Monday, November 23, 2009

Week Forty Eight: Walking The Line

Well, that was a nice little nothing that Ali Bastien was almost wearing on Saturday night on Strictly, was it not, dear blog reader? Meanwhile, EastEnders actor Ricky Groves became the tenth celebrity to be voted off the dance show. Groves, who was partnered by Erin Boag, finished bottom of the judges' leader board, scoring twenty two points for his tango. Craig Revel Horwood claimed that Groves' routine was 'filled with mistakes galore' and described it as 'mechanical.' Groves, who was in the bottom two for the third consecutive week, was joined in the dance-off by Laila Rouass and Anton Du Beke. Rouass received twenty nine points for her waltz. All four judges chose to save Rouass and Du Beke without hesitation. Afterwards, Erin Boag praised Groves, calling him the perfect partner. The actor added: 'I've met Rod Stewart, I've met Shirley Bassey and most importantly I've met Erin Boag, so thank you very much.' Class act, Ricky - brought enthusiasm and fun to the competition and didn't whinge when he left it. Earlier in the evening, Olympic long-jumper Jade Johnson and Ian Waite had been forced to pulled out of the competition following Jade's knee injury last week. Hopefully, she'll be all right for the new athletics season. Next Saturday, the remaining five celebrities will dance either in a rock 'n' roll style or a Charleston routine.

The BBC's annual Children in Need telethon on Friday - featuring a host of comedy, stage, screen and music stars - raised almost twenty one million pounds for charity. Performers from EastEnders, The Bill and The ONE Show were among those to be featured on the seven-hour show, hosted by Alesha Dixon, Terry Wogan and Tess Daly. The insufferable Peter Kay launched 'the official single,' featuring dozens of children's TV characters, whilst the dance group Diversity - remember them? - spiced up the BBC newsreaders' routine featuring Foxy Fiona Bruce and Saucy Sophie Rayworth. Personally, Keith Telly Topping watched the Doctor Who Christmas teaser and then went to bed but, he's sure that plenty of others got something out of the night. Even if it was an appreciation of brevity in all things. The total fell just short of the figure raised at the same point last year which, coming as it does whilst there's still a recession on, is very admirable. Well done, Britain.

Let's have a few Top Telly Tips:

Friday 27 November:
We Are Family - 9:00 BBC2 - is a documentary which focuses on an unusual family over the course of what the pre-publicity described as 'an extraordinary weekend.' The film follows the Minchew family members' progress as they come together for the purpose of strengthening family ties and uncovers a shared past which is shrouded in secrecy. With three different fathers between them, the only thing that the eight siblings have in common is their ageing and ailing mother, who still refuses to divulge key information about her early life - much to the frustration of her children. Sounds rather fun, that. Possibly a tad invasive but, then, there's the argument that these people signed up for the thing in the first place so one could infer that they're asking for everything they get. We'll have to watch it to find out.

Still on the subject of documentaries, Johnny Cash: The Story of Folsom Prison - 9:00 BBC4 - looks at what was probably the most important day in the long and largely successful career of country singer Johnny Cash. A concert at California's Folsom State Prison in January 1968 seemed to touch a raw nerve in the American psyche when highlights of the show were released as live LP a few months later and made turned Cash into something of a national hero - or, at least - a wry and accurate commentators on the spirit of the age - at a troubled time in US history. Using the stark images of photographer Jim Marshall, newfangled graphic techniques, archive footage and interviews with Merle Haggard, Cash's daughter Rosanne, band members and former inmates of the prison, the film documents the concert and the live album that followed. And, if you've never heard it, for God's sake do yourself a favour go out and buy the CD (you can get it in a double pack with the following year's equally startling and visceral Live at San Quentin). The moment when Johnny, in the middle of 'Folsom Prison Blues', sings that line about shooting a man in Reno 'just to watch him die' and two thousand murderers, rapists and people who got banged up for nicking stuff from the local 7/11 holler in empathy is, truly, one of rock and roll's defining moments.

Saturday 28 November:
I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! - 9:00 ITV. Those celebrities that haven't got sick or fed up or voted out battle with the locale - and each other - as they face more days in the jungle and someone must take on another yet Bushtucker Trial in order to earn food for camp. It won't be Katie Price, however, who dramatically quit the show in a fit of pique on Sunday. According to the Sun, the glamour model told the producers that she would leave the programme if she was voted to do another bushtucker trial. She was, promptly, voted to do another bushtucker trial. Price reportedly said: 'I can't do another trial. I'm walking. There's only so much crap one person can take.' Yes, Katie. We know. 'The way I've been treated on the show by the viewers, you'd think I was the most hated woman in Britain.' Sounds about right. But then, you were getting half a million pounds for it, Jordan. Did you seriously expect they were just going to let you sit on your silicon implants for a month for that amount of coin? Anyway, it's hosted, as ever, by Wor Anthony and Wor December. Possibly tonight we'll find out what some of these 'celebrities' actually do. It was hard not to love Jezza Clarkson's joke about The Stig have been turned down for a place on I'm A Celebrity ... 'because he is one.' And, speaking of Lord Jeremy of Aston Martin ...

