Friday, July 08, 2016

The Night The Goldfish Died

This blogger feels it necessary to start off the latest From The North bloggerisationisms on a far more serious, sombre note than usual, dear blog reader. Sorry 'bout that, but, hey, it'll be over soon and then you can all get back to reading about Doctor Who and Game Of Thrones.
    Keith Telly Topping, as he has previously mentioned over the last couple of months, has been suffering from a - quite severe - bout of clinical depression. This blogger has no idea what the cause of this unwanted visitor to his psyche was nor, at the moment, does he see any end to the long dark tunnel in which he finds himself, although he is currently taking medication and hopes that this will provide, at least some, relief from the condition's unrelenting and weighty oppression. Keith Telly Topping has always liked to be positive in life, he tries, wherever possible, to see the best in everyone, even though that's sometimes difficult. But sadly, dear blog reader, as one of his heroes, Paul Weller, once noted 'the world in which I live in keeps trying to prove me wrong.'
     A couple of years ago on one of his appearances on Qi, the very excellent Reverend Richard Coles mentioned an occasion when he was working on a phone-in show for BBC Radio and one complaint he took was from a lady called Margery of Hemel Hempstead. She told him: 'I'm absolutely disgusted ... with everything.' Then, she put the phone down. Okay, Keith Telly Topping knows it's a funny story but there are days where this blogger knows exactly how Margery of Hemel Hempstead felt. Because he feels it too. Frequently. This blogger was about to ask 'is it just me, or ...?' but, to be honest, Keith Telly Topping genuinely thinks it is just him and, in no small part, this is to do with his current mental health issues. Because, for the last couple of weeks everything seems to have annoyed Keith Telly Topping. And, he means everything. This blogger gets no joy, no warmth, no elan from life these days and just about everything that anyone says - on any subject - seems to frustrate and depress him further. For example, this blogger was appalled by the shooting of two black men in the US earlier this week by police officers in what, at best, appeared to be a case of 'shoot first and ask questions later.' And, at worst, had the potential to be viewed, rightly or wrongly, as specifically racially motivated. Even if that wasn't the case, and one genuinely hopes it wasn't, the question needs to be asked would a white man driving a car with his wife and daughter be pulled over by a police officer, asked to produced his licence and then, when he reached for it, shot dead as Philando Castile reportedly was in Minnesota earlier this week. This blogger was equally appalled by the horrific, mind-numbing horror of the events in Dallas a mere forty eight hours later when at least one gunman - whether he had accomplices or not is, at the time of writing, somewhat unclear - shot dead five police officers and injured several others (and, at least one female bystander) at the conclusion of a perfectly peaceful - and legal - demonstration over the causes of the shootings of Castile and Alton Sterling in Louisiana. Keith Telly Topping is also appalled that, for the previous forty eight hours, his browsing on the Internet frequently came across people - one is sure concerned people without any obvious agenda or axe to grind - who were also, rightly, horrified by the shooting of Mister Castile and Mister Sterling. But, were angry about it to such an extent that they, seemingly, had no problem with suggesting - perhaps not in so many words but, certainly, by implication - that maybe it was time for some police officers to be given a taste of their own medicine. It was noticeable that, in the hours immediately following one man's decision to, it would seem, take that sick line of thought to its illogical, awful, apocalyptic conclusion, many of those individuals were either keeping a very low profile or furiously backtracking and insisting that Dallas had, like, nothing - nothing - to do with them. Maybe they're right and it didn't. But there is, surely, enough hatred, enough bigotry, enough mistrust, enough snarling incandescent fury in the world already without adding to it from a distance - no matter how righteous one feels the justification - and pouring petrol on an already smouldering bonfire. All actions have consequences, however unintended. And we all have to be aware of that, this blogger very much included. I'm not trying to set the world to rights here, dear blog reader (well, no more than usual), but sometimes, we've got to look, hard, at ourselves. Because, if we don't, someone else undoubtedly will. Which brings us to ...
     Case two: Like many Britons who voted Remain and believe that our country is much better off being a part of the EU than pissing at the walls of it from the outside and shouting puerile insults, this blogger was dismayed by the narrow, by nevertheless clear, majority who vote in favour of Leave. This blogger agrees with many of the sentiments that Matthew Paris expressed in this piece in the Spectator in so much as Keith Telly Topping believes at least some of those who voted to Leave seem to have done so for narrow, insular, bloody-minded, selfish and, perhaps, specifically racist reasons. Many - far more, clearly - did not, to be fair. They really believed in what the Leave campaign stood for and, I dare say, in the coming months and years we will all have an opportunity to stand by and see if they were right or wrong. Although, if it's the latter it may be a little late to do anything positive about it. But still, this blogger can't help sharing Paris's sense of, for the first time in his life, being a little bit ashamed to be British. I'd love not to, this blogger considers himself a patriot in the truest sense of the word, someone who loves his country's heritage and culture, its beauty and its grit. To an extent, this blogger even has a sneaking admiration for that curiously British bolshy, chip-on-the-shoulder, 'you can't tell me what to do, Johnny Foreigner' attitude which, at times in our small nation's past, has served us jolly well (not least during the dark days of 1940). For better or worse, we are who we are, we are formed by our environment and, as much as this blogger would like to pretend otherwise, he is still and always will remain, a kid from the council estates of Newcastle who was defined by the things that were considered important in his formative years; community, family, friendship, pride in ones roots. Some of my fellow Remainers seem to have a rather cynical, sneering, 'nowt to do with me, mate' attitude towards the whole concept of being British and all that it entails. Which, sadly, is just as offensive to this blogger as the recent, highly public, decision by a lot of Middle Class bastards in the media to demonise, patronise and spit on the working classes (how many programmes have there been in recent months on Channel Four and Channel Five with the word 'benefits' in their title? Go on, count them). This blogger is appalled by this. He is appalled by the sizeable - and, with hindsight easily foreseeable - increase in reports of hate-crime in Britain following the Referendum vote. (Incidents of hate crime in late June included the distribution of cards bearing the words 'no more Polish vermin' and numerous reports of non-white people being told to 'leave the country'. All made, no doubt, by absolutely perfect specimens of humanity.) Did anybody think for a second that a Leave vote wouldn't give an, admittedly small but very vocal, bonehead minority of shit-for-brains right-wing Little Englander scum all the justification they've waited a lifetime for to scoop a layer of poison from the pot and spread it thick and wide. These attitudes have always existed in some Britons - we are, after all, an island nation, it sort of goes with the territory - but we were seldom mean with it. And, importantly, we always found a welcome place in our society for the outsiders who wanted to come here for a better life, work hard, pay their taxes and stay the right side of the law. Now, those who see immigration as a curse rather than a benefit have got 'official' backing because of the Brexit vote; that appears to be the way these people's minds work (if one can call them minds). But, Keith Telly Topping is also appalled that plenty of people he knows whom he would describe as pleasant, liberal, open-minded, inclusionist and otherwise kind and decent individuals seems happy to indulge in exactly the same sort of constant belittling, name-calling and bile-spewing baiting of their political opponents as those they criticise on the right. Yes, it is very funny to poke fun at Boris's thwarted ambitions, the vile and odious rascal Gove's disastrously failed putsch and Theresa May looking exactly like Cruella De Vil in that photo of her walking down the street in a fur coat surrounding by police officers. But, really, is any of that so very different as the vile personal attacks on those on the left that the Daily Scum Mail and the Torygraph and the Sun seem to enjoy indulging in on a daily basis. This blogger has said it before, but it deserves repeating, whenever the Scum Mail manage to get a rise out of someone they've attacked - I think it was Stephen Fry who was the example this blogger used some months ago - and the person angrily responds in kind, the Scum Mail aren't sorry about this or ashamed that they've clearly upset someone by being nasty for no reason. Rather, one can imagine the vile and odious rascal Dacre standing in front of his mirror laughing his cock off and preening himself at how clever he and his staff have been in getting under someone's skin and causing them hurt. Sad to say, the same is also true of the Gruniad Morning Star whose collective staggering self-importance as the self-appointed voice of ... well, Middle Class Islington, basically, is only matched by the lack of seriousness with which anyone with half-a-brain takes any of their pompous pontificates. Newspapers appal this blogger. All of them. Television, the one great love of his life for fifty years, appals this blogger. Music, film, sport, food, literature, everything this blogger has always enjoyed in life, currently, disappoints or upsets or irritates him. Sometimes all three at once. Keith Telly Topping frequently feel like an outsider in his own head. He feels like he is living, not so much in Broken Britain as yer man soon-to-be-former Cameron described it but, rather, in a Broken World. When did everything go so badly wrong? Did it start with Thatcher and her, infamous, statement that 'there is no such thing as society now?' Sadly, she was right, it appears, although she seemed to think that was a good thing and it, most definitely wasn't. Anyway ... these are the sum of this blogger's thoughts on a world that, rapidly, seems to be going to Hell in a handcart, dear blog reader. We live on a planet that is in danger of destroying itself through out-of-control technology and man-made climate change; we are part of a species which is only a couple of hundred generations descended from creatures who lived on pure instinct and adrenaline and, despite our overblown sense of being masters of our own destiny, we actually haven't got a frigging clue what to do with the world we've created. We are all, in short, in one Hell of a bloody mess and every single aspects of that, its causes and its potential solutions. appals this blogger utterly, completely and totally.
    Still, there's an episode of Celebrity MasterChef on it a minute so, you know ... always look on the bright side.

