Friday, October 22, 2010

Week Forty Four: Count To Ten And Swim For Cover

BBC newsreader Jon Sopel has broken his hip in a crash on his motor scooter on his way to Westminster to front the BBC's Spending Review coverage. The fifty one-year-old's scooter skidded on wet leaves and he fell heavily on Wednesday morning. Passers-by offered Sopel help but he initially thought his injury was not serious and continued his journey to Westminster. It was only when the pain became unbearable that he headed for a central London hospital. 'I thought I had just given myself a dead leg at first and that the pain would ease - but it didn't; it became unbearable,' he said. In a statement the BBC added: 'Jon was desperate to be part of such an important day in the political calendar, but instead went into surgery just as prime minister's questions were starting and came round just after George Osborne had sat down.' Would that this option was something we could all have taken, frankly. 'The operation was successful and Jon is now recovering in hospital. He has been told he will probably need several weeks to recuperate before returning to work.' Sopel presents the Politics Show on BBC1 and is also a regular contributor to the BBC News Channel. Everyone at From The North sends Jon their best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Still on the subject of the Spending Review, that Nick Clegg, he's a chap you can really trust, isn't he? Anyway, the BBC News coverage of the government's Spending Review announcement on Wednesday attracted a combined audience of over twenty one million people, the corporation has announced. Quite what the other forty million Britons were doing whilst their future was being, effectively, shacked to bits with a carving knife is, at this time, unknown. Watching a repeat of X Factor, probably. According to figures released by the BBC, all of the main BBC News programmes had above-average audiences on 20 October, starting with BBC Breakfast with 1.6m. By contrast, Daybreak on ITV got its usual seven hundred thousand. And, I think they only continue to watch it for the novelty value of seeming Christine Bleakley glow in the dark. The BBC News At Six attracted around five million viewers, while the regional 6.30pm bulletin had an average reach of 5.8m across the UK. News At Ten grabbed 4.9m, before Newsnight was watched by a further 1.1m, slightly above its usual audience. Around 4.2m unique users in the UK visited the BBC News website over the day, the site's biggest audience since the general election in May, when 7.4m people visited. The figure was also higher than the four million users who accessed the site during the Chilean miners' rescue on 13 October. The Live: Spending Review web page pulled in an impressive two-and-a-half million UK views on Wednesday, while some eight hundred thousand users watched audio/video on the News site, nearly twice as many as on an average weekday. Mark Byford, the BBC's head of journalism and outgoing deputy director general, said: 'We knew from our research that the audience had an extraordinary interest in the Spending Review issues. In that context, we marshalled the specialist teams of BBC Journalism to come together and provide a service of high quality and impact. These figures show that during a major news story audiences turn to the BBC in huge numbers for trusted news and analysis.' During the Spending Review, the BBC News Channel outperformed Sky News, reaching 3.8m viewers against 2.2m. BBC2's dedicated Spending Review programme reached 3.8m between 11.30am and 3.30pm, with an audience share of over fourteen per cent. BBC Parliament also attracted additional viewers, reaching four hundred and twenty three thousand on Wednesday, over two hundred and fifty thousand above the channel's average daily reach. And, the irony of the fact that all of these people were watching the BBC on the very day that the Spending Review was delivering a 'harsh but fair' punishment beating to the BBC with a real-term sixteen per cent cut in its income is not lost on this blogger. Laugh? Laugh? I nearly started...

As you know, dear blog reader, yer Keith Telly Topping isn't much of a one for Twitter. I find it a bit pointless, frankly. But you do get the occasional gem from it. Including, this Tweet of the Week from the great Armando Iannucci: 'I think the cuts were fair. It's about time bedbound homeless people with learning difficulties were taken down a peg or two.'

The Top Gear presenters are to take part in a Christmas special where they will follow the footsteps of the three wise men. Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond will travel to Bethlehem, crossing war zones in Iraq, Jordan and Israel on the way, reports the Sun. The trio will be travelling in traditional low cost cars. Hammond will drive a Fiat Barchetta, May will have a BMW Z3 and Clarkson will be in a Mazda MX-G. A 'source' allegedly said: 'Jezza and the boys have been fearless on the trip, but it really was quite dangerous. They had security experts with them at all times. They'll have to do space travel to top this next Christmas.' Oh, for God's sake don't give Clarkson ideas, I can just imagining him reading that and saying 'how hard can it be?'!

According to Metro, Matt Smith is being touted as one of the next batch of celebrities to delve into their family history in the highly-regarded genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? Which will be interesting, chiefly to see whether Matt really is one of the Manchester Smiths. He's certainly a charming man.

