Sunday, July 04, 2010

Week Twenty Eight: Back To Reality?

Simon Cowell is reportedly 'furious' with Sinitta for launching a talent website to link in with this year's X Factor. According to the Sun, the music mogul is 'livid and embarrassed' by his ex-girlfriend's plans to introduce a wild card twist on the ITV reality show. Blimey. But, hang on, doesn't Simon turn green and rip his shirt when her gets 'furious'? Oh no, sorry, that's The Incredible Hulk I'm thinking of. Still, Simon, you wouldn't like him when he's angry. 'Sinitta's plan seems to suggest people have a chance through her website - when they won't have a chance in hell,' a 'source' allegedly claimed to the 'newspaper.' The website was said to have been taken down shortly after the story appeared. And, with that short insight into the lives of the rich and greedy, hows about another batch of yer Keith Telly Topping's patented Top Telly Tips?

Friday 9 July
The BBC's long-running and, for the most part, quite funny sitcom My Family returns at 9:00 on BBC1. Yes, it's arch and predictable and dreadfully middle-class but it does have some saving graces. A comedy about a dentist and his family, it stars the great Robert Lindsay and the great Zoë Wanamaker and, what it lacks in subtlety and innovation, it usually manages to make up for in terms of at least being able to tell a few jokes. In this opening episode of the new series, when the local council insists that Ben is disabled, what can he do but play along with it until the wheels start coming off? With hilarious consequences, no doubt.

Saturday 10 July
In 101 Ways to Leave a Gameshow - 6:30 BBC1 - eight contestants put their nerve, general knowledge and dignity to the test in Steve Jones' explosive new Saturday-night game show. There's a ten grand prize for the winner, and every round sees one contestant leave the show by some of the most nerve-wracking, hair-raising, adrenaline-pumping means ever seen on TV. It says here. Think cannons, rockets, catapults and bungees, freezing water, glutinous mud, dread and humiliation. This is one quiz where contestants really don't want to get a question wrong. Or, indeed, enter if you have an ounce of dignity or self-respect. If you're bitten by the greed bug, however, it's probably gonna be right up your street. Assisting Steve on the incredible 101 tower, the venue for the quiz, is co-host, Nemone. So, despite all the hype and the promises of nerves being wracked and hair being raised at the end of the day, yes dear blog reader, it's just another game show.

Sunday 11 July
So, tonight's the night. Match Of The Day Live: World Cup Final - 6:30 BBC1 - is, obviously going to be the choice of the vast majority since ITV's coverage this tournament has been so uniformly wretched. Gary Lineker presents live coverage of the 2010 World Cup final from Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. The winners of the tournament will make history as the first team to be crowned world champions on African soil. The 2006 final in Berlin was decided by a dramatic penalty shootout but, although extra time and penalties are a possibility once again, there is no chance of a repeat fixture as both France and the defending champions Italy were eliminated in the group stage of this competition. Bearing in mind that this is being written just a day after the Quarter Finals concluded yer Keith Telly Topping is going to go out of a limb, here, and suggest it's going to be a repeat of the 1974 final with the Netherlands taking on Germany. two good teams. Should be a cracker, then. Watch, after I've said that, it'll be worse than the notoriously dreadful 1990 final! Meanwhile, over on ITV, Chiles will have his head in his hand wondering what he's done with his career.

Or, there's Top Gear - 8:00 BBC2 - in which Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May test the Aston Martin Rapide, the Porsche Panamera Turbo and the Maserati Quattroporte - see left - as they attempt to find the world's greatest four-seat supercar. It's a nice job if you can get it, isn't it? All this, and they annoy hippies. The Hamster is also out on the test track in two very different muscle cars - the Chevrolet Camaro SS and Mercedes E63 AMG. And there's a double dose of celebrity as Harry Potter star Rupert Grint )he's the ginger one just in case you're one of the four people in the world who, like yer Keith Telly Topping, can't stand the bloody films) and F1 ace Rubens Barrichello take their turns as the stars in the new Reasonably Priced Car.

