Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stop The Clocks

Welcome to the last day of October 2010, dear blog reader. And, for those of you who have the misfortune to be in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I hope that you remembered to put your clocks back late last night (or early this morning). If you didn't, I have some bad news for you. It's an hour earlier than you think it is. Or, is it later? I always get confused with this stuff. I've got no idea how the Doctor copes with all that time travel malarkey and shenanigans. Anyway ...

TV Comedy Moment of the Week: The return of Xander and Ben in The Armstrong & Miller Show, the highlight of which was a dazzling song-and-dance routine about Farmers Markets. One which included, amid the sharp observations about middle class wankers who shop there, not only a really funny lyric about A-Ha singer Morten Harket (because, obviously, it rhymes with 'market') but, also an appearance by him as well! The 'massive cock' sight-gag was pretty good too. It's great to have Britain's best comedy double act of the last decade back.

Karren Brady has revealed that she was 'horrified' when young girls told her they aspired to be WAGs during a recent school visit. The Apprentice co-presenter insisted that schoolgirls need to be encouraged to have ambitions of their own and to aspire to have successful careers, rather than simply marrying a footballer. She told the Daily Lies, a newspaper that's done more than any other to foster the climate in which WAG-culture has flourished: 'Recently I did some work in a school and when I asked the young girls what they would like to be when they grew up, a lot of them said they wanted to be married to a footballer. I was horrified. I said, "Why do you want to be married to a footballer when you could own a football club?" I think we have to remind our young girls you need substance in your life, you need motivation to get up every morning and you need to be rewarded for what you do. All of those things come from having a career.' Brady, the vice-chairman of West Ham United, added: 'I want to make a difference to working women. It is something I am passionate about. When I had children I had to find somebody to look after them, and getting high-quality childcare is the barrier holding women back in business.'

Citizens of Peru have reportedly 'spoken out' against a recent episode of the US comedy series Modern Family which included dialogue describing the country as violent and bizarre. Angry Peruvians took to the Internet - rather than to the street, which might be seem as progress by some - to complain about the ABC sitcom after Sofia Vergara's character Gloria Delgardo-Pritchett was shown slighting their country while defending her own Colombian heritage. 'Because, in Colombia, we trip over goats and we kill people in the street,' Vergara says in the offending line. 'Do you know how offensive that is? Like we're Peruvians!' Milagros Lizarraga, the founder of a Peruvian online community, told The Associated Press: 'It's incredible that in a country where everything is politically correct, ABC would have a line of this sort.' Can't argue with that, really. Although whether that's a good thing or not is a matter so some debate. Regarding Vergara's controversial dialogue, Lizarraga continued: 'Many Peruvians think this is no coincidence, that she knew what she was saying, because an actress has the power to say, "No, I can't say this because it would hurt my image." Unless she agrees with what she said.' ABC has yet to comment on the controversy, although Vergara responded to the row by posting 'Get A Life!!!' in Spanish on her Twitter account. Which, I'm sure is going to really help clam the situation down a lot. Good gracious. Next we'll have Australians complaining about The Simpsons disrespecting them, I suppose. Oh.

X Factor contestant - and Our Aly's favourite to win - Matt Cardle has reportedly criticised his fellow contestant, Katie Waissel, describing her as 'fame hungry.' Wow. What a surprise because I wouldn't have thought anyone who goes on The X Factor could've been accused of that. According to the Daily Scum Mail, the singer denied claims that the pair had been found in bed together earlier in the competition and admitted that, actually, they are no longer on speaking terms. He said: 'That stuff about us being in bed together was absolute bullshit. Katie's a fame hungry twat. I can't say any more about it because nothing happened. I would never go near her. I'm not speaking to her, I don't have anything to do with her in the house. I've made my feelings absolutely clear and if she doesn't get it by now then she's more stupid than I thought.' Asked what Waissel could do to repair their friendship, he said: 'The only thing she could do is leave the competition. I don't care if she's in or out of it, as long as she's out of my face. I'm concentrating on the competition, not all that shit.'

The ex-wife of X Factor finalist Wagner - you know, Stephen Fry's favourite - has labelled him a 'menacing, possessive bully.' Wagner, that is, not Stephen Fry. I don't think even Piers Morgan would try to suggest such a thing. Speaking to the Sun, Trudi Brass (that's never her real name?!) claimed that Carrilho 'changed' soon after they married in 1992, causing her to take out an injunction against him just weeks later. Brass, fifty five, said: 'He was lively and fun, but soon became very possessive and I thought, "This isn't what I want." I found him menacing, he was so intense it was scary. Even on our wedding night we went to a pub and he started to become possessive. I was talking to a man and he said, "Why are you talking to him?"' She also claimed that she paid for Wagner to return to Brazil, but he came back to the UK soon after. They eventually divorced in 1996. Speaking about Carrilho's appearance in the X Factor finals, Brass said: 'I felt sad for Wagner really, that this beautiful man was now being portrayed as a joke. He had such a wonderful voice, but on The X Factor he just shouts and they give him silly songs. I wish him well' - really sounds like it, love - 'but it's all rather sad. He had a wonderful life in Rio, now he's in a bungalow in Dudley.' Carrilho reportedly responded to the comments, saying: 'I was married to Trudi eighteen years ago. Unfortunately the marriage broke down. These allegations are untrue. I am not possessive.'

A number of musicians including New Order's Bernard Sumner and Suede frontman Brett Anderson have joined Sir Elton John in taking aim at The X Factor. Elton provoked a terse reaction from Cowell earlier this month when he described the music mogul's singing contests 'arse-paralysingly brain crippling,' although to be fair to Elt he did qualify his comments during a recent appearance on The ONE Show and say that if he were a seventeen year old now, he would probably try to audition for the talent show. Now Sumner, Anderson, and Madness singer Suggsy have joined in the fun, all voicing their displeasure at shows such as The X Factor and American Idol. Barney said, 'I think people are interested in image and the kind of bullshit you get on TV in shows like The X Factor. I think it stinks because it's more about the people who are making the programme than the people they are purporting to promote. I like real music. I'm not interested in how well you can sing. It's not how you sing, it's what you sing that interests me. What they're singing is other people's music and it's not creative. I think Simon Cowell is supplying a market and that market is completely uninteresting and boring.' Anderson insists he believes the show is 'strangling' the music industry, adding: 'I think, on the plus side when you have a kind of awful mainstream thing like The X Factor and all that talent show rubbish, it means that there is always a kind of reaction to that.' And Suggs concluded 'I don't think there is a lot of room for young bands in the charts and they have been filled up with people who don't really have any real interest in music.'

Emma Bunton has become the latest Spice Girl to dismiss rumours that she has signed up for I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! Earlier this month, Melanie Brown denied tabloid reports she would heading to the jungle for the next series of the hit programme, which sees celebrities struggle to survive in the Australian rainforest. A notorious tittle-tattle had, hilariously, suggested her name along with those of Chico, The Chuckle Brothers and John Leslie as potential jungle fodder. And, yes, dear blog reader that does sound like the punchline to a Mad Frankie Boyle joke, you're right. Brown almost immediately described the claims 'wrong.' Her former band mate Bunton - now a notorious TV flop in her own right on Five's watchword for unimaginative lowest-common-denominator television Don't Stop Believing - has also been linked to the show by a tabloid. But she has brushed off the latest rumours, writing on her Twitter page, 'I'm not going into the jungle!'

Sharon Osbourne has fired off a foul-mouthed rant at an American journalist over an article in which she criticised overweight actors on TV - calling the reporter 'a discredit to other women.' Osbourne, who has struggled with her own weight issues in the past, was outraged after reading an article by Maura Kelly, which was posted on on Monday. The piece, titled Should 'Fatties' Get a Room? (Even on TV?), discusses the problem of obesity and refers to US sitcom Mike & Molly, which focuses on a couple who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous group. In the article, Kelly claims she would be 'grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other' and that she finds it 'aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room.' What a charming example of humanity this woman is. Osbourne spoke out about the controversial piece on American chat show The Talk on Wednesday, labelling Kelly 'a bitch' and vowing to cancel her subscription to Marie Claire magazine. She said: '[Kelly is] a discredit to other women - and I think she is a bitch and I want her arse here. I am now cancelling my subscription to the magazine, because apparently, this Kelly said it was on the advice of the editor of the magazine to do this piece, and I think it is absolutely [deplorable]. I am so close to tears. If this woman was here, I tell you, she would get such a mouthful from me.' Well, she was getting a mouthful from you anyway, Shaz, she didn't need to be there in person for that. 'People like this are adding to the problem that we have today with our kids - boys and girls - about being anorexic, about having low self-esteem. I'm thirty pounds overweight right now, should I not be allowed to kiss my husband or my children, or walk across a room?' Kelly has since, reportedly, apologised for her 'insensitive' comments.

