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TODAY'S NEWS
You should be murked: R Kelly trial update
Kid Rock reckons artists get a bad deal from digital revolution
Dirty Pretty Thing hospitalised
Long Blondes cancel gigs because of Cox illness
Young Jeezy arrested
Tour manager Mooney dies
Skinner wants his free cider
Hookie speaks about Curtis' death at docu DVD launch
Verve album may be out this summer
Pollard's new band to release album in September
New Travis EP out this month
Smiths rarities album doing the rounds
Page says he hopes DVD of reunion show will be released ... eventually
Together returns
Creamfields offer proof of age wristbands
PWC report predicts digital boom but overall record sales decline
BMG US launch new hip hop label
Woolies CEO to step down
Classic FM to sponsor O2 classical events
UKTV appoint new creative head prior to relaunch
Charlotte Church expecting baby number two
John regrets heartache he cause his wife
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THURSDAY 19TH JUNE

KRAAK & SMAAK
Dutch trio Kraak & Smaak released their second album 'Plastic People' last month, but it was when they appeared on the Xfm Remix show earlier this month that we managed to get them to peruse our same six questions (us also publishing the Remix Update, and all). These guys are a dynamic and increasingly critically acclaimed production team, as Wikipedia says, "Kraak & Smaak is een Nederlands dj- en producerstrio uit Leiden bestaande uit Mark Kneppers (deel van het dj-duo Wipneus en Pim), Oscar de Jong en Wim Plug". Yeah, someone really ought to get round to writing an English entry for these guys. Meantime, check out their tunes at www.myspace.com/kraaksmaak (including recent Ben Westbeech guesting single 'Squeeze Me', and find out more about them and their music with these here six answers...


 

Q1 How did you start out making music?
Mark and Wim started out as frantic record collectors and DJs and slightly frustrated producers as they weren't trained musicians. The missing link in that regard was Oscar, who studied music at the conservatoire and was a bit of a keyboard magician. We started working together for fun and to see what it would lead to, but after a couple of demos we already had a record deal and from thereon it just grew bigger and bigger.

Q2 What inspired your latest single?
'Squeeze Me' is a real nod to old school seventies soul but with some fresh production values. When we were starting to work on the new album we were just browsing away through the lengthy record shelves in our studio and Oscar stumbled across this record with a great vocal riff from a 70s soul guy, just a break in the middle of a b-side track, but it sounded hot. Once we put the right funky stabs, hits and beats under it we knew we had something. We played it for a while in our sets and realised we were on to something special. We are all really into Ben Westbeech's first album and knew we needed a soul man to provide a verse as strong as the sample chorus. We got in touch with him, hit it off and he came over to record it. Sometimes it's as simple as that.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
It all depends on the first idea: we come up with a good sample, a good beat we programmed or a great chord. From thereon we build up the tune, add more sounds, work on the arrangement, etc. If it needs to be song (or just develops into a song) we look around for vocalists, but sometimes we already have sampled vocal lines that are just waiting to be used. The good thing about being a threesome is also that one of us is always 'fresh'. When two of us are in the studio, the uninvolved third one at that time can comment more freely on it. It keeps you sharp this way and you get the best results. We're always hyper critical about stuff before it leaves the studio.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
It's a cliché, but probably there are so many, old and new... for us the most important thing in listening and producing music is that we think in terms of atmosphere, vibe, etc. A particular style is less important. So to us it doesn't really matter if its Daft Punk, the new Erykah Badu album or a 70s Roy Budd soundtrack. Our new album has sort of that same attitude: it has funk, electro, techno, hiphop, cinematic tracks... It's all there. That makes it perhaps difficult to pin down our own style but for us that's great fun as the possibilities are essentially endless.

Q5 What would you say to someone listening to your music for the first time?
Go Dutch! Eating raw herring is next!

Q6 What are your ambitions for the album, and for the future?
'Plastic People' is now licensed to US and Japan and we hope that it will have the same impact as it had here in Holland and in the UK. We also feel that there is still a lot of room for musical growth; we don't feel pinned down to one particular style and the development from our first album 'Boogie Angst' to the second, 'Plastic People', felt really natural. So we don't really know where it is all going to end. But for the next half year or so we are doing remixes, DJ sets and live shows as much as possible. With all the big summer festivals in Europe ahead of us, the opportunity to be able to showcase yourself to large audiences is really exciting.

