Saturday, July 31, 2010

Week Thirty Two: In Love With The Common People

Presenter Clare Balding has made an official complaint to the Press Complaints Commission over an article which, she believes, mocked her sexuality in The Sunday Times. Last week the newspaper's columnist and well-known battery AA Gill, someone never short of opinion on pretty much anything, reviewed Balding's new BBC4 show Britain By Bike. However, Balding took exception to comments Gill made about her sexuality and appearance in the article. A PCC spokesperson confirmed the organisation had received a complaint and was now 'considering' it. So, that will presumably mean nothing whatsoever will be done about it. Just as nothing whatsoever was done when that dreadful Jan Moir woman used insidious borderline homophobic innuendo in an article thick with wretched bigotry to insult the memory of Steven Gately? As noted at the time of the latter incident, tragically, some people are just scum. The spokesperson said: 'We've received a complaint, which has been made under Clause Twelve of the Editors' Code of Practice. This will now be considered.' Gill had written: 'Some time ago, I made a cheap and frankly unnecessary joke about Clare Balding looking like a big lesbian. And afterwards somebody tugged my sleeve to point out that she is a big lesbian.' After a mock - and very hollow - apology, Gill continued: 'Now back to the dyke on a bike, puffing up the nooks and crannies at the bottom end of the nation.' Oh, fun-nee. Bet you had yerself a right good chuckle at your own cleverness when you wrote that, Double A. A Sunday Times spokeswoman confirmed that the PCC had been in touch, but declined to comment further. Speaking to the BBC News website, Balding revealed that she had written to the newspaper's editor John Witherow, receiving what she deemed to be an 'unsatisfactory' reply. Witherow apparently wrote: 'Some members of the gay community need to stop regarding themselves as having a special victim status and behave like any other sensible group that is accepted by society.' He added: 'Not having a privileged status means, of course, one must accept occasionally being the butt of jokes. Jeremy Clarkson, perhaps the epitome of the heterosexual male, is constantly jeered at for his dress sense (lack of), adolescent mindset and hairstyle. He puts up with it as a presenter's lot and in this context I hardly think that AA Gill's remarks were particularly cruel, especially as he ended by so warmly endorsing you as a presenter.' I don't think 'cruelty' was, necessarily, the issue John. Nobody makes jokes about Jezza Clarkson's straightness - or anyone else's for that matter. Balding responded: 'When the day comes that people stop resigning from high office, being disowned by their families, getting beaten up and in some instances committing suicide because of their sexuality, you may have a point. This is not about me putting up with having the piss taken out of me, something I have been quite able to withstand, it is about you legitimising name calling. "Dyke" is not shouted out in school playgrounds (or as I've had it at an airport) as a compliment, believe me.' She added: 'I am happy to be described as a lesbian, as and when relevant, but "dyke" is too often used as a pejorative and insulting term.' I have to say, mind, that I've got friends in the gay and lesbian community who use dyke as a term of endearment (ala queen). But, ultimately, it depends on how it's used and in this instance, in an article - again - full of nasty, self-important, mean-spirited schoolboy snickering, it's hard to see the use of the word 'dyke' as anything other than an insult.

The BBC has confirmed that Match Of The Day 2 will make its debut on BBC iPlayer for the new Premier League season. From next month, each edition of MOTD2 will be available on the BBC's catch-up service from the Wednesday after it was initially aired on Sunday evening. For the 2010-11 Premier League season, the programme will be presented by the hugely annoying Colin Murray after the previous host, Adrian Chiles, left for ITV. Murray will be joined by regular pundit Lee Dixon and a host of personalities from the football world to recap the weekend's action from the Premier League. The first broadcast will be on 15 August. The main Match Of The Day programme will return on 14 August for the first day of the new season, with Gary Lineker hosting the programme alongside regular studio pundits Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson and Alan Shearer. The BBC has also confirmed plans to provide additional content on the BBC Sport website for the new football season, including match highlights from every game in the Scottish Premier League and the Football League. In addition, the corporation has said that it will broadcast live coverage of a batch of Football League games, starting with Dirty Leeds United's match against Derby County on 7 August. BBC Sport will also air Burnley versus Preston North End on 11 September, Doncaster Rovers against Sheffield United on 23 October, Cardiff City versus Swansea on 7 November and Norwich City against Ipswich Town on 28 November.

