Saturday, February 28, 2015

Leonard Nimoy: A Fascinating Life

Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr Spock in the cult TV series Star Trek and its numerous film and TV spin-offs - you knew that, right? - has died at the age of eighty three in Los Angeles. His son, Adam, said that Leonard had died from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on Friday morning. Even the US President took a moment on Friday to appreciate Nimoy's most famous character and his lasting legacy to the world. 'Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy,' Barack Obama said in a statement from The White House. 'Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his time and talents. And of course, Leonard was Spock. Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the centre of Star Trek's optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity's future. I loved Spock.' And, so did many of us.
     Despite a career which also embraced directing, writing, painting and photography, Leonard never managed to escape the character that came to define him. At times it seemed the actor and character were becoming one and the same and Nimoy battled with alcohol abuse and bouts of depression as a result. But, he eventually grew to accept and embrace the fascination with which his character was regarded by several generations of the general public, and he ultimately claimed to derive great satisfaction from the role that dominated his life.
    Leonard Simon Nimoy was born in Boston on 26 March 1931. His parents were Orthodox Jews who had emigrated to America from an area of the Soviet Union which is now part of Ukraine (although, they way things are going, it might soon be part of Russia). He began acting as a child and quickly developed an ambition to pursue a career on the stage - much, he would later recall, to the dismay of his parents. Leonard began attending a local drama school in Massachusetts before giving up his studies, moving to Los Angeles and making his first film appearance in 1951 (a tiny role in Queen For A Day). A year later he was given the title role in Kid Monk Baroni, where he played a boxer. It was, said Leonard in his autobiography, the type of movie 'that made unknowns out of celebrities.' A complete flop at the box office, it was instrumental in condemning Leonard to a decade of bit parts and walk-ons. Such were his meagre earnings from acting that at one point he delivered newspapers to make ends meet. He was drafted into the army in 1953 where he reached the rank of sergeant and returned to acting after his discharge. While serving, he married his first wife, Sandy. It was she who persuaded him to stick with acting when his thoughts turned to more secure employment. He had more than fifty small roles in b-movies, television series such as Perry Mason and Dragnet and film serials like Republic Pictures' Zombies Of The Stratosphere (1952). He played an army sergeant in the 1954 schlock science fiction thriller Them! and a professor in the 1958 b-movie The Brain Eaters and had a role in The Balcony (1963), a film adaptation of the Jean Genet play. With his friend Vic Morrow, he produced a 1966 version of Deathwatch, an English-language film version of Genet's play Haute Surveillance.
   On television, Leonard appeared as the character Sonarman in two episodes of the military drama The Silent Service, based on the submarine section of the navy. He had a number of guest roles in Sea Hunt (1958 to 1960) and a minor role in the 1961 The Twilight Zone episode A Quality Of Mercy. He also appeared in Bonanza, Waggon Train, Two Faces West, Rawhide, The Untouchables, Combat!, Daniel Boone, The Outer Limits (the memorable 1964 episode I, Robot), The Virginian (where he first worked with his future Star Trek co-star DeForest Kelley in the episode Man Of Violence), Get Smart and Gunsmoke. In 1964 he played the villain in an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. where, for the first time, he worked with William Shatner. At the same time, Gene Roddenberry was attempting to pitch his idea for a new science-fiction series to the networks. Roddenberry eventually persuaded Desilu Productions to make Star Trek and NBC agreed to screen a pilot episode, The Cage. Leonard, by this time well known in Hollywood as a capable TV character actor, was approached to play Spock, the ship's science officer who has a human mother and an alien, Vulcan, father. At the time he had also been offered the role of Steven Cord in the massively popular soap Peyton Place. He decided to ignore small-town America and, instead, reached for the stars. It fell to Leonard to speak the first lines in a Star Trek episode. 'Check the circuit', followed by 'Can't be the screen, then.'
     Ultimately, NBC decided that the plot of The Cage was too intellectual and too slow - which may have been true although it's a rather sad indictment of the priorities of 1960s TV commissioners and where they believed their audiences' heads were at - but they were, at least, enamoured enough with the concept to commission a second pilot, Where No One Has Gone Before. Spock was the only character kept from The Cage (despite, in a story Leonard loved telling, Roddenbury saying that one of the network executives had ordered him to 'lose the guy with the ears') and he appeared in the second pilot, which NBC decided was good enough to risk a full series. 'For the first time,' Nimoy later recalled, 'I had a job that lasted longer than two weeks and a dressing room with my name painted on the door and not chalked on.' Roddenberry described Spock as  Star Trek's 'conscience', a quizzical, alien and yet also humane moral sense which pervaded the original series as well as subsequent big-screen outings, most recently in the rebooted films directed by JJ Abrams. It was Leonard who created the famous Vulcan 'w' salute which first appeared in 1967. He based it on his childhood memories of Jewish priests giving a blessing. It was usually combined with the greeting: 'Live long and prosper.' Leonard's portrayal of Spock in the pilot episodes was far removed from later characterisations. The early Spock was quite jovial and not at all like the much more serious, logical and usually emotionless, character that he became.
    Leonard reportedly found that the intensity of the role was such that it became difficult to separate himself from the character. He described how he would go home at weekends and it would take him until Sunday afternoons to finally shake off the role, only to have to begin all over again on Monday mornings. He began to take solace in drink - 'just one after a show and then more' - and eventually he had to go into rehab. Never a big hit during its lifetime, NBC dropped Star Trek after three series (seventy nine episodes, including the two pilots) in 1969 citing low ratings. But its imaginative adventures, strange new futurist worlds, occasionally over-earnest but fundamentally optimistic and liberal view of the universe, the tackling of some quite taboo social issues under the cloak of science-fantasy and an often under-rated and wry sense of humour won the drama a growing army of devotees across the world when the show went into syndication, in the process turning Spock, Captain Kirk, Bones, Scotty, Sulu, Uhura and Chekov into genuine pop culture icons. Yes, the special effects were primitive by today's standards and sometimes the scripts could be a bit up-their-own-arse in stressing broadly American 'mom's apple pie'-style morality and values but nevertheless, for an eight year old it was the greatest TV show ever. In Britain, it became a TV staple on BBC1, constantly repeated throughout the 1970s and 80s and was, for many of us 'of a certain age', one of the first programmes we can all remember seeing in colour - with the shocking realisation that those grey Starfleet shirts were, actually, red and yellow and blue.
    Leonard wasn't out of work for long, being hired for Mission: Impossible, whose producers had to replace the recently departed Martin Landau just months after Star Trek ended. Leonard was cast in the role of The Great Paris, an IMF agent who was a magician and make-up expert, He played Paris for two highly successful series (forty nine episodes) before leaving in 1971. He then went back to playing a character roles in films and television - including a memorable guest villain role as a murderous surgeon in a 1972 episode of Columbo, A Stitch In Time - and made a large number of stage appearances in plays as varied as Caligula and My Fair Lady. He was brilliant in a small but crucial role in Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake of Invasion Of the Bodysnatchers. And was also unforgettable - in every sense of the word - in a truly wretched adaptation of Sherlock Holmes (1976). If you've never seen the latter, dear blog reader, Keith Telly Topping urges you to track it down. Your life simply isn't complete until you've sat through that once, and survived. He also began his directing career with an episode of Rod Serling's horror anthology series Night Gallery in 1972. But Leonard was unable to shake off Spock and he returned to the franchise to voice the character in Star Trek: The Animated Series, which was made in 1973. Two years later he published the first volume of his autobiography, entitled, rather bitterly, I Am Not Spock, in which he conducted imaginary conversations with his alter ego. 'The question was whether to embrace Mr Spock or to fight the onslaught of public interest. I realise now that I really had no choice in the matter,' he said later. Leonard continued to have an ambivalent relationship with Spock for some years, seeming, at different times, too both cherish and resent his close association with the role. In the end, though, he decided to embrace Spock; the second volume of autobiography was titled I Am Spock as if in final acceptance of the inevitable. The book featured a tongue-in-cheek foreword by Spock himself. In this memoir, Leonard was frank about how difficult an actor he had been to work with for the show's producers and also about his personality clashes with Bill Shatner. He attributed Star Trek's troubled third season to the departure of Gene Roddenberry as producer and to his replacement by Fred Freiberger. In 1979 Leonard was back on the Enterprise with the majority of the original cast in the first feature film in the franchise, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Which was flashy and big budget and made lots of money even if it didn't seem to, quite, have the heart of the best of TV series' episodes. Despite apparently dying at the climax of its - much superior - sequel, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, Spock didn't stay dead for long and Leonard both directed and starred in two of the subsequent films, The Search For Spock and The Voyage Home - the latter, a light comedy which sent up many sacred cows was, arguably, the highlight of the movie series - as well as contributing to the screenplay and producing the sixth Star Trek movie, The Undiscovered Country (another good one). He also made two appearances as Spock when the franchise returned to television in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Leonard was an unlikely sex symbol. According to the Los Angeles Times, when he spoke at Ohio's Bowling Green State University in the 1970s, a young woman asked: 'Are you aware that you are the source of erotic dream material for thousands and thousands of ladies around the world?' 'May all your dreams come true,' he responded with his characteristic dry humour.
    Away from the Enterprise, Leonard directed the 1987 comedy Three Men & A Baby, one of the top-grossing films of that year and a handful of other, less successful, movies. He also embraced acting roles reflecting his Jewish heritage. In 1982 he appeared as the former husband of the Israeli prime minister Golda Meir in the TV movie A Woman Called Golda. He also played a Holocaust survivor in the courtroom drama Never Forget. His photography book, Shekhina, pictured nude women, including a cover shot of a woman wearing Jewish ritual objects traditionally worn by men. Leonard shrugged off traditionalist outrage and claimed that his work was entirely consistent with the teachings of the kabbalah. 'I'm not introducing sexuality into Judaism. It's been there for centuries.' He announced his retirement from acting in 2010 but was coaxed back on-screen a year later to reprise his popular semi-regular guest role as Doctor William Bell in the cult science-fiction series Fringe.
     He continued to make regular appearances at Star Trek conventions but admitted that he didn't always share the fans' encyclopaedic knowledge. 'Star Trek fans,' he confided, 'can be scary. If you don't get this right you're going to hear about it.' But, like several of his co-stars, he  was a good friend to fandom and seemed happy to occasionally parody his over-serious public persona in episodes of The Simpsons and Futurama. Never afraid to lampoon himself, he proved his keen sense of self-deprecating humour in Conan O'Brien's 1993 The Simpsons episode Marge Vs The Monorail. This version of Leonard relentlessly nitpicked every anecdote about Star Trek recited in his presence. He returned to The Simpsons four years later for another memorable cameo in the episode The Springfield Files. Last year, the actor revealed he was suffering from chronic lung disease, despite having given up smoking more than thirty years previously. It was reported earlier this week that he had been taken to hospital on 19 February after suffering from chest pains. He later tweeted: 'A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.' He signed off what was to be his final message to the world with 'LLAP' - a reference to his character's famous catchphrase.
    Among the torrent of tributes on Twitter following the announcement of his death was a message from NASA crediting both Leonard and Star Trek in general as being an inspiration to a generation of real-life scientists, astronomers and astronauts. William Shatner said in a statement that he loved Leonard 'like a brother. We will all miss his humour, his talent and his capacity to love,' The Shat said. Despite a couple of periods of estrangement during the 1970s and 90s, Leonard and Bill had remained good friends and Nimoy was best man at Shatner's third marriage in 1997. Leonard's interest in photography began in childhood; until his death, he owned a camera that he had rebuilt at the age of thirteen. His photography studies at UCLA occurred after Star Trek and Mission: Impossible, when Leonard seriously considered changing careers. His work has been exhibited at the R Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Leonard also composed several volumes of poetry, some published along with his photographs. A later poetic volume entitled A Lifetime Of Love: Poems On The Passages Of Life was published in 2002. Leonard adapted and starred in the one-man play Vincent (1981), based on the life of one of his heroes, Vincent Van Gogh. During and following Star Trek, Leonard also released five LPs of musical vocal recordings on Dot Records. On his first LP Mr Spock's Music From Outer Space, and some of the songs on his second, Two Sides Of Leonard Nimoy, science fiction-themed songs were featured and Nimoy sang (or talked) in the character of Spock. On his final three LPs - The Way I Feel, The World Of Leonard Nimoy and The Touch Of Leonard Nimoy - he recorded some of his own compositions and covers of folk and pop songs like Pete Seegar's 'If I Had A Hammer', John Fogerty's 'Proud Mary', Elvis's 'I Just Can't Help Believing', Joni Mitchell's 'Both Sides Now' and Johnny Cash's 'I Walk the Line'. Not forgetting the immortally dreadful 'The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins'. Once heard, never forgotten! For all that, his musically career still pisses all over that of his friend Shatner. Leonard was married twice. Firstly, in 1954 to the actress Sandra Zober, whom he divorced in 1987. On New Year's Day 1989, he married Susan Bay, the cousin of director Michael Bay.
     He is survived by his wife, his older brother, Melvin, his two children, Adam and Julie, his stepson, Aaron, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He lived long and he prospered. Goodbye, Leonard. You were, and always will be, our friend.
His work here is done.

