Saturday, September 20, 2014

Time Heist: You're Only Supposed To Blow The Bloody Doors Off

'This is the Bank of Karabraxos. The most dangerous bank in the galaxy. A fortress for the super-rich. If you can afford your own star system, this is where you keep it.' Welcome, dear blog readers, to the biggest guilt trip in the universe.
'It's just a phone, Clara. Nothing happens when you answer a phone.' One of the most often-quoted reasons given by both the BBC and by fans for Doctor Who's spectacular longevity and popularity across fifty years is the unlimited nature of flexibility of the series' format. When you've got a mad man in a box you can, after all, take him anywhere at any time to see anything. Over time, the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama has flirted with many different dramatic forms - from all manner of period costume drama including cod-Shakespeare and Jacobean tragedy to sitcom via the thriller, the action movie and space fantasy and numerous other genres and sub-genres too numerous to list. And, that's been an unchanging factor right up to the current series. Already this year we've seen a cross between a Victorian detective mystery and a retro-steampunk futurist allegory from the opening episode. Then, an episode which mixed and matched the SF cliché of miniaturisation with a shoot-'em-up military base-under-siege saga, a near-slapstick comedy episode set in the Twelfth Century with some surprisingly deep things to say about the nature of the difference between fact and myth and, last week, a grim, challenging, bowel-shatteringly scary dystopian nightmare about the logistics of time as an abstract and, you know, what's hiding under the bed. It has often been said before but it bears repeating, it is exactly this constant shifting to style and substance which has kept the show fresh and innovative even after nearly fifty one years. And it's also a reason why it's always so absolutely hilarious to see one of The Special People whinging that an episode 'isn't Doctor Who' when the exact nature of what is Doctor Who in the first place is so unfixed, so variable, so elastic. But, every so often, just to ram home the point, we get something completely new. Case in point; one thing Doctor Who has never tried before, is a heist caper involving a bank robbery. Unless you count something like Attack Of The Cybermen. And, frankly, let's not.

'The greatest bank in the galaxy. Our reputation must remain secure. The Director will blame us. We'll be fired. Fired with pain.' That sounds like fun.
'All the information you need is in this case. Acquire it!' Speaking about the premise for the episode, the director Doug Mackinnon said: 'What we wanted to do was a heist movie for Doctor Who. I've watched virtually every heist movie there's ever been, and it incorporates things into it, but because it's Doctor Who, time travel is involved.' Filming for the episode took place at the Hadyn Ellis Building, part of Cardiff University, on 18 March 2014 and continued at the nearby Bute Park the next day (for a sequence which, in the event, occupied about twenty seconds of screen-time). Initial media reports indicated that Peter Capaldi had suffered a head injury whilst climbing a tree during filming of the episode. However, a BBC spokesperson responded by stating that the apparent gash was, actually, make-up applied for filming. Media coverage of filming focused on a new monster - The Teller - which was spotted on location, with some calling it Doctor Who's 'strangest monster yet.'
'Excuse me, sir. I regret to say, your guilt has been detected.' The other great cause for coverage was the casting of yer actual Keeley Hawes - Tipping The Velvet, [spooks], Ashes To Ashes, Upstairs, Downstairs, Line Of Duty - as the episode's main villainess, Ms Delphox. Wearing a spectacularly cruel pair of spectacles and looking like straight a cross between Theresa May and Mistress Spanksalott, the initial release of publicity photos of Keeley (whom yer actual Keith Telly Topping is, and has been since her astonishingly in-yer-face appearance in james's video for 'She's A Star' fifteen years ago) brought much Internet comment. Some of it, frankly, idiotic bordering on slanderous. Like, this one for instance, from some silly little girl of no consequence whom you've never heard of. As Steven Moffat his very self  told yer actual Keith Telly Topping at the time it appeared: 'This is a first even for me, criticised for an episode months before it's even been shown, for a character I didn't create.' You couldn't make it up, dear blog reader. Well, you probably could, after all, this is Doctor Who fandom we're talking about. In The Land of the Crassly Opinionated, one doesn't actually need to watch an episode of a television series to review it negatively and spit upon it with righteous fury if that's what your sick agenda demands. It's The Law. Or, at least it is in Doctor Who fandom, anyway. We must be quite a sight to those outside the chalk circle.
'Apologies for the disturbance. Everybody have a lovely day.' Time Heist features an intriguing and unusual hook as The Doctor, Clara and two apparent strangers, the hacker Psi and the shapeshifting mutant Saibra, wake up in a darkened room with no recollection of how they got there. Soon, they find a recording with orders from a mysterious hooded figure known only as The Architect who sounds like he's one of those contestants on The X Factor who use auto-tune. The quartet are told that they must rob what is said to be the most secure bank in the galaxy and that their survival absolutely depends on it. They are, thus, self-preservation society, if you like. Ho, yes. Better get a bloomin' move on. If you're looking at this point for a rather obvious satirical poke in the general direction of the contemporary banking industry then, clearly, you're going get it (with interest). You hardly need to be a financial expert to work that out. Coming hot on the heels of the acclaimed and, to repeat, bowel-shatteringly scary, Listen, Time Heist may, inevitably, seem somewhat lightweight by comparison, certainly in terms of dramatic clout if nothing else. Steve Thompson's previous scripts for the series - The Curse Of The Black Spot and Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS - somewhat split opinion among those who have expressed an opinion, loudly, on the Interweb (for what it's worth, broadly speaking yer actual Keith Telly Topping enjoyed both although the former did, undeniably, have more promise than plot) so it will be interesting to see if Time Hesit has less of a polarising effect on the cognoscenti. Though knowing what a contrary bunch we all are in fandom, I wouldn't bank on it. Despite the Italian Job caper-style nature of the plot (with a couple of twists worthy of the Mission: Impossible franchise at its most mind-bogglingly 'What? How? What?'), the episode takes itself far more seriously than you might expect from the premise. Nevertheless, it's not a dark episode - certainly not compared to last week. It's probably fair to say that this is also the most conventionally 'normal' episode of series eight so far - normal in Doctor Who terms anyway - and, as with Listen, there is no arc progressions featuring appearances from or references to Missy and/or Paradise. Thus, it's something of a standalone tale and with that in mind, there is little obvious character development for either The Doctor or Clara.
'Whoever planned all this, they're in the future. It's not just a bank heist, it's a time travel heist. We've been sent back in time to the exact moment of the storm, to be in exactly right place when it hits - because that's the only time the bank is vulnerable!' Continuity: There are references to, in no particular order, The Leisure Hive ('we could go to Brighton'), The Eleventh Hour ('Hardly anyone in the universe has that number'), The Bells Of St John (another allusion to the mysterious woman who gave Clara the TARDIS phone number), The Snowmen (the memory worm), KindaThe Time Of The Doctor (a hologram shell), The Mind Of EvilBlink ('Ever tried not thinking about something?'), Deep Breath ('Basically, it's the eyebrows'), The Doctor's Wife, Amy's Choice (The Doctor's self-professed hatred of The Architect), Asylum Of The Daleks ('My personal plan is, I think a thing will probably happen quite soon'), The Doctor Dances (the dimension bomb) and A Good Man Goes To War ('A good man. I left it late to meet one of those'). Among the blink-and-you'll-miss'-em infamous robbers glimpsed on the bank's security screen are a Sensorite, an Ice Warrior, The Gunslinger (from A Town Called Mercy), Torchwood's Captain John Hart (thus making James Marsters canon in the Doctor Who universe to the sound of squees of all the girls over at Cold Dead Seed. Hi girls!), a Slitheen, a Terileptil (from The Visitation) and one of the Whisperers (from The Name Of The Doctor). Plus, to the joy of many old school fans, the briefest of glimpses of Abslom Daak The Dalek Killer from the Doctor Who Magazine comic strips. There's also a great take on a classic Eric Morecambe joke ('Got the words out. Not in the right order!') plus an 'Allo 'Allo reference ('Now pay close attention to this briefing, it will happen once') and, best of all a The Thick Of It allusion for Capaldi to bellow in full-on Malcolm Tucker mode ('shuttetty up up up!')
'There are so many memories in here, feast on them. knock yourself out! Scarf, bow tie, bit embarrassing. What do you think of the new look? I was hoping for minimalism, but I think I came back with magician! Now, last few days, there's a block - can you see the block? Tell me why I'm here! Show me why I'm here!' The dialogue: Oh yes. Yes, indeedy, dear blog reader, I'll have some of that. Yer man Thompson and Moffat his very self had a bit of fun writing this one, clerarly. 'Do I really have to touch that worm thing?' 'Yes, you do ... And change your shoes!' And: 'Why are you in charge now?' 'It's my special power. What's yours?' And: 'Question one. Robbing banks is easy if you've got a TARDIS. So why am I not using it?' 'Question two. Where is the TARDIS?' 'Okay, that probably should be question one.' And: 'Your next of kin will be informed. And incarcerated as a further inducement to honest financial transactions.' And: 'Those aren't tears, Clara. That's soup.' When Time Heist hits the funny button, for the most part, it gets it absolutely spot-on. Take, for instance: 'What if the plan is we're blowing the floor for someone else? What if we're not supposed to make it out alive?' 'Don't be so pessimistic, it'll affect team morale.' 'What, and getting us blown up won't?' 'Well only very, very briefly!' And: 'I'm an amnesiac robbing a bank, why would I be okay?' And then, there are the scenes following Saibra's apparent death when the episode gets all introspective and deep and far darker than you'd been led to believe thus far. Like the bit where Psi asks: 'Is that why you call yourself The Doctor? The professional detachment?' Wow, that came out of left field. 'Listen, when we're done here, by all means, you go and find yourself a shoulder to cry on. You'll probably need that. Till then, what you need is me.' In a script that shifts quickly from light to shade and back again, it's hard not to be impressed with something like: 'For what it's worth, - and it might not be worth much - when your whole life flashes in front of you, you see people you love. People missing you ... I see no one.' And: '... It's feeding oxygen down to the private vault. There's another for water. Your basic life support.' 'For a bank vault?' 'Someone likes to hang out with their wealth!' And: 'My clone. And yet she doesn't even protest. Pale imitation, really. I should sue!' 'She hates her own clones. She burns her own clones. Frankly, you're a career-break for the right therapist.' And: 'Calories consumed on the TARDIS have no lasting effect.' 'You're kidding?' 'Of course, I'm kidding. It's a time machine, not a miracle-worker!' Yep, funny when it needs  to be, but surprisingly outré when it needs to be. Like all good Doctor Who episodes, neither one thing nor the other but, to the benefit of the episode, a bit orf both. And how perfect is it that The Doctor celebrates a victory with Chinese food? Me too. What are the chances?
'The bank of Karabraxos is impregnable. The bank of Karabraxos has never been breached. You will rob the bank of Karabraxos.' Keeley Hawes headlines the guest cast playing a suitably archetypical villainess. The character isn't afforded all that much in the way of depth or nuance until the last couple of scene - when all bets are off - but, that said, this is Keeley Hawes after all and doing her trademark 'posh bird with a twinkle' thing which made her such a cult favourite in [spooks] and Ashes To Ashes, you get pretty much what you'd expect. Swishy, cat-like movement, saucy asides and pure atom-bombs of acidic wit lobbed in from the sidelines. And, then there's The Teller, a fearsome being which can detect guilt in all its forms. The monster itself is reasonably imposing and glowery and makes for a threatening enemy thanks to its unique ability. It's responsible for one really impressive jump out the seat and grab for a cushion moment and has its own plot twist which, although a tiny bit signposted is still well presented. Whilst the last episode was shrouded in chilling shadows, Doug Mackinnon turns his hand to something a bit lighter and much more fun here and proves he's just as capable at that style. As Doctor Who's attempt at a heist movie cover version, if you like, it's stylish with all of the standard genre clichés which you'd expect, and are mostly done with much affection for the form. All those classic Ocean's Eleven-style slow-motion group shots are complemented by an cheeky and entertaining soundtrack from Murray Gold full of witty Lalo Schifrin riffs. In short, Time Heist' delivers in terms of entertainment and it doing something that television often finds difficult to achieve these days, trying to do something a bit different from the norm. It doesn't all work, and I'm not sure I'd be happy with Doctor Who doing an episode such as this every week - essentially turning into Hustle in space. But, once in a while, it certainly ticks most of the required boxes. 'Come on then, Team Not Dead!'
The very excellent Nick Frost - a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping and probably best known to dear blog readers for his appearances in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's 'Cornetto Trilogy' movies, Shaun Of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End - will appear in this year's Doctor Who Christmas special. Rumours of yer actual Frostie's casting had previous been circulating online, though the BBC is yet to confirm who the actor will play in the hour-long episode. Coronation Street's Natalie Gumede and Misfits actor Nathan McMullen will also make guest appearances. Completing the cast are Michael Troughton - the son of former Doctor, the late Patrick Troughton - and Glue actress Faye Marsay. Michael is, of course, the third member of his family to appear in the series as his brother, David, featured in three guest roles on the BBC's long-running family SF drama between 1969 and 2008. Michael is probably best known for his superb performance as the hapless Piers Fletcher-Dervish opposite Rik Mayall in The New Statesman between 1987 and 1992. Nick Frost said: 'I'm so thrilled to have been asked to guest in the Doctor Who Christmas special, I'm such a fan of the show. The read-through was very difficult for me; I wanted to keep stuffing my fingers into my ears and scream "No spoilers!" Every day on set I've had to silence my internal fanboy squeals!' The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat added: 'Frost at Christmas - it just makes sense! I worked with Nick on the Tintin movie many years ago and it's a real pleasure to lure him back to television for a ride on the TARDIS.' The Doctor Who Christmas special - as yet unnamed - will be broadcast on BBC1 on Christmas Day. Written by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat and directed by Paul Wilmshurst, it is due to be filmed in Cardiff at BBC Wales Roath Lock Studios over the next couple of weeks.