 

CHRIS T-T
Folky type Chris T-T has been plying his trade for what seems like an endless number of years now, supporting various behemoth indie bands before they became huge with his mixed set of piano-led folk numbers and louder, more raucous tunes. And so it runs on with new album 'Capital', with the macabre content of alt-folk number 'Ankles' - which includes a worryingly high repetition of the line "I broke her ankles, it's true" - existing on the same record as creeping indie closer '4am' and the tidy synth-pop call to arms that is '(We Are) The King of England'. As diverse as ever, he has clips of the entire album streaming at his MySpace page below.

www.myspace.com/christtuk

 
 

YOU SHOULD BE MURKED: R KELLY TRIAL UPDATE
One last little chapter to the R Kelly child porn trail yesterday as various documents relating to the case, so far kept confidential, were unsealed.

Most sensationalist were the claims made by the prosecution's star witness Lisa Van Allen which never came up in court. Van Allen did tell the jury hearing the case against Kelly that she had had three threesomes with the R&B star and the underaged girl that the prosecution claimed appeared in the sex tape at the heart of the trial. She also claimed Kelly sometimes filmed her sexual encounters with him, and that his people had once paid to get back one such tape he had given her. In the papers relating to her testimony she says she was paid $100,000 by one of Kelly's associates to get possession of the video. She also claims in the papers that some of Kelly's people had been threatening towards her since she decided to speak to the police about her alleged threesomes, and that one had said she should be "murked", or murdered, for going to the police.

Of course Kelly's people had already put much effort into discrediting Van Allen as a witness during the trial, and given he was cleared of all charges they seemingly convinced the jury she was lying for personal gain, and was not to be trusted. With that in mind the singer's attorney Allan Mayer was dismissive of the new allegations in the court documents, telling reporters: "In her testimony in court, Lisa Van Allen revealed herself to be a thief and a liar. She wasn't believed in the courtroom, and there's no reason to believe her now".

The papers also revealed that the prosecution considered calling up to 200 people to the witness stand in a bid to prove their charges that Kelly had filmed himself having sex with a 13 year old girl. As previously reported, although the prosecution had what they claimed was that film, it was hard to identify the man and woman in it, and the singer's defence successfully argued neither Kelly nor the underage girl the prosecution reckoned appeared were actually in the tape.

In the end the prosecution only called 34 people to testify. Among the original list of potential witnesses were Kelly himself and his wife. Some jury members said that they thought the fact prosecutors did not question Kelly nor the alleged victim during the trial weakened their case somewhat.

Also in the papers was confirmation that the prosecution looked at bank statements for Kelly, the alleged victim and her parents, presumably to see if any money had changed hands to buy the latter's silence or, rather, their denial that the alleged victim was in the tape. The fact no such evidence was presented in court presumably means no such bung could be found.

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KID ROCK RECKONS ARTISTS GET A BAD DEAL FROM DIGITAL REVOLUTION
Kid Rock who, along with The Beatles, Garth Brooks and AC/DC, is one of the few established artists so far not widely available via iTunes, has been ranting to the BBC about the market leader download platform, explaining that he's resisted getting involved with it because he believes artists are getting a very bad deal in the world of digital music.

He said: "It operates around an old system, where iTunes [ie the retailer] takes the money, the record company takes the money, and they don't give it to the artists. Back in the day, we all know the stories of the Otis Reddings and Chuck Berrys and Fats Dominos who never got paid. So the internet was an opportunity for everyone to be treated fairly, for the consumer to get a fair price, for the artist to be paid fairly, for the record companies to make some money. But they stuck to the 'old system'".

Rock's recent single 'All Summer Long' is actually available via iTunes in Europe, and Rock admits he will have to join the digital revolution eventually, but he says he is still resisting doing so for the time being, continuing: "I will be on iTunes eventually because I can't avoid it, but I like to always stick to my guns and prove a point and do something original and because I believe in it". Estimating his album sales could be down as much as 20% because he's not on iTunes, he concluded: "[But] I've just sold a million records, I'm not really feeling that blow".