Sunday 29 November:
In Top Gear - 9:00 BBC2 - Jeremy and Richard try to settle their debate about which company has made the greatest number of truly brilliant cars over the years. James, meanwhile, has a novel solution for getting caravans to campsites without clogging up the roads, and Jeremy hits the track in a remarkable replica of a legendary rally car. And, of course, the Gruniad will have come up with at least two further shitehawk 'exclusive' articles about some aspect of the programme that some Communist-scum journalist or blogger they employ disapproves of. Because, that's what they do. A pox on your house, Gruniad, you're impressing no one except the converted. And Bill Oddie. Radio 2's Breakfast Show DJ-elect and all-round petrolhead (and, a few other sorts of 'something' head) Chris Evans is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.

There's a repeat of the brilliant Christmas episode of The Royle Family - 10:25 BBC1. Inspired by Nigella Lawson, Denise decides to cook Christmas dinner for the family. Jim provides the yuletide log and, much to his dismay, Dave's mum and dad are invited to join the festivities. What could possibly go wrong? Hang on, that's Top Gear's catch-phrase, isn't it? Is this a crossover with Clarkson shouting 'Christmas, my arse' from the Royle family sofa? Do you know, I'd watch that!

A couple of weeks ago, this blogger was a bit dismissive about Miranda - 10:00 BBC2. Just goes to show that not even yer Keith Telly Topping is infallible. Certainly, the Gruniad isn't. 'Infiballub,' possibly, but not infallible. It's really quite a sharp, witty, clever little show with a nice sense of awareness of its own potential archness which it manages to undercut with some swagger. Miranda Hart is great in the central role and the rest of the cast seem to have got the right idea with the tongue-in-cheek humour. In tonight's episode Miranda's mother Penny (the great Patricia Hodge) is disappointed that Miranda runs a joke shop rather than having 'a proper job.' Penny bumps into one of Miranda's old school friends, Tilly, and lies that Miranda has a great new job, so Miranda decides to prove everyone wrong and find herself a new career. After getting caught by Tilly while helping out as a waitress, she decides to come clean and be proud of her real job, but, thanks to Gary, Tilly jumps to a surprising conclusion about Miranda's employment. If you haven't caught this one so far - and, especially, if you were put off by my poo-pahing the first episode, give it a go, I think you might rather like it.

Monday 30 November:
Life - 9:00 BBC1 - the nature documentary series this week takes a look at marine invertebrates, some of the most bizarre and beautiful creatures on the planet. Divers swim into a shoal of predatory Humboldt squid as the animals emerge from the depths to hunt in packs. Time-lapse photography reveals thousands of starfish gathering under the Arctic ice to devour a seal carcass. And a giant octopus commits suicide for her young: a camera follows her into a cave which she walls up, then she protects her eggs until she starves. Great stuff this though it's been getting thrashed in the ratings over the last few weeks. I can't remember the last time something David Attenborough was involved in was which was beaten, quite so regularly, by whatever ITV seemed to put up against it.

On Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - a scheming Rosie has some dirty and deceitful plans for poor old honest John. Will Liz go for Teresa's 'Vicars and Tarts' party? And, if not why not? Meanwhile, Ken is not happy with the way George is buying his way into Simon's affections. Well, ken's seldom happy about pretty much anything and hasn't been since, ooo, 1961. Ish.

Dispatches: Lords, Billionaires and the Russian Connection - 8:00 Channel 4 - looks rather good. Anthony Barnett examines the relationship between Russian oligarchs who are trying to buy British institutions - including football clubs and newspapers - and the political elite of the House of Lords. Ah, y'see - there you've got the classic dichotomy. They might have all the roubles in Vladivostok, but Roman and the like will never be anything more than nouveau riche vulgarians to the Fourth Duke of Albermarle and his chums on the grouse shoot.

Tuesday 1 December:
It's that time of the year, again, I'm afraid. You know it's getting towards the end of November when the Christmas cookery shows begin. Delia's Classic Christmas - 9:00 BBC2 - is first off the mark and, for the first time since 1990, Delia returns to television screens at Christmas time to unveil a celebration feast packed with indulgent, scrumptious recipes. God, is it that long? It seems like just last week. And actually, on Watch, it probably was. Anyway, Delia is a firm believer that the festive period of cooking and feasting should be cherished, not feared. She treats viewers with some good old Christmas classics, from gloriously fragrant home-made mincemeat and a traditional Christmas pudding to a glossily bronzed turkey with all the trimmings. How much behind her do we reckon Nigella's going to be, licking her fingers? It's food pornography, that's what it is, dear blog reader.