The new edition of Doctor Who Magazine was published this week and features an exclusive interview with Mummy On The Orient Express guest star, comedian, writer and chat show host Frank Skinner, who discusses his role as Perkins in the episode: 'I don't know how I'll feel when they say, "And that's a wrap for Mister Skinner." I'm sure I'll go through a mix of emotions. When footballers are in cup finals, the managers always say, "Savour every moment," and that's what I'm doing. Every moment is "wowee!"'
On 23 November 2013 fans all over the world celebrated Doctor Who reaching its fiftieth anniversary, receiving a Guinness World Record as some ninety four countries were officially recorded as having shown the anniversary episode in one form or another. However, the 18 September 2014 sees another milestone celebrated as, fifty years ago, An Unearthly Child was to receive its first-ever international broadcast. The country in question was New Zealand, with The Doctor's very first appearance outside the UK to be broadcast by Christchurch's CHTV-3. The episode was shown at 7:57pm, sandwiched between news programme NZBC Reports and a documentary about Doctor Gordon Seagrave, The Burma Surgeon Today. It was introduced by the weekly magazine The New Zealand Listener as: 'The first of a new adventure series about an exile from another world and a distant future, travelling with his granddaughter and two London school teachers through time and space. Starring William Hartnell as Doctor Who [sic] and Carol Ann Ford [sic] as his granddaughter. In tonight's episode Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, two school teachers, decide to try and find out more about one of their pupils who is puzzling them.' Which is mostly aaccurate
A fraction over seven million punters (7.01 million to be exact) watched the UK transmission of Listen according to consolidated figures, which include those viewers who watched the episode live and those who recorded the programme and watched it within one week of transmission. This is an increase of more than 2.2 million viewers over the 'live' audience of 4.8 million, the fourth week in a row that Doctor Who has achieved a two million plus timeshift. The figure - which does not include those who watched the episode on iPlayer - means that none of the first four episodes of Doctor Who this year has dipped below the seven million mark on final and consolidated figures.

Meanwhile, Doctor Who's opening episode of the current series, Deep Breath, had a final 'live plus seven' audience figure of 10.76 million viewers. Or, about a sixth of the population of the United Kingdom. Just, you know, for a bit of context. The figure includes not only those who watched the BBC1 broadcast and those who timeshafted it, but also those who watched the repeats on other channels and those who viewed the programme on iPlayer. The Deep Breath figure was made up of the following:-
6.807 million watched the episode 'live' or by recording on the same day
0.456 million watched a repeat on BBC3
2.525 million watched the episode on timeshift
0.971 million watched it on iPlayer
Sixty six per cent of the audience watched the episode live and/or on the same day compared with a BBC average of eighty seven per cent. Twenty two per cent watched on timeshift where the average is six per cent, and nine per cent watched on iPlayer compared to an average for all BBC programmes of three per cent. The figure does not include those who watched Deep Breath at a cinema.
The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice continues to post very impressive figures for BBC2, with 2.57 million overnight viewers tuning in to watch Friday's episode. Ratings for the spin-off show were slightly up on last week's 2.5 million. BBC2's evening began with 1.27 million for Celebrity Antiques Road Trip at 7pm, followed by 2.01 million for Mastermind at 8pm. Lorraine Pascale: How To Be A Better Cook was watched by 1.37 million at 8.30pm, while 2.03 million watched Gardeners' World at 9.30pm. With 3.65 million viewers, BBC1's The ONE Show was Friday's highest-rated programme outside of soaps giving a good example of just how down right across the board overnights are at the moment. It was followed by 2.89 million for A Question Of Sport at 7.30pm and 3.12 million for Would I Lie To You? at 8.30pm. An average of 2.85 million watched Boomers at 9pm, while 2.57 million saw Big School immediately after. If the BBC were having a bottom-end-of-average night on ITV it was much worse. Gino's Italian Escape: A Taste Of The Sun was seen by 2.41 million viewers at 8pm, while - hilariously - Oily Twat Piers Morgan's Life Stories featuring Bear Grylls attracted a mere 2.3 million at 9pm. Channel Four's The Million Pound Drop was seen by nine hundred and forty thousand at 8pm, Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown attracted 1.65 million at 9pm, and Alan Carr: Chatty Man picked up ratings of 1.41 million. Without Celebrity Big Brother on offer, the opening episode of a new seiers of Body Of Proof was Channel Five's highest-rated show with eight hundred and ninety four thousand punters at 9pm. Storage: Flog The Lot! was seen by six hundred and twenty seven thousand while an NCIS double bill attracted five hundred and sixty one thousand and four hundred and forty two thousand respectively. BBC4's Big Hits: TOTP 1964 To 1975 was among the highest-rated multichannel shows, attracting seven hundred and seventy five thousand at 10.20pm.

Channel Four's Educating The East End appealed to 1.41 million overnight viewers on Thursday evening. It followed Location, Location, Location, which attracted 1.43m. On BBC1, DIY SOS took 4.2m from 8pm, before Martin Shaw's episode of the genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? took 4.64m, the highest audience of the night outside of soaps. BBC2's Celebrity Antiques Road Trip scored 1.37m from 7pm. Afterwards, Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath and Penguins On A Plane: Great Animal Moves were watched by 1.67m and 1.07m punters respectively. ITV's Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs was seen by 3.5m from 8.30pm, and the crime drama Chasing Shadows continued with 2.69m from 9pm. Chances of that one getting a recommission? Not huge, I'd've said. On Channel Five, Britain's Craziest Commutes managed six hundred and nine thousand in the 8pm hour. Illegals: Breaking Into Dallas had nine hundred and eighty thousand whilst the latest episode of Dallas attracted three hundred and seventy two thousand from 10pm.

The Great British Bake Off drew 8.3 million viewers on BBC1 on Wednesday evening, according to overnight figures. The latest episode averaged 8.32m in the 8pm hour. Afterwards, Our Zoo drew an audience of 3.98m from 9pm. On BBC2, Celebrity Antiques Roadshow continued with 1.2m from 7pm. Hotel India followed with 1.15m, while This World and Some People With Jokes were watched by 1.38m and eight hundred and ninety five thousand respectively. ITV's Celebrity Squares took a very below-par 2.48m from 8pm. Later, Scott & Bailey appealed to 3.74m. On Channel Four, Sarah Beeny's Double Your House For Half The Money managed nine hundred and eighty four thousand from 8pm. Grand Designs had 1.54m and The Great British Break-Up? The Live Debate attracted six hundred and nine thousand. On Channel Five, Britain's Deadliest Roads was seen by eight hundred and eighty five thousand in the 8pm hour, before Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away secured 1.35m. On the multichannels, Sean Bean's Legends premiered to two hundred and one thousand in the 10pm hour on Sky1. The Strain kicked off with one hundred and ninety one thousand from 10pm on Watch.