All right, settle down, let's get back to what this blog is actually for. It's the world which is, apparently, broken not yer actual Keith Telly Topping's brain! Well, no more than usual, anyway.
      National heartthrob David Tennant has travelled back in time to his old acting school to pick up an honorary degree. The Doctor Who and Broadchurch actor has been awarded an honorary drama doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The forty six-year-old was recognised during a ceremony in Glasgow. Tennant studied drama at the Royal Conservatoire between 1988 and 1991, then known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, before enjoying success on stage and screen. He said: 'I'm honoured and rather humbled to be here - it's all quite overwhelming but lovely to be back. It evokes some very vivid memories. It was a very important time for me. I don't think I would have survived without my time here - for me it was essential. Three years of getting to practice in a safe environment. I was quite young, quite green, and I did a lot of growing up here and learned an enormous amount. They were very formative years that I look back on very fondly.'
On the very same day, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) also received an honorary degree from the University of West Scotland in Paisley. Nice cape, Moff. Very Batman.
Current rumours doing the rounds about possible storyline for the next series of Doctor Who included one which, according to Radio Times, 'could' see the return of an old character. A very old character in his case.
Rachel Talalay is one of the most exciting TV directors around at the moment. After being behind the camera on Doctor Who's series eight and nine finales, she headed to the USA to direct an episode of The Flash and then shot Sherlock series four, episode one. On her Tumblr blog recently, Rachel shared this image, revealing a piece of crew swag from Sherlock series four. Sarah Peters designed this T-shirt using the BBC-approved key words 'Bloodhound' and 'Shark'. Maybe this a clue of some sort.
Aidan Turner will return in a third series of Poldark, the BBC has confirmed. Not that there was ever much doubt he wouldn't. The period drama remake was one of the most talked-about programmes of 2015 in which the topic of topless scything became an unlikely national obsession. A much-anticipated ten-part second series, adapted by Debbie Horsfield from the novels by Winston Graham, will be broadcast on BBC1 later this year. The third series commission, announced on Wednesday, means Poldark's new incarnation will come close to matching the number of episodes of the twenty nine-strong original run from 1975 to 1977. Executive producer Elizabeth Kilgarriff said: 'Series two promises to take the audience on another fantastic rollercoaster ride and we're thrilled to know that the story won't end there. It's a testament to Debbie's brilliant storytelling and the passion of the Mammoth team that Poldark will be returning for a third series with yet more twists and turns for these much loved characters.' Turner stars as Ross Poldark alongside Eleanor Tomlinson as his wife, Demelza ,in the drama which peaked with more than nine million viewers in BBC1's Sunday night drama slot last year. Damien Timmer, managing director of its producer, Mammoth Screen, said: 'Poldark is a passion project for all of us, and it's with real excitement that we prepare for both the launch of series two and our return to Cornwall to shoot series three. Winston Graham and Debbie Horsfield's extraordinary flair for storytelling means the saga of Ross, his friends and enemies will go to even more thrilling places.' New additions to the cast for the second series include former Midsomer Murders actor John Nettles, who will play one of the county's wealthiest landowners, as well as Gabriella Wilde and W1A's Hugh Skinner.