Jersey Shore's Angelina Pivarnick has claimed to have been attacked at a Staten Island mall. The reality TV regular claims that she was approached by a rowdy gang of youths during a recent shopping trip, where she was attacked from behind and struck in the back of the head. A friend of Pivarnick is also alleged to have told police that a bottle had been thrown by an onlooker, skimming her lip. However, mall security personnel reported to TMZ that Pivarnick and her friend were being filmed when a gathering crowd got overexcited, resulting in the MTV regular being accidentally hit in the face. Despite the conflicting reports, the website claims that Pivarnick has visible injuries proving the extent of the attack and is still talking to police about the incident. Earlier this month, Pivarnick allegedly punched her driver after he allegedly attempted to seduce her alleged mother.

A California woman is entitled to the near one-and-a-half million dollars that her former employer and its insurance carriers agreed to pay her to settle her sexual-harassment lawsuit, a Fresno County Superior Court jury ruled on Tuesday. The verdict gives Janet Orlando, of Clovis, more ammunition in her fight to get some of the damages which another jury awarded her in 2006 against Alarm One Inc., where she once worked as a salesperson. Alarm One and its insurance carriers have declined to pay, saying that the settlement contract depended on finding a bank willing to finance the payment. 'I don't know if this is a conclusion,' said Jonathan Cole, who represented Carolina Casualty Insurance. Orlando and her attorneys - Nicholas Butch Wagner and Larry Artenian - said that's fine with them. The $1.4 million has already drawn six hundred thousand dollars in interest, Wagner added. That's Butch Wagner, not Stephen Fry's X Factor Wagner, just in case anyone was getting confused by all these Wagners. Blimey, there's more Wagner going down today than at a performance of Die Walküre at Bayreuth, complete with encores. If the case is prolonged, Orlando's damages will likely grow by at least two hundred thousand dollars per year. 'I have the best attorneys in town,' Orlando said. 'We're never going to give up.' Orlando was a saleswoman for Alarm One, a home-security company, for five months in late 2002 and early 2003. She said that she quit after she was humiliated by company practices which included spanking employees with a competitor's yard sign - all in the name of 'helping build camaraderie' among the company's sales force.

And, to conclude, the sixth episode of yer Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This time around we've got just about the best record ever to come out of Birmingham - UB40 and Slade might argue differently, but I'm sticking with this - from one of Britain's most under-rated bands. 'Friends all seem to laugh/I fear I'm apt to make a compromise.' Dur-dur-dah-dur-dur-dur. I picked this one up for all of ten pee in a second hand record shop on the Isle of Wight in 1979 when I was on holiday with me mam and dad. And bled the bugger white over the next ten years. Two great choices for the video for this one. The first, in black and white from 1968 and Top of the Pops complete with Dave Cash introduction when they were still a five piece. The other, from a year later in colour, and live in the studio after Ace Kefford had left and Trevor Burton had switched to bass from Colour Me Pop.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I Just Keep Hearing Your Footstep On The Stair

Very entertaining Qi last night, yer Keith Telly Topping thought, dear blog reader. I'd be really looking forward to tonight's extended edition. If it was on, that is, and hadn't been replaced by a whole night of Dame Elton!

This week's episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Cold Blooded - was a real game of two halves, Brian. One of the episode's plots, in which the unusual pairing of Hodges and Langston investigate an apparent case of murder-by-dinosaur was an unusually hilarious conceit which quickly became sinister and really very clever indeed. Good stuff. Unfortunately, the second plot strand, in which the rest of the team (minus Sarah who was the one to be missing in action this week) found themselves investigating an old case, an apparent suicide and a grief-stricken mother was a bit more paint-by-numbers, despite a really good performance form the ever-reliable George Eads. After five solid episodes to kick off the show's eleventh series (particularly the intriguing Sqweegal a fortnight ago), sooner or later we were bound to get one that didn't quite live up to expectations. But, it was a shame it had to be this one because, one sensed that Tom Mularz's script just needed a tiny bit of tweaking and this could have been the best episode in a good long while.

Based on reported overnight ratings figures, my good friend Dave over at Gallifrey Base has produced the following graph showing the decline of Daybreak's average daily audience during the past month. It doesn't make pretty reading if you're Adrian or Christine, it must be said. Or, indeed, for anyone else who works there.

Oh dear, what a calamity. If you're wondering, by the way, the big dip on 14 October appears to have occurred whilst most of the country were watching real news channels elsewhere for what was happening over at the San Jose mine in Chile. From that point, it seems, Daybreak has never really recovered. You know, given that according to RAJAR figures released this week Chris Evans is getting about eight million listeners a week for his breakfast radio show, that means he's being listened to, on average, by a peak of more than twice as many people per day than are watching Chiles on Daybreak, even before you take Friday's ONE Show into consideration for TV viewers. There's a real irony in there somewhere if you look hard for it. Or, indeed, even if you just glance for it and say 'oh yes, there it is.' Irony, Adrian - that's not what your mum does with your shirts after washing.

Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch is to star opposite Jonny Lee Miller as Doctor Frankenstein in a new London stage play directed by Danny Boyle. The actors will alternate roles as the mad scientist and his monstrous creation in the National Theatre production, starting in February. Miller is best known for playing Sick Boy in Boyle's 1996 movie adaptation of Irvine Walsh's Trainspotting. Cumberbatch is currently shooting the film adaptation of War Horse. The movie is being directed by Steven Spielberg and is due for release in 2011. The new play has been adapted by Nick Dear from Mary Shelley's Gothic horror story, which was first published in 1818. Boyle told the BBC: 'I thought it would be really interesting if they could play each other's roles every other night. It is very much a two-hander, that's the engine of the piece, and it's nice because it puts the accent on performance and not on make-up. It's an extraordinary story,' he added.

The Sun is reporting that the long-running detective drama Waking The Dead is to end after its next series. The newspaper states that the 'shock BBC move' is 'a blow' to Trevor Eve, who became Britain's highest paid actor as the show's lead Peter Boyd. Eve was reported to be on a one million pounds a year contract. The next series - the show's ninth - is currently in production and scheduled for broadcast in 2011, but this will, apparently, be the last. The BBC's head of drama Ben Stephenson promised 'a shocking and compelling' final series. He told TV Biz: 'It is always hard bringing successful series to an end, but like Ashes to Ashes and Mistresses we wanted to end on a high. Several months ago we asked the production team to script the last series with this in mind.' The most recent series of the popular cold case drama was pulling in audiences around the seven million mark so it'll be interesting to see what the Beeb comes up with to replace it.

Al Murray is hoping to make a landmark BBC documentary about the writer William Makepeace Thackeray, his great-great-great grandfather. The comic wants to make the film to mark the bicentenary of the birth of the Vanity Fair author in July on next year. He told the Independent his illustrious ancestor was 'a fascinating character, with a love of gambling and prostitutes,' but said that he had only recently taken an interest in his work. 'His life was amazing. He was a journalist really, a Grub Street hack in the finest sense,' said Murray, himself an Oxford history graduate who this week announced a BBC4 documentary series about Nineteenth Century German art and culture. 'I didn't read any of his stuff until quite recently. I read Vanity Fair about ten years ago, but I've read a lot of his journalism, The Yellowplush Papers, The Book of Snobs and a lot of the Punch writing. I prefer it. Things like The Virginians and Pendennis are extremely heavy going.'

Cher Lloyd confidence has, reportedly, 'been rocked' and she is said to be fearing for her X Factor future as fans of Tinie Tempah who mercilessly booed her at a recent London gig continued to mock her on Twitter. Which is, of course, terrible. But, then, there are people starving in Africa and all that so, in the great scheme of things, who gets booted off a talent show this weekend really isn't all that much to get excited about. The X Factor contestant was reportedly 'left in tears' when Tinie's fans at Koko club in Camden, London, turned on her when she made what was described as 'a special appearance' alongside One Direction on Wednesday night. The rapper's fans then took to Twitter afterwards to continue the taunts. One posted: 'Ha, ha, I love the fact that Cher is being booed.' Hardly a 'taunt' is it? More the sort of thing you hear coming from the deputy to the tobaccy-chewin' sheriff in some movie set in the Deep South in the 1970s. Metro, however, reports that the singer is 'plotting' a 'shock performance' that, she hopes, will 'win over the haters.' This, dear blog reader, is 'news' apparently.

FOX's entertainment president Kevin Reilly has admitted that network broadcasting regulations are 'frustrating.' According to Deadline, Reilly suggested that FOX's recently cancelled show Lone Star would have been successful on cable because there are fewer restrictions. Speaking at the Hollywood Radio and TV Society's network chief's luncheon, he said: 'It is frustrating sometimes. On cable, we would've been able to have the guys on Lone Star take off their clothes, the show would have pulled 1.3m viewers, and we would've declared it a hit because that's what Mad Men draws. We would've collected a few trophies, too, and no-one would have questioned it.' Well, you're the boss of the network, mate, you set the rules. Radical suggestion, I know, but don't you think that maybe, just once, you could say about a show 'we've got something here that not a lot of people are watching but, those that are tell us they really like it so, for once, sod the low numbers, we're going to stand up and say we're proud of this thing, we believe in it, and we're commissioning it for another series, instead of cancelling it after two episodes.' Or, something like that. Just a little thought to pop into your toaster and see if you can spread butter on it and serve it to Uncle Rupert.

