Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week Twenty Nine: Behind Closed Doors

Glee creator Ryan Murphy has confirmed that the show's second season will feature a Britney Spears-themed episode. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Murphy revealed that he and the show's writers are scripting an episode that is to feature songs from the pop star's catalogue, similar to the season one Madonna episode.

And, on that staggering bombshell, here's your next lot of Top Telly Tips:

Friday 16 July
Girls on the Pull - 7:30 Channel 4 - is part of the channel's First Cut strand. A showcase, according to C4 - of 'bold and original documentaries from up-and-coming filmmakers.' In this particular one, director Ruth Kelly follows three women who are on a quest to stop pulling their hair out. Hair is a multi-million-pound industry. It is a potent sign of femininity, sexuality and health. As a nation, we are obsessed with it: we preen it, cut it, style it, dye it and spend millions on it every year. Losing it can be devastating. Yet across Britain thousands of women are literally tearing their hair out. They suffer from trichotillomania, an impulse control disorder that causes people to pull out their own hair, often to the point of extreme baldness. This First Cut film explores the reasons behind this by meeting three women living with the day-to-day consequences of the condition all of whom are desperate to get their hair-pulling under control.

In My Family - 9:00 BBC1 - Michael's news concerning his sexuality comes as a bit of a shock to Ben, but Susan has more of a shock at Ben's reaction.

Saturday 17 July
Tonight's the Night returns at 8:00 on BBC1. Put that noose down. John Barrowman hosts a night of surprises and magical moments as he makes dreams come true for some special people. A young lad from Walsall dreams of dancing with world-famous urban dance crew Diversity, and together they deliver an amazing studio performance. A mum of three, who has done plenty for charity, duets with her idol, superstar Dionne Warwick. And John arranges for Lee Mead from hit musical Wicked to help twins from Wales achieve their dream of performing a song in memory of their friend. As we said last year, a mixture of The Generation Game and Jim'll Fix It. Not the most original light entertainment vehicle ever created but, in its own way, harmless enough and, certainly preferable to recent efforts by Graham Norton and Ant and Dec. Old Barrowman's not as omni-present as he was on TV eighteen months ago, and that stint in Desperate Housewives reminded us all what a really very good actor he is when he puts his mind to it. Just, keep the microphone away from him if there's any singing to be done!

Meanwhile, ITV's alternative is Magic Numbers also at 8:00. Stephen Mulhern presents a brand new game show in which viewers at home can compete for a massive cash prize based on their telephone number. Alleged 'star' guests compete in allegedly 'hilarious' games which generate six numbers. Viewers who have any two of those digits in their phone number could be chosen to play for the two hundred and fifty thousand pound pot. This week, Holly Willoughby and boyband JLS will be helping to find the lucky winner. See what I mean about 'allegedly'?

Slightly earlier, Odd One In - 7:15 ITV - is another 'brand new comedy game show', this one hosted by Bradley Walsh - who is capable of so much more than generic tosh like this. In Odd One In celebrity teams have to spot the person with a secret, a skill or a special story to tell in a series of peculiar line-ups. Each week home team Peter Andre and Jason Manford take on a different star pair as they try to work out who is the odd one in. Tonight, it's Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Corrie's Katherine Kelly who take up the challenge. The contestants can question the members of each line-up to try to work out who is bluffing and who is telling the truth. When the odd one in has been unmasked, they reveal their skill or story to the audience.

Sunday 18 July
On Sunday's Top Gear - 8:00 BBC2 - Jeremy, Richard and James attempt to build 'cool' and 'interesting' motorhomes - contradiction in terms, surely? - before setting off for a bank holiday weekend in the West Country to see how each of their creations performs in the real world. Hopefully, it'll be a bit smoother than the last time they tried a caravan holiday (see left). That ended with the fire bridge being called, you might remember. Meanwhile, Jeremy is also at the test track to test the new Audi R8 V10 Spyder against the latest version of Porsche's enduring 911 Turbo cabriolet. Plus, another leading celebrity takes their turn as the star in the brand new Reasonably Priced Car. But, we don't know which one yet because they haven't told us. That's Top Gear for you, ambitious but a bit rubbish at pre-publicity!

