Friday, February 11, 2011

Week Eight: Julie Came And Went So Fast, She Didn't Even Say Goodbye

Once again, yer man at the Metro, the legend that is Keith Watson provides the week's best TV review with a considered - and beautifully accurate - assessment of the first episode of Mad Dogs. Which also takes the award for the best gratuitous use of a Morrissey quote in a TV review for a national newspaper. Free, or otherwise. 'We hate it when our friends become successful. But that doesn't stop us having a freebie holiday in their "suck my castanets, this must cost a bomb" Spanish villa and simmering with barely disguised resentment while we're there. Which pretty much describes the set-up in mid-life crisis gangster romp Mad Dogs. What a peculiar mutt this appears: two parts pedigree thriller to one part mongrel sitcom and one part I couldn't make out at all. Maybe Spaghetti Westerns as revisited by Pedro Almodóvar, though that's possibly a touch kind. Starting off as a Life On Mars meets Survivors meets Hustle reunion, the instant familiarity of the casting proved both a plus and a minus. But once the larky set-up was done and we’d established that each of the mates had demons that needed exorcising, Mad Dogs began to wag its tale. Leading in the issues stakes was host Alvo (a delightfully deranged Ben Chaplin), a man just one woof away from a barking breakdown. He led us by the nose into a spin on a sad-geezers-sniffing-out-lost-youth theme, with the odd spot of trigger-happy shoot-out stuff for good measure. In truth, the crime bit thus far looks scraped out of the standard paella pan. It's the philosophical navel-gazing that gives Mad Dogs cojones, with Glenister's downbeat lecturer picking up the best lines. "One minute you're looking forward to everything, the next minute you're looking over your shoulder" – now there's a man who's read his Simone de Beauvoir – he scowled through a wine glass darkly. Depression laced with bullets, it's enough to turn anyone on/in to Mad Dogs.' Top sark there from the Watsonmeister, I'm sure you'll all agree. But what did yer actual Keith Telly Topping make of the episode, I hear you shout dear blog reader? All four of you. Well ... I thought it was too slow. I mean, don't get me wrong, I normally like a bit of drawn-out drama but the first thirty minutes of this was like watching a snail on Valium. It looked beautiful, of course and the acting was fantastic (especially, as noted from Chaplin and to a lesser extent Glenister) but it badly needed a rocket up its arse before it finally got going in the last quarter of an hour. Now, however, we actually have some plot to work with, I'm expecting good things from it in subsequent weeks. If Glenister and Simm in particular can be shaken out of the torpor imposed on them by a script which has so far mistaken them for a pair of extras instead of two of the greatest actors British TV had produced in a couple of decades and they can be gently nudged centre stage, then there's hope for Mad Dogs yet.

The drama, incidentally, premiered with just under a million viewers on Thursday, at the same time as ITV's Marchlands - starring Glenister and Simms' former Life on Mars oppo dean Andrews - was losing viewers. Mad Dogs averaged an audience of nine hundred and sixty seven thousand for Sky1 in the 9pm hour, the second biggest multichannel audience of the night. Also in the 9pm hour, Marchlands continued with 5.53m, down six hundred and sixty thousand viewers on last week's debut episode. A further one hundred and thirty six thousand watched on ITV+1.

Robert Sean Leonard's spokesperson has denied rumours that the star is planning to leave House. Leonard, who plays Wilson, recently signed up to appear in the Broadway show Born Yesterday. 'No episodes [of House] will be missed,' the spokesperson told E! Online. 'Production has worked it all out.' Born Yesterday is expected to open on 24 April, around the same time as the final episodes of House's seventh season broadcast on television.