Game Of Thrones has traditionally debuted each new series in April, but showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have revealed that they're looking at a later launch in 2017. 'We don't have an air-date yet, but this year will probably be a little bit later,' they revealed on the UFC Unfiltered podcast. 'We're starting a bit later because at the end of this season, Winter Is Here - and that means that sunny weather doesn't really serve our purposes any more. So we kind of pushed everything down the line, so we could get some grim grey weather even in the sunnier places that we shoot.'
Game Of Thrones is, of course, the biggest TV show in the world right about now - so surely no actor would turn down a part in HBO's mega-hit? Brian Cox (no, the other one) did just that - and now the Emmy-winning star has admitted he regrets the decision hugely. The Scottish actor told Vodzilla that he's now 'a great Game Of Thrones fanatic' but originally refused a part in the series because the fee was too small. 'Stupidly, I turned it down in the early days because they didn't pay enough money,' he explained. 'Now they have more money! I was silly, because I'm a complete addict now.' He added: 'Now I know what they spend on it, in terms of the visual aspect of it. For television, it is truly astonishing.' Cox added that he's now 'waiting for the call' to appear - 'and, if they've got more decent money, [I'll] be there!' Join the queue, mate, it's quite a long one and there aren't many episodes left.
Nicholas Lyndhurst is to take a step back in time in a revival of the BBC sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart. Lyndhurst starred as a time-travelling TV repairman who had a second life in the 1940s in the popular, albeit about as funny as a pimple on the bell-end, 1990s sitcom. Writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran said that his character, Gary Sparrow, had been 'trying for the last seventeen years to find a way back to the present.' The one-off special will be part of a season marking the sixtieth anniversary of Hancock's Half Hour's first broadcast. The season will also include new episodes of Are You Being Served?, Steptoe & Son, Till Death Us Do Part, Porridge, Keeping Up Appearances and Up Pompeii! Goodnight Sweetheart was first broadcast on BBC1 in November 1993. The initial cast included Michelle Holmes as Gary's wife Yvonne Sparrow, Victor McGuire as his best friend Ron Wheatcroft, while his war-time companions were Christopher Ettridge as Reg Deadman and Dervla Kirwan as Phoebe. The writing duo said that the new episode would feature 'much-loved old Goodnight Sweetheart friends and one or two new ones.' BBC Comedy Commissioning controller Shane Allen said the whole season was 'geared towards giving comedy royalty their due recognition. In Goodnight Sweetheart, we have heavyweight writing and performing talents reunited in this hugely popular and fondly remembered show,' he said. Not a very funny one, though. 'The conceptual update is sublime and it was heart-skipping stuff to read - it's an absolute belter.' Or, not.

Lucy Alexander is to step down as the co-presenter of the BBC's property auction show Homes Under The Hammer. Alexander, who has fronted the daytime show alongside Martin Roberts since 2003, said that it was 'time for a change.' The pair were joined in 2015 by a third presenter, ex-footballer Dion Dublin. BBC Daytime controller Dan McGolpin said that Alexander's 'infectious enthusiasm' for property meant 'Britain's housing stock owes her a great debt.' Alexander said she had 'loved every minute' of making the show, which has an average audience of a million viewers per episode. She wrote on Twitter that she was leaving the show with 'a huge heavy heart' and stepping down was 'not the outcome I wanted, but to pursue other work and a commercial deal, I had to leave.' She added that she would miss Roberts, whom she called her 'TV husband.' Referring to the programme's use of appropriate incidental music, Roberts responded: 'Music plays. If you leave me now. Chicago. I will always love you. Whitney Houston. The show must go on. Queen.' Is there anyone out there? Mighty Mighty. Just sayin', you know? A BBC spokesman said Alexander would not be filming any more series of the show, but would still be seen in episodes which had already been filmed 'and in repeats.' No shit? He added that Roberts and Dublin would 'continue to lead a team of presenters who will host the programmes going forward.'

Channel Four has confirmed it has 'no plans' to commission more episodes of TFI Friday. The show - which was presented by the very former Chris Evans and originally ran in the 1990s - was, briefly and quite successfully, resurrected last year for a short series. A spokesperson for Channel Four said: 'TFI was never commissioned as a long-running series so there are no plans for it to return.' Evans - currently looking for a job, you might have heard - had previously suggested that further series could be produced without him.
The Great British Bake Off is to get two Christmas specials later this year, with four bakers from previous series doing three seasonal challenges. Judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry will continue to preside over the competition, one again presented by Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. BBC director of content Charlotte Moore said: 'Mary, Paul, Mel and Sue are the perfect recipe for the festive season.' The shows will replace the Bake Off Masterclass programmes, previously a feature of the BBC's Christmas period programming.
Sky News will have a new trimmed-down presenter line-up following the EU referendum, with three of its on-screen anchors leaving the broadcaster in the last week. Andrew Wilson, Lorna Dunkley and Samantha Simmonds are all leaving. Wilson informed colleagues in an e-mail early last week, whilst Sky boss John Ryley told staff that Dunkley and Simmonds were leaving on Friday afternoon. In his e-mail, Wilson said that among 'lots of reasons' for leaving, the move to a new Sky News studio meant that 'if ever there were a moment to part with an organisation with which I share so much history, this is it.' He had been at the channel for more than twenty two years. Ryley's e-mails about Dunkley and Simmonds gave no reason for their departure. However, the changes are thought to be part of a cost-saving drive. In fourteen years at Sky, Dunkley had anchored coverage of the 7/7 bombings in London and the Iraq war, while Simmonds had covered stories including the recent terror attacks in Tunisia and the death of Michael Jackson during her ten-year career. Rumours that Dunkley'snext career move will be to go out on tour with her reggae-star cousin, yer man Errol, singing the harmonies on 'Okay Fred, now you're a yagga-yagga' cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied. The departures of the three presenters follows the announcement in May that head of content John McAndrew would be leaving Sky News after more than a decade. McAndrew was number three at Sky News, reporting to Ryley and Graham McWilliam, Sky's former corporate affairs director, who was named deputy head of Sky News last July.

