Saturday, January 22, 2011

Week Five: I Will Try To Guide You, To Better Times & Brighter Days

Craig Charles has revealed that work on a new series of Red Dwarf will begin in the autumn. Producer Andrew Ellard previously announced that another series of the cult SF comedy was in development, and Charles has now confirmed that the show will return to screens next year. Charles, who played Dave Lister in the sitcom, said that the success of 2009's three-part Red Dwarf: Back To Earth, which was commissioned by Freeview channel Dave, was a key factor in the show being resurrected for another series. The actor told Real Radio: 'It did really well, which was really quite weird because we all thought we were just doing it for a laugh. It got more viewers than BBC2 and Channel Four combined on the night, which is really good! So they've just commissioned another series of Red Dwarf. We're gonna film at the end of November, December and January.' According to the Daily Scum Mail, Charles went on to insist that it would not be worth revisiting the series unless the scripts are as good as they were in the show's heyday. When asked if there was still a place for Red Dwarf on TV, the actor replied: 'Well, yes - only if it's still as funny as it used to be. We've got to recapture the highlights, like series five, series six, that kind of stuff. If we can hit that mark then brilliant. There's no point doing it if it's a bit so-so.'

BBC4's biopic drama on the life of Carry On actress Hattie Jacques was seen by an overnight audience of more than 1.6 million on Wednesday evening. Hattie, starring Ruth Jones, averaged 1.66m for BBC4 between 9pm and 10.30pm, by far the biggest multichannel audience of the night. A vintage episode of This Is Your Life featuring Jacques brought in 1.15m on the channel immediately afterwards. BBC4's controller Richard Klein said he was delighted with the success of Hattie. 'A transformational performance from Ruth Jones and an intelligent script from Stephen Russell combined to make a wonderfully warm and very BBC4 film,' Klein said. 'This is a film that typifies the BBC's approach to drama: complex, intelligent and affectionate, but all the time prompting questions from the audience and challenging the performers. I am delighted that so many people joined us to watch it.'

Russell Davies has admitted that he is loving the current era of Doctor Who. Davies served as showrunner on the SF family drama until last year, when he was left to be replaced by Steven Moffat. Big Rusty told Assignment X: 'I'm loving [the show]! Can't wait for the new series.' The writer admitted that he tries to limit his exposure to the new episodes, despite his ongoing involvement with spin-off series Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. 'I really don't want to know what's happening,' he claimed. 'I have to know some things, because I am still running The Sarah Jane Adventures, and there's no specific crossover, but we have to make sure we're in the same universe.' Davies added that he had been thrilled by a recent call from his agent about the next series of Who. 'I thought, "God, that's exciting,"' he said. 'I have tiny moments of contact, but I don't want too many of them because I want to sit and watch it like a kid.'

News Corp has reportedly told the government that it is prepared to make concessions, including the sale of Sky News, to avoid a lengthy review of its bid to acquire Sky. According to the Financial Times, 'people familiar with talks' between Rupert Murdoch's media empire and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have claimed that the prospect of separating Sky News from the Sky operation has been discussed. Ofcom is understood to have recommended to the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious Hunt, that News Corp's bid to take full control of Sky should be referred to the Competition Commission due to its potential impact on media plurality in the UK. A Competition Commission probe would take at least six months to complete, during which time the market price for Sky could increase massively. To avoid that scenario, it is thought that News Corp executives have suggested a number of measures to offset the media plurality concerns. Among those is the idea of separating Sky News, but opponents claim that it is unclear who else would be prepared to subsidise the loss-making channel. Labour MP Kevin Brennan has also told the vile and odious Hunt that he should refer the Sky takeover bid to the Competition Commission so that 'justice is seen to be done.'

And, on that unlikely occurrence, here's yer next batch of Keith Telly Topping's Top TV Tips:

Friday 28 January
In the latest episode of Hustle - 9:00 BBC1 - the team attend the funeral of a former grifter who had a long history with them, but Ash discovers their old acquaintance has actually faked his death, Elvis-style, because he was in financial trouble. No, that's more John Darwin-style. Anyway, after the conman reveals the identity of the shady credit lender he is indebted to, the hustlers decide to stage a scam to help him and make some money for themselves in the process. Guest starring Denis Lawson (Bleak House) with, of course, Robert Glenister, Robert Vaughn, Adrian Lester et al.

Tonight's episode of Dave's One Night Stand - 9:00 Dave - comes from God's Own Country, Newcastle upon Tyne, and features the queen of comedy, Sarah Millican along with Jarred Christmas and Alun Cochrane. 'My sister tells people that we're all funny in our family, but I'm the only one who gets paid for it,' notes Sarah. This performance at the City Hall last October is, truly, epic.