And so to next week's Top Telly Tips:

Friday 29 October
In the latest episode of Qi - 8:30 BBC1 - Stephen Fry gets all horrible with his guests, Dara O'Briain, Chris Addison, Sean Lock and Alan Davies. And, as usual, maintains the standard of this brilliantly inventive, effortlessly entertaining and always educational show. Because of tomorrow night's BBC2 Elton John Night, this week's edition of Qi: XL appears to have been bumped to God-only-knows-where. So, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, for one week only it would appear Sir Elt is comfortably filling Stephen Fry's slot. You heard it here first, dear blog reader. Chris Addison? Now, he's a funny lad. I mean, ha-ha, obviously, but also slightly peculiar. His regular contributions to Mock The Week this series have veered, wildly, between really very witty indeed and the occasional impression that he's a bit like the smart, but a bit nerdy, kid in a class full of hard-as-nails bruisers and he's trying just that little bit too hard, to be liked. I think he's a very talented lad, as an actor, a writer and a stand-up comedian but I wish he'd calm himself down a bit. Maybe this is more his forte.

The latest episode of the popular New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1 - features an interesting political dimension. When the former leader of an Irish Republican group comes forward with information regarding the abduction and subsequent disappearance of an eighteen-year-old woman in 1983, the cold case squad reopens the case. The reformed dissident claims that rebels used the kidnapping to promote their profile, but his subsequent reinvention as a politician and man of peace leaves the team rather suspicious of his motives. They also investigate whether the victim's arms manufacturing father's activities could have made her a target. Crime drama, usually well written and cleverly plotted, guest starring Sian Phillips and Annette Crosbie, with reliable Amanda Redman, James Bolam, Alun Armstrong and old Waterman himself. Who's, actually, been very good in this of late. Even if he does sing that ruddy awful theme song.

Coming of Age - 9:30 BBC3 - is, quite possibly, the single least funny sitcom every created. And, when you consider that list includes not only Big Top but also Fresh Fields, that's really something you don't want in capital letters on your office stationary, is it not? In the latest episode, entitled Who Killed Alec the Dwarf?, the principal encourages the students to use the college's recently purchased local radio licence to produce a programme, and the gang decides to perform a play on air. Ollie is surprised when the project reveals his hidden creative streak, but disaster strikes when DK is let loose on the microphone. Ceri Phillips and Joe Tracini feature, and do their future career prospects no good whatsoever.

Saturday 30 October
Apocalypse: The Second World War - 8:00 Channel 4 - is a new series which explores the story of the global conflict, providing an insight into the effects of the war on soldiers and civilians around the world. The first episode focuses on the Nazi invasion of Poland at a time when Europe was on the brink of war, and features rare and unseen footage of the Polish army's battle with German soldiers.

Dermot O'Dreary presents the fourth live studio round of The X Factor - 8:00 ITV. And, God be praised, it's only on for an hour and three-quarters this week. After the double elimination last time around, there are now ten acts remaining, all hoping that they have what it takes to win viewers' votes and impress the judges - nasty Simon Cowell, backstabby Cheryl Cole, 'It wasn't me, guv' Dannii Minogue and 'It's not all about you, Cheryl' Louis Walsh, fast emerging this year as The People's Champion. But as always, once they leave the stage the contestants will face an agonising twenty four-hour wait for the results show to find out whether the public has put them in the bottom three. The results can be seen tomorrow at 8pm. If you're a fan of bear-baiting.

Sunday 31 October
Over the last couple of years, James May has punched his way out of the shadow of his Top Gear co-presenters to because something of a pin-up boy for nerdy blokes everywhere. His Toy Stories series last year was a huge crossover success and now he's got another project on the go, James May's Man Lab - 9:00 BBC2. The amiable host tries to redeem the reputation of modern men whom, he believes, are perceived as being unreliable, clumsy and oafish. Which, to be fair, most of us are, actually. He does this by teaching them skills cherished by their forefathers. His first group of students faces challenges including defusing an unexploded bomb, serenading a woman, building a kitchen out of concrete and creating a motorised picnic table. Not all at the same time, obviously. Even our dads couldn't multi-task, they left that sort of thing to our mums.

There's A Village Here Somewhere is the title of the latest episode of Time Team - 5:30 Channel 4 - which, when you think about it, could pretty much be a useful subtitle for the entire series. Anyway, the team heads this week to the Cambridgeshire village of Litlington to search for the remains of what was rumoured to be one of Britain's biggest Roman villas. However, the initial digging site yields little useful evidence, forcing the archaeologists to ask for permission to excavate local residents' gardens, while a team of diggers tackles trees and undergrowth in a nearby copse. Ah, a Roman one. I like them. As mentioned last week, yer Keith Telly Topping recently interviewed Tony Robinson (as I said to my mate Tony, 'Tony,' I said ...) and he revealed that the next - eighteenth - series of Time Team will return in January. And that we won't have any of that faffing around with splitting the series in half as they've done this year. Which is good.