And so to this week's Top Telly Tips:

Friday 6 August
In The Great British Home Movie Roadshow - 9:00 BBC2 - various members of the public share their favourite home movie footage, talking about the clips in a specially constructed 'cinebus.' Presenters Dan Cruickshank and Kirsty Wark, along with experts Robin and Binny Baker, also showcase recordings found by historians in the nation's archives. In what is, essentially, an alternative view of the last two or three generations of British social history. Home movies capture a history that is often neglected – whether taking a view of historic events, documenting the reality of British life or creating home-made dramas, this archive is - in miniature - the nation's story. The series attempts to uncover amateur-filmed footage that reflects the events of the last seventy years, documenting real life and the magic moments which people think deserve to be captured for posterity. From street parties to strikes, celebrities backstage to intimate scenes of domestic life, some of these events will be familiar, but raw and unfiltered – this is the unscripted, unedited version of Britain's past. In the first episode, the team unveils unseen footage of a young Princess Diana, a record of the past fifty years in Chingford, a 1905 wedding on the Isle of Bute and the a glimpse at some of the personal films of the great Spike Milligan. Sounds excellent.

The Bed - 7:30 Channel 4 - is film-maker Toby Paton's documentary telling the story of life on a busy hospital Accident and Emergency department, told from the perspective of an important piece of equipment - the ward's trolley. Yeah. That promises to be suitably off-beat and intriguing. The programme makers claim this will offers an insight into the lives of people who are admitted to the hospital, from ill children to drunken teenagers, and features contributions by the staff who treat them. Written and narrated by performance-poet Luke Wright. Part of the usually fascinating First Cut strand.

Saturday 7 August
In tonight's episode of Casualty - 9:20 BBC1 - as Megan's condition worsens, the revelation of her healthcare assistant's personal problems allows the former nurse to offer her support and feel needed again. Charlie steals drugs from the hospital as he prepares to honour his old friend's wishes and end her suffering, but when Tess discovers what he has done, they consider other options. The episode guest stars Desperate Romantics' Jennie Jacques.

Sunday 8 August
It's the final episode - for this series, anyway - of Sherlock - 9:00 BBC1. Holmes is far from impressed when he is asked to investigate a seemingly straightforward murder. How desperately banal! However, the master of deduction soon suspects that he may have met his match, as he and Watson are drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse which leaves a trail of destruction across London. Has Sherlock finally met his Moriarty? Quite literally? The really fabulously good Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman star along with John Sessions and Haydn Gwynne. Last in the current series. But, cheer up, as previously announced. the BBC want to make more. Which is great news.

Or, you may prefer The Unforgettable Bob Monkhouse - 9:00 ITV. The - occasional - Unforgettable documentary series celebrates the lives and work of renowned entertainers. it returns with an affectionate profile of the comedian, actor, writer, film archivist and quiz show host, Bob Monkhouse. Yer Keith Telly Topping had a great fortune to see Bob live once - at Butlin's of all place. Great show. Quite risque in places! I had a very interesting conversation recently with a friend, another stand-up who believes that Bob not really a naturally gifted technical comedian but, rather, was someone who, through sheer hard work and personality, made the most of his wit and charm and honed his craft to the point where he, actually, surpassed many of those who, in theory at least, were more talented than he. Kevin Keegan to, say, Dave Allen's George Best. I thought that was a very interesting observation albeit not one I entirely agree with. Anyway, Bob's extensive showbiz career is showcased in this documentary, featuring footage from his multi-faceted output and his huge personal archive. There are also interviews with his daughter Abigail, manager Peter Prichard and colleagues and fans including June Whitfield, Joe Pasquale, his Golden Shot co-host Anne Aston and Jimmy Tarbuck.

Monday 9 August
Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1 - has been very good so far this series. In the latest episode of the popular genealogy show, TV presenter Monty Don's research on his mother's side of the family includes an investigation of his great-great-grandfather, the Reverend Charles Hodge, a vicar who had a parish in Retford, Nottinghamshire, in the 1840s, as well as a family tragedy during a national disaster. Monty also learns of his connection to Dundee's famous Keiller marmalade dynasty on his father's side, travelling to Scotland to explore his great-grandfather William's involvement in the business.

Roger and Val Have Just Got In - 7:30 BBC2 - is, according to pre-publicity, 'a bittersweet real-time comedy drama.' Which sounds quite interesting. 'Starring Dawn French and Alfred Molina.' Oh, dear. I mean, not Alfred, he's great but, does the world really need another Dawn French sitcom vehicle? This is, they say, is about the ups and downs of a middle-aged married couple. Because, of course, that's a sitcom staple that's never been examined before, isn't it? Botanist Roger is principled with a hatred for injustice, while food technology teacher Val works at the local comprehensive and is a bit of a worrier. In tonight's episode, can the couple face rooting through 'the big drawer' in the garage in their quest for the elusive guarantee for their vacuum cleaner? Perhaps we'll never care.