Sea Patrol UK - 8:00 Five - is a documentary series which chart the work of the elite teams who patrol the English Channel. In this episode, the bomb squad comes to the rescue when a trawler nets a deadly catch, two missing climbers need assistance from the RAF and Kent marine police target a number of potential vessels under the Prevention of Terrorism act.

Businesswoman Ruth Watson - and her very cruel, frowning face - revisits the owners of some British stately homes to whom she gave orders ... sorry, advice a year earlier Country House Rescue - 8:00 Channel 4. Ruth returns to Scotland where Black Clauchrie has been part of the wild Galloway landscape since 1901. Have Caroline and Adrian Goodall overcome their problems and done exactly what Ruth told them to? Cos, if they haven't, they'll be a punishment due.

Wednesday 2 December:
Big Top - 7:30 BBC1 - is a new comedy series set in and around a travelling circus. Ringmistress and boss of Circus Maestro, Lizzie, is furious when her show is sabotaged by a rival one in town, and is determined to get some very satisfying revenge. But the timing is not good, as there is a Health and Safety inspector due to be visiting. Fearing that her circus will be shut down, Lizzie is somewhat surprised when the inspector takes a shine to her. Not sure about this one, the trailer seemed desperately short of anything even approaching yer actual 'jokes.' The cast, however, is astonishing: Amanda Holden, John Thomson, Ruth Madoc and Tony Robinson to name but four.

In 1979, the artist Kit Williams turned Britain into a giant treasure map, promising a golden hare, buried in the earth, to the first person who could solve the riddle of his children's book Masquerade. The media hysteria which followed drove Williams underground, where he has continued to create complex and beautiful art work, which he steadfastly refuses to publicly exhibit. In his first television interview in over two decades, Williams lifts the lid on life both before and after Masquerade in The Man Behind the Masquerade - 9:00 BBC4. Did the hare deprive Britain of one of our most gifted painters?

Never Mind the Buzzcocks - 10:00 BBC2 - the anarchic, award-winning pop quiz continues on its merry way. The regular team captains are Phill Jupitus and and the completely and totally unfunny Noel Fielding (can anybody actually explain to me in words that I'd understand what on earth they find so slap-yer-thigh hilarious about the bloke?). And, presiding over them, in all his lordly glory is The X Factor's Dermot O'Dreary. The guests this week include Michael Ball, Irish comedian David O'Doherty, History Boys and Being Human actor Russell Tovey and, from JLS, Aston Merrygold.

Thursday 3 December:
Thankfully for the state of the nation's well-being, Qi returned to our screens, last week - 9:30 BBC1. Tonight, Stephen Fry genially generalises about animals starting with the letter G, with the help of regulars Bill Bailey, Sean Lock, Alan Davies and first-time guests Sandi Toksvig and American humorist John Hodgman. Keith Telly Topping must notes, however, that he is really disappointed to find the BBC have seemingly dropped the Qi: XL extended repeats that were such a hit last year.

Natural World - 9:00 BBC2 - looks at the unique wildlife of the Scottish Highlands, seen through the eyes of the filmmaker Fergus Beeley. Based for a year at Loch Maree and the surrounding hills in Scotland's windswept far North West, Beeley presents his very personal view of the shy and timorous beasties whose lives are ruled by the rains that constantly lash the highlands. He follows the fortunes of rare black-throated divers and white-tailed sea eagles, red deer and salmon. All to the soundtrack of what's promised to be 'an evocative score' provided by local musician Phil Cunningham.

Wonderland: The Trouble with Mother - 9:50 BBC2 - is another documentary in the series about eccentricity. This one concerns eighty-year-old former concert pianist Pauline, who is in need of some help and care from her middle-aged son, Frederick. The film follows Frederick as he attempts to get his mother's cluttered, five-bedroom South London house in order. As Frederick sorts through coat-hangers, newspapers and old advertising leaflets, he realises the task is going to take far longer than the fortnight he had predicted it would. As someone who has, within the last few months, undertaken a similar (if less time consuming) task within my own family, let me be the first to say to Frederick 'good luck with that.'