Elsewhere in the BBC interview, Rock is asked about illegal downloading, which he seems less bothered about, seemingly on the basis that artists get such a raw deal from the legit download platforms that fans might as well take songs off illegal file-sharing networks because, he claims, artists wouldn't be much worse off. He continues: "[His record company] Atlantic asked me to stand up against illegal downloading a few years ago because, they said, 'people are stealing from us and stealing from you'. And I go: 'Wait a second, you've been stealing from the artists for years. Now you want me to stand up for you?' I was telling kids - download it illegally, I don't care. I want you to hear my music so I can play live".

The aforementioned Brooks recently told the BBC his hang up with iTunes is their insistence that all albums be available to buy track by track - an issue that stopped Radiohead from participating until recently. He says: "We do albums, we have always done albums. And if people try to make it [insisting on selling individual tracks] a money issue, I can get the full album to the consumer for much less than they can get it at 99 cents a song. There are a number of issues that need to be addressed in the digital downloading world before we introduce our music to it".

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DIRTY PRETTY THING HOSPITALISED
Dirty Pretty Thing Carl Barat was rushed into hospital yesterday after being diagnosed with acute pancreatitis. The diagnosis was made after the former Libertine complained of acute stomach pains. His spokesman said he would be kept in for tests until the end of the weekend, and may as yet be operated on. As a result Barat's charity gig at London's Hackney Round Chapel due to take place tomorrow has had to be postponed.

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LONG BLONDES CANCEL GIGS BECAUSE OF COX ILLNESS
The Long Blondes have also had to cancel upcoming live shows because of illness. They have just issued this statement: "On 9th June, [guitarist and keyboardist] Dorian [Cox] was rushed to hospital after falling ill, and he is still in hospital in Sheffield in a serious condition. Because of this we will regrettably be canceling all our live appearances until the end of July. Dorian is improving slowly and we will keep you updated on his condition. If you would like to leave a message on myspace, facebook, or through the website, we would be glad to pass them on to him when we visit. Feel better soon Dors". We hope he does too.

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YOUNG JEEZY ARRESTED
US rapper Young Jeezy was arrested yesterday after being pulled over by police in his hometown Atlanta for driving his car without valid tags (registration plates). Said police promptly charged him with seven things which include, according to AllHipHop.com, no proof of insurance, speeding, reckless driving, and DUI. The Def Jam signed rapper's lawyer Scott Leemon told the hip hop website yesterday: "Last night, at approximately 2.30am, Young Jeezy was pulled over by the Atlanta Police Department shortly after leaving the studio to work on his new album 'The Recession'. After being charged with various automobile related offenses, Jeezy was quickly processed and released". A court date is to be confirmed, though well done to Leemon for getting an album plug into that statement there.

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TOUR MANAGER MOONEY DIES
Michael 'Tom' Mooney, a veteran of the US live music industry, who worked as a tour manager for legendary artists like Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, has died at his Californian home after suffering a heart attack, aged 64.

Mooney began his live music career working for Bill Graham's San Francisco-based FM Productions in the early seventies, working as a crew member and tour manager on numerous major tours over the years, including many in Europe and South America. He also later worked for Ticketmaster developing up and coming artists for the ticketing firm's TM Showcase programme. He recently retired from the business, but continued to consult on music and event production.

He leaves his wife, Anne, who also works in the live sector, and who met Mooney when they both worked on a UK Neil Diamond tour in 1978.

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SKINNER WANTS HIS FREE CIDER
Mike Skinner has been complaining that he is yet to receive a free lorry load of cider from the South African cider brand that is using one of his songs in their current ad campaign.

Writing on his blog, The Streets man says: "I just got an email today telling me that my music is (still) being used by Hunters cider in South Africa. This reminded me that the last time they asked me I thought I asked for them to send me some product so I could test it out. I could not imagine the grief that my music was being used to represent a beverage that I didn't like the taste of. I'm hoping that one day I receive 10 palettes of silky sweet apple-based party lubricant that I can share with every person who enters my house for a year. Now that the [free] Reebok trainers [which Skinner used to endorse] have dried up, Example's got his Nando's deal, I want my South African cider affiliation".

