Saturday, July 25, 2015

Could You Ever Recover From This Prejudice?

Questions about the size of the BBC and its independence from the government are being asked in the largest ever public consultation on the broadcaster. The BBC Trust has launched a questionnaire to discover audiences' opinions of the government's proposals for the future of the organisation. It also asks viewers to rate potential replacements for the licence fee. 'The most important voice in the debate is that of the public,' said Trust chairwoman Rona Fairhead. 'We'll ensure it is heard. Dear blog readers - and, indeed, anyone else - can take part in the survey here. The questions include: 'How important is it that the BBC operates independently from Government and politicians, and from any commercial and business interests?' It also asks viewers to say whether the BBC should make 'more' programmes, or whether it currently 'provides far too much.' The final question asks: 'In your own words, please tell us if there is anything else that you would want to see changed at or about the BBC? This can be linked to the questions in this consultation, or any other opinions you have.' To which this blogger's reply was: 'Be brave, grow a backbone, stand up to the self-interest bullies and the scum with a - sick - agenda, keep producing all of the programmes I like (specifically Doctor Who and Sherlock) and, most importantly, stop employing Jack Whitehall. I think that about covers it.' The questionnaire poses sixteen questions about the future of the BBC. Licence payers' views will inform the Trust's response to the Government's Green Paper on the future of the BBC. The paper, published last week and discussed - at length - in a previous blog, asked whether the corporation should be 'narrower' and 'cheaper.' It also set out proposals for updating or replacing the licence fee. In its initial response to the Green Paper, published alongside the consultation, the Trust said: 'The BBC's mission to "inform, educate [and] entertain" is well-understood and well-supported by the public and should continue. Those three words capture the essence of the BBC, which has always blended distinctive public services with a broad popular appeal. Its future success will depend on getting that blend right.' The Trust, which serves the interests of licence fee payers, rejected calls for the BBC to be funded by subscription, saying it was 'at odds with the principle of a universal public service.' It was also critical of the BBC's undertaking to take on the cost of free TV licences for the over seventy fives. Making the decision behind closed doors was 'regrettable' the Trust said, as 'it has served to give an impression that the BBC is another part of Whitehall - which it is not.' The Trust also called for the BBC charter period to be extended to eleven years, to separate negotiations from the General Erection. Simultaneously, the National Union of Journalists has launched a legal challenge to the licence fee deal, claiming it is 'legally flawed.' The union has written to the BBC Trust saying the deal 'unlawfully discriminates against persons under the age of seventy five, and is in breach of the BBC's rules of governance.' It asks for a substantive reply by 29 July, otherwise it plans to take the decision to the court for judicial review. ell, good luck with that in finding a judge who isn't a Tory. In a separate development, the cross-party Culture Select Committee has announced it will hold its own inquiry into the BBC's Charter Renewal. Conservative MP Jesse Norman, who chairs the committee, said: 'BBC Charter Review is a topic which directly or indirectly touches us all. That is why it is essential that the arguments made both by the BBC and by the Government be given full and rigorous scrutiny by Parliament, in the public interest.
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) is the latest broadcasting industry figure to make an impassioned defence of the BBC in the wake of the government's Green Paper. The award-winning Doctor Who and Sherlock showrunner described the corporation as a 'beacon of quality' and accused the Conservative government of a desire to 'turn off the people that are criticising them', criticising its ideas for reform as 'all wretched [and] all wrong.' That should give the Daily Scum Mail plenty of opportunity for another scummish 'exclusive' about 'loony-leftie' Moffat and his naughty Communist ways. To which, one can only advise Steven that if you've got made an enemy of a newspaper that supported Hitler, you're probably doing something right. '"If we limit it, or damage it, or destroy it, we have absolutely no idea how to turn [the BBC] back on, because we don't know how it happened it the first place,' Moffat told The Stage. 'You could look at [the BBC's] philosophy, you could look at the fact that somehow from the work of those early pioneers it became a beacon of quality - not just for Britain, but for the entire world. If we allow, basically, the Tories to turn off the people that are criticising them, which is what is happening, I can't see how we'd get it back.' Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods before He) also had strong words for critics of the BBC who have suggested that those currently defending the corporation were doing so to further their own financial interests. 'The inevitable, pathetic argument against this is that we're all feathering our own nests because we're all employed by the BBC - but they don't pay that well,' he added. 'I could have made more money if I'd stayed with my Spielberg three-picture deal, and not done Doctor Who. And I assure you that if Satan rose from hell and killed the BBC, I could still find work.'
Meanwhile, a screening of The Moff's first episode of the new series of Doctor Who, The Magician's Apprentice, will be taking place at the Filmhouse Cinema in Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh International Television Festival on 27 August 2015. As previously announced, the episode will premiere on BBC1 - and elsewhere around the world - on 19 September
The last week has seen the cast of Doctor Who visiting Berlin, in a country where the show has grown in popularity for the last few years. FOX has announced that series nine will premiere in Germany in December, almost three months after the UK and the US. Which is, obviously, a bit of a blow for all the German Whoies but something of an unexpected bonus for various naughty websites offering illegal downloads on TV episodes, one could suggest. The three month delay is a departure from the near simulcast broadcasts from recent years. Last year, problems with the BBC's delivery of the material needed to dub series eight in time, resulted in near simulcast showings of the episodes in English with German subtitles. Yer actual Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi his very self visited Berlin for a Q&A in the Apple Store. Around two hundred and fifty fans were lucky enough to get access to the event. Hosted by US-born German TV presenter Steven Gätjen, Peter and Jenna revealed that they are 'a bit jetlagged', as they just have been at Comic Con in San Diego, then Los Angeles after which they flew directly to Germany. This did not stop them from making jokes about Peter always looking for food and him getting wet from disinfection liquid while filming at a power plant. It was also revealed that one of the upcoming stories in series nine will be 'very much like a horror movie' with many 'scares and thrills' and an 'extraordinary direction.' Peter praised the director of the - unknown - episode, saying that it takes 'very special skills' to film a horror movie. When being asked about a possible return of Caecillius, the character Peter Capaldi portrayed in the series four episode The Fires Of Pompeii, he - carefully - told the audience that this could happen. 'Or, not', Jenna added.
Yer actual Mark Gatiss has joined the team appearing at the Austrailan version of the Doctor Who Festival taking place this November. The actor, writer and Sherlock co-creator will join current Doctor Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat at the Festival in Sydney on the 21 and 22 November. At the event, Mark will host a special writers' master class, where fans will be given the opportunity to ask questions about how a Doctor Who script is crafted, as well as hearing the techniques behind the art of dramatic scriptwriting and how to get work published. The BAFTA award-winning Real SFX team, led by Danny Hargreaves, will also be appearing, offering festival attendees the chance to witness first hand some of the spectacular effects seen in Doctor Who such as explosions and fireballs, elemental and atmospheric effects, mechanical rigs and pyrotechnics. Interactive sections of the demonstration will also offer audiences the chance to participate in the action. Mark Gatiss, like Steven Moffat, is one of the few writers to have written for all four Doctors in the modern revival of Doctor Who. He also wrote An Adventure In Space & Time, the loving and handsome ninety-minute dramatisation of the genesis of the series. Mark said: 'Watching Doctor Who as a child made me want to become a writer and actor - I used to jot down ideas in my school exercise book. Doing it for real for the past ten years and four Doctors is a dream come true. At the Doctor Who Festival you can come and hear the stories behind my stories.