Benefits Street's highly controversial TV run might have just come to an end. Channel Four has reportedly opted not to produce a third series of the programme. One which, more than any other, has managed to demonise and patronise the British working classes and, in fact, is the perfect symbol of everything that is wrong not only with television in the Twenty First Century but, also, with society. The previous series' of Benefit Street attracted numerous Ofcom complaints and was discussed in Parliament. Channel Four claimed that it had not recommissioned the documentary because it 'could not find a street or story compelling enough for more' according to Radio Times. Or, in other words, more likely they couldn't find anyone with enough lack of dignity and self-respect to take part in the shitty exercise. Because, whilst there are still plenty of people in Broken Britain desperate to get their boat-races on telly for fifteen seconds of infamy, even Jeremy Kyle is preferable to that.
Of course, losing formats like Benefits Street means an increasing desperate Channel Four are now, seemingly, prepared to surrender dignity altogether. In an increasingly tech-focused, materialistic world - Channel Four's latest worthless documentary Life Stripped Bare claims to test 'just how self-reliant we can be these days.' But, really, it's just an excuse to film a bunch of attention whores willing to get their kit off in public for fifteen second of infamy. TV viewers got more than an eyeful as they followed couples stripped of every possession - including their clothes - while 'living their normal lives' for three weeks. This, dear blog reader, is 'entertainment'. Apparently.
The BBC has named finance chief Anne Bulford as Deputy Director General in a restructure that will see the corporation's top executive team reduce by almost a third. The appointment of Bulford, who currently holds the title of Managing Director, Finance and Operations, marks the first time the corporation has had a Deputy Director General since the departure of Mark Byford in 2011. The BBC said that Bulford, who is now in prime position to eventually take over as Director General when Tony Hall steps down, will take on 'additional responsibilities' including marketing and a new commercial rights negotiations group. The restructure of the executive team will also see the creation of a new role of Director of Nations and Regions. This means that the directors for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – Ken MacQuarrie, Rhodri Talfan Davies and Peter Johnston – will no longer be part of the executive team. The BBC said that the new role will 'bring together the nations and regions of the UK' (good luck with that in the current political climate) as well as looking at 'savings so that more money can be released for content.' Fran Unsworth, Director of the BBC World Service, David Jordan, Director of Editorial Policy & Standards, and marketing chief Philip Almond have also been dropped from the executive team. 'As we move towards this new charter period I want us to turn our energy to focus on the future of public service broadcasting and what it means for our audiences,' said Hall. 'The leadership changes I am making today can help ensure that the BBC is best equipped to do this.' Overall, the BBC said that the executive team will be cut from sixteen to eleven members. 'On a practical level, these changes are also about creating a simpler BBC with fewer layers and clear lines of accountability,' said Hall. 'Much has already been achieved, but this process must now be accelerated.' The corporation said that, as a result of the 'reshaping' of the top team 'each area will now look at the immediate layers below to identify further headcount and post savings.' James Purnell, Director of Strategy & Digital, is taking the title Director of Strategy & Education. This will include responsibility for the BBC's new Ideas Service, which will see the corporation link up with academic, arts and science institutions. Charlotte Moore, controller of TV channels and BBC iPlayer, joins the executive team in the new position of Director of Content with additional responsibility for BBC Sport. Helen Boaden will continue to lead BBC Radio. James Harding will continue as Director of News & Current Affairs. Tim Davie, Director of BBC Worldwide and Mark Linsey, Director of BBC Studios, also remain unchanged. The BBC also confirmed that it will scrap the BBC North position, which had been held by Peter Salmon who left the corporation in March. Alice Webb, the Director of BBC Children's, will 'lead the region on a day-to-day basis. We must always be looking to innovate and change,' said Hall. 'The new executive will lead this process of creative renewal to ensure the BBC remains the most creative force in the world.'

At least ninety eight jobs at the BBC Monitoring department are to be cut ahead of a four million smackers reduction in funding. The department, which has three hundred and twenty staff, analyses local media from one hundred and fifty countries in one hundred different languages, but the operation is to be scaled down. The World Service said the Mazar-i-Sharif bureau in Afghanistan will be closed and new bases will open in Istanbul and Jerusalem. The team will relocate from Caversham Park in Reading, its base since 1942. The BBC said that it would begin consultations with unions shortly. The loss of jobs will mean a reduction of nearly a third. It is understood that the service's new headquarters will be based in London. At least sixty five jobs in the department are being cut in the Reading office.

Boy George won't be returning as a coach on The Voice when the talent show starts on ITV next year. Since ITV, presumably, have got a bit more money to splash around than the BBC did and believe that they can get someone with a bit more musical credibility for their version. And, perhaps, a better taste in hats.
Former UkiP leader and waste-of-space right-wing arsehole Nigel Farage is to present his own show on national talk radio station LBC. Farage, whose resignation as leader of UkiP on Monday was - very amusingly - completely overshadowed by Chris Evans quitting Top Gear, will stand in for another controversial figure on the station, crass, worthless, full-of-her-own-importance gobshite Katie Hopkins, on the Sunday morning phone-in show this coming weekend. No, this isn't a joke, this is real just in case you were wondering. We live in dark and terrible times, dear blog reader.
ITV is set to seek to charge Virgin Media a geet mound of filthy lucre to broadcast its flagship channel, after the government said that it will scrap a law which could boost ITV's coffers by tens of millions of pounds a year. The UK's public sector broadcasters, which include the BBC and Channel Five, have argued for years that they should receive 'significant fees' from pay-TV operators because subscribers spend most of their time viewing their channels. On Tuesday, the government published the digital economy bill in which it said that it intends to repeal an arcane law that protects cable platforms from having to pay copyright or retransmission fees to PSBs. While section seventy three of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, introduced in the 1980s to help the fledgling cable industry, only relates to Virgin Media its removal re-ignites the argument by PSBs that they should receive retransmission fees from all pay-TV operators, including Sky. 'We have consistently called for major pay-TV platforms to pay UK public service broadcasters fairly for the transmission of their channels ending what is effectively a multi-million pound subsidy - and this is clearly a welcome first step in that direction,' said a spokesman for ITV. 'This is simply about ITV, and other PSBs, being paid fairly for their investment in original UK content so that we can continue to invest in the programmes viewers love.' It is understood that if the digital economy bill is passed into law, ITV intends to enter commercial negotiations with Virgin to carry its flagship channel. Any negotiation would be tricky given that Liberty Global, the parent company of Virgin Media, owns a ten per cent stake in ITV. Channel Four's chief executive David Abraham has been outspoken about the need for pay-TV companies to pay up. However, a statement from the broadcaster is not as bullish as ITV's greed-smeared one in interpreting the bill as grounds to pursue Virgin Media for fees. 'We welcome the government's conclusion that the UK's mixed-ecology broadcast and production sector is a global success story,' said a spokesman for Channel Four. 'However, we believe that this has been a missed opportunity to update and modernise the regulatory framework for broadcasting and ensure that it fully takes account of the considerable value created by the public service broadcasters.' ITV and Channel Four submitted research to the government that retransmission fees from Sky and Virgin Media could make them, annually, one hundred and twenty one million and seventy five million knicker respectively. To pursue retransmission fees from Sky is unlikely given it is likely to require a change to the 2003 communications act. While ITV heralds the scrapping of section seventy three as a major victory for PSBs, the government said that it does not want retransmission fees levied on pay-TV operators. The government said that 'no convincing case' has been made that would guarantee that PSBs would invest any retransmission fee income into more UK originated TV programmes. It reiterated its belief that PSBs are already 'adequately compensated' under existing licensing arrangements. This includes guaranteed access to spectrum to broadcast and the best slots on electronic programme guides, in return for making their PSB services available throughout the UK free of charge. 'Government remains of the view that it wants to see zero net fees between the main platforms and the PSBs for the licensed PSB channels,' it said. 'This recognises the benefits to platforms, the PSBs and audiences from being able to access award winning, PSB content.' Virgin Media says that the digital economy bill has 'completely ruled out retransmission fees' being introduced following the scrapping of section seventy three. 'Virgin Media welcomes the government's decision to reject a two year lobbying campaign by ITV and Channel Four to charge viewers extra fees for watching programmes on cable and satellite that they've already paid for,' said Brigitte Traffrord, Virgin Media's chief corporate affairs officer. The government said that it may look to introduce legislation if PSBs and pay-TV companies cannot agree to keep the status quo. Because, they're really into demin and ponytails. Apparently. 'Government expects that there will continue to be no net payments between all platform operators and the PSBs for carriage of their licensed PSB channels going forward. If this situation appears to be at risk, Government will consider again whether legislative change is required.' The digital economy bill will have its first debate at the second reading stage, and it is expected to complete its passage through the Commons and move to the Lords in the autumn subject to parliamentary timetabling. Royal assent is expected in the spring of next year.