Heartbeat - 8:00 ITV - the popular police drama series set in the 1960s returns for its final series. In what's a rather strong storyline for a show as genteel as this, a local woman is murdered and Joe finds his professional judgement questioned. When village newcomer Viv Mackay announces that she is to marry local businessman Dominic Bellingham, nobody is more surprised than Dominic himself. Later that evening, Viv's son Scott bangs on Joe's door saying Viv has been killed. The chief suspect is, according to the TV Times blurb, 'the village simpleton, who had been stalking her.' Two points about this plot as described - firstly the term 'stalking' didn't exist until at least the 1970s. And, also, is it acceptable these days to describe someone as 'the village simpleton'? I rather think that it isn't. Ah, the good old sixties - the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, the Kinks, racism, homophobia, crass oversimplifications in the description of someone with mental health issues. It was a great time to be alive. Anyway, the only period drama that's been going longer than the decade in which it's set will run up to a final episode in September.

Monday 19 July
Who do you think you are, Bruce Forsyth is a question that I often ask. Particularly when, as last year, he was being an apologist for 1960s style vile racist language being used by one of his Strictly Come Dancing colleagues. But, in the fascinating genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1 - Brucie is the latest in a long line of notable personalities to investigate their ancestry and to explore major themes in British social history. Bruce recently received a letter from a lady in American who claimed to be related to him through his great-grandfather, suggesting that Bruce's ancestor was actually married to two women at the same time. Determined to investigate these claims and discover the truth for himself, Bruce embarks on a quest which takes him from Bond Street to New York. Almost always revealing, fascinating and highly watchable telly, this is the first of a series of nine episodes in the current series. Future subjects will include Jason Donovan, Rupert Penry-Jones, Dervla Kirwan and Alexander Armstrong.

Identity - 9:00 ITV - started last week and seemed to get something of a mixed bag of reactions. Some of the reviews were dreadful. I rather enjoyed it, although it's highly derivative of other crime drama shows and Keeley Hawes pre-series claims that its storytelling is better than Ashes to Ashes, for instance, is just laughable. It'll be interesting to see if it can keep the majority of its five and a half million audience for the pilot. In this episode, the Identity Unit take on a sensitive case in which a woman feels the repercussions of a years-old crime. Amy Quilan and her ten-year-old son, Sam, are in the witness protection scheme. When her name is leaked online, the team is called in to protect her. But Bloom's second life forces him away from his police job and he is not around when Sam is abducted by criminals hoping to take advantage of dark secrets from Amy's past. Can the team recover Sam before it is too late?

The Great British Outdoors - 9:00 BBC4 - sees Mark Benton voicing what's described as 'a witty tribute' to a very British story of mud, sweat and tent pegs in a world without a solid roof. Part of BBC4's new Outdoors season.

Meanwhile, if you're desperate for the goings on in Weatherfield, in Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - John's carefully laid plans slowly start to go awry. As they are want to. Ask Rabbie Burns. Can Sophie trust Sian to be alone with Ryan? No, of course she can't! Next ... Dev and Sunita clash over their new babysitting arrangements. Gosh, it's all kicking off in Corrie by the sounds of it.

Tuesday 20 July
In That Mitchell and Webb Look - 9:00 BBC2 - David Mitchell and Robert Webb invite you into their lop-sided world of sketches and cheeky wackiness. Including the daftness and the discombobulation and shit. With hilarious consequences. Or something. Tonight, prepare yourselves for an introduction to a man who has a very, very tiny office. You can also hear about the conspiracy behind the conspiracy behind the fake fake moon landings. And, you'll find out some useful tips on how to get hard cash for any unused plutonium you may happen to have lying around the house. Plus Ted and Peter are here to bring you all the excitement of Late Night Dog Poker. Ah, brilliant. Robert and Davie, at their finest, have few equals. It is, quite frankly, about time that more people were watching their excellent little show. If you're not one of them, what's been stopping you?