And, of course, we can't leave without today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. Which is, of course, this. Well, what the hell else did you expect?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Some Lie And Some Die

Broadchurch's series finale was the drama's highest rated episode of 2015, according to overnight figures on Monday. The final episode of the ITV drama's second - critically less-acclaimed-than-the-first - run was watched by an overnight average of 7.62m at 9pm. Earlier, Wor Geet Canny Robson Green's More Tales From Northumberland featuring Wor Geet Canny Robson Green his very self, obviously, continued with 2.78m at 8pm. On BBC1, Inside Out gathered 3.42m at 7.30pm, before Children Of The Great Migration interested 2.13m at 8.30pm. A repeat of New Tricks - broadcast on the day that the long-running crime drama's cancellation was announced - attracted 2.66m punters at 9pm. BBC2's University Challenge was watched by 3.04m at 8pm, while Only Connect had an audience of by 2.57m at 8.30pm. A Cook Abroad averaged 1.52m at 9pm, before Vic and Bob's House of Fools continued with six hundred and seventy thousand at 10pm. Channel Four's Food Unwrapped attracted 1.28m at 8.30pm, while NHS: Two Billion Pounds A Week And Counting interested eight hundred and twenty thousand at 9pm. Catastrophe continued with five hundred and forty thousand at 10pm. Police Interceptors brought in eight hundred and sixty three thousand for Channel Five at 8pm, while Benefits Britain: Life On The Dole continued with 1.79m at 9pm. Later, Ten Thousand BC was watched by seven hundred and fifty nine thousand at 10pm. On FOX, The Walking Dead had an overnight audience of at 9pm.

