Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Getting Moose'd Up (Telly IS My Middle Name)

This blogger is off to Canada for a few days shortly -  he's going to be a guest at the Manitoba Science Fiction and Comic Con, which should be interesting - so, in lieu of this, here's some further Top Telly Tips for the next week or two.

Tues 23 October:
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, they reckon and in tonight’s Emmerdale Val (played by the excellent - Newcastle United-supporting - Charlie Hardwicke) sets out to lure that lying scumbag Eric Pollard into the countryside to extract some significant revenge. Somebody’s got a brand new combine harvester for their birthday, it would seem.

I’ve really been quite enjoying Holby City over the last few weeks. It’s completely mad-bonkers, of course, full of stories about over-the-top affairs and doctors and nurses with addiction problems, but it’s got some really good actors in it – like Robert Powell and Peter Wingfield. And, is it just me or is there something disturbingly disturbing about Patsy Kensit in a nurses uniform? Just me, Liam Gallagher and Jim Kerr, then?

[Spooks] was back with a bang last week and tonight concludes the opening story about an Iranian-American-made plague loose on the streets of London. A worried Harry takes drastic measures and rounds up some highly unusual suspects whilst an infected Adam goes out searching for the antidote before he starts bleeding from his nipples. Oh, and I like Miranda Raison’s new haircut – very 1977.

In Brat Camp: Mums & Daughters, implausibly glamorous housewife Montana Whitlock and her spoiled, rude and sulky daughter Natasha are dropped into the Arizona desert for some much needed therapy. Two points here. Firstly, who in the name of Christ gets given a forename like Montana? And, secondly, spoiled, rude and sulky, eh? I think I went out her once…

Wed 24 October:
In Rogue Traders Matt and Dan are off on the trail of dodgy emergency call out companies, a dangerous rip-off electrician and a locksmith who’s just drilling to make a killing. Do you get it? Drilling to ... oh, never mind. Anyway, then presumably when they’ve sorted that lot out, they’re off to solve the Middle East crisis, world hunger aned climate change and still be home in time for tea.

Hot on the heels of the BBC's recently highly successful modernisation of Jekyll, ITV using the old “everything the Beeb do, we’ll do just as well two months later” principle come up with a lavish modern spin on Mary Shelley’s novel of Promethean conceit, Frankenstein. And it looks great. Not very original, admittedly, but still great. Helen McCrory, James Purefoy and Neil Pearson star.

Two years ago, pop icon Michael Jackson was acquitted of child molestation charges but he has since disappeared from his home to travel the globe. Channel 4 asks Michael Jackson: What Really Happened? The question is, though, do we really want to know?

Thurs 25th October:
In March this year, the BBC's Gaza correspondant Alan Johnston was kidnapped by an Islamic group and held for over three months before being released. Tonight, in Kidnapped, he tells his story to Jeremy Vine – which is an ordeal in and of itself. What emerges is the story of a really brave man who kept his head in circumstances that would probably have seen most of us crack after a coupel of hours. Must-see-TV.

I’ve never been a big fan of Richard and Judy but their recent conversation to the nations favourite book critics is a wlecome one – anyone who encourages greater literacy, particularly amongst teenagers, is to be applauded. For that reason alone, I’m recommending Richard & Judy’s Best Kids’ Books on Channel 4 tonight. The fact that new authors are also a feature is an added bonus.

The BBC’s Electric Proms has its big night tonight with Paul McCartney’s performance from the Roundhouse. Except a few numbers from the new LP, plenty of oldies but probably suprisingly few dedications to Beatrice’s mom.

