Sunday, April 19, 2009

Week Seventeen: There's A Ghost In Greg House's House!

Keith Telly Topping has had really rather a good week these last seven days dear blog reader – which is, I'm sure regular readers will note, most very unusual. I mean on a purely personal level, this is. In terms of Top Telly viewing, every week is a good week in the Telly Topping household. That's my story, anyway, and I'm thoroughly sticking to it. I did a bit of heavy-duty shopping (which, of course, involved some heavy-duty lifting and some very heavy-duty carrying) on Bank Holiday Monday as a favour for my mother. Which, actually, turned out to be surprisingly rewarding in the end (if not, necessarily, to the state of my back muscles). And I say that genuinely, albeit through gritted teeth. Difficult to believe, I know, but sometimes a moment of altruism can be something other than a ruddy waste of everyones time and effort. Then, on Friday I went out with some of the family for lunch down at the coast and something similar also occurred yesterday. In between, I have to confess that spent most of the week - when I wasn't at work - dumping large portions of my CD collection onto the PC for general convenience. I've got a Big Tamla-Motown-scene thing going on in my head at the moment – I get one of those periodically, in a throwback to some memorable pill-fuelled Mod/Northern Soul all-nighters at the Greenford, the Bostie and the Trent in about 1980. Rocking the shack and throwing shapes to the steady four-in-the-bar Holland-Dozier-Holland beat of R Dean Taylor's 'There's a Ghost in My House.' Next week, that may well be replaced by a hankering for some top quality Brit Freakbeat or '77 Punk thrash but, at the moment, it's all handclaps, tambourines and James Jamerson basslines in this house. Hot damn. Let me hear you say 'righteous,' brothers and sisters. Amen.

And, speaking of ghosts (and, indeed, of houses for that matter), following on from the shockingly unexpected events of the previous episode, this week's House went most of the way through its regulation forty-two-and-a-bit minutes merely putting right the appalling lack of Jesse Spencer and (especially) Jennifer Morrison in much of this year's dramatic output. It did so very nicely, it should be noted, with a rather intriguing story about cold feet and jealousy. And then, in the last twenty seconds, they did one of those unexpected cliffhanger things which I talked about last week that American series sometimes pull out of the locker purely to throw the viewer a giant curve-ball that they simply never see coming. (Unless they read spoiler websites, of course.) House would now, officially, appear to be a Telefantasy show. And, I must admit, I do very much like the idea of Hugh Laurie appearing in what is, effectively, a remake of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). 'Only you, Greg, only you…'

There were two episodes of Bones shown in the US this week – one on Wednesday, another the following day. The first was a bit of a standard affair with a somewhat hokey storyline about a murder involving a dating agency, although it did have a nice subplot for Hodgins and Angela which, again, proves what a terrific pair of actors Tom Thyne and Michaela Conlin are. The second, however, featured the welcome return of Hugh Laurie's old sparring partner, Stephen Fry as the delightfully Stephen Fry-esque Gordon Gordon. And that, of course, was lovely. In as much as any episode of a TV drama in which the plot concerns a Black Metal band with a crucified skeleton as a stage prop that turns out to be a real corpse can be considered 'lovely' in any way, shape or form. Stephen, by all accounts, was offered a regular role on the series by the producers after his memorable three-episode guest stint a couple of years ago but he turned them down because, as he noted at the time, 'I've seen what American TV has done to Hugh!' Meaning, he went on to say (very quickly), that when one is committed to a twenty-odd-episode-as-year series, one has no time to do anything else. Which, in Stephen's case, would have probably done his head in! Thus, Bones's loss was our gain via Stephen Fry in America, another wonderful series of Qi and all of the other TV, radio and literary stuff that he gets to do. On the other hand, the show's producers created the character of Sweets as - in effect - a direct replacement and John Francis Daley, with his bumblingly appealing characterisation, has enhanced an already superb ensemble cast. And I must say again, it's truly joyous to see just how far David Boreanaz has come as an actor. When the guy can hold his own in scenes with a world-class comedy talent like Stephen Fry, it's sometimes hard to remember that there was a time when, it seemed, all he could do was 'large, brooding and glowery' on Buffy.

