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.46m
19 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 4.45m
20 UEFA Champions League Live - Tues ITV - 4.25m
21 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.23m
22 Not Going Out - Fri BBC1 - 4.18m
23 BBC Music Awards - Thurs BBC1 - 4.17m
24 Pointless - wed BBC1 - 4.16m
Saturday evening's episode of The X Factor had a final rating of 8.93 million whilst Strictly Come Dancing's Sunday results episode drew 10.25 million. BBC2's highest rated programmes of the week were The Fall with 3.15 million, MasterChef: The Professionals with 3.14 million and University Challenge with 2.78 million. The Apprentice: You're Fired drew 2.72 million, followed by Mary Berry's Absolute Christmas Favourites (2.63m), FA Cup Third Round Draw (2.60m), Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two (2.39m), Great Continental Railway Journeys (2.24m), Only Connect (2.17m), Mastermind (2.04m) and Qi (1.91m). On ITV, the two episodes of The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies drew 3.85m and 3.59m respectively. Gogglebox was again, by a distance, Channel Four's largest-rated show (3.90m), followed by Homeland (2.38m) and My Big Fat Gypsy Fortune (2.36m). Channel Five's best performers were Gotham with 2.04 million and Ben Fogle: new Lives In The Wild (1.45m). Foyle's Wars was ITV3's most-watched programme with eight hundred and sixty thousand viewers. Pompeii: The Msytery Of The People Frozen drew BBC4's largest audience of the week (eight hundred and fifteen thousand), with Inspector Montalbano being watched by seven hundred and twenty three thousand. E4's The Big Bang Theory had the largest multichannels audience over all (2.22m). Sky Living's Elementary had eight hundred and twenty two thousand. On FOX, American Horror Story: Blood Bath was watched by two hundred and two thousand followed by NCIS with one hundred and seventy one thousand. A repeat of Sherlock produced BBC3's largest audience of the week (eight hundred and twenty six thousand). On Sky1, The Flash was watched by 1.36m.

ITV has unveiled new images from the second series of Broadchurch. David Tennant and Olivia Colman return to lead the cast as Detectives Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller in the ITV crime drama next month.
Meanwhile, BBC America has moved the US broadcast date of the second season of Broadchurch back a month. The hit drama had been scheduled for in February, but will now premiere on 4 March.

Scientists have named a spiky shelled, deep-sea snail after Joe Strummer, the late vocalist and guitarist from The Clash. The researchers say the name highlights the 'hardcore' nature of the snail, now known as Alviniconcha strummeri, which lives in one of the hottest, most acidic environments on the planet - right up against hydrothermal vents in the Indian and Western Pacific oceans. A paper describing the 'Joe Strummer snail' and four similar species was published this month in the journal Systematics and Biodiversity. Which is a real journal. Honest. 'I do a lot of outreach, and when I talk to kids I always tell them these snails are punk rock,' said Shannon Johnson, a scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the lead author on the paper. 'So, when it came time to name them, we were like "we should totally name them after a punk rocker."' Is that what you were 'like', is it, Shannon? Fer Christ's sake, you're a professor, trying talking in proper English sentences, will you? Anyway, Johnson said that the team chose Joe Strummer not just because of his iconic punk status, but also because he was an environmentalist - which, indeed, he was - who strove to be a carbon-neutral artist. 'The deep sea is the biggest unexplored environment in the world,' she added. Alviniconcha strummeri and the other snails named in the paper appear to be what are called cryptic species, meaning it is impossible to tell them apart by appearance alone. They have relatively thin shells and grow quite large - somewhere between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball. The colour of their shells changes depending on the chemical make-up of their environment. They have been found as deep as eleven thousand feet beneath the ocean surface and as shallow as around eleven hundred feet. But specimens have never survived a journey to the surface. 'Their proteins are unfolding by the time we get them up,' said Johnson. Most Alviniconcha are found in piles around the deep-sea vents, eating the microbes that mine the chemicals shooting into the water for energy. Scientists are not sure why the snails' shells are so spiky, but Johnson said that one theory is it increases the surface area of the shell, allowing more bacteria to grow on it. 'These guys are covered in bacteria, but we don't know what they are doing with it,' she said. Joe, who died in 2002, is not the first musician to have an animal named after him. For example, in June 2013, scientists named an ancient, giant lizard after the 'lizard king' Jim Morrison of The Doors. It can do anything. Apparently.