Broadchurch is to return for a third series, ITV has confirmed. After Monday's dramatic(ish) finale, it was confirmed that David Tennant and Olivia Colman would be reprising their roles as Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller. Chris Chibnall will be back to write series three, while additional casting will be announced at a later date. ITV's director of drama Steve November said: 'Chris Chibnall knows exactly how to keep viewers guessing and I'm delighted that he is going to take the story onto the next stage.' Chibnall added: 'We've been overwhelmed that nine million people every week have continued to join us on the twists and turns of Broadchurch. This third chapter has been a glint in my eye for a long time and I'm thrilled to be writing these characters once again.'
As mentioned above, New Tricks is to end after its upcoming twelfth series. The BBC said that it is bringing the long-running crime drama to an end 'to make room for new series', Broadcast reports. In a joint statement, BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore and BBC drama controller Ben Stephenson said: 'We are incredibly proud of New Tricks and would like to thank Roy Mitchell the brilliant creator, Wall to Wall and Headstrong and all the cast and teams involved across the twelve series. However, on BBC1, it's important to make room for new series and continue to increase the range of drama on the channel, so it won't be returning after the next series airs this summer.' Headstrong Pictures - who are producing the final series - added: 'For eleven series, New Tricks has been one of the most enduringly popular dramas on television and Wall to Wall and Headstrong Pictures are hugely proud of the success of the show. We are obviously sad to see it come to an end, but with the twelfth series currently in production for TX later this year we are pulling out all the stops to make it a rewarding finale for viewers.' New Tricks originally launched in 2003, with Amanda Redman playing Sandra Pullman, who heads up a squad of retired police officers investigating cold cases. Redman later departed the series, as did original co-stars Alun Armstrong and James Bolam, with series veteran Dennis Waterman also set to depart in the twelfth - now final - series. Denis Lawson, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Tamzin Outhwaite currently star in the procedural, with Larry Lamb replacing Waterman for the last episodes.
Channel Four's Immigration Street averaged 1.22 million viewers on Channel Four, according to overnight figures for Tuesday. The controversial programme - which has been the subject of protests from residents in the street it was filmed in - attracted an audience share of seven per cent at 10pm. Earlier, Mary Portas: Secret Shopper entertained 1.51m at 8pm, whilst The Romanians Are Coming averaged 1.28m at 9pm. ITV's live coverage of the Champions League match in which Sheikh Yer Man City got taught a footballing lesson by Barcelona topped the night outside soaps with 5.05m at 7.30pm. On BBC1, The Gift dropped another four hundred thousand viewers attracting 2.85m at 9pm. All Or Nothing was watched by 1.53m at 10.45pm. BBC2's Natural World interested 1.65m at 8pm, before Inside The Commons gathered 1.47m at 9pm and Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience continued with eight hundred and twenty thousand at 10pm. Costa Del Casualty brought in eight hundred and sixty six thousand for Channel Five at 8pm, whilst Killer Psychopaths was watched by seven hundred and twenty four thousand at 9pm. Ten Thousand BC continued with five hundred and eighty six thousand at 10pm.

ITV's coverage of The Brits bounced back from last year's record low with an audience of nearly five-and-a-half million overnight viewers. The annual music awards ceremony was watched by 5.25 million viewers from 8pm on Wednesday. Last year's audience was a joint low for the ceremony which also slipped to 4.6 million viewers in 2006. But it was still a long way short of its biggest recent audience of 7.3 million in 2003. The Brits, which saw Ant and/or Dec taking over hosting duties from odious unfunny drag James Cordon, was up against a Comic Relief themed night on BBC1, with just under six million people watching The Great Comic Relief Bake Off at 8pm (5.97m). Less popular was The People's Strictly For Comic Relief, which had 3.59 million viewers at 9pm. BBC2's acclaimed Hilary Mantel adaptation Wolf Hall came to the end of its six-part run with 2.33 million viewers, a ten per cent audience share, from 9pm. The drama, starring Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis, was BBC2's biggest overnight drama launch for a decade, since HBO co-production Rome, when it began with 3.9 million viewers last month (the episode's consolidated audience was a fraction under six million). Its overnight audience slipped by a million viewers the following week, to 2.9 million, but since then has remained fairly steady around the mid two million mark. Overall, it had an average overnight audience of 2.8 million across its entire run. Wanted In Paradise gathered nine hundred and twenty thousand at 7pm, before Suffragettes Forever interested eight hundred and ten thousand at 8pm. Up The Women continued - and, thank Christ for that - with four hundred and sixty thousand at 10pm. On Channel Four, The Restoration Man appealed to six hundred and twenty thousand at 8pm, while Twenty Four Hours in A&E brought in 1.58m at 9pm. Junk Food Kids: Who's to Blame? was watched by seven hundred thousand viewers at 10pm. GPs: Behind Closed Doors averaged 1.07m for Channel Five at 8pm, before Jack The Ripper attracted seven hundred and thirty six thousand at 9pm and Autopsy 'entertained', if that's the right word 9which it isn't) five hundred and eleven thousand at 10pm.

Some viewers of BBC2's Wolf Hall adaptation - those with, seemingly, nothing better to do with their time than search for something to whinge about - were reportedly 'shocked' and 'stunned' to hear the word 'cunt' used in a recent episode. A total of twenty four members of the public filed whinges over the use of the word, asking whether it was 'really necessary' and 'won't somebody think of the children.' Probably. Curiously, those same people who objected to the use of a word didn't, seemingly, have any problems whatsoever with all the beheading. Interesting priorities some people have, don't you think, dear blog reader? The scene in question was broadcast well after the 9pm watershed on Wednesday 18 February. The, ahem, 'cunting incident' as it were occurred during a discussion between courtiers about Henry VIII's  third wife, Jane Seymour (played by Kate Phillips). The king (Damian Lewis) spoke of his future bride, pondering: 'Does not Mistress Seymour have the tiniest hands?' After walking away, a courtier mocked him by saying: 'Does she not have the whitest throat?', before another added: 'Has she not got the wettest cunt you ever groped?' An Ofcom spokesperson stated that it had received a mere four whinges about the use of the word - although once the Daily Scum Mail picks up on the story and starts whinging about it, as is their way, one would expect that number to, perhaps, increase. The Ofcom person said: 'We will assess these complaints before deciding whether to investigate or not.' A further twenty people whinged directly to the BBC about what a right shite state of affairs this was and how it shouldn't be fekking allowed. Probably. A spokesman for the BBC told the Digital Spy website: 'Wolf Hall is broadcast after the watershed and the language in this powerful scene was taken from Hilary Mantel's original text.' The word 'cunt', of course, was not considered such an obscene term in earlier centuries and appears several times in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Who, by all accounts was a right one. A spokeswoman for King Henry VIII was unavailable for comment. Because she'd had her head removed.
The undoubted highlight of ITV's coverage of The Brits on Wednesday evening was the reunion of the cast of 'Allo 'Allo. At least, this blogger presumes that happened. He didn't watch the thing himself but, everybody was talking about The Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies on Thursday morning.
ITV is reported to be planning yet another revival of The Saint. The broadcaster is said to have commissioned a pilot episode written by Ed Whitmore and Chris Lunt. According to the Radio Times, the pilot will go into production in 2016. The character of the cool and debonair jewel thief and amateur detective Simon Templar was originally created by the great Leslie Charteris in a series of novels beginning in 1928 and has been the subject of a wide variety of film and TV adaptations over the years since; some of them really very good indeed - like the successful long-running television adaptation starring yer actual Roger Moore which was produced between 1962 to 1969 - and some of them absolutely effing dreadful. Particularly the 1990s Hollywood big budget Val Kilmer version (despite featuring Orbital doing a superb version of the title music). Whitmore said: 'There is a post-Breaking Bad appetite for morally grey characters. Simon Templar is a kind of Robin Hood figure - he's timeless.' The writer's new drama Arthur & George, based on a real-life investigation involving Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, will launch on ITV on 2 March.