Saturday 29 January
In Primeval - 7:20 ITV - the team stumbles upon the stately-home wedding of ex-ARC member Jenny Lewis (Lucy Brown) while investigating an anomaly. As the bride tries to keep her past hidden from her fiance, she finds herself reliving her old role by helping her former colleagues fight a family of hyaenadons which wreaks havoc at the ceremony. Meanwhile, Becker's life becomes endangered as the hunt for Ethan continues. Hannah Spearritt, Andrew-Lee Potts and Ruth Kearney feature along with Ben Miller and Alexander Siddig. Great little show, this. Good effects, decent acting, a nice sense of humour and ... tragically, no one's watching.

It's the final Qi: XL of the current series tonight - 9:00 BBC2. This is the long-awaited extended version of Home & House in which Stephen Fry and Alan Davies are joined by one of the most extraordinary guest casts they were had - Bill Bailey, Eddie Izzard and Danny Baker. Correctness and even intelligence go out of the window as the host asks questions on the topic of homes and houses, and awards points for the answers which he finds the most interesting. You know the deal, now sit back and watch five of greatest wits this country has produced in the last thirty years spending forty five minutes in your company. If you don't find something to laugh at in this, you're probably dead.

The Story of Are You Being Served? - 6:30 BBC2 - not unreasonably brings together some of the cast, crew and writers of the much-loved TV classic about a department store. They look back on the show's thirteen-year run. At its peak, the sitcom - inspired by writer Jeremy Lloyd's time working at former London store Simpsons - attracted up to twenty two million viewers and was the only place on TV anywhere in the world where the word 'pussy' was still acceptable. Young Mr Alexander Armstrong, who is free apparently, narrates.

Sunday 30 January
Tonight sees the conclusion of Terry Wogan's Ireland - 9:00 BBC1. The presenter completes his journey by visiting the north of the island. He reflects on the changing nature of Northern Ireland, witnessing several regeneration projects that aim to help the province recover from the damage of its recent past, before heading to Dublin, where he discovers how Eire's economic boom period has been brought to a dramatic halt by the international financial crisis.

Arctic with Bruce Parry - 9:00 BBC2 - features the explorer traveling to the far north of Canada, where he joins members of the Gwich'in tribe as they prepare to head out on their annual spring caribou hunt. And discovers why the tradition has come under threat from oil exploration. He then learns more about the industry's impact on the native way of life when he visits the Alberta tar sands, home to the world's second-largest oil reserves.

Meanwhile, all you hippies, Communists and Daily Scum Mail readers with a vomit-flecked agenda prepare your poisoned pens for dipping. Because, Top Gear is back - 8:00 BBC2. The presenters square off against their Australian counterparts in an automotive version of The Ashes. Challenges including rallying, drifting and a double-decker car race. Jezza Clarkson also test-drives the Ferrari 599 GTO, and another celebrity gets behind the wheel of the Reasonably Priced Car.

Monday 31 January
The latest episode of Horizon is called The Secret World of Pain - 9:00 BBC2. Recent research into one of the most mysterious and common human experiences - pain. Breakthroughs have come from studying Jonathan Metz, who cut off his own arm to survive after it became lodged in a furnace, and three generations of an Italian family who do not feel extreme temperatures. There is a report on a new treatment that involves a pioneering computer game, and the impact of moods and emotions on a person's body is explored.

In Ego: The Strange and Wonderful World of Self-Portraits - 7:30 BBC4 - art critic Laura Cumming explores more than five centuries of self-portraits, including works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Warhol. Tracing the development of the genre, she finds out how the greatest names in western painting transformed themselves into their own masterpieces and uncovers the various ways in which the evolving form demonstrates what it means to be human.

The fourth series of Mad Men comes to BBC2 at 11:20. Don has difficulty adjusting to being the public face of his new company, and an interview with an advertising magazine does not go as well as his partners had been expecting. Meanwhile, Betty and the children endure an uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner with Henry's family, and Peggy comes up with a risky publicity stunt in a bid to keep hold of a client. Starring Jon Hamm, January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks, Vincent Kartheiser and John Slattery. Previously seen on BBC4.

Tuesday 1 February
Hi-diddly-dee, A Farmer's Life for Me - 8:00 BBC2. That's the name of a new series in which Jimmy Doherty challenges nine couples to make their dream of living off the land a reality, with the most impressive would-be farmers winning a chance to put their ambitions into action by occupying a small holding in Suffolk for a year. The contest begins as the competitors choosing their plots and demonstrating how they would turn a profit.

