Wednesday, November 03, 2010

In My Father's House There Are Many Mansions. You Can Have One If You Like

As mentioned on a few previous occasions, dear blog reader, one of yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite TV reviewers is the Metro's Keith Watson. And, yer Keith Telly Topping thought that other-Keith had Monday night's opening episode of the Steve Coogan and Roy Brydon comedy vehicle, The Trip described perfectly in the final paragraph of his latest column: 'There's a slightly irksome air of self-congratulation,' wrote Watson. 'But it's hard to take against a show where Coogan chooses Joy Division's 'Atmosphere' ('don't walk away ... in silence') as the perfect soundtrack for cruising through the verdant English landscape. Makes a change from 'The Lark Ascending,' that's for sure.' He's not wrong, either, dear blog reader. And the 'how to impersonate Michael Caine' bit was funny.

Claire Lara was, deservedly, crowned third annual MasterChef: The Professionals champion of Tuesday night. In the ninety-minute finale the three remaining chefs - Big Fat Cuddly Scouse Claire, Geordie John Calton (well, he's from South Shields, so it might be Mackem John Calton, actually!) and Big Sweaty Durham Davie Coulson With The Shaky Hands - had to draw on every little thing they'd experienced over the past few weeks when they faced 'the toughest challenge of their careers.' And, for once, the hyperbole was entirely justified. Preparing an intricate Michelin-standard three-course menu (designed by Michel Roux himself) for thirty of the world's leading foods inspectors, restaurateurs and Michelin chefs at the Pearl in London. These including Michel's brother Alain and Clare Smyth - with over forty Michelin stars between the lot of them. 'Don't let us down' Michel told them earnestly. Not much pressure, then! The episode begun with a rather nice ten minute fluff-piece showing viewers a glimpse of the finalists' home lives, talking to their friends and family, all beautifully shot and reminding one that all three seem very nice people and are, of course, very good at their job. Then, rapidly, the action switched from the relaxed North to the harsh reality of the Smoke as India Fisher's deliciously husky voice informed the audience that the pure dead rock-hard tasks were about to begin. Claire, for possibly the first time in the series, had a dramatically appropriate flap over her fish but took a breath of fresh air and quickly pulled herself together; David was having a few problems with his prawn and salmon starter and John couldn't get the thickness of his tweels right and didn't cook enough shortbread biscuits. Calamity. Given that they were cooking for people who, as India informed us, 'are dedicated to perfection,' it didn't auger too well for any of them first up! 'This is as daunting as it gets,' said Tom Kitchin who seemed to be channelling India all of a sudden. Dave had the starter, deep fried tiger prawns and got top marks from punters. He compared the experience to a boxing match: 'It's like sparring with Muhammed Ali. Or, playing footie with Pele,' he noted. Stressed Claire managed to get her red mullet with potato fins and asparagus main course out with an exhausted 'I can't believe I pulled it off!' Even Monica Galetti was smiling by the end of the dish - something, possibly, unique in the history of the show. Poor John not only had his puddings to put together but also had to negotiate a virtual obstacle course on the way as this briefly threatened to turn into a farcical episode of It's A Knockout. His - very complex - sweet of raspberry souffle, white chocolate puree and ice cream sorbet went down very well too. One of the Michelin chefs, Antonine Bonnet, confessed that he, personally, would have refused to even attempt such a dangerously ambitious dish. 'You have to be either resilient, mad or on MasterChef to accept to do that!' Then, as if all that malarkey wasn't enough, the trio returned to MasterChef headquarters for the final time, to cook Michel and Gregg their last three-course meal. 'Treat us today,' Michel told them. 'Spoil us!' John gave it the works, preparing a lobster, basil, mango and avocado salad starter, pan-fried turbot with langoustines and truffled celeriac purée for main course and a pud of dark chocolate mousse on an almond and green tea cake base with milk chocolate ice cream. He'd saved his best to last. Here, there were to be no timing issues which had previously haunted him and the food was magnificent. Claire, who described herself as 'in the zone', came up with three more quality dishes to go with the half-dozen she'd already made earlier in the competition: Sea trout with apple, leeks and watercress stems, roasted wood pigeon, pommes mousseline, pancetta with peas and quince jelly and, finally, white chocolate mousse with raspberry and lemon thyme jelly. Dave's trio of courses were: Smoked mackerel tartare with mackerel pâté and cucumber pappardelle, a brilliantly inventive main course of 'deconstructed chicken and mushroom pie' served in a baked mushroom which had Michel Roux quite literally purring and, finally, rice krispie cake with hot chocolate mousse and cherry liqueur. In the end, it ultimately came down to consistency over the whole series as there was virtually nothing to separate the three chef's final dishes. Wirrel-born Claire, thirty, said that her triumph 'felt like it was a dream.' Michel declared, 'we have discovered a diamond' and Gregg stated, 'she is a class act that girl. The style of Claire's food, it's so elegant and delicate, yet has that depth of taste diners want. She has that exceptional talent that will take her to stardom.' And, if you fancy giving any of these recipes a good to see how hard it is, you can find them, in full, here.