Friday 26th October:
The Armstrong and Miller Show - 9:30 BBC1
Two Spitfire pilots sit puffing pipes but talking in modern teen-speak. A man returns home to find his wife in bondage gear with his best friend, but is somehow persuaded that this is a surprise Happy Easter party. A foulmouthed Gordon Ramsay-style chef finally gets his comeuppance. These are the kind of no-frills sketches with which Ben Miller and Alexander Armstrong return to being a double act after going their separate ways for far too long - and yes, they are funny. I mean Morecambe and Wise, funny. Series like this tend to pack their best jokes into the first show, in which case the rest of the run may be a bit of a let-down; but all the more reason not to miss tonight's opener, which also includes a brilliant parody of Who Do You Think You Are? and a perfectly filthy Jane Austen spoof.

Saturday 27th October:
All Star Family Fortunes - 7:45 ITV1
Vernon Kay returns with a brand-new series of what’s alleged to be “the nation's favourite game show” All Star Family Fortunes. Two star guests and their families compete in a bid to see who can give the stupidest answer that totally fails to agree with a survey audience and, of course, win up to 30 grand for a charity of their choice. Tonight's competitive celebrities are Corrie actress Kym Ryder and reality TV regular Brian Dowling. Therefore, don’t miss this or it’ll be, what, at least another week before he crops up on TV again.

TOTP2 Halloween Special - 10:50 BBC2
To get you in the mood for Hallowe'en, Steve Wright pops out from behind the cellar door to introduce an hour of the spookiest Top of the Pops clips ever in a Top of the Pops 2 Special. Enjoy the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Ray Parker Jr & that Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and the Crypt Kickers hit being danced to by Pan’s People. Hot’diggerdy. If you're of a nervous disposition, you'll probably end up hiding behind the sofa from all the witches, monsters and most frightening of all - Michael Jackson.

Sunday 28th October:
The Royal - 8:00 ITV1
Still comfortably ITV’s most reliably Sunday night slot, The Royal rolls ever onward with no end in sight. Just like life, really. On Sunday, Ormerod's father-in-law makes a special bequest to the family, while Ken has a confession to make when the hospital pools syndicate celebrate their win. And Matron discovers that Carnegie's fundraising efforts aren't exactly going to plan.

Monday 29th October:
David's sense of exclusion leads him to take desperate measures in Corrie. Sean puts Jamie in an awkward position. Maria's gift hampers Liam's social life but the poor lass is worried when Sarah ignores David's letter. Meanwhile, Roger gets more than he bargained for at the pizzeria. Last time I went to one I ordered a Calzone. The waiter asked what so I explained it was one of them foldy-over things. So, he brought me an ironing board.

The arrival of Max's charismatic younger brother, Jack, has unexpected consequences for Ronnie in EastEnders. And for Max, presumably, in displaying the fallacy that there’s no one in that family with any charisma. Damian is rocked by a discovery about Roxy whilst Jase is torn over loyalties between his old gang and his responsibilities for Jay.

On Channel 4, Britain’s Deadliest Addictions follows three addicts - one to alcohol, one to class A and one to prescription drugs - as they attempt to break their habits under medical supervision. In this, the first of four shows, the participants are introduced and admitted to a detox clinic. Presented by Krishnan Guru-Murthy and psychologist Dr John Marsden. Words fail me.
Tuesday 30th October:
According to Aaron Sorkin, the creator of The West Wing, television is the 20th Century's only genuine art form. I'll have to remember that the next time I'm watching Celebrity Who's Pig Is It Anyway? on ITV3

Series offering advice to amateur property developers keen to dabble in the housing market are all the rage at the moment. Sarah Beeny and Property Ladder heads to Wysall, outside Nottingham, to meet stubborn Yorkshireman Steve who is attempting to convert a Methodist chapel into a three-bedroom family house. As y’do. Sarah also travels to Elm, Cambridgeshire, to advise a couple who are failing to capitalise on the potential of a former country pub. Customers usually help, I’ve found. At least in most of the bars I’ve been in.