From The North favourite yer actual Gillian Anderson and Jim Broadbent have joined the cast of War & Peace. The BBC's upcoming epic adaptation of the Leo Tolstoy novel has begun principle photography in Russia, Latvia and Lithuania. Gillian - seen below, in her pants (and, hey, why not?) will play Anna Pavlovna, while Broadbent will star as Prince Bolkonsky. Also joining a quite stunning cast are Rebecca Front as Anna Mikhaylovna, Kenneth Cranham as Uncle Mikhail, Aneurin Barnard as Boris, Tuppence Middleton as Helene, Callum Turner as Anatole and Jessie Buckley as Prince Marya. Brian Cox (no, the other one) will appear as General Kutuzov, while Ken Stott will play Bazdeev. They join the previously announced cast members including Paul Dano, Lily James, James Norton, Stephen Rea, Ade Edmondson and Greta Scacchi. Tom Harper will direct the six-episode series, from a script by Andrew Davies. It is a co-production between The Weinstein Company and the BBC. Set in 1805 during Alexander I's reign, War & Peace follows five aristocratic families during the period leading up to Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812.
CITV's Thunderbirds Are Go has unveiled new pictures. Updated versions of Lady Penelope, Parker and Brains have been released ahead of the series launch this spring. Lady Penelope, who will be voiced by Rosamund Pike, has been given the biggest transformation, but has retained her classic pink Rolls Royce. Parker will be voiced by original actor David Graham, while Kayvan Novak has taken on the role of Brains.
Would I Lie To You? has been commissioned for a ninth series. Rob Brydon will continue to host the BBC comedy panel show, with team captains David Mitchell and Lee Mack also returning. The new episodes will feature guests such as yer actual Sir Roger Moore his very self, Alex Brooker, Judy Murray, Tinchy Stryder, Richard Osman, Clare Balding, Nick Grimshaw, Gabby Logan, Moira Stuart, Sean Lock, Greg Davies and Richard Hammond. The ten-part series will also include a compilation instalment and a Christmas episode. The show recently won Best Panel Show at the British Comedy Awards.
Suranne Jones will star in BBC1 drama Doctor Foster. Relax, it's got nothing to do with Gloucester. Or, indeed, puddles. Probably. The Scott & Bailey actress will lead the five-episode series as Doctor Gemma Foster, a trusted GP who is the heart of her town. Which, just to repeat, is not Gloucester. But when she suspects her husband (Bertie Carvel) of having an affair, Gemma will go to any length necessary to find out the truth. Including, presumably, nailing his scrotum to the floor until he begs for mercy. All right, maybe not that far. As she delves deeper into the investigation, what she discovers not only changes her life, but also the lives of her family and patients. Robert Pugh, Adam James and My Mad Fat Diary's Jodie Comer will also appear in the drama, written by Mike Bartlett and directed by Tom Vaughan. Suranne said: 'I am thrilled to be working with the Drama Republic team as An Honourable Woman was one of my favourite programmes from last year. I loved Mike Bartlett's work before, King Charles III was really stunning and now I have this wonderful script that deals with very human issues from marriage, motherhood, family, loyalty, pride, betrayal, and the very delicate subject of age. I am also so excited to be working with Bertie and for Tom Vaughan to bring it all to life. It's about looking at one woman's story and asking, "What if that was me? What would I do in that situation? And the age old question of why?" I am very much looking forward to telling Gemma Foster's story.'

A rehearsal for a fireworks display in EastEnders' live thirtieth anniversary special episode was the cause of the widely reported real-life blaze, it has emerged. Firefighters went to BBC studios in Elstree, on 17 February after part of the set caught light. A live episode screened on Friday featured a fireworks display to celebrate the soap's milestone. EastEnders confirmed that there had been 'a small fire' but declined to comment further on the circumstances. No serious damage was caused and no-one was injured, a spokeswoman said. The fire, which broke out in the first floor and roof space of a building on the Albert Square location, did not affect filming of the show. As part of the anniversary, 'live inserts' were screened through the week before a fully-live episode on Friday with a fireworks display at the end. More than ten million punters tuned in during Thursday's episode to see the soap's murder mystery storyline reach its climax, with viewers finally learning who killed Lucy Beale. If you haven't already heard, Bob did it. Firefighters were seen on set following Friday's live show in which the fireworks were set off but no further blazes were reported.
Media watchdog Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - says that it will investigate the Channel Four docudrama UKiP: The First One Hundred Days for breaches of the broadcasting code. More than five thousand people whinged about the programme, which imagined a future where Nigel Farage's party won the upcoming general election. Ofcom has said that the programme may be in breach of rules on offensive material, misleadingness and due impartiality. 'We are also considering fairness and privacy complaints,' it said in a statement. The programme mixed real news footage with fictional scenes, focusing on the career of Deepa Kaur, a newly-elected UKiP MP for Romford, played by Priyanga Burford. It also depicted rioting on the streets in the wake of the UKiP election victory, mass forced deportations and the establishment of a new 'National Pride day'. The show was broadcast outside the election period, meaning Channel Four did not have provide balancing views from other parties. A Channel Four spokeswoman said: 'We are confident that the programme did not breach the Ofcom code and we will be providing a response to the investigation.' It had previously said 'a lot of research' went into the film and that Farage his very self had been invited to watch it before the broadcast and then to do an interview afterwards but had declined. The UKiP leader tweeted after the drama went out that it was 'a biased partisan depiction' of his party. Critics were none too kind as well. The Torygraph called the drama 'fatally flawed', saying it 'stereotyped' UKiP supporters as 'an army of bald-headed, beer-swilling thugs'. The Gruniad Morning Star agreed that the drama 'lacked nuance', adding: 'It won't aid UKiP's cause in the run up to the election, but it probably won't make much of a dent in it either.'
Ofcom - still a politically appointed quango, elected by no one, incidentally - is also considering launching an investigation into whether the TV station London Live is failing to broadcast the amount of local content required of its licence. The media regulator has asked the station – run by the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers owner ESI Media – to 'provide more information' after an analysis by the trade magazine Broadcast showed that the channel in January failed to broadcast eight hours a day of 'first run local programming.' So, top marks to Broadcast there for a quality bit of snitching to teacher like a dirty stinking filthy Copper's Nark. School sneak, were you? In October last year, London Live persuaded Ofcom to reduce the amount of time it is required to run repeats of local programming from ten to six hours a day and from an hour and a half to zero during peak time. Even if London Live failed to deliver the required level of programming during January, it only needs to meet the requirement as an average over the course of 2015. An Ofcom spokesperson said: 'Ofcom requires local TV stations to meet commitments on the amount of local programming they provide. These daily or weekly requirements are set out in their licences and are averaged over a year to provide reasonable flexibility to licensees. This means they can sometimes provide less local content as long as they make up any shortfall over the year. We assess all complaints [for which read snitching] we receive about any TV stations' output and take appropriate action where necessary. In this case, we have sought further information from London Live about the amount of local programming being provided before deciding whether the issue warrants further investigation.' London Live chief operating officer, Tim Kirkman said in a statement: 'I am one hundred per cent sure we are compliant with the terms of our licence.' He added: 'Please don't cane us, sir, we were led astray by older boys.'

