Monday, November 17, 2008

More Top Telly Tips From Ya Top Telly Tipster

The Gene Genie Sez...

Never go out
in the rain
just wearing your socks.

It's sage advice from The Great Man, as one would expect.

I'd take it if I were you.

Have you ever been really proud to be a part of the human race?

Watch this as a timely reminder that not everyone else in the world is a complete scumbag. There are some saints out there too, like this guy. Keith Olbermann of MSNBC, you da man. WELL spoken. I imagine that you will doubtless be crassly and ignorantly attacked for the views you've voiced in this editorial by various homophobic wretches not a million miles for your own backyard. (Indeed, I note from some of the - particularly poorly spelled - comments left on You Tube that you already have been.) Prophets are seldom appreciated and often spat upon in their own land. Nevertheless, I salute you, sir. Bravo.

Of course there are other times when one is not so proud of ones fellow humanity. Speaking to the Associated Press last week the Republican Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia stated: "It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, [President-Elect Barack Obama is] the one who proposed this national security force. I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism." Broun cited a July speech by Obama which has circulated widely on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military. "That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun continued. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the US military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist. We can't be lulled into complacency. You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential of going down that road."

'A bit crazy and off base'? No, no, no, Congressman. Why in the Wide, Wide, World of Sport would you possibly think that? You've just stated - to a respected international news organisation - that you believe the fascist dictator and mass-murderer Adolf Hitler was 'a Marxist.' That would appear to show what an incredibly fine grasp of both world political history and ideology you have. I'm assuming, of course, that as an astute political operative you will have read both Das Kapital and Mein Kampf and appear to have have - radically - concluded that, despite the polar-opposite politics inherent in them the two works are speaking as if with one mind. You are right, of course. People really have to be careful for whom they vote. After all, the good people of Georgia's Tenth District voted for you it would seem.
    Incidentally, this is all irony, Congressman. If you've never come across that word before, it's what you mom does with your shirts after she's washed them.

Right, enough of that nonsense. It's another week and, as an inevitable consequence of this, it's also time for yet another batch of Keith Telly Topping's Top Telly Tips.

Let's start with today's glorious effort - Episode four hundred and seven.
I should really start giving them all names, shouldn't I?

Episode four hundred andseven: You Have Permission To Die Quietly.
A Drayton/Joey/Topping Production.
In association with Father's Name Was Dad Management.®™
©2008: All rights ... given away to anyone that wants 'em.

Monday 17 Nov:
Today’s Top Telly Tips TV Word of the Day. Risible. Causing or inducing laughter through sheer and total ridiculousness. As in, “I’ve heard that Ross Kemp has got another bleeding series coming on Sky. Bet you any money you like that will be risible.”

Clone is a new sitcom on BBC3 at 8:30. No, don’t worry, this one is sure to be better than Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please. Honest. Well, at least it’s got Jonathan Pryce and Mark Gatiss in it so it bloomin’ well SHOULD be … He said nervously, remembering that I am, indded, the previewer who said that he "quite liked the look" of Bonekickers. Anyway, Doctor Victor Blenkinsop is a brilliant government scientist who unveils the first human clone. Intended to be a prototype super-soldier in a kind-of X-Files type scenario, the experiment - perhaps inevitably - goes horribly wrong. With hilarious consequences. In an attempt to redeem himself the good doctor escapes with his creation whilst being chased by the authorities who want to destroy the creature. It all sounds darkly humorous in a kind-of League of Gentlemen-meets-Frankenstein-type way.

On Corrie the focus this week is on the fall out from "the Fizz and John affair." He’s obviously going down for some serious bird after being caught kidnapping Rosie Webster. Fizz is naturally upset, particularly as Sally thinks that she was somehow involved in all the nefarious kidnapping shenanigans. At the factory, meanwhile, Old Big Eye’d Tony has got serious some money troubles - he's been using the staff wages to stave off bankruptcy and is rapidly turning into a grand soap villian. With so many of those who work in the factory involved in various other storylines there's suddenly a plethora of nameless extras working on the machines – and, it’s always nice to see some Top Quality extras over-acting, isn’t it? There's also some great interplay between Blanch, Ken and Peter now that the latter is back with his own son Simple Simon the cherubic-faced child actor who can actually walk in a straight line and talk at the same time something which cherub-faced child actors often find notoriously difficult to achieve. Witness most of the cast of Sarah Jane Investigates, for instance. Particularly Liz Sladen. And she's in her fifties. Anyway, also on Corrie, there’s Tyrone and Auntie Pam, still acting like cut-price Steptoe and Son. Oh, it’s all go in Weatherfield.