On a more musical theme, Skinner also revealed that he will soon head to LA to finish off his fourth album.

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HOOKIE SPEAKS ABOUT CURTIS' DEATH AT DOCU DVD LAUNCH
Peter Hook has been talking about the way he and his Joy Division bandmates responded to the death of Ian Curtis at a Microsoft Zune sponsored event in LA marking the US DVD release of 'Joy Division', that 2007 Grant Gee directed documentary about the legendary Manchester band and their troubled frontman.

According to NME.com, in a candid Q&A session Hookie, who, alongside bandmates Bernard Sumner and Steve Morris, provides equally candid commentary in the documentary itself, told the LA event: "We were all so hurt we wanted to run away from it. It was natural for us to turn our back on Joy Division and start New Order. The funeral was on Thursday and we started New Order on Monday. It took 18 years for us to start playing Joy Division songs again".

On the Gee documentary, he continued: "I'd never talked about it [Curtis' death] with Bernard or Steve, so to hear each of us discuss it in the film was quite revelatory".

At the time the documentary was originally released, Gee himself admitted he was surprised how open and honest the New Order men were when interviewed for the film, telling reporters: "It was as if they were remembering the story for the first time".

Zune are marketing the DVD release of the docu with a special edition of their player which will be etched with the iconic artwork by Peter Saville from Joy Division's 'Unknown Pleasures' album, and will be preloaded with the documentary.

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VERVE ALBUM MAY BE OUT THIS SUMMER
The Verve are reportedly planning to release their comeback album this summer, with an 18 Aug release date being reported. Work on the album, the band's first in over ten years, began after their touring reunion last year, and is now almost complete.

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POLLARD'S NEW BAND TO RELEASE ALBUM IN SEPTEMBER
More release dates for you, and reports suggest that the debut album from the new project from Guided By Voices man Robert Pollard should be ready for release in early September. Pollard announced his intent last month to form new project Boston Spaceships with former Guided By Voices bandmate Chris Slusarenko and The Decemberists drummer John Moen. The debut album will be called 'Brown Submarine' and will be released via Pollard's own Guide By Voices Inc label on 9 Sep. A single, 'Go For The Exit', is already available for free download from www.bostonspaceships.com.

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NEW TRAVIS EP OUT THIS MONTH
Sooner than all of that will be the release of the latest material from those Travis chaps. Fran Healy et al will release a three track EP via their own indie label Red Telephone Box Records on 30 Jun. The nice thing is that that was the label name used by the band for their self-released first ever EP back in 1996. And as with that debut EP, Healy has done the artwork himself on the new release, which will be available for download and on 10" vinyl. The three tracks on the EP are 'J Smith', 'Get Up' and 'Sarah', two of which will also appear on the band's new album, called 'Ode To J Smith', which will be released in the Autumn.

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SMITHS RARITIES ALBUM DOING THE ROUNDS
A new Smiths collection called 'Rare', which features a number of b-sides and other rarities, including a studio version of Johnny Marr's instrumental 'The Draize', has appeared on a number of legit download platforms, including iTunes and Amazon. However, some in the blogosphere are questioning whether the compilation is a legit or bootleg release. Warner Music, who have owned the entire Smiths catalogue since the earlier nineties and released several Smiths compilations themselves, are yet to comment on 'Rare'.

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PAGE SAYS HE HOPES DVD OF REUNION SHOW WILL BE RELEASED ... EVENTUALLY
Jimmy Page has confirmed that he hopes a DVD of Led Zeppelin's major reunion show at The O2 last year will be released, though he says no firm plans are currently in the pipeline. Asked by the BBC if a DVD would be released - something which has been mooted ever since the O2 show took place, given it's known to have been filmed - Page said "I hope so, one day, yeah", but added he was in "no hurry" to see it come out. Fellow Led Zepper John Paul Jones seems less sure about the DVD, telling reporters: "It was a special occasion, you know, and we really wanted that just to be it really".