The BBC and Sky News called the Scotland referendum’s 'no' result at around 5am on Friday morning, on a night when a CNN poll of polls got it extremely wrong and Mad Frankie Boyle offered a - ungracious and crude (albeit, quite funny) four-letter response to the outcome. Sky News tweeted at 5.03am that the Better Together campaign was on course to win the independence poll, forecasting fifteen minutes later that Scotland had 'rejected independence.' The BBC predicted the same result in a tweet at 5.14am, a minute after it had declared on screen that 'Scotland votes no.' The BBC enjoyed its usual ratings dominance of major live political events. BBC1's Scotland Decides – with two simulcast versions, one fronted by Glenn Campbell for BBC1 Scotland viewers and another hosted by Huw Edwards for the rest of the UK – averaged 1.7 million viewers and a twenty five per cent share from 10.35pm to 2am. ITV’s Scotland Decides averaged four hundred thousand over the same period. CNN claimed a first, although not one it will be shouting about, when its poll of polls gave fifty two per cent to the no campaign and fifty eight per cent to yes. It was corrected an hour later when somebody realised that they'd balls'd it up.
The comedian and serial recidivist Mad Frankie Boyle, who is due to front an iPlayer-only Scottish referendum show for the BBC, gave his own take on the result tweeted out on Friday.
Thanks Mad Frankie, we'll let you know about that position in the diplomatic service. Viewers who stayed up late into the night said the coverage on the BBC, Sky and STV – the ITV licensee in Scotland – took a while to get going, although that was hardly surprising in the absence of exit polls and the first declaration – Clackmannanshire – not happening until 1.30am. The result, in a district which the yes campaign had hoped to win, was fifty threeper cent in favour of no, a foretaste of what was to come. The BBC's Director General, Tony Hall, said in an e-mail to staff: 'I have been up all night and have witnessed first-hand our live coverage of the vote and had the chance to talk to and listen to staff. On television, radio and online, the superb editorial content was enhanced by the brilliant use of technology.' On Friday morning, Scotland Decides' average from 6am to 9am was 1.99m with an audience peak of 2.68m around 8.00am. That was compared with ITV's Good Morning Britain which began at 6am and could only manage seven hundred and seventeen thousand.

Pointless host Alexander Armstrong his very self will voice Danger Mouse when the much-loved cartoon hero returns to TV next year. The comic actor, also known for his double act with Ben Miller, said that voicing the character was 'about as close to a dream job as you could wish for.' Armstrong takes over from Sir David Jason, who voiced the character in ITV's original series from 1981 to 1992. Kevin Eldon will voice sidekick Penfold, Terry Scott's old character. 'When I am recording the episodes, I'll be making sure that at all times my eyebrows are at least three inches above my head,' said Eldon, known for his appearances in Big Train, Nighty Night and Hot Fuzz and his stage work with Bill bailey. Other cast members include Shauna MacDonald and Morwenna Banks, while Dave Lamb - the voice of Channel Four's Come Dine With Me - will take on Brian Trueman's original role of The Narrator. The new Danger Mouse series, which will initially run for fifty two episodes, is due to be broadcast on the CBBC channel in 2015.

Meera Syal has joined the cast of Broadchurch's upcoming second series. The writer and actress will join David Tennant and Olivia Colman in new episodes of the ITV drama, Radio Times reports. Meera has joined the cast on location in Clevedon, but details about her character have yet to be revealed. The first series two cast photo was released by ITV in May, and featured returning actors Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan and Arthur Darvill. Meanwhile, Charlotte Rampling, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Eve Myles and James D'Arcy will also join the cast for the new series.
Dennis Waterman has leave New Tricks, his spokesperson has announced. Waterman is the only original cast member left on the popular BBC1 drama crime series, which is now in its eleventh series. And now, they've all been replaced - just like members of The Saturdays, if you will. Waterman agent Derek Webster told the Mirra that he will only appear in two episodes of next year's twelfth series. He said: 'Dennis has decided to quit New Tricks. There are another ten episodes that they are going to start filming in November and he will be in two of them. So he will be filming with them until the New Year, but then that will be it. Dennis misses the old crew, the original line-up. The chemistry between them on the set was remarkable. It's difficult to get chemistry like that on set and being on the show with new cast members now just isn't quite the same.' Which, one imagines, will have gone down fantastically well with his current cast mates, Tamzin Outhwaite, Denis lawson and Nicholas Lyndhurst. All of whom are far better actors than Waterman. 'I'm not saying there has been a big falling out or anything,' Webster hurriedly added (a little too hurriedly, one might suggest) 'but the original team worked together for ten years, so it was always going to be a bit strange when people started leaving. All of the other leading cast members decided the time was right for them to leave one by one, and now Dennis has decided it is his time to go.' Wall to Wall, producers of the series, thanked Waterman 'for all his years of loyal service', adding that he would remain on screen for a while yet. 'Viewers won't be saying goodbye to Dennis until Autumn 2015, so there will be plenty of time to enjoy the slightly unorthodox antics of his character Gerry Standing,' said a statement from Wall to Wall's Leanne Klein. In 2012, Waterman and his then co-stars Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong criticised the show's writers for 'playing it too safe' and made some pretty unsubstantiated claimed about how much they, themselves, contributed to the series' scripts. 'You have to remind yourself that people aren't as stupid as writers think. But that's the way things are going in the industry,' Waterman told the Radio Times at the time. This, needless to say, brought something of an - understandably - annoyed reaction from both the show's writers themselves and from the Writers' Guild of Great Britain. General secretary Bernie Corbett said, rather sarcastically: 'It is astonishing and deeply disappointing to hear this from rich and famous celebrities who owe their careers to the scripts they have interpreted, as much as to their own talents. We regret their imminent departure, but we wish them every success in the state of Denmark, and hope that if they find anything rotten they'll acknowledge their own responsibility for it.' Whether the series will continue to use Waterman's - bloody awful - theme song for subsequent episodes after he leaves is not, at this time, known. But, hopefully not.

The BBC has lodged a formal protest with the Russian authorities after a team of journalists was attacked while investigating a story. A news team was assaulted in southern Russia while examining reports that Russian servicemen had been killed near the Ukrainian border. The team was filming in the city of Astrakhan when they were attacked. According to the BBC's Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg, who was part of the news crew, a BBC cameraman was beaten during a scuffle and a camera seized and damaged. The emergency services then took the journalists to a police station, where they were questioned for four hours. During that time, recording equipment which had been in their vehicle at the police station was electronically wiped. All members of the news team are now believed to be back in Moscow. 'The attack on our staff and the destruction of their equipment and recordings, were clearly part of a coordinated attempt to stop accredited news journalists reporting a legitimate news story,' said the corporation in a statement on Thursday. 'We deplore this act of violence against our journalists and call on the Russian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and to condemn the assault on our staff.' A criminal investigation has been opened, according to Russian news agency Interfax. It quotes Petr Rusanov, head of press for the Astrakhan region's interior ministry, as saying that 'enquiries' had been launched after police received reports that a cameraman had been 'beaten and robbed by unidentified persons.'

Ben Whishaw, who starred in BBC2's The Hour and played Q in the last James Bond film Skyfall, has been cast in the lead role in new BBC2 drama London Spy written by best-selling novelist Tom Rob Smith. Whishaw will play Danny, described as a 'hedonistic romantic', who is drawn into the murky world of the security services when his boyfriend disappears. Rob Smith said: 'Ben Whishaw is quite simply one of the best actors in the country. It's an extraordinary privilege, as a writer, to have him play the lead.' Filming for the five-part series starts next month. Polly Hill, the BBC head of independent drama, said: 'This is a beautifully written love story, caught up in a spy thriller – a wonderfully complex and surprising story, of one man's search for the truth. It promises to be a treat for the BBC2 audience, continuing the channel's commitment to original authored drama.' Whishaw, who will also be the voice of Paddington Bear in the big screen adaptation of the marmalade-loving bear, is expected to return as Q in the latest James Bond film, next year.

On Friday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping was pure dead glad, so he was, to attend the opening Uncle Scunthorpe's Record Player of the autumn season at the Tyneside.
And, a very special one it was too, featuring two repeats, but both welcome ones, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band versus Pet Sounds. It was properly tremendous to see all of the regular gang again after a three month break, listen to two great records, watch a couple of excellent slide shows (Uncle Scunthorpe's ability to time it so that poster came up just as 'Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite' started or the picture of Tara Browne's wrecked Lotus at the correct point in 'A Day In The Life' was commented upon). And, get this, yer actual and his mate Christian his very self only went and won the - extremely pure dead hard, so it was - 'take it to the bridge' quiz. So that was nice. Incidentally, dear blog reader, here's a little something for you to think about. A lot of the photos which Uncle Scunthorpe used for the slide show for Pet Sounds were from the photo session for the LPs front cover - you know the one I mean, The Beach Boys in a petting zoo with various fluffy animals. But, here's the curious thing. They were a six-piece at the time - Bruce Johnston had joined a few months earlier - and all six members were, very definitely, at said photo shoot. Only five of them were on the cover, though - probably because Bruce was still only a member of the 'live' band at that stage, having replaced Brian because of his various nervous breakdown. But, in most of the photos taken only five Beach Boys are ever present at any one time, and often Bruce is one of them. It appears to be a different one missing each time - sometimes it's Carl, sometimes it's Al Jardine, sometimes it's Brian. So, my theory is, The Beach Boys were, actually, a bunch of cheapskates who couldn't be bothered to hire a photographer and simply did the job themselves in a sort-of 'Dennis, it's your turn to take some photos now' style. These, tragically, are the sort of things that keep yer actual Keith Telly Topping awake at night, dear blog reader. Time for Keith Telly Topping's 33(s) of the Day, I suppose. Oh, all right then. This 'un.
And this 'un.
Happy? After those two, you should be. Next week - back on Thursday where it belongs, is a grunge special featuring Doolittle versus It's A Shame About Ray. Tasty.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week Thirty Nine: Swim With Me In Ocean Blue

The X Factor easily topped Sunday evening's overnight ratings. Though, several national newspapers - take the Daily Mirra for instance - still managed to run stories about the current series being nothing short of a ratings disaster. Which it isn't, or anything even remotely like it. The ITV singing competition gained back around four hundred thousand viewers from the previous Sunday episode's overnight audience - when it went up against, and got spanked by, Strictly Come Dancing - attracting an average audience of 7.86 million viewers at 8pm. The latest arena auditions peaked at 8.28 million around 8.45pm. Earlier, Sunday Night At The Palladium was watched by 4.26m at 7pm, while The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher gathered a disappointing 2.56m at 9pm. On BBC1, Countryfile appealed to 5.52m at 7pm, followed by Antiques Roadshow with 5.11m at 9pm. The Village concluded with 3.63m at 9pm, while Match Of The Day 2 secured 2.19m at 10.35pm. BBC2's coverage of The Invictus Games Closing Ceremony brought in 1.67m at 8pm. On Channel Four, Secret History was seen by 1.12m at 8pm, followed by the concluding part of their biopic Houdini with seven hundred and thirteen thousand at 9pm. Channel Five's broadcast of the movie The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen had an audience of seven hundred and seventy five thousand at 7pm and was followed by The Rock with nine hundred and ninety nine thousand at 9pm. The Sunday repeat of Doctor Who on BBC3 had an overnight audience of three hundred and fifty four thousand viewers.