There was a right old bad-ass how-do-yer-do in American TV circles last weekend as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation fans saw a network promo for the series which appeared to suggest the forthcoming season finale would, actually, be its last ever episode. During CBS's broadcast of the latest episode of another of their popular dramas, NCIS, an on-screen graphic caption suggested that the CSI 'series' finale would be shown the following Sunday. Whilst the terms 'season' and 'series' are pretty much interchangeable in Europe, in the US 'season' is almost always used to describe the current batch of episodes whilst 'series' refers to the production as an entity. Thus 'series finale' appears to suggest that, well, the series is ending, basically. CBS network executive Chris Ender quickly went onto Twitter in an attempt to correct the - apparently incorrect - impression given, but fans were still left sceptical about the future of the long-running crime drama. CSI has been a very important franchise for CBS over the last fifteen years, having been named as the most-watched TV show in the world five times, earning the title as recently as 2012. It has also led to a number of spin-offs, the truly appalling CSI: Miami which, bafflingly, ran for ten years from 2002 to 2012, the rather good CSI: New York which ran for nine years from 2004 to 2013 and the upcoming CSI: Cyber, starring Patricia Arquette which débuts in the US on 4 March. However, the most recent CSI season - its fifteenth - saw its episode numbers cut from the normal twenty two to eighteen and the series - despite remaining broadly popular - has seen its audience in the US drop by several million. Rumours have circulated - on the Internet, if not anywhere more believable - that CBS intended to cancel CSI, rumours which have been fuelled by its lead actor, Ted Danson, taking a part in the forthcoming second season of Fargo. Pre-publicity had suggested that the drama would 'kill off an original cast member' in the season finale, End Game, broadcast as part of a two-episode special on 17 February. In the event, that didn't happen although George Eads, who had played the character of Nick Stokes since the show's first episode, did leave the production at the end of the episode to take up a new posting as the lead criminologist in San Diego.
Meanwhile, CBS will attempt to break the world record for largest ever TV drama simulcast, it has been announced. The channel is planning to show CSI: Cyber worldwide to achieve the feat, Deadline reports. The first episode of the new spin-off, Kitty, will be broadcast in 'over one hundred and fifty countries' on 4 March at 4pm Pacific Time (that's midnight in the UK) in a bid to set a new record, it has been claimed. The current record holder is the fiftieth anniversary episode of Doctor Who, which was broadcast simultaneously in ninety eight countries on 22 November 2013.

Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has definitively ruled out Horrible Katie Hopkins ever judging Britain's Got Toilets. The Celebrity Big Brother runner-up and full-of-her-own-importance twonk Horrible Hopkins had been 'linked' in the tabloid press to join BGT - an apparent match made in heaven one could suggest - should Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads leave the not-as-popular-as-it-used-to-be talent contest to 'focus on his American TV commitments.' Whatever they might be. Quite where this information came from the tabloids in question did not reveal. Although, it obviously wasn't passed on to them by shameless self-publicist Horrible Hopkins her very self or anyone representing her interests. Oh no, very hot water. Asked by the Digital Spy website about the rumours at the Elle Style Awards this week, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads insisted that there is 'no chance' of Horrible Hopkins ever joining the ITV show. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads replied: 'I'd rather take a bath, fill it with vinegar, cut myself a thousand times [and] immerse myself slowly for an hour than work with her. So the answer is no.' To be fair, quite a number of people who expressed an interest said that they would quite like to see Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads do something like what he suggests involving the vinegar bath and self-harming. You know, for a laugh.

The BBC has dismissed a - thoroughly ridiculous - one hundred million smackers proposal to buy BBC3, saying that the proposal 'did not make sense' either 'practically or in the interests of licence fee payers' and suggested that the producers behind the bid set up their own TV channel instead. Danny Cohen, the BBC's Director of Television, told Jimmy Mulville and Jon Thoday in a letter published on Wednesday that he was 'not sure what you would be spending your money on.' He added that 'fundamental questions' about the bid had 'multiplied and deepened' since it was first revealed in a blaze of publicity in the Gruniad Morning Star. 'We cannot sell you the BBC brand name, the EPG slot or the vast majority of rights to programmes,' Cohen told the hapless pair. 'These are the key assets. Your proposal does not add up when all these elements are taken into account. Essentially you would be buying a channel with a new non-BBC name, without an EPG slot on [digital terrestrial television] and cable and without any rights to currently produced or archive BBC programmes. When you actually get into the detail, we are not sure what you would be spending your money on. There is of course nothing to stop you setting up a new TV channel for young audiences if this is something you are passionate about doing.' Thoday, the joint managing director of Russell Howard's Good News producer Avalon, and Mulville, managing director of Hat Trick, the company behind numerous BBC shows including Have I Got News For You, outlined their vainglorious highfalutin 'plans' to 'buy' BBC3 after the corporation said last year that it would close the channel and take it online. The value of the offer - which has been ludicrously and sycophantically slavvered over by some arseholes of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star if not anyone that actually matters - 'would be the subject of negotiation but was likely to have been around one hundred million knicker' according to one of those arseholes of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star with their tongue rammed right up Thoday and Mulville's bottoms. Although, how they know that, the brown-tongued arsehole of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star does not reveal. In a letter to the BBC Trust, which will consider the offer as part of its consultation into proposals to close the channel, the pair said that the BBC's current strategy 'will not realise value for the licence payer and there are better alternatives – not least, a commercial future for the channel.' But Cohen ruled out a sale of the channel's name and its prominent slot on the EPG. He said that 'a large proportion' of its programme rights were 'not the BBC's to sell' because they were made by independent producers. 'We are not willing to privatise a UK public service BBC-branded channel,' said Cohen. 'Nor would the BBC be willing to allow a third party company to decide the editorial direction of a BBC-branded channel in the UK. Your proposal also does not stack up when it comes to content rights,' he added. Cohen said that hit BBC3 shows would continue to be commissioned both for its new online-only incarnation and for transfer to BBC1 or BBC2, while imported programmes on BBC3 (like Family Guy) would also switch to other BBC channels. He said that a privately-owned BBC3 could not, legally, be cross-promoted on any other BBC service. So, this 'plan', frankly, appears to be a bit of a non-starter. The BBC will save around fifty million notes by closing the channel, thirty million of which has been earmarked for drama on BBC1. It will be replaced on the EPG by a new timeshifted channel, BBC1+1. Cohen said it was 'true that this proposal is partly born out of financial necessity' and 'earlier than we might have ideally planned' but said it 'does not change the fact that it is the right thing for young audiences in the long term.' Cohen told Mulville and Thoday: 'I sincerely hope that we will continue to work together on a great range of programmes and content in the future as we have done with great results in the past. Perhaps you may even be willing to make programmes for a new digital BBC3.'

Sneering full-of-his-own-importance Jon Snow has claimed that he turned down an offer to move from Channel Four to the BBC. The Channel Four News presenter said that it 'wasn't remotely difficult' to reject the BBC's proposal, which would have seen him front the One O'Clock News. He told the Press Association: 'I'm a maverick, a rebel. I question everything. Because I work at Channel Four, I have no fixed points to prevent me asking anything. I couldn't do those things at the BBC. They've only ever asked me once, twenty years ago. They wanted me to anchor the One O'Clock News. It wasn't remotely difficult to turn them down - it was an incredibly boring programme.' Meanwhile, Snow has also praised Channel Four's new recruit Jeremy Paxman, who will anchor the channel's coverage of the upcoming General Erection. 'I admire old Paxo. I thought it was a real coup. I was thrilled,' Snow said. 'He is the very best thing that's ever come along. We're not mates, but we're perfectly friendly. He's part of the national iconography.'
Convicted kiddie-fiddler and disgusting old scallywag Rolf Harris has been extremely stripped of his Australian honours. A brief statement this week said that the disgraced entertainer's appointments as Officer and Member of the Order of Australia had been 'terminated' by Governor General Peter Cosgrove. 'With extreme prejudice', one imagines. Harris was very jailed in July 2014 for nearly six years for twelve indecent assaults carried out against four young girls. The offences took place between 1968 and 1986. Australia operates a separate honours system to that of the UK. Harris has also been awarded honours under the British system. Similarly, yer actual Keith Telly Topping did consider throwing the four Rolf Harris singles he's had since he was seven in the bin when Harris was sent down for his hideous and awful crimes. But, in spite of everything, he just couldn't do it. And, for what it's worth, he still considers 'Sun Arise' to be a bloody masterpiece. Albeit, not one you're likely to hear played pretty much anywhere any time soon. Harris appeared on TV screens as a children's entertainer, singer and songwriter over a sixty year period. He was also an artist and painted a portrait of Queen Elizabeth to mark her eightieth birthday in 2006. Although, again, one doesn't imagine that one's hanging on display in Buck House or the National Portrait Gallery at the moment. Earlier this month Harris was, again, questioned by police regarding further historic sex offence allegations.