Alan Partridge is returning with a new online show - and Billie Piper finds herself at the wrong end of one of the radio host's legendary bon mots. The hapless, ABBA-loving, gaffe-prone local radio DJ, played by Steve Coogan, stars in an online series showcasing his antics on his new radio show Mid Morning Matters. In the first of twelve eleven-minute episodes, Alan - who is assisted by younger DJ, Simon (played by the comedian Tim Key), and with whom he claims to have 'great banter' - tells his North Norfolk Digital listeners about Piper: 'I like her face. She has a very round cherubic face, rather like a Victorian doll that's somehow been re-animated. Say what you like about Billie Piper - but she is the most popular prostitute on ITV.' In another episode, Alan hosts a phone-in to find the greatest ever person from Norfolk, with Horatio Nelson challenged by Delia Smith. In one of his typical asides, he says: 'You'll recall that at the top of the show someone phoned in to say that you can avoid Type Two diabetes by injecting yourself with Ribena. That can't be right - but no one as yet has called in to debunk that. If you want to do so, please do.' Other episodes will apparently include Alan confronting an Alan Partridge imposter on Twitter, and in another, Alan - who is waiting for guest Anthea Turner - meets a man campaigning to reduce childhood obesity through cycling. The shows - written by the character's original creator Armando Iannucci - will appear on from 5 November.

The actor Gerard Kelly, died on Thursday evening at the hospital after a brain aneurysm. He was fifty one. A spokesman for his family said on Friday that Gerard had 'died peacefully' at West Middlesex University Hospital on Thursday evening. His close friends and family were with him when he died, the spokesman said. Kelly, who lived in Isleworth, appeared in many comedy series like City Lights, Rab C Nesbitt and Scotch and Wry. He also played more serious roles, including the villain Callum Finnegan in Brookside. He was a hard man who gave the Mitchell brothers a run for their money in EastEnders and made three appearances in Ricky Gervais's Extras. He remains best known, however, for his starring role in City Lights as the hapless would-be author Willie Melvin. He was very good friends with Coronation Street actress Kate Anthony. Her husband Gary Barak said Gerard was a close family friend and 'one of the kindest people you could ever meet.' He added: 'It was very sudden and the kind of thing that could have happened to anyone. He was a wonderful caring man, one of the most famous people in Scotland, but he was very private and loved his life in Hounslow and Isleworth. Everyone loved him, he was kind and generous and totally unselfish. If someone stopped to talk to him in the street he would give them all the time they wanted and sometimes more. He had no airs and graces, and he had a lot more to give. Gerard will be deeply missed by his friends and family and indeed his huge fan base across his beloved Scotland and further afield.' Gregor Fisher, who plays Rab C Nesbitt, said: 'He was a dear, sweet and funny man, and I shall miss him very much. Too soon as far as I'm concerned. Too, too soon.'

Lastly, not unexpectedly, we move to part the fifth of Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, today, it's back again to those swingin' sixties - where the skirts are shorts and the legs are long - for a piece of white-skinned, blue-eyed Canadian soul and a riff that ate the world.

Oh, yer Keith Telly Topping spent many a happy Saturday night dripping with sweat and drop-kick dancing to this baby (just like we'd all seen some cats do in a This England documentary about the Wigan Casino on ITV!) And, then there'd usually be a big argument between the Northern Soul kids and the Mods as to whether it was Northern Soul or Mod music. In actual fact, it was both. And one of the greatest records ever made. 'Where our love used to be/only shadows of the past I see.' Perfection in two minutes and fourteen seconds.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Week Forty Five: All Over The Country The Lights Are Going Out In Millions Of Homes And Thousands Of Flats

Top Gear's new Stig will make their first appearance at a live event next week – be he'll be just one of a whole herd of tame racing drivers at the show's super secret 'Stig farm.' Still publicity images from the BBC show a group of drivers milling around a farmyard, sporting a variety of brightly coloured overalls. Top Gear personnel have always jealously concealed the identity of the show's stunt driver, and replaced the previous two men to hold the role – 'Black Stig' Perry McCarthy and 'White Stig' Ben Collins – after they both publicly 'outed' themselves by publishing autobiographies. But rather than hiring another professional driver such as Collins, a Formula 3 competitor, the latest pictures suggest that Top Gear have decided to breed their latest recruit themselves in an attempt to guarantee more secrecy. Fans are eagerly waiting to discover what colour the new Stig will be after seeing the images of the group, which included red, blue, green, yellow and - yer Keith Telly Topping's own personal favourite - the bright pink Stig. Presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will, reportedly, visit the farm to choose which one will become the third Stig. A 'source' told the Sun: 'Fans probably don't know there is actually a secret farm where we breed lots of different Stigs.' No shit?! Their chosen driver will be presented to fans at the Top Gear Live! show at Earl's Court next week before assuming their role in the new series of the show which will begin early next year. Meanwhile, as reported on this blog a few days ago, the motor show's presenters appeared on the US news programme 60 Minutes on Sunday night and stole the crown for the highest ratings it has had in 2010. Top Gear - much to the chagrin of the Communists at the Gruniad Morning Star, and the goose-stepping bullyboy thugs at the Daily Scum Mail - is a global phenomenon and these high viewing figures clearly demonstrate just how well the format are doing across the pond where it is a genuine cult hit. Being interviewed on the success of Top Gear by reporter Steve Croft, a dedicated and long-term Top Gear fan, Clarkson credited its success to the 'chemistry' which he believes connects the three presenters. 'The chemistry that exists between Richard, James and I has rather taken over. You can't really engineer chemistry, that just happens, we really genuinely loathe each other!' he joked. But, to answer the question more sincerely, Hammond added: 'It's three middle aged-ish men exploring their passion for cars and how cars matter to people.' Kroft - who brilliantly described Top Gear as 'part reality show, part buddy movie and part Monty Python' - also got to meet the elusive and anonymous - and now, former - Stig. 'We tried to get him to utter some syllables when he took us on a test drive in the new Camero,' Kroft revealed. 'It didn't work. Driving at one hundred and thirty-miles per hour and screeching around hair-pin turns we didn't even hear a grunt.' Top Gear broadcasts in over one hundred and twenty countries with has an estimated worldwide audience of three hundred and fifty million viewers. Although, thanks to the Internet, that figure might be much higher. Despite its success, it's no stranger to hitting headlines for often controversial reasons. Whether it's disregarding speed cameras, popping inappropriate jokes, pissing off classic car drivers to the more recent drama surrounding The Stig, they always manage to rake in huge viewing figures and a handful of complaints from viewers. Most of whom, in all honestly, appear to be watching each episode specifically to find something to complain about. Certainly, the tabloids - whether they'll admit it or not - love the show since every single week it gives them a Monday morning story to write about the latest group of people (usually, about ten of them) who've been offended by something the show - and specifically Clarkson - had said or done. But Clarkson stoutly defends his show saying: 'It's a weekly occurrence that somebody will complain about Top Gear. If you start paying attention to everybody's concerns you end up bland and boring, so have to sort of ignore everybody to do the show how we want to do it.' And, thank God for that.

And, on that very bombshell itself, dear blog reader, let's have a look at the next old batch of yer Top Telly Tips, and all that malarkey.

Friday 5 November
In the first of a new two-part documentary, David Attenborough's First Life - 9:00 BBC2 - the acclaimed naturalist explores the origins of life on Earth. Which will, I'm better, annoy a bunch of creationists - in a Top Gear style(e). Await Monday morning's 'David Attenborough will BURN IN HELL' rant in a tabloid of your choice, dear blog reader. Beginning the journey near his childhood home in Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire, David learns how a fossil discovery transformed scientists' understanding of the evolution of complex organisms and gave the book of Genesis a good poke in the eye as well. And, in Newfoundland and Australia he reveals the earliest kinds of animal to exist on the planet. With the help of cutting-edge technology and visual effects, the programme brings to life the creatures, demonstrating how they survived. Terrific stuff, of course. A proper, decent, relevant use of licence fee resources at a time when the BBC's public service broadcasting commitments are being hammered by self-interest groups and tabloid scum. To, once again, quote Mitch Benn - 'we're not just listeners and viewers, it belongs to us.' Power to the people. David Attenborough, an unlikely figure to lead Week Forty Five's revolution-per-minute, but actually I can't think of a more fitting one. If you lose the BBC, you lose stuff like this. Probably forever. Here endeth the lesson.

