Saturday, February 06, 2010

Week Seven: Intelligence Should be Our First Weapon - Stop Revelling In Rejection

Welcome you are, dear blog reader, to the latest batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips. I must say, Keith Telly Topping is not normally Jimmy Carr's biggest fan - finding some of his humour to be rather laboured (and, in places, overly smug) - but yer Keith Telly Topping thought he was great on this week's Qi. Answering Stephen Fry's question 'what item is the most impounded by US customs?' his answer of 'Mexicans' was not only dead funny, it was also a decent bit of pointed social comment. And, it's nice for us all to be reminded of what a very amusing lady Jan Ravens is too. One of the best of the series, that.

Friday 12 February
In Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA - 9:00 Channel 4 - that foul-mouthed recidivist (but, he's good at whipping up something quick and tasty involving pasta) Gordon Ramsay heads to United States of America. He does so in a bid to rescue some failing restaurants, apparently. Not his own, you understand. Other peoples. The Hot Potato Café in Fishtown, Philadelphia (look, I'm really not making this up) has been dubbed 'Spuddy Hell,' although we're not told by whom it has been so dubbed. Because, whoever did has the wit of a parsnip. Anyway, as a consequence of such bad publicity it may have had its chips. Heh, that's better. Y'see? Fishtown and chips? Oh, never mind. It seems, the three owners of the Hot Potato Café rely on their niece to cook in the kitchen. The problem is, as Danielle herself is the first to admit, she lacks the training to cook to anything more than an average standard and, perhaps more importantly, she also lacks the passion to improve. Can Gordon give help (and, without reducing her to tears)? Tune in to find out.

Saturday 13 February
The BBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics 2010 - 7:30 BBC2 - begins from Whistler in the icy wastes of Canada as the Olympic skiing gets under way in some style. The Men's Downhill event is always one of the real blue riband events of the Alpine Games. Who among us, of a certain age anyway, can ever forget the great names of Ski Sunday's past: Franz Klammer, Alberto Tomba, Whatshisface Stock (before he joined Aitken and Waterman) or ... you know, the British one? Conrad Thingy? This time around, Didier Cuche of Switzerland and Austrian Michael Walchhofer are the pre-event favourites for a first Olympic gold. Canada's medal hopefuls have been largely shattered by injuries, but the home crowd could have plenty to cheer if the erratic-but-brilliant Manuel Osborne-Paradis reproduces the form that brought him a World Cup victory in Italy. Look forward to thrills, spills, various compounds fractures and the sound of lots of excited men in lederhosen with cowbells. The commentators are Matt Chilton and Olympic veteran Graham Bell.

I've been told, incidentally, by my radio producer that yer Keith Telly Topping really should stop mentioning Qi every single week on these slots. Thus, in Qi: XL - 10:15 BBC2 - Stephen Fry gets to grips with gravity in this extended edition of last night's episode, with some help from Barry Humphries, Bill Bailey, Rich Hall and Alan Davies. First time this season we've been exposed to the great, bone-dry wit of Mr Hall. So, Keith Telly Topping is very much looking forward to this one. But, then again, as Scunthorpe Steve notes, I look forward to every week's episode with far too much enthusiasm these days. What can I say, dear blog reader? I've always had a thing about smart men!

Sunday 14 February
Tonight sees one of the oddest and, potentially most controversial television shows of the decade so far. All six weeks of it. Piers Morgan's Life Stories: Gordon Brown - 10:15 ITV - is an intimate fly-on-the-wall affair in which one of the most genuinely disliked and mistrusted men in the country appears to have had an epiphany: 'Yes, I am deeply unpopular, have far too high an opinion of myself, have risen to a position far beyond my limited abilities and am soon to be bundled, unceremoniously, into the dustbin of obscurity. But, if I go on television and stand next to him things can't, surely, get any worse...' So, that's why Piers Morgan's doing this programme, I couldn't tell you what the Prime Minister's motives are.

Monday 15 February
In Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets - 8:30 BBC2 - the 'legendary' (it says here) chef Raymond Blanc returns to television with his first cooking programme in thirteen years. At least, that's what the press release says. Some of us can, actually, remember that The Restaurant was on just last year. I presume by that they mean a programme in which Raymond, himself, is doing the cooking, not watching other people do it instead. Filmed in the lovely surroundings of his Oxfordshire restaurant kitchen, this programme features a range of achievable and inspirational recipes for cooks of all abilities. In this opening show, Raymond focuses on chocolate, creating four mouth-watering recipes. Okay. Sold. On that alone.

