Saturday, February 05, 2011

Week Seven: There Ain't Room Enough For Two And Dreams That Were Made For Me And You

The new BBC1 controller Danny Cohen has insisted that he has no plans to replace Bruce Forsyth on Strictly Come Dancing. Cohen - who took over from Jay Hunt in the position - made the comments following widespread press reports that Vernon Kay was being lined-up to take over the eighty two-year-old's presenting duties alongside Kay's wife, Tess Daly. 'Bruce is a great entertainer and if he wants to keep doing Strictly, the job is his,' the Mirror quotes Cohen as saying. 'He is on holiday at the moment but when he gets back we will sit down and discuss things. All the speculation about other presenters is confusing, because we haven't approached anyone else. That is the truth. We will be speaking to Bruce when he gets back.' He went on to hint that Forsyth - who was honoured with a Special Recognition Award at The National Television Awards last week - could celebrate his seventieth year in the industry with a special show next year. 'Do you realise he has spent almost seventy years in show business? The guy is incredible. Would we like to do a programme about that anniversary? Yes, for sure,' Cohen said. 'I think the BBC did a show when he turned eighty, but if we could possibly make something different and Bruce wanted to, we would love to discuss that with him as well.'

David Walliams has revealed that he has signed up for a role in the new series of Doctor Who. The Come Fly With Me comedian confirmed the news during an interview with Chris Evans on Evans's Radio 2 Breakfast Show. 'I've actually been offered a part in Doctor Who, which I'm very, very excited about,' Walliams told the presenter. 'I've said yes. I don't think I can say much, but I'll say I'm an alien.' The thirty nine-year-old added that he will film the role 'soon.' So, that indicates it'll be for an episode in the second half of the series rather than the first. Asked if he would like to take on the title role - currently held by Matt Smith - someday, Walliams said: 'I think any actor wouldn't turn that down. I won't be cast now though because they're getting younger.'

For once showing that they do have a smidgen of collective backbone, the BBC has issued a statement defending an - allegedly - controversial segment on a recent episode of Top Gear. On Sunday's episode of the motoring programme, hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May made a series of dismissive comments while reviewing a Mexican sports car. Hammond joked that Mexican cars are 'lazy, feckless [and] flatulent,' while May declared that Mexican food is 'like sick with cheese on it.' Clarkson claimed that the show would not receive any complaints over these comments because the Mexican Ambassador would be asleep. Following the show's transmission, the Ambassador - who, it would appear, wasn't asleep but has nothing better to do with his no doubt valuable time than watch TV shows - complained to the corporation about the 'offensive, xenophobic and humiliating remarks' made by the presenters. In response, the BBC has published an official statement explaining that it has written a letter of apology to the Ambassador for the personal comments made about him. However, the channel went on to strongly defend its decision - and its right - to broadcast what it describes as 'stereotype-based comedy.' The statement reads: 'The executive producer for Top Gear has written to the Mexican Ambassador and apologised for the comments made about him during the show. On the broader issue of comments about Mexicans as people, the show has explained they were making comic use of a stereotype; a practice with which regular viewers of Top Gear will be familiar. We are sorry if we have offended some people, but jokes centred on national stereotyping are a part of Top Gear's humour, and indeed a robust part of our national humour. When we do it, we are being rude, yes, and mischievous, but there is no vindictiveness behind the comments. This stereotyping humour is in itself a factor in the tolerance which the ambassador states is so prevalent in Britain. Whilst it may appear offensive to those who have not watched the programme or who are unfamiliar with its humour, the executive producer has made it clear to the Ambassador that that was absolutely not the show’s intention.'