White Van Man - 8:00 Channel Five - is a new documentary series following (not entirely unexpectedly, given the show's title) the lives and work of some of Britain's independent tradesmen. The programme shows how, in response to difficult economic times, some shrewd businessmen are using their van-based operations to explore new moneymaking opportunities, often with surprising results. For example, an east Londoner talks about his project to make a gibbet for one of his - hopefully anonymous - client's bondage dungeon, and a duo from Worthing discuss their idea to perform a variety of building jobs topless. Typical Channel Five, really - a potentially very serious show about the tough economic climate is highlighted in the pre-publicity by the promise of tits and spanking. You'd never believe the owner of the Daily Lies runs the gaff now, would you?

In House - 9:00 Sky1 - Jennifer Grey took a break from her hoofing stint on Dancing With The Stars to play a middle-aged mother whose medical history could be linked to the ill health of her newborn baby. She's not the only one with concerns about a young one, however. When House and Wilson get lumbered with the job of looking after Cuddy's child, the two-year-old proceeds to wreck the living room and swallow a coin while the pair are distracted. As mentioned when yer Keith Telly Topping got his review copy of this episode through a couple of weeks ago, the A plot itself is not all that interesting but the series recovers its momentum and kind-of justifies its recent reformatting via the hugely entertaining babysitting shenanigans. There's something hugely satisfying about seeing that arch manipulator of people Greg House being, himself, archly manipulated by a mere toddler.

Qi - 8:30 BBC1 - this week is all about hypotheticals. Stephen Fry is joined by guests who include the show's creator and former producer John Lloyd, along with Sandi Toksvig, Johnny Vegas and regular panellist Alan Davies for the quiz with a difference. Again, this week, there's no XL edition tomorrow because BBC2 are, once again, devoting the entire night to some wrinkly old rocker who should've had his hair cut years ago! (Robert Plant in this case, after Elton John last.) Boo! Bring back Qi: XL you hippies!

Saturday 6 November
In The Armstrong & Miller Show - 9:30 BBC1 - yer Keith Telly Topping's current favourite comedy double-act, Alexander and Ben, reunite for more sketches demonstrating their distinct, quirky, often rather old-fashioned but always sharp and witty brand of humour. New characters include two prudish saleswomen, Yvonne and Lisa, who run an underwear shop and a frustrated astronaut whose jealous computer will not leave him alone. But, we've also got the return of many favourites like the bawdy singing duo Brabbins and Fyffe and, of course, the pilots. You couldn't have a series of Armstrong & Miller without them. That'd be bogus.

Timewatch: The Last Day of World War One - 8:30 BBC2 - see broadcaster, writer, diarist, film-maker, general grump and one-time comedian Michael Palin telling the story of how the First World War ended on 11 November 1918. And, revealing that - contrary to long-standing myths - soldiers continued to be killed in battle for many hours after the armistice had been signed. Recounting the events of the days and hours leading up to the eleven o'clock ceasefire, Palin tells the personal stories of some of the last troops to die in that war which was supposed to end all wars. It didn't, of course. It ultimately turned out to be as futile and pointless as most conflicts conceived, in smokey back rooms, by old men who love the idea of killing for peace, freedom and truth but who, as Paul Weller once noted, are 'too old to go, so they send the youth.' I'm constantly reminded of a line of dialogue in one of the best episodes of The West Wing, War Crimes, where the Vietnam veteran Leo is arguing with an old friend, now an Air Force general, about his own - unknowing - actions in bombing a civilian village in the sixties conflict. Leo acknowledges that he could have been charged with war crimes, and demands to know why he wasn't told at the time what he had done. 'All wars are crimes,' replies the general with a sadness that is genuine. To me, that sums the subject up perfectly.

Sunday 7 November
We were deprived of our Saturday night dose of Stephen Fry thanks to old Stairway To heaven himself, but we get a Sunday night bonus instead. In The Great American Oil Slick - 8:00 BBC2 - Stephen visits Louisiana four months after an explosion aboard a BP oil rig caused millions of gallons of crude oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico. Alongside his friend and Last Chance To See co-presenter, the zoologist Mark Carwardine, he assesses the impact of the disaster on the region's wetlands, wildlife and, just as importantly, people. But, the pair are both surprised and divided in their opinions by what they find. The second of two Last Chance To See sequels and, as with the show that spawned them, hugely recommended on all sorts of levels.

We're finally getting towards the end of the seventeenth series of Time Team - 5:30 Channel 4 - filming in the spring and summer of 2009 and broadcast in the most haphazard manner imaginable by Channel 4. The last episode is next week but, tonight, Tony Robinson and the team search for the remains of an Iron Age fort at Dinmore Hill in Herefordshire. However, their investigation is hampered when the geophysicists struggle to find target sites for excavating - and heavy rain causes further difficulties. With digging temporarily suspended, the experts discuss the purpose and date of the archaeology, but disagreements soon arise. So, it's off to the pub to sort it out, I guess!

In The First World War From Above - 9:00 BBC1 - Fergal Keane examines a cache of recently discovered aerial footage and photographs of the conflict. A forty eight-minute film taken by a French airship in the summer of 1919, following the route of the Western Front, reveals the devastating impact of the war on the land, while a collection of one hundred and fifty thousand photographs taken by First World War pilots, intended to provide commanders with a revolutionary view of the battlefield, tells a series of human stories that were visible only from above.

Monday 8 November
For two years the food critic and wit Giles Coren and his buddy the comedian and presenter Sue Perkins presented Supersizers, a show about how we lived and ate in times gone by that, despite being shunted about the schedules to make way for anything BBC2 felt like somehow managed to acquire a dedicated and quite fanatical audience. It was funny and warm and inclusive and educational and the presenters themselves had a rapport that was instantly likeable. When it was announced that there would be now more Supersizers, fans everywhere were heartbroken. But, fear not because they're back! Giles and Sue Live The Good Life - 9:00 BBC2 - is a celebration of the thirty fifth anniversary of The Good Life, the British sitcom in which a couple escaped from the rat race to pursue a life of self-sufficiency. In this three-part show, Giles and Sue try it out for themselves by learning some of the skills and techniques employed by Tom and Barbara Good (Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal) in the sitcom. Stepping back in time to 1975, Giles and Sue begin by finding out how to light a solid fuel range, sow seeds and receive a crash-course in milking and bread-making. But, as the series progresses, it won't all be wellies and manure. Just as Margo and Jerry's affluent consumerism next door provided the perfect foil to their neighbours' earnest experiment in self-sufficiency, Sue and Giles get the opportunity to try out a more mainstream Seventies lifestyle in an attempt to understand just what the Goods were kicking against back in the day. Aw, it's great to have them back.

Careering towards its - hopefully dramatic - climax, [spooks] - 9:00 BBC1 - reaches the end of the road tonight. Following Lucas's shocking revelations about his former life and double identity, Harry instructs the team to find him at any cost. He enlists the help of a former internal affairs specialist to track down the fugitive, who is becoming increasingly desperate to locate the Albany file and flee the country with Maya. But, when Harry discovers that Ruth has been placed in grave danger, he faces a tough decision which culminates in a showdown with Lucas. And, I'll tell you what dear blog reader, if Ruth dies, I'll kill the bugger myself! Last in the current series. As noted, another series appears to have been greenlit although the BBC haven't actually officially confirm that yet. First news when they do, as ever, will probably be found somewhere else, but From The North will have it not long afterwards!

Over the course of eight months, director Penny Woolcock explored the often unseen world of homeless people in On The Streets - 9:00 BBC4. She discovered the problems they face sometimes have little to do with a lack of shelter, but stem more from their past lives, and finds out that despite the best efforts of different charities to move individuals into accommodation, the streets are often where they feel safe.

It's a momentous night on Coronation Street - 8:30 ITV. After Jack implores Molly to leave Weatherfield with Tyrone and start afresh, he then quiet slips away from the party unnoticed and returns home - where the evening has a poignant ending. And, if you've been reading the spoilers for the last few months, you'll know exactly what that entails. Meanwhile, Leanne tracks down Nick after being abandoned at the bridal shop and the pair have a heart-to-heart. Also, Charlotte tries to get closer to John, and Peter quashes gossip about Carla.

Tuesday 9 November
The Zoo - 8:00 ITV - is a new series in which we are promised an insight into the daily life for the staff and animals at London Zoo in Regent's Park and its country home at Whipsnade. Across the two sites, eight hundred keepers look after more than twenty one thousand creatures, many of them completely wild. Some are livid. After a cold and financially grim winter, there are big plans to breed gorillas and vultures. Not with each other, obviously. That would against all laws of God and man. However, complications set in when the birds prove to be murderous parents and the prize male gorilla falls ill. Narrated by Richard Denton.