Roll out the red carpet cos Phil, Phil, Phil and Kirstie, Kirstie are back, back, back for Location, Location, Location special, A Survival Guide, Guide, Guide. On Channel Four, Four, Four at 8:00. With the UK heading towards a recession - heading towards? Most of us are already there, way ahead of you guys - the property market looks more treacherous than ever. Kirstie, Kirstie, Kirste and Phil, Phil, Phil give their expert advice on how to survive the credit crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

With unemployment rising, what are your chances of joining the dole queue by Christmas? In my case it’s all down, apparently, to being nice to the producer and hoping for the best. Are there really 600,000 unfilled job vacancies in the UK, as the government recently claimed? If so, what sort of jobs are they and why are they unfilled? How Safe Is Your Job? - on ITV at 8:00 - seeks to find out. Presumably so that all of those involved in this show have something else to fall back on if ITV’s ratings keep falling the way they have been for the last few months. Which some may regard as a hollow victory but, hey, it's a cuth-throat world out there. God, it’s all happiness are light on TV tonight, isn’t it? And, just when you think it can’t possibly get any worse, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here has returned from t'Dark Place where it resides between series. Are there any cheap flights going? To, like, anywhere? Of those poor individuals so desperate to get their boat-races back on TV that they'll willingly allow themselves to get stuck in the jungle with Ant and Dec we all, I'm sure, feel sorriest for poor old Mr Sulu. I mean, that’s just cruel. The man's a genuine hero - he survived a five year mission to strange new worlds (and six movies) with Bill Shatner and his split-infinitives only to find himself on a reality TV show with Martina Navratilova. And Robert Kilroy-Silk. And Dani Behr. So, not all bad, then. And Simon Webbe too. No worries. (That's a poor joke which everyone over the age of thirty won't get, incidentally...) According to the Sun, "busty Nicola McLean" is "ready for a bunk-up with sexy Carly Zucker to keep spiders away." That's a good excuse. Meanwhile, "former Page Three babe Nicola McLean has revealed she is after LESBIAN love in jungle." Hey, aren’t we all? Except, possibly, Mr Sulu. It gives a whole new meaning to "Captain’s Log", doesn’t it? Beam him up, warp factor seven.

Tuesday 18 Nov:
Today’s Top Telly Tips TV Word of the Day. Spelunking. The exploration of caves and other underground ephemera; pot-holing. As in, "Channel Four do archaeology, Five do Extreme Fishing isn't about time ITV got off their backsides and started finding some spelunking to televise?"

Alleged topical satire returns to Channel Four as impressionist Rory Bremner - quite possibly the least funny man on the planet, bar none - and his regular collaborators (the genuinely great duo John Bird and John Fortune who are frequently wasted in this rubbish) present a four-part satirical look at the global financial system in Bremner, Bird and Fortune: Silly Money. Oh, how desperately arch, as if people haven't got enough to worry about, you're making fun of it all. So, I'm guessing no Murray Walker impressions on this one, Rory?

The Culture Show – a particular favourite of all of those involved in Keith Telly Topping and His Top TV Tips - is back for a winter run at 10:00 and kicks off with a mixture of classical art and music, a masterpiece of British cinema and an interveiw with a rock diva. Andrew Graham-Dixon looks into a controversial debate concerning the National Gallery of Scotland. Big Quiffed Marky Kermode brings together the cast and crew of Local Hero, one of the most loved of all British movies and Wor Luscious Lovely Lauren meets Grace Jones. Brave lass. The last time Grace was on telly, Russell Harty went down in the fourth following two falls and a submission.

Beginning at the fabulous coral reef of Ningaloo in Western Australia, intrepid marine biologist Mark Meakin attempts to unravel the mysterious wanderings of the biggest fish in the sea in Natural World: Whale Shark on BBC2 at 8:00. These can grow to over twelve metres long but are, generally, rather gentle, filter-feeding giants; even Mark's five-year-old son can swim alongside them. Yet no-one knows where they go once they leave Ningaloo's turquoise lagoons. More classic nature programming from the Beeb who do this sort of thing infinitely better than anyone else.

Wednesday 19 November:
As ever when there’s a big football match on I shall endeavour to give out three interesting alternatives to Germany v England on ITV tonight. Although, to be honest, that’s probably what I’ll be watching. Despite the fact that half the England team have got a sick-note from their mums it would appear.

The Devil’s Whore – perfectly extraordinary title notwithstanding – is a tense and exciting historical drama series set during the English Civil War on Channel 4 at 9:00. An epic story through the eyes of Angelica Fanshawe (played by Angela Risborough who was so good as the young Margaret Thatcher in that biopic BBC4 did a few months back), a spirited aristocratic woman who is drawn to the anti-monarchist cause. Soon will come a time when village fights against village, and brother against brother, as the nation is torn apart. It’s got a great cast led by John Simm – first major thing he’s done since Doctor Who and then Life on Mars before it - doing his best "Vincent Price in Matthew Hopkins: Witchfinder General impression." It's also got Harry Lloyd from Robin Hood, Peter Capaldi (as Charles I), Dominic West (as Oliver Cromwell) and Tim McInnery in it so we appear to be talking real quality here. One of my favourite eras of history this, and it's one that is rather forgotten these days. Which is tragic, frankly, because most of our laws, civil liberties and indeed pretty much our entire system of government dates from the aftermath of that period. Most people, a recent national survey suggested, can’t even name a major battle from the war. Well, there was Marston Moor. And Naseby … I’m showing off now, aren’t I?

Highland Emergency at 7:30 on Five follows the work – as the title suggests - of the emergency services in the Highlands of Scotland. And of the largely unpaid (and often unappreciated) work that they do in saving some morons who’ve decided to go mountaineering in shorts and a pair of plimsoles in the depth of winter. At least, that’s the way it often seems from news reports of such near brushes with calamity. I'm sure there’ll be others, perhaps more deserving of getting their lives saved. One or two, anyway. Tonight, rescuers struggle in the dark to find a mother and daughter lost on the side of a mountain and an RAF search and rescue team braves turbulent winds to reach a badly injured man. I’m rather looking forward to the interviews with the survivors afterwards. "It was quite nice when we set off, it was only sleeting moderately hard…"

In Channel 4’s The Home Show, architect George Clarke helps homeowners with different budgets fall in love with their houses all over again. This week George creates more light and room in a cramped terrace family home with a novel use of the loft, and architect Angela Brady heads to a stunning Mallorcan home to see one the finest examples of the interior style and shows how to get the look at home.

Lastly tonight, Jonathan Miles stopped me in the corridor last week - I thought he was going to beat me up but, actually, he just wanted to know when Lost is back. And I imagine several listeners and/or readers will be similarly wondering about this. So, the fifth season starts on 21 January 2009 in the US and about three or four days later here on Sky. Seventeen episodes this year and the major theme is said to be, “now that a bunch of them have finally got off the damn island how, exactly, are they going to get back?” So long as we get plenty of Hurley, Sayid, the lovely Dessie and Penny, Ben and - back on the island - Sawyer and that Duplicitous Bitch Juliet and a damned sight less of Boring-Bastard-Jack and Rapidly-Becoming-Just-As-Boring- Kate, I’ll be well-happy.

Thursday 20 November:
Today’s Top Telly Tips TV Word of the Day. Shellacking. A beating or thrashing; a ‘pasting’; a damned good hiding. As in, isn’t it about time somebody gave Richard and Judy a severe shellacking. On general principle?

We said on Monday that there was a lot going on in Weatherfield this week. In EastEnders Bradley is struggling to accept his role in the Branning family (that of the sole sane – albeit still bloody miserable – individual in a tribe of fruitcakes), Satanic Sean Slater gets some support from an unlikely source after he missed Raunchy Roxy giving birth to their love-sprog and Shirley helps Vinnie in his hour of need. Yeah, there’s quite a bit happening in Walford too by the sound of it.

We talked at some length about The Daily Show – More4 8:30 – a month or so back. Just time, again, to highlight what a very good (and very funny) show it is and that it is available to UK viewers with Freeview on More4 Monday to Friday at 8:30. And also, apparently, on CNN as well. I’ve been watching a lot of it recently either side of the US Election and it’s just been a joy to behold Jon Stewart and his young team of comedians (including our own John Oliver who uses to be on Mock The Week and is now doing very well for himself in the US) revelling in taking the mickey out of Fox News on a nightly basis. The segment the other evening with The Official Voice of The Murdoch Empire, Bill O’Reilly, was one of the best bits of TV I’ve seen in years; two men who really believe in the ideology they’re pushing (one, admittedly, vaguely sane, the other one off his flamin' rocker) absolutely going for it … and both being funny at the same time. God, I wish we had a show like this over here. Have I Got News For You, and, I suppose, Mock The Week, are the closest - and they're both very good in their own different ways - but neither have a format that allows for yer actual proper political debate amid the jokes like The Daily Show does. If you've never seen it, tune it - trust me, it's worth a little of your time. (The companion show, The Colbert Report, can also be seen daily in the UK but, seemingly, only on the Digital Channel F/X.)

Tony Head and Davina McCall are among the guests on this week's episode of Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC2, 9:00). It’s still missing Bill Bailey very badly, though. And Graham Norton’s guests tonight are Alan Carr and Tom Jones – not the kind of double-act you’d normally see in the same sentence.

Friday November 21:
Channel 4’s sleeper-hit sitcom of last year, The IT Crowd returns for a new series at 10:00. Written by one-half of the Father Ted team, Graham Linehan, it’s a workplace-based comedy about the hapless crushed victims of society who work in an office's IT department. And, it’s often really funny.

Saturday 22 November:
It was forty five years ago today that President John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, a tragic and pointless act of violence that would world-shattering repercussions for almost every single person on the planet then alive or still to be born.

By contrast, it was forty five years tomorrow that a new family science-fiction drama called Doctor Who began transmission on the BBC. Those two events are just going to go through history from now till eternity, forever inextricably linked together in the public consciousness.

Until, one day, when we all find out that it was actually the Doctor on the Grassy Knoll with a high-velocity rifle in his hands. Hey, Mr Moffat, I've got an idea for a story...

I’d love to have been in the meeting when somebody pitched Hole In The Wall (BBC 5:50). Dale Winton hosts a series in which teams of celebrities force themselves through various crazy-shaped holes in giant moving walls, while clad head-to-toe in extremely tight silver lycra. Tonight, regular team captains Strictly's Anton du Beke and Darren The Dazzler Gough are joined by a variety of sad Z-Listers who didn't make it into the jungle with Ant and Dec - including Cleo Rocos and Radio 1's Scott Mills - all of whom will be hoping to avoid the murky waters below, win ten grand for a charriddddeee of their choice and remind the viewers that they're still alive. According to various press reports Hole In The Wall may not be long on our screens - due, no doubt, to somebody in a position of authority at the BBC actually watching the damn thing - therefore, take our advice: Catch it tonight (the last episode in the series) while you can and then, at least, you'll be able to tell your grandchildren you were there. Of course, if it does get cancelled, that will be a MAJOR blow to Harry Hill who has spent more time and energy ridiculing it on TV Burp this season than just about everything else on TV put together.

It’s a really major drama weekend for the Beeb. On Saturday on BBC2 at 9:10 there's the one-off period dramabiopic Einstein & Eddington, starring Andy Serkis, David Tennant and Jim Broadbent which was actually made quite a while ago (early summer 2007, I believe) and they've obviously been looking for a decent slot for it ever since. In the spring of 1914, with Europe on the brink of all out war, no one outside of a select few within the scientific community had heard of an obscure German physicist named Albert Einstein. Britain's premier astronomer Arthur Eddington realised that Einstein's theories could unlock whole new ways of thinking about time and space. (And, considering that he was really a Time Lord in disguise, this was of obvious interest to him.) Despite the danger of being labelled traitors by their respective governments, the two men began a unique correspondence and friendship. A post-war eclipse in Africa provided an opportunity to prove Einstein's theories to the world.

In the 1970s, Terry Nation (creators of the Daleks on Doctor Who and, subsequently, Blake's 7) also masterminded the apocalyptic drama Survivors - one of most vividly remembered shows of the era (particularly for its chilling title sequence). It was about a motley group of humans who were the only ones unaffected by a vast global pandemic which wiped out ninety five per cent of the population. Given recent scares about the spread of viruses in the age of AIDS, ebola, MRSA and SARs, it seems ripe for a remake - or a "reimagining" as it's being described in pre-publicity - and that’s exactly what the Beeb are doing starting tonight with a ninety minute special kicking-off a six-part series. They're using the title, the basic premise and a few of the character names from the original (Abby Grant, Greg Preston, Tom Price etc.) but, otherwise, this is very much a Survivors for the post-9/11 and post-"just look what we've done with Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica when we put the fans in charge" era. The cast is a kind of “greatest hits of everything good the Beeb have made recently” - Max Beesley, Paterson Joseph, Freema Agyeman, Shaun Dingwall … and Julie Graham. Last thing I recommended featuring her was Bonekickers. I’m still getting hate-mail because of that. I assume, dear reader and/or listener, this will be better. Let's face it, it can't possibly be worse.

All that, and there’s another race in Top Gear as Jezza, The Hamster and Cap'n Slow are challenged to drive from the heart of Switzerland to the North West coast of England on just one tank of fuel. And as an incentive, the first one to arrive gets to turn on the Blackpool Illuminations. And Bugatti finally let The Stig track-test the Veyron. Hurrah! Plus, season highlight, The Stig chins a tramp. For a laugh.

No, he doesn't really but, you never know, there's just the vaguest of possibilities that some rent-a-quote MP who hasn't managed to get his or her name in the newspapers for all of a fortnight might, just, be reading this blog and think "Ah, something that I can pretend to be morally offended by which will get me mucho publicity if I complain, loudly, about it. For I have a wafer-thin majority and the best way I can think of to keep my seat is to use politics as a weapon against the entertainment of millions."
      Failing that, of course, they could try moving to Georgia. I understand there's likely to be a Congress seat vacant shortly.

Today’s Top Telly Tips TV Word of the Day. Faux-naïf. A person who pretends to be simple or unaffected adopting a childish or naïve manner which can be considered as, at best mean spirited and at worst, somewhat sinister. As in … "A word used to describe anybody who believes that anything which takes place on Most Haunted is for real."

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