It's still six months to the day until we see the return of Mulder and Scully, but FOX continues to tease us with snippets about the return of The X-Files. 'Are you ready for this Scully?' David Duchovny asks of his partner From The North favourite Gillian Anderson in the new trailer. She responds, 'I don't know there's a choice.'
The West End musical adaptation of American Psycho will be winging its way to Broadway in February next year. The show premiered at London's Almeida Theatre in December and starred former Doctor Who actor Matt Smith, receiving largely positive reviews. It was originally intended to go off-Broadway, but now there are bigger plans for it - although which theatre it will open in has yet to be decided. Benjamin Walker will play Patrick Bateman in the adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, having previously starred in the title role in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
ITV's Rookies kept of the majority of its initial overnight audience for its second episode on Monday. The police documentary brought in 3.17m overnight viewers to top the ratings outside of the soaps at 9pm on what was, broadly, a quiet night across all channels. Earlier, Vet School gathered 2.39m at 8pm. On BBC1, The Train That Divides Jerusalem 0- an extraordinarily fine documentary - was watched by a sadly small audience of 1.58m at 8.30pm, while Britain At The Bookies - a far more crass conceit - predictably, interested more punters - 2.21m at 9pm. On BBC2, live coverage from The Open appealed to 3.01m people who,seemingly, enjoy watching hours of 'televised sky' at 7pm. The golf, inevitably, overran meaning that University Challenge and all subsequent programmes were delayed by half-an-hour. University Challenge continued with 2.49m (11.5%) at 8.30pm and Only Connect averaged 2.24m at 9pm. Cake Bakers & Trouble Makers followed with 1.36m at 9.30pm. Channel Four's Supershoppers brought in 1.51m at 8pm, while The Real Story continued with 1.60m at 8.30pm. Later, How To Get A Council House drew 1.57m at 9pm and Lookalikes was watched by 1.04m at 10pm. On Channel Five, Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild had an audience of 1.26m at 9pm, while Under The Dome had four hundred and sixty nine thousand at 10pm. Meanwhile, following the shocking massacre at the end of the previous week's episode, the new series of True Detective continued on Sky Atlantic with one hundred and fifty four thousand at 9pm.
BBC1's Rip Off Britain was the most-watched show outside soaps on another rather slow and ordinary Tuesday evening. Overnight data shows that the Gloria Hunniford-fronted factual series was seen by an average audience of 3.52 million at 7pm. A repeat of Death In Paradise brought in 3.26m at 9pm. On BBC2, The House That One Hundred Thousand Pounds Built gathered 1.56m at 8pm, followed by the documentary series Great Ormond Street with 1.72m at 9pm and the - utterly rotten - reality competition Hair with a thoroughly undeserved seven hundred and fifty thousand punters - with, presumably, nothing better to do with their lives than watch tripe like this - at 10pm. And, speaking of tripe, ITV's Great Welsh Adventure With Mad, Shouty Griff Rhys Jones appealed to but 1.88m at 7.30pm, while Love Your Garden attracted 2.57m at 8pm. Virgin Atlantic: Up in The Air concluded with 2.56m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners ended with 1.03m at 8pm, followed by Child Genius with 1.12m at 9pm. Channel Five's Dog Rescuers interested 1.01m at 8pm, while Benefits By The Sea had an audience of 1.35m at 9pm.

A repeat of Vera topped the overnight ratings outside of soaps on Wednesday for ITV, bringing in 3.02 million at 8pm. BBC1's new series of The Sheriffs Are Coming attracted three million viewers at 7pm, while Don't Tell The Bride was watched by 2.65m sad, crushed victims of society at 8pm. The Interceptor's penultimate episode had an audience of 2.10m at 9pm. On BBC2, Trust Me, I'm A Doctor appealed to 2.30m at 8pm, followed by Britain's Forgotten Slave Owners with 1.50m at 9pm. Hair continued with but six hundred and eighty nine episodes at 10pm. Channel Four's Autistic Gardener attracted eight hundred and twenty four thousand viewers at 8pm, while One Born Every Minute pulled in 1.58m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Carry On Caravanning interested 1.21m at 8pm and the latest Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords had 1.34m at 9pm.

Celebrity MasterChef continued to top the overnight ratings outside of soaps on Thursday. Part one of the z-list celebrity cooking show's final was watched by 4.91m at 9pm. Earlier, Fake Britain interested 3.38m at 7pm, and DIY SOS: The Big Build averaged 3.56m at 8pm. BBC2's Natural World brought in 1.66m at 8pm, while Coast continued with 1.94m at 9pm. On ITV, Real Stories With Ranvir Singh was watched by 2.32m at 7.30pm, before Britain Sees Red: Caught On Camera attracted an audience of 2.93m at 9pm. Channel Four's Grand Designs was watched by nine hundred and fifty thousand punters at 8pm, while Married At First Sight engaged 1.59m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Eighty Seven Stone: Fat Chance Of Work proved to be every bit as offensive as the title suggested and appealed to six hundred and eighty one thousand people at 9pm, all of whom should, frankly, be sodding well ashamed of themselves. Person Of Interest was watched by six hundred and one thousand at 10pm. The final season of Glee continued with but one hundred and nine thousand on Sky1 at 9pm. Remember when that was total flavour of the month and every newspaper was crammed with stories about it?

One very interesting moment from Thursday's archive repeat of a September 1980 edition of Top Of The Pops on BBC4 was the appearance of convicted sex offender Jonathan King - being interviewed by the almost-equally odious Simon Bates. It was a moment of minor historical interest since it featured what was, probably, the first appearance of a Rubik's Cube™ on British television. But, it is interesting that whilst the BBC will, seemingly, never show again episodes of TOTP hosted by dirty old scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile or convicted groper Dave Lee Mister Hairy-Warey, or feature any performances by convicted kiddie-fiddlers Gary Glitter or Rolf Harris, King's brief spot here was missed. Personally, this blogger isn't particularly bothered - I'm not a great one for re-writing people out of history, Stalin-style, no matter what horrifying things they may have done, particularly with regard to something like Top Of The Pops which was 'a programme of record' as it were - but, one imagines, someone somewhere may well have complained.
The Celebrity Masterchef final was Friday's highest-rated show outside of soaps, attracting an average ovrnight audience of 5.16 million from 8.30pm. The final episode of the z-list celebrity cooking competition peaked with a whopping 6.14 million viewers, as John Torode and Gregg Wallace announced Kimberley Wyatt - no, me neither I'm afraid - as the winner. BBC1's evening began with 2.79 million for Animal Super Parents at 7pm and ended with 2.09 million for Room 101 at 10.45pm. On ITV, Gino's Italian Escape: A Taste Of The Sun was seen by 2.58 million, whilst a Doc Martin repeat drew an average audience of 1.9 million. The RHS Flower Show Tatton Park started the evening off for BBC2 with 1.14 million, followed by 1.68 million for Gardeners' World. Athletics coverage of the Anniversary Games - featuring wins for Usain Bolt and Mo Farah - continued with 2.56 million, while The Perfect Morecambe & Wise followed with 1.03 million. Further Anniversary Games coverage was also broadcast on BBC3,attracting an audience of eight hundred and forty one thousand. On Channel Four, Location, Location, Location was seen by an increased audience of 1.09 million, followed by 1.27 million for Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown and 1.2 million for The Last Leg. Channel Five's evening peaked with seven hundred and twenty five thousand for Twenty Moments That Rocked Pop at 9pm, while Weather Terror: Brits In Peril was seen by five hudnred and twelve thousand people with nothing better to do with their time at 8pm. Tour De France highlights gave ITV4 a ratings boost, attracting six hundred and forth thousand at 7pm.
Wretched, stinking pile of odious ranicd diarrhoea Prized Apart concluded with a thoroughly undeserved overnight audience of under three million viewers on Saturday evening. The worthless, waste-of-space BBC1 'entertianment' format averaged 2.93m from 7pm. Which is still 2.93 million too many, frankly. The National Lottery: Five Star Family Reunion was then watched by 3.49m, before Casualty's audience remained steady at 4.15m from 9pm. On BBC2, a Dad's Army repeat attracted 1.31m from 8.40pm. Dancing Through the Blitz: Blackpool's Big Band Story averaged 1.43m between 9.10pm and 10.40pm. ITV broadcast the movie Despicable Me from 7pm, which was watched by 2.26m punters. Later, The Nation's Favourite Eighties Number One appealed to 1.86m. On Channel Four, the Anna Kendrick film Pitch Perfect was seen by 1.83m from 9pm. On Channel Five, Transporter: The Series drew three hundred and ninety four thousand from 9pm. A repeat of Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away had seven hundred and fifty thousand earlier during the 8pm hour. On the multichannels, ITV3's Midsomer Murders interested eight hundred and twenty eight thousand from 9pm.

The David Walliams and Jessica Raine vehicle Partners In Crime debuted to big overnight ratings on Sunday evening. The new BBC1 Agatha Christie adaptation brought in 6.46m viewers and a twenty nine per cent audience share at 9pm. Earlier, Countryfile continued with 6.19m at 7pm, while Fake or Fortune? interested 4.94m at 8pm. BBC2's Dragon's Den averaged 2.40m at 8pm, and Odyssey attractecnine hundred and ninety thousand viewers at 9pm. Meet The Penguins was watched by 1.42m on ITV at 7pm, before Surprise Surprise brought vomit to the throats of 3.25m at 8pm and Joanna Lumley's Trans-Siberian Adventure concluded with 3.09m at 9pm. On Channel Four, the penultimate episode of Humans dipped once again to 1.86m at 9pm. Channel Five's Police Interceptors: Unleashed insulted the intelligence of five hundred and sixty nine thousand punters at 8pm, while Resident Evil: Retribution had an audience of five hundred and thirty six thousand from 9pm. BBC3's film selection, Meet The Fockers, proved popular with seven hundred and eighty nine thousand at 9pm.