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TOGETHER RETURNS
London club Together returns at the end of the month at the Scala in Kings Cross. The night that used to take place at Turnmills before its closure earlier this year, will relaunch at its new home on 28 Jun with an animal fancy dress theme, a Noah's Ark procession, free animal masks, free haircuts and lots of face painting. Oh, and with no less than Busy P (Ed Banger), J Mehdi (Ed Banger), Dusty Kid (live), Justin Robertson, Anil Chawla, Surkin (Institubes), Yuksek (Kitsune), Streetlife DJs, Uniondjs, Boy 8-Bit, D'Lex, Me Me Me and Genki all on the bill. Phew, that's a lot. All takes place at Scala on 28 Jun - you'll find info on it all at www.together-club.co.uk

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CREAMFIELDS OFFER PROOF OF AGE WRISTBANDS
Creamfields has announced it is working with Validate UK to issue special proof of age wristbands meaning that young looking 18 year olds do not need to bring passports or other really-don't-want-to-take-to-a-festival-with-me ID in order to gain access to the over 18s event, and won't have to keep fishing a card out of their pocket once they are on site.

Young looking festival-goers are encouraged to apply for a Validate card ahead of the festival - and will get a 10% discount if they do so - and will be given a special proof of age wristband at the August festival if they flash the card at the gates. It's all linked in with the festival's continued attempts to comply with its over-18s licence.

Vaildate UK's Carol Brodie told CMU: "The Creamfields 10th birthday will be a brilliant weekend and Validate UK is delighted to be part of the team; strict legislation dictates the sale of alcohol, cigarettes and other age related products and Creamfields display their absolute commitment to the safety of the event by working together with us to ensure that those products are only sold to those old enough to buy them. Carrying a Validate UK card at Creamfields means you don't need to take valuable documents like passports and driving licences and because they are pass accredited they will be accepted for the purchase of alcohol. There's a fantastic line up with a dedicated team working behind the scenes to make it so...have a grand time!"

Cream chief James Barton adds: "Underage drinking is one the most talked about current social concerns and Creamfields has a decade of expertise at tacking these sort of issue's at their festivals. By keeping the event strictly over 18's we are committed to helping create the best possible festival experience and looking after the safety of our audiences".

Of course what I really want is a festival that will offer a card that will make people think I'm under 18, and then another card that proves I'm not. That would be good.

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PWC REPORT PREDICTS DIGITAL BOOM BUT OVERALL RECORD SALES DECLINE
Now, with Universal signed Lil Wayne having sold over a million units in one week in the US alone (the first album to do so since 50 Cent's 'The Massacre' in 2005), and with EMI signed Coldplay expected to have shifted 700K units of their new long player by the weekend, once it's released in the States, you might think those of you working in the famously struggling record industry could be feeling a bit more upbeat this morning.

But we wouldn't want that, would we? So, quick, let's get a report from bean counters PriceWaterhouseCoopers telling us its all still going to shit. Oh look, here's one now.

A new report from PWC reckons that global spending on recorded music will fall from £33.4 billion worldwide last year to $32.5 billion by 2012, even when the expected explosion in digital music sales is accounted for, that's a "0.6% compound annual decline" don't you know. Sales will decline most in the US and Europe, negating sales increases in Asia and Latin America.

Still, despite the overall decline, the PWC report does, unsurprisingly I suppose, see much growth still to come in the digital music market. By 2010 global spending on digital music will, they say, be $18.8 billion, with digital formats outselling physical formats in all but North America. As with most of these sorts of reports, the experts still reckon that ultimately, on a global level, mobile based music sales will outstrip net based downloading.

PWC also reckon that a la carte downloading will continue to be more popular than subscription based services, despite there being a number of new sorts of subscription based platforms in the offing. Single track downloads will remain dominant, they also reckon, with single sales in 2012 expected to bring in about a billion dollars more per year than album downloads. The analysts are also confident the per track price for downloading will increase, to about $1.15 by 2012, and have done their calculations based on those increases.

But that doesn't overcome the fact that overall, despite the digital boom, record sales will be down in the 2012 predicted by PWC. This will contrast with most other entertainment products which will, the reports says, become more profitable as a result of the digital explosion. All of which means - once again - that those record companies need to really get established in areas other than traditional record sales to guarantee a return on their artist investments.