Do We Really Need the Moon? - 9:00 BBC2 - sounds like a very good question indeed. I mean, aside from providing songwriters with something to rhyme with June what, actually, is it good for? In this rather fascinating looking documentary, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock explores Earth's relationship with its satellite the moon, explaining why it is responsible for the ebb and flow of the Earth's tides, dictates the length of a day and provides a rhythm for the seasons. She also details how, despite once being closer to the planet, it is now perfectly placed to help sustain life - using computer-generated imagery to reveal what would happen if it were removed from the equation. Well, that's simple. Haven't you ever seen Space: 1999? All manner of discombobulation, crimplene and Lycra and bad haircuts would ensue.

The Betty Driver Story - 8:00 ITV - tells the life story of the ninety-year-old Coronation Street actress, both before and after setting foot on the Weatherfield cobbles in the role of Betty Turpin in 1969. The actress talks about her difficult years as a child star, how she worked in feature films and radio shows of the day, and the break-up of her marriage. With contributions from past and present Corrie stars, including William Roache, Julie Goodyear, Helen Worth, Sue Nicholls and Antony Cotton, as well as impresario Bill Kenwright, who played Betty's son Gordon in the long-running series. Narrated by Sir Ian McKellen.

In Children of the Revolution - 9:00 BBC4 - the historian Jane Humphries tells the story of the child workers whose exploitation contributed to the success of the Industrial Revolution. The programme features animation and testimony from children - some of whom were aged as young as six - who worked in Victorian Britain, and the presenter sheds light on their experiences and the importance of their labour.

Wednesday 2 February
Who Gets the Best Jobs? asks BBC2 at 9:00? Why, the nobs, of course? That's always been the way of things. In this example of crassly stating the bleeding obvious, Richard Bilton investigates social equality in Britain and how access to the professions works, discovering that the most desirable jobs are being increasingly taken by a small pool of privileged and well-connected families. No shit, Sherlock? He also learns that getting a good degree is more important than ever, but also that impressive contacts and social skills are playing a crucial part in securing a successful career. And, again, this surprising, how, exactly?

Beauty and the Beast: The Ugly Face of Prejudice - 8:00 Channel Four - is a new series. An investigation about the extremes of dissatisfaction and discrimination experienced by people who have suffered some kind of disfigurement or who do not consider themselves beautiful enough. In the first episode, a fifty nine-year-old man who suffered severe burns to his face and hands, meets a twenty-year-old girl who is considering cosmetic surgery to improve her looks. Plus, Adam Pearson, who suffers from neurofibromatosis, a tumour-related disorder, makes an advertising campaign to highlight different standards of beauty.

It's a momentous night is Midsomer Murders - 8:00 ITV. Barnaby reluctantly joins Joyce on a spa weekend at Swavely Manor, a country house offering treatments to soothe the mind and body. However, as he attempts to unwind, a woman is found dead in a flotation chamber and he promptly abandons his therapy to investigate - but the body count soon rises. The detective eventually wraps up the case, but it proves to be his last as he makes a big decision about his future. Neil Dudgeon replaces John Nettles as Midsomer's main character from the next episode. Ronni Ancona, Geraldine James and Lesley Manville guest star.

Has Mary Portas jumped the shark? In Secret Shopper - 9:00 Channel Four - the presenter and interfering busybody unleashes her concealed cameras on mobile phone stores, revealing that the level of service and information provided to shoppers is far from ideal. She manages to persuade the CEO of a national chain to let her gain control of their flagship store in Angel Islington, London, but she struggles to make staff appreciate the value of customer service.

Thursday 3 Febraury
The much-anticipated drama Marchlands begins tonight on ITV at 9:00. This is about three families living in the same house in different decades who are linked by the death of a girl in 1967. In 1968, Ruth Bowen is still in mourning for her eight-year-old daughter Alice, while in 1987 Helen and Eddie Maynard are increasingly worried about their own child Amy's imaginary friend. In 2010, a pregnant Nisha Parekh uncovers a mural depicting a young girl in a forest. Alex Kingston, Jodie Whittaker, Denis Lawson, Life On Mars' Dean Andrews and Tessa Peake-Jones star in an impressive-looking cast.

In Secrets of the Vanishing Sphinx - 8:00 Channel Five - two teams of scientists and sculptors try to solve the mystery of how and why the Egyptians built the monumental sculpture, which after more than four thousand years standing, is suffering the passage of time. Egyptologist Mark Lehner, who has spent five years mapping every inch of the figure, discovers the Sphinx is carved from bedrock and tries to reveal whose face is carved onto the structure.