And, so to the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty programmes, week-ending Sunday 19 July 2015:-
1 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.41m
2 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.45m
3 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.40m
4 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.24m
5 Celebrity MasterChef - Fri BBC1 - 5.02m
6 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.01m
7 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.73m
8 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.67m
9 Fake Or Fortune? - Sun BBC1 - 4.53m
10 The Outcast - Sun BBC1 - 4.51m
11 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.44m
12 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.26m
13 DIY SOS: The Big Build - Thurs BBC1 - 4.11m
14 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 3.97m
15 Humans - Sun C4 - 3.93m
16 Joanna Lumley's Trans-Siberian Adventure - Sun ITV - 3.69m*
17 Death In Paradise - Tues BBC1 - 3.45m
18 The National Lottery: Who Dares Win - Sat BBC1 - 3.38m
19 The John Bishop Show - Sat BBC1 - 3.33m
20 One Hundred Year Old Drivers Ride Again - Wed ITV - 3.14m*
These figures, as usual, do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. Foer the second week running no figures were available for BBC2 for the week. One hopes that someone got a damned good caning for that oversight. Aside from Humans, Channel Four's top-rated shows were Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.60m), Married At First Sight (2.33m), London's Lost Graveyard: The Crossrail Discovery (2.24m), Inside The Ku Klux Klan (2.14m) and Superfoods: The real Story (1.79m). Channel Five's highest-rated broadcasts were Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords (1.48m) and Big Brother (1.37m). ITV3's Midsomer Murders was the channel's highest rated programme of the week (eight hundred and fifty four thousand), followed by Endeavour (six hundred and forty thousand), Inspector Morse (five hundred and seventeen thousand) and Lewis (five hundred and sixteen thousand). BBC4's weekly list was topped, disappointingly, by coverage of The Open Golf Championship (nine hundred and five thousand) and Tutankhamen: The Truth Uncovered (seven hundred and forty three thousand), followed by Rock 'N' Roll America (six hundred and seventy six thousand), Legends Of The Deep: Deep Sea Sharks (six hundred and forty two thousand) and the opening episode of the deeply disappointing Only Connect knock-off Hive Minds (five hundred and thirty eight thousand). BBC3's top-ten included five episodes of Family Guy, a couple of movies - Sunday's broadcast of Shrek being the channel's highest-rated broadcast, a Top Gear repeat and, just one programme actually made for BBC3, Teenage Millionaire/ And, there are still people who wonder why it's being shovelled online. 5USA's Chicago PD attracted four hundred and six thousand whilst Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was watched by three hundred and eighty five thousand. That episode of True Detective with the sodding great bloodbath at the end of it (three hundred and fifteen thousand), the beginning of a new series of Ray Donovan (two hundred and fifty nine thousand) and Banshee (two hundred and forty four thousand) were Sky Atlantic's weekly list-toppers. Sky Living's most-watched programmes were Madam Secretary (four hundred and ninety five thousand viewers) and Unforgettable (four hundred and fifty five thousand). The latest episode of Hannibal had two hundred and fifty six thousand viewers. Sky 1's Strike Back: Legacy was watched by four hundred and ninety six thousand viewers, Yonderland had four hundred and ninety one thousand and The Last Ship four hundred and eighty two thousand. On Dave, Storage Hunters UK was the channel's highest-rated programme of the week - four hundred and thirty eight thousand - followed by Mock The Week (three hundred and eighty five thousand). Watch's Who Do You Think You Are? USA had an audience of one hundred and eighty three thousand whilst Dynamo: Magician Impossible drew one hundred and sixty one thousand. With the last series of NCIS having ended a couple of weeks ago, FOX's highest-rated shows were the - very impressive - second episode of Marvel's Agent Carter (four hundred and four thousand), Falling Skies (two hundred and sixty three thousand), American Dad (two hundred and twenty thousand) and the rapidly becoming ludicrous Wayward Pines (two hundred and fifteen thousand). NCIS did top CBS Action's weekly list (one hundred and eighty two thousand. On Yesterday, The Flying Scotsman: A Rail Romance was watched by two hundred and nine thousand whilst The Last Battle of The Vikings had an audience of one hundred and eighty four thousand, followed by The Great Rift: Africa's Wild Heart (one hundred and seventy two thousand), The Blue Planet (one hundred and seventy two thousand) and Kim Philby: His Most Intimate Betrayal (one hundred and fifty nine thousand). On the Discovery Channel, Deadliest Catch was watched by one hundred and fifty three thousand viewers and the much-trailed Alaskan Bush People by one hundred and thirty eight thousand. Discovery History's Biblical Conspiracies had an audience of thirty eight thousand viewers. Time Team was watched by sixteen thousand. On Discovery Turbo, Wheeler Dealers drew forty six thousand. CI's Motives Murders brought in forty five thousand. ID's Facing Evil was watched by eighty three thousand whilst FBI Case Files attracted fifty nine thousand. National Geographic's Wicked Tuna had sixty thousand thousand viewers. GOLD's repeat of Little Britain attracted one hundred and seventy one thousand punters. Sky Sports 2's coverage of The Ashes on the third day of the second test had an average audience of four hundred and forty two thousand. ITV4's Tour De France Highlights was the channel's most-watched programme of the week with eight hundred and thirty four thousand. On ITV Encore, Jordskott was seen by ninety three thousand.

More than sixty million people are watching the BBC iPlayer for free outside of the UK by masking their location, according to a new report. The cheeky sods. Analysts estimate sixty five million chancers regularly access the BBC catch-up TV service using virtual private networks or proxy servers. In China alone that figure is thought to be around thirty eight million. Well, those Chinese kids have to get their fix of Sherlock somehow, one supposes. The iPlayer is meant to be for UK TV viewers only and is funded by the licence fee. A global iPlayer was closed last month. The report from GlobalWebIndex said that despite VPNs being thought of as 'fairly niche tools which are the preserve of the tech-savviest individuals', around twenty five per cent of Internet users worldwide now use them, primarily to access better entertainment content. The research company surveyed more than forty five thousand Internet users across thirty four countries, including China, the US, France, Germany, Ireland, India and Brazil. It found that while the iPlayer is, theoretically, 'geo-restricted to be viewable only by people resident in the country', the BBC service does, in fact, have 'a huge global audience.' 'The implications for iPlayer are stark,' said Jason Mander, head of trends at GlobalWebIndex, writing in the report. 'However, rather than seeing this as a threat, there's much good news here for the BBC.' Well, it's about time Auntie had some. The report highlighted that seventy five per cent of the sixty five million punters already pay for subscription services like Netflix or Hulu, so there was 'clear potential' for the BBC to create 'new revenue streams. If even a relatively small proportion users could be converted into paid users, the additional revenue it could create for the BBC would be significant.' A BBC spokesman said: 'BBC iPlayer, and the content on it, is paid for by UK licence fee payers to watch and download in the UK and the terms of use reflect that. We do not comment on individual cases regarding breaches of BBC iPlayer's terms of use, but we take steps where appropriate to protect the intellectual property belonging to rights holders.' A global iPlayer subscription service, which allowed viewers in Europe, Australia and Canada to watch programmes like Doctor Who and Sherlock, flourished briefly but was shut down last month. GlobalWebIndex also found the domestic iPlayer to be the most popular on-demand service in the UK by far - with forty five per cent of Internet users aged sixteen to sixty four accessing it at least once during the past month, and just four per cent being 'unaware' of the service. Netflix is the second most popular service, attracting twenty four per cent of web users. The BBC's most recent iPlayer figures revealed there were two hundred and twenty two million requests for TV programmes in May, with Peter Kay's Car Share the most popular show. The GlobalWebIndex figures would suggest that twenty nine per cent of these requests may have come from TV viewers outside of the UK.
Yer man Jezza Clarkson has given a hint that he and his former Top Gear colleagues could be making a trip across the pond. Or, perhaps he was just having a huge joke at the media's expense. During Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May's live show in Australia at the weekend, the team suggested that their next project could involve a US network or streaming service. 'Amazingly, there had been a lot of interest in us doing a car show for television,' Clarkson told the audience. 'Who knows, very soon once more you will be seeing us on a television or an Internet near where you live.' Clarkson later mocked Hammond for pronouncing 'zed' with an American accent. 'You're not in America,' he said, before Hammond replied: 'Not yet.' The trio have been linked to a potential new TV series on a US network or Netflix as reports have claimed that they cannot record a new show in the UK for two years due to a clause in their BBC contracts.
Meanwhile, Richard Hammond’s first post-Top Gear series is to be a wildlife documentary for Sky. The pay-TV network announced on Monday that Richard Hammond’s Jungle Quest will feature the presenter travelling to the Amazon to photograph animals including three-toed sloth, pink river dolphins and harpy eagles. The two hour-long episodes, which will be broadcast in September, were produced in association with Sky Rainforest Rescue, Sky's partnership with the WWF. Hammond said: 'Trekking through the Amazon rainforest with a camera to photograph wildlife was a childhood dream. The reality was, I discovered, far, far tougher than I had imagined, but the moments when I saw and caught images of the elusive creatures and fleeting encounters that make the place so special, so unique and yet so fragile were breathtaking and some of the best in my life. I hope viewers will feel they have been there too, in this film; getting a sense of the magic, splendour and wonder of the place as animals and humans live side by side amidst the threats they face.' Among the other species Hammond photographed were white-fronted capuchin monkeys, Brazilian wandering spiders, tapyba ants and scorpions. Also captured on film are macaws, caimans, saki monkeys, camel spiders and turkey vultures.