There's also another new series of Mad About the House starting at 9:00 on BBC3. Adam, a DJ, is given ten grand to revamp the home which he shares with his 'traditionalist' girlfriend, Hannah. Presumably, this means that Hannah is violently opposed to all aspects of modernism. A bit like the population of the South West, in fact. Anyway, Adam proceeds to buy a sunken fish tank and a five-foot gorilla and cover one wall of the gaff in vinyl LPs. Because he's a bloke and he's clearly a bit of a nutter. It's to be hoped that Hannah then gave his meat-and-two-veg a damned good hoofing and flounced off back to her mother's gaff snivelling about how he's 'such a thoughtless beast.' Sounds vastly entertaining, I may watch.

In the latest episode of Turn Back Time: The High Street - 9:00 BBC1 - the traders are propelled headlong into the golden age of commerce, re-creating an Edwardian era shopping district in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. The butcher, baker, grocer and ironmonger (but, tragically, not the candlestick maker) are joined by a dressmaker and with customer service firmly at the top of the agenda, Gregg Wallace must make sure the participants stick to the rules, regulations and technology of the day.

Tonight's EastEnders - 7:30 BBC1 - begins with Max and Jack meeting at R&R to discuss what to do about Harry. They then set out to lure him to the club. Meanwhile, Roxy comes up with a drastic plan to raise the cash for Ronnie's wedding, Carol visits Connor to demand an apology for his recent behaviour, and Tamwar inadvertently upsets Stacey while trying to flirt with her.

Wednesday 10 November
Ancient Worlds - 9:00 BBC2 - is a vehicle for the archaeologist and historian Richard Miles. He explores the roots of civilisation in a series that runs from the creation of the first cities in Mesopotamia some six thousand years ago, to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. He travels to Syria, Egypt, Anatolia and southern Greece to examine how the first societies were created and organised, with agriculture, city-building, religion, art and trade the basic pillars from which these complex social systems rose to power.

Carol Vorderman hosts the annual awards show The Pride of Britain Awards 2010 - 8:00 ITV - from London's Grosvenor House. Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron join more than one hundred stars from TV, showbusiness and sport, including Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Julie Walters, Alan Sugar-Sweetie, Michael McIntyre and Gary Lineker, to celebrate the nation's unsung heroes. Oh God. With a line-up like that there's something for everyone ... to take a real dislike to! Anyway, there are at least some proper heart-warming stories to come out of the thing, including a schoolgirl who saved the lives of three other children, and a woman who raised eight million pounds for charity, while former pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain receive recognition for their valour. Ant and Dec, Russell Brand and Matt Smith surprise some of the recipients - and hopefully Russell's surprise will involve him keeping his pants on for a change - and David Jason meets members of the armed forces including bomb disposal officers in Afghanistan. The evening's music comes from the X Factor finalists and Susan Boyle. So it'll include one person who can actually hold a tune, if nothing else. Seriously, I'm all for good causes and I'm sure that every single person nominated for one of these deserves every accolade that they get and more beside. But, I really have to question whether I - or anybody else for that matter - needs a two hour TV show full of back-slapping celebrities to tell me that there are some good people in the world. If you want to watch this you may get something out of it besides another chance for Simon Cowell to promote his act by wrapping them up in a charity flag and saluting the camera with a cheesy smile. Call me cynical if you like - and, you're probably not wrong if you do - but I'd much rather see this kind of thing presented with a bit more dignity, a bit less shouting and glitter and a lot less Cher Lloyd and Katie Waissel. But then, would anybody watch the thing if it was? These are all good questions. And, they'll probably all to be answered at another time. But, not today.

Bones - 9:00 Sky1 - is an episode that was shown in the US a few weeks ago. The team investigates when a skull and decomposing hands are found in a wheelie bin, and identify the victim as a bounty hunter who vanished while searching for a suspected murderer. A reluctant Brennan, meanwhile, is asked to appear on a children's TV show which encourages youngster to get involved in science. She's hugely reluctant, but changes her mind when she receives an offer she cannot refuse. No, not a horse's head in her bed, something else.

Edwardian Farm - 8:00 BBC2 - is a new series from the team that brought you Victorian Farm, Victorian Pharmacy et al. Archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn team up with historian Ruth Goodman as they move to Morwellham Quay in Devon and try to take the port - once one of Britain's busiest - back to life as it was during its Edwardian heyday. They begin by setting up home in a cottage as they wait for the arrival of their first livestock, and start to prepare the ground for cropping by making tonnes of quicklime fertiliser to neutralise the acidity of the soil.

Thursday 11 November
Kara Tointon has a plea. Don't Call Me Stupid - 9:00 BBC3. Okay, yer Keith Telly Topping would never dream of such a thing. Not a very actress, I could go with, but certainly not stupid. Anyway, the Strictly Come Dancing contestant discusses her personal battle with dyslexia, assessing how the condition defines her and shapes her day-to-day life. As she sets out to undergo tests and receive specialist help, Kara asks whether she can ever stop it from holding her back, and meets other dyslexics, who reveal the impact of the much-misunderstood condition.

Yer Keith Telly Topping has often in the past told his dear blog readers about how good the American caper-show Leverage is. Well, it's currently into a third season on Channel One at 9:00. That's freeview channel number twenty if you're not sure. If you haven't seen this before it a bit like an American version of the Kudos series Hustle. it's about a team of con-artists who con bad people out of their ill gotten gains and return the money to its rightful owners. So, not that much like Hustle then, as Mickey Bricks and his boys and girl usually rob from the rich and, you know, keep it! The show features several very good actors including Oscar-winner Tim Hutton, Coupling's Gina Bellman (who is fantastic in it) and Angel's Christine Kane. if you're a fan of caper-movies like Ocean's 11 then this'll be right up your straße. In this episode, the team investigates the death of a girl who was killed by a company's toxic fertiliser.

One of yer Keith Telly Topping's particular favourites is, of course, The Culture Show - 7:00 BBC2. In tonight's episode, arty Andrew Graham-Dixon - whose interview with Keef Richards last week was so good - explores the output of First World War artist Henry Tonks, while Big-quiffed Marky Kermode celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Michael Powell's psychological thriller Peeping Tom. A quite literal cinema masterpiece which was so badly misunderstood in its day that it virtually ended Powell's career. Alan Moore, the 'graphic novel author' - or 'writer of comics' as we who aren't too ashamed to called them what they are and still find them to be a true art form - and the man whom, according to Pop Will eat Itself, 'knows the score' visits the new exhibition of artwork by Austin Osman Spare. The journalist Sarfraz Manzoor showcases the winning images in this year's World Press Photo competition and writer Michael Smith visits the British Library's exhibition on the evolution of English language and identity. This week's trawl through the BBC archive sees singer KT Tunstall selecting clips of David Bowie, Patti Smith and Freddie Mercury. Wow. Packed show. Something for everyone.

And, so to the news: And we begin with some sadness with the announcement that Hawaii Five-0 actor James MacArthur has died at the age of seventy two. MacArthur played Detective Danno Williams for eleven seasons on the original CBS series, which ran from 1968 to 1980. A cause of death has not yet been reported, according to Gossip Cop. The actor also appeared in the films Swiss Family Robinson and Spencer's Mountain. He was the son of actress Helen Hayes. His final TV role was in a 1998 TV movie called Storm Chasers: Revenge of the Twister. The producers of the new Hawaii Five-0 series, which stars Scott Caan in the role that MacArthur made famous, had reportedly expressed interest in hiring MacArthur to appear on the show.

The dreadfully unfunny Noel Fielding and Chris Addison have been given new shows by Channel Four. They are both benefiting from an extra five million pounds being pumped into the broadcaster's comedy budget next year to help fill the gap left by Big Brother. Head of comedy Shane Allen this week revealed some of the projects, including a new E4 comedy from Fielding provisionally called Boopus. A video shown to a select audience of Channel Four staff, writers, producers, performers and journalists showed the Mighty Boosh comedian (I say comedian, I really should add and 'allegedly' there) as a stingray, discussing the recording of his new CD. Be still my sides. Meanwhile Chris Addison is to host a new panel game called Show And Tell. The programme, to be produced by Avalon, mixes topical news highlights from the week with personal experience stories from both the audience and comedian guests, who are asked to bring along items to accompany their stories. Allen billed the show as 'an antidote' to Mock The Week, with a more 'supportive' atmosphere in contrast to the competitive spirit of the BBC2 show. So, 'not as funny' in other words. Channel Four's upcoming schedule also includes Mad Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights, mixing controversial stand-up with sketches. Also, newcomer Morgana Robinson's prime-time sketch comedy The Morgana Show, the university-set ensemble piece Campus, Jewish, a 'sitcom of embarrassment,' starring Tamsin Greig, Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal and Robert's Web, in which Robert Webb looks at the Internet. Meanwhile IT Crowd, Peep Show and Fonejacker will all return – Peep Show becoming the longest-running Channel Four sitcom ever – alongside Pete versus Life and PhoneShop. Allen said: 'Channel Four continues to lead the way in comedy by backing new talent and giving established names the creative freedom to take risks. We are able to give Frankie, Noel and Chris the space to try out new things and want talent to bring their passion projects to us.'

