Saturday, June 12, 2010

Week Twenty Five: World Cup Fever & Doctor Who 'Flu

Geri Halliwell once sang on an official England World Cup song (1998's wretched 'On Top Of The World'). This week, she was booed by X Factor fans when she appeared as a guest judge at auditions in Glasgow, tabloid reports have claimed. According to the Mirror, the former Spice Girl angered audience members by refusing to put through a singer named Katie who had proved popular with the crowd. It is thought that Halliwell had the casting vote after the budding star was backed by Cheryl Cole and Louis Walsh but rejected by Simon Cowell. A source told the newspaper: 'Geri had the chance to please the crowd and many were shouting Katie's name. But Geri ignored them and turned Katie down, causing the crowd to go crazy. Eventually they invited Katie back to try again, but Geri was judged to be the executioner and she never recovered from that.' Meanwhile, the Daily Star claims that Halliwell also annoyed fans by adopting a 'mean' judging style, prompting a chant of 'Bring back Dannii!' Halliwell was the first of several guests to stand in for Minogue while she takes maternity leave.

And so, in the five minutes yer Keith Telly Topping has before the next World Cup match kicks-off, let's have some Top Telly Tips:

Friday 18 June
Today's World Cup games are Germany v Serbia (12:15 BBC1), Slovenia v USA (3:00 BBC1) and, of course, The Big One, England v Algeria (6:30 ITV). Your only real worthwhile alternative to that is the season finale of Glee - 8:35 Channel 4 - in which Quinn is suffering from anxiety with the baby due imminently and, as the Regionals approach, the Glee Club remains vulnerable to Sue Sylvester's creative plotting. But then, I imagine the majority of people who'' want to watch that will have already caught it on E4 on Monday. Good news for all Glee fans, however, is that it's been recommissioned for another two series in the US. That aside, it's a repeat of Inspector George Gently or a repeat of Qi. Stick with the football, at least if we get beat it'll give you something to talk about in the bus queue tomorrow!

Saturday 19 June
It's the first of the two-part Doctor Who season finale - 6:40 BBC1. The Doctor's friends unite to send him a terrible warning; the Pandorica - which is said to contain 'the most feared being in all the cosmos' - is opening. But what is inside, and can the Doctor stop it? He better had, it's Cameroon v Denmark on the other side (7:00 ITV). Other games today are Netherlands v Japan (12:00 ITV) and Ghana v Australia (2:30 BBC1). Looking forward to at least two of those. If you don't fancy the football, then you can always check out the latest goings on in the Big Brother house (9:00 Channel 4). Or, for the slightly more culturally minded, Gareth Malone Goes to Glyndebourne (8:00 BBC2). Those who say 'there's nothing on but football' just aren't looking hard enough!

Sunday 20 June
Wild Night In - 8:00 BBC2 - comes from from London Zoo. The Springwatch team of Kate Humble, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games present a two-hour fundraising extravaganza in aid of the BBC Wildlife Fund. With contributions from Graham Norton and David Attenborough, there are also captivating reports from around the globe where the fund has provided money for a series of distinctive conservation programmes to protect iconic animals including mountain gorillas, tigers, elephants and wolves. Or, alternatively, there's another endangered species on BBC1, a football match between two genuine flair teams, Brazil and Cote d'Ivoire (7:00) which might, just, be the match of the first round. Depends on if Drogba's fit, I guess. Watch, now I've said that, it'll turn out to be worse than France v Uruguay!

Elsewhere, there's a repeated Lewis - 8:00 on ITV - about a singer who faked her own death guest starring Joanna Lumley. Today's earlier World Cup games are Slovakia v Paraguay (12:10 BBC1) and, a recreation of the Battle of Monte Cassino, Italy v New Zealand (2:30 on ITV) which could be a massacre although, knowing how slowly the Italians traditionally start, will probably end up 1-0. And Rino Gattuso will spend the entire ninety minutes kicking hapless Kiwis!

Monday 21 June
Wimbledon starts today and is on BBC2 pretty much all day. So, what with that, Spain v Honduras (7:00 ITV), Portugal v North Korea (12:15 BBC1) and Chile v Switzerland (2:30 BBC1), if you're looking for anything other than sport, today, you might struggle. But, as ever, yer Keith Telly Topping has done a public service and dug out three potential alternatives. Although, why anybody would want to miss Spain v Honduras is beyond me, frankly. There's a repeat of a particularly memorable episode of The Royle Family - 9:00 BBC1, for a start.

Also, Dispatches: How to Save 100 Billion - 8:00 Channel 4 - in which Krishnan Guru-Murthy and a panel of experts set out a series of controversial cuts and radical measures that could save Britain one hundred billion smackers. The ideas range from placing VAT on food to reducing the pay of public service workers, with a studio audience voting for and against each of the proposed changes. Democracy in action, or Monopoly with real people's lives. You decide, dear blog reader.