In Lost, we had the long-awaited Miles back story, Jack - for once – got to play something besides a complete arsehole, there was lots of profound common sense (and some great one-liners) from Hurley and a quiet, but beautiful, performance by Elizabeth Mitchell, who has been one of the absolute hits of the season. And, now we have two weeks to wait and find out what happens next. Episode titles for the rest of the season are, apparently The Variable, Follow The Leader and The Incident parts one and two which form the usual two-hour season finale extravaganza. I know it's naughtily churlish to ask for anything additional from the production team of one of the best TV shows in the world at the moment but, would a little more Desmond and Penny kill you guys?!

And so to CSI who managed, in one episode, to sum up the whims and caprices of SF fandom quite magnificently. In A Space Oddity, sarky-know-all-but-occasionally-likeable-in-a-Wesley-from-Angel-sort-of-way lab-rat Hodges and his long-time pretend-girlfriend, Wendy (the delightful Liz Vassey) find themselves at a convention for a hokey, retro 1960s SF TV show called Astro Quest which is, of course, Star Trek by any other name. The producer of a new, dark and gritty Battlestar Galactica-style, 'reimaging' of the show is murdered at the convention (solely, it seems, so that Hodges can call Detective Brass and end the pre-title sequence with the line 'He's dead, Jim!') and, from there, the rest of the episode progresses as two-parts homage, one-part outrageous piss-take. Complete with several fantasy sequences featuring Hodges (the excellent Wallace Langham) as a Jim Kirk-style space-hero (with an ever-present ripped shirt) trying, desperately, to summon up the courage to tell Wendy how he feels. Fans (of Star Trek AND of CSI) will either love it or hate it depending on the width and depth of their humour threshold. But, it was written by Trek universe veterans Bradley Thompson and David Weddle from a story by another Trek veteran and now senior CSI producer Naren Shanker so, at least they got pretty much all of the references right. And, as my mate Ben Adams pointed out after watching the episode, what he found most impressive was the story's tacit acknowledgement that there are, contrary to crass stereotypical media depictions, all sorts of SF fans, ranging from rabid anoraky roleplayers with under-developed social skills and, possible, severe sexual immaturity living in their mom's attic, to (gasp) people who are, apparently, perfectly normal, hold regular - well paid – jobs and have 'lives.' Just like what you find at a real convention, in fact. Trust me, I know, I've been to dozens and never worn a costume once. It's nice to finally see that dichotomy acknowledged – and even celebrated - on a mainstream network show. So, CSI producers, I expect you'll probably get a few death-threats somewhere along the line, but I thought the episode was sweet, touching and well-meant. Good on ya.

I think it's time we had some Top Telly Tips, my children.

Friday 24 April
Have I Got News for You - 9:00 BBC1 - British TV's best topical panel show by a country mile returns for its thirty seventh season and now into a twentieth year of production. In TV terms the show might be on the verge of getting its pension book and bus pass, but its satirical dentures can still leave the sort of nasty bite marks which give libel lawyers many sleepless nights. That's, of course, largely thanks to the subtle yet savage wit of regulars Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, still that oddest of TV odd-couples and yet, as always, adept at ripping the week's events to comedy shreds like so much discarded lavatory paper. The host for the opening show is Frank Skinner whilst the panellists are MP Alan Duncan and alleged comedienne Katy Brand. Not a big fan of Katy, I have to say. However, hosts on future shows this series include Jack Dee and the great Davey Mitchell. Always good to have this one back.