Lily Cole has reportedly been cast in the next series of Doctor Who. According to the Sun, the model and actress will feature in an episode set in the 1600s featuring the TARDIS landing on a pirate ship. Cole told the newspaper: 'It is a great script and a fun character and I am glad to be involved.' An, alleged, 'insider' allegedly added: 'Lily's a big fan of the show and jumped at the chance to appear. She will play a sea creature in an episode based around a well-known tale. It's a real ocean adventure.' Yeah. I'm afraid that doesn't sound like anybody on the Doctor Who crew that I know. And, I know a fair few of them, dear blog reader! Cole's previous acting credits have included parts in Terry Gilliam's 2009 movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and 2007 comedy St Trinian's.

The BBC has claimed that its Persian TV service is being jammed from within Iran due to coverage of the political unrest in Egypt. BBC Persian TV has been collaborating with the BBC's Arabic TV service to broadcast extensive rolling news from Egypt. It is thought that the impact of the coverage prompted the jamming of Persian TV's satellite signal last night. The corporation said that a possible trigger point was a special interactive show broadcast yesterday, in which Iranian and Egyptian callers exchanged views on the revolution. Many Iranian viewers said during the programme that they were watching events unfold in Cairo and elsewhere in the Middle East 'extremely closely.' BBC Global News director Peter Horrocks said: 'This jamming should stop immediately. The events in Egypt are being viewed by the entire world and it is wrong that our significant Iranian audience is being denied impartial news and information from BBC Persian TV. This is a regional story that Persian TV have been covering thoroughly and it is clear from our audience feedback that Iranian people want to know what is happening in Egypt. The BBC will not stop covering Egypt and it will continue to broadcast to the Iranian people.' The heavy electronic jamming has impacted the satellites used by the BBC in the Middle East to broadcast BBC Persian TV to Iran. Satellite technicians claim to have traced the interference and confirmed it is coming from within Iran. BBC Persian TV, which broadcasts around eight hours a day in the Farsi language, continues to stream live online. When it launched in January 2009, BBC Persian TV immediately endured criticism from within Iran, including the country's then culture minister describing the channel as illegal and a threat to national security. There have also been various attempts since then to interfere with the broadcast signal. And then people wonder why it is that this blogger gets so angry at attempts from the right-wing in this country to castrate the BBC. In many parts of the world it's the only broadcaster that people trust to tell then the truth. Iran's government as so scared of the BBC they will, literally, smother it with a pillow to stop their people hearing it. Sadly, there are those in this country, in parliament and in Fleet Street, that would - whether by accident or design - do the same thing. 'And national shall speak peace unto nation.' It's effing all wrong, my friends.

More that twenty comic writers – including stand-ups the great Gavin Webster and John Scott, the actor and comedian Trevor Fox and former Viz editor Alex Collier – have been accepted on to a BBC scheme to encourage new comedy talent in the North East. Over the next two months, those on the Jesting About programme will receive funding and mentoring. It raises the prospect of Webster receiving tips from Two Pints Of Lager creator Susan Nickson who, as the Chortle website noted, was just beginning primary school when Gav was starting out on the live comedy circuit! Other industry experts offering their support include Darlo-born Bob Mortimer, Cramlington's very own Ross Noble and veteran comedy writer Ian La Frenais (from Whitley Bay) to help develop their ideas into pilots. They will then showcase their work to commissioning editors in Newcastle on 20 April. More than two hundred people applied to get on the scheme. And where was yer Keith Telly Topping whilst all of this was going on, I hear you mutter, dear blog reader? Truth be told, I did get the e-mail inviting submissions. But ... I was a bit intimidated by the potential competition! Cowardly, I know, but there you go. What can I say, I didn't get where I am today by being impulsive and taking risks. And look where it's got me. Frigging nowhere. Others who made it include BAFTA-winning film-maker Bridget Deane, who previously worked on Channel Four's Wife Swap), to a group of accountants from Sunderland. Mortimer said: 'When I launched Jesting About in December last year, I said that some of the funniest people I have ever met are from the North East and judging from the hundreds of comedy ideas, scripts and sketches that have been sent it seems that I was right.' Yer Keith Telly Topping sends his sincere best wishes and good luck to all of the entrants, but particularly Gav, someone I've met a couple of time and with whom I share a lot of mutual friends who all reckon he is, quite simply, one of the nicest blokes you could ever hope to meet. It's about time he got himself on the telly, frankly!