BBC3, meanwhile, is covering T in the Park from 8:00. Edith Bowman and Reggie Yates host more coverage from one of the biggest events of the festival season, T in the Park in Scotland. Along with the best of Sunday's acts there's a chance to see a set from The Prodigy, one of the headline acts from Saturday night. Aw, slammin'.

Monday 12 July
The Silence - 9:00 BBC1 - is a much-trailed thriller about a deaf eighteen-year-old girl who witnesses the death of a policewoman. When DCI Jim Edwards takes on the homicide investigation, he has no idea how it is going to impact on his relationship with his family. When it transpires that his deaf niece, Amelia, witnessed the murder, it puts huge pressure on Jim. He decides to withhold Amelia as a formal witness to protect her, but he struggles to make headway with the case while keeping Amelia's identity a secret. A very impressive cast includes Primeval's Douglas Henshall, Dervla Kirwan, Gina McKee, Hugh Bonneville and Genevieve Barr. It's being strip-scheduled across the week, ala Collision or Torchwood. Looks very good from the trailers too. I'm expecting big things from this one.

A decade on, arguments still rage about the exact causes of the loss of Air France flight AF4590. Concorde's Last Flight - 9:00 Channel 4 - uses archive footage, reconstructions and CGI, to tells the turbulent story of Concorde's dramatic rise and fall in the words of her designers, engineers, pilots and VIP passengers who flew in it.

One of yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite comedians, the bone-dry-as-a-desert Rich Hall sets his keen eye and acerbic wit on his homeland once again as he sifts truth from fiction in Hollywood's version of the southern states of the USA in Rich Hall's 'The Dirty South' - 9:00 BBC4. Using specially shot interviews and featuring archive from classic movies such as Gone With The Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire and Deliverance, Rich discovers a South that is about so much more than just rednecks, racism and hillbillies. Anybody who saw Rich's previous excellent documentary for Beeb4 about westerns - last year's How the West Was Lost - will have an idea what to expect. Something, sarky, thoughtful, clever and very funny.

Tuesday 13 July
David Mitchell and Robert Webb are back for a fourth series of their smart-but-daft sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Look - 9:00 BBC2. Excellent. Along with Armstrong and Miller, these guys are keeping alive the grand tradition of British comedy double acts, a lineage that stretches from Morecambe and Wise to Fry and Laurie. In this episode you can find out the correct but confusing way to talk to Caesar. There's also a great new way to spot the emotional subtext in TV drama and the sad story of a man who is very angry about grammar - and he's got a gun. Plus we're given the chance to meet David's surprising new wife. it's good to have them back.

Meanwhile, speaking of - genuinely - great British double acts, Shooting Stars also returns tonight - 9:30 BBC2. Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer host the hit comedy panel show with their team captains, surly Jack Dee and Ulrikakakaka Jonsson. Angelos Epithemiou keeps an eye on the scores. Joining in with the fun and 'Uvava!' are chart-topping rapper Example (no, me neither I'm afraid), Hairy Biker Big Si King, former Strictly dancer Camilla Dallerup and EastEnders' Linda Henry.

In John Sergeant on Tracks of Empire - 9:00 BBC4 - lovely old John Sergeant embarks on a three thousand mile journey through the history of the greatest legacy the British left to India - its vast rail network. Proposed in 1853 by the then Governor General Lord Dalhousie, it became the biggest single engineering project of its time. Starting in Kolkata, John travels through turbulent Bihar state, visits the railway town of Jamulpur and discovers why the construction of the Dufferin Bridge at Varanasi resulted in Victorian technology and ingenuity clashing with ancient religion.