Abraham Lincoln: Saint or Sinner? - 9:00 BBC4 - might seem like a bit of an odd subject for a TV documentary. What next, we wonder - Daddy or Chips? The former US president's reputation as one of the nation's greatest leaders is reassessed in light of information regarding a darker side of his life and politics, including alleged secret plans to deport the freed black people out of America after the abolition of slavery. The programme also asks whether Lincoln should be considered a hero or war criminal for the launch of attacks on innocent southern civilians during the Civil War. Narrated by Colin Salmon.

Set in the administration department of a fictional personal injury law firm of Fox Cranford, the first series of Lunch Monkeys - 10:30 BBC3 - was, at best, flawed by interesting. However, it got enough of an audience to justify a second series which starts tonight. Tania faces a difficult day at work as she undergoes her performance review with boss Mike and is confronted by Kenny kissing his latest conquest. Homeless Shelley goes flat-hunting - much to the delight of Darrel - while Asif's lies start to catch up with him. Comedy, starring Nigel Havers and Siân Reeves.

And so to the news: ITV has reportedly called urgent talks after a waxing feature on This Morning prompted viewer complaints. Holly Willoughby and Ben Shepherd presented the segment, which saw several men in G-strings having their big hairy bottoms waxed by Louie Spence. Insert own punchline here, dear blog reader. The Mirror claims that several 'overly-graphic' shots were broadcast - breaking strict ITV guidelines. Having re-watched the footage, ITV's controller of Daytime Fiona Keenaghan apparently met with executives to discuss the programme. 'There is a real worry that This Morning is trying too hard to please and is getting increasingly tacky,' a 'source' allegedly told the paper. 'It's been dubbed 'Carry on TV' in the wake of some of the more slapdash, risque features. A Sex Week is planned at the end of next month which, again, promises to see a few firsts on This Morning. This isn't what the majority of viewers want to see over their elevenses.' Another 'show insider' allegedly added: 'This Morning deals with a wide variety of topics, many of which are light-hearted, but it prides itself on generating debate and reaction. For every complaint there is a much larger ­positive reaction from viewers.' An ITV spokesperson commented: 'There was a debrief meeting but this is normal after any show. It was not urgent.'

Robson Green has admitted that his new role in Being Human is outside of his 'comfort zone.' The actor told the Daily Record that he is keen to take on more unusual roles in the future. 'I was really stepping outside of my comfort zone [with this role] in many ways and I think it has paid off,' he said. 'I used to always do mainsteam drama. [People would think] "Oh, he's the detective in this, the romantic lead in this." It was very formulaic drama.' True. Though some of it was very good. Touching Evil for one. He continued: 'I'm going to go left-field a bit in the next couple of years. The one thing I had said to my agent was, "Get me something offbeat, unusual, something that is against the tide [of] what people see me in usually." I was on the set of Joe Maddison's War with Derek Jacobi when the phone rang and [my agent] said, "How do you feel about playing a werewolf?" I said no at first, but then he told me it was for Being Human and I said, "I'll do it. I'll do it tomorrow." Derek said, "A werewolf in Being Human? That's a masterstroke. You'd be marvellous. Will one be donning fangs?"' Green added that his role as the werewolf McNair was a chance to 'improve as an actor. It was just to have the chance to develop and take on an exciting challenge,' he claimed. 'It was an absolute thrill and it's one of those few jobs where money wasn't important.'

Bones creator Hart Hanson has revealed that several episodes of the show's current season are being broadcast out of production order. He told Give Me My Remote that the rescheduling had been a nightmare for the production team. 'Between the shock of being put after Idol, and then [planning] the spin-off, and rearranging our schedule, it threw a grenade into our episode order and it's been a real chore getting it back together again,' he explained. He added that the new running order is 'very different' to the original plan, but insisted that viewers will not notice the change. 'The thing that's been difficult is making sure that everything stands [and] that the audience won't notice that the order changed, because we can't interfere with those arcs,' he said. 'It all works, but we had to bend Heaven and Earth to make everything work.'

Katy Perry has revealed that she is happy for the cast of Glee to cover her songs. The show previously interpreted her song 'Teenage Dream' and will feature Lea Michele singing 'Firework' in a future episode. Perry has now told Zap2It that she is thrilled that her songs have been covered on the show. 'It actually gives me chills,' she said. 'Hopefully that's going to be something great. They did something with 'Teenage Dream' that almost gave it another personality. I really welcome that show to do anything with my songs.'