And, on that bombshell, here's yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Friday 18 February
In the last episode of the current series of Hustle - 9:00 BBC1 - the gang is forced to help a former grifter when he posts himself to Eddie's bar as part of an elaborate prison break. Cool Hand Cooper was locked up for stealing a tasty cache of diamonds in a blag and managed to bury them before he got pinched by the bobbies. But after discovering they belong to a notorious Mafia family, he is desperate to return them to their rightful owner before he, himself, gets a very nasty spankin'. And, that's where Mickey Bricks and the gang come in.

The last time that yer actual Keith Telly Topping mentioned Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford - ITV 9:00 - I said how much I enjoy the stand-up of Jason himself. I also observed, in passing, that regular contributor Russell Kane was very popular with students though I, myself, don't find him to be particularly funny. He's a bit too jerky and manic for my tastes, as it happens, although other people do, apparently, like his comedy a great deal. Not an especially controversial observation one might suggest but it earned this blogger a reet good scolding on Facebook from yer man Russell for having the temerity to have a contrary opinion. I shan't be doing that again in a hurry. Anyway, the programme - which I had confidently expected to do pretty well at the start of the series despite a not particularly helpful timeslot - has, in fact, been a monumental flop in terms of ratings with an average audience of under three million. So, that shows how much I know. Russell can, presumably take some comfort in that. Because, last week, it was actually beaten by the audience for Channel Four's Embarrassing Bodies. Now that is what you call embarrassing. Tonight, in the last of the series, Jason introduces Dame Edna Everage to see if Barry Humphreys' tired old drag-act can pull in a few more punters. Chances of another series being commissioned? That rather depends on whether they get another hiding from Doctor Pixie and co. tonight.

Saturday 19 February
In Let's Dance for Comic Relief - 7:00 BBC1 - the most Welsh presenting duo in the history of TV, Alex Jones and Steve Jones, there's lovely, isn't it, host this charity dance competition in which famous faces re-create classic dance routines from stage and screen. You know the score by now. In the first edition, former model and reality show regular Katie Price, camp interior designer duo Colin and Justin, Irish stand-up Ed Byrne, The Thick of It actress Rebecca Front, cast members from Waterloo Road and the comedian Russell Kane - it's 'im again! - all compete. For a very good cause, of course, let's be clear about that. The judging panel comprises Graham Norton, Frank Skinner and big Greg Davies, and the music is provided by JLS and Taio Cruz featuring Kimberly Wyatt. I have but one question for Ed Byrne at this point. Ed? What are you doing, man?! Yes, I know it's for charriddeee, and all that but still ... couldn't you have just given them the cash without doing the actual dancing? Just a thought.

The Unknown Hancock - 7:30 BBC2 - is a repeated tribute to the much-loved comic actor Tony Hancock, whose hugely successful radio and TV series' Hancock's Half Hour effectively laid the ground-rules of the next sixty years of the sitcom genre. Fans, acquaintances and former colleagues share their impressions of a performer who always played a larger-than-life version of his real self - pretentious, blustering and opinionated, yet somehow endearing, with an underlying vulnerability guaranteed to appeal to the traditional British sympathy for the underdog. Hugh Lloyd, Sylvia Syms and June Whitfield are among those taking part.