A former FOX News anchor has accused the network boss Roger Ailes of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, claiming the cable channel chairman fired her after she refused his sordid sexual advances. The suit, which former FOX & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson filed in New Jersey court, claims that Ailes 'sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances and [she] complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment.' As part of Ailes' alleged retaliation, her lawsuit claims, Carlson received 'diminishing assignments to high-profile interview subjects,' and was cut from her regular segment on Bill O'Reilly's weeknight show. Carlson's complaints included being passed over 'multiple times' for advancement within the network and seeing a drop in her salary when she began hosting The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson. The lawsuit accuses Ailes of 'ostracising, marginalising and shunning' Carlson before 'ultimately firing her from the network' on 23 June, the day that her contract ended. Ailes made clear to Carlson, it is claimed, that her 'problems,' meaning his treatment of her, would improve 'if she had a sexual relationship with him,' her lawsuit alleges. It is also alleged that Carlson 'confronted' Ailes over 'discriminatory treatment' nine months before her termination. Ailes used the meeting, the suit claims, to make 'a direct sexual advance' toward Carlson. 'I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you'd be good and better and I'd be good and better,' Ailes said, according to the lawsuit, which claims that he added: 'Sometimes problems are easier to solve that way.' Carlson's lawsuit also claims that her former co-host. Steve Doocy, 'created a hostile work environment.' She accuses Doocy of 'regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way,' and says that he once put his hand on her and pulled down her arm 'to shush her during a live telecast.' According to Carlson, that was not an isolated incident and Doocy treated her 'like a blonde female prop.' The suit accuses Doocy of 'mocking' her during commercial breaks and off the air, either shunned her or 'belittled' her contributions to the show. When Carlson complained to Ailes, she alleges that Ailes blamed her. In response to her complaints of sexual harassment, the suit says, Ailes 'griped' that Carlson saw the world as if it 'only rains on women.' This is not the first time that Carlson has alleged bad conduct on the part of her co-workers, though it is the first lawsuit. Her complaints about sexism on-set sometimes made it to air: in 2012 she walked off the show in response to her co-hosts' jokes about women. Carlson had been with the network for eleven years, moving in 2005 from CBS News to FOX, where she began her eight-year tenure on the morning show FOX & Friends. In 2013 she was moved from the show to her own programme which, she alleges in the suit, was 'an act of retaliation for refusing to sleep with Ailes.' The anchor has broken with conservative orthodoxy recently: on 14 June, Carlson came out in favour of a renewed assault weapons ban, something few of the FOX News's generally right-leaning commentators have done. The suit also accuses Ailes of 'ogling' Carlson in his office, making her turn around 'so he could view her posterior.' 'After learning of Carlson's complaints,' the suit claims, 'Ailes responded by calling Carlson "a man hater" and "killer" and telling her that she needed to learn to "get along with the boys."'