Lie To Me producer Alexander Carey has admitted that the show's central character Cal Lightman could be proven wrong in a future episode. In an official FOX interview, Carey suggested that minor mistakes made by the psychologist (played by Tim Roth) could expand into something more significant. 'Right now, he's wrong [but] sort of incidentally along the way,' he explained. 'I think we're building to an episode [where he makes a big mistake] but it has to come out of the story and a character flaw. It's not so much about the science being fallible, it's about the character being fallible.' Tim Roth recently revealed that Lightman's relationship with women will become a major aspect of the current, third, season of the drama.

There's a very good piece on the subject of Daybreak's continuing troubles by Ben Dowell of the Gruniad. '"Whenever I read that a star presenter is going to join breakfast television, I picture a couple of million pounds going down the Swanee. Viewers, not the executives, make the stars at breakfast time," says Paul Gambaccini, who was "there at TV-am even before the first broadcast" – and who makes a particularly interesting observation about [Chiles and Bleakley's] celebrity. "Ever since Day One of TV-am, the public has resisted watching established television stars at breakfast. Stars have instead emerged from breakfast. The classic example is of early TV-am itself: the Famous Five crashed and burned." When the audience selected its own favourites, Gambaccini says, they were famously Anne Diamond and Nick Owen. "TV-am once did a shocking survey. Which presenters did the audience want to see more of? The top two were Jimmy Greaves and myself. Huh? The viewers didn't expect us to sing, dance, tell jokes and read the news. They simply liked the features we did and related to us as more or less normal people."' Meanwhile, the latest Shropshire Star's excellent Daybreakwatch feature includes my favourite TV-related headline of the week: All's not well at Daybreak? Blimey, well spotted, Sherlock. Heh!

Simon Bird and Joe Thomas are to co-write and star in new Channel Four sitcom Chickens. The Inbetweeners actors will play two young men who stay at home during World War I while the rest of their generation goes off to fight on the Western Front, prompting accusations of cowardice from their neighbours. Sounds hilarious. Bird said: 'We're really excited to be working with Channel Four on our first sitcom. It's a dream come true for us and we can't wait to get started.' Jonny Sweet - who performs with Bird and Thomas in the trio's sketch comedy group The House Of Windsor - will also take on writing and acting duties in the new show, reports the Press Association.

E4 has picked up the UK rights to the new American comedy Glory Daze. The ensemble show, set in the 1980s, focuses on a group of friends as they try to get used to college life. The cast includes former Saturday Night Live regular Tim Meadows and Sons of Anarchy actor Callard Harris. E4's acting head of acquisitions Penny Harris said: 'We're incredibly excited that Glory Daze is joining E4's fresh slate of comedy-drama offerings. It highlights the channel's commitment to delivering the best the US has to offer for our very discerning audiences. Glory Daze is warm, uproariously funny with universally recognisable characters at its heart - think the Inbetweeners boys and what they would have been doing at an American college in the 80s and you're pretty much there.'

The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show creator and animation artist Alexander Anderson has died at the age of ninety. The pioneering cartoonist, who had been suffering from Alzheimer's, died at an assisted living facility in California last week. The show spawned movie spin-offs including The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000) which starred Robert De Niro as Fearless Leader and Jason Alexander as the villainous Boris Badenov. Before Rocky and Bullwinkle, Anderson worked on Mighty Mouse. Anderson's wife, Patricia, told the Associated Press news agency that the inspiration for Bullwinkle came from a dream he had where he was playing poker with some friends and a moose. The character's name came from a car dealership in Berkeley called Bullwinkel Motors, which Anderson had found funny. Anderson began his own company with his college friend Jay Ward. The duo worked out of a garage behind Anderson's family home in Berkeley where they created characters like Crusader Rabbit and his friend Rags the Tiger along with the melodramatic Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties and Rocky and Bullwinkle themselves. Crusader Rabbit was among the first animated series produced for television and aired on NBC from 1949. Rocky and His Friends and the subsequent Bullwinkle Show were huge hits with American children in the late 1950s and throughout the 60s.

A filmmaker has posted a video online which claims to show 'evidence' of time travel. The clip is from a DVD extra of the Charlie Chaplin's 1928 film The Circus. In the clip, a large woman is seen in the background, holding to her ear what appears to be a mobile phone. Speaking to the BBC, George Clarke said: 'As I sat back to watch it I realised in the first thirty seconds there's a lady strolling by with her hand up to her ear which looked quite familiar in today's society. So I wound it back and watched it again, zoomed it in and slowed it down and got other people in to check it out. Everybody had the same reaction - it looks like she's talking on a mobile phone.' Since the video was posted on YouTube, it has received one and a half million views and more than ten thousand comments. Mostly, from people who haven't got anything better to do with their time, it would seem. Clarke added: 'My initial reaction was, "That's a mobile phone - they weren't around then." My only explanation - and I'm pretty open-minded about the sci-fi element of things - it was kind of like, "Wow, that's somebody that's went back in time."' And, that was your only explanation, was it, George? Or, it could just be that she had a loose ear-ring? Check it out and see if you can spot a blue police telephone box lurking in the background, dear blog reader.

And lastly, the very fourth instalment in yer Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, it's a really personal highlight for me this one. A record that, with almost obsessive detail, captured a specific moment in my life that, try as I might, I'll never get back. Queue the video!'Life is timeless/days are long/when you're young.' Yes, they are. Hold on to them while you can, kids, because they won't be with you for very long.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

X Offenders

Emma Bunton is reported to be 'furious' that she is 'getting the blame' for the abject - albeit, very amusing - ratings failure of Five's byword for crass, dumbed-down, paint-by-numbers television Don't Stop Believing. Ooo, pure mad-vexed so she is, by all accounts. Getting all stroppy and agitated and causing a right commotion in her foot-stomping fury. 'There were a lot of other factors involved, not just me,' Bunton - seen right, up to her neck in hot water - wailed to Metro. Yes, love. But, it was mainly down to you.

Short, football-related, side hop for you now, dear blog reader. All right, wake up at the back, it'll be over shortly. As some of you may know this Sunday coming will see the local derby between my beloved (though, still unsellable) Magpies and 'them lot from doon the road' (Sunderland, for the uninitiated). Well, yer Keith Telly Topping had a very nice e-mail the other day from Mackem Colin, the lad who runs the independent Sunderland website, Salut! Sunderland to ask me if I'd like to do an interview with them in a semi-regular slot where they talk to a fan of their next opponents about all-things-f-word-related (Who Are You?). A sort of 'be nice to a tame Magpie for the day', if you like! Which I was delighted to do. Check it out, it's one of yer Keith Telly Topping's - slightly - more articulate rants than usual on the subject of his beloved (though, still unsellable) Magpies. I'd previously talked to Colin's website a couple of years back when the age old story of when, exactly, Tony Blair started supporting Newcastle came up yet again.

The BBC have, reportedly, received 'a number' of complaints after the Look North presenter Dawn Thewlis described a group of people waving into the camera behind her during a live report from outside St James' Park, where Newcastle United were hosting a Carling Cup match against Arsenal, as 'probably special needs.' The BBC, of course, quite rightly and swiftly apologised for any offence caused and, Thursday night's episode of the popular local magazine programme also featured a spoken apology by Look North anchor Carol Malia. Ooo ... awkward. At any other time, this story might have gone away quietly without much comment. But, coming as it does in the same week as all of the quiet ludicrous press coverage of Ofcom criticising Jezza Clarkson for using exactly the same phrase (to describe a car, not a person) then, I sense a potential witch hunt in the offing. I really hope I'm wrong and that a bit of common sense is applied by everyone because I don't believe, for a single second, that Dawn meant the comment in a mean-spirited, bigoted or discriminatory way. We've all, I think it's fair to say, probably said things in the heat of the moment in our lives that we've instantly regretted. The important thing, I guess, is to acknowledge what you've done and not to try and hide behind excuses. Hopefully, the apology - which does seem fully contrite, sincere and timely - will go much of the way to satisfying anyone who was offended by what she said. Which was, as the BBC's statement notes, highly inappropriate, there's no hiding from that. And, in this particular case - unlike the Top Gear story, which was all about some people claiming to be offended because they wanted to be - the comment, and the context that it was used in, certainly had the potential to offend some viewers. But, see, that's the world we live in, dear blog reader. Complaining about stuff is really easy these days. Easier than ever before because of the instantaneous nature of the Internet. Perhaps, it's too easy. Look at this blog for a kick-off. We do it all the time and about all sorts of stuff - some of it far more worthy than others. No one is innocent, there's no such thing as original sin and various other rock and roll clichés.