Return of the Rhino: A Last Chance To See Special - 8:00 BBC2 - sees Stephen Fry and zoologist Mark Carwardine following a mission to move a group of Northern White rhinos from a Czech zoo to the plains of Kenya. Only eight of the creatures remain on Earth, and the project leaders face a race against time if they are to achieve their goal of getting the animals to breed in the wild once more. A sequel to last year's delightful series on the endangered species of the world.

Psychoville Halloween Special - 10:00 BBC2 - is an extended sixty minute edition of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton's macabre comedy drama which has been such a cult hit over the last couple of years. A TV location manager for Dale Winton's Overnight Ghost Hunt investigates the abandoned ruins of Ravenhill Hospital, searching for the spirit of its evil former governess - only for four terrifying tales to unfold in best Dr Terror's House of Horrors style(e). With Dawn French, Imelda Staunton, Eileen Atkins and Daniel Kaluuya. Mad as toast.

Monday 1 November
It's a ninety minute episode of MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:30 BBC2 - tonight. The three finalists visit the Langham Hotel to re-create one of pastry chef Pierre Herme's signature dishes before serving them to the man himself for the judging thereof. They then return to the studio, where they use their new-found skills to make a trio of desserts for Michel Roux Jr and Gregg Wallace. On day two, the competitors travel to Denmark for a challenge at the Noma restaurant. Following an introduction to the philosophy of head chef, Rene Redzepi, the hopefuls prepare dishes for him, before taking charge of the kitchen and serving lunch to critical diners. Then, it's back to Monica's gaff for an evening of cookery and sadomasochism. Allegedly.

Coppers - 9:00 Channel 4 - is a new fly-on-the-wall documentary series. About the fuzz, obviously. As police budgets and numbers come under threat, this documentary reveals how officers across England feel about being on the front line. Well, they took the job in the first place so, frankly, I'm not particularly bothered how they feel about it. So long as they don't try to arrest me on the spurious excuse of 'looking at me in a funny way' as one constable tried to do to yer Keith Telly Topping in Sunderland twenty five years ago. True story. With access to forces nationwide, the programme captures the reality of the job, beginning by joining staff at the Medway custody suite in Gillingham, Kent, one of the busiest in the country, where forty suspected criminals are processed every day. Because it's The Law.

Astonishing as it is to believe, Extreme Fishing With Robson Green - 9:00 Channel Five - is now into its fourth series. And to think, when it started all yer Keith Telly Topping could do was take the mickey out of its title. Anyway, this time around the actor goes angling in Brazil, where he fishes for deadly black piranhas in the Amazon river. Well, he's from up here, we do that sort of thing for a dare, usually. He then heads to Rio Negro where he encounters pink river dolphins, and goes to the remote fishing community of Jaraua as he sets out to catch the world's biggest freshwater fish - the ten-foot long pirarucu. And, as usual, he'll be saying things like 'Wey, y'bugger!' and 'Eeee, it's a whoppa!' quite a lot and, generally, coming over as an amiable sort of bloke who likes travelling around the world with his camera crew catching fish. Gan canny, Wor Geordie. It's not a bad life for some, is it?!

The Little House - 9:00 ITV - is the first of a two-part drama for the Whitechapel slot. Adapted from the novel by Philippa Gregory, Ruth Clee's independent city life is turned upside down when her in-laws buy a country cottage for her and her husband, which is close to their own home. It is the complete opposite of what Ruth had planned for, but the pressure to move becomes irresistible when she unexpectedly falls pregnant. Starring Lucy Griffiths, Francesca Annis and Tim Pigott-Smith.

In [spooks] - 9:00 BBC1 - Ruth (the brilliant Nicola Walker) is approached by an official council snooper claiming to have witnessed covert activity. She initially dismisses his claims, but on learning the man has applied to MI5 four times and been rejected due to mental instability following his wife's death, she visits his flat to follow up the lead. However, she becomes embroiled in a dangerous situation linked to the death of a Mafia leader that Dimitri (Max Brown) is investigating. Elsewhere, Lucas (Richard Armitage) comes face to face with Harry (Peter Firth) in a confrontation that will change Section D for ever. And, just to repeat in case you haven't been watching it this year, [spooks] has been back to its very best of late and, so rumour has it, has already been recommissioned for another series next year.

The Trip - 10:00 BBC2 - features Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in this 'improvised comedy' (i.e. 'we made this up as we went along') about two actors on a culinary tour of the North of England. Steve is commissioned to review half-a-dozen restaurants for a Sunday newspaper and plans the trip with his American girlfriend - only to face the prospect of a week of meals-for-one after she dumps him on the eve of departure. So Steve calls his old friend, Rob, to accompany him, and the pair find themselves debating the big questions of life over a series of delightful dishes. Autobiographical? You be the judge, dear blog reader!