The X Factor also dominated Saturday's overnights, averaging 8.43 million from 8pm, down - as the Mirra correctly noted in their rather sneering piece - around two hundred thousand punters on the previous Saturday night episode. Earlier on ITV, The Chase took 4.01m from 7pm, while Through The Keyhole was watched by 3.85m after The X Factor. On BBC1, the Tumble finale aired to but 2.72m. And was every single bit as rotten and unwatchable as the previous five episodes of this unmitigated fiasco had been. Astonishingly however, according to the Radio Times at least, it is 'likely' to be recommissioned for a second series. There is no God, it would seem. The latest Doctor Who episode, Listen, was watched by 4.81m from 7.30pm, a decent enough figure for most dramas in this day and age - see, for example, the audiences attracted by The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher and The Village a day later - although possibly a slight disappointment for Doctor Who, particularly as, in the event, it was such a good episode. Of course, having seen its previous three episodes all pull in additional timeshifts of over two million punters it's likely that Doctor Who's figure will increase to something pushing seven million by the time its consolidated, final figures are released early next week. And, indeed, in just its first day post-transmission, Listen had already timeshifted an hugely impressive 1.32 million video-on-demand viewers taking the total audience up to 6.13m with six more days of timeshifting to follow. Doctor Who was, once again, the second most watched programme of the night, beaten only by The X Factor. The episode had an audience appreciation score of eighty two, the same as three of the previous four episodes in this series. The National Lottery: In It To Win It appealed to 2.89m, the BBC1 coverage of the Last Night Of The Proms had 3.43m from 9.10pm whilst Match of The Day (and, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved, though sadly unsellable, Magpies getting a thorough pants down twanking off Southampton) was watched by 2.9 million. BBC2's own coverage of the Proms attracted 1.22m from 7.30pm. Highlights of The Invictus Games followed with eight hundred and sixty five thousand in the 9pm hour. On Channel Four, a repeat of Peter Kay: Live & Back On Nights! was viewed by 1.15m from 9pm. Channel Five's Most Shocking Reality TV Moments took five hundred and thirteen thousand from 9.20pm. On the multichannels, ITV3's Midsomer Murders had seven hundred and three thousand viewers from 9pm.

Updated to add: By close of play on Tuesday, after three days of video-on-demand timeshafting, the figure for Listen had risen by a further half-a-million punters to 6.68 million.

Here's the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Three programmes for week-ending Sunday 1 September 2014:-
1 The Great British Bake Off - Wed BBC1 - 9.95m
2 The X Factor - Sat ITV - 9.60m
3 Strictly Come Dancing - Sun BBC1 - 9.16m
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.36m
5 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.30m
6 Doctor Who - Sat BBC1 - 7.28m
7 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 6.01m
8 In The Club - Tues BBC1 - 5.84m
9 New Tricks - Mon BBC1 - 5.82m
10 Our Zoo - Wed BBC1 - 5.17m
11 DIY SOS: The Build Build - Thurs BBC1 - 4.97m
12 Who Do You Think You Are? - Thurs BBC1 - 4.74m
13 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 4.71m
14 The Village - Sun BBC1 - 4.66m
15 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.65m
16 England Friendlies: England Versus Norway - Wed ITV - 4.64m
17 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.53m
18 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.42m
19 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.18m
20 Fake Britain - Wed BBC1 - 4.06m
21 Long Lost Family - Mon ITV - 3.88m*
22 Chasing Shadows - Thurs ITV - 3.85m*
23 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 3.84m
ITV programmes marked '*' do not include include HD figures. Normal service is resumed this week as someone at the BBC remembered to provide their figures for BBC1 to BARB this time around. Doctor Who's final figure included a timeshift over the initial 'live' audience of over two million viewers for the third week running. Sunday evening's episode of The X Factor had a final rating of 8.49 million viewers meaning that in its much talked-about head-to-head with Strictly, the BBC1 show won by approximately seven hundred thousand viewers. Round One to the BBC one supposes although, to be fair, the fact that nearly eighteen million viewers were watching one of the two main channels on that Sunday evening is probably cause for celebration for the both of them. BBC2's top rated programme was University Challenge with 2.82m, followed by The Great British Bake-Off: An Extra Slice (2.55m) and the excellent historical drama Castles In The Sky (2.42m). Only Connect's first episode since its 'promotion' from BBC4 to BBC2 attracted 2.23m. Channel Four's highest-rated show was Educating The East End with 2.70m, followed by Grand Designs (2.07m). Channel Five's best performer was CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2.06m), followed by Celebrity Big Brother with 1.95m sad crushed victims of society. On BBC4, the second episode of Crimes Of Passion drew seven hundred and fifty one thousand. Lewis was ITV3's best performer with nine hundred and forty five thousand. Family Guy was BBC3's most watched show with 1.26m. E4's The One Hundred attracted 1.30m.

Strictly Come Dancing's first Saturday night live show will be broadcast at 7pm on 27 September. The celebrity dance contest will push Doctor Who into a later slot, with the current series' sixth episode, The Caretaker, transmitting at 8.30pm. As the Gruniad Morning Star reports in an article which contains at least two factual errors related to ratings. Can you spot them, dear blog reader?

The launch episode of ITV's Cilla Black biopic Cilla topped Monday's overnight ratings. The Sheridan Smith fronted drama attracted an average audience of 6.11 million viewers at 9pm, the broadcaster’s best-rating new drama since last year's Broadchurch. Earlier, The Undriveables was seen by 2.74m at 8pm. On BBC1, Scotland's Decision special 2.08m at 8.30pm, while a new - and rather good - episode of New Tricks attracted 4.22m at 9pm. BBC2's University Challenge was watched by 2.55m at 8pm, followed by Only Connect with 1.90m at 8.30pm. Traders: Millions By The Minute had an audience of eight hundred and fourteen thousand viewers at 9pm. On Channel Four, Jamie's Comfort Food appealed to 1.12m at 8pm, while Gadget Man drew 1.10m at 8.30pm. Britain's Benefit Tenants interested 1.16m at 9pm, followed by Jon Richardson Grows Up with seven hundred and thirty four thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Ultimate Police Interceptors brought in eight thirty one thousand. Age Gap Love was watched by seven hundred and fifty thousand at 9pm, while Under The Dome continued with five hundred and ninety eight thousand at 10pm. On BBC3, Oscar Pistorius: The Truth attracted five hundred and ten thousand at 9pm. E4's new series Glue launched with four hundred and eighty two thousand at 10pm. Earlier, The One Hundred continued with six hundred and eighty one thousand at 9pm.

ITV's - wretched, as always - Champions League coverage appealed to 3.6 million viewers on Tuesday night, according to overnight figures. Live coverage of the game between Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad - which ended in a 2-1 victory for the red white and blues thanks to an injury-time penalty - drew 3.68m from 7.30pm, peaking towards the end of the match with 4.63m. On BBC1, Scotland Decides managed 2.13m in the 9pm hour. Earlier, The ONE Show was watched by 3.91m, the latest EastEnders by 6.42m and Holby City by 4.12m. BBC2's Celebrity Antiques Road Trip took 1.43m from 7pm, before The One Hundred Thousand Pound House: Tricks Of The Trade and The Motorway: Life In The Fast Lane attracted 1.89m and an impressive 2.42m respectively. Channel Four's Posh Pawn was watched by 1.22m from 8pm, but Don't Stop The Music had a very poor three hundred and seventy nine thousand viewers at 8pm. On Channel Five, Cowboy Builders averaged eight hundred and seventy four thousand in the 8pm hour. Afterwards, CSI attracted 1.28m and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit six hundred and forty thousand. The multichannels saw the opening episode of Sky Atlantic's The Leftovers premiere to a slightly-above-slot-average two hundred and twenty two thousand from 9pm. On ITV3, Midsomer Murders drew a fraction under one million punters (nine hundred and ninety one thousand) whilst BBC4's showing of the movie Billy Elliot had an audience of six hundred and fifty thousand.

ITV has reportedly scrapped a highly-anticipated interactive entertainment format called Rising Star ahead of its launch. The broadcaster has pulled the plug on the UK version of the Israeli talent contest, which was due to be produced by ITV Studios and format owner Keshet International. The show, in which singers compete in real-time as viewers vote via an interactive app, was due to launch in early 2015. ITV is understood to have 'had concerns' about the poor ratings posted by some of Rising Star's international versions, rather than any issues around the technology working correctly. The decision to pull the show is reported to have occurred on Tuesday and ITV has informed production staff working on the show on Wednesday morning that they're, you know, no longer working on it.

The BBC if you will mockumentary W1A will be back for a second series next year, with Hugh Bonneville returning as Ian Fletcher. The series, which is a follow-up to Olympics comedy Twenty Twelve, will see the corporation's Head of Values Ian struggling with the issue of the BBC's charter renewal, some middle-class hippy Communist smear of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Starreports. The second series of W1A will be produced in-house and premiere with a sixty-minute episode, followed by three thirty-minute episodes. John Morton returns as writer. No further casting details or storylines have been announced, although Jessica Hynes and Olivia Colman may briefly reprise their Twenty Twelve roles, as they did in the first series of W1A. A BBC statement read: 'Until the cameras roll, it won't be known exactly what crisis will be averted or indeed where Ian's desk will be. With charter renewal in 2016 getting ever closer, Ian's job as Chair of the Way Ahead Task Force will be even more important than ever.' The first series of W1A, which featured cameos from Clare Balding and Alan Yentob, attracted an average of 1.6 million viewers to BBC2 for its opening episode.