Jeremy Dear, the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, has hit out at Prime Minister David Cameron's 'crass and insensitive' remarks about the cuts facing the BBC. Cameron prompted much criticism on Friday when he referred to 'delicious' cuts to the corporation when taking questions from journalists on the UK agreeing to a 2.9 per cent increase in its contribution to the European Union budget despite wholesale cuts being made domestically. According to the Torygraph, while responding to a question from Newsnight's Michael Crick about how he would explain the increase, Cameron quipped: 'I would explain patiently – as I hope you will on Newsnight — that we were facing a six per cent increase. We've pegged that back to 2.9 percent. At the same time, I will say, we're all in it together, including, deliciously, the BBC, who in another negotiation agreed a licence fee freeze for six years. So what is good for the EU is good for the BBC.' As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review settlement last week the Government froze the licence fee for six years and instructed the BBC to take on the funding of the World Service as it shares in the pain of widespread public sector cuts. In doing so, the Government pushed three hundred and forty million pounds of costs onto the BBC. The additional cost burden amounts to around a sixteen per cent budget cut in real terms. 'David Cameron's comments, revelling in the prospect of people losing their jobs and services being axed, are crass and insensitive,' Dear told the Torygraph. 'They appear to betray his real feelings about the BBC. He's happy to hand over more money to the EU while cutting resources to one of our most important national institutions.' Ivan Lewis, the shadow culture secretary, has called for an inquiry into the deal to be conducted by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. He said: 'In these difficult times, the BBC can be immune from neither cuts nor reform. But the recent dodgy licence fee deal and these trite comments by the prime minister undermine the independence of the BBC and display a worrying level of hostility to one of Britain's most important and successful institutions.' Tom Watson, a Labour MP and a member of that select committee, said: 'The BBC cuts will lead to people losing their jobs and probably dependent small companies losing contracts and the Prime Minister finds it "delicious." Most people suspected he was under the spell of Rupert Murdoch, but they will be shocked to know he shares the media oligarch's contempt for one of our country's greatest institutions.' Steven Barnett, professor of communications at the University of Westminster, also criticised the tone of Cameron's remarks. 'It is rather a shame that he seems to take such obvious pleasure in the fact that the BBC will be forced to withdraw programmes that people love as a direct result of the sixteen per cent real-terms cut in the licence fee,' he said.According to Neil Sean in Metro's gossip column, The Green Room, Dannii Mingoue - the least famous of the Minogue sisters - says that she had no idea where rumours that she will be axed from the show come from. 'I do,' notes yer man Neil, in a style rather reminiscent of a school sneak. 'And it's not pretty, trust me.' So, that'll be Simon Cowell, then?

The BBC Press Office has confirmed the following: Accused will begin on Monday 15 November at 9:00. The second series of Garrow's Law kicks-off on Sunday 14 November, also at 9.00, and on both BBC1 and BBC HD. The Impressions Show With Culshaw And Stephenson returns the same night at 10.25. Also Merlin will not clash with The X Factor on 13 November (apart from the last five minutes), as much of BBC's schedule that night is earlier that usual due to The Festival of Remembrance ceremony.