When Danielle Lineker married Match of the Day presenter Gary in 2009, she became stepmum to the former football legend's four teenage sons. With her oldest stepson George only twelve years younger than her, Danielle is finding her new role a challenge. What is the secret to a successful stepfamily? How should she behave to avoid being the stereotypical wicked stepmother? Danielle Lineker: My New Stepfamily - 9:00 BBC3 - is a documentary following Danielle on her journey to understand stepfamilies, the fastest growing family type in Britain. On the way, she learns some home truths about both herself and her new family.

In Britain by Bike - 8:30 BBC4, and part of the network's previously mentioned Outdoors season - Clare Balding attempts to re-discover Britain from the saddle of a touring cycle, following in the wheeltracks of compulsive cyclist and author Harold Briercliffe, whose evocative guide books of the late 1940s lovingly describe by-passed and now mostly forgotten Britain. I'd make a crass and tasteless joke about saddle soreness at this juncture but Big Clare was, after all, a jockey. So she's probably used to that by now. Clare begins on the Atlantic coast of north Devon - from Lynmouth, the scene of Britain's worst flood disaster in the early 1950s, to Ilfracombe via Little Switzerland. Then it's downhill to the Hunters Inn, a historic off-the-beaten track pub, before heading to the secret silver mines of Combe Martin – whose riches were said to be a key factor in the historic English victories at Agincourt, Poitiers and Crecy. First of a five part series. Sounds delightfully batty and rather charming - BBC4 in a nutshell.

Wednesday 21 July
Tonight sees the return, for a fifth series, of Celebrity MasterChef - 8:00 BBC1. Britain's favourite celebrity cooking contest starts with five celebrities trying to impress the, usually unimpressed judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace. Actor Neil Stuke, athlete Tessa Sanderson, Dragon's Den entrepreneur Richard Farleigh, Brookside actress Alex Fletcher and Radio 1 DJ Nihal Arthanayake are put through a series of gruelling cooking challenges. Only two of them can go through to the week's quarter final. And, as usual, John will bellow 'I don't know if he's got what it takes!' Greg's face will light up when presented with bit a nice cake and India Fisher's voice-overs will be drop dead sexy to the point of orgasm when she pronounces the word 'jue.' And, it will be madly entertaining and quite addictive telly, even though you know you shouldn't really be enjoying it. Some people, apparently, don't like MasterChef in any of its various forms. They're all wrong.

In Emergency Bikers - 8:00 Five - we're promised an 'action-packed documentary series' following the work of emergency bike crews. The bikers rush to help a child after a traffic accident, deal with the effects of an addict's heroin overdose and uncover a cannabis stash.

My Weird and Wonderful Family - 9:00 Channel 4 - is a documentary about the gay British millionaires Tony and Barrie Drewitt-Barlow. The couple hit the headlines ten years ago when their two children, Saffron and Aspen, were born to a surrogate mother in the US and they made British legal history by being the first married gay couple to win a court ruling that allowed their children to have birth certificates that listed two fathers and no mother. Now, Daisy Asquith sees how their expanding family are getting on over the course of a year, as Tony and Barrie try for more babies. Daily Scum Mail readers, with their stinking, lice-ridden agenda-laced prejudices, are advised not to bother. Trust me, you'll only sit there muttering 'it ain't right, it just plain ain't right,' and 'whatever happened to family values?' and 'Won't something think of the children?!' This, despite the fact that these two guys are in a committed, loving long-term partnership and that their children are happy, well fed, want for nothing and live in a lovely big house in Gloucestershire with two parents who adore them. You, I'm sure, would prefer it if their parents were a squabbling, dysfunctional, common-as-muck couple whose idea of sound modern parenting was to leave the kids on their own in front of the telly whilst they go off for a night on the beer. Because, at least, they're man and woman and, therefore, 'it's natural.' Go on yerselves, Tony and Barrie, and good on your family too. If for no other reason than that your lifestyle (and, probably, your success in life too) continues to seriously piss off and offend the sensibilities of some very tight-arsed people!