Sunday 20 February
The great Andrew Davies' adaptation of Winifred Holtby's classic novel about community life in rural Yorkshire during the 1930s, South Riding starts tonight - 9:00 BBC1. Ambitious teacher Sarah Burton returns to her native county to become the headmistress of a struggling girls' school. However, her sweeping plans to change everything from the curriculum to the school buildings lead to her making an enemy of the troubled local landowner Robert Carne - a situation which becomes even more complicated when she takes an interest in helping his fragile young daughter, Midge. Previously adapted - excellently - by ITV in the 1970s, this stars Anna Maxwell Martin and broodingly magnificent and Byronesque David Morrissey in the main roles, with Primeval's Douglas Henshall, Shaun Dooley and former Prime Minister Penelope Wilton (Flydale North) along for the ride. Sounds proper on paper. If you're missing the late-lamented Lark Rise To Candleford already, this might help you through your withdrawl symptoms.

Prick up yer ears, all you Gruniad Morning Star journos, you've only got two more chances for a bit of faux 'outraged concern' before the current series of Top Gear - 8:00 BBC2 - ends. In the latest episode, that trio of rascally and boorish racist, bullyboy numskull scamps (allegedly. Very allegedly, as it happens), or 'presenters' as most 'normal' viewers call them, tackle the traffic chaos snowy weather causes in Britain, and hit upon a solution which involves a combine harvester, some rudimentary engineering skills and a trip to Norway. How hard can that be? Nasty mean ol' Mister Clarkson tests the Audi RS5 and the BMW M3 and then beats some orphans with a riding crop for looking at him in a funny way, The Stig single-handedly destroys the Ozone Layer and laughs, maniacally, whilst doing so, just to keep the Daily Scum Mail guessing about his, her or its identity, Richard Hammond and James May travel to Central America to fight the Communist insurgents on behalf of their CIA paymasters and 'a surprising guest' will get behind the wheel of the Reasonably Priced Car. How surprising? I'm afraid you'll have to tune in to find out. And then - like the Gruniad Morning Star - mutter churlishly, froth at the mouth a bit and within mere minutes of the episode finishing publish another wholly manufactured 'outrage' story which will get their readers knickers in a twist. For about a day. As usual. It's quite a sight to behold, to be honest. Funnier than most of the current series of Top Gear too.

Three episodes into the latest series of Time Team - 5:30 Channel 4 - and, finally, we've got some Romans in the area. The experts are given an opportunity to dig at an army firing range in High Ham, Somerset, as they investigate a set of Roman mosaics first discovered one hundred and fifty years ago. Initial searches suggest the remains of Roman villas could be located on the site, and the team begins to build up a picture of the highs and lows of life in the society of the time - until the weather threatens to bring the excavation to a premature muddy halt. Ah, good. I like the Roman ones. And the muddy ones as well. Gives Phil Harding two excuses to say 'ooo arrr' rather than just one.

In Being Human - 9:00 BBC3 - George, Nina, Annie and Mitchell have to suffer The Longest Day. No, not the - rather decent - 1962 movie of the same name starring John Wayne but, rather, their own Longest Day. Not the same thing at all. George is shocked and stunned to discover that the vampire Herrick (the excellent Jason Watkins) is alive and well and working in the hospital psychiatric ward, and worries that the foe he presumed dead two years ago is back for revenge. Mitchell, meanwhile, becomes increasingly bothered by the Box Tunnel Twenty, and the prophecy revealed to him by Lia when he entered limbo to get Annie back, and the housemates receive an unwelcome visit from a social worker. Fantasy drama, starring Russell Tovey, Aidan Turner and Lenora Crichlow. Now into its third series and still, comfortably, the best flatshare-comedy-soap-horror-Telefantasy gestalt on British TV. Or, anywhere else for that matter.

Monday 21 February
When Teenage Meets Old Age - 9:00 BBC2 - is a new documentary series in which four young people who have little or no contact with the elderly volunteer to work as carers in a retirement village. It marks the start of an emotional journey for both groups of participants, and raises questions about modern British society in which, despite the rapid growth of the eighty five-plus age range, multi-generational homes are on the decline. Increasingly elderly people are living in care homes and retirement villages rather than with their own families and as a result a huge number of old people have little or no contact with the young. In this exciting and timely new series four we have an inspirational opportunity to discovery what both sides of the generation gap think.