And, on a somewhat related theme plans for Stephen Fry to film part of a documentary series in Japan have been shelved after complaints about nuclear bomb jokes in his quiz show Qi. The programme featured a discussion about a man who survived the blasts at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The Japanese Embassy - who, again, appear to have nothing better to do with their time than to watch TV shows and then pass critical comment upon them (at least when I do it, I have the excuse that 'it's ma job') - accused the BBC of making light of the attacks, which killed up to two hundred and fifty thousand civilians. Which proves they spectacularly misunderstood both the nature of the programme and of that particular sequence. The BBC, on this occasion showing the collective backbone of a worm apologised instead of telling the Japanese embassy that the programme had done nothing of the kind. Which it hadn't. And, to leave TV critique to the professionals. Which they should. It said that the cancellation of the filming was due to the 'strength of feeling' in Japan. The episode of Qi was broadcast last month and featured a discussion about Tsutomu Yamaguchi - the only person known to have survived both bombings. Yamaguchi was burnt in the Hiroshima explosion - only to travel by train to Nagasaki to be caught in the second attack three days later. During the programme Stephen Fry and fellow comedians discussed Yamaguchi's survival with Fry expressing amazement that the Japanese train service was still running immediately after an atomic blast. This then led onto a discussion about the inadequacies of British Rail by comparison. The episode prompted a complaint to the BBC from the Japanese Embassy who accused the broadcaster of 'making light of the attacks.' The BBC responded by apologising and acknowledging the sensitivity of the subject for Japanese viewers. A BBC spokeswoman said the filming schedule of the documentary about language - Planet Word was now being altered. Roland Kelts, an authority on Japanese pop culture who was to accompany Fry in Tokyo, said he had been told that filming would not go ahead 'due to ongoing threats against Stephen Fry, even after official apologies were offered and the [Japanese and British] embassies became involved.' Kelts, author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the US, added: 'The producers had to scramble for an alternative, presumably Asian, location.' Kelts said he was disappointed that Japan would not feature in the five-part series, which, according to the BBC, will span locations including Hong Kong, Sydney, Israel, Kenya, Tanzania and Malaysia. 'Naturally, it's not worth risking injury or worse to shoot a TV documentary on language and culture,' Kelts said. 'But I do think it's a shame that the project was scuttled over what to me seems a fairly minor and innocuous misunderstanding.'

Which genuinely sad news brings us to yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Friday 11 February
In the latest episode of Hustle - 9:00 BBC1 - Ash (the great Robert Glenister) learns his childhood football team has been duped out of a considerable sum of money by a ruthless agent, Don Coleman, whose actions have left the club virtually bankrupt. Ash persuades Mickey and the gang to help him get their money back. Sort of Sportsnight with Coleman, if you like. No? Okay. The hustlers hope to exact revenge by including Coleman in a lucrative deal to sign Sean (Matt Di Angelo), who poses as a talented striker, and then reel him in with an investment proposal. However, their scam is put in jeopardy when Ash develops a rare condition that prevents him from lying. Guest starring David Harewood (from Robin Hood). Been on real good form this series, Hustle.

Or, if you prefer something a little bit more groovetastic, in a rub-a-dub-style (and 'ting) there's the excellent looking Reggae Britannia - 9:00 BBC4. This documentary examines the influence of the genre on the music and on the society of the UK since its arrival in the 1960s, and celebrates the changes it has brought and its ultimate legacy. The programme features footage of performances by artists including Big Youth, Max Romeo, Linton Kwesi Johnson, The Specials, The Police (eh?!), UB40 and Dennis Bovell. Part of BBC4's Reggae Season.

Saturday 12 February
Oh joy, Ant & Dec's Push the Button is back - 7:20 ITV. The game show, in which the hosts join two families as their 'fifth members' to undertake a series of fun games and challenges, was an unqualified disaster last year - artistically and commercially. The purpose of the show is to hold on to as much of the one hundred thousand pounds the families receive at the start of each show as possible. The winners are invited to return the following week against new opponents to try to increase their money, while viewers and members of the studio audience also have the chance to win prizes. Plus, a mystery celebrity faces an unexpected challenge. Now, let's get this into some perspective, this blogger likes Ant and Dec by and large. They're more that decent presenters and, given the right format, they can be both entertaining and funny. Plus, I've always had something of a soft spot for 'Let's Get Ready To Rumble' as a single. What? What! On this, last year, they were neither. In fact, the only thing that was moderately entertaining were the wholly exaggerated over-the-top reactions of some of the people on whose doorstep they landed. And, that lost its novelty value by around episode three. So, should you watch this? In a word, no.

Sunday 13 February
Sneaking under the radar, somewhat, yer Keith Telly Topping's beloved Time Team gets to its two hundredth episode - 5:30 Channel Four - with one called Saxon Death, Saxon Gold. So, I'm guessing this one is about ... the Normans, yes? Tony Robinson and his cheery band of archaeologists excavate a site in Leicestershire which - they believe - contains an Anglo-Saxon burial ground. Though their initial search for a cemetery proves fruitless, for which poor old John and geophys get the blame, as usual, more digging leads to the experts uncovering evidence of several types of funeral. As well as a highly valuable piece of jewellery - and one member of the team volunteers to take part in a re-creation of a cremation ceremony from the period. It's great to have it back. Now, Channel Four, no more messing around with the time slot or splitting the series in half, or deciding not to show an odd episode from last year 'because we felt like it' please.

Beloved by between seven and eight million devoted followers and, equally, hated by the Daily Scum Mail, the Gruniad Morning Star, hippies, Communists and, apparently, Mexicans, Top Gear is back - 8:00 BBC2. In the latest episode, the presenters shop for second-hand convertibles, uncovering the pitfalls to look out for when buying a used car. Simon Pegg takes to the track in the Reasonably Priced Car, Jezza Clarkson test-drives the Pagani Zonda R and retired Formula One racer Eddie Irvine does a lap in the show's trusty old Suzuki Liana. And, somewhere, someone will say something mildly controversial (I think it's James May's turn this week) and every national newspaper in the country will have something to fill up a page on Tuesday morning after, like, eight people complain about it. It's a perfect symbiotic relationship; the British press must be gutted for the thirty odd weeks a year when Top Gear isn't on. Because, it means they have to go out and report some real news. Tragedy.

Hold on to your pillow, dear blog reader, the British Academy Film Awards - 9:00 BBC1 is also on tonight. Pass the Valium. Pass out. Jonathan Ross presents the annual ceremony from London's Royal Opera House. As if anybody cares. Colin Firth is among the contenders in the Leading Actor category for his role as King George VI in The King's Speech, which has picked up thirteen other nominations - two more than Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller Black Swan, whose star Natalie Portman is one of the favourites to win the Leading Actress award. Both films are nominated in the Best Film category, alongside The Social Network, Inception and the Coen brothers' new adaptation of True Grit, while The King's Speech is also up for the Outstanding British Film award, where it faces competition from Made in Dagenham, Mike Leigh's Another Year, Danny Boyle's drama 127 Hours and satirist Chris Morris's feature film debut Four Lions. If that wins, expect ice to form on the upper reaches of the Daily Scum Mail. But, it won't. The King's Speech in going to win. In fact, it'll probably win near enough everything that it's up for. Like I say, bore-ring. The night also features the result of the Rising Star award, voted for by the public. Who, by and large, know nothing. as the National Television Awards ably proved.

And so, to the best TV show currently on British telly, Being Human - 9:00 BBC3. Annie and Mitchell struggle to make the transition from friends to vampire boyfriend and ghost girlfriend. Yeah, good luck with that. Desperate to have a normal relationship, Annie sets out to get her man all hot and bothered in the bedroom. Which, given what normally happens with Mitchell gets that way, mightn't be too good an idea. Although, to be fair, what's the worst that can happen? She's already dead! Meanwhile, Nina and George go in search of other werewolves to find out if their unborn baby will survive the transformation. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been having a rewatch of the first two series over the last week and is of the considered opinion that, in terms of its writing, its characterisation, its depth and, yes, it's humanity, Being Human might, just, be the single most impressive TV show to come out of this country in years. Possibly decades. Well, you know, that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title, anyway.

Tonight sees the end of the road for Lark Rise to Candleford - 8:00 BBC1 - which yer Keith Telly Topping always had something of a soft spot for. I'll be sorry to see it go although I do understand the BBC's position. it is quite an expensive thing to make and it's probably better to have it go out on top than suffer one more year with a massively reduced budget that might shatter a few cherished memories. Caroline Arless (Dawn French) returns to Lark Rise following her spell in prison, but is greeted with scorn by Queenie. Alf also remains unconvinced that his mother has changed her ways, and tells Minnie he cannot marry her while he still has to look after his siblings - forcing his lover to take charge of her own destiny. Meanwhile, Gabriel finally unveils his machine - no sniggering at the back, please - but Dorcas realises its success could mean the end of their relationship. Period drama, starring Julia Sawalha, Linda Bassett, Olivia Hallinan, Mark Heap, John Dagleish and Richard Harrington.

Monday 14 February
Let there be bunting in the streets and a national holiday throughout the land The Gadget Show, adored by all of us on the Top Telly Tips slot, returns - 8:00 Channel Five. Tonight, the team presents a special edition of the technology show from Manchester's Museum of Science & Industry, where members of the public are invited to take part in a race using robots of all shapes and sizes. Pollyanna Woodward and Ortis Deley also head for South Africa to complete extreme photography challenges in Cape Town and the Shamwari Game Reserve, and Jon Bentley teams up with Britain's Got Talent dance group Flawless to put the latest sports MP3 players through their paces. And, Suzy Perry will be doing something. Yer Keith Telly Topping doesn't care what, frankly, just something!

In For Crying Out Loud - 9:00 BBC4 - Jo Brand investigates the act of crying to find out why people do it and whether it has always been common. She discusses the matter with comedians Phill Jupitus and Shappi Khorsandi and the actor Richard E Grant, and learns more by interviewing historians, psychologists and biochemists. There is also a visit to an eye hospital to ensure the comedienne's tear ducts are in working order, before she joins crying drama students and spends time with Princess Diana's psychotherapist Susie Orbach.

If you've caught the Outcasts bug then you'll be glued to your seat tonight at 9:00 on BBC1. Stella and Tate enlist the help of Tipper when a whiteout of unprecedented strength threatens to destroy Forthaven. Fleur tries to make peace with the ACs, while Cass leaves the settlement on a rescue mission that no-one believes he can survive. SF drama, starring Liam Cunningham, Hermione Norris and a cast of hundred. Continues tomorrow.

Tuesday 15 February
First the good news; The Brit Awards 2011 is on at 8:00 on ITV. Because, let's face it, The Brits is always good for a laugh for one reason or another. Usually, another. Now, however, the bad news. And I'm sorry to say it really is bad. James Corden hosts this year's star-studded ceremony from the O2. So, there you go, that's saved you sitting through three hours of some unfunny smug tosser wittering on about bands he's never heard of. It's a public service announcement (with guitars) trust me on this one. If you need further reasons not to watch then what have we got here? 'Featuring performances by Take That, Tinie Tempah, Plan B, Rihanna, Mumford & Sons, Adele, Cee Lo Green and Arcade Fire.' Yep, that'll do the trick. 'Urban artist' Tinie Tempah (or, 'rapper' as those of us who don't speak 'Pretentious Youf' describe him) leads the way with four nominations, including best British Single for 'Pass Out', and best British Male Solo Artist, competing against Mark Ronson, Paul Weller, Plan B and veteran rock star Robert Plant, who picks up his first-ever Brit Award nomination. And, probably his last. At least, if this blogger has anything to do with it. I still haven't forgotten how your Electric Proms performance kept an episode of Qi: XL off BBC2, Robert me auld cock sparra. Oh no, not by a long chalk. Also in the running for prizes are X Factor winners Matt Cardle and Alexandra Burke alongside judge Cheryl Cole, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, David Guetta, Taio Cruz and the xx. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's one thing you can always say about The Brits, they've got total credibility, haven't they? The award for the best Breakthrough Act has been decided by votes from Radio 1 listeners. For this bloggers thoughts on giving the general public any sort of say in pretty much anything, see The British Academy Film Award above.

It's the last in the series of the amazingly popular Big Fat Gypsy Weddings - 9:00 Channel Four. The documentary ends by examining prejudice encountered by traveller communities in Britain today, meeting would-be brides who are struggling to arrange venues for their weddings. A gypsy elder also arranges the traditional Appleby Horse Fair, but an increased police presence in the town threatens to derail the event.

Tonight's Natural World - 7:00 BBC2 - is called A Tiger Called Broken Tail. Aw, bless. Colin Stafford-Johnson tells the story of how Broken Tail, a male tiger cub from Ranthambore National Park in India, fled the safety of the reserve and survived for nearly a year in the unprotected badlands of rural Rajasthan. Tracking the runaway feline through the wild, and piecing together his final days, Colin reveals how Broken Tail's fate uncovers the stark truth about the subcontinent's last remaining wild tigers.

Wednesday 16 February
If one TV show effortlessly demostrates that old truism that you should never make judgements on first impressions then it's MasterChef which returns tonight for a much-anticipated new series at 9:00 on BBC1. Mocked, by the would-be ignoranti who think they're cleverer than the average viewer for being, essentially, 'two blokes bellowing at each other about food,' MasterChef is, in fact, the best soap opera on British TV. All of human life is in this - the dramas, the crises, the heartbreaks, the tragedies, the tears, the lobster thermidor with roast parsnip dressing and an oyster jus. As addictive as a four course meal at your favourite Chinese restaurant (with prawns on the side), gorwly John Torode and give-him-a-chocolate-pud-and-he's-happy Gregg Wallace assess the culinary efforts of hopefuls from around the nation, as they arrive in London for the auditions which could grant them access to one of the twenty places available for this year's contest in a conceit taken wholly from MasterChef's massively successful Australian version. Each of the auditionees has forty five minutes to prepare a dish, and a further ten to plate up in front of the judges before they learn their fates. Continues tomorrow.