Finally for tonight from the genuinely innovative and thought-provoking, to the wretched and utterly patronising The Fairy Jobmother - 9:00 Channel 4. This abomination is, apparently, a series with Hayley Taylor - whoever the hell she is - taking on the 'challenge' of sorting out some of Britain's unemployed. Well, you know, why ever not? It's a problem that's defeated the best minds of several governments, so let's hand sorting it out over instead to some nasty sour-faced looking woman with a briefcase (see left). Hayley travels to Middlesbrough - whether Middlesbrough wants her or not - to help couple Maxine and Dean, both of whom are living entirely off the benefits system. A question, and it really is a heartfelt one. Can't TV executives who dream up this kind of sick notion of 'entertainment' for the masses take a little tip. Audiences don't like this sort of thing. They don't like it when the Duchess of York's doing it, or when Mel B's doing it, so they're certainly no going to be flocking to watch Hayley's efforts. Oh, and another thing. SOD OFF! Anyone, and I mean anyone at all, who would even consider taking part in, presenting, being a member of the crew on, or watching a programme with as degrading and humiliating a premise as this deserves everything bad that ever happens to them in life. Up to and including being eaten by wild dogs.

Wednesday 14 July
Penguin Island - 7:30 BBC1 - is a documentary (not unreasonably) about the penguins who live on Phillip Island in Australia. As devoted penguin couple Bluey and Sheila return to their cliff-top home to begin the annual breeding cycle, Penguin Island introduces the dedicated team of rangers and scientists who will monitor and protect them through the hottest summer on record. Bluey and Sheila lay their first clutch of eggs, but while Sheila is off at sea hunting for food, the eggs hatch and Bluey must guard them until Sheila is home to meet her two young sons. Aw, bless 'em. it's hard not to love penguins - they are the singularly most aesthetically pleasing of creatures. They just look as though life's dealt them a really rotten hand!

Meanwhile, for all lovers of bullyboy TV, Dragons' Den is back tonight - 9:00 BBC2. The Dragons return and they're hungry to secure themselves the best deal. These may be challenging times economically, but that hasn't deterred the nation's entrepreneurs from pitting their wits against the multimillionaire investors. Devon-based vineyard owner Geoff Bowen hopes his unusual business proposition will tempt the Dragons, inventor Derek Cozens thinks that road signs are so last century, and Kirsty Henshaw hopes the Dragons will be tempted by her frozen pudding business. All will seem to be going well as one the Dragons, probably Peter Jones, will be cracking a few jokes with them. Then, without warning, Duncan Bannatyne's eyes will narrow and he'll ask some obscure question about budgeting schedules and the previously talkative contestant will suddenly go silent and become frozen stiff, like a terrified deer caught in the headlights of on-coming traffic. And then, Theo Paphitis will pounce, like a hungry velociraptor to tear the flesh from their bones. Which can be quite entertaining to be fair! Not only that but Debroah Meaden's got that rather interesting Ms Whiplash thing going for her, too. Lord 'elp me, I'm actually glad this is back!

In My Pet Shame - 8:00 Sky1 - Joanna Page and vet Marc Abraham meet domestic animals with embarrassing problems. The pair encounter a potty-mouthed parrot, a cat who has a penchant for male nipples (ew!) and a mischievous miniature foal who acts like a dog. Those crazy animals!

Thursday 15 July
Victorian Pharmacy - 9:00 BBC2 - is a historical observational documentary series in which the historian Ruth Goodman who was the star of the very impressive Victorian Farm last year, Professor Nick Barber and PhD student Tom Quick recreate an authentic Nineteenth-Century pharmacy. The team discover a world where traditional remedies, such as leeches, oil of earthworm and potions laced with cannabis and opium, held sway. After sampling some of the old ways, the team venture into new discoveries, such as the Malvern water cure, the bronchial kettle and the invention of Indian tonic water.

Another documentary series is The Man Who Moves Buildings - 8:00 Five - which follows the work of a family-run haulage company based in Washington, Iowa. This instalment charts the haulers' efforts to shift a four hundred-ton brick mansion five miles across town during extreme weather conditions. Can they keep the building in one piece whilst battling freezing temperatures and ice?

The opening episode of Glamour's Golden Age - 8:00 BBC4 - is called Hooked on Hollywood. This explores how the American movie industry changed British culture in the twenties and thirties. The movies, the stars and the cinemas themselves combined to offer British audiences a glimpse of a glamorous lifestyle and the suggestion that they might achieve it. Selling a succession of rags-to-riches fairy tales featuring go-getting women like Clara Bow, Jean Harlow and Katharine Hepburn, American movies also fuelled demand for cosmetics, cigarettes and dieting.