A Century of Fatherhood - 9:00 BBC4 - is a three-part series which tells the story of the revolution in modern fatherhood in Britain during the last hundred years. Using testimony, archive and the latest historical research it reveals the important role played by fathers. The opening part explodes the myth of the tyrannical Victorian-style father, whose children were seen and not heard. In actual fact, the majority of men did not harshly punish their children - they were good, devoted and loving dads who took their job as family provider and protector very seriously indeed. Part of a series of related shows on the ever-reliable BBC4. I like the sound of that one, actually. I think that has some potential to drag me away from plucky little Honduras' stone-walling Torres and co during a stormy second-half.

Tuesday 22 June
What could possibly drag you away from Maradona's Argentina v Greece (7:00 BBC1), you may ask, dear blog reader? How about Russell Howard's Good News - 9:30 BBC3. This is, if you've never seen it before, a topical comedy show hosted by Mock The Week's Russell Howard, who offers his unique perspective on the big stories dominating the media across TV, online and in print, as well as picking up on those sometimes overlooked things that make him smile. Sort of a slightly more politicised version of Harry Hill's TV Burp; not quite as funny but it's usually got something that'll make you laugh in it. Of today's other World Cup games, either France v South Africa or Mexico v Uruguay will feature on ITV during the afternoon, and Nigeria v South Korea is on BBC3 at 7:00.

We talked about Tribal Wives - 9:00 BBC2 - a couple of weeks ago. This is a series in which six British women swap their everyday lives for life as tribal wives with some of the most remote communities on earth. Seems to divide opinion right down the middle, this one. Some people find it really life-affirming and fascinating, others think it's an annoyingly patronising and almost colonialist. I must admit, I come and go between the two with alarming frequency. Tonight, Becky Camilleri from London travels to Kitava, off the east coast of Papua New Guinea. Successful, talented and beautiful but unlucky in love and deeply distrustful, Becky struggles with life as a Kitavan woman and the edicts laid down by her strict tribal 'father', but her island relationships cast light on those back home and throw up surprising revelations about her past.

And, lastly for tonight there Mongrels - 10:00 BBC3 - which is described as 'the world's first urban, multi-species, adult, post-watershed, puppet comedy' about four different animals forced to live together in a pub garden in Brixton. I've seen some clips and it looks really very funny indeed. For fortysomethings who like Mock The Week but still miss Pipkins! Well worth a shot, I reckon, and it's on after the football.

Wednesday 23 June
ITV will broadcast either Ghana v Germany or Australia v Serbia at 7:00 depend on who is where in the group. And, earlier, you'll all be skiving off work early to watch Slovenia v England (3:00 BBC1). That's the beauty of being self-employed and working from home, y'see. I just tell myself I'm having the afternoon off. The BBC1 alternative to the footie is The Inspector Lynley Mysteries at 8:00; a drama about the upper-crust detective Thomas Lynley and his working class sergeant, Barbara Havers - a class-war sitcom that's somehow found itself with a crime drama format wrapped around it. To The Manor Born in the middle of an episode of The Bill. Old wounds are reopened when Lynley investigates the disturbing death of his godson more than a decade after the boy's disappearance. Lynley is drawn into the case, leading him first to Rome and then headlong into the middle of a new murder enquiry in which Lynley himself becomes the prime suspect. Will Havers be able to save his skin?

In Lennon Naked - 9:30 BBC4 - former Doctor Christopher Eccleston played self-confessed Scouse wife-beating junkie John Lennon in a drama which charts his transition from Beatle John to enduring and enigmatic icon for sad ex-hippies who inhaled too much in the early 70s. Writer Robert Jones articulates the burden of genius, as well as issues of fatherhood and fame, covering a period of Lennon's wildly fluctuating fortunes from 1967 to 1971. It also reveals the impact of re-establishing contact with his own long-lost father, Freddie, and the events that led John to shed everything, personally and creatively, including calling time on the Beatles. Now, I really could go either way on this one. I admire Lennon as a songwriter greatly but I don't like the halo that surrounds him from much of his fandom. I think he was a complex bloke with a lot of personal demons, which actually makes him flawed-and-interesting, rather than a saint as some people would have you believe. Lots of talent attached to this one, though, so it could be very worthwhile indeed. I might even give the football a miss for this. For one night only.

Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin's Outnumbered - 9:30 BBC1 - is a partly-improvised sitcom looking at the trials and tribulations of bringing up three young children - a regal five-year-old girl with a talent for interrogation, a seven-year-old boy who could fib for Britain and an eleven-year-old who is gearing up for his scary first day at secondary school. If you've never caught it before then you obviously haven't been reading this blog for the last couple of years. It is, comfortably, the best sitcom British TV has produced in, probably, a decade. Give it a shot, you won't regret it.

Thursday 24 June
In Coronation Street - 8:30 ITV - having survived the, quite literal in Gail's case, trials and tribulations of Gun Crime Week, is now getting back to something approaching normality. Graeme is still stunned after the events of last night. Stunned, I tells ya. Deirdre is intrigued by Lewis the gigolo (an excellent performance by Nigel Havers). Will Michelle be able to control her feelings for Ciaran? Alternatively, if you can tear yourself away from Weatherfield for a night, there's the potentially fascinating Cameroon v The Netherlands (7:00 BBC1) or Denmark v Japan (on BBC3). And, Mock The Week is, of course, also back - BBC2 10:00, and that's normally good for a laugh, or several.

Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary which follows the lead singer of the US rock band Eels, Mark Oliver Everett, as he travels across America to learn about the father he never knew, quantum physicist Hugh Everett III. Hugh died of a heart attack in his home in 1982, where his body was found by nineteen-year-old Mark. Even though they had lived in the same house, the two of them were entirely alienated. Only by entering the paradoxical world of quantum mechanics can Mark hope to understand why he was such a stranger to his own father. Part of BBC4's on-going Fatherhood series.

If you missed Extreme Fishing with Robson Green when it was on, tonight's you chance to catch up - 8:00 Fiver. Wor Robson's journey begins in southern Africa, where he seeks the legendary vundu catfish at Lake Kariba. In Zimbabwe, he visits Lake Mteri for an encounter with a wide-mouth bass, before heading to Victoria Falls to fish in a deep pool known as the 'boiling pot.' And, he will say 'wey, y'bugger!' and 'eeee, it's a whopper' a lot and, generally, come across as a rather good bloke. it's got a very silly title, admittedly, but don't let that put you off.

And the afternoon's games are Slovakia v Italy and Paraguay v New Zealand, one of which will be shown on ITV. Probably the former, I'm guessing.

So to this week's news: The BBC has been accused of 'exploiting' a participant in one of its new programmes. Laura Hall, who has an ASBO banning her from buying or drinking alcohol, will fly to Ayia Napa on holiday accompanied by a BBC3 crew. However, the Sun reports that social workers have described the move as 'outrageous exploitation.' One described Hall as 'incredibly vulnerable' and added: 'She will die if she keeps on drinking to excess. Now she is getting a kick out of being filmed. It's making her drink even more. The BBC should be above this.' However, the BBC defended the decision and denied claims that the organisation is paying Hall or subsidising her holiday. 'Laura's welfare is of ultimate concern to us,' a spokesperson said. 'This is a responsible film as she tries to turn her life around.'

Dara O'Briain has been confirmed as the new host of The Apprentice: You're Fired. The award-winning stand-up comedian, Qi regular and Mock The Week host, landed the role after Adrian Chiles left the BBC for ITV. 'I'm delighted to be stepping into the chair for this,' said Dara. 'As a comedian, I've spent my entire career asking people, "What do you do for a living?" It can't be too much of a stretch to add the words "now that you know you're not getting this job" at the end of the question.' Heh! Meanwhile, BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow said: 'I'm thrilled to have Dara on board. His unique style of quick-witted banter is ideally suited to the job of probing the latest casualty of Lord Sugar's infamous firing finger.' Yeah. His line was funnier.

Katy Perry, Pixie Lott and Natalie Imbruglia will appear as guest judges on the next series of the X Factor. Three good reasons to continue avoiding it, then, I'd've said.

The ONE Show is to undergo a minor revamp in time for its return to BBC1 in four weeks' time. The BBC announced that the weeknight magazine programme will broadcast on BBC HD from 12 July, when the show will also have a new set. 'The ONE Show is off air for four weeks during the World Cup. During this time, the studio is going to have a bit of a revamp ready for when it returns where it will also be available in glorious high definition on the BBC HD channel,' a corporation spokesperson said. 'Christine will also be joined by two new presenters on its return - Jason Manford and Chris Evans,' the statement added. However, Bleakley suggested yesterday evening that she is still considering her future at the broadcaster. Oh, for God's sake is this story still running? Hey, listen love, you're starting to try everybody's patience now. It's very simple, if you can't live without Chilesy then piss off to ITV. If you don't fancy getting up at three in the morning five days a week (and I'm sure Frank won't appreciate getting woken up every time you have to go to work), then stay where you are for less money but, probably, a far better social life. Jeez, talk about milking it.

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