In When God Spoke English: The Making of the King James Bible - 9:00 BBC4 - Adam Nicolson examines (or, should that be examineth?) the creation of the influential text, which hath shaped ye language, culture and societie around ye worlde. And, lo, scholars from ye Cambridge, Oxford and London worketh on the version for a king who hoped to unite a country torn by religious factions. Not forgetting ye famine, pestilence and death there unto. The four horsemen of the Metropolis, as it were. The programme delves into recently discovered manuscripts which reveal the translation process that went on and asks why the result has had such a lasting legacy not only on religious belief but on the English language itself. Today, it is dismissed by some - mostly glakes - as old fashioned and impenetrable. This programme shows why, in the Twenty First Century, the King James Bible remains the greatest book of all time.

The single most repulsive and dangerous TV concept ever dreamed up has to be The Biggest Loser - 9:00 ITV. In this thoroughly sick and tawdry excuse for 'entertainment', the remaining fattie contestants head to Cyprus with trainer Richard Callender, where they face their latest challenge - a triathlon comprising a five hundred metre kayak race, a four kilometre bike ride and then a nice long run. At the end of which the winner gets a chocolate éclair. Probably. They then hold a training session in the heat, before flying back to the UK for the weigh-in, where the three contenders who have lost the highest percentage of their body weight will progress to the grand final. And, those that haven't will be slung back out into the gutter to fend for themselves. Davina McCall presents with all of the tact of Kenneth Williams in the Stetford End on derby day. And, she should be effing well ashamed of herself for doing so. Sick, dear blog reader. Utterly, laughably if it wasn't so mean-spirited, venal in every way imaginable.

Tuesday 22 February
Silk - 9:00 BBC1 - is a new legal drama following the lives, loves and cases of two barristers struggling to prove their worth on the front line of judicial system. Martha is under huge time pressures as she prepares to defend two very different clients in the hope of securing a good reference for her application to become a QC. But how do her fundamental principles stand up to examination by clients who are sometimes good, sometimes bad and sometimes evil? Martha is faced with challenging cases and surprising clients. Her beliefs and prejudices, her conscience and her faith in the criminal justice system are tested to the limit over the course of the series. Starring Maxine Peake and Rupert Penry-Jones from [spooks]. It's also got Neil Stuke in it. Looks rather good from the short trailer I saw recently.

Heston's Mission Impossible - 9:00 Channel Four - sees Heston Blumenthal embarks on an ambitious quest to help solve the culinary problems faced by the NHS, British Airways, Cineworld Cinemas and the Royal Navy. Well, at least he hasn't got Jamie Oliver dragging along with him because that, in and of itself, would be one very good reason not to watch, dear blog reader. Anyway, dear old Heston puts his vest on and begins by visiting Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, where he discovers most of the kitchen workers are busy preparing meals for the staff restaurant instead of providing a healthy menu for patients. Bless 'im, he's trying. Very, as it happens.

Also on Channel Four at 8:00 is Gok's Clothes Roadshow. The stylist takes his fashion tour to Birmingham, where he gives makeovers to three mothers working as solicitors. And will call everybody 'girlfriend.' As usual. Meanwhile, Brix Smith-Start heads for Dents in Wiltshire to pick up a pair of hand-crafted gloves. I wonder if she ever though when she was playing guitar in The Fall all those years ago that she'd end up reduced to this.

Wednesday 23 February
It might have a flashy new set, and a slightly amended format but the principle is still essentially the same. It's a bald fat bloke, a grumpy Aussie, India Fisher's cookery-as-pornography husky voice and, quite honestly, the best soap opera on British TV. With the selection process now well behind them, the twenty final candidates are shown around the new kitchen where they face their first challenge - to prepare in one hour a dish containing an egg in, of course, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1. Those who divide John Torode and Gregg Wallace - that's if they're still on speaking terms this week following their appearance as the spitting image of a squabbling married couple on The ONE Show - have a second chance to make it to the next round by cooking a roast dinner for Amy Willcock, national cookery judge for the Women's Institute. Continues tomorrow.