And, so to the news: BBC1's World Cup quarter-final coverage put in a strong performance last night, according to initial overnight figures. Paraguay v Spain averaged a respectable six million viewers between 7pm and 10pm, with a peak of 8.25m around 9pm. Earlier, the fabulous Germany v Argentina match was watched by an impressive five million viewers, with a high of just under seven million at 4.30pm. Over on ITV, Animals Do The Funniest Things could only attract 2.59m, then a repeated episode of Midsomer Murders was watched by 2.72m. Meanwhile, on Channel 4 Big Brother suffered its usual Saturday drop, with just 1.72m tuning in at 9pm, while a further three hundred and seventy thousand watched on C4+1. BBC2 repeats of Dad's Army and Stephen Fry On Wagner interested 1.36m and seven hundred and fifty thousand respectively, after which Have I Got A Bit More News For You had an audience of 1.84m. Overall, BBC1 claimed outright victory in primetime with just under twenty nine per cent of the audience to ITV's lacklustre 8.6 per cent. It was a hideous day all round for ITV who suffered their second worst all-day share in history, after last Sunday's debacle. The network lost the whole day to BBC1 which, in turn, was the most watched channel during the entire twenty four hours apart from the fifteen minute period from 14:45 - 15:00 where BBC2 was ahead by 0.05m viewers!

The BBC has revealed that network production outside of London has grown from thirty four per cent to almost thirty eight per cent. On Monday the corporation’s annual report, for the twelve months to the end of March, will show that programming spend in Scotland has grown to 6.1 per cent in 2009. This has been boosted by moving production of shows such as The Weakest Link north of the border. The past year has also seen Eggheads, The Review Show and National Lottery show In It To Win It moved to the BBC’s Pacific Quay offices in Glasgow. It will also report that network spend in Wales is up from three and a half per cent in 2008 to four and a half per cent in 2009, while Northern Ireland has seen production double to 1.2 per cent of the total during the same period. The BBC aims to make half of all programmes out of London by 2016, with targets of nine per cent for Scotland, five per cent for Wales and three per cent for Northern Ireland.

Christina Hendricks has admitted that she is not surprised when people inquire about the size of her bra. I'm not surprised either. Jeez, the lass could have someone's eye out with one of them. The Mad Men star has said that although it's a personal question to ask, she isn't shocked by the interest. Hendricks told Health: 'It's weird, but it doesn't surprise me.' As for the media criticising her gowns at award shows, she added: 'I made the grave mistake after one awards show of reading comments online about what I wore, and I was like, "Oh my God, people are so mean!" I still remember all those negative comments, despite all the wonderful positivity. That's why we're all in therapy! We remember the ten bad things that happen to us instead of the one hundred nice ones.'

Actor Stephen Fry and singer Marc Almond paid tribute to controversial artist and author Sebastian Horsley at his funeral on Thursday. The star was found dead at his London home by his girlfriend last month after suffering a suspected drug overdose. He was forty seven. Horsley was given a star-studded send-off at St James's Church in the capital on Thursday morning as his coffin was carried in with T. Rex's hit 'Cosmic Dancer' blaring out in front of hundreds of mourners. Fry turned up to pay his respects to Horsley and delivered a eulogy, praising his friend's 'sweetness.' The Qi host then took to Twitter following the ceremony to write, 'We saw off dear Sebastian Horsley. Stopped (in) Soho and Shaftesbury Ave with the cortege. Fine funeral in St James's.' Singer Almond also paid tribute to the flamboyant writer, saying, 'He was unique, his own creation. Sebastian was fearless and a hero where as I am just a shape shifter. He was the last king of Soho. With Sebastian's passing something else precious has gone from the heart of London. He was a colourful character and we really need individuals like that in this world of mass commercialism.' Police are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding Horsley's death.