And so, to the latest batch of Top Telly News: Paul McCartney is reportedly in talks to appear on The X Factor live final next month. If the singer agrees to perform, the theme for the show would be Beatles songs, the Mirror claims. An insider told the newspaper: 'The big plan by Simon Cowell is to get Sir Paul for the final, which would be just fantastic. Everybody knows the Beatles wrote some of the best songs in history, so it would be a sensational end for the series.' Oh dear. Meanwhile, Rod Stewart has said that he would have considered applying for The X Factor if he was younger. However, the veteran singer added that he is concerned about the impact the programme is having on the music industry. 'I didn't really see the point in releasing an album at Christmas when everybody has got them coming out, trying to compete with X Factor people and all that,' he told the Sun. 'Robbie didn't get to number one either. The old days used to be about putting bums on seats, selling albums. Now you do it the other way around - TV first. You can't compete with X Factor. But who won the first X Factor? And is he around still? What about the second one? Leona is an incredible singer right enough, great voice.' Stewart suggested that the show's contestants need to 'brush up on their stagecraft,' but continued: 'The way to do that is by doing your apprenticeship. Especially because a lot of pubs are closing down now because of the death of live music. That's how everybody came up, playing in pubs. There is nowhere to go now to see a live band, so that avenue has closed.' Stewart joked that he would have applied for the programme if he had been 'desperate,' adding: 'But they probably wouldn't have liked me, I was too rough and ready. I don't know if I had the character or personality at sixteen, seventeen or maybe a bit later. I had a bit of an edge, I looked different. Same haircut, mind.'

John and Edward become the seventh act to be voted off The X Factor. The terrible twins found themselves in the bottom two alongside Olly Murs in the public vote. Both acts then had to perform a song of their choice to persuade the judges to keep them in the competition. Earlier it had been announced that the twins' security had been increased after death threats aimed at the pair were reportedly posted on Facebook. The News of the World claimed that one viewer threatened to shoot the hopefuls with a rifle, adding: 'Jedward soon to be deadward.' Hopefully this cretinous wretch will soon be arrested. For crimes again poetry. Security at the X Factor studios in Wembley was increased to avoid a repeat of the incident last week when Calvin Harris invaded the stage during the twins' performance. 'There's no way that will be able to happen again,' a source explained. 'Safety is paramount to us. We need to protect all the contestants but John and Edward have had a lot of attention from the start so they are a unique case. These threats are mad and disgusting.'

Jamie Archer has claimed that Louis Walsh's comments about him on The X Factor were 'rubbish.' The former contestant described Walsh's remarks as 'like water off a duck's back,' explaining that he wasn't upset by them because the judge 'knows nothing' about rock music. 'I don't think he has the CV to comment on whether I was good at rock music or not,' Archer told the News of the World. 'If Jimi Hendrix had come back to life and was saying what he said then I would be devastated, but Louis Walsh? It might as well have been Harry Hill sitting there.'

Cheryl Cole is reportedly to be given her own TV show. The X Factor judge will receive one hundred thousand pounds for hosting the one-off programme on Saturday 19 December, the Sun has claimed.

Barbara Windsor's EastEnders character Peggy Mitchell will reportedly not be killed off when the actress leaves the soap next year. The seventy two-year-old actress recently announced that she is to quit the show in order to spend more time with husband Scott Mitchell. She has said, however, that she is keen to reprise the role in 2012, the Sun has claimed. A source told the newspaper: 'Barbara has such a fondness for Peggy that she genuinely wants to play her again. She doesn't want the character killed off. Producers understand that.'

EastEnders star Charlie Hawkins has been questioned by police after witnessing an assault on an off-duty police officer. The eighteen-year-old actor, who plays Darren Miller in the BBC soap, was with friends in a London bar when a fight spilled onto the street, the People reports. A police officer passing the Walkabout in Islington tried to intervene but was attacked and required hospital treatment. Commenting on Hawkins's role in the incident, an EastEnders spokesman said: 'He was not involved apart from trying to defuse the situation.' Police confirmed that two men have been arrested and bailed on suspicion of GBH.

Joe Bugner has apologised for his comments about I'm A Celebrity ... campmate Sabrina Washington's cooking. The former boxer was said to have angered the rest of base-camp when he complained that Washington had cooked the chicken incorrectly and should have stuck to washing up. The next morning, Washington said that she felt under 'too much pressure' to cook, while Justin Ryan, who had defended her, said that he had 'babbled with rage.' I'm sure that Big Joe was positively knocking his knees together knowing that he'd raised the ire of a camp interior designer. Anyway, speaking in the Bush Telegraph, Bugner explained that he regretted his comments, saying: 'I personally may have lost it yesterday for whatever reason and I regret it now because realistically we've all got to stick together.' He also apologised to the group, telling them: 'It was nothing to do with the food, it's nothing to do with anyone. I thought, "I hope they throw me off now - I'm ready to go."' Kim Woodburn described Joe Bugner as 'a very rude man.' Yeah. But, he's got a fabulous right-hook, though.

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