Have you ever wondered what your body language is telling others about what's actually going on in your mind? Dr Peter Collett, Jack Lewis and Anjula Mutanda study the success of celebrities and modern day behaviour to find out how members of public can achieve their goals in How To Get What You Want - 9:00 Sky1. In this, Lewis and the team focus on the topic of attraction and the role that body language plays in all sorts of areas. Including, but not restricted to, the art of seduction. Now, I'd suggest using sex as a weapon, personally. It always works for me. And, by always I mean ... seldom. Okay, not at all. But, it's a damned good laugh trying.

Law & Order: UK - 9:00 ITV - has been quietly cycling alone for the last few weeks in a ratings battle with Hustle that has seen both shows getting reasonable, if unspectacular, audiences. Well, now that Hustle's finished, for a couple weeks at least, Law & Order has the field clear for itself to pull in a few more punters. Which, hopefully, it will. It's really a rather decent little crime genre show. In this episode Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh, who is genuinely terrific) agrees to help his old friend and partner Jimmy Valentine in an undercover drugs sting, but tragedy strikes when an innocent bystander is shot dead. As both Internal Affairs and the CPS investigate the shooting, they are forced to turn their spotlight on Brooks. As the case proceeds, a murky episode from Brooks' past comes to light, but when he refuses to comment or testify, James (Ben Daniels) and Alesha (Freema Agyeman) realise that they must find another way to prove their case. Usually well-written and with a quality cast, this is well-worth an hour of your time.

Tuesday 16 February
It's time for The BRIT Awards 2010 - 8:00 ITV. Join host Peter Kay (Oh Christ, is that gobshite on television again?) for Britain's top music awards ceremony. (Not that it's got much competition.) Which this year celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. Ah, thirty years of the good old Brits: Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood. Michael Jackson and Jarvis Cocker. Chumbawamba and John Prescott. Robbie offering Liam out for a fight. Vic Reeves and rude Sharon Osbourne. There's always some disaster waiting to happen in the wings at The Brits, is there not? Still, the nominees are no better usual, this year. We are promised 'explosive performances' from an array of artists, including Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, JLS, Jay-Z, Dizzee Rascal, Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine), Kasabian, Cheryl Cole and Robbie Williams, who also will be picking up the award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. Colour me fabulously disinterested. I mean, Dizzee's a good bloke and I quite enjoy Lady Gaga's stuff. But, the rest... With nominees from Leona Lewis to Animal Collective via Mika and Pixie Lott, this 'truly memorable show' according to the press blurb looks likely to be what the Brits usually are - a faintly embarrassing back-slapping session for a bunch of tuneless rubbish. Oh dear ... I appear to have suddenly turned into my dad. How did that happen?! It's all your fault, Simon Cowell.

Was Skippy: Australia's First Superstar as BBC4 claim at 9:00? I think Rolf Harris might have something to say about that. Or, maybe Ned Kelly. Anyway, this is a documentary telling the story of one of Australia's most cherished TV icons, Skippy the bush kangaroo, the crime-busting little marsupial who conquered the world in the late sixties and early seventies. The ninety one episodes of the series were sold to one hundred and twenty eight countries and watched by hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide. It helped to put Australian TV on the map pre-Neighbours and - for those of a certain generation - is synonymous with a rather more innocent and charming childhood, often in more profound ways than many of us realise. The show includes interviews with every surviving member of the cast and some of the key crew. But, tragically, not the titular star herself who has, apparently, hopped off to that great outback in the sky.

Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance - 8:00 Channel 4 - is a series in which the alleged 'parenting expert' Jo Frost - she of the cruel glasses and angry stare - offers some no-nonsense advice to parents and talks to specialists about difficult issues that affect modern children. In this particular episode, Jo meets a spoiled brat of a nine-year-old beauty queen, Madison, and ten-year-old computer addict, Bailey. 'Terrorise the little bastards until they're too scared to do anything but exactly what you tell them to' would be Keith Telly Topping's advice to parents if this was his show. But then, perhaps thankfully, he's not paid to give his utterly worthless opinions on how badly everybody else is bringing up their kids. And, Jo Frost is. That's a necessary difference, I feel.

Wednesday 17 February
Tonight, Arsenal take on FC Porto in the Champions League. So, as ever when there's a big game on, Top Telly Tips will attempt to provide three alternatives to a bunch of overpaid prima donnas arguing with each other, rolling around on the floor and overacting disgracefully. But, enough about Desperate Housewives.