A journalist who snitched up his employers for the hacking of celebrities' phones at the Sunday Mirra has been spared jail for his own 'short and intense' self-confessed involvement in the crime. Graham Johnson was extremely sentenced to two months in the pokey and that, suspended for one year, on Thursday. He was also ordered to do one hundred hours of unpaid work. Johnson pleaded extremely guilty to phone-hacking at a hearing in Westminster on 6 November. Johnson, by his own admission, engaged in hacking over seven days in 2001, listening to between ten and thirty messages per day. Immediately after the hearing, Johnson said: 'I feel okay. I'll have to reflect upon it and what it means. I didn't know what to expect because you cannot predict what a judge is going to say.' Johnson's supporters outside court claimed that the sentencing was 'harsh' and would discourage whistleblowers from coming forward and grassing up others like a Copper's Nark for their badness. In a statement read to court, Hacked Off, which campaigns for victims of press intrusion, 'commended' Johnson for his actions and said that it hoped the judge would deal with the case sympathetically 'so that others will come forward' and admit their sorry guilt. Handing down the sentence, the judge, Brian Barker, said that Johnson had been a professional journalist and had allowed himself to behave this way. He said Johnson 'abused his professional position, albeit for a few days.' Barker said he had 'no choice' but to give Johnson a custodial sentence but in view of the circumstances it would be suspended. 'It is to your credit that you ceased [hacking] fairly quickly and you put that behind you,' Barker said. 'The fact of the matter is that you were directed by others. It was a considerable time ago and it weighed deeply on your conscience,' said Barker. At an earlier hearing, Johnson's counsel, Avtar Bhatoa, claimed that Johnson's decision to go to the poliss was 'unique'. Bhatoa said Johnson had been 'shown by a very senior person in a supervisory capacity how to access voicemails' and he was not aware that it was illegal at the time, albeit he accepted that ignorance of a crime is no defence. 'When, twelve years later, arrests were made, he straight away contacted the police,' said Bhatoa. The court heard how Johnson hacked the messages of a soap actress whose name cannot be revealed for legal reasons over a three to seven days period in the autumn of 2001. 'He had listened to some ten to thirty messages a day during that period,' the court was told. Bhatoa said that Johnson had avoided showbusiness stories and was reluctant to get involved in this particular story. He was 'concerned about the technique' of the investigation, which 'he thought to be a legitimate gangland story.' After a few days he 'walked off the job.' A story did eventually appear about the actress, but Johnson only had the secondary byline, the court was told. Bhatoa said: 'He felt it was wrong and he stopped it.' Bhatoa said Johnson contacted the Metropolitan police on 15 March last year, the day after officers arrested a number of journalists from the Sunday Mirra on suspicion of interception of voicemails. This, of course, after the Mirra group had spent several months claims to anyone that would listen (and, indeed, anyone that wouldn't) that none of their reporters had ever, not never, done any of that there naughty phone-hacking, no siree Bob. As with News International's four years of similar denials concerning the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World we now know this to be entirely untrue. When Johnson decided to come clean, he told The Law that he was a former journalist on the Sunday Mirra between 1997 and 2006, and 'he informed them that he had been involved in telephone hacking.' Originally from Liverpool, Johnson was investigations editor at the Sunday Mirra for six years. He previously worked at the Scum of the World, where one if his most notorious 'scoops' was about the fictional Beast of Bodmin, a giant wild cat said to be stalking Cornwall. It involved an elaborate 'fifteen hundred words of bollox', Johnson later wrote in his book about his tabloid experiences, Hack, along with 'stunted up' photos of a puma from Exmoor wildlife park and claw marks scraped into a tree by his photographer who used a jagged key. The photographer was subsequently 'terminated' by the then editor of the Scum of the World, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and Johnson himself continued with his career with an offer of a new job at the Sunday Mirra. After two years on the road he discovered the writer Noam Chomsky and started to 'rethink' his career, the court heard. Johnson was the second Sunday Mirra journalist to come forward to police. Dan Evans, who also worked at the Scum of the World, was earlier this year given a ten-month suspended sentence for hacking more than one thousand voicemails at both titles.