Martin Clunes, Fay Ripley, Wendy Craig, Geoffrey Whitehead, Neil Stuke and Lucy Liemann star in Reggie Perrin - 9:30 BBC1 – an update of the classic Seventies sitcom The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin, written by Simon Nye (who gave Martin so many great one-liners in Men Behaving Badly) and David Nobbs, the writer and creator of the original show. Now, as CSI have pointed out this week most vividly 'remakes' and 'reimagings' are all the rage in TV at the moment. Two of the BBC's biggest recent drama hits (Doctor Who and Survivors) have seen exactly that type of reinvention for a new generation. If it's done well, it can work magnificently. With regard to Reggie Perrin, I've seen the opening episode and, I have to say, Martin is easily the best thing on offer in what is an admittedly ambitious but, also, curiously soulless revival. I think what made Leonard Rossiter's suburbanite pen-pusher on the verge of cracking-up so utterly memorable and magnetic in the original show was the way in which he was able to combine an abject disillusionment and frustration with the sheer mundanity of his miserable, unchanging commuter life with a sense of genuine, almost gleeful, mischief. A feeling, in short, that he was going to fuck with the world - that constantly got him into work twenty two minutes late due to the machinations of God and/or British Rail - as much as IT was going to fuck with HIM. Clunes manages to hit some of the same comedy notes - and, why not? He is, after all, a very good comedy actor - and he has a wonderfully deadpan face for this kind of humour. But, as has been noted, Martin's - literally - a big chap and that's rather ill-fitting here. Rossiter - whether he was playing Rigsby, Reggie or nasty old Adolf in The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui - was the, literal as well as metophorical, 'little chap caught in the crushing wheels of The Machine.' Anyway, Martin's Reggie works not at Sunshine Desserts but at Groomtech, where he's in charge of developing a ten-blade disposable razor (ooo, handy). He has a gormless secretary (nothing like the alluring fantasy figure of Joan in the original), two chinless underlings (the modern equivalents of 'Great' Tony and 'Super' David, but about a tenth as funny) and an overbearing, CJ-ish boss called Chris, who at one point does indeed get to say, 'I didn't get where I am today' which, at least, raises a smile. The trouble is, the type of manic internal-office egomania, silly little fiefdom-building and the development of management-bollocks-speak which the original show detailed with such cunning and precise accuracy has evolved over the three decades since as series like Peep Show, The Thick of It and, especially, The Office have satirised so brilliantly. These days, everybody follows the trail Reggie once blazed and, against such disciples, the current remake seems rather flat, dull and blunt. Somewhat old-fashioned, in fact which, apart from being boring (which, thankfully, it isn't for the most part) is one of TV's few cardinal sins. The episode features several very good moments (Reggie suggestion for a playground: 'Put in a rifle range. The kids will love that'). But like Reggie's daily train journey, it's fatally affected by the wrong sort of snow. Reggie Perrin, in short, is a brave attempt but ultimately its major enduring quality is that, again like Reggie's train, it's a shade behind the times.

Saturday 25 April
One has to be a really hard-hearted swine not to feel more than a little sorry for Primeval - 7:30 ITV - as, through a series of circumstances way beyond its control it now stands on the verge of cancellation. Firstly, Douglas Henshall – the best thing about the series - announced his decision to leave necessitating a change of lead actor to the decent-but-nowhere-near-as-good-as-Doug-himself Jason Flemyng. Then, it was shunted about in the schedules because nervous ITV bods were worried that it would suffer 'guilt-by-association' with the wretched Demons. Then, worst of all, the credit crunch hit ITV big-style meaning that a well-made and moderately popular, but also quite expensive to make, show like this suddenly came to be seen as a ludicrous extravagance when series with smaller budgets and bigger ratings were getting the chop to save some money. And, just when it seemed that things couldn't get any worse from Primeval, last week ITV chose to put it up against Doctor Who and the series promptly drew its worst ever ratings figures – just two and a half million. Fate really does seem to have decided to give this show a damned good shoeing on general principle. In tonight's episode the Primeval team are faced with one of the most dangerous threats they have ever come across - a flesh-eating fungus that turns its victims into human shells intent only on spreading the fungus further. It takes over any person who comes into contact with it, and it proves resistant to everything the team can throw at it. They will have to race against time to prevent the fungus spreading through the population, becoming bigger and more dangerous with every attack. To sum up, then: Primeval – still a rather good little series, well-acted, well-written and beautifully put together. But, if I read the signs correctly, don't get too attached to it because I reckon it's not going to be around for too much longer.