Relocation, Relocation - 8:00 Channel 4 - as usual sees the property experts Kirstie, Kirstie Allsopp and Phil, Phil Spencer trying to help people change their accommodation and their lives in today's turbulent property market. And, usually, finding that the silly sausages - most of whom have various 'that's not a real job'-type jobs such as 'interior designer' or 'freelance party organiser' - don't take any of their offered 'expert' advice. In this episode, Alex and Phillip are looking to put down some roots near Darlington. And, also, to purchase a ski chalet in the French Alps. Yeah, I kind of knew there'd be a ski chalet in there somewhere. A little cosy gaff where Alex and Phillip can sit in front of the roaring log-fire, knit their own yogurt and play their numerous Sting CDs at full volume. Until, hopefully, they cause an avalanche. Now ... it has to be asked, does anyone else think this show has lost its edge, somewhat? It used to be genuine cult viewing but I've a horrible feeling that Phil, Phil and Kirstie, Kirstie have started to believe their own hype. Recently episodes have been really quite disappointing. A temporary dip in form or something more worryingly permanent? You can be the judge, dear blog reader.

Numb3rs - 10:00 - is one of Five's several decent US genre imports. It's a classy detective drama series about a maths genius who is recruited by the FBI to help them solve complex criminal cases. And, it's quite good, actually - with some very good actors like Rob Morrow and Judd Hirsch in it. In this story, the agents investigate a mysterious death at a decommissioned military airbase. With hilarious consequences. Elsewhere, Alan welcomes Amita into the Eppes family.

In Shrink Rap - 10:00 More4 - the psychologist Pamela Connolly (you know, Billy's wife) presents a series of unconventional in-depth interviews with various celebrities about aspects of their personal lives. In what is, perhaps, one of the single most unanticipated moments in the short-but-interesting history of TV psychoanalysis, ex-model-turned-campaigner-turned-professional-ice-dancing-whinger Heather 'I'm Not A Nutter, Honest' Mills discusses her unhappy childhood, the accident in which she lost part of her left leg and her much-publicised divorce from Paul McCartney. Although, given that much of the latter is, apparently, covered by a strict gagging order related to the divorce settlement, I'm speculating that there won't be anywhere near as much on the subject as most of the viewing tens will be hoping for. Come on, admit it, that's got Car Crash Telly written all over it. If you're looking for sympathy, Heather, you married the wrong Beatle.

Thursday 18 February
Coronation Street - 8:30 ITV - sees David's attempts at impersonating poor drowned Joe in danger of backfiring disastrously. Also, Dev and Sunita are interrogated by the annoying aunties and has Jesse really hit a winning streak?

MasterChef, now transferred over to BBC1 at 8:30 kicks-off its new series with a triple length episode. So you can look forward to a full ninety minutes of John Torode and Gregg Wallace searching for the country's best amateur cook. And being jolly sarcastic in a blokey sort of way about those that try. Which is, I'm delighted to say, still must-see telly! The contestants, picked from thousands of hopeful amateurs, face three high-pressure tests to see which among them has the passion, skill and creativity to make it to the quarter-finals. In the first heat the contestants face the pressure of the professional kitchen in the Italian restaurant Dolada, in the second they have to master British classics at Rotunda, and in the third they tackle modern Spanish tapas at Iberica. Masterchef - in all of its different guises - was, of course, one of the success stories of British TV last year; a format that suddenly flowered and - twice in a year - absolutely gripped the nation. Can they do it all over again? Time will tell, but yer Keith Telly Topping, for whom this was one of his TV guilty pleasures last time around, is hopeful that they can.

Tonight's Bones - 9:00 Sky1 - sees Brennan and Booth take on another strange and baffling case when the remains of a competitive gamer are found in a grease truck. Urgh. Nasty. Meanwhile, a spot of team-bonding takes place when Sweets, Hodgins and Colin camp out for tickets to Avatar's premiere. It's not one of the best episodes of this fine show, it has to be admitted, but it's always a fun series and usually worth watching for a glimpse of one of the best ensemble casts on TV anywhere in the world.

And lastly, in tonight's Mock the Week - 9:00 BBC2 - Dara O Briain and his regulars - Hugh Dennis, Russell Howard and Andy Parsons - frisk another suspicious-looking seven days and uncover much sour and rotten doings thereabouts along with their guests for the night, Kevin Bridges, the excellent Ed Byrne and Chris Addison. And good for them.