FIFA executives have unanimously agreed to publish a 'legally appropriate version' of the notorious report into allegations of World Cup bidding corruption. However, world football's governing body insisted that Russia and Qatar will stay as hosts of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments respectively. FIFA president the odious - but, obviously not corrupt - Sepp Blatter said that he asked the executive committee to vote in favour of publishing the report. 'We have always been determined the truth should be known,' he said. 'That is, after all, why we set up an independent ethics committee with an investigatory chamber that has all necessary means to undertake investigations on its own initiative.' Only a much disputed summary of Michael Garcia's four hundred and thirty-page report into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has so far been published. Releasing the full report, which is likely be heavily redacted to preserve witness confidentiality, is a change in FIFA policy. However, it will only be published once ongoing investigations into five individuals are completed. 'We need to ensure that we respect the rules of our organisation and that we do not breach confidentiality in a way that will prevent people from speaking out in the future,' added Blatter. The seventy eight-year-old insisted later that there was 'no reason' for Russia and Qatar to lose their rights to stage future World Cups. 'At the current time, there is no reason to go back on our decisions,' he told a news conference. 'The two World Cups are in the calendar, the only thing missing is the precise dates for 2022, but these two World Cups will take place.' Addressing Qatar specifically, he added that only 'an earthquake' could change FIFA's decision to hold the 2022 tournament in the Gulf state. 'It would really need an earthquake, extremely important new elements to go back on this World Cup in Qatar,' he said. Garcia was appointed FIFA's independent ethics investigator in 2012 and spent two years investigating all nine bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups following claims of corruption and collusion. The American lawyer travelled the world speaking to bid officials and appealing for evidence of wrongdoing. He eventually submitted a report to FIFA in September 2014. FIFA subsequently released a forty two-page summary which cleared Russia and Qatar of corruption. However, an unhappy Garcia claimed that this was 'incomplete and erroneous.' Earlier this week, he resigned, citing 'lack of leadership' at FIFA. The odious - but, obviously, not corrupt - Blatter, seeking a fifth term as FIFA president, conceded his organisation had been 'in a crisis' but insisted: 'The crisis has stopped because we again have the unity in our government.'

'I could have easily have become a nun, or a prostitute, or both,' Billie Whitelaw, who has died aged eighty two, once said. Instead, Billie claimed that acting had allowed her to use both of those sides of herself in an extraordinary career which included theatre, films, television and a special place in the affection and inspiration of Samuel Beckett. Billie, who was made a CBE in 1991 was once described as' the perfect actress' by Beckett with whom she shared an near decade collaborative relationship. She died in the early hours of Sunday at a nursing home in London, her son Matthew Muller told the BBC. 'I could not have asked for a more loving mother,' he said. 'She had an incredible career - but first and foremost she was my mum - and that's who I will miss,' he added. Billie was born in Coventry in 1932, on a housing estate owned by the General Electric Company. Her parents came from Liverpool, where Billie lived at the start of the second world war before the family moved to Bradford to escape German bombing in 1941. There she went to Thornton Grammar and the Grange School For Girls. Her father, Percy, died from lung cancer when his daughter was just ten. Money was tight and Billie's mother struggled to support the family which included Billie's older sister, Constance. 'It's something I haven't come to terms with,' Billie later recalled. 'I'm rather ashamed of having the good life I have.' When the young Billie developed a stutter, her mother enrolled her in a local drama group at the Bradford Civic Playhouse, run by JB Priestley, in an effort to boost her daughter's confidence. The drama training secured Billie some spots on BBC North's Children's Hour in Manchester as an eleven year old where, despite her nervousness which often made her physically sick before performances, she was soon a regular and met Joan Littlewood and Ewan MacColl. She broadened her theatrical experience, working as an assistant stage manager while she was still at school. Her stage debut came at the Prince's Theatre, Bradford, in a 1950 performance of Pink String and Sealing Wax. She spent a number of years in rep, the usual apprenticeship for a budding actress in the 1950s. Her willowy good looks also made her something of a regular face in British films of the decade. She made her debut in The Sleeping Tiger (1954), followed by highly regarded roles in Carve Her Name With Pride (1958), Hell Is a City (1960) and Payroll (1961). The critic Kenneth Tynan, a close friend, dubbed her 'a female version of Albert Finney' (with whom she co-starred in two movies, had a brief affair and longer friendship). She had all those qualities of freshness, vitality and sensuality typical of the new postwar, beyond-London generation of actors on stage and screen. An unforced, gritty realism was complemented, in her case, with a natural voluptuousness. She later moved into television, her first appearance in 1952 was as the maid, Martha Sowerby, in a BBC adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. Later she played Mary Crawford, George Dixon's daughter in six episodes