Meanwhile, the controversial 'deal' between the BBC and South Yorkshire police to allow the filming of a raid on Sir Cliff Richard's gaff has been criticised by an independent police review as an invasion of the singer's privacy. The televised raid 'may well have caused unnecessary distress' to Richard and 'certainly interfered with his privacy', according to former chief constable Andy Trotter, who conducted a review for the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner. He said that the South Yorkshire chief constable, David Crompton, could have stepped in to prevent the media agreement at any stage. Under the deal, the BBC agreed to delay, by a month, publishing details of an investigation into an allegation that Richard sexually abused a sixteen-year-old boy in the 1980s. Allegations which, it is important to note, the singer denies utterly. In return, South Yorkshire police tipped off the broadcaster about the timing of the raid on Richard's Berkshire home, allowing it to broadcast live helicopter footage of the operation. Richard had not been interviewed by the police before the raid, which he watched unfold on TV while he was on holiday in Portugal. South Yorkshire police said that they entered into the deal because they feared that crucial evidence would be lost if the BBC reported that the seventy four-year-old singer was under investigation before the raid took place, as it had allegedly threatened. The BBC have stated, repeatedly, that had they been asked by South Yorkshire Police not to broadcast details as it was part of an ongoing investigation, they would have agreed but, it seems, that thought never occurred to South Yorkshire Police. The hapless pollis claim they 'believed' the BBC's reporter, Dan Johnson, had been leaked information about Richard from Operation Yewtree, the Metropolitan police investigation into child sex abuse by disgraceful old scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile and others. But, in his review published on Tuesday, Trotter, a former chief constable of the British Transport police and former chair of the National Police Communications Advisory Group, concluded that the BBC was 'unlikely' to have run the story based on a single source, without South Yorkshire Police's cooperation. Johnson himself was not interviewed by Trotter and has not disclosed his 'source' although he and others at the BBC have stated that it had not come from any police force. Trotter's review says that it is possible South Yorkshire police were 'conned' by Johnson into revealing more information about the investigation than he already had. But, Trotter noted that the force's head of communications, Carrie Goodwin, and the senior investigating officer in the case, Matt Fenwick, were 'adamant' that Johnson knew as much as they did about the investigation when he approached the force a month before the raid. Trotter's review said that South Yorkshire Police had breached guidance on protecting the identity of those under investigation. 'Bearing in mind that at [the time of the raid] Sir Cliff Richard had not been interviewed, let alone arrested, he should not have been informed of the allegations through the media. By cooperating, the force stood the story up' and absolved the BBC of any risk or responsibility for the story.' The review called for revised police guidance to advise officers on how they invited journalists on planned operations. South Yorkshire police have already been heavily criticised for the way they handled the case. The Home Affairs Select Committee described the raid as 'utterly inept', but said that the BBC was 'well within its rights to run the story' and had done 'nothing wrong.' The Trotter review said that the handling of the raid had dented the force's reputation. He said it should have taken external advice, including from the Metropolitan police, before agreeing to cooperate with the BBC. Trotter concluded: 'I came across nothing to suggest that the force was seeking publicity or involved in any improper relationships with the media. However, through a failure to foresee the consequences of their decisions, they put the force in a position which was difficult to defend and which could, and should, have been avoided.' A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: 'While we believe our actions in relation to dealing with the media were within policy and were well intended, they were ultimately flawed and we regret the additional anxiety which was caused to Sir Cliff Richard.' A BBC spokesman said: 'The Home Affairs Committee has already endorsed the way the BBC handled this story. We have nothing further to add.' Trotter also said the Daily Scum Mail's coverage of his inquiry was 'highly inaccurate.' The Scum Mail headline on Tuesday - written, of course, without any hint of a venal and sick agenda being pushed, oh, good gracious no, perish the very thought - claimed that both police and the BBC had been 'savaged' by the report and the article claimed that the inquiry had found police officials to be 'incompetent' and the BBC 'dishonest.' Trotter, said that all of this was wrong and that the Scum Mail's coverage was so misleading that he did not recognise his own report from it. Trotter told the Gruniad Morning Star: 'When I saw the headline I genuinely thought it must refer to someone else's report. It bore no resemblance to my report and at no time did I say the police were incompetent or the BBC was dishonest. My report clearly does not say that. Neither the police or the BBC are "savaged". I made no comment, whatsoever, about the BBC. That was not part of my remit.' So, there you have it. The Daily Scum Mail talking a load of old inaccurate, agenda-soaked crap. Who'd've thought it?

The historical sex offence inquiry into Cliff Richard has 'increased significantly in size' and involves 'more than one allegation', police have claimed. Curiously, they said all of that within hours of the publication of Andy Trotter's highly critical report about their raid on Richard's home. Odd, that. Although one imagines that the timing is purely co-incidental, of course. No other explanation, one supposes. The expansion of the investigation meant that no date could be given for when it would be concluded, South Yorkshire Police's chief constable said. Sir Cliff said that he had 'no idea' where the 'absurd and untrue' allegations against him come from. 'The police have not disclosed details to me,' he said in a statement. 'I have never, in my life, assaulted anyone and I remain confident that the truth will prevail. I have cooperated fully with the police, and will, of course, continue to do so.' The BBC News website says that it 'understands' the original allegation relates to an alleged assault at an event featuring US preacher Billy Graham at Bramall Lane in Sheffield in 1985. In a letter to Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Chief Constable David Crompton claimed that his force was 'in regular contact' with Sir Cliff's lawyers. That involved 'a verbal update about once a fortnight', he said. 'This is an investigation which has increased significantly in size since its inception. Sir Cliff Richard's lawyers are aware that there is more than one allegation,' he said in the letter. He added: 'It would be premature and potentially misleading to predict a likely date when it will be concluded, however, we are progressing as swiftly as possible.' A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said it had not been presented with a file for a charging decision.