The Real King's Speech - 9:00 Channel Four - is a rather timely documentary. Following the huge popular success of BAFTA and Oscar-nominated movie The King's Speech, this documentary delves into the real life working relationship between George VI and his Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (or Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush as you probably know them, dear blog reader). The programme examines their private correspondence, features interviews with historians and former patients of Logue, and highlights the role of his wife Queen Elizabeth in helping her husband overcome his disability.

In the new series of The Model Agency - 10:00 Channel Four - we get an insight into the world of modelling, with behind-the-scenes access to Premier Model Management, one of the world's leading agencies, which has nurtured the careers of Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and Linda Evangelista. Founder Carole White and her team get ready for the September show season, kicking off with New York Fashion Week.

Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) delves into the mysteries of the Stone Age and the meaning of the sacred monuments that were built throughout Britain and Ireland in A History of Ancient Britain - 9:00 BBC2. He begins by visiting a six thousand-year-old axe factory in the Lake District to explore how the use of stone shaped the belief system to include the cosmos for the first time. The historian also joins people arriving at Stonehenge to celebrate the mid-summer sunrise and learns about the religious and sociological significance of the monument. Or, at least, some theories about it because, to be honest, the jury is still out on this most vexed of historical subjects. Truth is, we just don't know. Still, if you're in the vague Tyneside area, there's a big event related to the BBC's Hands on History strand taking place at the Metrocentre in Gateshead on 25 February in relation to this series run by BBC Learning and English Heritage including a massive blow-up model of Stonehenge. Yeah, yeah, you can do all the This Is Spinal Tap jokes now if you want.

Thursday 24 February
In EastEnders - 7:30 BBC1 - Whitney has a successful stint at the car lot, but misreads the signals during a celebratory drink with Max and puts her friendship with Lauren at risk. Meanwhile, Janine goes to extreme lengths in a bid to pay her rent, Patrick tries to reunite Alfie and Kat, and Zainab grows concerned about Yusef's plan to stay in Walford.

Meanwhile, up the M6 in Coronation Street - 8:30 ITV - we have episode seven thousand five hundred and forty two of the popular Weatherfield serial. On the way to the Lake District, Ray Langton and Audrey Fleming flirt on the coach but, whilst Len Fairclough stops Dickie and Ray fighting, the coach brakes fail and it violently crashes into a tree. Oh no, hang on, sorry that's episode nine hundred and twenty three (from 1969). I always get them two mixed up. Anyway, tonight, Steve is in turmoil as Dev's plight plays on his conscience and Lloyd demands he repay Streetcars with his casino winnings. Eileen encourages Sunita to blackmail Owen into finishing the shop, and Julie's mothering becomes too much for Tyrone. Gail and Audrey are horrified when David claims to be in love with a cage dancer he met in Tenerife. Yeah, we've all done that, mate.

If you're not into soaps then, I'm afraid, you're a bit cattle-trucked tonight there's pretty much sod-all else on worth speaking about. Although there is a repeat of 2009's drama Micro Men - 9:00 BBC4. Alexander Armstrong and a pre-Sherlock Martin Freeman star in this rather fine comedy drama telling the story of the race for home computer supremacy during the 1980s. Clive Sinclair and former colleague Chris Curry go head to head in a battle to achieve domination of a growing market, triggering the beginning of the UK computer revolution.

And so to the news: Mad Men and Lost are amongst the shows nominated at the fifty first Monte Carlo Television Festival. The two series will be up against Showtime's Dexter in the Drama category. All the nominations were selected by the Producer's Guild Of America. 30 Rock, Modern Family and Glee have been selected as nominees for the Comedy award. The winners will be revealed at the Golden Nymph Award ceremony on 10 June. Festival chief executive officer David Tomatic said: 'These drama and comedy series are of the highest quality and our competition this year will once again be very close. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Producer's Guild Of America for their support and participation to our competition.'

Rhys Thomas, best known for playing the spoof talk radio presenter Gary Bellamy on BBC2's Bellamy's People, is to take the lead in Channel Four's new comedy drama Naked Apes. Thomas is to play the misanthropic Stuart in the six-part drama about three Leeds-based paramedics, which has just begun filming for a summer transmission on Four. He is joined in the cast by Kayvan Novak, star of the Chris Morris satire Four Lions, and Lark Rise to Candleford actor Richard Madden. Made by Daybreak Pictures, the drama has been written by Brian Fillis, who was behind the controversial BBC biopic The Curse of Steptoe and ITV's An Englishman in New York. The broadcaster is also seeking to duplicate the success of E4 dramas Skins and Misfits by casting relative unknowns in Beaver Falls, the latest drama offering for the youth channel. Also a six-part series Beaver Falls follows a group of young British graduates working at an elite US summer camp and will star River City actor Samuel Robertson alongside Arsher Ali and John Dagleish. It is being made by Company Pictures. The Channel Four head of drama, Camilla Campbell, has said that the drama will be made utilising money freed up from the cancellation of Big Brother. Campbell added: 'Channel Four's increased investment in new drama will arrive on screen in summer 2011. Irreverent and provocative comedy drama, both are set to launch a host of new and emerging talent and characters. We hope viewers will love them as much as we do.'

Denise Van Outen has dropped out of her presenting job on OK! TV. Earlier this month, Channel Five announced that Van Outen would co-host the celebrity news show with Matt Johnson. However, Van Outen has now pulled out of the programme, which is due to premiere on Monday. In a statement, Channel Five said: 'Due to other contractual commitments, Denise Van Outen will not be presenting OK! TV. Both parties wish each other the very best.'

Philip Escoffey's illusion show Impossible was among the new commissions at Channel Five's season launch this week. The broadcaster also revealed a refreshed Channel Five logo, which will first appear from Valentine's Day ahead of the first episode of new OK! TV - that is if they find somebody to replace Denise by then - and the first appearance of news anchor Emma Crosby on the 7pm bulletin. Fiver and Five USA's rebrands as 5* and 5USA will follow on 7 March, along with new logos that 'highlight the energy, optimism and fun-loving attitude of the channels,' which will also provide 'cutting edge acquisitions and new commissions.' Impossible is a six-part series that will be broadcast in late spring, which will include illusionist and mind reader Escoffer taking on couples head-to-head in a game show format. The host will tease seemingly impossible challenges with a possible forty thousand pound prize. Other new shows included reality series The Candy Bar, Dave Berry's karaoke game show The Beat Goes On and former MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers's cookery programme Mexican Food Made Simple. Whether any Mexicans will complain that their complex cuisine is being disrespected by this discombobulation, we can only pause and contemplate. The Ivy director Fernando Peire will front The Restaurant Inspector, a new spin-off from the popular Hotel Inspector, Paul Merton is starring in new travel documentary Great Escapes, while AMC series The Walking Dead heads up their US acquisitions. Justin Lee Collins will return for another outing on the channel in Living In Las Vegas, where he will experience the highs and lows of the casino capital, while Matchlight Series Production So You Think You Can't Drive will aim to showcase some of the Britain's worst and least-confident drivers.