Arnold Vosloo is to play a recurring role in the new season Bones. Entertainment Weekly reports that the actor will play an elite sniper named Jacob Broadsky in at least three episodes. Series creator Hart Hanson revealed that Vosloo's character would be involved in the assassination of a recurring cast member. 'We've got someone worse than the Gravedigger coming,' he explained. 'And if the Gravedigger is Evil Brennan, [then Broadksy] is Evil Booth. Remember, Booth was a sniper.' Vosloo previously starred as Imhotep in the 1999 film The Mummy and its 2001 sequel, and also played terrorist Habib Marwan in the fourth season of 24.

Meanwhile, The X Factor finalists were, reportedly, 'left shaken' at the weekend after a black cat was thrown into their house. Not half as shaken as the poor cat, I'll bet. Can you imagine how horrible that must have been for the animal. 'Arrggghh! It's Kate Waissel!"!!!' The cat, which was tossed through an open window, apparently landed on Belle Amie's Sophia Wardman. 'I was asleep and felt something land on me - it was a cat,' Wardman told the Sun. 'I screamed.' She added: 'We wanted to keep it, but pets aren't allowed.' The cat reportedly had a note attached to its collar which read: 'Good luck X Factor contestants.'

Damon Albarn has likened reality television to the slaughter of animals. The former Blur front man - you remember him? He used to live in a house, a very big house, in the country - said that shows like The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent 'sanitise' young talent and remove whatever is appealing about them before they enter the show. He told the Sun: 'It's not good because - though from time to time they may stumble across a beautiful voice - they put them through a food processor and make them fast food. A cow is definitely a more beautiful thing before it hits the hamburger factory. They do things to these kids. They play with their bodies and their faces. They just bleach and sanitise everything about them and that's a very potent aspirational aspect of our society.'

Louis Walsh has suggested that the contestants on The X Factor do not get on as well as they make out in public. The reality talent judge told Heat that some of the acts give the impression of being friends so that they will be liked by the public. Walsh said: 'They all pretend they like each other, but there's a lot of fakery. They've watched the show, so they're being clever about it - they want to be liked.' The mentor also defended his act Mary Byrne, despite tipping Matt Cardle to win the 2010 final. 'She knows I'm being honest,' Walsh explained. 'I don't tow the line, I'm not there to keep everyone happy. My main aim is to get her in the final and get her a recording contract. Anyway, at least she sings live and and doesn't have all the tricks that the others use. Cher [Lloyd] has all those stage distractions because she couldn't just walk out and sing. But Cheryl [Cole] sees a lot of herself in Cher.' Asked what he made of Lloyd's facial expressions, Walsh said: 'Weird! Why doesn't Cheryl take her aside and say, "Stop making those angry faces?"'

Is it just yer Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader, or does anybody else feel like punching someone - really hard - when that gormless fat slob bellows 'WONGA!' in the envirofone.com advert? Just me then ...

Mary Tyler Moore and Betty White are to be reunited on screen for the first time in almost thirty five years. Deadline reports that Tyler Moore will guest in the second season premiere of White's breakout sitcom Hot In Cleveland. She is thought to be playing a character who gets involved with White's recent storyline which saw her character, Elka, arrested. The pair previously starred alongside each other in The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1973 to 1977.

Emmy Award-winning BBC show Walking With Dinosaurs is to be made into a 3D movie, the corporation has announced. The teams behind hit computer-animated films Happy Feet and Finding Nemo will be involved in the production. The project is the first part of a three-film deal with Indian company Reliance Big Entertainment. Documentary Africa 3D will be filmed alongside new TV series, Africa, while Life will look at the life cycles of the animal world. Walking With Dinosaurs, which used state-of-the-art computer-generated techniques to bring to life a prehistoric world, was a huge hit when it was first broadcast in 1999. A live arena show based on the series has taken more than one hundred and twenty four million pounds in the past three years. The 3D film will follow a migrating family of dinosaurs and will use live-action footage of scenery and locations alongside CGI creatures. BBC Worldwide's natural history arm, BBC Earth, will make the new films with Reliance. A previous BBC Earth film, Earth, has taken almost seventy five million pounds at cinemas around the world since it was released in 2007. Course, if you prefer Dancing With Dinosaurs, you don't have to wait, you can watch Ann Widdecombe on Strictly every week.