Thursday 22 July
Undercover Boss - 9:00 Channel 4 - has one of the single most wretched and sinister concepts in all of television. In this, high-flying company executives go undercover to ensure that their businesses are in good shape. Kevan Collins runs London's Tower Hamlets council at a time when he has to make huge cuts: fifty million pounds over the next three years. But what does he cut and what does he save? In order to find out what the council's services are really like, Kevan works alongside his frontline staff without telling them he's their boss. it is too much to hope that, when the staff eventually find out, somebody gets in him a stationary cupboard and gives him the kicking of a lifetime? I mean, sure they'd probably go to jail for it, but it'd surely to worth it to dissued other high-flying executives from taking part in cruel and unusual TV conceits as this.

The excellent Lie to Me - 9:00 Sky1 - the US drama series about a scientist who uses his ability to read facial expressions and body language to solve crimes continues rattling along in great form. The Derren Brown of the investigation world, if you will. In this episode, when a pregnant girl is found murdered, Cal and the LMG team help Torres try to clear her juvenille-delinquent sister of charges related to the crime, and to protect her from the killer who is still very much at large. And there's also some very good news for fans of the show - and I know we've got a few reading - as it has recently been confirmed that Lie To Me has been recommissioned for another series next year. One which, hopefully, unlike this year they'll show all in one go without a six month break in the middle.

Filming undercover in one of Britain's largest veterinary chains, Panorama reveals evidence of questionable bills, animals poorly treated, and an unrepentant vet struck off for dishonesty in It Shouldn't Happen at a Vets' - 9:00 BBC1. Pet owners who take best practice on trust are sure to be in for a shock.

And so to the news: Actor Dougray Scott has revealed that he has been cast in a new version of The Saint. However, the Father & Son actor admitted that the new adaptation has recently run into difficulties. He told Life of Wylie: 'They've been trying to get it done and I thought we were going to do it this year. But there were problems with the script and the studio, so it's on hold for a bit. That would be for American TV. With these things, even the slightest thing can go wrong. I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon. But it's a great script. I've seen the original with Roger Moore from years ago.' That wasn't the original, Doug, merely one of a huge number of adaptations over the years - although it is, probably, the best known. Scott also promised that he would 'drive a cool car' in the final programme. Simon Templar first appeared in a novel by Leslie Charteris in 1929. Moore played the character in a television adaptation which ran from 1962 to 1969, while Val Kilmer starred in a - dreadful - 1997 big screen version. Although it did have an orbital theme tune which improved it slightly. In 2008, Solomon Kane actor James Purefoy was also reported to be in talks to star in a Saint update.

Five has pulled out of Project Canvas - the development of an Internet-connected TV set-top box. The channel, which has been put up for sale by parent company RTL, is reviewing its digital strategy and does not see the project as a priority. Its share of the sixteen million pound scheme is likely to be funded by partners the BBC, ITV, BT, Channel 4 and TalkTalk. The BBC Trust approved Project Canvas last month saying it offered licence fee payers 'significant public value.' The service will see a range of set-top boxes available to access on-demand TV services such as the BBC iPlayer and ITVplayer.