Plans to move Coronation Street to MediaCityUK at Salford Quays have been officially approved by Trafford Council. According to the Manchester Evening News, the proposed shift of the ITV soap's filming base was on Thursday night given the green light at a meeting of the council's Planning Development Control Committee. This week it has emerged that Hovis - which has headquarters adjacent to Corrie's new Trafford Wharf site - had submitted a formal objection to the plans due to fears over noise and traffic. However, at the meeting it was confirmed that Hovis's owners Premier Foods had withdrawn the objection, prompting councillors to approve the planning application unanimously. Councillor Michael Whetton is quoted as saying: 'I thought the objection would be from EastEnders. I welcome this development, it is not just good to see Coronation Street coming to Trafford, but it is good to see ITV get involved in some big investment and good to see that happening in our borough. This will not just be used for Coronation Street but the big stages being constructed will be used for some major productions.' Coronation Street's set move was first announced in December. The soap's base is expected to be ready by late 2012, featuring new production facilities aimed to equip the show for the demands of future broadcasting developments.

Primeval co-creator Tim Haines has revealed details about the show's fifth - and, unless ratings improve drastically, almost certainly last - series. He told SFX that the show's next run will further explore the mysterious motives of millionaire scientist Phillip Burton (Alexander Siddig). 'At the end of [episode] seven, there is some serious stuff starting to happen with Connor and Phillip and that's sort of the cliff-hanger over into the [next] series,' he explained. 'You realise there's a much bigger story beginning to brew [involving] the reason why Matt's there.' He continued: 'Very much in the fifth series, we focus in on who's the baddy, who's going to be causing trouble, and that has an effect on our central characters.' Haines also confirmed that several monsters from the show's past will reappear in future episodes. 'There will be a return of the future predators at one point, in a slightly different guise,' he said. 'We got the biggest creature that we've ever had and some old favourites like raptors [and] burrowing creatures.' And, hopefully some viewers will actually watch the damn thing this time around. Because it really is rather good when it tries hard.

Channel Four News was reportedly 'in crisis' on Thursday night after a leaked letter revealed 'staff outrage' at the 'incredibly erosive' plans to transform the broadcaster. Changes proposed by management for the nightly news programme include the creation of an elite group of fifteen presenters, including Jon Snow and Krishnan Guru-Murthy, dubbed 'the news team.' The move would mean that around a dozen on-camera staff, who previously held equal standing on the Meet The Team section of the Channel Four News website, would be demoted to the About Channel Four News page. Which might seem a shade petty and nothing to get particularly worked up about to some dear blog readers but ... hang on, it is petty and nothing to get particularly worked up about, there is no 'but.' More than twenty staff, including on-screen presenters Samira Ahmed, Katie Razzall and Cathy Newman, have put their names to a letter sent to the programme's editor Jim Gray and his deputy Martin Fewell warning of 'a them and us' culture developing at Channel Four News. Signatories to the letter include presenter Alex Thomson and economics editor Faisal Islam, who are both listed on the 'news team.' Although, whether they will be for much longer is a question that remains to be answered. The letter, leaked to Broadcast magazine by an 'anonymous source,' said that the current situation of staff shortages at Channel Four News makes it even more imperative for employees to feel they are 'all in this together.' It added: 'We feel that it is time that there is more of a feeling of mutuality. We believe that we need to feel that "we are all in this together" as opposed to the "them and us" culture that has now developed in this newsroom. We still want to hear from you how you will address this sense of a two-tier newsroom - where some reporters are more important than others - which has been incredibly erosive and divisive for on-screen staff.' The protest letter has taken the shine off a good week for Channel Four News, which secured thirteen nominations at the 2011 Royal Television Society journalism awards. In a statement, a Channel Four News spokesman defended the changes, which are part of a 'process of evolution' launched in 2009. 'They are designed so that we can continue to deliver the very best news programme on TV, are long standing and are not a reaction to external events,' he said. 'We are pleased that they are already paying dividends - as evidenced by more RTS nominations than any other news programme this year. This is the next stage of that process, and whilst we acknowledge that change provides challenges for any organisation, we are glad to have a renewed investment from the channel to deliver this plan and open communication with what we think is the best production team in the business.'

Kerry Katona has revealed that she rubs her skating partner Daniel Whiston's bum before performing on Dancing On Ice each week.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This one's a corker.

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