The world's most popular orange, Christine Bleakley, has reportedly scrapped plans to release a workout DVD. The presenter was expected to team up with her sister Nicola, who recently lost seven stone, for the fitness film. However, the Sun reports that - due to Daybreak's falling ratings on ITV - the thirty one-year-old pulled out at the last minute. 'Celebs release fitness DVDs to cash in on people's post-Christmas guilt,' an 'insider' allegedly told the paper. 'But it is felt that Daybreak is too much of a negative story.' Her spokesman added: 'The project was very complicated, involving several key people. It has simply been scheduled for April when they are all available.'

Kate Garraway has claimed that she 'doubts' any of the stories written about Daybreak are true. Apart from the fact that it's getting spanked in the ratings by Breakfast, of course. That one's true. The former GMTV host, who remained on the new ITV show in a new - much less high-profile - position of 'entertainment editor,' said that press reports about the programme are becoming 'more extreme' each week. 'Apart from the ongoing debate about falling viewing figures, last week one claimed Christine Bleakley was pregnant (which has been vehemently denied, by the way) all because she wore a baggier top than usual!' she wrote in her New column. 'Another stated that ITV is bringing in the I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! team to shake up the show. Hmm.' She added: 'Personally, I have serious doubts about this. Aside from anything, I'm much happier nibbling croissants first thing in the morning than kangaroos' private parts!'

It probably won't come as a surprise to anyone that Ed Byrne has confirmed Reunited - the drama pilot shown on BBC1 during the World Cup and which bombed in the ratings - won't be made into a full series.

Andrew Lincoln went to extreme lengths to master an American accent for his role in The Walking Dead - he ditched his English dialect for four months. Lincoln spent sixteen weeks filming the new zombie-themed show, which launched on US network AMC last month. He was so determined to sound authentic, he insisted on speaking in an American accent both on and off camera for the duration of the shoot - and only reverted to his real accent once, when he was recognised by British tourists in New York. Lincoln tells ShortList magazine, '[Executive producer] Frank Darabont asked me to be in dialect all the way through the job, even when I was off camera. It was a good idea because it meant that I didn't have to think about the accent when it came to filming. I had more important things to worry about frankly, like the zombie apocalypse. [But] I went to New York at one point and this tourist recognised me. I had to snap back into my English accent and go, "I'm really sorry, nice to meet you." That was cool because when I hear accents that I don't think are right, I'm a bit of a fascist.'

The BBC has announced details of a new Doctor Who exhibition to launch in early 2011. The Doctor Who Experience will open at the Olympia Two venue in London on 20 February and will showcase a number of props and costumes used throughout the show's history. Showrunner Steven Moffat said: 'The is a fan's dream come true.' Not this fan, Steven. Yer Keith Telly Topping's 'dream come true' would be my own bloody island, don't generalise please! He continued that the show will be a 'fully interactive adventure that will allow viewers of the show to get as close as possible to some of the scariest monsters from the series. It will also be the first time that Doctor Who artefacts from all the show's forty seven year history will be on display together, many of them being seen for the first time.' The exhibition will feature new scenes filmed with series star Matt Smith as part of an interactive walk-through experience, including special visual effects and a recreation of the TARDIS interior. Smith claimed: 'The whole concept of the Doctor Who Experience is massively exciting! I hope as many people as possible enjoy boarding the TARDIS next year to embark upon an exhilarating and sometimes terrifying adventure through time and space.'