Emma Bunton has revealed that she is worried she may fall over on live TV during her new show Don't Stop Believing. The former Spice Girl will host the new show on Five, alongside a panel of judges. Speaking to the Sun, she said: 'The main thing that I worry about is falling over, or tripping over the dress. I'm such a klutz - and I always wear very high heels.' Well, the obvious answer to that, then, is don't you silly little girl. Jeez, I always did wonder if Emma would have difficulty walking in a straight line and talking at the same time. It's nice to have it confirmed that my fears were not unwarrented. 'If something goes wrong, I want to be comfortable enough that I can go with it and laugh it off. It's always good to have nerves, it gives you adrenaline,' she continued. 'I'm going to have a ball. It's going to be like a night out for me - I'll have my gladrags on and watch some great performances. It'll be fantastic.' Bunton also revealed that the show isn't similar to The X Factor, adding: 'It's an entirely different show. It's much more of a feel-good show.' So, that denial makes it almost certain that, as most of the pre-publicity had suggested, it's going to be pretty much exactly the same as The X-Factor. Only, on Five. And, therefore, cheeper.

Malaria-stricken Cheryl Cole was transferred to a private clinic last night after being declared 'out of danger.' Doctors are reported to have ruled her well enough to leave intensive care at London's Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Well, thank goodness for that. I mean, we were all so worried that her lucrative career might really take off if she, you know, died. A source for The X Factor told the Mirror: 'All the judges have been really supportive of Cheryl, Simon in particular. He originally contacted her management team to inform them there was no hurry; her health was number one priority.' Which is most un-Simonlike, frankly. 'She obviously missed a few of the regional auditions and Boot Camp is due to start on 22 July. Simon had a meeting with X Factor and ITV execs yesterday to instruct them to push back Boot Camp until Cheryl is ready.' Cowell himself is, reportedly, planning on visiting Cole in hospital. Once he's found the time in his busy schedule.

The southern Californian city of Laguna Niguel has been enjoying an annual ritual, in which locals and visitors bare their bottoms at passing trains. For thirty years, the city has hosted 'Mooning Amtrak' as crowds line up along the railway tracks, dropping their trousers when a train passes by. Up to ten thousand people take part, and visitors are encouraged to leave their cars at home and arrive by train. Local legend has it the tradition began in 1979, after a bar room bet. A drinker at the Mugs Away Saloon, which stands directly across the road from the railway tracks, offered to buy a drink for anyone who would run outside and moon at the next train. One customer took him at his word and a ritual was born. Each year the event grows, with crowds swelled by word of mouth and enthusiastic reports from radio DJs on local radio stations. There were reports in 2008 of surging crowds and drunkenness, and police and a helicopter were called in from neighbouring towns to maintain order. Last year the city, which lies in good old conservative Orange County midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, decided enough was enough. 'Avoid the area this year,' the city warned on its website home page. It added in a breezy Twitter feed that the city was 'saying "NO" to crack.' Moon Amtrak enthusiasts were not impressed. Mugs Away regular Rick Sanchez blamed a 'stuffy, yuppie mayor' who had 'never even been to a mooning,' the Wall Street Journal reported. The event even has its own website, this year proudly headed 'Thirty First Annual Mooning of Amtrak.' It also promoted a newer offshoot: 'Fifth Annual Mooning of Metrolink.' It features directions to Camino Capistrano, the road where trousers and dignity are to be dropped each year, and helpfully lists train times through the day, so that people can schedule their disrobing. And after 8pm, there is night mooning. 'Bring a flash light with plenty of batteries, or better yet, bring a camping lantern,' the website advises. There is even a Frequently Asked Questions"section for mooning debutantes. 'Can I decorate my butt?' is one FAQ. Apparently, that's perfectly legal and, indeed, recommended.

Sarah Ferguson has reportedly sacked all members of her staff in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy. The Duchess of York allegedly made the calls to break the news to her long-serving staff shortly before flying to the British Virgin Islands on holiday. A 'source' told the Sun: 'Talk about rubbing salt into the wounds. If there is so little money, how is she able to swan off on yet another exotic holiday?' One of the staff members added: 'We've mortgages and kids - we're suffering for her stupidity.' Yes. Isn't life tragic.

No comments: