Saturday, February 19, 2011

Week Nine: Can't Tell The Bullshit From The Lies

Ohmigod, CSI only went and killed Justin Bieber. So, well done them! It was also a good week for Bones. After a couple of decidedly 'meh' episodes, their Valentine's Day massacre, The Bikini In The Soup, kicked the show back to something approaching its usual sarky brilliance. Meanwhile, the latest series of Hustle ended on Friday night with a beautifully bittersweet episode written by the show's creator Tony Jordan and far removed from the series' usual slick, turbo-charged frivolity. And with Robert Vaughn (see left with his suddenly discovered daughter, played by Waking the Dead's Claire Goose) acting his little cotton sock off and reminding us that, hey, this fellah used to be Napoleon Solo, you know! The good news, as previously announced, is that an eighth series of Hustle has already been commissioned and will be broadcast next year.

Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the centre of the News of the World phone-hacking case, passed phone intercept information to 'several individuals' working on the tabloid's news desk, the high court heard on Friday. The private eye – who was on a one hundred thousand pounds-a-year contract with the News of the World – was quoted in court documents as saying that he dealt with so many people on the news desk at the tabloid that he cannot recall precisely who received certain items of information. Mulcaire's admission, if true, was 'devastating' to the News of the World's long-held insistence that phone hacking was the work of a 'lone, rotten journalist,' Jeremy Reed QC told the court. Reed was representing Sky Andrew, a football agent who is suing the newspaper's immediate parent, News Group Newspapers for breach of privacy over phone hacking. Mulcaire was jailed for six months in 2007 for hacking into phones belonging to staff at Buckingham Palace, along with the News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman. However, in that trial the court also heard that Mulcaire hacked into the phones of high profile individuals such as publicist Max Clifford and supermodel Elle Macpherson, as well as Andrew. Earlier this year, Mulcaire also said in court documents that he had been instructed by Ian Edmondson, an assistant editor at the tabloid, to intercept Andrew's voicemails. Edmondson was initially suspended, and has now been sacked. The current case saw lawyers for Andrew lodge a claim against the Metropolitan police, seeking greater access to heavily redacted documents released by the force to his legal team. The documents were seized from Glen Mulcaire's office in 2006, and the police made copies of them available to Andrew's lawyers earlier this year. However, most of Mulcaire's notes were blacked out. Reed's skeleton argument, released following the brief hearing on Friday morning, recounted that Mulcaire had been asked to whom on the News of the World he provided voicemail intercepts. The reply, the argument said, 'is remarkable and merits reading in full.' Quoting Mulcaire directly, the argument said: 'Information was supplied to the news desk of the News of the World. This was manned by different people, [Mulcaire] cannot now recall who in respect of this claim he passed the information to.' This 'mantra' was repeated by Mulcaire several times, Reed told the court, adding: 'Put bluntly, this hits NGN's defence for six.' Mulcaire has previously said he provided intercept information to the News of the World's former news editor, Ian Edmondson. However, this is the first direct evidence that suggests a greater number of executives at the title may have had a relationship with Mulcaire, and so, knowledge of the private investigator's phone-hacking operation. Andrew acts for the former England defender Sol Campbell, currently playing for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies – who dated the interior designer Kelly Hoppen in 2003. Hoppen is also suing the News of the World in a separate phone-hacking claim, and on Thursday it emerged that the Met had 'found' six pages of references to her in Mulcaire's notes which the force had been holding since August 2006.

Gregg Wallace and John Torode have claimed that they love all the MasterChef YouTube spoofs. The BBC1 show's judges admitted that they had watched the online videos, which included a Top Ten MasterChef Innuendos. 'I think it's just brilliant,' said Torode. 'The one where Michel Roux says, "the presentation of that is stunning," and then the camera pans down to an ice cream with a cone for a hat and little Smartie eyes, is genius. And then to top it off Gregg says, "That is a thing of beauty." It is just brilliant. The thing about these spoofs is the time they must have spent doing them is incredible. It is just absolutely fantastic. I think it is done with affection.' He continued: 'Have you seen the Top Ten Innuendos on YouTube? The best one is our voiceover woman India, who says, "It's taken Sarah ten minutes, but she's finally got her gnocchi out." I love that. It is good when people are starting to take the piss out of you a bit.' Wallace added: 'We love people having a joke about the show. I was in Glasgow ahead of doing the MasterChef live event and I was pouring some cornflakes in the hotel when this bloke shouts at me, "You've got two minutes!" And then to top it off at the end of the meal, the hotel owner came out and said, "I've got the boys in the kitchen lined up, they want to find out which one is going home!"'

'Criticism doesn't get any more ludicrous than this,' notes the Independent's John Walsh in an article on the subject of the new series of MasterChef. 'The new series of MasterChef, which kicked off this week with a shiny new set, coolly nightclubby lighting, a platoon of nervous contestants and a lot of weeping, has come under attack. According to the Daily Mail, "loyal fans" were incensed that BBC1 was "dumbing down the programme by turning it into a hideous X Factor-style competition." The revamp kicked-off with an "audition" in which some of the twenty thousand applicants were shown having their dishes assessed and rejected by the two-man jury of John Torode, the shouty Australian restaurant owner and Gregg Wallace, the bald former fruit 'n' veg stallholder. This came in for censure. But as X Factor viewers know well, the first wave of auditions is invariably the most entertaining part of the show, when the howlingly inept and grossly overconfident are ridiculed and rejected. On the new MasterChef, it was a shame that weeping mother of three Josie was turned down because of her lumpy mash, and that the pneumatic Charity's "deconstructed trifle" melted, but if your dish doesn't work, it means you're not a terribly good cook. That is the way le biscuit crumbles. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the haute cuisine. Other criticisms were equally foolish. 'Contestants had to listen to a critique from the judges before facing a loaded pause and tension-inducing music while their future on the show was deliberated,' did they? But contestants had to face this very mild ordeal six years ago – before The X Factor was invented. To consider a TV cooking competition capable of being "dumbed down" is, itself, pretty dumb. MasterChef, as its makers would be the first to point out, is not Civilisation. It's about people combining bits of food over sustained heat, and other people putting the result in their mouths and commenting on whether it's nice, nasty or something in between. You can hardly get more basic than that. One might as well complain about the "dumbing down" of Tom And Jerry or Top Of The Pops.'

Five new actors will join the cast of Downton Abbey for the show's second series. Zoe Boyle, Cal Macaninch, Iain Glen, Amy Nuttall and Maria Doyle-Kennedy have all signed up for roles in the period drama, which will return to ITV later this year. Boyle, known for her role as Trinity Ashby on FX drama Sons of Anarchy, will play Lavinia Swire, while former Holby Blue star Macaninch will appear as Lang, a new valet. Ex-Emmerdale actress Nuttall will play new housemaid Ethal. Glen, due to appear in new HBO series Game of Thrones and so good in Doctor Who last year, will portray Sir Richard Carlisle, and Doyle Kennedy will appear as Vera, the wife of John Bates (Brendan Coyle), having previously appeared in The Tudors and Dexter.

A BBC journalist was held for fifteen hours at Bahrain international airport before having her equipment confiscated, amid radical anti-government protests in the country. The BBC declined to name the detained producer, but confirmed that she was eventually allowed into the country on Friday after having her equipment – including her mobile phone – confiscated indefinitely. Bahrain security forces have tightened restrictions on journalists entering the country in the past twenty four hours, as tens of thousands of protesters intensify calls for the downfall of the country's ruling monarchy. Hadeel Al-Shalchi, Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, said sixteen foreign journalists, including those from the BBC, ABC and CNN, were being held at Bahrain airport on Friday. Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist, said on Twitter on Thursday: 'Bahrain barring journalists from entry at airport. King Hamad doesn't want witnesses to his brutality.' Political unrest has swept across the Middle East this week in the aftermath of last Friday's events in Egypt where president Hosni Mubarak was ousted. Attempts to break up the protests by security forces in Yemen, Libya, and Bahrain have been largely fruitless. Attempts by Bahrain security forces to obstruct journalists had remained relatively non-violent, but on Friday that situation showed signs of escalating as government forces in a helicopter fired on a reporter and cameraman who were filming the unfolding violence in Manama's Pearl Square, according to the New York Times. There were also reports of sniper fire from rooftops in the square. ABC reporter Miguel Marquez was attacked by 'a gang of thugs' on Thursday in the same area of the Bahrain capital. 'There were a number of journalists beaten in the melee in Bahrain about a day and a half ago, but so far obstruction against journalists has been a little different to that in Egypt and Yemen,' said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, the Middle East and north Africa programme coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists . Journalists from Agence France-Presse, the Associated Press, Reuters and the European Pressphoto Agency were attacked and had their cameras confiscated in Yemen yesterday, according to the CPJ. Tom Finn, the Gruniad Morning Star's correspondent in Sana'a, the Yemen capital, was yesterday attacked by a group of men 'carrying sticks' who tried to confiscate his camera. Top Gear fans, presumably. 'In Yemen the physical attacks on journalists are quite intense and larger in scope, persistence and raw numbers. Photojournalists are being particularly targeted by plain-clothed police or hired thugs,' Abdel Dayem told the Gruniad. Internet access is also understood to be restricted for some local news organisations in Bahrain.

Thanks to that effing stupid plank Vince Cable's gaffe about having 'declared war' on media tycoon Rupert Murdoch over his bid to take over BSkyB, the entire fiasco has cost taxpayers a reported three hundred thousand pounds. The business secretary was stripped of responsibility for media competition issues in December after his comments were recorded by undercover reporters posing as constituents. His duties were handed over to the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious Hunt, who last month gave Murdoch's News Corporation more time to make its case before he decides whether to call in the Competition Commission. In response to a Freedom of Information request from the BBC, the government on Friday revealed that it will cost three hundred thousand smackers to move civil servants dealing with the bid from Cable's Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to the vile and odious Hunt's Department for Culture, Media and Sport. IT changes will cost an estimated two hundred and eighty thousand and moving staff and materials twenty grand. A spokesman said: 'Responsibility for all competition and policy issues relating to media, broadcasting, digital and telecoms sectors has been transferred from the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills to the secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport. The transfer of staff and associated resources is being handled as cost effectively as possible.' But the shadow business secretary, John Denham, said: 'three hundred thousand pounds of public money is being spent for no other reason than to media-manage the fact that Vince Cable is incapable of running his own department.' The bid has sparked protests from some other media organisations, which argue that it would give Murdoch's companies an excessive share of the UK market. Cable's impartiality as an arbiter on whether the bid would breach competition rules was thrown into question when undercover Daily Torygraph reporters recorded him saying: 'I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win.'

And so to yer actual Top Telly Tips.

Friday 25 February
In Hidden Treasures of Australian Art - 9:00 BBC2 - Griff Rhys Jones embarks on adventures to find out what kinds of art are still being created by indigenous people around the world. And, as usual Griff will be doing so with the rather awkward habit of talking a touch too fast and then, seemingly, realising he's doing it so and deliberately slowing down with an exaggerated 'stretching a one-syllable-word-out-to-five-or-six.' Which is always very entertaining, of course. An avid art collector and enthusiast himself, Griff ventures to remote corners of the globe to examine the artistic creativity of three disparate indigenous cultures to ask what we have lost, what is still being preserved, and to challenge preconceived notions surrounding the nature and value of tribal expression. 'To be human is to create, and some of the most compelling art in the world has been made by some of its poorest people, and it fascinates me,' notes Griff. 'Can traditional art survive the modern world?' In each programme, Griff embarks on sometimes hazardous quests to remote communities that have produced extraordinary work, now seemingly part of a lost world, to discover what remains of ancient cultural art, the impulses that underpin it, and how it has been affected over time by political, social and religious incursions from the West. In tonight's programme Griff sets out from Cairns in north-eastern Queensland on a voyage that encompasses the Torres Strait islands between Australia and Papua New Guinea, and recreates the journey of Nineteenth-Century anthropologist Alfred Cort Haddon, which brought back to Britain hundreds of objects from this still-remote community. Griff finds that its art remains closely bound up with secrecy and sorcery, the tradition of head-hunting, where magic abounds and where, traditionally, art has always served the Gods, in order to appease the spirits of nature. Sacred art survives to this day, but as Griff discovers, so does the preservation of many taboos and forbidden rituals long closed to outside eyes. Over the next two programmes, Griff experiences the magical and religious energy behind tribal art in Africa and sees the kaleidoscopic beauty of the Ahmedebad Bazaar in Gurjarat, India.

There's also a new series of the popular comedy drama Benidorm - 9:00 ITV. The Garveys arrive to stay at Madge's luxury villa, only to discover she has sold it to a TV personality and promptly disappeared. While Troy nurses his ailing father back at home, Gavin turns up at the Solana resort with a new companion - his salon underling Kenneth - who seems determined to take advantage of the free food, and Mateo struggles to get used to his surprising new colleague at the pool bar. Guest stars include Cilla Black. Lorra, loora Cilla. Denise Welch, meanwhile, has revealed details about her one-off appearance in the new series. The actress, who is currently competing on Dancing on Ice, will guest star alongside ger husband Tim Healy, who plays a cross-dresser on the sitcom. Denise told Buzz: 'Scary Mary's this gangster type chasing Madge for her debts. It's only a small part but I had so much fun I didn't want to leave.' Meanwhile, Healy added: 'Denise told me she was jealous when she read my script. The next thing I knew, she was on the phone to the writer Derren Litten and he had given her a role.'

Saturday 26 February
Tonight we get a very welcome repeat of the 2007 Arena film Ken Dodd: Happiness - 8:30 BBC2. The documentary tribute to the veteran comedian and king of Notty Ash, originally shown four years ago to mark his eightieth birthday. Cameras spent several months following the tatifalarious funny man - tickling stick and all - as he went about his everyday (or should that be everydiddyday?) business. The film looks back on a career that had then spanned six decades, and features archive footage of performances from the 1960s and 1970s as well as extracts of routines from his Happiness tour. How tickled we were, ladies and gentlemen. Yer Keith Telly Topping's own favourite moment of The Dodd oeuvre remains, of course, this one.

Casualty - 9:10 BBC1 - has been on a very good run of form recently. In the latest episode. Kirsty faces unwelcome inquiries from the police, who are investigating Warren's accident, and Nita's behaviour gives her even more cause for concern after the youngster witnesses her mother being comforted by Adam. Meanwhile, Jay's concentration is affected by the discovery of a testicular lump, and when he finally confesses his fears to Miriam, she persuades him to see a doctor. Medical drama, starring Lucy Gaskell and Tristan Gemmill.

Sunday 27 February
The latest episode of yer actual Time Team - 5:25 Channel Four - is Hitler's Island Fortress. Tony Robinson gets to choose a site for investigation for the first time in the programme's eighteen year history - and decides to take the team to Jersey, the home to a German anti-aircraft battery built during the Second World War. As the experts explore the area, they realise their site was part of a far larger and more complex settlement, and discover shocking facts about the islanders' suffering during wartime.

Meanwhile, it's the last in the current series of Top Gear - 8:00 BBC2. Which is, of course, a tragedy. I mean, what wholly made-up shitehawk lice bollocks are the Gruniad Morning Star and the Daily Scum Mail with their nasty, vomit-flecked agenda going to try and manufacture into an 'outrage' this time next week? Won't somebody think of the children. Jeremy Clarkson gets behind the wheel of a Jaguar XJ and races against the rotation of the Earth. Whilst shouting 'power' a lot and claiming it is the greatest thing ... in the world. James May travels to America to drive NASA's latest Space Exploration Vehicle and Richard Hammond (he's not a real hamster) tests two of the most famous supercars of the 1980s - the Porsche 959 and the Ferrari F40.

There's more shocking shocks in Being Human - 9:00 BBC3 - when George is shocked (see, I told ya) when he discovers his father has died. And then, he has another surprise when he meets the ghost of George Senior. Meanwhile, the Box Tunnel investigation closes in on Mitchell. Quality fantasy drama, starring Russell Tovey, James Fleet and Aidan Turner.

Tonight also sees the start of a new series of Live to Dance - 8:00 Sky1. Crews, troupes and solo dancers perform in the American version of Got to Dance, hoping to impress a judging panel consisting of singer Paula Abdul, former Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt and choreographer Travis Payne. The first episode sees the audition process begin, as hopefuls try to win place on the show.

Monday 28 February
How To Live With Women - 9:00 BBC3 - is a new series in which men who have frustrated their girlfriends after they have moved in together spend two weeks with female mentors who teach them how to cohabit successfully. Oh God, this has all the potential to be another Wife Swap. By which, of course, I mean, utter arse. During the tuition process, the boyfriends' partners have a chance to reflect on their relationships, and can monitor their other halves' progress - before all participants are invited to dinner. Seriously, why would any man (or woman for that matter) with a single ounce of dignity in them agree to appear on such a tawdry, crass and pointless exercise in ritual humiliation for the 'entertainment' of brain-dead pond scum? 'Let's laugh at the numskulls as they try to be a bit less numskullish.' Personally, I doubt I'll be watching, as I usually develop a rather nasty haemorrhoid complaint at times like this.

Classroom Warriors: Panorama - 8:30 BBC1 - is an investigation into the Government's harebrained plan to encourage ex-soldiers to become teachers. The programme asks if such a harebrained scheme could 'help restore discipline, leadership and respect to Britain's troubled classrooms.' The idea began in America - where, it should be noted, most bad ideas originate - as some fifteen thousand former military personnel have taken up jobs in the education system. Too, on imagines, terrorised the little bastards with a bit of good old fashioned home spun brutalising. I mean, this is the military that uses waterboarding, isn't it? Mind you, there's a few kids in our street who could probably use a few sessions of that. Vivian White asks if a similar policy could work over here.

In Dispatches: Secret NHS Diaries - 8:00 Channel Four - three people are given cameras to record the final weeks of their lives. At home, in a care facility and in hospital. Following the health service ombudsman's recent report condemning the quality of NHS provision, the trio's experiences offer an insight into the gap between people's hopes and the reality of dying.

Tuesday 1 March
The story of Lindsey Garfitt's love for her nine-year-old daughter Leah, who suffers from dementia as a result of the rare genetic disease Niemann-Pick Type C and will eventually die from the illness is told in Leah's Dream - 9:00 ITV. The film follows the youngster as she struggles to walk, write, eat and talk during her everyday activities in the Lancashire fishing town of Fleetwood, and reveals how her mother is finding the strength to recover from pituitary cancer by thinking of Leah.

With a title like Paul Merton and Nicholas Parsons: Me & Arthur Haynes - 9:00 BBC4 - what you read on the label is, pretty much, what you get. The comedian Paul Merton and broadcaster Nicholas Parsons rediscover the comic talent of Arthur Haynes, an act as popular as Tony Hancock in the 1950s and 60s.Part of the Variety season. Parsons performed as Haynes straight man for most of the latter's TV career. They were ITV's first comedy stars, with The Arthur Haynes Show running for fifteen series from 1957. Haynes became one of British television's first star comedians, his series dominating the ratings for years. Parsons and Haynes first worked together on a disastrous show called Strike a New Note. They worked together for the next eight years until in 1965, about to embark on the sixteenth series of the show, Haynes suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of fifty one. Most of Haynes's television shows were live performances so little footage of him remains. However, Merton and Parsons have unearthed some unseen films which show Haynes performing. In front of a studio audience, Merton will talk to Parsons about the life and times of the show that put him and Haynes on the map.

Horizon: Are We Still Evolving? - 9:00 BBC2 - is the latest vehicle for the Goddess of punk archaeology, Coast's Doctor Alice Roberts. Alice investigates whether, thanks to advances in technology and medicine, mankind has managed to break free from the process of evolution. Following a trail of clues from ancient human remains, she examines the physiology of people living in some of the most inhospitable parts of the planet, and challenges the frontiers of genetic research by speculating on what the future has in store for homo sapiens.

Wednesday 2 March
In Attenborough and the Giant Egg - 8:00 BBC2 - David Attenborough returns to Madagascar to see how the island has changed in the fifty years since his first visit. And to search for more clues about one of his most treasured possessions, the egg of an elephant bird, an ostrich-like creature that weighed half a ton. Scientists perform tests to determine the age of the egg, as the naturalist discovers whether the story of the bird's extinction can shed light on what is happening on the island today.

Storyville: Sex, Death and the Gods - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary exploring the world of the devadasi community in Karnataka, Southern India, in which girls are forced to adhere to an ancient tradition of being 'married' to a deity in childhood and sold for sex when they reach puberty. Beeban Kidron's film investigates the history of the people, and provides an insight into their past as concubines to the princes and priests of India's ruling class and heritage as dancers and entertainers.

From the serious to the totally frivolous. OMG! With Peaches Geldof - 9:00 ITV2 - is a new series in which the socialite and daughter of Saint Bob and her 'team of professional experts' will aim to help find a resolution to your problems no matter how big or small. From gamblers to gold-diggers, bad boys to break ups – this is your chance to tell your story and seek advice. If you have, of course, no shame about parading your 'problem' before the nation. Although, hang on, it's on ITV2 so I'll rephrase, if you have, of course, no shame about parading your 'problem' before about a hundred thousand. Real-life stories, studio chat and advice with the host and regular panellists Aled Haydn Jones of Radio 1's The Surgery and therapist Emma Kenny. And, just maybe, we might find out from this show just what, exactly, Peaches Geldof actually does to justify her existence. I doubt it, though.

It's the final episode of A History of Ancient Britain - 9:00 BBC2. Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) examines the consequences of the application of metal to everyday life. He travels to the southwest of Ireland in search of the first copper to be mined beyond mainland Europe, and handles the possessions of the Amesbury Archer, the earliest copper and gold ever found in Britain, whose rich natural resources put the islands at the technological forefront of the Bronze Age.

Thursday 3 March
Love Thy Neighbour - 9:00 Channel Four - is another seemingly sick and venal 'life swap' conceit of the sort so beloved by TV producers but not, it would seem, TV viewers. Twelve families compete for the chance to win their dream life in the country and move into a three hundred thousand pound cottage in Grassington, North Yorkshire - with the villagers getting the final say on who stays. In the first episode, black couple Simone and Phillip and their three youngsters are conscious that the white, middle-class destination may not be used to racial diversity as they go up against Nicky, her children and her partner Steve from Yorkshire.

The misadventures of four freshmen as they navigate 1980s college life is the setting for there American comedy series Glory Daze - 9:00 E4. Boy-next-door Joel, aspiring ladies' man Eli, strait-laced Jason and star baseball player Brian find themselves drawn to the Omega Sigma house, where their guide Mike Reno is ready to show them what being part of the fraternity is all about. Starring Kelly Blatz, Matt Bush, Hartley Sawyer and Drew Seeley.

Women without a work ethic are teamed with successful businesswomen for eight days in an effort to inspire them to realise their potential in Working Girls - 9:00 BBC3. According to the pre-publicity blurb, in the first episode, Kaycie Yates from Reading, who has been unemployed for more than a year and believes men should support their other halves, is paired with Kate Thompson, manager of the Heritage Market in Liverpool. However, when their arrangement comes to an abrupt end, she is taken under the wing of hotel manager Carina Svendsen. Has the potential to be hilarious, from that description, frankly. Will the work-shy girls be whipped into shape by their mentor? Will they change their ways for good? Over an eight day period, the girls will have to prove their worth by satisfying their mentor's tough working demands and performance levels. Will they learn any lessons? Will they realise their potential? Will they make it to lunchtime? Will there be an actual spanking administered at any point? Since this is BBC3 will it all end in a tasteful lesbian shower scene? We can only watch to find out, dear blog reader.

And, speaking of crass 'life swap' nonsense there's Famous, Rich & in the Slums with Comic Relief - 9:00 BBC1. In the first of a two-part documentary, former comedian Lenny Henry, EastEnders' Samantha Womack, Radio 1 DJ Reggie Yates and ex-newsreader Angela Rippon spend a week experiencing poverty in Kibera, reportedly Africa's largest slum. On arrival, they are stripped of their possessions and given individual shacks to live in, before finding work emptying raw sewage, selling food on the streets, cleaning a clinic and washing clothes. Which all sounds very good as it's raising awareness for a worthy cause. But, at the end of the week they'll be whipped off by helicopter back to a five star luxury hotel and then fly back to the UK, I'm guessing first class, to their very nice houses in Knightsbridge where they will they have the 'difficult choice' of whether to buy organic hummus or the non-organic kind. Personally, I'd've like to have seen them left there. Particularly Lenny Henry to see whether his 'hilarious' Joshua Yarlog character went down well with some real Africans. Katanga, my friends.

And so to the news: Travellers' groups are reportedly talking to lawyers about plans to seek compensation from Channel Four over its My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding series. The popular series, which concluded earlier this week, has been blamed by the groups for having 'ruined' the lives of members of the gypsy community, the Daily Lies reports. They claim that the show has prompted bullying of gypsy children in school, men being turned down for jobs, party and wedding bookings being cancelled and people refusing to have relatives buried in cemeteries next to gypsy graves. The paper alleges that with the launch of a multi-million-pound lawsuit, Channel Four could be left facing a Ten million pound compensation payout. 'We have a strong case,' Romany gypsy Bill Newland claimed. 'People are absolutely fuming about it. It's been a real nightmare for us. Once people find out you are gypsies, you don't get any work. And I've heard people in our local cemetery saying they don't want gypsies buried next to them. The show has damaged our livelihoods. People remember it.' The Irish Traveller Movement in Britain commented that it is 'extremely disappointed' with the community's portrayal in the series. 'We have heard distressing stories of girls as young as thirteen being bullied at school as a result of the programme,' a spokesperson said. 'Rather than giving an insight into our culture, the show has widened the gap between the traveller community and the settled community.' Nice to know that both men have 'heard' about cases rather than actually experienced them themselves. Because, of course, second hand hearsay and rumour are definitely going to go down well in a multi-million pound lawsuit. Channel Four did not comment. Probably, because they were laughing too much to form a coherent sentence.

EastEnders' Rita Simons has admitted that she wants her character Roxy Mitchell to be successful in her forthcoming revenge storyline. Roxy recently discovered that her cousin Phil (Steve McFadden) was the guilty party who stole her money on the day of Ronnie's chaotic wedding to Jack. Forthcoming scenes on the BBC soap will see Roxy try to get even with Phil by plotting to get the cash back from the Albert Square hardman. In an interview with Soaplife, Simons explained: '[The plan is] to steal back the money he stole from her. Glenda's in on it with Roxy and they plan to rob the club for what's rightfully Roxy's.' Asked whether the pair succeed, the actress replied: 'Roxy deserves to! It is her money. She's furious a member of her own family would steal from her, especially as she's not rolling in it anymore.'

Gethin Jones will host a new ITV show in which contestants will try to win big for someone else. A pilot episode of Holding Out For A Hero, which will see three contestants attempting to win a life-changing sum of money for their chosen person, will be filmed early next month. 'Whatever money they win, they will be handing over to their recipient - a deserving person with an amazing story who has no idea someone has decided to be their hero,' an advert for audience tickets revealed. It added: 'In an emotional finale each of the contestants hand over a surprise cheque, with one superhero winning an amount that will change their recipient's life forever.'

Clips from the never-broadcast pilot of Men Behaving Badly are to be broadcast. Writer Simon Nye gave the producers of the Radio 4 series Britain In A Box his tape of the 1991 episode to use in the documentary. It is the only copy of the show known to exist. The 1991 pilot features the same cast as the first series – Harry Enfield, Martin Clunes, Leslie Ash and Caroline Quentin - but was remade for the broadcast episode with some script changes, different performances, and Martin Dennis replacing John Howard Davies as director. The documentary features new interviews with Nye, Clunes, Ash and Enfield, as well as producer Beryl Vertue. Enfield starred in the first - ITV - series, then quit to be replaced by Neil Morrissey. ITV cancelled the show after the second series, but it subsequently transferred to BBC1 where it became a huge hit, running until 1998 and spawning an unsuccessful US version.

ITV has appointed BBC executive Richard Williams to the newly-created role of controller of multiplatform commissioning and digital content. In his new position, Williams will be responsible for managing all ITV's commissioning of digital content across multiple platforms. Reporting jointly to Robin Pembrooke, managing director of ITV Online, and ITV director television Peter Fincham, he will also help improve the broadcaster's engagement with digital audiences. William joins ITV from BBC Vision, where he was head of multiplatform production and production modernisation. 'Appointing Richard is a key step for us in the transformation of our online and on-demand offerings and his role will be vital in making sure cross-platform thinking is at the heart of the ITV commissioning process,' said Pembrooke. 'He brings with him a wealth of experience in online commissioning and production and I look forward to welcoming him as a central member of both mine and Peter's teams.' Fincham added: 'Whilst ITV's programming is attracting record television audiences, our viewers are also consuming our content across a range of different platforms. I'm delighted that Richard will be working closely with the commissioning team to extend the reach of our programme brands in the digital world.'

Channel Four is to broadcast a documentary series examining the role and influence of the British aristocracy, one of a number of new commissions resulting from a £6.7m boost for factual programming. The Aristocracy will be directed by BAFTA-winning film-maker Patrick Forbes, who is best known for BBC4 documentary series National Trust and Channel Four's profile of the Hampshire police, The Force. Forbes' new four-part series will be made by independent producer Oxford Film and Television and feature the views of aristocratic families on their 'influence within the nation,' offering an 'insight into their daily lives.' The Aristocracy is being filmed for broadcast in late 2011 or early 2012. The documentary is one of a number being made with an additional £6.7m allotted by Channel Four for factual programming in 2011, an increase of nearly forty per cent on last year's budget of seventeen million pounds, according to the broadcaster. This will mean that an extra twenty three hours of documentary output will hit the screen this year, compared with last year's figure of one hundred and fifteen hours. Other new documentaries include a new fixed-camera observational series profiling a secondary school just outside London. The eight-part series, which has the working title Classmates, follows a group of students at the school through interviews as well as the use of more than fifty fixed cameras placed around the educational establishment. It will be broadcast in the autumn to coincide with the new school term. Classmates is the latest fixed-camera observational documentary series for Channel Four, which revived The Family in 2009 and followed it up with One Born Every Minute, which is set in a maternity ward. Another fixed-camera documentary series, set in a hotel in the Lake District and called The Hotel, has already been commissioned by Channel Four for transmission this year. Film-maker Kim Longinotto will also make a ninety-minute film about a group who aim to rescue British Asian women who are held against their will in Pakistan and forced into marriages. Forced Marriage Unit will air towards the end of the year and follows Longinotto's recent Channel Four films including Rough Aunties, which examined the care of sexually abused children in South Africa, and Pink Saris, about the domestic abuse of women in India. Also unveiled today is a fourteen-part series set in a hospital emergency department. The series, which has the working title 24 Hours in A&E, will feature patients treated in one twenty four-hour period. The observational police series Coppers will air a new eight-part series for 2012 and Fairy Jobmother, which sees Hayley Taylor taking on the challenge of getting the unemployed of Britain back into work, is also returning for a second three-part series for the summer. Hamish Mykura, Channel Four's head of documentaries, said: 'I want Channel Four to be the home of original storytelling that provides an insight into the realities, institutions and curiosities of contemporary Britain. Our ambition is that our documentaries provide revealing and intimate portraits, that tell the human stories behind the institutions. In 2011 our budget for documentaries will be increased by £6.7m with an additional twenty three hours on-air which will allow the department to produce more standout, ambitious series as well as high-calibre singles from some of the country's foremost documentary-makers.'

BBC director general Mark Thompson has confirmed that the search for a new boss of BBC Cymru Wales has been extended, with an interim director appointed. Last November, BBC Wales director Menna Richards announced her intention to step down from the post this year after more than a decade at the corporation. While the BBC searches for a permanent replacement, the head of Welsh programmes and interactive Keith Jones will take on the role on an interim basis. He will join the BBC Direction Group from 1 April and report to Thompson, according to BBC News. In an e-mail to staff, Thompson said: 'Keith is well known to many of you and has had experience of working in a variety of roles in BBC Wales. His support and assistance is much appreciated and I look forward to working more closely with him in the coming months.' Thompson also confirmed that Adrian Davies, head of factual and music, will be acting head of English language programmes while Clare Hudson is on adoption leave. Elsewhere, Phillip Moss will become acting commissioning executive for factual programmes and Judith Winnan will be acting head of factual and music. Last month, workers completed the first phase of construction on the new BBC Wales drama production village in Cardiff Bay, which will be home to Casualty and Doctor Who.

Peter Andre will reportedly try to help solve peoples' problems in a new ITV2 show. Mightn't it be an idea for him to solve a few of his own, first?

A nineteen-year-old Mexican woman has reportedly gone on a hunger strike while requesting an invite to Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. Estibalis Chavez resorted to the strike outside of the British embassy when she was told that it would be impossible to secure her a ticket to the ceremony on 29 April. 'I have been a fan of Lady Di since I was a little girl,' she told the Daily Record. 'My mother was also a fan. I promised myself I would go to the next royal wedding.' Now on day nine of her action, she added: 'I intend to fight until the very end. There is no turning back.' Not even for a nice big fajita, Estibalis? When asked if, bearing in mind the dramatic situation of violence in Mexico, aren't there more serious and important reasons to stage hunger strikes, the teen reportedly told the press 'If everyone would fight for their dreams, the world would be a better place.'

Mind you, according to the Associated Press even William's auntie Sarah Ferguson hasn't got an invite, either. One wonders if Fergie will be going on a hunger strike in protest as well as this Mexican lass? Now that would be news.

Finally for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, it's Bowie-time. Not a comprehensive run-down of the Grand Dame herselves very career - we'd be here all weekend if that were the case - but, rather five singles that yer Keith Telly Topping rather likes (among many others). Starting with a significant use of a Stylophone and lots of drugs. (Which, to be fair, explains the perm.) Skipping straight past the Ziggy era (like I say, we'd be here all day!) Let's move on to the most important question of 1974. What the frig was the eye patch all about, David? Next, the single that took everybody by surprise. Including, on suspected, the Davemesiter himself. For many long-term Bowie fans the last genuinely great LP he made was Scary Monsters (so much so, that it's almost become a cliché to say that his latest CD is 'the best since Scary Monsters'!) Here's its best song. Controversial, it may be to say it but, I reckon since around 1983 you could collect the really important, properly brilliant Bowie released on one three-song CD. There's 'Loving The Alien', 'Hullo Spaceboy' and this. That one brings back some good memories. In fact, I think I'll go and dig out the video and watch Buddha of Suburbia now since there's no football on today. There you go, dear blog reader, that didn't take all weekend. In fact, we've even got time for The Jean Genie and that version of 'Queen Bitch' from The Old Grey Whistle Test before we're finished.

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