The chief executive responsible for Stoke Mandeville hospital told a local MP in 2012 that filthy disgusting old scallywag and right rotter Jimmy Savile was 'not given free access' to clinical areas, the BBC has reported. Savile abused more than sixty people on the hospital site including wards where young children were treated. Reading East MP Rob Wilson claimed that Anne Eden's comments to him were 'bordering on misleading.' The MP's complaint follows the publication on Thursday of the report of an independent investigation into Savile's behaviour at the hospital and the fact that there was something rotten at the heart of Stoke Manderville. It found that dirty old scallywag and right rotter Savile had 'virtually unrestricted access' to clinical areas and patients during the 1970s and 1980s and period when he was, let us not forget, a 'close personal friend' of the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. It also revealed that Savile was given a bedroom that allowed him to live 'alongside young female students for four decades.' Following the emergence in September 2012 of the allegations about Savile's sick abuse at Stoke Mandeville, Wilson wrote to the Chief Executive of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust to express his constituents' concerns about the claims. Eden 'sought to reassure' Wilson about Savile's freedoms at the hospital in an e-mail sent on 12 October 2012 and, this week, obtained by the BBC through a Freedom of Information request. 'There has been a lot of conjecture in the media regarding Jimmy's access at Stoke Mandeville,' she wrote. 'I would like to clarify that he was not given free access around our clinical areas. To the best of my knowledge, whenever he attended the hospital, he would give advance notice and usually be in attendance with his fundraising team. He and his team were given access to a room, but this was not within the main hospital nor in any clinical area.' Wilson said: 'It is extremely disappointing that the answers I got at the time were inadequate and unfortunately wrong. I felt at the time I was corresponding with Ms Eden, that I was not getting to the full truth. There were clearly media reports suggesting that he had more access than she was telling me. I was very surprised to receive the first letter suggesting that he had no unsupervised access and suggesting there wasn't any great need to look further.' He said that he understood the e-mail was written 'at a difficult time' for the hospital but 'it was a very important issue where the truth - more than anything else - had to come out.' Meanwhile, a fomer cabinet minister who agreed a deal with the disgraced and disgraceful Savile under which the late DJ would fundraise for the hospital on condition it was kept open, has told the BBC he 'accepts a share of responsibility' for enabling Savile to abuse patients. On Newsnight, Lord Jenkin - who was social services secretary between 1979 and 1981 - said: 'I deeply regret what we now know Jimmy Savile got up to in this hospital.' He told the programme that he was 'not aware' at the time that Savile was a sick and sordid sexual predator who had been given the freedom of the hospital to do his disgusting activities with virtual state sanction. 'I have been appalled to read just how far he had gained access,' Jenkin said. When asked if he should have known about the level of freedom Savile had at Stoke Mandeville, he replied: 'Maybe I should have, but I didn't.' Thursday's report alleged that Savile had abused sixty three people 'connected' to the hospital and that one formal complaint about him - made by the father of an eleven-year-old girl - was entirely ignored. It said that Savile's reputation as 'a sex pest' was 'an open secret' among some staff but that allegations about his behaviour probably did not reach managers. According to the report, Savile's victims, aged between eight and forty, were abused over a twenty four-year period between 1968 and 1992. Sexual abuse by Savile ranged from 'inappropriate touching' to outright rape - including the rape of children under the age of twelve.
Former Downing Street communications director and the Prime Minister's ex, if you will, 'chum', Andy Coulson is to stand trial in Scotland on a charge of perjury. The charge is in connection with the trial of Tommy and Gail Sheridan in December 2010 at the High Court in Glasgow. Coulson, a former editor of the Scum of the World (and convicted phone-hacker), attended a day-long pre-evidential hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh. It fixed a trial date of 21 April.

A Cleveland morning news anchor used the horrific racial epithet 'jigaboo' while discussing Lady Gaga's music on live television. Kristi Capel, co-anchor of FOX Eight News In The Morning, was impressed with the pop star's vocal abilities after hearing her perform a Sound Of Music medley at the Oscars on Sunday night. 'It's hard to really hear her voice with all that jigaboo music that she does, or whatever you want to call it. Jigaboo,' she said on Monday morning, before laughing. The former beauty pageant queen, who was crowned Miss Missouri USA in 2006, used the ethnic slur for African-Americans from the early Twentieth Century to characterise the singer's music — in contrast with her performance at the awards ceremony. 'She has a gorgeous voice. I never knew. Very nice,' she added. Capel was speaking to her co-anchor Wayne Dawson, who is African-American, during the broadcast. Many offended viewers contacted Capel on her Twitter and Facebook profiles to chastise her for using such a disparaging word. Capel, who grew up in Northern Kentucky, at first claimed that she did not know the word's meaning and then, bizarrely, changed her story and said that she did not know it was even a word in the first place. Many critics countered that she could have either invented the word by throwing together some sounds at random or used the word without knowing its true and appalling meaning - but suggested that both explanations. simultaneously, are not possible. 'Which one is it? It can't be both. You either didn't know the definition or you made up a word on-air,' one Twitter user wrote. Channel Eight, the Cleveland FOX affiliate owned by Tribune Media Group, confirmed in a brief statement on Wednesday morning that Capel has been temporarily suspended: 'Kristi Capel will not be anchoring FOX Eight News In The Morning' for the remainder of the week,' the statement said. Executives would not confirm whether this suspension was paid or unpaid. Stacey Frey filled in for Capel on Wednesday morning. 'Kristi apologised on the air shortly after making the remark. She did not know what the word meant but that is no excuse for using it,' news director Andy Fishman said. 'We have spoken with her and are confident nothing like this will happen again.'
A Premier League footballer has been ;caught up; in a one hundred thousand smackers blackmail attempt following an alleged one-night stand, it has been reported. The married defender, said to be 'a household name', is claimed to have spent a 'no holds barred' night of red hot rampant passion with the sweating and the thrusting and the 'yes, yes, Big Boy, harder' and that, with a woman before sending her a number of explicit photographs and videos of himself and his massive maleness. As ou do. Well, as you do if you're a hideously overpaid, numskull moron, that is. But, it has emerged that the alleged woman, allegedly in her thirties and allegedly single, then showed the allegedly intimate images of the player's naughty bits to the player's club allegedly after learning that he was married - and allegedly demanded loads of disgusting wonga in alleged return for her alleged silence. Allegedly. According to the Sun on Sunday (they're not alleged, they definitely exist), the pair allegedly met at a party close to the player's home last year and, allegedly, had sex - lots and lots of sex - some hours later. Blimey, he wasn't hanging about, was he? One wonders if he moves that fast when he's playing for his club. The newspaper quotes an alleged - anonymous, and therefore almost certainly fictitious - 'source' as allegedly saying: 'It was no holds barred. It may have been a brief encounter but it left them both exhausted. This was pure animal passion. His wife would be horrified if she ever found out the full details.' Yes, that sounds like exactly the sort of thing an alleged 'source' would allegedly tell a notorious tabloid newspaper. The alleged woman allegedly travelled to the footballer's club 'along with her family' after learning that he was married and showed officials the explicit material she had been sent. Their reaction is not reported. Although 'crikey, that's a big one. He keeps that hidden in the showers' would not have been surprising. After allegedly demanding an alleged hundred grand to 'keep quiet' - which, as far as this blogger knows is, actually, a crime - she was 'referred to the legal department at the club.' Officials have allegedly refused to pay out any cash. Whether they have also snitched her up to The Law for her alleged attempted blackmail is, also, unknown at this time. The Sun on Sunday claims that, 'for legal reasons', it cannot reveal the alleged identity of the player, the woman or the club involved. Curiously, it does not reveal where it got the story from in the first place although, there would appear to be only three potential sources and two of those would appear to have little reasons to go running to a tabloid with such a tale. It reports that the player is 'distraught' after learning the woman had contacted his club - and we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for him? - while his wife is said to be 'completely unaware' of the one-night stand.

FIFA says that it will not pay compensation to clubs and leagues unhappy about plans to play the 2022 Qatar World Cup in November and December. It also said that no apology was necessary for the idiotic scheduling of the tournament, which will disrupt a number of European leagues. A FIFA taskforce has recommended the 2022 World Cup take place in winter to avoid Qatar's hot summer temperatures. This, despite the fact that Qatar had been awarded the 2022 World Cup following a bid to hold the tournament in the summer. 'There will be no compensation,' sneered FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke. 'There are seven years to reorganise.' FIFA's executive committee will meet in Zurich next month to ratify the taskforce's recommendation. Valcke also suggested that a 2022 World Cup final on 23 December was 'looking increasingly likely.' Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore claims a final that close to Christmas will 'cause havoc' with the traditional festive club programme, while FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce wants it played a week earlier. But Valcke says that European governing body UEFA and other confederations are keen on Friday 23 December, although 18 December is 'also a possibility.' Valcke also confirmed that the 2022 World Cup will be four days shorter than previously 'as a concession' to leagues and clubs - twenty eight days instead of the usual thirty two - and that the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations will move to June from January.