Spartacus actress Lucy Lawless has admitted that she felt nervous about performing lesbian love scenes in new prequel series, Gods of the Arena. Lucretia (Lawless) will enter into a sexual relationship with her old friend Gaia (Jaime Murray) in the new six-part series. 'The lesbian stuff made me nervous as hell,' the actress told TV Guide. 'I don't think I could have done it without Jaime. She's really funny and two hundred per cent professional. She's my kind of woman!' The former Xena star also admitted that she is pleased to be returning to the role of Lucretia for the second run of Spartacus: Blood and Snots, following the character's serious wounding at the conclusion of season one. 'This role is the greatest challenge and pleasure of my career,' she insisted. 'I'm grateful I escaped my fate.'

MPs will be able to grill the government's preferred candidate for the chair of the BBC Trust to increase transparency in the recruitment process, it has emerged. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, the lack culture secretary the vile and odious Hunt wrote to his Labour shadow Ivan Lewis confirming that the chosen candidate would appear before the culture, media and sport select committee before being confirmed in the job. However, the vile and odious Hunt rejected Lewis's proposal that the final two shortlisted candidates should be interviewed by parliament, which would potentially give cross-party MPs a bigger say in the appointment. In response, Lewis said: 'I am delighted that Jeremy Hunt has agreed to my proposal that the CMS should scrutinise his favoured candidate for chair before the appointment is confirmed. However, it is disappointing that the all-party committee will not get to consider the two candidates who will be recommended to Mr Hunt.' He added: 'The ill-concealed hostility of Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron to the BBC makes the transparency of the process more important than ever before.' The select committee will not have the final say on the appointment of a successor to the spineless coward Sir Michael Lyons, who steps down at the end of April, but MPs will at least be able to make a strong recommendation to the vile and odious Hunt. Former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Patten is now the frontrunner for the job, but Richard Lambert, the outgoing head of the CBI, is also considered a strong candidate. Interviews are taking place this week and an appointment is expected within the next month.

The Parents' Television Council has reportedly called for a federal investigation into MTV's new adaptation of Skins. Earlier, it was claimed that some MTV executives are worried that the show breaks child pornography laws. Deadline says that the PTC has now asked the US Senate and House Judiciary Committees and the Department of Justice to open an investigation into possible child pornography and exploitation in the series. The PTC, which called the programme 'the most dangerous show for children' on television before the premiere had aired, has allegedly complained about the sexual content on the show because the cast members are aged between fifteen and nineteen. The organisation also listed forty two references to drugs and alcohol in the first episode. Nice to know they were watching so closely. And, counting at the same time. It's called multi-tasking, apparently, and it's very impressive. Yer Keith Telly Topping can't do it. An MTV spokesperson has previously said: 'We review all of our shows and work with all of our producers on an ongoing basis to ensure our shows comply with law and community standards. We are confident that the episodes of Skins will not only comply with all applicable legal requirements, but also with our responsibilities to our viewers.'

Olly Foster, host of the BBC's Sportsday programme, has accidentally described the former Manchester United footballer Eric Cantona as a cunt live on air. On last night's edition of Sportsday on the BBC News Channel, Foster was discussing Cantona's move to become director of football at MLS side New York Cosmos. Concluding the piece, Foster said: 'How cool is that, great to see Eric Cunt Cantona.' His fellow presenter Chris Eakin immediately attempted to cover the slip, but it was clearly audible to viewers. A BBC spokesman said: 'There was an unfortunate slip of the tongue on Sportsday last night when Eric Cantona's name was mispronounced. We've apologised to Eric - and we're sorry if any viewers were offended.'

Alex Reid was reportedly sleeping in his car for days before his split from wife Katie Price was announced. According to Metro, Reid told a friend about his situation when they met to discuss his marriage last week. The supposed source allegedly said: 'I couldn't believe it because when I got there he was sleeping rough in his car. He had been there all night. He looked really tired and dishevelled. He said Katie had thrown him out but he didn't want to go far away from the area because he wanted to keep an eye on the house to make sure she didn't try to change the locks.' They added: 'Alex told me Katie was being really nasty to him but he was determined not to let her walk all over him.' It has been claimed that Reid refused to leave the couple's marital home in Surrey for several days before agreeing to start moving his property to his parents' home in Hampshire.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, we're back on another Motown Trip, dear blog reader. Kicking off with Levi and the boys and one of Holland, Dozier and Holland's best. Next up, we have a passionate State of the Union address from His Holiness President Marvin Gaye. There is a certain body of informed opinion which reckons that The Supremes actually made better records after Diana Ross left. And, on the strength of 'Up The Ladder To The Roof' that might, just, be an accurate assessment.And finally, here's Stevie with what may well be the label's greatest triumph.