Shaun the Sheep is getting his own BBC1 special this Christmas. Aardman has announced that it is working on Shaun The Sheep: The Farmer's Llamas, a thirty-minute special which will see the nation's favourite ovine meet a pack of titular mischievous llamas. When the llamas - Hector, Fernando and Raul - start 'causing mayhem' at Mossy Bottom Farm, Shaun quickly regrets tricking the farmer into buying them and decides he must take action. The Farmer's Llamas has been created by Richard Starzak and will be directed by Jay Grace. It marks the character's first ever solo TV special, after a successful CBBC series and a big screen outing. Shaun made his debut in 1995 as a major character in Wallace and Gromit adventure A Close Shave.
The director of a high-profile new BBC drama series has whinged that too many female characters on television are 'portrayed as victims.' Though, what the hell that has to do with him and the programme he's making is anyone's guess. Edward Hall has directed all six episodes of BBC1's Partners In Crime, which stars Jessica Raine as Agatha Christie's heroine Tuppence Beresford. And of course, Christie never portrayed any of her female characters as victims. Oh no, sorry, she did. Frequently. My mistake. 'It's very hard to find heroines in television drama who are heroines for any reason other than overcoming some kind of physical violence, or sexual violence, or something that makes them a victim,' Hall whinged at a recent press screening opening episode of the period drama. 'You very rarely see women coming in as heroes and saving the day - [intervening] in someone else's crisis. I thought that was a particularly good thing about this project.' One really does wonder what the fek is going through the heads of TV industry professionals who seem to think, 'I know what's a good idea, I'll use the publicity opportunities generated by my new show to slag off the hard work of others.' Do they think that will get more viewers that way? Because, I have to say, rancid and odious numskull bollocks comments such as this usually have exactly the opposite effect on this particular blogger. Call The Midwife, Fortitude and An Adventure In Space & Time actress Raine agreed, adding that her character's heroism and forthright nature had 'a massive appeal. It was so nice to play someone - a woman - who isn't in any way put upon or a victim,' she admitted. Partners In Crime is based on Christie's works featuring the characters of amateur detectives Tommy and Tuppence - with David Walliams appearing opposite Raine in the series.
Laura Kuenssberg her very self is the BBC's new political editor, taking over the role Tory slapheed and spawny-eyed parrot faced wazzock Nick Robinson held for a decade. The thirty eight-year-old journalist became well-known during the 2010 election as the BBC's chief political correspondent. She then had a spell at ITV before returning to the BBC in 2014 as part of the Newsnight team. She is the BBC's eighth political editor and is the first woman to take on the role previously held by Peter Hardiman Scott, David Holmes, John Simpson, John Cole, Robin Oakley, Andrew Marr and Robinson, the latter of whom will join BBC Radio 4's Today programme in the autumn. He has taken time off recently to have chemotherapy to treat lung cancer. Kuenssberg said: 'I'm completely delighted and I recognise the responsibility on my shoulders. It's an honour for me to follow Nick Robinson who has been such an outstanding political editor.' BBC Director-General Tony Hall said: 'Laura's an exceptional journalist - I saw that for myself in our studio on election night. Her knowledge of Westminster politics is second to none, but she also has a real flair for asking the questions the audience want answering.' BBC Director of News, James Harding said there was 'no role quite like political editor' at the BBC. 'It is one of the toughest and most influential jobs in journalism. I am delighted Laura will be our next voice from Westminster.'

Even the most seasoned breakfast TV professionals make the occasional slip-of-the-tongue live on-air. James Naughtie, Andrew Marr, Jeremy Paxman ... the list goes on. Bill Turnbull has joined that list of grandees after an unfortunate bit of Spoonerism live on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning, confusing the word 'clients' with, ahem, 'cunts' while reading out an e-mail sent into the programme by a viewer. Given Bill's knowing look at the end of the video, perhaps someone senior - who was shitting his or her self at the thought of Ofcom getting on the case - had a word in his ear. 'Bill unintentionally stumbled over his words and we apologise if any offence was caused,' added a spokesperson for the BBC. Why the blazes the BBC felt the need to apologise for what was, quite clearly, an unintentional thing is a question worth asking, however. This is the world we now live in, dear blog reader; one where broadcasts are so utterly terrified of whinges from professional offence takers that they'll prostrate themselves on the floor and allow people to walk all over them rather than defend themselves. Fer Christ's sake, grow a sodding backbone, BBC. This sort of crass curling up into a little ball and saying 'please don't hit me' at the first sign of bullying whinging from The Usual Suspects is really starting to get right on this blogger's tit-end. Cut it out, now.
If we at From The North said that Sigourney Weaver was filming a guest appearance in a UK drama, dear blog reader, you might assume it would be on something like Downton Abbey or perhaps Sherlock. However, it appears that the Oscar-nominated actress is a Doc Martin fan. The Sig her very self was photographed shooting scenes for the gentle long-running ITV comedy drama series with Martin Clunes in Cornwall this week. The surprising pair were spotted filming the seventh series outside the pharmacy, with many locals looking on. Weaver was seen wearing a fisherman's hat and a long-lensed camera, before entering the pharmacy with Clunes's titular character. ITV has yet to announce Weaver's appearance or what role she may be playing, but it is, clearly, a massive coup for the show. Doc Martin will return for its seventh series on ITV this autumn.
Sky Atlantic will broadcast the NBC drama Aquarius from next month. Sky has acquired exclusive rights for the David Duchovny series, and will begin broadcasting the show on Tuesday 11 August at 9pm. Sky's managing director of content Gary Davey said: 'I'm thrilled Sky has secured Aquarius for our customers across Europe. With an excellent script and high production values as well as an acclaimed cast, it will make for gripping television. Exclusively on Sky Atlantic, Aquarius further strengthens Sky's position as the home of quality drama across Europe.'

There will be a new love interest in Peggy's life in Marvel's Agent Carter series two and the executive producers of the period drama revealed what the new man in her life will be like in a recent interview. The very excellent Hayley Atwell had previously suggested that there may be more than one person that her character will be romantically involved with in the next season. Speaking to the Comic Book Resources website, executive producer Michele Fazekas said that Peggy’s new romantic interest needs to be different from Steve Rogers. Executive producer Chris Dingess explained that the protagonist had fallen in love with Steve before he became Captain America and at that time he was 'very skinny.' Dingess said that when the team was considering a new character that Peggy can fall in love with, they were looking at finding the same qualities as Steve. The new character may not be a 'hunk of a guy with a shield,' Dingess said, emphasising that the more important qualities are 'what's inside.'
Fans of the long running US drama NCIS - and, that includes this blogger - can now breathe a huge sigh of relief as it was confirmed this week that Agent Gibbs will survive the gunshot wounds he sustained in the series twelve finale. This means that Mark Harmon will definitely return for show's thirteenth years. Not that anyone with half-a-brain in their skull imagined for a single second that he wouldn't be. According to a report from the VCPost, Harmon has signed on for another season of the the popular drama. While the showrunners have yet to reveal the general plot of the upcoming season, showrunner Gary Glasberg suggested that the events of the season finale will have an impact not only on Gibbs but will have repercussions for the whole team.
The BBC - for once showing a smidgen of backbone - is standing by a controversial scene in EastEnders which showed two men half-naked in a funeral parlour after the media watchdog received nearly fifty complaints. From, let's be clear about this, homophobes. The scene, which was broadcast last week, showed the characters Ben Mitchell and Paul Coker stripped off above the waist and embracing in front of a dead body in an open coffin. The couple’s intimacy was interrupted by a knock at the door and one of the characters was then shown hiding under the casket. Some viewers - homophobes, basically - were reportedly 'upset' by the scenes, with one claiming the broadcaster had 'lost the plot' and another branding it 'a disgrace.' The BBC claimed the scenes were 'implied and not explicit' and said that EastEnders fans 'know and expect dramatic storylines.' The corporation would not say how many complaints it had received - from homophobes - over the scenes. It is understood that the Ofcom complaints were more about the location of the action, rather than the sexuality of the characters. An Ofcom spokesman said: 'Ofcom has received forty eight complaints about EastEnders on Friday 17 July. We will assess these complaints before deciding whether to investigate or not.' The first kiss between the young men last month provoked homophobic remarks on social media.
Sky TV and six major Hollywood studios have been accused of breaking EU competition rules by blocking access to movie channels outside the UK. The EU Commission's anti-trust regulator has issued a formal complaint, accusing the companies of illegally geo-blocking their content. 'European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU,' said Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner in charge of competition. The studios involved are Disney, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. All parties now have a chance to respond to the complaint.