Tuesday 2 November
Turn Back Time - The High Street - 9:00 BBC1 - is a new series made in conjunction with BBC Learning. Shopkeepers experience life on the high street in re-creations of six eras of British history in the market square of the lovely little Somerset town of Shepton Mallet. You've probably seen the Back To The Future-inspired trailers already. The first episode gives the traders a taste of the 1870s, and the butcher, baker, grocer and ironmonger try to adapt to Victorian life under the scrutiny of MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace. The bakers endure physically demanding work through the night. Of course, typically, some bright spark has had the fantabulous idea of putting this on immediately after the final of MasterChef: The Professionals over on BBC2, so we've got a Gregg Wallace overload on telly tonight! Not that this is, necessarily, a bad thing, of course.

What is a bad thing, however, is Kirstie's Homemade Home - 8:00 Channel 4. Having transformed her own house using homemade crafts and reclaimed fittings, mumsy Kirstie Allsopp turns her attention to a selection of dull and dowdy properties across the country, demonstrating ways to recycle old furniture and threatening a beat the living daylights out of any home owner who doesn't do just exactly what she says. She begins with a couple from Wolverhampton who are seeking inspiration to revamp their six-bedroom Victorian townhouse. You'll note, it's never somebody with a two-bedroom flat in Gateshead, is it? Can I have a rant at this point, dear blog reader? I used to really like Kirstie, Kirstie, Kirstie in Location, Location, Location. She was ballsy and to-the-point and gave weekly scowling looks to young professionals from the home counties who knitted their own yoghurt and had grand highfalutin schemes in an era where house prices were going up like a Saturn Five rocket. Sadly, over recent years, she's turned into something of a parody of herself - two-parts gymkhana mummy, one-part Sophie Effing Dahl in her fluffy-duffy world of Kensington whimsy. The programme she made last Christmas about making your own presents was so sickeningly twee I almost died from an overdose of puke and bile after a mere five minutes. Sort yerself out, Kirst, love. It's all this hanging around with David Cameron, clearly. It's made you think you're better than us. And, you're so not.

River Monsters - 7:30 ITV - sees Jeremy Wade enlists the supernatural help of a local witch doctor to catch a specimen of the notorious goliath tiger fish in the Congo River in Central Africa. The creature has the biggest teeth of any freshwater species, and combines the strength, speed and ferocity of all the monsters Jeremy has encountered up to now, pushing him to his physical and mental limits. So, Extreme Fishing With Robson Green but without the blokey Northern charm, basically.

Wednesday 3 November
Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers - 8:30 BBC1 - has the food writer returning to our screens to provide everyday cooking advice as he transforms classic recipes, including cottage pie and apple tart, by giving them a new twist. Nigel also visits allotments and gardens around the country where he picks up the best fresh produce to prepare his take on beans on toast. Part of the Dig In campaign.

Natural World - 8:00 BBC2 - is a documentary following the daily lives of a bottlenose dolphin as it struggles to keep its newborn calf alive in the treacherous waters of Shark Bay, Western Australia. That's not a good address to have for a dolphin, I'd suggest. It's a bit like living at Number Fourteen Bloodthirsty Murderer Street, really, isn't it? With the help of other females, the creature tries to teach the vulnerable baby the necessary tricks for survival in shark-infested waters. Swim like buggery being just the first of them, I'd've thought.

In Horizon: Asteroids - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - 9:00 BBC2 - scientists and researchers analyse their latest discoveries about asteroids, and how their studies suggest smaller rocks could pose a threat as they head toward Earth. The experts explain the photon propulsion that powers their journey across space and how some of these travellers carry a cargo of frost and ice that could have helped to start life on Earth.

Birds Britannia - 9:00 BBC4 - examines the relationship between the British public and birds, beginning with an insight into how the robin became the nation's favourite bird, the symbiotic love between blue tits and milk bottles during the Twentieth Century, and the decadence of the cheeky little sparrow. I like a nice chicken sandwich, personally, that's yer Keith Telly Topping's main relationship with birds. The documentary, however, looks rather decent and is narrated by Bill Paterson, with contributions from David Attenborough (of course), Tony Soper, Jenny Uglow, Chris Baines, David Lindo and Chris Frayling. And, tragically, Bill Oddie. Oh. it was all looking so good up to that point, wasn't it?

Thursday 4 November
What the Green Movement Got Wrong - 9:00 Channel 4 - is a documentary in which environmentalists who are challenging the movement they helped to create express their belief that humanity must embrace the science and technology it once opposed. Advocating radical solutions to climate change such as GM crops and nuclear energy, they argue that the traditional green lobby has failed in its aims and is ultimately harming its own environmental cause.