An actor from the Channel Four series Shameless has been attacked as he came out of a North London court after being fined for driving without insurance. Elliott Tittensor, twenty, who plays Carl Gallagher, had just admitted the offence when he was set upon outside Highbury Magistrates' Court. A man was arrested after the incident and remains in custody. Tittensor had pleaded guilty to driving without insurance during a car accident which left a teenager in hospital. The accident left eighteen-year-old Oliver Flint with permanent eye injuries. 'He was walking down the steps when a guy tapped him on the shoulder and just smacked him in the stomach all of a sudden,' an onlooker said. 'He came from nowhere, I don't know who he was.' Three policemen held the assailant on the ground outside the North London court and led him away down a nearby street. It is not known whether Tittensor, or his girlfriend who was with him at the time, were injured in the scuffle. Tittensor was in the car with his girlfriend, actress Kaya Scodelario, eighteen, in the early hours of 15 August when the accident happened outside a fast food restaurant in Kentish Town Road, in North London. Tittensor was ordered to pay a seven hundred and fifty pound fine and was given six penalty points on his licence. The actor, from Ryecroft Avenue in Heywood, Lancashire, took it in turns with his twin to play his Shameless character when the series started in 2004.

Argumental is reported to have been cancelled by Dave - because of low viewing figures, according to Marcus Brigstocke, or because 'it was a load of old unfunny crap' according to yer Keith Telly Topping. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice, I suppose.

A religious pressure group - or 'a bunch of nutters' as normal people, including many decent and righteous Christians to be fair, call them - have criticised the BBC for giving extensive coverage to pagan celebrations of Halloween, accusing the corporation of 'down-playing' Christianity. Of course they have. because they've got nothing better to do with their time. Andrea Williams, the director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: 'It's not always healthy to represent such beliefs as paganism as mainstream, particularly when our national faith is so often pushed to the edges. It is vital that our national broadcaster remembers our great Christian heritage and all the precepts that come from it that are good for the nation. I would like to see this more clearly recognised.' Yes indeed, 'great Christian heritage.' The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Dissolution, Matthew Hopkins, Judge Jeffries and the Popish Plot, Northern Ireland, Cliff Richard, intolerance, bigotry. They've given us so much ... Now madam, kindly take a liberal pinch of your snooty Exodus 22:18 agenda, compare and contrast, perhaps, with John 8:7, add a little bit of Leviticus 19:18 and more than a touch of Matthew 7:12, stir, consider, and then eff off and mind your own goddamn business you hypocrite. And, a'fore you ask, yes, I'd be delighted to let Jesus into my home. But, you'll have to wait outside.

Peter Kay is starring alongside Jamie Redknapp, Dannii Minogue and a host of supermodels in Marks And Spencer's ten million pound Christmas advertising campaign. The comic is depicted making some moves to the Bee Gees' 'You Should Be Dancing.' However, as the Chortle website suggests, 'cynics may note that he looks noticeably thinner in the long shots when a tricky manoeuvre is needed than he does in the close-ups that require little more than a daft grin.' The ninety-second commercial parodies some famous pop videos, and after initially appearing as a dance instructor, Kay later alongside Twiggy in a spoof of Madonna's 'Vogue.' Other models taking part in the advert include Lisa Snowdon, Ana Beatriz Barros and VV Brown. M&S marketing director Steve Sharp said: 'This is one of the best Christmas campaigns we've ever put together. It is very glamorous and lots of fun.' Which is pretty much exactly what they said about last year's effort featuring Philip Glenister and Stephen Fry. Which, as the great Charlie Brooker noted at the time was 'chummy and cosy and thoroughly delighted by its own existence. I keep hoping it'll suddenly cut to a shot of a deranged crystal meth user squatting on the cold stone floor of a disused garage, screaming about serpents while feverishly sawing their own hand off at the wrist.' But, sadly, it didn't. Kay, of course, is no stranger to adverts, having already significantly swelled his bank account by starring in another series of John Smiths adverts earlier this year.

An escaped emu caused chaos in Marlborough, New Zealand on Saturday. According to the Marlborough Express, the 'rampant' bird chased children and reached a running speed of thirty kilometres per hour. Local constable Jeff Woolf said that the emu avoided capture for seven kilometres before being apprehended. Although no-one was injured, he warned: 'Like any livestock on the road, if they get out they can get quite hazardous. If someone had swerved to avoid an emu [and crashed] they could have been injured.'