For thirteen years Roger Cook's investigations exposed scandals and villains all over the world. In the process, he was roughed up, threatened with guns and attacked with iron bars while his team's cameras kept rolling. But what happened next? In Roger Cook’s Greatest Hits Roger travels the world again to find out what has changed since his original series came to an end and the next generation of concerned citizens took over from him. His journey takes him from organised crime in Spain to illegal lion hunting in South Africa and the trade of young women sold by sex traffickers in Asia. And, presumably, just like the old days, he’ll end up getting punched a lot. Always entertaining. Roger, that is, not the punching. Although…

The Grumpy Guide.. this week is especially grumpy as it has a good old grumpy look at the usually grumpy-free zone that is romance. For those newly in love, of course, the dating game may be a wonderful thing. But for the rest of us jaded, irritable and tetchy old cynics just the word romance itself is likely to set us off on a rant about the essentially hopelessness of existence. Life, don’t talk to me about life… Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, romance… Not a lot can come between two people when they are attracted to each other. Sounds like a line I used in a bar once. True story.

Brat Camp: Mums and Daughters provided much hilarity in the Telly Topping household last week so I’m recommending you give it another go. Four mothers and their out-of-control brat daughters are dropped in the Arizona desert, with the objective of getting the daughters back on the straight and narrow. This week, the Pears. Foul-mouthed Nicole Pear and her exasperated mother Jackie try to repair their damaged relationship. Sound like a right pair. Actually, I think that was a line I used in a bar once as well…

Wednesday 31st October:
Dr Samina Showghi, nutritionist Pam Stepney and chiropractor Dr Ben King come to the aid of members of the public with unhealthy eating and lifestyle regimes in Diet Doctors: Inside & Out. In 12 weeks, the trio oversee some amazing medical makeovers as they show what can be achieved, by ditching the bad diet and taking on a healthy lifestyle. But, are they happy, that’s the question you have to ask yourself. When was the last time you saw a thin person say something funny. I’m just sayin’…

In aid of Children In Need, a team of celebrities including Ben Nicholas, Javine, Lil' Chris and Tamara Beckwith are trained by top hairdresser Lee Stafford to become hairdressers and beauty experts in just three short weeks in Celebrity Scissorhands on BBC3. Today, more brave viewers volunteer to be clients and put their hair in the hands of the rookie celebrities under the watchful eye of Lee and his assistant manager Steve Strange. Who, let’s remember, used to have one of the weirdest haircuts in the history of pop music.

Never Mind The Buzzcocks - 10:00 BBC2
Host Simon Amstell and team captains Bill Bailey and Phill Jupitus combine on what is, on a good day, still one of the wittiest, most inventive and most controversial shows on TV. I mean, if only they could have Preston staging a stroppy walk-off every week they’d been laughing. Well, he wouldn't, but they would. Guests tonight include Torchwood star John Barrowman – who seems to be just about everywhere on TV at the moment - and comedian Robin Ince.

Thursday 1 November:
Zoo Days is a rather charming little documentary series on Five from Chester Zoo, narrated by Jane Horrocks. Tonight, fighting breaks out on Lemur Island as the mating season approaches. Yeah, that tends to happen with humans too, guys. You need to put something in their tea.

In How To Be A Property Developer, also on Five, Gary McCausland follows two teams who have each been given 300,000 pounds and 12 months to make big money in real estate. I wonder if it’s occurred to any of them to just stick the three hundred grand in a high interest account then come back a year later and say, “sorry, I couldn’t sell anything, here’s your money back.”

Holly Willoughby travels around the UK and Ireland, aiming to find dream dates for the single people she meets on her travels in ITV2’s Streetmate. I like Holly although, like Nigella Lawson she has her knockers. This week she hits the streets of Cambridge and Belfast. Presumably, the streets eventually recover. Perhaps we’ll never care.

I’m not normally a big fan of The Graham Norton Show but it’s been pretty good over the last few weeks. If you’ve never seen it, it features a fast-paced mixture of celebrities doing silly things, live music and fabulous weirdness of the Great British public. Joining Graham tonight will be maverick director John Waters and author Jackie Collins. That’s gotta be the campest hour of TV in history in the offing. Definitely worth a look, then.

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