If you thought that chat shows couldn't get and weirder (or, indeed, cheaper) then you really need to check out Carpool - 8:30 Dave. In this, host Red Dwarf's Robert Llewellyn picks up a celebrity guest in his car and chats with them whilst he drives them to their destination. And, hopefully, if they're full-of-their-own-importance tossers who've only come on the programme to plug the crappy autobiography that they've just had ghosted for them, Robert will drop them in the middle of nowhere with no earthly means of getting home again. Sounds like a good concept to me. I think I'll watch it.

If you fancy another poke around inside Nigella Lawson's pantry then Nigella Kitchen - 8:00 BBC2 - is the very place for you. Yes indeedy. This episode is called Don't Knock It Till You've Tried It. I never do, personally, although Nigella herself - of course - does have her knockers. Anyway, she turns her attention to recipes with an adventurous streak, including sweet and salty nut bars, Irish oaten rolls and 'black squink risotto,' which features black rice and a sautéed squid topping. I think Sautéed Squid Topping is yer Keith Telly Topping's long-lost octopoid cousin, actually. She also breathes new life into old traditions with a slow-cooked Asian braised shin of beef topped with a hot and sour shredded salad.

And now, the news: Dave Spikey has spoken about his bust-up with Peter Kay after Phoenix Nights. Spikey told the Manchester Evening News that he was annoyed Kay took all the credit for creating the show, and at the number of scenes the Bolton comic wrote with the apparent aim of humiliating Spikey. He continued that he was wary of sounding like he had 'sour grapes' (too late for that, old bean) and said that he would even consider working with Kay again. (Probably too late for that, an'all!) But, he alluded to Kay being such a control freak that he was unlikely to want collaborators. In the interview. to promote his new autobiography Under The Microscope, Spikey says the flashpoint came when Kay rang him and Neil Fitzmaurice, the other writers on Phoenix Nights, to tell them that the show had been nominated for a Writers Guild Of Great Britain award. 'We thought it was fantastic, only for us to discover that actually we hadn't been nominated, it was only Peter,' Spikey says. 'And you think, "Well, he's probably not going to accept that because of all the work we did." There were three writers. If you're talking about the person who sat down at the end and collated everything and wrote it, then that was Peter. If that's how you qualify, by putting the words on the paper, then so be it. But we submitted lots of dialogue and we had brain-storming sessions. I did lots of research for it on my own. I think credit where credit's due really. We were the writers of it. I chose not to comment at the time. But now I think that if it's part of your life, you've got to comment on it.' Spikey also revealed that he had refused to appear in scenes when Kay embarrassed his character, Jerry St Clair. He refused to be hosed down naked by firefighters following an anthrax scare, a sequence that Kay had written, and was annoyed when the Phoenix Nights follow-up Max And Paddy's Road To Nowhere showed a banner hailing Jerry's Sixtieth birthday when Spikey was only fifty three at the time. Spikey said: 'I'd love the three of us to work together, but Peter seems to want to organise and control his own projects at the moment, which is fair enough.' So, this is an example of 'not sour grapes,' is it...?

FOX are developing a Bones spin-off, it has been reported. The new show will apparently be based around a character called Walter Sherman, who is to be introduced in a recurring role on the 6 December episode of Bones' current sixth season. Sherman features as a character in Richard Greener's two-book Locator series, on which the spin-off is believed to be based. According to Deadline, Sherman is described as 'an eccentric, obstreperous and amusing reclusive man' who is sought after for his talent to find anything - hence his nickname 'The Locator.' In Bones, Sherman will be presented as a former military policeman who was honourably discharged following brain damage. He is an acquaintance of Agent Booth (David Boreanaz) from the pair's time serving in Iraq together, but the two do not get on. Bones' creator Hart Hanson is attached to the project, and casting for the lead role is expected to begin soon.

If you had any doubt that CBS was enjoying a successful fall season, consider the following: The network has extended full-season orders to all five of its freshman series - Hawaii Five-0, Blue Bloods, Mike & Molly, The Defenders and $#*! My Dad Says. Of the five, Mike & Molly and Five-0 have emerged as the network's biggest new hits.

EastEnders will be broadcast in high definition for the first time on Christmas Day, it has been announced. Fans of the show will get their first glimpse of Walford in HD in the programme's 25 December episode, which is expected to feature more festive drama for the residents of Albert Square. Well, there's usually a good murder in Walford each Christmas, so we've got that to look forward to, anyway. The soap will join other popular BBC shows such as Doctor Who and Top Gear which are already being shown in the HD format. In order to ensure that the serial's base at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood is prepared for the high quality filming format, a series of improvements have been made to sets. Most notably, a new-look Queen Vic will soon be unveiled following the huge fire which engulfed the pub last month. EastEnders' executive producer Bryan Kirkwood commented: 'Christmas Day in Walford is traditionally turkey, tinsel and turmoil for the residents of Albert Square. This year will be even more spectacular with viewers having the opportunity to watch the festive drama unfold in HD for the first time.' That's if you've got HD of course. Yer Keith Telly Topping hasn't. If God had meant me to have HD, he'd've given me ... a job that actually pays good money.