Jos Buttler hit seventy three not out after an excellent England bowling and fielding display as England handed out another Sri Lankan spankin'. The tourists were beaten by eight wickets in their tour's final match, a Twenty20 international. Buttler, promoted to open the innings in Alex Hales's absence, was joined by his captain, Eoin Morgan (forty seven not out) to get the hosts to a target of one hundred and forty one in 17.3 overs. Sri Lanka had earlier slipped from fifty one for one to one hundred and forty all out at The Rose Bowl in Southampton. Left-arm spinner Liam Dawson, on debut on his home ground, took three for twenty seven, Chris Jordan three for twenty nine and England's electric fielding scored two run-outs. For Sri Lanka, the defeat completed a thoroughly miserable tour where they have failed to beat England in any of the nine international matches - the home side have won the inaugural 'Super Series' twenty points to four. England, in their first T20 match since the agonising defeat to the West Indies in the World Twenty20 final in April, have now won fourteen of their past sixteen matches in the shortest form of the game. Buttler's last nine T20 international scores have been thirty two not out, fifty four, thirty, twenty one, six, sixty six not out, thirty two not out, thirty six and seventy three not out. Buttler is said to be 'in contention' for a return to the England Test side for the series against Pakistan, according to coach Trevor Bayliss. Here, the right-hander made the most of his opportunity at the top of the order in place of the injured Hales to hit his highest T20 international score. Reprieved on five when he looked to have edged Angelo Mathews behind, Buttler rarely seemed to be in his most devastating top gear, but still controlled the chase with the minimum of fuss. He mixed orthodox strokes through the off side with four sixes - three straight and one heave over mid-wicket - to complete a remarkable run that has seen him pass twenty in all but one of his past nine T20 international innings. Buttler shared an unbroken stand of one hundred and fourteen with Morgan, the captain batting despite dislocating a finger while taking a catch. Morgan was dropped twice, on eight by Mathews and on nineteen by the flying Dasun Shanaka, before finishing the game with his second maximum over mid-wicket. By adding the rapid Tymal Mills to Liam Plunkett and Jordan, England fielded a fiery pace trio, but one that Sri Lanka were still able to take for fifty one runs in the first six overs. It was when Dawson and leg-spinner Adil Rashid began to operate on a two-paced surface that England began to exert control. Giving the ball air, Dawson had Danushka Gunathilaka caught at long-off, Kusal Mendis offer a return catch and then bowled Mathews when the captain played an ugly swipe. With Sri Lanka running poorly, Shanaka was run out by Jason Roy's bullet throw from long-off and the dawdling Ramith Rambukwella fell in similar fashion to James Vince's direct hit from point. England could have already had Gunathilaka run-out had they appealed when Morgan hit direct earlier in the innings. When the pacers returned Jordan, who went for twenty in his second over, bowled a full length to mop up the tail and finish with figures of three for twenty nine. Mills ended wicketless, but impressed with thunderbolts in excess of ninety miles per hour mixed with cleverly disguised slower deliveries. Dawson became the fifth England bowler to take three wickets on T20 international debut after Mark Wood, David Willey, Jon Lewis and Darren Gough. Earlier in the day, England's women's team completed a Twenty20 series victory over Pakistan with an efficient bowling and fielding display. So dominant with the bat this summer in both an ODI series and in the T20s, England needed forty three not out from Fran Wilson to get to a somewhat below-par one hundred and thirty eight for seven. But after Danni Wyatt ran out Sidra Ameen with a direct hit in the first over, England took regular wickets. Nat Sciver, Jenny Gunn and Sophie Ecclestone each took two wickets as Pakistan fell thirty five runs short on one hundred and three. While England failed to make the most of a flat pitch and some very short boundaries, the manner in which they defended a modest total can be seen as a further positive in a new era under captain Heather Knight, following the retirement of Charlotte Edwards in May. Still, the quality of the opposition should be noted and, although Pakistan put in an improved display, especially with the ball, they rarely threatened in the chase, showing an over-reliance on the sweep shot. In the end, the margin of victory was comfortable, but England were indebted to Wilson, the right-hander playing her first international since 2011. Openers Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield have done the bulk of the work for England so far this summer, but after Beaumont was trapped LBW in the third over by Aiman Anwer for five, the middle order struggled to accelerate as Pakistan took pace off the ball. It was left to Wilson to anchor the innings. Although she managed only three boundaries in her thirty nine-ball stay, she manoeuvred the ball and ran hard to get the hosts to a winning total.

Mark Cavendish won his twenty eighth Tour De France stage after a photo finish with Andre Greipel in Angers on Monday. The win drew the thirty one-year-old Manxman level with Frenchman Bernard Hinault's tally - only thirty four-time stage winner Eddy Merckx of Belgium is ahead of him. There was initial confusion at the end as Greipel celebrated before Cavendish was named winner of the two hundred and twenty three kilometre stage. Defending champion Chris Froome finished safely in the peloton, while Peter Sagan retained the overall race lead. Two-time winner Froome moved up to fourth overall, fourteen seconds behind world champion Sagan. He was delivered to the line by his Team Sky squad on a day devoid of stress for the favourites for overall victory. Colombia's Nairo Quintana, twice a runner-up to Froome, double winner Alberto Contador and Italian hope Fabio Aru also all finished in the main pelaton. 'Who thought when I started cycling that I would have my name mentioned in line with Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx? It's pretty amazing,' said Cavendish, who added that he thought he had won despite Greipel's initial celebration. 'I know when I win and lose a photo finish and I thought I had it but I still had to wait,' he said. 'It was so hairy in the finish but we planned it and I knew I had to come from behind. I wanted to be behind Greipel. After I didn't win the first stage last year I was anxious, a bit like Andre today. My team-mates were phenomenal again. Bernie Eisel and Mark Renshaw did a fantastic job.' The Dimension Data rider, who is competing in his tenth Tour De France, picked up his first win on stage five in 2008. Since then, he has steadily accumulated twenty seven more victories, including stage one of this year's race, to equal five-time Tour winner Hinault's tally. Cavendish will never win the Tour De France yellow jersey because he will always lose time in the hillier stages, as happened on Sunday's second stage, but he will be remembered for his remarkable sprinting feats. Sprint rivals Greipel and Marcel Kittel are the closest active riders to Cavendish; the Germans have won ten and eight stages respectively. Tinkoff rider Sagan spent much of the day on the front of the peloton chatting to fellow riders, enjoying his first ever day in the race leader's yellow jersey. When the pace increased in the final forty kilometres or so, he followed the wheels of his team-mates before finishing fourth in the sprint for the line to ensure he retained the overall lead. 'Today was a very relaxing day for us because in the breakaway there was only one rider,' the Slovak said. 'He went slow, we went slow also in the group, it was nice. I was thinking in one moment that we would take a coffee, we had time. I saw a bar but afterwards there was no time.' Cavendish narrowly missed out on a twenty ninth stage victory on Tuesday as German rider Kittel won stage four in a dramatic photo finish. Instead, it was Kittel and twenty four-year-old French rider Bryan Coquard who were set up for a thrilling finale and the two bumped elbows together as the German edged the victory by a matter of millimetres for his ninth career stage win.

Lord Sugar-Sweetie has been paid twenty grand by the Daily Scum Mail after it described him as 'a spiv.' The face of BBC1's The Apprentice, Sugar-Sweetie said that he would donate the money to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity in London. Sugar-Sweetie was photographed on Twitter holding a giant cheque 'signed' by the Scum Mail's editor, the vile and odious rascal Dacre, after the article was extremely corrected by the paper on Monday to remove the offending phrase. The cheque was, apparently, paid out on behalf of the Scum Mail by the 'Bank of Deceit PLC, Vindictive House, Scum Lane, London W8.'
An international team of astronomers have announced the discovery of a strange planet in a faraway solar system that contains not just one sun, but three. The distant planet, named HD 131399Ab, appears even more unusual than the home planet of Luke Skywalker, Tatooine, which orbited around a mere two suns, according to the findings published in the US journal Science. Such binary solar systems may be relatively common in the universe, but experts said those involving three stars or more were rare. 'Imagine this: a planet where you'd either experience constant daylight or enjoy triple sunrises and sunsets each day, depending on the seasons, which happen to last longer than human lifetimes,' a statement from the University of Arizona, which led the astronomy team, read. The planet is located about three hundred and forty light years - or, 'a fucking long way' - from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. The cosmic body is believed to be relatively young, about sixteen million years old, which makes it one of the youngest planets discovered outside our solar system to date. Its mass is believed to be four times that of the gas giant Jupiter. It orbits the brightest of the three stars on a very long and wide path. 'For about half of the planet's orbit, which lasts five hundred and fifty Earth-years, three stars are visible in the sky - the fainter two always much closer together and changing in apparent separation from the brightest star throughout the year,' the report's author, Kevin Wagner, a first-year PhD student who discovered HD 131399Ab, said. 'For much of the planet's year, the stars appear close together, giving it a familiar night-side and day-side with a unique triple-sunset and sunrise each day,' he added. 'As the planet orbits and the stars grow further apart each day, they reach a point where the setting of one coincides with the rising of the other.' The result is 'near-constant daytime for about one-quarter of its orbit, or roughly one hundred and forty Earth-years.'
A doomed Japanese satellite managed to capture a view of a galaxy cluster two hundred and fifty million light years away just before it died, scientists have revealed. Launched in February, the Hitomi X-ray satellite began tumbling out of control in March when contact was finally lost. Just before its demise, scientists managed to extract data measuring X-ray activity in the Perseus galaxy cluster. Published in Nature, data revealed the movement of gas between galaxy clusters was not as turbulent as expected. Hitomi, which translates as 'the pupil of the eye' in Japanese, was meant to spend years studying the formation of galaxy clusters and the warping of space and time around black holes. It cost more than a quarter of a billion dollars - the research was an international collaboration involving the American space agency NASA and teams in Japan and many other countries, including one at Cambridge University. The Perseus galaxy cluster, filled with hot X-ray-emitting gas, shown in an image from NASA's Chandra X-ray satellite, which also overlays an area of that galaxy studied by Hitomi, about one hundred and ninety five thousand light-years across. Scientists studying the data found that the hot gases between galaxies within the Perseus cluster was travelling at a slower speed - at three hundred and forty thousand miles per hour - and in a less turbulent way than many expected. Measuring the turbulence and movement of such gas is important because the size of galaxy clusters is a useful tool for measuring 'the parameters of cosmology and the growth of structure in the universe,' researchers say. The gases in galaxy clusters are thought to be particularly hot and dense with a lot of dark matter and a supermassive black hole at the centre of it all. The interaction between all the various gases was thought to be very chaotic so Hitomi's observations appear to have defied predictions. 'The gas is relatively stable and isn't getting pushed around as much as we thought,' said Brian McNamara, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, who was part of the research team. 'Hitomi's Perseus observation tells us that we can probably weigh distant galaxy clusters to greater accuracy than we can weigh our own Milky Way galaxy.'
The US space agency has successfully put a new probe in orbit around Jupiter. The Juno satellite, which left Earth five years ago, had to fire a rocket engine to slow its approach to the planet and get caught by its gravity. A sequence of tones transmitted from the spacecraft confirmed the braking manoeuvre had gone as planned. Receipt of the radio messages prompted wild cheering at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. 'All stations on Juno co-ord, we have the tone for burn cut-off on Delta V,' Juno Mission Control had announced. Scientists plan to use the spacecraft to sense the planet's deep interior. They think the structure and the chemistry of its insides hold clues to how this giant world formed some four-and-a-half-billion years ago. Engineers had warned in advance that the engine firing was fraught with danger. No previous spacecraft has dared pass so close to Jupiter; its intense radiation belts can destroy unprotected electronics. One calculation even suggested the orbit insertion would have subjected Juno to a dose equivalent to a million dental X-rays. But the probe is built like a tank with titanium shielding, and the thirty five-minute rocket burn appeared to go off without a hitch. 'NASA did it again,' said an elated Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator. 'That says it all to me. And I'm so happy to be part of the team that did that. I mean this team has worked so hard and we have such great people. And it's almost like a dream coming true right here.' Bolton said he wanted particularly to understand more about the Great Red Spot - a long-lived, giant storm. 'I love that Great Red Spot. We see it evolving, and it's been getting smaller ever since I first got amazed by it, which was when I was a child,' he told reporters. 'The fact that it's lasted so long - there are records of it going back hundreds of years - means that it must have fairly deep roots. It looks a little like a hurricane on the Earth but we know it can't be working exactly like that because hurricanes on the Earth need an ocean underneath and feed off the liquid and then change when they go on land. At Jupiter, it's all gas.' MASA plans to run Juno through to February 2018, assuming any radiation damage has not made it inoperable by then. The performance of the camera, for example, is expected to degrade rapidly within a few months. In line with the practice on many previous planetary missions, the probe will be commanded to end its days by ditching into the atmosphere of Jupiter. This ensures there is no possibility of Juno crashing into and contaminating the gas giant's large moons, at least one of which, Europa, is considered to have the potential to host microbial life.
Tuneless art-school hippies Mumford & Sons say that they will extremely boycott a Swedish music festival after reports emerged that seventeen women were sexually assaulted at the event last weekend. Which is, of course, terrific news - not only as it sends out a strong message that such horrifying, wicked and criminal behaviour will not be tolerated but, also because it means those poor Swedes will be spared having to listen to the fey bleatings of a bunch of posh glakes. So, everybody wins.
Argentina and Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi has been very sentenced to twenty one months in the pokey for tax fraud. His father, Jorge Messi, was also given a jail term for defrauding Spain of four million Euros between 2007 and 2009. They also face millions of Euros in fines for using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights. However, neither man is expected to serve time in jail. Which is, obviously, a huge surprise since that's not an option usually open to convicted criminals. But then, rich men tend not to go to jail, you might have noticed, dear blog reader. Under the Spanish system, prison terms of under two years can be served under probation. The footballer and his father were found very guilty of three counts of tax fraud in Wednesday's ruling by the court in Barcelona. As well as the jail terms, Messi was fined about two million Euros and his father one-and-a-half million. They made a voluntary five million Euro 'corrective payment,' equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest, in August 2013. The sentence can be appealed against via the Spanish supreme court. And, probably will be since, you know, they're exceedingly rich and can afford really good lawyers who'll likely get them off with it. During the trial, Messi infamously used the so-called 'Manuel Defence', claiming that he 'knew naaaa-thing' about any of this malarkey.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable and, now, second-rate) Newcastle's fourth signing of the summer was confirmed on Friday morning, with Atletico Madrid full back Jesús Gámez signing on a two year deal. So, if you happen to be in the vicinity of St James' Park next season and you hear someone shouting 'Oh! Jesus!' it might not, necessarily, mean what you think. It also helps if you happen to have any Christians calling at your door asking 'what would you do if Jesus came to Newcastle?' Simply reply 'same as Rafa, play him as a wing-back in a three-five-two formation.' The thirty one year-old was entering the final year of his contract and became surplus to requirements after the arrival at Atletico of Croatian international Sime Vrsaljko. Formerly at Malaga, Gámez faced United in a Schalke 04 Cup pre-season tournament days before a £4.3m move to Atletico in August 2014. Spanish news outlets report that Gámez - who has played at both left and right back while at Madrid - was likely to rejoin Malaga until Rafa Benitez and United made their interest known. The acquisition of a thirty one year-old marks a policy shift from United, with Steve McClaren's interest in signing thirty two year-old Michael Dawson from Hull City last season reportedly rejected by the club hierarchy on age grounds. Signing Gámez clears the way for the departure of Daryl Janmaat, with Juventus and Napoli credited with an interest in the Dutch international whose performances for United over the last two years have ranged from disinterested to downright slovenly. The second Spaniard currently on the books at SJP after Ayoze Perez, Gámez follows fellow countrymen Marcelino, Jose Enrique, Albert Luque and Xisco at United. Only one of whom is remembered with any sort of fondness whatsoever. Friday also saw United confirm two additions to their U21 squad. Twenty year-old central defender Stuart Findlay arrived following his release by Glasgow Celtic. The Glaswegian made his senior bow in a friendly against Norwich City in 2012 alongside ex-Magpie Fraser Forster but never played competitively for the Parkhead club. A current Scottish U21 international, Findlay was loaned out to Greenock Morton in 2014 and then joined up with Dumbarton the following season. He then made twenty seven appearances in league and cup matches last season for Kilmarnock as they avoided relegation from the Scottish Premiership under the guidance of former Magpie Lee Clark. The second arrival is also twenty, forward Yasin Ben El-Mhanni, who was a free agent. London-born El-Mhanni has Moroccan parents and attended the AG Football Academy, playing at youth level for Barnet and Aldershot and accepting invites to train at Watford, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. The 2015-16 season saw him turn out for non-league sides Farnborough and Lewes and feature as a trialist in U21 Premier League matches for West Bromwich Albinos and Moscow Chelski FC. Meanwhile, Finnish side Ilves Tampere have announced that their sixteen year-old goalkeeper Otto Huuhtanen is to train with United's academy next week.