And so to the latest Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 20 September
'The greatest bank in the galaxy. Our reputation must remain. secure. The Director will blame us. We'll be fired. Fired with pain.' The Doctor has never shied away from a challenge; in fact, he's more likely than most to face them head-on. So when he's offered the chance to have a go at breaking into the most dangerous bank in the cosmos, he grabs it with both hands in Time-Heist, the latest episode of Doctor Who - 7:30 BBC1. After all, such opportunities as that don't come every day, even for millennia-old adventurers, like he. The Doctor won't be alone during the task, of course - lending a hand will be a beautiful shape-shifter, a cyber-augmented gamer and trusty companion Clara. And they will need to have all their wits about them if they're to overcome the bank's deadly security as well as the fearsome Teller - a powerful creature that can detect guilt. Keeley Hawes is the other main draw, playing Ms Delphox, head of security at the Bank of Karabraxos and a sort of cross between Theresa May and Miss Whiplash. She is reunited with her Line Of Duty director Douglas Mackinnon who did such a great job with last week's Listen. However, don't expect anything like the same sort of dramatic tension from what is, basically The Italian Job in space. Time-Heist (co-written by Sherlock's Steve Thompson and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat) sees The Doctor and Clara forced to raid 'the most dangerous bank in the galaxy'. With hilarious consequences. Watch out for a blink-and-you'll-miss him cameo of cult Doctor Who comic character Abslom Daak.

Puck and Einar arrive at the country estate of Rodbergshyttan for Gabriella and Christer's engagement party, but the rose-scented idyll turns into a stifling backdrop when Gabriella's grandfather is found poisoned in his bed in the latest Crimes Of Passion - 9:00 BBC4. What the hell is it with those two? Murder seems to follow them around like ... well, like it follows Jessica Fletcher. Anyway, it soon transpires that the relationships between the people living on the estate are anything but uncomplicated, with sexual frustration lurking behind every well-polished marriage. Handsome detective Christer Wijk is engaged, though that doesn't stop him casting covetous glances at a blowsy, well-upholstered blonde who's clearly signalled her interest. All this is going on at a beautiful Swedish country house as Wijk and his fiancée gather their friends for a celebration. So the party is interrupted when a skeleton is dug up in the garden, which triggers a series of shocks and yet more deaths. Obviously. Swedish crime drama, starring Tuva Novotny, Linus Wahlgren and Ola Rapace.

The passengers of a plane are found to be suffering an illness, and by the time it lands in New York, almost all are dead. A scientist investigating the outbreak discovers something unexpected about the victims in The Strain - 10:00 Watch. Despite its association with Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo Del Toro, this US SF horror series gets off to a rather shaky start when a plane full of one-dimensional characters is hijacked by an amorphous bloodsucking blob. Well, it's happened to all of us, hasn't it? Things pick up when Corey Stoll (House Of Cards's Peter Russo) enters. He's a cut above the rest of the cast as epidemiologist Doctor Goodweather, who has been called in to study the quarantined aircraft. The intrigue level is further raised by the introduction of a shady billionaire and a mysterious elderly pawn shop owner, both of whom seem to have encountered the blobby entity before. It's Salem's Lot meets Alien meets Gremlins. Not quite as good as any of them, but still grisly gothic fun.

When the body of salesman Chris Dearden is found in a disused tunnel, investigations by Peter Boyd's Cold Case Unit reveal he had been reported missing by his wife Lucy in 1996 in another classic - and very weird - feature length Waking The Dead - 9:00 Drama. The ritualistic nature of the murder leads the team to suspect a group of middle-aged men who had been on a self-empowerment weekend. However, the victim's son refuses to believe the body is his father's. Deardon was supposed to have left on a business trip to Nigeria but his passport was subsequently found at his home. His wife was having an affair with Frank Monk, who is still with Lucy today. The dead man's son Jimmy, now nineteen, has a very difficult time accepting that his father is dead. He tells Boyd that his father was a member of a secret group called The Awkward Squad which turns out to be something else altogether. Meanwhile, the three men who were with Deardon when he died are now receiving letters reminding them of what happened.

Sunday 21 September
Lacey Turner returns in this five-part follow-up to last year's one-off drama Our Girl - 9:00 BBC1 - about an aimless young woman who finds a direction in life after joining the Army. Six months on from completing her initial training, Molly Dawes is deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Royal Army Medical Corps. She is thrilled to be joining the platoon for one of the last missions before the British Army withdraws from the country, but makes a bad first impression on the captain - and things only get worse when one of her fellow soldiers turns out to be a face from her past that she would rather forget (played by Game Of Thrones and Misfits star Iwan Rheon). The cast also includes Ben Aldridge, Arinze Kene and Ade Oyefeso, with Kerry Godliman and Sean Gallagher returning as Molly's parents. The pilot episode of Tony Grounds's drama - rightly - got a very positive reaction because audiences seem to enjoy watching feisty female characters in an all-male environment.

In America, thousands of prisoners are locked up in solitary confinement for years, even decades. Mind you, if they hadn't done anything wrong in the first place then they wouldn't be in jail and the whole situation could, conceivably, be avoided for the betterment of everyone concerned. Worth thinking about, I'd suggest. Anyway, in the This World documentary Life In Solitary - 9:00 BBc2 - director Dan Edge follows the new warden of Maine State Prison over the course of six months as he tries to reform the system and release some of the most dangerous inmates back into the general population. He faces not only resistance from his staff, but also has to tackle a culture that has always emphasised punishment over rehabilitation.

There are those who have eagerly awaited the fifth series of Lord Snooty's period drama Downton Abbey which begins tonight - 9:00 ITV. Not this blogger, you understand. I've never really bothered with it. Too up its own arse, frankly. Anyway, it's 1924 and there's a Labour government in power, which is, of course, terribly upsetting for upper class snobs like Lord Grantham and working class arse-lick Tories like Carson the butler. 'Times are changing,' grumbles the trusty factotum (Jim Carter) as the horrors of Ramsey McDonald's brand of Socialism open up before him like a ... thing. He feels 'a shaking of the ground.' Blimey, have they started fracking mining on the Downton estate already? As we return to the drama, though, things haven't changed much. Lady Edith is still moping about like a slap in the mush with a wet haddock, wondering what's happened to that chap she was seeing. Is he still in Germany? Branson is still leaving slimy trails as he inveigles his way more deeply into the fabric of the house and Lady Mary is still trying to make up her mind whom she loves. A crushing disappointment, though, is the absence of pigs. 'How are the pigs doing?' a character asks at one point, but we don’t hear so much as an oink. Tragedy.

Arty Andrew Graham-Dixon's assessment of three artists' responses to the First World War continues as he focuses on the work of Walter Sickert, the actor and painter who was regarded as too old to fight in British Art At War: Bomberg, Sickert And Nash - 9:00 BBC4. Instead, Sickert created edgy, compelling and subtle pictures of those who had also been left behind and were attempting to get on with their lives, despite the conflict and distress around them. In the previous episode of his persuasive look at artists affected by the First World War, Arty Andrew explored how the traumatic experience of trench warfare coloured the work of Paul Nash. Sickert, the subject of this film, was too old to serve, but still used the conflict as inspiration. Andrew portrays Sickert as the virry Godfather himself of modern British art. Deeply influenced by Degas, but not impressed by the post-impressionists, throughout his work he cast an unflinching but compelling eye on the less glamorous aspects of modern life, and those left behind in the chaos of war were a key inspiration.

Oswald Cooper is the prime suspect in the rape of a teenage girl, but presents an alibi supported by three pillars of the community in the memorable Lewis episode The Great And The Good - 6:55 ITV3. When Cooper is murdered, Lewis discovers a web of deceit going back 20 years, in which the dead man was used by the trio to cover up a sordid series of secrets - but the case soon takes on a personal dimension for the inspector. Kwame Kwei-Armah, Sean McGinley, Richard McCabe and Daniela Nardini guest star, with Kevin Whately, Laurence Fox, Rebecca front and Clare Holman.

Monday 22 September
Nicholas Lyndhurst, as Danny, continues in his own quiet way to make that old warhorse of a drama New Trick his own - 9:00 BBC1 - in an episode that's much more affecting than New Tricks has any right to be. The discovery of a Roman sword with traces of blood on it is linked to an unidentified, headless corpse found near Heathrow in March 2008. It leads the UCoS team members to a lock-up belonging to a bodybuilder called Mark Rix, who died of a suspected heart attack the same year, so they start looking for connections between the original murder and Rix's death. They are helped in their investigation by anthropologist Fiona Kennedy, for whom Danny begins to develop feelings - just as he is told his wife might be discharged from the secure hospital where she has spent the past several years. Tracy-Ann Obermann and Life On Mars's Liz White guest star.

Derren Brown: Infamous - 9:00 Channel Four - sees the BAFTA-winning illusionist's sell-out stage show recorded at the Grand Theatre in Leeds during his Olivier-nominated tour. The evening features an inventive mix of traditional magic, mind-reading, memory games and thought-provoking entertainment that leaves his audience enthralled and enlightened in equal measure.

The Qi Elves, the chaps and lady chaps who come up with those fiendish questions for yer actual Stephen Fry, emerge from their cave to field a team against the Bibliophiles in the latest Only Connect - 8:30 BBC2. 'Do you know everything about everything?' wonders Victoria Coren Mitchell of the Elves. The answer is an very emphatic no. She also brings a blush to the cheek of a Bibliophile by remarking upon his supposed resemblance to yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch. The players must make connections between four things that may at first not appear to be linked, with one set of clues consisting of Ford Prefect, David Brent, Sherlock Holmes and Gandalf. I'm thinking it's either something to do with resurrection or really bad dancing.

Reunited with Bobby, Cilla's confidence returns and she once again dazzles crowds with her vocal talents in the second episode of Cilla - 9:00 ITV. The re-emergence of Brian Epstein then propels her career to greater heights, but this is quickly followed by a new low when her first record fails to set the charts alight, despite being written by Paul McCartney and the alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie. Epstein and George Martin suggests a change of direction, persuading the singer to take a gamble on the Burt Bacharach ballad 'Anyone Who Had a Heart', against her future husband's advice. Continuing Jeff Pope's three-part biopic charting Cilla Black's rise to fame in 1960s Liverpool, starring Sheridan Smith, with Aneurin Barnard and Ed Stoppard.