The last time Barack Obama appeared on The Daily Show, he was an up and coming senator vowing to change the way politics was done in Washington and trading wisecracks with the show's presenter, Jon Stewart. Last night however, in making history as the first US president to be interviewed on Comedy Central's satirical news show, he struck a more sombre figure. Obama appeared to have decided that in the present political climate, with unemployment high and many voters expressing disappointment with his performance, humour would be inappropriate. Even Stewart was more subdued than normal and generally respectful of the president, referring to him as 'sir,' throughout except for one reflex moment when he could not help himself and called Obama 'dude.' It was also the first time that the thirty minute show had devoted an entire episode to a single interview, with no opening monologue from Stewart or any satirical sketches. Stewart repeatedly contrasted Obama's heady campaign trail rhetoric, of hope, change and audacity, with what he called the 'timidity' of his legislative programme. Obama appeared somewhat agitated. Having been leaning back in his chair, he sat forward, pointing his finger at the desk separating him from Stewart. 'Jon, I love your show, but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you,' Obama said. 'And I don't want to lump you in with a lot of other pundits, but this notion that health care is timid.' It produced a rare rejoinder from Stewart – 'I'll tell you what I mean, and I don't mean to lump you in with other presidents' – which won a hard-earned laugh from the audience. The show, normally recorded in New York, was shot in Washington because Stewart and his crew had moved to the capital in preparation for his 'Restore Sanity' rally on Saturday, a liberal riposte to recent conservative gatherings on the Mall sponsored by FOX News. The audience of five hundred and fifty was more partisan than the New York audiences and gave Obama a long standing ovation when he entered the studio. Obama stuck with two key messages throughout the interview: that he had done a good job in getting healthcare reform through Congress, and passing financial regulation laws. The White House said his appearance was mainly aimed at winning over young voters ahead of Tuesday's midterm elections. The one news point in the interview was a hint that he favoured reform of the Senate's filibuster tactic which frequently obstructs legislation. But he did not tackle it when the Democrats had a big majority in the Senate and the chances of doing so in the next Congress, in which there will almost certainly be more Republicans, are slim. Stewart teased the president about his campaign slogan 'Yes, we can,' suggesting that these days it was 'Yes, we can, with conditions attached.' Obama replied: 'When I say that when we promised during the campaign, change you can believe in, it wasn't change you can believe in in eighteen months. What I would say is, "Yes, we can," but it is not going to happen overnight.' Stewart suggested one of the problems was that far from bringing about change, Obama had brought into power many of the same old faces, such as his economics adviser, Larry Summers, who is about to leave the administration and has been heavily criticised over the lacklustre state of the economy. 'In fairness, Larry did a heck of a job,' Obama said. Stewart interjected: 'You don't want to use that phrase, dude.' George Bush had infamously used the same phrase to describe the hapless Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency during hurricane Katrina.

Few TV programmes are now shown live – since the Jonathan Ross scandal, the BBC prefers to pre-record almost all of its talk shows (The ONE Show is the obvious exception). So, there is a genuine shock value when we see a familiar TV host appear to go off on one, as happened during the most recent episode of Paul O'Grady Live (ITV). When, in a moment reminiscent of Peter Finch's character being 'mad as hell and not going to take it any more' in Network, O'Grady ranted at the Conservatives (whom he distinguished from the coalition) for being 'bastards' who took quite obscene pleasure in cutting welfare benefits for those who can least defend themselves. Parts of the speech were clearly pre-rehearsed – evident because of a music cue which was ready to roll at the climax – but the most eye-popping sections were clearly off-script: O'Grady broke off to apologise to his audience for swearing, presumably on a producer's orders, and to harangue the floor manager, off-screen, who was apparently holding up cue cards telling him to move on. 'I bet when they were children they laughed in Bambi when his mother got shot!' Rite on, brother! Ofcom said yesterday that several complaints about the programme have been received - I wonder from whom? - and will be measured against the existing political impartiality rules. These, though, set a high hurdle and require only fairness 'across a range of programmes.' Personally, yer Keith Telly Topping agreed with every single word that O'Grady - a passionate man with a clear pride in his working class Birkenhead heritage - said. Good on yerself, Big Man. I've always rather liked O'Grady but my respect for the chap has just gone through the roof, frankly. Life's too short for always minding your Ps and Qs. Sometimes, you've just got to say what's on your mind. No matter whom it upsets and however big they are in the running of the country. Because, it's the right thing to do, even if it isn't the easy thing to do. Take this blog, for instance. Oh, we've done that one already, haven't we?

Ben Miller has claimed that his friendship with Alexander Armstrong is the reason their comedy is so successful. Speaking to TV Choice, Miller said that the pair have a good chemistry because they know each other well. 'I think it's our long-running friendship,' he said. 'The friendship is more important than comedy. Most of what Xander and I talk about is not comedy, it's just normal everyday stuff, friends we've got in common, things like that. Our experiences are quite common because we have both got young families. There is lots of shared history, so I think it's that.' Miller also revealed that he expects to work with Armstrong for some time. 'It's very hard to think beyond where you are at this moment,' he said. 'I think we certainly feel like there is plenty of lead in our pencils. We certainly feel there is a lot of stuff we want to do.'

This year's Children in Need appeal show will include a new clip from the forthcoming Doctor Who Christmas special, it has been confirmed. Hurrah! A BBC press release has announced that the televised charity event will include 'a sneak preview' of the Steven Moffat-written episode. The festive special will feature The Singing Detective's Michael Gambon and singer Katherine Jenkins in key roles. Last year's Children in Need also included a special Doctor Who preview clip from David Tennant's penultimate episode, The End of Time - Part One.

The X Factor hopefuls have reportedly begged producers not to put them in the 'cursed' performance slot next to Mary Byrne. The Daily Lies claims that the remaining acts are worried after seeing Treyc Cohen face the judges in the sing-off last week, having performed in the same part of the show as Byrne. On the first week, Nicolo Festa and Katie Waissel sang in part six with the fifty-year-old. Waissel was saved in the sing-off while Festa exited the competition. Week two saw the former Tesco worker Byrne and Belle Amie perform in part eight. The girl group (although yer Keith Telly Topping remains convinced one of them is a bloke) then faced the judges' vote in the results show. According to the paper, Byrne has not been out of the top two with the public vote and was 'the runaway leader' in the first week's vote. 'You know the phrase "follow that" - well that's how everyone feels coming on after Mary,' a source said. 'She's pulling votes in by the million and is the surprise package of the show so far. It's spelling bad news for anyone who has to compete with her for the audience's attention. After all four of her rivals being jinxed, there's certainly no rush to be the one who tries to break the hoodoo.' They added: 'It used to be going first that was seen as the worst slot but many acts would happily go first if it meant keeping Mary away from them.'

Katie Waissel's father has revealed that The X Factor hopeful is 'at breaking point' after receiving death threats. The singer has previously is alleged to have said she would quit the show due to negative public feeling against her, and last week she collapsed while on a shopping trip. With a suspicious number of photographers close by. 'I've had Katie sobbing on the phone to me every night,' Maurice Waissel told the Daily Scum Mail. 'She's had death threats sent to her over the Internet, and we've had to ask the police to intervene. Only the other night, Katie said to me, "Dad, what's the point in going on if everyone hates me?"' He added: 'Let's face it, X Factor has become a ­circus where only the strongest survive.' Gabi Dee, described by the papers as 'a friend and former work colleague' of Waissel said: 'People assume she can take all the criticism because she comes across as so strong - but she is still just an ordinary girl. It hurts her.' A 'source' on ITV show added that Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole were aware of Waissel's feelings. 'Both Simon and Cheryl have had to give her almost constant counselling,' they said. 'She's also been given a bit of time to see friends and family, to keep her spirits up.'

BBC2 has reportedly ordered Towns, a four part documentary which is being touted as a potential follow-up to long-running series Coast.

Fired Apprentice candidate Melissa Cohen from London has said the show had turned her into a 'monstrous warmonger,' but taught her to change her ways. The twenty four-year-old former hairdresser was fired by Lord Sugar-Sweetie after a series of confrontational clashes with her competitors and was told by Karren Brady that her self-claimed 'excellent' sales pitches were 'very annoying.' Cohen, who huffily refused to shake hands with rival candidates Jamie Lester and Stuart Baggs after she was fired and accused both of stabbing her in the back, told Dara O'Briain on You're Fired: 'I regret that I didn't act with a bit more decorum in terms of my sportsmanship.' She added: 'I am a confrontational person, but far more affable and not monstrous in my daily life. I'm not such a warmonger. But when you're put in a competitive environment certain aspects of your personality can come out that aren't normally there.' Her team Apollo, lead by Lester, lost this week's task - despite selling more than seventy six thousand pounds worth of eco shower-heads and double-handed spades - after rival team Synergy sold over one hundred and twenty thousand pounds worth of their product, Baby Glow. Apollo had pitched to the inventor of the Baby Glow to sell her product, but Baggs's blunt line of questioning put her off. Cohen said: 'Stuart had been in the boardroom already, I hadn't and he did lose us the winning product. We would have won if we'd had that product, it's as simple as that. But I do feel that he should have gone. He'd already had one go at the boardroom, it was my first time in.' The Business Food Manager had claimed she could 'sell ice to the Eskimos' but her sale pitches came under fire on more than one occasion during the show. She admitted: 'You don't want the thing that you think you're most good at to be completely vilified by the people that you've come to get agreement from, but I'm okay with it. You have to take the advice that is given to you and Lord Sugar-Sweetie is probably best poised to give that advice.'

Wayne Knight has signed up for a guest role in Bones. The former Seinfeld actor will play a businessman involved in confectionery, Entertainment Weekly reports. The show's executive producer Stephen Nathan claimed that the episode features 'one of our most revolting body finds ever.' You certainly know how to sell your show, don't you Steve? He added: 'A body is discovered inside one of the world's largest chocolate bars. It's delightfully revolting.'

BBC3 has commissioned a second series of its comedy Him And Her, its most successful sitcom to date. A seven-part series will be filmed next year, although a broadcast date has not yet been set. The first series, which launched last month, attracted around six hundred and sixty thousand viewers a week. With repeats and iPlayer views added the show, starring the excellent Sarah Solemani and Russell Tovey, attracted more than two million viewers per episode. Producer Kenton Allen said: 'The tremendous support that BBC3 has given to a lo-fi romantic comedy in which nothing much ever happens has been amazing. We are delighted that their faith has been repaid with a brilliant reaction from audience and critics alike, and we can't wait to return to the tea, toast and unwashed bed linen of series two.' The show is written by Stefan Golaszewski and also stars Joe Wilkinson.

David Suchet has admitted that he would feel 'emotional' if Poirot ever came to an end. Well, it's going to have to some time, David. There are a finite number of stories and, neither you nor, indeed, the audience are immortal. Unless, of course, you are and you just haven't told us yet. Which, I think it's fair to say would certainly qualify as 'news.' Speaking to What's on TV, Suchet explained that he would have positive and negative thoughts if he ever finished filming all of the Poirot stories. 'I think there will always be mixed feelings playing the last one - that I now have to put him to bed after all these years,' he said. 'It would be a great loss to me, but at the same time a great sense of achievement and a sense of closure on an iconic character that has been so successful. There would be a cocktail of emotions.' However, Suchet revealed that he would love to be able to film television adaptations of all Agatha Christie's Poirot stories. 'I would feel more than privileged to be able to say that I have left behind me the complete works,' he explained. 'Times are hard, so we wait and see, but it would be a shame to get so near and not complete them all, wouldn't it? That's my feeling, but I am very biased!' Everybody's biased about something, David. Take this blog, for instance.

Conan O'Brien has promised that he will use characters on his new TBS talkshow that were originated during his stints as host of NBC's Late Night and The Tonight Show. The comic told Rolling Stone that he would be pleased if NBC tried to sue him over intellectual property rights regarding popular characters such as the Masturbating Bear, Pimpbot 5000 and Preparation H Raymond. 'If there's something we did for a long time that we've established as ours, we'll figure out a way to do it,' he said. 'I won't be denied my Masturbating Bear!' He continued: 'What I really wanna do is be sued over the bear and then appear in court with the Masturbating Bear. "Your Honour, this bear can't help himself!"' O'Brien previously admitted that he was shell-shocked following his sacking as host of NBC's Tonight Show in January.

BBC Worldwide's radio sales business is working with Spafax to offer British Airways passengers some of the best BBC Radio, including rock concerts, classic comedy, backstage Top of the Pops interviews, and the Last Night of the Proms. BBC Radio International, part of the corporation's commercial arm BBC Worldwide, has completed a deal with in-flight entertainment company Spafax to create four audio channels for British Airways in-flight entertainment service, Highlife. The four channels provide British Airways long haul passengers with some of the best of BBC Radio, including two channels of live recordings of rock and classical concerts, a dedicated Top of the Pops channel featuring chart tracks and pop gossip and backstage interviews, and an entertainment features channel which includes comedy, such as the award-winning Little Britain series, as well as short plays, documentaries and quiz shows. Daniel Dearlove, BBC Radio International's General Manager, said: 'This is an exciting step for us. Through this deal, BBC Radio International and Spafax have combined to create the BBC's largest radio presence on any in-flight service ever. By creating channels from the wealth of high quality BBC content, we've delivered a great product that promises to keep passengers entertained.' Dee Brady, Entertainment Programming Manager at British Airways said: 'We're always looking to ensure that our inflight entertainment for British Airways delivers the highest quality programming to satisfy our diverse passenger demographics. With this in mind we see a relationship with BBC Radio International as extremely important and look forward to adding these exciting new channels to British Airways High Life Entertainment, starting in September.'

Chris Moyles, the controversial BBC Radio1 presenter, has lost hundreds of thousands of listeners in just three months, official figures have shown. The Breakfast Show host, who launched an extraordinary on-air tirade against his BBC bosses last month in a row over pay, lost more than half-a-million listeners in the third quarter of this year, the figures showed. According to the latest ratings from Rajar seven million weekly listeners tuned in to his show compared to 7.7 million people the previous quarter. The figures do not cover his outburst on 22 September - three days after the measuring period ended. One station insider said the figures were 'an expected seasonal fluctuation' caused by the school holidays. Moyles, who is understood to earn nearly six hundred grand a year, and is worth, at most, four pence, was comprehensively beaten by Chris Evans, his Radio2 morning rival.

The Daily Lies is, as regular readers of this blog will be well aware, notorious for poor reporting, inaccuracies, exaggeration, pure invention, libel payouts and gross lapses in taste, decency and humanity. But even by its own, quite extraordinary, standards the paper plunged the depths to scrape the very bottom of the barrel on Thursday of this week. Reporting on the ongoing 7/7 bombing inquest, the Lies story contained a quote from a policeman who had described in emotive detail what the dazed survivors looked like as they emerged from Aldgate station: 'It was like Michael Jackson's Thriller video. They were just covered in soot, their hair was all over the place, you just basically saw the whites of their eyes.' Horrific stuff, of course. But this quote must, obviously, have set off a lightbulb marked 'BRIGHT IDEA!' in the head of someone at editorial level at the Lies: 'Get me a still of Thriller and we got us a scoop!' So there you have it, dear blog reader; a photograph of an injured and clearly traumatised woman being assisted from the horror of what went on that day in that tunnel by police officers with an insert photo of the late Michael Jackson and two 'zombie' dancers from what the paper's caption calls his 'creepy Thriller video.' The really, genuinely sick thing here is that someone within the Lies actually thought this was, in any way, an appropriate, respectful way to publish a story about an inquest into the deaths of fifty two people at the hands of terrorists. As previously noted on this blog, it is yer Keith Telly Topping's sincerely held belief that there are a few good people in this world. That there are some bad people but that most of us are somewhere in the middle, just trying to get through life without messing up too badly and hurting anyone else in the process. And then, there are some people who are just, quite simply, scum.

A seaside city in Italy has banned revealing clothing. The rotters! Under new legislation passed on Monday, women wearing 'very scanty clothing' - such as short skirts, low-slung jeans and low necklines - can be fined by the authorities in Castellammare di Stabi, AFP reports. Regarding widespread reports that miniskirts were forbidden under the new law, Mayor Luigi Bobbio of Italy's ruling People of Freedom party said: 'Miniskirts are not included in the ban. Miniskirts are not considered very scanty clothing unless they're so small that they are no longer a skirt and they leave the undergarment showing.' Female opponents from the Democratic Party had held a Miniskirt Day rally in opposition to the blow. The new rules, which Bobbio claimed will make Castellammare 'a civilized city,' also ban sunbathing in public, blasphemy and playing football in some areas. That's good old rock and roll, footie-playing, scooter-driving, ciaaaao! Italy for you, dear blog reader!

A judge has relaxed the bail conditions for a woman accused of wounding her partner with a knife, in order to allow her to attend a Lady GaGa concert. BBC News reports that thirty two-year-old Hayley Mitchell is accused of attacking the man in two separate incidents on 1 and 10 October, and has been charged with grievous bodily harm and common assault. As part of her bail conditions, Mitchell was ordered to live with her mother and accept an 8pm to 8am curfew. However, the curfew has been briefly lifted to allow Mitchell to attend the concert in Belfast on Saturday evening.

And, lastly, dear blog reader, part the third of our new series, yer Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, for the first time so far, we leave the 1970s behind and go back, back, back to the dawn of time. When the world was so much younger than today and Detroit was right at the slap-bang centre of it: One of the rarest - and most brilliant - dance records ever made. A diamond-bright memory of all those Mod and Northern Soul all-nighters at the Greenford and the Bostie. 'As long as there is life in me/I'll fill your heart with ecstacy.' If you can't get yer boogie shoes on to this little baby then, sadly, you're probably clinically dead. In which case, you have my sincere sympathies.