Robert Lindsay is making a comedy comeback in a new show on G.O.L.D later this year. The actor will be joined by Maureen Lipman in Bull, a new three-part sitcom from writers Gareth Gwynn and John-Luke Roberts. The studio comedy is centred around Rupert Bull (played by Lindsay), a man who runs a struggling antiques shop alongside his inept staff. Lipman will play his employee Beverley, while there will also be appearances from Matt Lucas, Kevin Eldon, Toby Williams, Claudia Jessie and Naz Osmanoglu. UKTV's Simon Lupton said of the show: 'What could possibly go wrong in a quintessentially English antiques shop managed by an energetic eccentric and staffed by a bizarre bunch of characters? The answer is quite a lot – and that is the premise for this fast-paced, contemporary sitcom, written with verve by a new writing partnership. Robert Lindsay is one of our most versatile and funny actors, perfect to lead this cast as the loveable but completely hopeless Bull.' Bull is the latest scripted comedy to come from UKTV, following Sarah Alexander's Marley's Ghosts and royal comedy Henry IX. Lindsay's most recent role was a dramatic turn as Daedalus in BBC1 drama Atlantis.
David Attenborough has been confirmed to narrate a new landmark natural history series. With a working title of The Hunt, the show will explore the dynamic relationship between predators and their prey. The series looks at the strategies predators use to catch their prey and those that the prey use to escape, with each episode based on one of our planet's key habitats - from open grasslands to the Arctic. The Hunt will offer a glimpse at animal behaviour rarely seen, such as polar bears using meltwater pools in the ice to stalk seals. The music will be provided by Oscar-winning composer Steven Price. The series will run for seven hour-long episodes and broadcast on BBC1 in the autumn. That's if there's anything left of the BBC for it to be broadcast on by September, obviously.
The singer and broadcaster Cerys Matthews has told a House of Lords committee that she left the United States because she missed the BBC. She was giving evidence to the Lords' Communications Committee on the future of the BBC. Now a BBC 6Music presenter, Cerys said that she left America in 2007 because she wanted her children to have access to advert-free public service broadcasting. She said the BBC was 'a true window on the world.' The House of Lords committee is looking at what the public purposes of the BBC should be and who should set the level of the licence fee. Matthews, the former lead singer of Catatonia, was giving evidence alongside the chairman of the Arts Council for England, Sir Peter Bazalgette. She said that one needed to spend time in Australia, where people are 'very envious of BBC' and the United States, where she lived for six years, to appreciate the broadcaster. 'It was during those years that I truly felt the true value and extent of what the BBC gives us culturally,' she said. 'This disparity between the rich and poor and black and whites in America is shocking and I truly believe it's because they lack a well-funded and easily accessible public broadcasting provider that these disparities exist.' She said that American TV 'bombarded' you with adverts and she decided to come back to Britain in 2007 'because I missed the BBC so much' and she wanted her children to have access to advert-free broadcasting and a 'true window on the world. It's allowed to take the risks that the commercial sector can't take. The BBC has a completely different agenda, it's there to provide high quality entertainment and unbiased and informative programmes for everyone in the UK, whatever their interests.' Matthews also spoke about how her own band's growth was helped by BBC radio.
Miles Jupp will soon be taking on the reins as host of The News Quiz on BBC Radio 4. The comedian - known for his work on Rev, stand-up comedy and writing and starring in his own radio and TV sitcom In & Out Of The Kitchen - told the Digital Spy website that he doesn't want to see the BBC closed down or stripped back. 'I hope [the BBC] survives,' he said. 'I don't really know how the BBC is run. Which isn't a despairing "I just don't know how to bloody do it!", it's literally "I don't know how it works." So, if there's stuff that doesn't need to be there, I don't know. But you would hope they would be in a position where they could keep investing in programmes. I suppose what the BBC has done is invest in sort of growth areas like the Internet. I don't know if it's fair to blame the BBC for the death of local news, but maybe if you work on a local newspaper you're not in the position to hire a futurologist and have him to deliver a morning of seminars around your business plan in fifty years' time. But I just hope it survives.' Discussing radio comedy on the BBC, Jupp told the website: 'I don't know if this is a golden age or not. I think things are being squeezed a bit. But when you listen to something like Mark Steel's In Town Tonight, I can't think of something of that sort of genre on television that is anything like that. That sort of authored kind of stand-up like that, I think that is just really one of the very best programmes there is, so if things like that exist, one should be happy. Then obviously there's programmes that have been going for a number of decades, it will continue to do the business. But there's lots of stuff on, there's a high turnover of it, I suppose all part of the charter, who's it all for? Are you trying to be all things to all people, or are you trying to amuse people who listen to the radio in the Waitrose car park?' Jupp - who appeared in the the movie The Last Sparks Of Sundown - also said that he enjoys the challenges of acting for the big screen. 'I like the pressure of it sometimes,' he said. 'Doing stand-up or being in a theatre play, stuff happens, it's got to sort of carry on. Whereas with film, it's got to be just right when you're doing it, so that sort of hush just before something happens that you're not familiar with. That sort of tiny pressure, when we're creating a moment and if any real world leaks into it, it's gone. I really enjoy that, that sort of pressure about it.'

The actor Adam Deacon has been found extremely guilty of 'harassment without violence' at West London Magistrates' Court. Deacon, waged a campaign of abuse on social media against the actor, writer and director Noel Clarke. Noel, who of course played Mickey Smith in Doctor Who, received hundreds of messages including a purported death threat. 'You were aware of the effect you had,' district judge Shenagh Bayne told Deacon. 'You intended to cause him distress.' Noel Clarke told the court that he had known Deacon since 2003. They used to be good friends and he gave him lots of acting jobs. 'I had an affinity for someone who was from the same environment as myself,' Clarke said. But Noel also told the court the pair had not spoken since 2011. 'We fell out in 2011 due to the fact that the films that I had made - Kidulthood and Adulthood - were very popular and in 2010 Mister Deacon asked if he could do a film which was a spoof of the film that I had done.' The court heard that Noel had, initially, helped Deacon work on the project, but that their arrangement came to an end when Deacon signed a contract that cut Clarke and his team out. 'But I still supported him in this on the agreement that he would not call his movie Anuvahood,' said Noel. He went on to say that although they 'verbally agreed' on this, Deacon reneged and went ahead with the title. The actors agreed to go their separate ways. Noel Clarke said that he then received a barrage of abuse from Deacon - including accusations on Instagram that he had 'sabotaged' Deacon's career, which Noel said was not true. The director added that he never responded to the abuse and 'tried to ignore it.' But he told the court that it 'was stressful' to his wife and family. He said that Deacon also called him a bully, incited people to hurt him and put pictures of his children next to an image of a gun. 'It is a death threat isn't it, really? If we are being honest,' Noel told the court. Noel wrote the screenplay for 2006's Kidulthood, in which Adam Deacon appeared as the character Jay. He also directed, wrote and starred in the sequel, Adulthood. Deacon, who's from Bethnal Green in East London, is also a rapper. He played firearms officer Robbie in Channel Four police drama Babylon. Sentencing will take place on 20 August.