The Greek government has suspended professional football in the country indefinitely. The move follows violence at a match between rivals Olympiakos and Panathinaikos, as well as a brawl between club officials at a board meeting on Tuesday. With chaps getting sparked and aal sorts. The Greek league has already been suspended twice this season due to violence. Newly-elected ruling party Syriza have pledged to stamp out the problem. As well as deal with the Germans. The suspension affects the top three divisions in the country. 'What we have been informed is that the Super League and the Football League have been suspended indefinitely,' Super League president Giorgos Borovilos told reporters. 'We have a new government who are looking to bring this subject up for discussion and implement state laws related to it.' Borovilos added: 'The government wants games to start again as soon as possible, but for that they want to see immediate reactions from all of us.' Fans hurled flares, rocks and bottles at officials during Panathinaikos's 2-1 victory over league leaders Olympiakos on Sunday. An executive meeting of Super League officials was then called off after a Panathinaikos official claimed he had been punched by Olympiakos security personnel. The two Athens clubs are known as the 'eternal enemies' and share a fierce rivalry that often spills over into a violence. Although it's still nowt compared to Newcastle and Sunderland. Matches in the professional divisions were previously halted in September and November last year. The first suspension was caused by the death of a fan after clashes between supporters of third-division teams Ethnikos Piraeus and Irodotos. The second sanction followed an assault on the assistant director of the refereeing committee.

Imposing fines of up to five hundred thousand knicker on the companies behind cold calls and nuisance text messages is to become easier under changes to the law being made by the government. The move follows tens of thousands of complaints about cold calling. Currently, firms can only be punished if the Information Commissioner can prove a call caused 'substantial damage or substantial distress.' Well, several of them have gotten yer actual Keith Telly Topping out of the bath simply to try and ask him annoying questions about PPI so, surely that constitutes 'substantial distress.' It was a nice bath. Anyway, from 6 April, that legal requirement is to be removed. More than one hundred and seventy five thousand complaints were contacted by the Information Commissioner's Office last year about nuisance calls and text messages. The government says that the number of complaints has risen in the past decade and the issue is particularly acute for the elderly and housebound as such calls can cause distress and anxiety. Or, in this blogger's case, drag me out of a nice hot bath for no good reason. In a speech earlier this month, Information Commissioner Christopher Graham described the current law as 'a licence for spammers and scammers' and appealed for more powers. The ICO can take action against companies who flout rules on direct marketing, and says that it has issued penalties totalling eight hundred and fifteen thousand quid to nine firms since January 2012. But it has been powerless to target other firms behind a large number of unsolicited calls or texts. It had tried to argue that companies which make a large number of calls could breach the regulations because of the 'cumulative effect' of their actions. But a tribunal upheld an appeal against a three hundred grand fine imposed on Manchester-based Tetrus Telecoms after ruling its high volume of text messages about PPI and accident claims did not meet the legal threshold of causing 'substantial damage or substantial distress.' Now, following a six-week public consultation, that threshold is to be removed according to digital economy minister the vile and odious rascal Vaizey. He told BBC Breakfast: 'At the moment if the Information Commissioner goes after a company, he's got to show the company has caused you - the consumer at home - serious distress, serious harm. It's a very high test to pass which is why there have only been nine prosecutions, which is why we want to lower that test.' He said it was 'important to recognise' the UK has a 'legitimate direct marketing industry where businesses calling consumer can sometimes bring some benefit. We want to go after the cowboys. Frankly the Information Commissioner knows who a lot of these companies are but it's very, very difficult to pass that threshold, now it will be a lot easier,' he added. It will now be up to the ICO to assess when a serious contravention has taken place and give those responsible a good hard swift kick in the Jacob's Cream Crackers for their insolence.

Veteran Doctor Who designer Barry Newbery has died at the age of eighty eight. Barry was one of the most prolific designers of Doctor Who, working on more episodes of the original series than any other designer in its twenty six year history. His contribution ranged from the very first story An Unearthly Child in 1963 through to The Awakening in 1984, a total of sixty two episodes. Barry joined the BBC in the late 1950's after working as a freelance designer in London, overseeing window displays and designing exhibitions. Early work for the Corporation included Comedy Playhouse, The Count Of Monte Cristo, R3, Mickey Dunne and The Last Man Out, a 1962 period drama starring Barry Letts. In 1963 he found himself attached to the BBC's new family Saturday evening SF drama. He was one of two designers drafted in to replace original designer Peter Brachacki, who had left the series following disagreements with the producer, Verity Lambert. Brachacki had designed the sets for the original pilot, but had left the show by the time the first episode was reshot, leaving Newbery to recreate the original junkyard and school sets, which had been destroyed following completion of the pilot. For the majority of Doctor Who's first two years Barry would share the design work with Raymond Cusick, with Cusick tending to take the 'Science fiction' type stories, while Barry worked on the predominantly historical adventures. After creating a stone age settlement for An Unearthly Child, he was tasked with creating the court of Kubla Khan in Marco Polo, the city of Tenochtitlan in The Aztecs, the cities and deserts around Jaffa in The Crusade and Saxon England in The Time Meddler. In 1965 he worked on the first Doctor Who Christmas episode, The Feast Of Steven, before competing the remaining five episodes of the epic The Daleks' Master Plan. He voyaged into the future with The Ark before returning to the historicals, recreating the town of Tombstone, Arizona in the story The Gunfighters. In 1968 he worked on his only Patrick Troughton story, The Dominators and in 1970 the Jon Pertwee seven-parter Doctor Who & The Silurians. He completed three stories with Tom Baker, The Brain of Morbius and The Masque of Mandragora in 1976, followed by The Invisible Enemy in 1977. His final credit for Doctor Who came in 1984 when he designed the Peter Davison story The Awakening. Away from Doctor Who Barry worked on vast range of projects, being involved in some of the most iconic television series of he era. He worked on historical dramas including The Onedin Line, Prince Regent, The Citadel, When The Boat Comes In and The Shadow Of The Tower as well as contemporary dramas series such as Z Cars, Softly Softly, Centre Play, Paul Temple, Doomwatch and The Expert. He ventured into comedy with sitcoms like Dad's Army and Sykes and the classic sketch comedy series Not The Nine O'Clock News. In 1979 Barry won an RTS Television Award for his work on The Lost Boys and the following year he received a BAFTA nomination for Prince Regent. Barry took a great many behind-the-scenes photographs during his time on Doctor Who and a large selection were published in The Barry Newbery Signature Collection, published by Telos Publishing Ltd. in 2013.

The organisers of the Belgian cycling race E3 Harelbeke have received a severe backlash after promoting their event with what has been seen by many as a sexist poster. The posters have had to be withdrawn entirely as a result of widespread criticism of the promotional billboards on social media and elsewhere. In what was probably a dubious concept in the first place, the event attempted to poke fun at the incident last year when Slovakian rider Peter Sagan infamously pretended to pat the bottom of one of the podium girls. Sagan, who won last year's event, was forced to issue a grovelling Facebook apology after the incident and presented the woman with a bunch of flowers. As such, the poster saw a cyclist's hand moving to squeeze or pinch a woman's backside with the lady in question clutching a bouquet of flowers. The slogan on the poster read: 'Who will "pinch" the Harelbeke this year?' The Union Cycliste Internationale was 'extremely unhappy with the promotional poster of the 2015 E3 Harelbeke,' the UCI's statement read. 'We have reminded the organiser of its responsibility and the UCI Regulations and they have agreed to take off the poster from all communication platforms.' Belgium's Institute for the Equality between Men and Women was also far from amused and said it would lobby sponsors of the E3 Harelbeke for them to take action against the race's organisers. And jam thir meat and two veg in a vice till they squeal. Probably.
Wednesday of this week would have been yer actual Geroge Harrison's seventy second birthday. If he hadn't died in 2001, of course.
For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we have what was, with hindsight, one of the first rave records ever made. And, still, one of the best. Tell 'em what it's all about, Marc. (Properly stunning video too, with footage taken from Tony Palmer's famous 1977 This England documentary Wigan Casino, repeated this very week on Sky Arts 1 as it happens. Keep the faith.)