Craig Charles has been fined for falling asleep in his Coronation Street dressing room, according to press reports. The forty five-year-old actor, who portrays cabbie Lloyd Mullaney in the serial, dozed off while he was due on set to shoot a scene which then had to be scrapped, alleges the News of the World. Producer Phil Collinson is also thought to be clamping down on punctuality issues on the show, with an alleged sting of fifteen per cent of the actors' episode fee, between five hundred to one thousand pounds. 'Many of the stars are often very late for their call times. There were a few moans when Phil introduced the fines system,' an 'insider' allegedly revealed. However, another source offered an explanation to the Daily Star: 'He'd been doing his DJing until 2AM the night before he fell asleep. He was just really tired. Craig loves being on Corrie and is very settled.'

A German student created a major traffic jam in Bavaria when he 'mooned' a group of Hell's Angels, hurled a puppy at them and then escaped on a bulldozer. The twenty six-year-old drove into the grounds of the motorcycle gang members' clubhouse north of Munich, according to reports in local media. The young man, who was not identified, then dropped his pants, threw the puppy, and fled. After making his getaway, he stole the bulldozer from a nearby construction site, and attempted to drive it to Munich. However, it was not fast enough, and his snail-like pace caused a three-mile traffic jam near the southern town of Allershausen. He then ran away to his home nearby where he was apprehended by the police. 'What motivated him to throw a puppy at the Hell's Angels is currently unclear,' said a spokesman for local police. He added that the student had been suffering from depression. The puppy was now said to be in safe hands at a local animal shelter.

The Lord Mayor of Leicester has apologised after his trousers fell down during a visit to a local library. Colin Hall suffered the mishap on a visit to Southfields library in Leicester, reports the Daily Telegraph. He was a guest at a summer showcase organised by the Global Education Leicestershire organisation, a city council spokesman confirmed. The spokesman said Mr Hall offered his 'deepest apologies' for anyone who might have been offended when his trousers came loose and fell down at the event. The spokesman said: 'The Lord Mayor of Leicester, Councillor Colin Hall, attended a function at a local library yesterday where he suffered an unfortunate problem with his trousers. He was not wearing a belt and the trousers came loose and fell. The Lord Mayor has offered his deepest apologies to those attending the event for any offence caused by the accident.'

Kerry Katona and Mark Croft are preparing to reveal marital secrets in their upcoming court battle, press reports claim. According to the News of the World, the estranged pair, whose three-year train-wreck of a marriage ended in February, will be each hoping to win custody of their two children, Maxwell Mark and Keeley. 'This is all-out war and it's going to be very dirty. Kerry used to be in Atomic Kitten and now she's going nuclear! Both of them are desperate to hang on to the kids and prepared to reveal all the most damaging lapses, lies and infidelities to do it,' they allege that an 'insider' said. An insider, seemingly, who speaks in tabloid cliches. 'Kerry accused Mark of once being a drug dealer when he drove a taxi in Warrington. That made him absolutely furious. He says it's utter rubbish and told Kerry to prove it or shut up. So now she's trawling for evidence,' the 'source' allegedly continued. 'They're not speaking to each other at all. They send texts about the kids and that's all. This is one almighty fight and I don't have a clue who'll come out on top. They both have so much ammunition!'

Katie Price has apparently been left 'distraught' after photographers clashed with security at her second wedding to Alex Reid. The News of the World reports that the former glamour model, who first married the cagefighter in February, was also hit with a camera shortly before entering the church. 'Katie wanted this day to be special. She is distraught that it's turned out so badly,' an 'insider' revealed. I wonder if it was the same 'insider' giving out the dodgy quotes about Kerry Katona? One disappointed fan told the newspaper: 'We were looking forward to seeing Jordan. But we never had a chance. I knew photographers would be there but I didn't expect security to attack people like that. [My daughter] got knocked in the fracas - she was so scared.' Head of security Gary Knight claimed: 'Katie was fine with everything but was hit in the face by a camera and it panicked her.' Meanwhile, the 'source' claimed that Price stayed away from alcohol: 'Wild horses can't usually keep Katie away from a drink. But she set tongues wagging that she was pregnant by not touching a single drop all week.'

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