And, speaking of sitcoms which have a bastard-awful premise, Grandma's House - 10:00 BBC2 - is written by Simon Amstell and Dan Swimer about a television presenter (played by smug-but-occasionally funny Amstell himself) searching for something more meaningful in his life. Yeah, again, that's original. In this opening episode, Simon's mum Tanya is less than happy to hear he's leaving the entertainment show which he presents. Autobiographical? While Simon tries to convince his mum that her new boyfriend might not be the right man for her, Auntie Liz struggles with her son Adam and his apparent teenage rebellion. I must admit, I'm more inclined to watch this one than the previous one but only because there's something about the description that promises if this one does go down the wrong bridal path it could be spectacular to see. And, I mean Big Top spectacular.

It's the final episode of Identity - 9:00 ITV - which started really well but, after about three weeks settled down to generic formula tosh. Not bad, indeed quite watchable, but Keeley Hawes' pre-series suggestion that its plots were better than those of Ashes To Ashes was, simply, a load of old cack. Still, it could be going out with a bang. Bloom's secret life as Brendan finally catches up with him when the team is asked to identify five bodies discovered in a mass grave at a cement factory - a place he knows all too well. The detective later returns to the Unit to find Lawson interviewing Adile, which forces him to make a drastic decision. Guest starring Ken Bones and Tamer Hassan also with Aidan Gillen, Keeley Hawes and Holly Aird. With a cast that good, you know, this should've been an awful lot better than it actually turned out. Whether we'll be treated to another series next year time will tell. The rating weren't disastrous but they were far from good either. If it had been a BBC show I'd've thought a second series was a possibility. With ITV, you're never so sure.

Tuesday 10 August
Help! My House Is Falling Down - 8:00 Channel 4 - sees property expert Sarah Beeny comes to the aid of existing homeowners whose fond domestic dreams have morphed into a real-life house of horrors. Why she bothers to do this, I don't know because, as Dara Ó Briain pointed out on Live At The Apollo Sarah seems to be the only TV 'expert' whose advice absolutely nobody takes! Her first task is to help parents-of-three Nick and Becky who, three years ago, bought a two hundred and fifty-year-old cottage in the Northamptonshire of Earls Barton for a lot of coin. Could've got a new one for that, surely? Since then the discovery of woodworm has rendered the top floor unusable and now threatens the rest of the house, the walls have fallen prey to brick-eating bees, and an indoor well is regularly flooding the cellar. Can Sarah save the day? Hang on, though. Brick-eating bees?! Sod Sarah Beeny, send for Eddie Izzard.

In Great Railway Adventures with Dan Cruickshank - 8:00 Five - the historian (whom, as noted a couple of weeks ago, yer Keith Telly Topping really likes) explores how railways have helped shape to British life since their introduction in the 1820s. Beginning with their vital role in the First and Second World Wars, when trains were used to transport troops, evacuees and supplies to and from key locations. I do really admire Dan Cruickshank's style of presentation, relaxed and chatty but, also, authoritative. This three-part series resurrects an exhilarating age and kicks-off by focusing on the railways' role in defeating Hitler, before unearthing the incredible engineering achievements of Isambard Brunel and embarking on a trip on the earliest steam engines of George and Robert Stephenson. Good stuff.

It's episode two of The Deep - 9:00 BBC1. The researchers on the Orpheus submarine run into severe danger in their quest to find rare micro-organisms. One of them has already died, the ship has been intercepted and two of the crew are trapped and running out of air - and must decide whether to risk boarding the mysterious vessel that looms above them. A superior, claustrophobic thriller, starring Jimmy Nesbitt, Minnie Driver and Goran Visnjic stuck in a submarine. What's not to love?

Commissioned in 1086 by William the Conqueror, the Domesday Book was a precise record of who owned every single piece of land, property and livestock in England. While many historians have considered its raison d'être to be a device for raising tax revenue, Dr Stephen Baxter of King's College argues that its real purpose was far more radical, and that the parchment reveals the traumatic impact of what was the greatest social and political upheaval in the country's history in Domesday - 8:00 BBC2. The making of the Domesday Book was a huge logistical exercise. Commissioners set out across the country to attend intimidating local inquests. These established who owned what, both in 1066, before the Norman Conquest, and in 1086, after twenty years of Norman rule. The results were then collected, edited and written up by one scribe. It was given the name Domesday Book by Anglo-Saxons who felt that its authority was as final as the Day of Judgement. Domesday records the trauma of the Norman Conquest. It confirmed that land once owned by the English was now - legally or otherwise - in the hands of the Normans. This was a revolution in land ownership. Baxter tells the human and political story of this drama of dispossession. He also finds out the true purpose of the Domesday survey. Proving that it couldn't have been used to collect taxes, he argues that the Domesday Book is about something far more important than money – its real purpose was to confer revolutionary new powers on the monarchy in Norman England. Part of the BBC's excellent Norman Season.

Wednesday 11 August
It doesn't seem but five minutes since the World Cup finished and, already, the new football season is upon us. Live International Football - 7:30 ITV - sees England take on Hungary in a friendly. This is Fabio Capello's England team's first match since their very disappointing World Cup campaign, which saw them draw against the USA and Algeria in the group stage before they were comprehensively outclassed and given a harsh lesson in the new realities of world football by Germany. The under-fire manager will quickly want to win the home fans back as he prepares for the Euro 2012 qualifiers which start in just three weeks time. He may take this opportunity to look at several youngsters, such as Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Adam Johnson, as well as a new formation before forthcoming fixtures against Bulgaria and Switzerland. Hungary have a new coach as they prepare for Euro 2012, with Sandor Egervari replacing Erwin Koeman. The Dutchman, appointed in 2008, presided over a promising World Cup campaign for Hungary, which saw them finish fourth in their group, two points behind second-placed Portugal. Presented by Adrian Chiles, with commentary from Clive Tyldesley and the wretched Andy Townsend and alleged expert analysis from Gareth Southgate.

As ever, when there's a major football match on, Top Telly Tips highlights not only it, but also provides a public service with some alternatives. Coast - 8:00 BBC2 - goes all irish tonight travelling from Galway to Arranmore Island. As the team explores the Atlantic shore of Ireland's north-west coast, Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) meets a photographer who covered John F Kennedy's visit to Galway in 1961, and learns about the pirate queen Grace O'Malley. MasterChef superstar Dick Strawbridge tries to recreate Marconi's radio technology, the deadly killer Miranda Krestovnikoff examines why mountain hares are eating seaweed, the godess of punk archaeology Dr Alice Roberts discovers the oldest farm in the British Isles, dating back to the Stone Age, and Nick Crane investigates Clew Bay's landscape.

And, speaking of Celebrity MasterChef - 8:00 BBC1 - with only five celebrity cooks still in the race for this year's title, three more difficult culinary challenges await them. Catering for the soldiers of the Sealed Knot, who re-enact the battles of the English Civil War, is first up on today's menu. The loser will spend some time being one of the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit, I trust. Then the surviving quartet try to feed eight hundred hungry schoolboys at Harrow School - give 'em chips, trust me, you'll be their friend for life - before preparing an impressive dinner hosted by the headmaster.

Four Sons Versus Four Daughters - 9:00 Channel 4 - is a Cutting Edge documentary follows two families, the Tibbetts, who have four daughters and the Cafearos, who have four boys, as they swap children for a weekend. The aim of this experiment is to find out how youngsters shape their parents, and what it means for a father or mother to live in a household where they are the only male or female member.

Thursday 12 August
The Culture Show at the Edinburgh Festival - 7:00 BBC2 - is the first of three special episodes of the popular arts show from the annual cultural extravaganza, the divine and fabulous Sue Perkins rounds up some of the highlights of the festival. The Fruitmarket Gallery showcases works by the artist Martin Creed, who won the Turner Prize in 2001, while the National Theatre of Scotland unveils its latest production, Caledonia, which looks at a doomed attempt to create a Scottish colony in Central America at the end of the Seventeenth Century. Plus veteran comedy stars recall the highs and lows of their Edinburgh debuts. The Review Show at the Edinburgh Festival is also on this week, tomorrow at 11pm.

Beckii: Schoolgirl Superstar at Fourteen - 9:00 BBC3 - tells the story of teenage Rebecca Flint from the Isle of Man, who found fame in Japan after uploading films of herself dancing on YouTube in her bedroom. Since being approached by a Japanese music manager, Rebecca has recorded five singles under then name Beckii Cruel, released her own DVD and appeared on the country's biggest TV shows, but balancing two different lives on opposite sides of the world means life is not always easy for the Manx teenager.