John Stape's dark Coronation Street storyline will continue playing out on screen for 'a long time yet,' it has been confirmed. The former schoolteacher is currently hiding a shocking secret after concealing Colin Fishwick's body at Underworld back in July. He did so after Colin died during a heated confrontation at Stape's house. Speaking to Inside Soap about the character's future, producer Phil Collinson explained: 'John hasn't killed - yet. He just wants to have a quiet life in the Street with his wife and baby. Someone up there isn't going to let that happen, though! There's still a lot to play out with this storyline, so John isn't going anywhere for a long time yet. Part of the challenge for us is how long we can keep John, and how dark we can make him.' Last month, it was rumoured that John may commit murder for the first time before the year is over. Reports suggested that the schemer would kill Charlotte Hoyle after she begins blackmailing him over Colin's death. Graeme Hawley, who plays John, recently insisted that he was unsure of whether this speculation was true.

Idris Elba has admitted that he was surprised by the recent renewal of his crime drama Luther. It was announced in August that the show will return for two feature-length episodes in 2011. 'In my opinion, [the final episode of series one] was the end,' Elba told The Daily Beast. '[But] with the appeal of Luther and [its] success, we're all compelled now to see what happens next.' The actor added that he had been in contact with Luther creator Neil Cross about the new episodes. 'Neil and I have had discussions about that,' he confirmed. 'It's like, what do we do next? I think in Neil's head, he's already got the answers. But as far as I'm concerned, it was done.'

Lord Sugar has been criticised by Nigeria's High Commissioner in London for apparently insulting his countrymen on The Apprentice. His Excellency Dalhatu Sarki Tafida accused Sugar of making 'demeaning and spurious' comments about the African country based solely on an individual 'sordid' deal. Tafida was referring to an exchange between Sugar and candidate Stuart Baggs on the opening episode of the current series. When asked why he shouldn't be fired, Baggs told Sugar: 'If you give me a hundred grand a year, I will deliver to you ten times that, and if I don't, take it all back. A money-back guarantee, I'm that confident.' Sugar replied: 'I had an offer like that from Nigeria once and funnily enough it didn't transpire.' According to the Daily Express, Tafida said: 'Lord Sugar's remark on Nigeria is preposterous and spurious. It was an unprovoked, damaging remark on a sovereign and independent state of over one hundred and fifty million people, based on his alleged sordid and isolated deal with a Nigerian individual. It is demeaning and unfortunate.' However, a BBC spokesman defended Sugar and claimed that the entrepreneur was making a joke about a notorious e-mail scam, in which recipients are promised vast amounts of money in return for a smaller amount of their own money or bank account details. 'It is clear Lord Sugar was just making a reference to a perception about e-mail scams,' the spokesman said. 'I don't think it can be seen as a comment against the whole Nigerian nation.'

The BBC's director of global news, Peter Horrocks, has revealed the corporation is looking at introducing advertising on some of the World Service's thirty one foreign-language websites as part of a 'seismic shift' for the whole organisation. Hosting advertising on some of the World Service's language sites could provide new revenue for the BBC, Horrocks told staff. The idea is being considered as BBC executives work out the practical implications of this week's licence fee settlement, which will see one hundred and forty million pounds-a-year cut from the corporation's annual £3.6bn budget, plus additional funding commitments including the World Service. The World Service budget will fall by sixteen per cent over four years, Osborne said. Its annual foreign office grant currently stands at two hundred and seventy two million pounds. 'With commercial and the World Service there are some possibilities,' Horrocks told a gathering of global news staff. 'Fundamentally, public money to support journalism is likely to be in places where the media is not free or [in] a proper market – but in some areas and more advanced markets, there could be potential for blending things together and that could be a sensible thing. Dot com [the international news site run by BBC Worldwide] already has adverts so the logical step could be an income stream for World Service language sites. That's just an idea, not a policy.' A BBC World Service spokesman confirmed that opportunities to increase the World Service's commercial income were being considered. Addressing staff concerns in an internal session lasting more than an hour, Horrocks conceded that there would have to be job losses to meet the scale of the savings required in what is 'clearly a seismic shift and will have huge implications for the whole of the organisation. Until just a few days ago we were working on the assumption that the settlement was just about the World Service,' he said. 'It is now clear that this is a fundamental change for the whole of the BBC, not just global services.' Horrocks confirmed that the BBC executive board were looking at possible closures of World Service operations 'where the need [for a World Service presence] is least and the impact [of closure] is lowest – all of these things can be assessed. For international language services the consideration of need is the most legitimate thing to take into account,' he added. The World Service will announce where the majority of the savings will be made in late November, though there will be a series of announcements in the coming weeks. 'The board are now looking carefully at the funding settlement and at where we can revise plans and obtain approvals,' Horrocks said. He added that he received assurances on Wednesday morning from William Hague, the foreign secretary, that the government still 'buys the argument that [the World Service is] a huge asset for the UK.' From April 2011, the World Service will need to deliver cumulative savings of around sixty seven million pounds over four years. 'That equates to more than twenty five per cent of the current costs. It is a very steep task indeed,' Horrocks said.

Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage have been confirmed to star in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. In a statement, Warner Bros verified rumours that Sherlock star Freeman will portray Bilbo Baggins in the JRR Tolkien adaptation, which is set to be split across two films. [spooks] actor Armitage has landed the role of Thorin Oakenshield, the Company of Dwarves' leader who attempts to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon. Doesn't anyone think he's, maybe, a bit ... big for a dwarf? Director Jackson said: 'Despite the various rumours and speculation surrounding this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us. There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave - exactly like Bilbo and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit.' On Armitage, Jackson added: 'Richard is one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on screen today and we know he is going to make an amazing Thorin Oakensheild. We cannot wait to start this adventure with him and feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle-earth is in such good hands.' Being Human's Aidan Turner and Rob Kazinsky, who played Sean Slater in EastEnders, complete the Company of Dwarves as Kili and Fili. 'Aidan is a wonderfully gifted young actor who hails from Ireland,' Jackson added. 'I'm sure he will bring enormous heart and humour to the role of Kili. Rob is an extremely talented young actor with a huge career in front of him. I'm thrilled that he has agreed to take on the role of Fili. Besides his talent as an actor, Rob is also a champion sword fighter - I'm looking forward to seeing the damage he can do to a horde of marauding goblins!' Also appearing in the movies are 24's Graham McTavish as Dwalin, John Callen from Power Rangers Jungle Fury as Oin, Stephen Hunter as Bombur, King Kong actor Mark Hadlow as Dori, and Peter Hambleton from The Strip as Gloin. The films are scheduled for release in December 2012 and December 2013.

The CW network has ordered a script for a new drama to be developed by Michelle Trachtenberg, according to Deadline. The show is reported to be a new project by Gossip Girl's Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who will serve as executive producers. Based on an idea of the former Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress, the show will feature her in the lead role as a criminology student who has a talent of profiling and a dark past.

An innovative new documentary movie, The Arbor, uses lip-synching techniques to give life to audio interviews telling the story of tragic playwright Andrea Dunbar. The raw, working-class realism of 1986 TV film Rita, Sue and Bob Too - written by Dunbar and set on Bradford's Buttershaw estate - has helped to make it a cult classic. Her story of the friendship between two schoolgirls who begin an affair with a married man was contemporaneously described as Thatcher's Britain with her knickers down. 'I really love the film, the friendship between the two girls, the fact that it doesn't really moralise about them enjoying sex,' says the documentary's director Clio Barnard, who is also from Bradford. 'But I suppose I didn't really know much about Andrea so I hadn't where that writing came from, or where that talent came from, and I didn't know her plays.' The director's journey of discovery began with visits to the Buttershaw estate and Dunbar's street, Brafferton Arbor, to meet those who knew the writer - a heavy drinker who died of a brain haemorrhage in 1990, aged just twenty nine. Interviews were recorded 'to create a sort of a screenplay that you listen to rather than read.' Insightful reminiscences from figures from the writer's past - and two of the three children she had with three different fathers - are brought to life by actors who mime along. 'The actors did a phenomenal job because they had to learn it like a piece of music - technically it's very challenging,' says Barnard. 'In addition, they had to give a nuanced performance so I think they really did a remarkable job.' The 'verbatim' technique used by Barnard was partly inspired by Dunbar's ear for raw dialogue that is such a central part of her autobiographical writing style. 'Part of what I really like about Andrea's writing is it uses peoples words as they say them, that it's verbatim - it felt important that it was in people's own words.' As Barnard's unique documentary progresses, the focus shifts from Andrea to what became of her eldest daughter, Lorraine, now the same age that her mother was when she died. The interviews with Lorraine, a former drug addict, were recorded in prison where she was serving a jail sentence following the accidental death of her two-year-old son, who died after ingesting drugs. Lorraine's younger sister Lisa, whose voice is also prominent, says watching actress Christine Bottomley mouth her words was 'very strange - I had to keep pinching myself 'cos I thought it was me.' Lisa - who was ten when Andrea died - has more of an idealised view of her mother than her sister, whom she says she has not spoken to for years. '[My mother] used to always write at night-time in her bedroom,' Lisa remembers. 'In the morning, you'd go in and there'd be a little bedside bin and it would just be full of screwed-up paper.' Her abiding memory of the first time she watched Rita, Sue and Bob Too is of feeling 'disgust at all the swearing. When I was fourteen, I saw it for the first time and everyone at middle school had seen it at about that time and everybody wanted to talk to me and sit near me.' Although Andrea Dunbar's masterpiece was made into a film by Scum director Alan Clarke in 1986 for Channel 4, it was originally performed as a stage play - the writer's second - four years earlier. Barnard's documentary is interspersed with both archive footage and excerpts from a modern-day performance of her first play - also called The Arbor. Her debut work - which she began as part of a school project - was premiered at London's Royal Court in 1980 after her raw talent was spotted by theatre director Max Stafford-Clark.