Sunday 26 April
There was a story which George Best loved to tell in his later years on those few TV chatshows which would still have him as a guest after he drunkenly told Terry Wogan about how much he loved 'screwing' long before the watershed. One night (probably in the early 1970s, if the story isn’t entirely apocryphal) Best was staying at a London hotel with his girlfriend - one of the various Miss Worlds who were regularly seen in his company at that time. Having just won a small fortune at a casino, he rang room-service for a bottle of their finest champagne and some caviar. Subsequently a room-service waiter arrived, entered the room, saw the maverick footballer naked in bed with one of the world's most beautiful women and thousands of pounds scattered around on the floor. 'Mr Best, can I ask you a question?' the small and slightly balding chap reportedly queried. 'Where did it all go wrong?' Best: His Mother's Son - 9:00 BBC2 – is a, supposed factual-based biopic drama which tells the little-known story of Bestie's close relationship with his alcoholic mother, Ann. It's a very poignant tale in that it foreshadows the highly public transformation of one of Britain's most gifted, glamorous and (according to those who knew him well) genuine sports superstars into one of its most notorious – and sad - drunks. The film concentrates on the period between 1966 and 1973, when Manchester United went from being Champions of Europe to relegation to the (old) Second Division and Georgie himself went from superstardom – 'The Fifth Beatle', no less - to retirement and exile at the age of just twenty six. Whilst Ann disintegrated from a teetotaller to a helpless alcoholic and, like her son, an early death. Michelle Fairley (A Short Stay In Switzerland, The Street, Ahead Of The Class, The Others) stars as Ann, Tom Payne (from Waterloo Road) as George and Lorcan Cranitch (Cracker, Omagh, Rome) as George's father Dickie.

Monday 27 April
Ashes to Ashes - 9:00 BBC1 - got off to a cracking start to its second season last week and tonight's episode looks just as good. Gene, Alex, Ray and Chris are in hot pursuit of notorious car-blagger and general slag, Jed Wicklow. Gene is determined to catch the tea-leaf, banged to rights, done up like a toffer, Tommy Nutters, wot a West Ham. But Wicklow's driving of his jam-jar becomes erratic and, when the high speed chase ends in tragedy, Gene is nabbed by his Jacobs Cream Crackers, accused of death by dangerous driving and is in serious dangerous of doing a little Richard. However, Alex is adamant there was something wrong with the victim before the crash and sets out to prove that it wasn't Gene's fault. As the investigation takes a new direction, Gene is invited by Supermac into the inner sanctum of the ancient order of Masons. Gene soon realises how deep the corruption runs, but will he succumb to it? Effortlesly funny and dramatic as always and with a way-cool soundtrack too. What more can you ask for an hour's entertainment on a Monday night in the middle of April unless you're some sort of Raspberry? Not many, uncle.

The Omid Djalili Show – in its new late-night 10:30 slot on BBC1 – features stand-up and sketches from the award-winning, and usually moderately funny, comedian. Tonight Omid talks about football chants (always a good source of comedy potential) and how line-dancing was actually invented in ancient Persia. Heh! Sketches include more highlights from Looks Eastwards, the new Middle East local TV network, Henry VIII is looking for yet another wife and there's Minicab - the Musical. I like the self-deprication and the mockery of some cultural sacred cows in much of Omid's humour and I'm really glad that his show, which seemed so out of place in that Saturday evening slot it had last year has found, at last, a good home. Really very watchable indeed.

Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - meanwhile is back in the news thanks in no small part to that bad-ass militant atheist Ken Barlow stirring up a religious controversy on Easter Day. And also, somewhat more seriously, to Mikey North (who plays Gary Windass) sustaining some nasty facial injuries after getting a chinning in an incident in Scarborough last week. Scenes that he was due to film this week have had to be hastily re-jigged, apparently. Get well soon, matey.

Tuesday 28 April
One of the best episodes of CSI - Turn, Turn, Turn - is shown at 9:00 on Five tonight. It's the one I mentioned about five or six weeks back – in which Nicky Stokes (on his birthday) investigates the murder of a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl at a seedy downtown motel, recognising the victim as someone he knew. He spends the episode recalling their several encounters over the past year in a series of flashbacks before trying to find her murderer. It's a fabulous episode because you know the outcome before the pre-title sequence is over, it's then merely a question of how you get there through the drama. Wonderful stuff.

In the reliably bonkers Holby City - 8:00 BBC1 - Maddy's association with Tom puts her career in jeopardy in the sort of way that ‘associations’ tend to in prime time drama. Meanwhile, Daisha has a tough decision to make concerning baby Joe's future and philandering cad Michael's relief is short-lived when the show's shoulder-padded Queen Bitch, Connie (Amanda Mealing), reveals just how much trouble silly Annalese has gotten her sorry ass into. Oooo, she's a right bad 'un that Connie. No good will come to her, I guarantee.

Meanwhile, TV's near-obsession with doctors is further highlighted, but this time for real, in The Hospital - 9:00 C4. This is a three-part documentary series examining the relationship between British teenagers and the NHS. Consultants, nurses, surgeons and midwives speak with candour about the problems faced by and with this age group. The final episode in the series looks at the cost of Britain's increasingly obese teens. At Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, ever younger patients are being referred for help in tackling their weight and, increasingly, they are asking for a gastric band. What with Panorama casting a jaundiced eye at health care for the elderly last week and ITV taking care of the teenage market with this, do we now expect Channel 4 to be actively searching out a producer for their next commission Health and the Fortysomething Chap. That seems to be about the only demographic not covered by somebody. I mean, I'd watch it.

Wednesday 29 April
Midsomer Murders - 8:00 ITV – is, just in case you've been asleep for the last fifteen years, is a – well-made but utterly ludicrous - drama series about a detective (played by good old reliable John Nettles) whose patch is a seemingly idyllic rural district in Somerset which, nevertheless, has a murder rate higher than South Central LA. It's my mother's favourite TV show, as it happens. Which, to be honest kind of sums it up, really; something which sends women in their eighties to bed with nightmares. Bad, wicked, evil John Nettles with his naughty ways. He must have suffered from the knowledge of his hellish crimes, however because, as we reported a few months back, he's leaving the production later in the year. Hopefully, next he'll be doing penance by working in an old people's home. Of course, if a pensioner should ever see John Nettles walking towards them with their pills, he might as well be dressed in black and holding a scythe, they'd run screaming. Or, you know, totter slowly using their Zimmer-frame, screaming anyway.

Extraordinary People: Octopus Man - 9:00 Five - follows the story of Rudy Santos, a Filipino man who was born with three extra limbs attached to his abdomen. Nasty. At the age of fifty five, Rudy is beginning to suffer from poor health as a result of the additional weight caused by his extra appendages. Could his rare condition be killing him? I can never make my mind up about Extraordinary People – some episodes are tremendous, moving and worthwhile, others seem intrusive and freak-show telly. So, I could go either way on this one from the above description but, as ever, it's probably going to be worth a few minutes of ones time.

Dave repeats the final part of the new trilogy of Red Dwarf episodes at 9:00 tonight. First shown last week to some quite extraordinary viewing figures this is, of course, a revival of the popular 1990s BBC sitcom set on a spaceship and featuring the slobby 'last human alive', his evolved cat, a hologram of his dead bunkmate (whom he can't stand) and a manic android. Or, in other words, good old Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, Chris Barrie and Robert Llewelyn. Knowing they are destined to die, the Red Dwarf crew track down those responsible for their creation to plead for more life. I must admit, I only caught about twenty minutes of the first episode of this and I wasn’t that impressed – and I was big fan of the show at its peak. However, I am assured by those who caught it all that repeated viewings of it is rewarding so, if you haven't caught it yet it might be an idea to wait until they're showing all three parts again and watch them as a block. And, given that this is Dave we're talking about, that'll probably be any day now.

Thursday 30 April
As the global recession hits America's financial centre hard, filmmaker Bruce Goodison explores the impact of the current economic crisis on those who live in Wall Streets around Britain in My Wall Street - 9:00 C4. Following the fortunes of individuals across the country, the documentary analyses the impact of the credit crunch on a range of British families. Clever idea that. But, I dunno, is it just me or is anyone else starting to get a bit sick of TV shows about the credit crunch? One or two are all right, particularly, if they have some thought behind them like this one appears to have, but come on, virtually every other show at the minute seems to be about 'crisis Britain.' I dunno about anyone else but, by and large, I watch TV to momentarily escape the mundanity and horror of real-life, I'd rather not be constantly reminded of it on an half-hourly basis.

In EastEnders - 7:30 BBC1 – Big Fat Cuddly Heather is rescued by Minty, Garry and Ben from her sudden asthma attack and the doctor has some surprising news about her condition. I'll bet she's pregnant. No, actually, probably not. Meanwhile, Whitney tells Todd to get lost, loser and is then rescued by mystery guy. And Roxy is shocked (shocked, I tell you) to find Phil in a drunken stupor and his secret is finally out. That he can't act? That's hardly a secret, people we've pretty much know that for some time.

Meanwhile, Taggart - 9:00 ITV – has an unusual storyline. Robbie Ross starts to feel the heat when Thomas Duffy, one of his informants, is brutally marrrrrderrred, and the word 'grass' is daubed in paint at the crime scene. Which either means he's been seen selling Astroturf to undercut the local Job Allowance Scheme boys on the estate, or he's a pot dealer, or else somebody's worked out he's an informant. Probably the latter, I'm guessing from that set up although the former would be infinitely more watchable. Duffy's name appeared in Ross's contact book - which was stolen by a shady lady Ross took home with him and Ross knows that he must confess his transgressions. But, before he does another name from the book also turns up dead. Can he solve the case before his career becomes the next casualty? Go on, guess…

And, finally a bit of Top Telly News and, whilst ITV may have virtually no money, they've seemingly scraped enough together to produce a new six-part drama for later in the year called Identity. It's written by Waking the Dead scriptwriter Ed Whitmore and stars lovely, sexy, dangerous Keeley Hawes, Aiden Gillan, the divine Holly Aird and Shaun Parkes. Kate Bartlett, Controller of Drama at ITV Studios, says: 'This is a unique crime series, with an exciting cast, that explores the theme of identity. The psychology behind the issue of identity opens up a whole world of stories. We take for granted that people are who they say they are and a person's ID is sacred. However, when that trust is violated it can provoke a special kind of fear, one that cuts to the heart of our sense of self and the world around us.' Sounds tremendous, that. You'll have more news on when it's likely to be shown as soon as I have any to give.

In ratings news, The Apprentice juggernaut continues to roll ever onward as, of course, does Britain's Got Talent helped in no small part by that astounding performance by Susan Boyle in the opening episode. Which, quite frankly, and however you feel about the show and what it represents, justified the existence of Britain's Got Talent all on its own in one five minute chunk. I mean, honestly, when was the last time you saw Simon Cowell actually smile on television? However, the new series of Hell's Kitchen, which started with a decent enough figure of five million viewers shed a mind-blowing fifty percent of its first night audience by the next show. That's careless. Meanwhile, the new industry by-word in 'a ratings disasters' appears to be BBC2's The Speaker which was down as low as 800,000 viewers last Tuesday. Looking at the latest BARB Top Thirties for week ending 5 April, it's astoundingly obvious to see just how bad a way ITV are currently in. The BBC1 Top Thirty goes down to a low of 4.33m – not sensational but, hardly disastrous. ITV1's thirtieth placed show is 2.73m and ten of those thirty placings are for episodes of Emmerdale and Corrie.

Meanwhile, ITV's solution, it would appear, is an Australian version of Ladette to Lady. I'm not making this up, dear blog reader. I simply cannot wait to see that. However, with no football, Formula 1, Ant and Dec or Simon Cowell to get them ratings over the summer it genuinely seems to be a question of how low will ITV stoop to get some audience and I think we might just've found the bottom of the barrel they're currently scraping. Although, I still haven’t given up on my proposal of Pro-Celebrity Dwarf Tossing getting commissioned.

BBC Drama had announced the casting for Material Girl, a romantic comedy about a young fashion designer battling an evil ex-boss, a sexy but devilish business partner and snobby fashionistas to get her break in work and love, from Carnival Film and Television for BBC One. So, this is 'Britain-does-Ugly Betty' in the same way that Mistresses is 'Britain-does Sex in the City.' Leonora Crichlow (best known for Being Human and the superb, and very under-rated, Sugar Rush) plays Ali Redcliffe who sets out to make a name for herself as a fashion designer, in the only way she knows how, through sheer hard work and talent. Luscious, pouty, Marks & Spencer-voiced Dervla Kirwan (Doctor Who, Ballykissangel) is Davina Bailey, the scheming designer of the moment, who isn't about to give up her crown as Queen of Fashion to any Jenny-come-lately and the designer whom every hot star wants to be dressed by. Alongside Ali is Marco, played by Michael Landes (Love Soup), the mercurial and brilliant business partner who wants to make Ali a star. Sounds 'orrible. Will, therefore, probably be cult viewing within weeks!

It appears as if Graham Norton's pilot for a new Saturday night entertainment show, Total Saturday, was a success as the BBC have commissioned a new eight-part Saturday night series. It sounds rather like a micture of Noel's House Party and Ant and Dec's Saturday Takeaway, it must be said. Looks as if it will run in the summer alongside Total Wipeout after Tonight's the Night has finishes its current run.

Meanwhile, one of my favourite subjects, the Audience Appreciation Index.

Top AI scores - w/e Sunday 12 Apr 2009
1. Planet Earth - BBC2 Sat 11 Apr 18:40 - 92
2. CSI: NY - Five Sat 11 Apr 22:10 - 91
3. Monkey Life - Five Mon 06 Apr 18:30 - 91
4. Coast - BBC2 Sun 12 Apr 17:55 - 90
5. NCIS - Five Sat 11 Apr 20:10 - 90
6. Orangutan Diary - BBC2 Sun 12 Apr 17:00 - 90

Bottom AI scores - w/e Sunday, 12 Apr 2009
1. Not Another Teen Movie - Five Mon 06 Apr 23:05 - 65
2. Lost In Space - Five Sun 12 Apr 18:35 - 67
3. Al Murray's Multiple Personality Disorder - ITV Sun 12 Apr 22:10 - 69
4. Atomic Train - Five Sun 12 Apr 15:50 - 69
5. GMTV - ITV Thu 09 Apr 06:00 - 70

It doesn't get any better for Al Murray, does it?

Doctor Who on Saturday got a very worthy 88 whilst the Sunday BBC3 repeat got 87. Bloody indescriminating BBC3 plebs! The Monday afternoon BBC1 repeat of Planet of the Dead achieved 89. Remember, anything above 85 is considered 'excellent.' Anything under 70 is, essentially, 'you're so shit it's unbelieveable.'

And, finally, best news of the week (apart from Doctor Who's impressive AI scores), Shooting Stars is back for a new series later in the year. Ooofarfu!

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