In other news, the government's plan to relax the rules governing product placement on TV has been scaled back following public health opposition from ministers, it has emerged. Under the new arrangement, TV producers will still be banned from featuring any branded alcohol, junk food or gambling products in their programmes, according to the Guardian. The revision comes after the health secretary, Andy Burnham, and then environment secretary, Hilary Benn, lobbied strongly against certain parts of culture secretary Ben Bradshaw's initiative to free up TV product placement regulations. Echoing similar concerns expressed by The British Medical Association, Burnham and Benn argued that unrestricted advertising could lead to an increase in various public health threats, such as obesity and alcohol addiction. We're talking about TV, guys. Most of the people who watch telly are unrepentant couch potatoes and half the programmes are enough to drive even a Quaker to drink. So, what's a chap to do, you know? Bradshaw's decision to take greater account of such objections was revealed in a correspondance to cabinet colleagues, in which he stated that products of concern would remain banned. 'Following consultation with the Department of Health, I propose to ban product placement in the following areas: alcoholic drinks, HFSS [high in fat, sugar or salt] food, gambling, smoking accessories, over-the-counter medicines and baby food,' he said. The new proposal means that products by firms such as Coca-Cola and McDonald's will be excluded from product placement on TV, which could represent a major blow for broadcasters hoping to unlock millions of pounds in additional revenue. However, Whitehall insiders stated that the public health risks posed from permitting such advertising should take precedence over the need to generate short-term income for commercial broadcasters. While he was culture secretary, Burnham ruled out TV product placement as he considered that it would blur the line between advertising and editorial content. However, Bradshaw took a much different stance when succeeding him at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, instead seeing the approach as a way to boost the fortunes of beleaguered broadcasters. In response to the product placement climbdown, Children's Food Campaign representative Richard Watts expressed his delight that junk food would now be excluded. However, he added: 'We are still uneasy that plans to allow some product placement will go ahead because this could allow a future government to sneak placement of junk food through the back door. Future governments should be warned that any attempt to reintroduce product placement of junk food will be met by the same massive level of opposition that won this campaign.'

A small air-conditioning and fridge repair firm based in Northampton is being forced to change its trading name after receiving legal threats from a major movie company. MGM, which owns the James Bond brand, threatened legal action against 007 Refrigeration, according to the firm itself. Mick Purcell, who runs the business with a partner, said that they had decided to change the name to avoid a costly and lengthy legal battle. The firm will now be known as 700 Refrigeration. Lawyers acting for MGM said that the name of the Northampton firm, which used the phrase 'licence to chill' as part of its branding, could be seen as passing itself off as a film company. Oh, that's cold logic if ever I heard it. Mr Purcell told BBC News the company, which provides refrigeration and air-conditioning installation and maintenance, had been given two weeks to alter its branding. Otherwise, it would find itself in very hot water. Sorry, but some of these jokes haven't seen the light of day since the infamous winter of 1963. He added: 'Our customers can't believe it and why now? We have been trading for six years.' Maybe it's the second ice age? Purcell said it would be difficult to see how someone could 'misconstrue' that the Northampton firm for a major film company making multi-million pound spy movies. I dunno, stranger things have happened. Not much stranger, admittedly. That's what you get for trying to keep the British end up. Cold comfort for Mick and co, no doubt.

A leading lawyer has called for independent regulation of the press, and for 'all credible media organisations' to withdraw from the 'farcical' Press Complaints Commission. Sir Ken Macdonald, visiting professor of law at the London School of Economics and a former Director of Public Prosecutions, told an audience of editors and lawyers: 'The press may think the PCC works, but they are living in a dream world. Nobody else does.' His comments were echoed by others at the event on the subject of gagging the press. Those attending included the former Formula 1 chief Max Mosley, former TV presenter Anna Ford, the editors of the Guardian and the Financial Times and the deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph. Nobody from the Sun or the Daily Mail? How surprising. The issue of privacy and the crippling cost of fighting defamation cases has become more topical after last week's overturning of a super-injunction by the England football captain, John Terry. As the self-regulation body of the UK newspaper industry, the PCC has come under fire for lacking transparency and failing to promote accountability within the press. Last August, it launched the first independent review of its governance structure since it was created eighteen years ago. Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian editor, said the credibility of the PCC was 'clinging by its fingertips,' and that recent investigations had been 'embarrassing.' The PCC's current review should work out whether it has the capacity to be a regulator or a mediator, he added.