Here's what PWC Director Of Strategy Nick George, one of the report's authors, is quoted as saying in Music Week: "Global record labels now face their toughest challenge yet as the pressure builds on them over the next four years to diversify into new revenue streams and away from traditional recorded music sales. I would expect digital sales, synch licensing, brand partnerships and other more vibrant and innovative forms of music exploitation, such as tours and events, to overtake physical record sales as revenue streams for rights holders in the future".

So, nothing we didn't already know really, but always worth hearing again - especially when record label types are on an up because of a couple of big selling albums. We wouldn't want record label execs feeling up for too long would we?

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BMG US LAUNCH NEW HIP HOP LABEL
The BMG bit of SonyBMG US is launched a new hip hop label to be called Battery Records and to be run by Neil Levine, former head of urban at EMI's Capitol US division. The label will sit between BMG US's two primary labels, RCA and Zomba, and is expected to absorb some urban artists from the J and Jive Record imprints. It will have its own bespoke marketing team but will use SonyBMG's independent distribution operation RED for its distribution. Confirming the new label, Zomba GM Tom Carrabba told reporters: "Neil's experience and success in breaking new acts and building brands will be a tremendous asset as we develop and cultivate Battery Records".

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WOOLIES CEO TO STEP DOWN
Woolworths CEO Trevor Bish-Jones has announced he is to leave the high street retailer. Bish-Jones has led Woolies for six years during a difficult period for the high street chain in which certain of its traditional revenue streams, music in particular, have gone into decline. Bish-Jones' departure comes as the company admitted group sales for the five months to 14 Jun were down 1.9%, and announced that they planned to sell four of their London stores to Waitrose.

The current CEO will stay on for three more months while a replacement is found. The company's Chairman, Richard North, talked up the outgoing chief exec, but also added that he was confident a new top man (or woman) could help boost profits. He told reporters: "Trevor has been with Woolworths for six years. In that time he has been a tireless chief executive and has made a very significant contribution to the group. It has been agreed between the board and Trevor that this is an appropriate time to seek new leadership for the business. I absolutely believe we can make improvements to Woolworths retail. I believe that we can reinvigorate Woolworths and get it performing better".

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CLASSIC FM TO SPONSOR O2 CLASSICAL EVENTS
Classic FM has entered into a sponsorship deal with live music conglom AEG which will see the national radio station sponsor and media partner on classical events that take place at The O2, including a Classic FM branded programme of concerts at smaller venue indigO2. The new deal, worth about a million, will cover concerts taking place between October and February.

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UKTV APPOINT NEW CREATIVE HEAD PRIOR TO RELAUNCH
UKTV has appointed Matt Scarff, currently a creative chief at Red Bee Media (the privatized BBC Broadcast, who still create ad campaigns for BBC shows), as its Head Of Creative. The new appointment precedes plans to relaunch and rebrand the whole UKTV network in the Autumn, a move which follows the successful relaunch of what was UKTV Gold 2 into Dave earlier this year. The relaunch will see at least one of the UKTV channels carry more original content rather than primarily BBC repeats, including a rumoured new show from Richard and Judy. In his new job Scarff will head up the on and off-air marketing strategy for the new channels, working with his old colleagues at Red Bee who are also working on the relaunch.

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CHARLOTTE CHURCH EXPECTING BABY NUMBER TWO
Charlotte Church, who many seem to still refer to as "singer Charlotte Church", despite her recent preference for TV work, has announced she is expecting a second child with her rugby star other half Gavin Henson. A statement on her official website reads: "Here we go again!!! Charlotte Church and Gavin Henson are delighted to announce that they are expecting another baby. The couple are thrilled, as are their immediate families". The news comes as Church prepares to present a third series of her Channel 4 chat show, which will launch in July.

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JOHN REGRETS HEARTACHE HE CAUSE HIS WIFE
Elton John has admitted it was a mistake to marry Renate Blauel in the 80s and has apologised for the heartache he caused her. John married former sound engineer Blauel in 1984, but the marriage only last four years, for obvious reasons. In a new VH1 documentary John admits: "She is the classiest woman I have ever met and I do love her desperately, but it wasn't to be. I was living a lie. I'm not exactly proud of that, to say the least".

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