There are more than ten million cats in the UK, which is great news for lovers of the humble moggy - like this blogger, fr instance - but not so great for those who simply can't stand them. As Cat Wars - 10:40 BBC1 - proves, some will go to great lengths to keep those pussies away. They include a Somerset retiree, who has called in an expert to rid his vegetable patch of fouling felines, and a retirement community near Birmingham, which is over-run with feral cats. However, it seems only half the residents want to evict the furry freeloaders - the others have become quite attached to their visitors. Which sums up the general feeling about the animals - for every hater, there's a lover, like Silvana and her fifty pet cats, or Helen, who likes nothing more than to take her moggies for a stroll round the block in a baby buggy. This documentary examines the varied relationship between humans and cats.

Tuesday 23 September
In the opening episode of The Driver - 9:00 BBC1 - the audience know that Manchester minicab driver Vince McKee (David Morrissey) is in trouble when his mate describes their new mutual friend: 'He's a businessman. That's how you've got to think of it.' Since this man goes by the name of 'The Horse' and that he's played by the always rather shady Colm Meaney, we get the feeling he's a businessman only in the broadest sense. Vince's problem is, he's in a rut: bored, stressed, poor and out of love with his wife, Rosalind (Claudie Blakely). How he starts to contemplate an escape route to something better (or worse) is the story of this first episode of three, and it's full of an excellent sense of dread that a decent man is, all too easily, making choices which will lead him to the dark side. And worse. The terrific Ian Hart plays Vince's old friend Col, just out of pokey, who opens up the avenue which tempts Vince. Although initially thrilled at becoming a driver for The Horse, once the criminals arrange their major job Vince soon wishes he could have his old life back. Written by BAFTA-winning Danny Brocklehurst and Jim Poyser, it also stars Shaun Dingwall and Sacha Parkinson.

Timeshift: Hurricanes And Heatwaves, The Highs And Lows Of British Weather - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary focusing on the evolution of the weather forecast, from print via radio to TV and beyond, featuring an insight into how the Met Office and the BBC have always used the latest technology to bring the holy grail of accurate forecasting that much closer. Yet, as hand-drawn maps have been replaced by weather apps, the bigger drama of global warming has been playing itself out, as if to prove that people were right all along to obsess about the weather. The first TV weather forecast was in 1936 when a creepy-looking disembodied hand drew isobars on a map, with a human being finally appearing in 1954. His name was George Cowling, a Met Office scientist who got into trouble for 'being flippant' when he told viewers that tomorrow would be 'a good day to hang out the washing.' Gosh. The very thought. Striking a balance between being a scientist and a TV presenter is a tough gig, as BBC Breakfast's Carol Kirkwood has discovered – some viewers (or, you know, arseholes as their more correctly known) apparently complain that she smiles too much.

DB Russell and the team investigate when a woman is found dead in the back of a twenty four-seat stretch limousine that had been hired for a band after a rock gig in the latest CSI - 9:00 Channel Five. Robbins finds a signature scrawled in marker pen on the corpse which leads to Gene Simmons of the veteran rock group Kiss, with the bassist claiming the victim was paid to act as a groupie for an amateur band who signed up for an experience in which they got to act like rock stars for a night. Crime drama, starring Ted Danson.
Kevin decides to visit a therapist following a series of disturbing encounters, and also talks to his former police chief father, currently being held in a mental health facility, about what triggered his breakdown in the second episode of The Leftovers - 9:00 Sky Atlantic. Meg is struggling to adapt to life at the headquarters of the Guilty Remnant, while Jill and Aimee dig deeper into the background of local celebrity Nora Durst, who lost her entire family in The Departure. Elsewhere, Holy Wayne's ranch is raided by agents leaving Tom and Christine in a precarious situation. Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler, Christopher Eccleston, Margaret Qualley and Emily Meade star.

Wednesday 24 September
The idea of 'lions led by donkeys' has come to underpin our image about the First World War – a bunch of bone-headed generals sending waves of brave Tommies over the top and a whole generation lying butchered and damned as a result. But there's a catch. The phrase was attributed by the then-historian (and, later Tory cabinet minister) Alan Clark in his book The Donkeys to a German general, said to have been describing the British Army. Except, as the presenter of Long Shadows - 8:00 BBC2 - Professor David Reynolds points out, Clark later admitted that he had made it up. In this insightful three-part documentary, historian and writer Reynolds takes a look at the legacy of the First World War, focusing in particular on the ways in which people's perception of the conflict has evolved over the past century. He begins by comparing the British and German sense of what it signified to each nation at the time immediately following its conclusion, including how the British felt it was, in another infamous phrase (this one definitely attributed, to HG Wells as it happens) 'the war to end all wars'. However, Reynolds argues that the eventual outbreak of the Second World War altered perceptions of its predecessor once again - suddenly it seemed as though the costly conflict was ineffective, and simply paved the way for a second round of hostilities.

The nation's favourite baking contest The Great British Bake Off - 8:00 BBC1 - has certainly proved it can hold its own after moving to the main BBC channel. This series has been the most entertaining (not to mention contentious) so far. It's about to get a whole lot hotter in the kitchen, though, as it reaches the quarter-final stage, and just five amateur bakers remain. They've all impressed to various extents during Bread Week - at least sufficiently to make it through - but now their skills are thoroughly tested as they take on enriched doughs. They have a signature bake in which they must work with soft dough to create artful works, a technical that sees them recreate an Eastern European cross between bread and pastry, and a showstopper involving doughnuts.

Rachel promised the chaos of her personal life was all in the past, but she is conflicted upon discovering her mother's new boyfriend is a violent domestic abuser in Scott & Bailey - 9:00 ITV. Meanwhile, Janet gets cold feet when she goes on her first date, terrified at the idea of having to impress a stranger. The duo are united in the search for the killer of Rich Hutchings, who is found murdered in the flat he shares with his husband Adam. Barry, their outspoken and violent homophobic neighbour, is the prime suspect. However, as Adam's friend Tim struggles to recall the events of their night out, it seems Barry may be in the clear. Meanwhile, Rachel is horrified when her mum Sharon turns up asking for help. Crime drama, starring Suranne Jones, Lesley Sharp, Amelia Bullmore and Danny Miller.

The second episode of Oh! You Pretty Things: The Story Of Music And Fashion - 9:00 BBC4 - focuses on the 1970s, which was a time of political, social and cultural upheaval in Britain, reflected best in the music and fashion throughout the decade. On Top Of The Pops, Suzi Quatro unleashed her leather jumpsuit into viewers' living rooms as 'the rock chick look' was born, while the terminally dreadful wank that was prog rock saw its golden-caped leader Rick Wakeman gaining an army of intellectual followers. Get yer hair cut, hippies. And, as Queen ponced about like a bunch of turgid, tuneless dinosaurs, in Zandra Rhodes-designed costumes, the international phenomena of punk began - and some say ended - with The Sex Pistols. An admirably straight-faced Rik celebrates the gumption of his mythical-knights-on-ice extravaganzas, despite the fact that 'everyone thought I was barking.' Well, indeed. And Pistols bassist Glen Matlock seems slightly defensive in a smart suit. 'Do you expect me to be walking about in bondage trousers at the age of fifty seven, cos it ain't gonna happen.' Narrated by Wor Luscious Lauren Laverne.
Thursday 25 September
Peter Powell presents an edition of Top Of The Pops - 7:30 BBC4 - first broadcast on 6 September 1979. Comprising performances by Randy VanWarmer, Madness, Boney M, The Ruts, The Crusaders, The Electric Light Orchestra, Bill Lovelady, Roxy Music and yer actual Cliff Richard. Plus, dance sequences from Legs & Co.

Toby Jones takes the lead role in Marvellous - 9:00 BBc2 - a feature-length fact-based drama from writer Peter Bowker (Blackpool, Eric & Ernie), inspired by the life of Neil Baldwin. Although he was diagnosed as having learning difficulties, Neil has constantly confounded people's expectations during a colourful career that has seen him work as a circus clown and a kit man for Stoke City, and recently led to him being awarded an honorary degree by Keele University in recognition of his contributions to campus life. Just as Neil doesn't like to be labelled, the drama also mixes biopic, musical and fantasy elements to tell this unique story. Gemma Jones, Tony Curran and Nicholas Gleaves also star, while yer actual Gary Lineker appears as himself.

Chasing Shadows ends tonight - 9:00 ITV - but not until the audience gets to find out the truth about Leonard Vance. The only thing Sean loves more than finding a pattern linking several people is discovering someone who doesn't fit it, so he's thrilled when he realises that missing lawyer and single father Stephen Eli is one such case. He believes Eli is a victim of imprisoned serial killer Vance, who eventually confesses to the crime. But when Vance can't guide police to Eli's body, Sean begins to wonder if he's made a mistake, and that somebody else is responsible for not only Eli's death, but also the other murders supposedly committed by Vance. With Reece Shearsmith, Alex Kingston, Noel Clarke and Don Warrington. Ratings so far haven't been all that impressive so whether we'll get a second series of this, the jury is still out.

A thousand years ago, the Khmer people of Cambodia built an empire and their capital was the great city of Angkor, with its centrepiece being Angkor Wat - a vast temple complex covering an area more than four times the size of the Vatican City. In the first of a two-part programme Jungle Atlantis - 8:00 BBC2 - an international team of archaeologists and scientists use revolutionary technology to reveal the true scale and extent of the lost metropolis and find out how its people lived and died.

Friday 26 September
Rob Brydon hosts the comedy panel show Would I Lie To You - 8:30 BBC1 - in which two teams headed by David Mitchell and Lee Mack try to hoodwink each other with absurd facts and plausible lies about themselves. Bake Off presenter Mel Giedroyc and comedian Bob Mortimer - both semi-regulars on the show - Citizen Khan star Adil Ray and former Westlife singer Kian Egan are this week's guests, whose stories include licking David Bowie's cake and being ordered to leave town by the police.
The pro-celebrity dance contest Strictly Come Dancing returns - 9:00 BBC1 - as yer actual Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman her very self host the first of this weekend's two live shows in which six of the fifteen couples will be tripping the light fantastic. or, tripping over their own feet, one or the other. The alleged 'celebrities' taking to the floor over the two evenings are Pixie Lott, Jake Wood, Frankie Bridge, Gregg Wallace, Caroline Flack, Simon Webbe, Alison Hammond, Steve Backshall, Sunetra Sarker, Mark Wright, Jennifer Gibney, Scott Mills, Judy Murray, Thom Evans and Tim Wonnacott. Yes, that bunch are far more 'z-list' than usual. Despite being watched by the ever-critical Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell, the dancers can breathe easy as there will be no public vote or elimination this week - although the judges' scores will be carried over to next weekend. Continues tomorrow.