Channel 4 has defended its recent docudrama The Taking Of Prince Harry. The programme was a speculative documentary with dramatised elements focusing on what would happen if the royal was kidnapped in Afghanistan and featured interviews with security experts and former hostages. Before the show was broadcast last night it was criticised - sight unseen - by the head of the armed forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup. According to the Daily Record, Channel 4 has now revealed that it received around one hundred and eighty complaints before the broadcast but not a single one afterwards. 'The film raised important questions around whether we want to expose members of the Royal Family to the new kind of risks that modern warfare poses,' a spokesperson said. 'Once viewers actually watched the programme they would have seen that this was a sober and responsible documentary.'

An American Muslim faces up to thirty years in pokey after admitting that he encouraged attacks on the writers of South Park. Zachary Adam Chesser was said to be 'outraged' by the comedy's storylines featuring the prophet Muhammad. He also admitted supporting a Somali Islamist militant group, al-Shabab, which is designated as a terrorist group. In April this year, he posted an online 'warning' to the creators of South Park suggesting that they would be killed for depicting the prophet in the two hundredth episode of the irreverent cartoon series. Prosecutors said he also posted onto an Islamist militant website the personal information of people who had joined an Everybody Draw Muhammad Day group on Facebook. US Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement: 'Zachary Chesser seriously endangered the lives of innocent people who will remain at risk for many years to come. His solicitation of extremists to murder US citizens also caused people throughout the country to fear speaking out - even in jest - lest they also be labelled as enemies who deserved to be killed.' He threatened the South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone on a variety of websites, including his Twitter page. In one post, he invoked the memory Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was killed in 2004 over his film about women in Muslim societies. Chesser wrote: 'We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh if they do air this show.' In the episode, Muhammad – whom many Muslims believe should never be depicted in any fictional form – was shown wearing a bear suit. South Park previously depicted Muhammad, along with various other religious icons, as a superhero in the 2001 episode Super Best Friends.

Katie Waissel reportedly collapsed while in Oxford Street's Topshop on Thursday having 'come over all peculiar.' The X Factor hopeful was seen, according to witnesses, lying against the wall in the London store with her hand to her head. Probably muttering 'what have I done? I volunteered for this.' Or something. Maybe, she was suffering from a touch of the vapours? Lots of ladies used to have trouble with that, apparently. Perhaps, we'll never care. However, the twenty four-year-old reportedly made a quick recovery and was later pictured leaving the shop with a bag thought to contain freebies. Making sure that somebody with a camera was close by, no doubt. An X Factor spokesperson told the Daily Scum Mail: 'Katie felt unwell and there were trained first aiders on hand to look after her. She is feeling fine today.' The reason for Waissel's collapse is unclear. Though dramatic licence for publicity purposes is thought to be one possibility. Allegedly.

Cheryl Cole has dismissed suggestions that Cher Lloyd throws tantrums and is difficult to work with. The singer, who mentors Lloyd - seen left, apparently auditioning for a revival tour of Haysi Fantayzee - on The X Factor, said that she would not be able to 'handle' stroppy behaviour from any of her finalists. Shotgun gimme-gimme low-down fun-boy okay, yeah, showdown! Referring to a report that Lloyd had become angry over an outfit picked out for her for last weekend's show, Cole explained: 'I like to hear their opinions. I'm not going to say, "That's what you're wearing, that's what you're doing." But there's no stropping going on.' The twenty seven-year-old Heaton Horror added that she sees a resemblance between herself and the teenager. What, you mean she commits actual bodily harm on female lavatory attendants as well? Cole told Sara Cox on Radio 1: 'She reminds me of a young me completely. Even the type of music she listens to, how she performs. Even the way she performs - you know, when you forget the camera is there and pull faces, she's doing that at the moment. People just need to get used to the performance.' Cole also insisted that the seventeen-year-old is naturally slim and does not have 'an issue' with food. She said: 'Whenever I see Cher she has a chocolate bar in her mouth - I actually don't know where it goes. She is very petite naturally, she's a tiny little thing. She hasn't grown into a woman yet.'

Rumours abound that, after the massive disappointment of his latest chart placing, young Joe McElderry's next single is to be a cover version of The Stranglers' 'Just Five Minutes And You're Almost There.'

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