And now ...
The world of West End theatre will be under the spotlight in a new reality TV show which has been branded 'Made in Chelsea meets Glee'. Well, that sounds worth avoiding. A thirty-minute pilot of Life's A Stage has already been ordered by 'one of the UK's major broadcasters', with the potential for a full series to follow if it is received well. The Stage reports that the show will see a group of West End performers live together, with cameras following both their work and social lives, as well as featuring performances from various shows. Explaining his inspiration for the series, executive producer Glenn Coomber said: 'What began to fascinate me is how the casts change. Shows that you thought would run for ages ran for much shorter than perhaps they were envisioned to. People assume TV is always very glamorous, and ninety nine per cent of the time it's not - and that's even more true in the theatre world. I've been fascinated by the idea of people on stage in front of thousands, taking their curtain calls, and then having to run for the night-bus home. I just like that juxtaposition: you're wearing incredible, expensive outfits and feel like a star - and are a star - but actually there's a real world of people existing and getting by.' Explaining how the show would work, Coomber said that it would not be 'as constructed' as the likes of Made In Chelsea or The Only Way Is Essex. 'We want to keep it a real reflection of what they're doing,' he claimed. 'But we will be adding to the storyline using the talents of the people involved.' Casting is currently underway for the pilot episode, which is expected to shoot next month. Who, exactly, the 'major broadcaster' involved in this potential fiasco is, The Stage didn't reveal. Possibly because the broadcaster was too embarrassed to say.
A television documentary narrated by Peter Sellers which was presumed lost has been rediscovered. The programme features Sellers and many contemporaries who later became household names after performing in Gang Shows for World War Two service personnel. It was lost from BBC archives but a copy was found during the making of a radio documentary on Sellers' career. The show's producer, Chris Menaul, recalled it being 'well received.' The two-part documentary, Showman, about impresario Ralph Reader was made by BBC Bristol in 1976. Reader was best known for creating the Gang Shows for the Boy Scouts in the 1930s, and, later, wartime service personnel - which gave Sellers and other future stars, including Dick Emery and Tony Hancock, an early taste of showbusiness. Sellers travelled the world performing with the Gang Shows during the war after he was deemed unable to fly with the RAF due to poor eyesight. 'He was quite difficult to get hold of - he was a big star at the time. We recorded the voice track sitting on his double bed in his flat in Victoria,' Menual said. The recording had disappeared from the BBC archives but BBC Radio Solent producer Richard Latto tracked down a copy on an old Philips 1700 video format owned by a current Scouts Gang Show producer in Edinburgh. Latto said: 'It is rare in that it is Sellers as himself - playing it straight and not putting on his voices or characters.' In the programme, Sellers recalls how 'a sizeable proportion of an entire generation of entertainers cut their teeth on the wartime Gang Shows.' Audio of the programme features in a BBC Radio Solent documentary, presented by his daughter Sarah Sellers, to mark the thirty fifth anniversary of his death in 1980. Sarah Sellers said: 'When I see my father performing, I don't think of him as doing impersonations. He really becomes a character, and he was very sensitive to what made people tick.' Sellers, who was born in Southsea, in 1925, went on to star in The Goon Show and the numerous movies.

The first full-length trailer for the twenty fourth official James Bond film, Spectre, has been released online. And pretty good it is too, although I dunno if it's just yer actual Keith Telly Topping, but the impression I got from it was kind-of "Bond's Greatest Hits". That may be deliberate, of course, and it does undeniably look way-cool, but I was running through a checklist in my head of 'there'll be a scene in the snow next', 'huge explosion coming up' and 'now Blodfeld's going to say "zo, Meezda Bondt, ve vas excepting you. Take him avay unt give him plenty of time to escape"' and just about every one was accurate. Well, okay, not the last one but, you catch my drift? The two-and-a-half minute clip - which sees Daniel Craig reprise his role as the spy for a fourth time - gives a closer look at the film after a teaser was released in March. Featuring car chases, exploding planes and shady crime organisations, it bears all the hallmarks of classic Bond. Spectre will be released in UK cinemas on 26 October - yer actual Keith Telly Topping's birthday, dear blog reader. Just thought I'd mention that. The new trailer begins with a first look at Ralph Fiennes in his new role as MI6 boss M, questioning Bond about a rogue mission to Mexico City (with a sequence that looks a dead-ringer for one in Live & Let Die). Bond is then seen in Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra - played by Monica Bellucci - the widow of an infamous criminal. After a suggested quick tryst with Sciarra, Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the crime organisation known as Spectre. Having previously only seen him as a shadowy character in the teaser clip, Christoph Waltz is also finally revealed as Bond villain, Franz Oberhauser. Jesper Christensen also reappears as Mister White, who was last seen escaping at the end of 2008 film Quantum Of Solace. There is also a first glimpse of Sherlock's Andrew Scott, who stars as Max Denbigh, the new head of the Centre for National Security.

West Cork Distillers, one of only three independent whiskey distilleries in Ireland, has launched an Irish whiskey in partnership with The Pogues. Which, one is sure will be lovely and not at all the sort of thing to rot yer teeth. Hopefully, it will also not watered down like the whiskey featured in 'Sally McLennane'.
Pluto would appear to have glaciers of nitrogen ice, the latest pictures from the New Horizons probe suggest. Scientists believe they see evidence of surface material having flowed around mountains and even ponding in craters. The activity is certainly recent, they say, and may even be current. But the mission team cautions that it has received only four to five per cent of the data gathered during 14 July's historic flyby of the tiny planet and any interpretations 'must carry caveats.' 'Pluto has a very complicated story to tell; Pluto has a very interesting history, and there is a lot of work we need to do to understand this very complicated place,' said Alan Stern, the New Horizons principal investigator. In a briefing at the US space agency's HQ in Washington, he and colleagues then outlined a number of new analyses based on the limited data-set in their possession. These included the observation that Pluto has a much more rarified atmosphere than previously predicted by the models. This statement comes from measurements made by the probe as it was looking back at Pluto following the flyby. It could tell from the passage of sunlight and radio waves through the Plutonian 'air' that the pressure was only about ten microbars at the surface.The other key detection was of hazes in the atmosphere. These are likely the consequence of high-up methane being broken apart and processed by sunlight into simple hydrocarbons like ethylene and acetylene, which then fall, cool and condense to form a mist of ice particles. Some of this material will probably be further processed into more complex chemistry that rains on to the surface to give certain regions their characteristic reddish hue. But it is the idea of glacial activity having occurred on Pluto that is most likely to capture public attention. This is interpreted to have happened at the edges of what has become known as Sputnik Planum - the great plain in the western half of Pluto's bright, heart-like feature just north of the equator. High-resolution imagery from New Horizons' Lorri camera records wavy patterns that look just like the flowing ice of glaciers viewed by satellites at Earth. And if there was still warmth coming from Pluto's interior then this could allow any surface ices to move and follow a slope, explained co-investigator Bill McKinnon from Washington University in St Louis. 'Water-ice at Pluto temperatures won't move anywhere; it's immobile and brittle,' he told reporters. 'But on Pluto, the kind of ices we think make up the planum (nitrogen ice, carbon monoxide and methane ices) - these ices are geologically soft and malleable, even at Pluto conditions, and they will flow in the same way that glaciers flow on Earth. 'So, we actually have evidence for recent geological activity.' His definition of recent was 'no more than a few tens of million of years. And what we know about nitrogen ice and what we can estimate about the heat-flow coming from the interior of Pluto - there's no reason why this stuff cannot be going on today.' New Horizons continues to observe Pluto even though it has moved some twelve million kilometres beyond the planet. It is looking at the world's outline, backlit by the Sun, to study the atmosphere. In about a week's time, this activity will cease and the spacecraft will be spun around. This will permit mechanisms that ordinarily are used to help maintain three-axis stability to be turned off. Their power sacrifice can then be diverted to the transmitter system to boost its output. In September, engineers will command New Horizons to start sending back the entire fifty gazillion snots of scientific data it gathered during the flyby. This stored information will be brought down in a compressed form first of all, followed by an uncompressed return. The whole process - encompassing all observations of Pluto and its five moons - will not be completed until late 2017.
Some of the images, released on 24 July, zoomed in on a portion of Pluto's surface informally called Tombaugh Regio. Better known as 'the heart,' this part of the planet hosts some of the most strikingly varied terrains. While the heart itself is relatively smooth, the terrains sculpting its edges are not. Steep, icy mountains and eroded, pockmarked landscapes ring part of the heart's western half. In the north, at the rim of a vast ice field known as Sputnik Planum, glaciers made of flowing nitrogen ice are brushing up against surface bumps.
A haul of planets from NASA's Kepler telescope includes a world sharing many characteristics with Earth. Kepler-452b orbits at a very similar distance from its star, though its radius is sixty per cent larger. Mission scientists said they believed it was the most Earth-like planet yet found. Apart from Earth, obviously. Such worlds are of interest to astronomers because they might be small and cool enough to host liquid water on their surface - and might, therefore, be hospitable to life of some sort. Pond-life, single cell amoebas, people who vote UKiP, that sort of thing. NASA's science chief John Grunsfeld called the new world 'Earth 2.0' and the 'closest so far' to our home. It is around fourteen hundred light years away from Earth. Or, 'a fucking long way.' John Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, added: 'It's a real privilege to deliver this news to you today. There's a new kid on the block that's just moved in next door.' The new world joins other exoplanets such as Kepler-186f that are similar in many ways to Earth. They've got a TV channel network that still employs Alan Titchmarsh as well. Probably. Determining which is most Earth-like depends on the properties one considers. Kepler-186f, announced in 2014, is smaller than the new planet, but orbits a red dwarf star that is significantly cooler than our own. Kepler-452b, however, orbits a parent star which belongs to the same class as the Sun: it is just four per cent more massive and ten per cent brighter. Therefore, if you're going, wear shades and take lots of Factor Fifty. Kepler-452b takes three hundred and eighty five days to complete a full circuit of this star, so its orbital period is five per cent longer than Earth's. Mind you, they get more Bank Holidays so, you know, fair's fair. The mass of Kepler-452b cannot be measured yet, so astronomers have to rely on models to estimate a range of possible masses, with the most likely being five times that of Earth. If it is rocky, the world would likely still have active volcanism and its gravity could be roughly twice that on our own planet. The new world is included in a haul of five hundred new possible planets sighted by the Kepler space telescope around distant stars. Twelve of the new candidates are less than twice Earth's diameter, orbiting in the so-called 'Goldilocks' habitable zone around their star. This zone refers to a range of distances at which the energy radiated by the star would permit water to exist as a liquid on the planet's surface if certain other conditions are also met. Of these five hundred candidates, Kepler-452b is the first to be confirmed as a planet. Doctor Suzanne Aigrain, from the University of Oxford, who was not involved with the study, told BBC News: 'I do believe the properties described for Kepler-452b are the most Earth-like I've come across for a confirmed planet to date. What seems even more significant to me is the number of planets in the habitable zone of their host stars with radii below two Earth radii; twe;ve is quite a few compared to the pre-existing Kepler planet catalogue. It bodes well for their attempts to provide a more robust measure of the incidence of Earth-like planets, which is the top-level goal of the Kepler mission.' While similar in size and brightness to the Sun, Kepler-452b's host star is 1.5 billion years older than ours. Scientists working on the mission therefore believe it could point to a possible future for the Earth.
Now, here's a headline you might expect to see in the Daily Scum Mail - on an almost daily basis, frankly - but not, necessarily on the BBC News website.
England and Scotland have been drawn in the same group for qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The old enemies will also face Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta and Lithuania in Group F after the draw in St Petersburg. Wales - aiming to reach their first finals since 1958 - are top seeds in Group D which also includes the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland will play World Cup holders Germany in Group C, while Spain and Italy meet in Group G. In another tough group, the Netherlands were drawn with France and Sweden. The winner of each of the nine European groups qualify automatically alongside hosts Russia, with the best eight runners-up entering the play-offs in November 2017. In total, one hundred and forty four teams were drawn in Saturday's ceremony. England and The Scotch last met in two friendlies in the 2013-14 season, with Roy Hodgson's side winning 3-2 at Wembley and 3-1 at Celtic Park. Their last competitive meeting was a two-legged play-off for Euro 2000, which England won 2-1 on aggregate. Scotland boss wee Gordon Strachan said: 'Just as the sun came out in Glasgow, we heard we will play England. I can see why the fans are celebrating, it's a fantastic fixture. The last time the two sides met England stepped it up a gear and it was a fantastic lesson - they pressurise you and you make mistakes and that's something that sticks with us - and I hope will stick with us to fire us on. The good thing from the supporters' point of view is there are no ridiculous journeys.' England manager Roy Hodgson, whose current contract runs until the end of Euro 2016, also believes that the tie will intrigue supporters on both sides of the border. He told BBC Radio 5Live: 'The Scotland fixture really excite people, the recent friendly matches showed that, and we have got recent experience of what the atmosphere will be like. The games will excite the public, get people in the mass media excited too, it is a good draw all round - I think Scotland will be happy with it and we are happy with it. It is a great honour to be England manager - I shall be delighted to retain that position all the time people want me too, but it won't occupy my thoughts at this point in time. I'm pleased to come away with a good group and if England want me to lead the team I will be delighted to do so.' England and Scotland fans who follow their teams on the road will be pretty happy with the draw. Short trips to face each other, then mini-breaks to scenic capitals Bratislava and Ljubljana in central Europe and a few days in the sun in Malta as well as seeing the Baltics with Lithuania. On the pitch, there is no doubt about the biggest threat to England and Scotland. Slovakia are 'doing a Wales' - they are flying in Euro 2016 qualifying, topping a group with Spain with a one hundred per cent record from six games. They have risen to joint fifteenth in the FIFA world rankings. There are lots of familiar faces to England in this group. Slovenia and Lithuania are in the same Euro 2016 qualifying group as the Three Lions. Slovenia are forty ninth in the world and third in the group, while Lithuania are fifth. They have been in every one of England's Euro qualifying groups since the 1990s. Malta are bottom of Group H with one point. Both sides will hope they don't struggle in the Maltese heat as much as West Ham United Girls XI, who needed penalties to beat the third best Maltese side, Birkirkara, in the Europa League last week. Wales and the Republic of Ireland were in the same qualifying group for the Euro 2008 finals, with Stephen Ireland giving Eire a 1-0 win in Dublin before a 2-2 draw in Cardiff. Wales manager Chris Coleman told 5Live: 'We've really improved in the last three years. We fancy ourselves against anyone. You look at other groups - it could have been easier or tougher. There's a lot of football to go in the Euro 2016 qualifiers before this. This has been the biggest honour of my career. My sole focus is on leading my country to France. After that I'll look at what's next. We've had a bit of fun being in pot one. It's new for us. We've really enjoyed it.' In the afternoon's earlier global draws twenty preliminary ties in Africa were organised, the order of matches in South America decided and groups in both the Concacaf and Oceania federations resolved. The draw brought together soon-to-be-former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and another alleged criminal, the Butcher of Grosny Vladimir Putin. Both deny any wrongdoing. Well, they would, wouldn't they?
That draw, in full:-
Europe
Group A: Netherlands, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus, Luxembourg
Group B: Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra
Group C: Germany, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan, San Marino
Group D: Wales , Austria, Serbia, the Republic of Ireland, Moldova, Georgia
Group E: Romania, Denmark, Poland, Montenegro, Armenia, Kazakhstan
Group F: England, Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta
Group G: Spain, Italy, Albania, Israel, Former Yougoslav Republic of Macedonia, Liechtenstein
Group H: Belgium, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus
Group I: Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland
The nine group winners all qualify. The eight runners-up with the best record against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their groups will proceed to the play-offs. Russia automatically qualify as hosts.
Africa
Round one, two-legged ties, played 5 and 13 October.
Somalia v Niger, South Sudan v Mauritania, Gambia v Namibia, Sao Tome e Principe v Ethiopia, Chad v Sierra Leone, Comoros v Lesotho, Dijibouti v Swaziland, Eritrea v Botswana, Seychelles v Burundi, Liberia v Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic v Madagascar, Mauritius v Kenya, Tanzania v Malawi
Round two, two-legged ties, played 9 and 17 November.
Somalia or Niger v Cameroon, South Sudan or Mauritania v Tunisia, Gambia or Namibia v Guinea, Sao Tome e Principe or Ethiopia v Congo, Chad or Sierra Leone v Egypt, Comoros or Lesotho v Ghana, Djibouti or Swaziland v Nigeria, Eritrea or Botswana v Mali, Seychelles or Burundi v DR Congo, Liberia or Guinea-Bissau v Côte d'Ivoire, Central African Republic or Madagascar v Senegal, Mauritius or Kenya v Cape Verde, Tanzania or Malawi v Algeria, Sudan v Zambia, Libya v Rwanda, Morocco v Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique v Gabon, Benin v Burkina Faso, Togo v Uganda, Angola v South Africa
The twenty winners from the second round will go into a third round comprising five groups of four. The five group winners of each group qualify for the World Cup.
Concacaf
Third round, Two-legged ties, played from 31 August to 8 September.
Curacao v El Salvador, Canada v Belize, Grenada v Haiti, Jamaica v Nicaragua, St Vincent & Grenadines v Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda v Guatemala
Group A: Honduras, Mexico, Curacao or El Salvador, Canada or Belize
Group B: Panama, Costa Rica, Grenada or Haiti, Jamaica or Nicaragua
Group C: Trinidad & Tabasco, USA, St Vincent & Grenadines or Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda or Guatemala
The top two teams from each group will play in a six-team mini-league. The top three qualify and the fourth goes into an inter-continental play-off with a team from Asia.
Oceania
Round one (group stage)
American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga
Round two (group stage)
Group A: The winner of round one between American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga plus Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Tahiti
Group B: New Zealand, Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands
The top three teams in Group A and Group B progress to round three. That will comprise of two groups of three, with the top team in each progressing to a two-legged play-off. The winners of that qualify for the inter-continental play-off against the fifth placed team in South America.
South America
Group stage: Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay.
The top four teams automatically qualify. Fifth place goes into a play-off with the winner from Oceania.

FIFA - who are, obviously, not a complete gang of hypocritical crooks, oh no, very hot water - has admitted the corruption scandal is putting off new World Cup sponsors and plans to hold a summit with existing backers in August. Secretary-general Jerome Valcke said: 'The current situation doesn't help to finalise any new agreements.' Earlier, key sponsor Visa lambasted Fifa for 'a lack of awareness' of the seriousness of corruption charges. This week, FIFA said it would set up an eleven-strong 'taskforce' to 'examine the issue' of corruption. What's to examine, just stop doing it. The August meeting was first suggested by major sponsors, Valcke said. 'Clearly, there were a number of sponsors, mainly three, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Visa, who sent a letter to FIFA, asking for information,' he said. 'Two or three days ago we received a letter from all of them offering to meet together, so there will there will be a meeting next month.' Visa chief executive Charlie Scharf on Thursday expressed his concern over the situation, telling investors his payments company sought partnerships with those 'who think and act like us.' He said it tried to hold the highest standards, but did not believe FIFA was living up to those. Visa has been one of the most critical of FIFA's top sponsors. Nevertheless, such public plain talking is rare. Coca-Cola and McDonald's have also been vocal about their concerns. FIFA's other key sponsors include Budweiser and Adidas. Top FIFA officials were arrested earlier this year on charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering as part of a US prosecution that also indicted fourteen people. It sparked the resignation of its president, Sepp Blatter, who announced he intended to leave next year. Scharf expressed 'a lack of confidence' in FIFA's ability to reform, saying 'no meaningful reform can be achieved under the current leadership', although he stopped short of asking anyone to resign. He is calling for an independent commission to be set up to plan for reform. Eleven days ago Coca-Cola also called for such a body to be set up. Lobby groups backed Scharf's comments. Transparency International, NewFIFANow and the International Trade Union Confederation all applauded Visa for its stance. 'Coca Cola and Visa have rightly recognised the depth of the corruption crisis facing FIFA,' said TI's Neil Martinson.

Tuesday of this week saw confirmation of the signing by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies of centre forward Aleksandar Mitrović on a five-year deal. Aleksandar becomes United's second close season capture after Georginio Wijnaldum and arrives from Belgians Anderlecht for a claimed thirteen million smackers fee - making him Newcastle's fourth most expensive signing. Although, considering that one of those ahead of him was The Little Shit, that really isn't saying much. Having flown into Newcastle from Brussels by private jet on Sunday ahead of his medical, Mitrović was spotted at the Gateshead Hilton hotel on Monday. A possible début at Dirty Sheffield United on Sunday now beckons for the twenty year-old Serbian international, with head coach Steve McClaren telling BBC Radio Newcastle: 'It shows where we want to go. It's a statement of intent. We've had to be patient and the first two through the door are the right age and the right experience. His record is good, he's a young talent and his profile is ideal. He's a player we've been following for quite a while. We looked at his record, looked at a few of his games and Graham Carr watched him a lot of times. Credit to Graham and Lee Charnley for getting it over the line.' Mitrović hinted on his social media account over the weekend that the deal was on, thanking Anderlecht for his time there and also saying 'again in black and white' - a reference to the colours of both his new team and those of his former club, Partizan Belgrade. Something of a 'colourful character' (ie. a bit of a nutter, albeit a talented one), Mitrović scored forty four goals in ninety appearances for Anderlecht and has thirteen caps for his national side. He is likely to be joined at St James' Park next week by his Anderlecht team-mate, centre back Chancel Mbemba who is alleged to be on the verge of a seven million quid move to the Premiership side. DR Congo international Mbemba made his senior début in Belgium back in 2013 and according to Anderlecht's website will celebrate his twenty first birthday next month.
Tour De France leader Chris Froome has criticised the 'appalling behaviour' of some spectators, after he was allegedly spat at during stage nineteen on Friday. Froome, has already said he had urine thrown at him during stage fourteen, following media accusations of doping. The British Team Sky rider said that he was 'unaware' of the latest incident but was told about it by journalists. 'We're human beings, and then we're sportsmen. People need to remember that,' he said. 'You can't come to a bike race to spit at people or to punch people or to throw urine at them - that's not acceptable at any level.' Froome will carry a lead of two minutes and thirty eight seconds into the final competitive stage on Saturday. The Kenya-born rider, and Team Sky, have had to defend themselves against entirely unproven accusations of using performance-enhancing drugs throughout this year's competition. Team Sky released some of Froome's performance data in an effort to end the speculation and prove the rider's innocence. Team-mate Richie Porte has also said he had been punched during stage ten.

A CD of lost songs by The Monkees' Mickey Dolenz has been released after fans tracked down the master tapes. Recorded immediately after the band split up in 1970, the music contains a collaboration with yer actual Harry Nilsson. It was thought that the recordings had been discarded but TV presenter Iain Lee managed to track it down via an online campaign. Lee is a huge Monkees fan - which is entirely admirable. But, he is also, as this blogger has previously noted, the most tragically unfunny individual in the whole world, bar none. Which, isn't. 'It's been a five-year project to make this happen,' he said. 'And it's finally here. It's a proper record.' Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Front Row, Lee explained that the music had 'sunk without trace' when it was originally released. 'A lot of this stuff came out as singles after The Monkees split up and they sold about seven copies,' he told Samira Ahmed. 'The thing with The Monkees when they split up is they had no respect,' Lee explained. 'No-one knew how to categorise them. Even Mickey Dolenz didn't know what he was. Was he an actor? Was he a drummer? He auditioned for the part of the Fonz [in Happy Days] but came second because they thought, "well, he's a drummer." Frank Zappa wanted him to join his band and play drums, but the rest of the band said, "we don't want an actor in there."' Even Dolenz did not know the whereabouts of his recordings, and many had presumed they were lost forever. 'For the last twenty years, people have been trying to make this compilation,' Lee said. 'No-one's been able to do it. The master tapes had gone missing, no-one knew who they were - but by me talking about this on Twitter and on Facebook and on various other forums, I got this weird anonymous e-mail from a guy who said, "I cannot tell you who I am, but I think I know where the master tapes are." I just thought it was some fruitcake on the Internet - but we followed his lead and he located the master tapes - and these songs came from the original master tapes in LA.' Lee has formed his own record company to issue the recordings - which went on sale last week as Mickey Dolenz: The MGM Singles Collection. It features a song, called 'Daybreak', which was written and produced by Nilsson. Another song, 'Easy On You', was recorded in Dolenz's home studio and features one of the first ever Moog synthesizers. 'Dolenz owned the third ever Moog synthesizer,' Lee said. 'It's a really weird [song]. It's not pop, it's not rock. It's kind of electronica before electronica.' Dolenz has given his blessing to the compilation, Lee added. 'He's such a nice man. He was completely surprised when I sent him an e-mail. But he's really honoured. He loves it. He's over the moon with it.'

On the subject of CD's, yer actual blogger his very self would be doing the world a geet rotten and nasty disservice, frankly, if he didn't draw all dear blog readers attention the forthcoming CD by popular beat combo Spewtum - containing regular From The North dear blog reader Tony Amis. Mrs Slocumbe's Pussy - titter ye not - is a twelve song slab of amateurish and rancid filth which should be played extremely loudly on your stereo music centres. Although, not if your mother is in the house, obviously. Standout cuts include the cheerful opener, 'Wrecked 'Em', the delicate ballad of unrequited love, 'Twat' and the twenty four carat pop classic, 'Buck Rogers'. The CD - all profts from which will go to Comic Relief - is due to be released on 31 August, with ordering details to be confirmed. But it'll cost you six of your English pounds. You, yes you, dear blog reader, would have to be a brain damaged moron, or the victim of a cruel medical experiment if you did not purchase at least three copies of this quite outstanding work of not so much pop music as art. To give to people that you don't like.
For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's a quality slice of yer actual China Crisis. The 'eighties bass' is still a bit annoying but, otherwise, a little gem.