A Florida woman, allegedly angry that a man refused to have sex with her, has been extremely arrested after threatening the unwilling participant with a big hatchet. As you do. Well, as she did, anyway. The Smoking Gun website reports that Leslie Mills, twenty six, took the axe to the door of a bathroom where the unnamed man was cowering in terror for his life. Mills had, reportedly, gone out drinking and returned home wanting to engage in sexual activity with the man, her roommate. When the man escaped to the living room, Mills allegedly climbed on top of him and continued to demand sex. Now, to be fair, at this point most chaps would've probably given in and just got on with it but, fair play to Mills's roommate, he seemingly wasn't having it. The victim escaped to the bathroom where Mills began pounding on the door with a hatchet. According to the police report, the man was able to grab the hatchet from Mills and then run away. Police found Mills outside the home and arrested her on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and domestic battery charges. Responding officers noted that Mills, who 'appeared drunk,' was 'dressed in just a bathrobe' when they encountered her outside the home. During questioning, Mills said that she had consumed 'seven beers and two shots,' adding that she 'came home and wanted to have sex' with the victim. After being rebuffed several times, Mills added, she 'became angry.'
Now, dear blog reader, a stray mentionette by yer actual Keith Telly Topping on his Facebook page about how thoroughly pissed off this blogger remains that Jacob's don't make the green-wrapper-with-a-golf-ball plain chocolate variants of Club biscuits any more brought to mind, firstly, a previous From The North bloggerisationism on that very subject - this one, in fact.
Also, it scrambled to the surface yet more memories of other chocolate bars on this blogger's youth. In fact, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping could use From The North to do bloggerisationisms after bloggerisationisms on sweets from his formative years which are now, sadly no more (or, if they are still available, cost a packet). Bar Six, Curly Wurly, Bandit, Trio, Dairy Crunch ... If this blogger could, he'd write about nothing else, frankly.
But then, somebody would only whinge. So, it's probably best not to. Tempting though it be.
The former BBC comedy chief James Gilbert – the executive who commissioned Yes, Minister and Fawlty Towers – has died at the age of ninety three. Gilbert is also often credited as being the man responsible for The Two Ronnies. He had previously worked with Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett on The Frost Report before thy were paired up on their own show which would run from 1971 and 1987. Gilbert was executive producer of the first series of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? and, just to prove that not everything he touched was golden, Last of the Summer Wine and French Fields. Gilbert was head of BBC comedy when he commissioned John Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth to write a pilot for their story about a Torquay hotel. Other BBC executives were less than impressed with it, with script editor Ian Main describing it as 'a collection of clichés and stock characters which I can't see being anything but a disaster.' However Gilbert pushed the idea through. Speaking to the Gruniad Morning Star, BBC Director General Tony Hall hailed Gilbert as 'an absolute giant of BBC comedy. He had that magic understanding of how great comedy worked, and he constantly surprised us, too, with innovation after innovation,' he added. Born in Edinburgh in 1923, Cecil James Gilbert started working for the BBC during the 1950s, initially on light entertainment shows such as Carole's Country Club, Off The Record and Showtime. His later comedy credited included Michael Bentine's It's A Square World, The Seven Faces Of Jim, The Stanley Baxter Show, The Walrus & The Carpenter, The Illustrated Weekly Hudd and Dudley Moore and Peter Cook's Not Only ... But Also ... as well as the groundbreaking BBC2 pop music show The Beat Room. He was also the producer of Ronnie's Barker's 1973 anthology series Seven Of One which served as the genesis for both Porridge and Open All Hours. Gilbert was head of BBC comedy from 1973 to 1977 before he was appointed head of BBC light entertainment until 1982. The other BBC executive often credited with creating The Two Ronnies was Bill Cotton, whom Gilbert had replaced as head of light entertainment. Cotton is said to have been impressed by the way the duo filled in for a few minutes during a technical hitch at an awards ceremony.

And, finally ...