of the BBC police series, Dixon Of Dock Green. She won huge acclaim for her performance in Alun Owen's 1959 Armchair Theatre play No Trams To Lime Street and also appeared in Tales From Soho, The Skin Game, Time Out For Peggy, Love On the Dole, Veronica, Lena, Oh My Lena, Fifth Floor People, The Sextet, Napoleon And Love, Private Schultz, Imaginary Friends, The Fifteen Streets, The Cloning Of Joanna May, Skallagrigg and Born To Run. After working with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop Billie joined the National Theatre, playing Desdemona to Laurence Olivier's Othello at the Chichester Festival in 1964. By now she had met the Irish playwright, Samuel Beckett, with whom she would enjoy a twenty six-year professional relationship. She became, in his own words, his 'muse.' He would write parts in experimental plays for her which she would often perform to the point of exhaustion. Her first performance in a Beckett work was Play, which had its London debut in 1964. In her autobiography Billie Whitelaw ... Who He?, she acknowledged that it was her work with Beckett that generated the most interest. Without their association, she wrote, 'nobody would have been remotely interested in my autobiography.' Her voice had as big an effect on Beckett as that of another of his favourites, the Irish actor Patrick Magee. When Beckett saw her in Play in a National Theatre production at the Old Vic – occupying one of three urns alongside Rosemary Harris and Robert Stephens – he determined to write something especially for her. The result was Not I, a sixteen-minute monologue for a jabbering mouth picked out in a dark void. Although Jessica Tandy played the first performances in New York in 1972, Whitelaw's pent-up words of a lifetime were a sensation at the Royal Court in London the following year. She called the experience 'the most telling event of my professional life.' Many of the parts were physically and emotionally demanding. In Happy Days she was buried up to her waist in sand for her performance. 'He used me as a piece of plaster he was moulding until he got just the right shape,' she later said. She stopped performing Beckett's works after he died in 1989 but she remained the keeper of his flame through her one-woman lecture tours. 'We had enormous empathy,' she said. 'When he died, I didn't realise what an amputation it would be.' Just last week the University of Reading announced that it had purchased Whitelaw's Beckett archive - a collection including correspondence, annotated scripts and costumes - for thirty five grand. In 1966, she divorced her first husband, the actor Peter Vaughan (whom she had married in 1952). There were BAFTAs for her performance opposite Albert Finney in Charlie Bubbles and for her role as the mother of Hayley Mills in the psychological thriller, Twisted Nerve in 1969. She continued in film roles including Leo The Last (1970), Start The Revolution Without Me (1970), Gumshoe (1971, again opposite Finney) and the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Frenzy (1972). Billie won much acclaim, and an international audience, for her portrayal of Mrs Baylock, the guardian of the demon child Damien in The Omen 91976). Many critics felt she gave the best performance in the film and it won her an Evening Standard Award for Best Actress. She also won praise for her role as the domineering Violet in the 1990 film, The Krays, which featured Spandau Ballet's Martin and Gary Kemp as her notorious gangster sons. By this time she had given up theatre performances, partly because of Beckett's death and also because of her failure to conquer her on-going stage fright. 'Death's not one of those things that frighten the life out of me,' she once famously said. 'Getting up on stage with the curtain going up frightens me more.' She did continue to act in films, appearing in more than fifty during her career, and on television. She also found happiness with the German-born writer and actor Robert Muller, whom she met in 1967 and married the following year. She took the role of Countess Ilona in two episodes of Muller's 1977 BBC anthology series Supernatural. He died in 1998. More recently she appeared in the West Country police comedy Hot Fuzz. That film's director, Edgar Wright, tweeted that he was 'very sad to hear that the magnificent Billie Whitelaw passed away' while adding he was 'so very happy' to have worked with her. Hot Fuzz was her last feature film and in a long tribute on his website Edgar wrote that filming with her was 'an honour. She made me laugh a lot. She had a wicked sense of humour and could be devastatingly funny.' He admitted to frequently questioning her about her illustrious career and said that 'she was both very proud of her career and sometimes amusingly dismissive.' In later life, Billie divided her time between a flat in Hampstead and a cottage in Suffolk and never quite believed her luck in her chosen career: 'When I wake up at dawn and that grey cloud of work anxiety is there, I only have to get up and open the window to feel so free and happy that I think I'm going to go off pop.' Billie was a most natural performer, who made a speciality of playing independent, and sometimes dominant, women. But she didn't take her profession too seriously seeing it, as she put it, something which paid the parking tickets (which she habitually collected). 'I'm not really interested in acting any more,' she said in a 1996 interview. 'It's not the centre of my life. I always thought it was a bit of a flibbertigibbety occupation.' She is survived by her son, Matthew.

And finally, dear blog reader, here's a thought for the day.
Makes you think, doesn't it?

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a quality bit of yer actual Adele. Great voice and a great song but, for heaven's sake, love, crack a smile and cheer up, it might never happen.