A recovered Jamal takes the helm once more, planning retaliation for the assassination attempt in Tyrant - 9:00 FOX. Barry realises that there is evil in his brother, and he must take action to stop him - even at the expense of involving his own family. Political drama set in the Middle East, starring Adam Rayner and Ashraf Borham.
The foreign-affairs strand Unreported World - 7:30 Channel Four - returns with a documentary about the West African Ebola outbreak devastating Sierra Leone. Spending two weeks in field hospitals and quarantine units during a critical phase in the summer, reporter Shaunagh Connaire and director Wael Dabbous provide an insight into what life is like for the families affected and the health workers battling the virus.

To the news: Industry magazine Broadcast has reported that the BBC's pregnancy drama In The Club has been recommissioned for a second series. The Kay Mellor-written six-part series drew broadly respectable ratings during its run which ended earlier this months.

According to a somewhat typical shit-stirring, trouble-making piece in the Daily Torygraph the BBC 'raised eyebrows' by broadcasting an episode of Dad's Army which portrayed Private Frazer taking over the Warmington-on-Sea platoon 'with disastrous results.' With its political editor Nick Robinson already 'under fire' from some of the more mental end of the Scottish nationalists for being, allegedly, biased against them, it is perhaps all the BBC needs. Captain Mainwaring and his trusty platoon stand accused of siding with their enemies, too. 'A total of eighty episodes of Dad's Army were made by the corporation – and which one does it choose to show on the Saturday ahead of the vote?' a (nameless, of course) 'Yes' campaigner has, allegedly, complained, claims the Torygraph. Where, exactly, this complaint was made, they fail to add. 'The one in which Frazer – played by John Laurie – tells Mainwaring that he can run the platoon better than him, is put in charge and then makes a total mess of things. Thank you very much, Auntie Beeb,' the nameless whinger allegedly adds. Is this arsehole on drugs or what? That's if he or she exists, of course. A BBC spokesman insisted that episodes of Dad's Army are always shown in a specific order - that in which they were originally broadcast in the 1970s, basically - although occasionally one may be picked out to mark a special occasion, such as Christmas. He spokesman, who one sensed, was thoroughly pissed off to having to be answering such a load of nonsense, adamantly denied there was ever any political intent in scheduling If The Cap Fits (first shown in June 1972, incidentally) ahead of the vote which takes place on Thursday. As should be obvious anybody with half-a-bloody-brain in their skulls. Jesus what is it about this issue that seems to have brought out the prat in pretty much everyone involved? Have they all taken The Stupid Pill this week, or what?

Despite having plenty of Scottish ancestry on both sides of the Telly Topping family - two of my great grandmothers were Ally Agnew from The Gorbels and Maggie McMillan from Dumbarton, dear blog reader, true story - this blogger has kept, and will continue to keep, well out of the Scottish Referendum debate, principally because it's not my fight. It's an issue for the Scottish people themselves to decide. Nevertheless, it's hard not to be rather moved - and, sadly, somewhat disappointed - by this piece from the ITV political editor Tom Bradby about what a genuinely unpleasant campaign it's become to report on for members of the media from both sides of the independence argument. 'It is our job to test logic, analyse proposals, probe for intellectual weakness and to ask questions on behalf of our audience,' notes Bradby. 'We will continue to do that. The emotion is a matter for them. But those in Scotland who are quick to abuse and see bias around every corner might want to think about the face they are showing the world. And the march on the BBC, complete with strangely well-prepared banners with Nick Robinson’s face on them was frankly rather sinister.' It's especially depressing to hear reports of death threats and hate mail being sent to BBC Scotland staff. Albeit, any issue which gets the odious, horrible Kay Burley on the back foot and grovellingly apologising for crass and ignorant comments can't be all bad.

David Morrissey has claimed 'people from poorer backgrounds' (ie. 'normal people') are being excluded from entering the acting profession due to a lack of funding. When yer actual Keith Telly Topping saw the headline Morrissey Moans About Something he was expecting something completely different. Mozza his very self said in an interview with the Radio Times there is an 'intern culture' of richer hopefuls being 'subsidised by their parents.' And, this is new, how, exactly? He said: 'It worries me that in the arts, a very rich community, we're not offering more support.' The fifty-year-old Liverpudlian added that he was given a grant for drama school. Morrissey, whose screen credits include Blackpool, State Of Play and the US post-apocalypse zombie series The Walking Dead, said that he was able to work while he was at the city's Everyman Theatre. 'There's an economic exclusion of working class people happening now. I got lucky, but if I was starting out now, it would be a lot harder, because my parents could never have supported me through that "Is it going to happen?" period. Television is doing very well for itself, but the trickle down effect isn't working,' he added. Earlier this week, Dame Judi Dench echoed Morrissey's whinging, saying that she receives letters from aspiring actors asking for help to put them through drama school. She didn't say whether she actually did get her hand in her pocket, of course. 'Anyone who's in the theatre gets letters countless times a week asking for help to get through drama school. You can do so much, but you can't do an endless thing. It is very expensive,' she told the Observer. The Oscar winner said that repertory theatres should be reinstated around the UK and suggested their demise was making the acting profession 'more elitist.' Julie Walters has also taken a swipe at alleged 'elitism' in the business, saying: 'The way things are now, there aren't going to be any working class actors. I look at almost all the up-and-coming names and they're from the posh schools.' Actors from more privileged backgrounds who were educated at public school have hit back at such rather ignorant and sneering criticism. Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch said: 'It's just so predictable, so domestic, and so dumb. It makes me think I want to go to America.' Freddie Fox added: 'I do want people to think of me as an actor, not just a posh actor who does posh parts.'
Actor Steve McFadden has accepted 'substantial damages' from the publishers of the defunct Scum of the World newspaper and the Metropolitan Police, a judge has been told. A police officer sold information about McFadden, who plays Phil Mitchell in the BBC soap EastEnders, to a reporter in 2010, Mr Justice Mann heard. Two other celebrities also accepted damages from News Group Newspapers. They were Dragons' Den businesswoman Kelly Hoppen and model Keeley Hazell. Both women had complained that messages on their phones were either intercepted or targeted, lawyers said. Hoppen, an interior designer who was the stepmother of actress Sienna Miller, sued the publishers after evidence emerged that her voicemail messages had been intercepted. Hazell, who has in recent years combined her modelling with a career as a movie actress, argued in court that her messages were 'targeted.' Tamsin Allen, who was representing McFadden, said that the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World journalist Dan Evans admitted attempting to intercept the actor's voicemail messages. Outside court McFadden said: 'For years, false and private information about me has appeared in the press. Although I am pleased to finally understand how some of this information came to be published, I am particularly concerned that a police officer sold my privacy to a tabloid newspaper for profit. I consider the payment of damages and public apology will go some way to ensuring respect for my and others' privacy in future. I am glad to have been vindicated and to be able to put this matter behind me.' Further hearings relating to other people who have taken legal action are expected to take place later in the year.

A Virgin Media advertising campaign featuring yer actual Usain Bolt has been banned after complaints from rivals BT and Sky. It is the second Virgin Media campaign featuring Bolt to be banned, after the Advertising Standards Authority ruled in July 2012 that the cable firm could 'not deliver' on a promise relating to superfast broadband. This year's campaign, which ran across TV, press and on the Virgin Media website, featured Bolt dressed up as different members of a family, including a grandfather, baby and mother, who says that her favourite athlete is Mo Farah. The first complaint was made by BT, which whinged to the ASA about the claim 'you'll be able to download five times faster than BT's regular broadband.' BT argued that the web page referred to in the Virgin Media advert 'did not provide sufficient information' to verify the alleged comparison. The second complaint was made by BT and Sky - about the only time you'll ever see those two working together on something - arguing that Virgin Media's claim about its speed was 'misleading', as it implied that all customers would always be able to 'download five times faster' than its rivals' broadband customers. They argued that this was not the case, as the claim was based on 'average speeds.' In its defence against the first complaint, Virgin Media said that the web page referred to in the adverts relied on 'up-to-date data', which included information on the average speeds of its service at peak time and over twenty four hours. The website also provided Ofcom with data on broadband speeds of its competitors. Defending itself against the second complaint, Virgin Media argued that the claim 'download five times faster than Sky and BT's regular broadband' would not be understood to be 'an absolute figure', as the small print in the advert made clear the circumstances in which consumers would be able to download five times faster. Virgin Media said the claim was made 'on peak-time speeds' of its superfast up to fifty megabyte and up to one hundred megabyte services, which were more than five times faster than its rivals. The ASA ruled against Virgin Media over both complaints. Regarding the first complaint, the ASA said that Virgin Media 'did not provide enough information' on its website about its speeds, adding that it should have provided consumers with details of its methodology. The ASA concluded 'the information provided was not sufficient to ensure the details of the comparison could be verified.' In the second case, the ASA ruled that the claim 'download five times faster than Sky and BT's regular broadband' was misleading, as it was not in 'conditional language' and implied that Virgin's superfast broadband service was always five times faster than its rivals, which was not the case. It said the advert should have made it clear that the claim was based on an average, and not an absolute figure. The ASA banned the advert from appearing again in its current form.
Jurors in the trial of Dave Lee Travis have been urged to look at 'the unlikelihood of coincidence' when considering their verdicts against him. Travis denies two counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault. In her closing speech at Southwark Crown Court, prosecutor Miranda Moore said that being 'charming and cuddly' - as Travis has described himself - was no defence for Travis who is being tried under his real name David Griffin. She insisted that his accusers were telling the truth with no exaggerations. 'It's like, of all the Radio 1 DJs in all the world, why did they all have to pick on him?' She said that his accusers were 'not motivated' by financial reward, fame or fortune. 'Just simply telling it as it is, no exaggeration, no embellishment; they honestly feel it should be dealt with now, even if they couldn't bring themselves to have it dealt with then,' she added. Travis, from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, faces a retrial on two counts - indecent assault of a woman between November 1990 and January 1991 and sexual assault on a different woman between June and November 2008. A jury was unable to reach verdicts on the charges at a trial earlier this year. Travis denies an additional count of indecent assault alleged to have taken place in January 1995. The charges against him relate to three women and the court has heard allegations relating to two others. Moore said if the defence in the case had been that 'things were different then', the court would then be looking at 'the rights and wrongs of that culture. Allegations of unwanted sexual behaviour are now treated very differently,' she said. 'You're not being asked to consider whether this defendant thought it was all right, because he's made his defence very clear to you - these women, they've made lying allegations against him, "I did not intentionally put my hands on any of them, they are lying." And that's the area that we are working in, black and white, there's no grey.' Moore added: 'This man can be charming and cuddly and huggy and friendly and compassionate. That's not a defence. Can he also feel he has the right to put his hands on women when they don't want it, that's the question you have to decide.' The defendant, the self-styled 'Hair Cornflake', was a DJ on the BBC's Radio 1 for twenty years until 1993 - when he resigned, on-air, in a geet stroppy huff about some nonsense or other - and was a regular host of Top Of The Pops. Earlier in the trial, a Top Of The Pops dancer told the court that she 'felt safe' with Travis. Dee Dee Wilde, a member of Pan's People, had described Travis as 'a loveable big bear of a man.' The hearing was adjourned until Wednesday, when the closing speech for the defence is to be made.