Where Does All Our Water Go?: Tonight - 7:30 ITV - asks a question a lot of us have been wondering for the past few months. With torrential rain and floods in the winter, droughts and hosepipe bans in the summer and a fifth of all the nation's water being lost through leaks, Morland Sanders investigates whether the resource could be managed more effectively.

And finally for this week there's Natural World - 8:00 BBC2. The Californian sea otter is one of the rarest animals in the world, so one mother's decision to have her pup among the yachts of a millionaire's marina near Los Angeles offered a unique chance to observe them up close. The youngster must be taught how to avoid the boats on the search for food in the busy harbour, but after an attack on his mother by a male sea otter leaves her injured, he is left on his own as he faces a desperate struggle to survive in a dangerous environment. Narrated by Bonnie Greer.

So to the news: Ben Shephard has revealed that he has e-mailed Adrian Chiles to say that he will hate getting up early to host the new ITV breakfast show Daybreak. The presenter, who recently signed a deal with Sky Sports, also admitted that he is a huge fan of Chiles. Shephard told the Sun: 'I e-mailed him and said, "You're going to hate the sound of your alarm clock more than anything in the world - but you'll really enjoy breaking news to people when they wake up in the morning. There's something special about that."' Speaking of Chiles' alleged one and a half million pounds salary, Shephard added: 'I'm a huge fan of Adrian. I've no issue with that. I've had ten years in a job I've loved, with this horrific pain of getting up every morning - and now I've got the chance to do something new.' Of Chiles' Daybreak co-host Christine Bleakley, he added: 'It's not as simple as saying it's about the money - she was weighing up the options and thinking about what was the right decision for her career.' Shephard also revealed his delight at his Sky Sports deal, saying; 'It's like being Charlie in the Chocolate Factory and getting the golden ticket. I've always wanted to get involved in sports presenting. Plus my wife Annie can't moan at me about watching football!'

An advertising campaign featuring three topless women representing different types of beer has reportedly been criticised for sexism. According to Orange, CEN reports that some unnamed groups have called for the campaign to be suspended. One protester is quoted as saying: 'There is no genuine connection between beer and naked women.' See, in my head, that's not, actually, true. But, anyway ... 'The women have just been put there to sexualise beer. The advert is sexist against women.' One could argue that it's equally sexist against men since they didn't feature any naked chaps in it, of course. Though, you'd probably have to be pretty pissed to try and formulate such an argument. In which case, the beer would certainly come in handy. In the adverts, seen right, a brunette, redhead and blonde each hold a different type of beer available from Austria's Hirter brewery. A brewery spokeswoman, Caroline Kroepfl, responded: 'The poster shows three self-confident beer drinkers.' Who just happen to be female. And very good looking. And naked. Take out the middle one and a stick an ugly, similarly unclothed bloke in there and you'd've been easily able to counter any charges of sexism from pretty much anyone. As it is, I'm with Millie Tant on this one.

Cheryl Cole has reportedly been 'concerned' about being replaced as judge on the upcoming series of The X Factor. According to the Daily Star, the twenty seven-year-old was in a 'panic' after hearing that former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger had done well while standing in for her during her recovery from malaria. Cole is said to have requested a recent trip to her local Starbucks in order to prove that she is almost fully recovered and ready to return to work. 'Cheryl felt the need to prove she's back and feeling fine after battling the illness that put her into intensive care,' a 'source' allegedly told the publication. 'I mean popping out for coffee – when was the last time she popped out for a coffee? She has aides and family members to carry out her every whim. In reality Cheryl was just desperate to be seen out and get her picture in the paper to show fans she's on the way back. Eventually it was agreed to let her go out in a bid to get her to calm down. More importantly, she wanted to send a message to Simon [Cowell] to make sure he doesn't forget her, and also to remind Nicole that she's just a stand-in and not to make herself too at home.' The insider added: 'However the sad truth is that malaria takes a long time to get over and Cheryl - though looking well - is still a long way from being fully fit.'

1 comment:

Graeme said...

In fairness to Keeley, what she said was the plots had more twists and the mysteries themselves were stronger than Ashes to Ashes. Which, as disappointing as Identity is, true. There's some genuine twists in the mystery in Identity, whereas Ashes to Ashes it was always "the most sympathetic character is going to be behind it all". That said, twists are one thing, engaging drama is quite another, and Identity doesn't have much of that.