Some sad news, now. Ian Carmichael has died peacefully at his Yorkshire home at the age of eighty nine. The veteran light comedy actor, who was well-known for playing upper class characters including the title role in the BBC's World Of Wooster, fell ill over Christmas, his wife told the press. Carmichael's film and TV career spanned several decades and included classic British movies such as the Boulting Brothers' Private's Progress (1956), Brothers in Law (1957) and I'm All Right Jack (1959) as well as The Colditz Story and School For Scoundrels. His stint as Bertie Wooster was followed in the 1970s with an equally toffish role, Lord Peter Wimsey in a splendidly classy BBC period drama series based on the mystery novels of Dorothy L Sayers. More recently, Ian appeared in the serial Wives And Daughters and ITV's The Royal. Carmichael, who also wrote a 1979 autobiography Will The Real Ian Carmichael... was made an OBE in the Queen's 2003 Birthday Honours List. Novelist Kate Fenton, is his second wife. His first, Pym McLean, died in 1983. He also leaves two daughters, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Former sports commentator Neil Durden-Smith, who knew Carmichael well through their mutual work for the Lord's Taverners cricket-based charity, paid tribute to the actor. 'When I became a trustee in 1976 he had been chairman for two years. He was a marvellous chairman, very caring, hard working, very responsible. It's quite unusual for a full-time working actor to be chairman of a pretty big charity.'

Keira Knightley has revealed that she ignores negative criticism in the press. The actress explained that she only listens to people close to her because they have her best interests at heart. 'Every time I do an interview with the English press, one of their questions is, "How do you feel knowing that everyone thinks you're a shit actress?"' she told Elle. 'You have to be selective about the people whose advice and opinions you take.' Knightley added that she values honesty and always takes on board any comments made by her parents. 'I know they would never tell me I was shit because they were trying to hurt me,' she said. 'It would always come from a very sincere place.' Can Keith Telly Topping just take this opportunity to assure everyone - and particularly Keira herself - that he doesn't think Keira is shit or anything remotely like it. But, rather, that she is lovely. A very important distinction, I feel.

John Barrowman appeared on tonight's Friday Night with Jonathan Ross this week, during which he discussed how grateful he was to Torchwood and how the show's American profile was responsible for him gaining his forthcoming role in the popular US series Desperate Housewives. When asked about what may be in the future for Captain Jack himself, Big Gay John noted: 'I don't know ... that's the answer I have to give you. I have no clue of what's going to happen. That's what I am sticking to - I always say something else and I get in trouble for it, so I'm not saying anything more!' So, there you have it dear blog reader. For the first time ever John Barrowman has decided to remain silent on the subject of ... anything? Nope, that's never happened before!

David Goyer has reportedly stepped down as showrunner on FlashForward, ABC has confirmed. The show's co-creator will still be involved with the series, which stars Joseph Fiennes and Dominic Monaghan, in capacity as executive producer, however. In a statement to the media, Goyer said the decision was due to time constraints. 'As my feature projects have started ramping up again, I felt I was being pulled in too many directions,' he said. 'I'm proud of the show and excited about the relaunch. It's in great hands.' Goyer became showrunner in October last year after his predecessor, Marc Guggenheim, departed the cult drama amid speculation that the network was concerned about its creative direction. It is unclear who will replace Goyer. Filming is currently taking place on FlashForward's seventeenth and eighteeenth episodes in Los Angeles. On-screen, FlashForward began a fifteen-week hiatus in December having seen its audience drop quite dramatically over the previous weeks following a strong opening in September and October. It is scheduled to return for the first in a final batch of thirteen episodes on 18 March.

Alex Reid had no idea that he was flying to Las Vegas to get married and wants an annulment, the Daily Star has claimed. The Celebrity Big Brother winner wed Katie Price in Nevada four days ago. Advisors to the thirty four-year-old crossing-dressing cage-fighter are now, according to the tabloid, searching for a legal loophole to annul the union. A source told the paper: 'He feels he was pressurised and hadn't had time to consider all the implications.' A spokesperson for Price said that the couple intended to get married, but added that the former glamour model planned the event whilst Reid was in the Big Brother house. 'Alex and Kate had always intended to get married but the Vegas trip was spontaneous and Alex didn't know about it,' he added. 'Naive and stupid,' was how one friend described Reid, adding: 'I wasn't at the ceremony, but I am told he'd had a few beforehand, which could have clouded his thoughts. He is a real family guy and he would have loved to have his family there.' Sources at the couple's hotel said that they have already been arguing. 'We had a few calls from guests complaining about the noises coming from their suite. She was furious and screaming at him saying, "You were a nobody before you met me." It sounded like they were really going for it in there,' one insider said.

And, finally, congratulations to Soccer AM for the most obvious TV joke of the week as part of their Ipso Facto coverage of today's Liverpool-Everton derby. 'What's the most horrible miss ever seen on Merseyside?' they asked, before answering: 'Kerry Katona. She's minging.' Very funny. Wish I'd said it.

1 comment:

Ian said...

I remember the days when I used to wait up for Skippy when I was young. It is still one among my best favourites.

Ian