London Live's request to alter the timing of local TV output has been denied by Ofcom. The channel, which launched in March, recently applied to reduce its local content commitments during peak times. After a public consultation period, Ofcom has rejected the application, arguing that the proposals would 'substantially alter' the channel's character. 'Ofcom decided that London Live's application to change its programming would have substantially altered the character of the channel – making it much less local,' said an Ofcom spokesperson, following on from a report issued on Tuesday. 'The requested changes to the licence were not approved, as they didn't meet three of the four statutory criteria needed for Ofcom to give its consent.' London Live COO Tim Kirkman said: 'I am disappointed by this outcome as I believe the changes would have allowed us to produce an even better product for Londoners. We had no plans to reduce the volume of fresh local content or news and current affairs, just the times we broadcast it. Not being allowed these changes is not critical, but will continue to challenge us. However, the business is continuing to deliver, with nine consecutive weeks of audience growth, and we are now reaching over ten per cent of Londoners every week, with last week our second-best week so far – only very marginally behind our launch week.' London Live is backed by Evgeny Lebedev and his father Alexander, and broadcasts from the Evening Standard's headquarters in Kensington.

The US space agency NASA has picked the companies it hopes can take the country's astronauts back into space. It is giving up to $6.2bn to the Boeing and SpaceX firms, to help them finish the development of new crew capsules. Since the space shuttles were retired in 2011, the Americans have relied on Russia and its Soyuz vehicles to get to the International Space Station. Boeing and SpaceX should have their seven-person crew ships ready to take over the role by late 2017. Disagreements over Moscow's actions in Ukraine have made the current Soyuz arrangement increasingly unpalatable for Washington. So has the price-per-flight now being charged - at seventy million dollars per astronaut seat. American officials regard this as excessive. The Obama administration charged NASA in 2010 with the job of 'seeding' indigenous, competing companies to restore American capability.

King Richard III was probably killed by two blows to the head during 'a sustained attack', according to new scientific research. The English king was killed at the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August, 1485. Forensic teams at the University of Leicester have now revealed he suffered at least eleven injuries, some possibly inflicted after death. CT scans were used on his five hundred-year-old skeleton to help determine his injuries and the medieval weapons used. His remains were found under a car park in Leicester in 2012. The results of forensic analysis, published in The Lancet, show he had nine wounds to the skull and two to the postcranial skeleton. Researchers said that three of these 'had the potential to cause death quickly'. Sarah Hainsworth, study author and professor of materials engineering, said: 'Richard's injuries represent a sustained attack or an attack by several assailants with weapons from the later medieval period. Wounds to the skull suggest he was not wearing a helmet, and the absence of defensive wounds on his arms and hands indicate he was still armoured at the time of his death.'

Some very sad news, now. The original Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced chef off Crossroads - no, not the one who's in charge of The X Factor - the character actor Angus Lennie has died, aged eighty four. A star of a number of film and television series, Angus will perhaps be best remembered by the public for his role as Scottish prisoner of war Archie Ives in the 1963 blockbuster movie The Great Escape. However, for Doctor Who fans he'll be remembered for his two appearances in the show. In 1968 he played the scavenger Storr as part of a double-act alongside Peter Sallis as Penley, meeting an untimely end as he misjudged the eponymous antagonists of the Patrick Troughton story The Ice Warriors. He returned to the BBC's popular long-running fmaily SF drama in 1975, portraying the indominatable, bagpipe playing Angus, keeper of The Fox Inn where UNIT made their base and whose character meets another horrific death, this time at the hands of The Zygons in the Tom Baker story Terror Of The Zygons. A veteran of film, TV and the stage, other notable roles included Hoppy in 633 Squadron and, of course, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads. He also appeared as Mister Tumnus in the 1969 BBC adaptation of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Able Seaman Murdoch in HMS Paradise, Hamish in One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing and was back in primetime television for his last acting role as Badger in the BBC's Monarch Of The Glen. Angus, born in 1930, was brought up in Glasgow and attended Eastbank Academy in the city. He then appeared in repertory theatres in various towns in England and Scotland. His earliest major role was as Sunny Jim Green in BBC Scotland's comedy series, Para Handy - Master Mariner in 1959. Other TV credits include: Target Luna, The Saint, The Borderers, Z Cars, Rumpole Of The Bailey, Lovejoy, The Onedin Line, All Night Long and Keeping Up Appearances. The actor died in a nursing home in Acton on Sunday evening after being ill in recent years.

Bob Crewe, who co-wrote hits including 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You', 'Walk Like A Man', 'Music To Watch Girls By' and 'Lady Marmalade' and was key to the success of The Four Seasons, has died at the age of eighty three. His brother and former business partner Dan Crewe said that the musician died on Thursday at a nursing home in Maine. 'He had a wonderful career and I'm sorry he has passed but I'm glad he's out of his discomfort,' said Dan. The songwriter suffered complications after a fall four years ago. 'He was not able to function, and for a guy who was so creative, it was not an easy life,' his brother added. Bob Crewe grew up in New Jersey and began his music writing career in the 1950s after leaving an architecture course at the Parsons School of Design in New York. By the time he met The Four Seasons, he was established as a songwriter and produced their first number one hit 'Sherry'. The Four Seasons became renowned for lead singer Frankie Valli's soaring falsetto voice and Crewe collaborated with their keyboardist and backing vocalist Bob Gaudio on many songs both for the group and as other musicians. Together they wrote 1967's 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You', which went on to be covered by numerous artists and also featured in the films The Deer Hunter and Bridget Jones's Diary. The duo also wrote 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore 'for The Walker Brothers and 'Silence Is Golden' for The Tremeloes. As a songwriter, his other successful songs included 'Silhouettes' and 'Daddy Cool' (co-written with Frank Slay); 'Big Girls Don't Cry', 'Rag Doll', 'Let's Hang On!' (with Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell), 'My Eyes Adored You' (with Kenny Nolan). He was also known for providing hits for Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, Freddy Cannon, Lesley Gore, Bobby Darin, Roberta Flack, Peabo Bryson, Patti LaBelle and his own Bob Crewe Generation. Although Crewe did much of his songwriting from the 1950s to the 1970s, he made a comeback with The Jersey Boys Broadway musical which depicted the story behind The Four Seasons. There was also a film of the same name directed by Clint Eastwood and released earlier this year. During the 1980s he took up painting and sculpture and was also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Crewe was portrayed as overtly gay in The Jersey Boys, but his brother Dan told the New York Times that e was 'discreet' about his sexuality, particularly during the time he was working with The Four Seasons. 'Whenever he met someone, he would go into what I always called his John Wayne mode, this extreme machoism.'

Joe Sample, a founding member of The Crusaders who wrote chart hits such as 'Street Life' and 'One Day I'll Fly Away' for Randy Crawford, has died at seventy five. Sample's manager, Patrick Rains, told the AP press agency that Joe had died of complications due to lung cancer at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. In a message on his Facebook page, Joe's wife Yolanda and son Niklas thanked fans and friends for their support. Joe's songs were also sampled by hip-hop stars including Tupac Shakur. The late rapper used Sample's 'In All My Wildest Dreams' on 'Dear Mama'. Joe, a Texan, was a founding member of The Jazz Crusaders, which later became known simply as The Crusaders. Rains described Sample as 'a seminal figure in the transition from acoustic to electronic music in the jazz field in the late 1960s and early 1970s.' The jazz funk fusion band was the first instrumental band to open for The Rolling Stones on tour. The group released nineteen LPs which made it into the US Billboard charts. Simultaneously, Sample became known as a Los Angeles studio musician, appearing on recordings by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, BB King, Joe Cocker, Minnie Riperton and Anita Baker. The Crusaders disbanded in the 1990s, enabling Sample to pursue a solo career, which included further collaborations with Randy Crawford. Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman also sang 'One Day I'll Fly Away' in Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge. Sample's final CD, Live, which featured Crawford and his son on bass, was released in 2012.

A flesh-coloured kit which makes a Colombian women's cycling team look totally bare-ass nekked below the waist has been described as 'unacceptable' by the sport's governing body. Personally, this blogger thinks it looks rather nice. Photographs of the Bogota Humana team were taken at the Tour of Tuscany, showing six women wearing red and yellow kit with flesh-coloured material immediately above and below the waist.
Unbelievable as it may seem dear blog reader, on Monday morning there was a new British, European and Commonwealth All Comers PB at the pool as yer actual Keith Telly Topping only went and managed twenty lengths, a feat he repeated on Tuesday.
You could've knocked yer actual Keith Telly Topping down with a feather. And, you probably still can, actually. That'll be the exhaustion kicking in. Mind you, Keith Telly Topping did get to the pool far earlier than normal on both mornings - quarter to eight - so the place was var nigh deserted and he didn't have to spend at least two of the lengths, as he normally does, avoiding swimming up the chuff of someone else. We're not getting into areas that, six months ago, this blogger never thought he'd ever get close to. Having said that, of course, he is still not even in the same league as our Maureen Telly Topping who can manage sixty lengths without breaking sweat.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This one from The Primitives is probably appropriate.