High street chain Selfridges has offered ten thousand pounds to the family of Frank Sidebottom's creator after it appeared to use his head in a window display. Mannequins with faces very similar to that of the over-sized papier-mache creation formed part of their marketing campaign at their London store. Chris Sievey, the man behind the cult figure from Timperley, lost his battle with throat cancer in June, aged fifty four. The store has 'sincerely' apologised. Chris's partner, Gemma Wood, said that she had received many phone calls since a national newspaper published photographs of Selfridges' display. 'People were very upset,' she said. But she added: 'I spoke to the store on the phone and they said they were very sorry and are going to credit Chris.' Fans hope to build a permanent memorial to Sidebottom in Timperley, the suburb of Manchester which he immortalised. James Malach, who still runs the snger's Radio Timperley website, said: 'On the one hand they should have asked permission from the family, which I'm sure they would have given, but on the other hand this is the kind of fuss which Chris would have loved.' A Selfridges spokesman added: 'After investigation we can see why some fans of Chris Sievey's character as well as some of the creator's friends and family have reacted so quickly to this feature of our current windows. We sincerely apologise if this has offended anyone and we have been keen to resolve matters quickly. We have offered to give tne thousand pounds to Chris Sievey's estate and for them to decide how to best use this donation. We will also ensure that a suitable acknowledgement is made to Mr Sievey's work in our window displays and in-store.'

Stottingtot Hotshots manager Happy Harry Redknapp isn't so happy at the moment and has warned that he will boycott all post-match TV interviews if the Football Association charges him over his criticism of referee Mark Clattenburg. Which, From The North is sure will have the FA shatting in their shoes. As threats go, for a publicity-hungry chap like Happy Harry, that's the grown-up equivalent of 'I'll scweam and scweam and scwaean until I'm schick!' Despite facing potential fines from the FA, Redknapp has stuck by his criticism of Clattenburg for allowing a controversial goal by Manchester United's Luis Nani to stand against El Spurs on Saturday. The governing body will decide today whether to charge Redknapp for claiming that Clattenburg and his assistants colluded in making up 'a story' over the incident. Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Redknapp defended his comments and pledged to fight any charge from the FA by launching a media boycott. 'I've got no issues with the FA, but I wouldn't take [a charge] lying down,' he said. 'There's no way I'd do any more TV interviews. No chance. Don't bother asking me to speak to TV after a game again. I don't care if it's in the rules. No chance. I don't want to do it. The last thing I want to do is go on TV and talk about the game. I just want to get on the coach and go home. I don't expect a charge, but if they do I'll fight it all the way.' Redknapp added: 'The FA want it both ways. They want us to talk about the game, but not talk about it. I could just come out and refuse to talk about anything. I was asked my opinion and said what I felt. If I can't come on TV and answer a question in a truthful manner when I'm asked, then we shouldn't be dragged out to TV two minutes after a game. When I'm asked a question I give a truthful answer - he made a right mess of it and I stand by that.'

A Peruvian court has sentenced a journalist, José Alejandro Godoy, who runs the blog Desde el Tercer Piso (From the Third Floor), to three years in prison, a fine of sixty five thousand pounds and one hundred and twenty days of 'social work' for 'aggravated defamation' of a politician. According to Perú 21, the journalist was convicted for an April posting in which he posted links to several media outlets that discussed criminal accusations against former minister and congressman Jorge Mufarech. The sentence has generated a political and media uproar in the country. The Press and Society Institutecalled the ruling 'unconstitutional and without precedent' and said that it had no legal merit.

And so, with a sort of inevitability that comes with ceaseless repetition, we reach today's exciting instalment of Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. We're still stuck in the early seventies, I'm afraid. Although, with hindsight actually, not that afraid at all. it was, after all, a time when riffs were riffs, when men were men (or, sometimes, girlymen) and when glitter was, like, de rigeur in the towerblock, droogy. Ah-ah!He'll steal yer woman out from under yer nose, Arthur! And here's Steve and the boys in a legendary performance on Top Of The Pops. Albeit it should be noted that, in the one of the greatest scenes in one of the greatest shows British telly has ever produced, Gene Hunt does admit that he prefers Roger Whittaker!

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