Last week Sky's new channel, Sky Atlantic, began reshowing The Sopranos from the start - 9:00. So, if you've never seen it, now you've got no excuse. In this episode, Tony begins to think that no one can do without him, with requests coming from all quarters - elderly mum Livia claims she needs help around the house, while Anthony Jnr needs someone to find his science teacher's stolen car. Superior, award-winning gangster drama, starring James Gandolfini and Lorraine Bracco.

In The Elephant: Life after Death - 9:00 Channel Four - the biologist Simon Watt leads a team of experts as they use remote cameras and night-vision equipment to examine what happens to the carcass of a recently deceased elephant in Tsavo West National Park in Kenya. The event leads to several days of feeding in which vultures, big cats and insects feast on the six million calories worth of fat, meat and guts left behind, providing an insight into the never-ending cycle of life and death. Urgh. I mean, fascinating, yes, but still ... urgh!

Thursday 17 February
Last year she travelled across three wars zones in the Middle East trying to educate us about what Frakincense actually is. Now, Katie Humble's off on her voyages of discover again. In The Spice Trail - 9:00 BBC2 - Humble retraces the steps of fifteenth-century explorers as she goes on the trail of some of the world's most valuable spices, examining their history, trade, mythology and usage. In the first edition, she travels to India's 'spice coast', uncovering the story of pepper before heading south to Sri Lanka to see the harvesting of cinnamon. Of course, the spice trade was the reason why the Dutch and the Portuguese were at war for about two hundred years with Britain, for once, an hoest broker of peace stuck in the middle between them. At least, that was our story and we were sticking to it because, at the time, we had Indonesia and, therefore, had a world monopoly on nutmeg. The Indonesians hate us, of course. Along with the Indians, the Sri Lankans, the Japanese ... the Mexicans. Isn't it about time that Britain and the British just accepted our place in the world? Loathed by pretty much everyone on general principle - sometimes not without good reason, on other occasions simply because they just don't get our humour. Although that said, Monty Python's pretty big everywhere so ... Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh yes, the Spice Girls. Tory scum. Next ...

In the third episode of Marchlands - 9:00 ITV - events are progressing in three seperate decades. In 1968, Ruth and Paul fight after discovering that they are unlikely to have any more children, whilst in 1987 Eddie unearths intriguing details about Alice and an increasingly isolated Scott has a seizure. And, in 2010 Ruth is shocked when she hears that Nisha intends to name her baby Alice. Tense psychological drama, starring Jodie Whittaker, Alex Kingston, Dean Andrews, Anne Reid and Shelley Conn.

And, speaking of tense, exciting drama, there's also Mad Dogs - 9:00 Sky One. A visit by a policewoman triggers a series of flashbacks, leading the four friends to slowly realise they are (or, at least, may be) implicated in Alvo's murder. And that the only way out for them is to try to trust one another. Psychological thriller, starring one of the great casts of modern British TV history Max Beesley, Philip Glenister, John Simm and Marc Warren. What starts as a boozy reunion quickly goes wrong: there's death, drugs money, dodgy Spanish police and, memorably, a nasty little guy in a Tony Blair mask. Instead of running away after a violent murder, the quickly friends find themselves sucked into a far-fetched but gripping murder mystery. It's got the sweaty white heat of Sexy Beast, Shallow Grave's divisive bag of money and the adrenalin and quasi-comic violence of a Coen brothers movie with a little bit of The Sweeney 2 mixed in for good measure; it's also easy to watch, a guilty pleasure with an undercurrent of terrible and clinging darkness.

And finally, there's the ever-reliable Culture Show - 7:00 BBC2. Arty Andrew Graham-Dixon examines Tate Britain's new exhibition, Watercolour, Michael Smith investigates the regeneration of London's East End, and Alain de Botton trawls the BBC archive for philosophical gems. Clemency Burton-Hill looks behind the scenes of the Royal Opera House's new production about model Anna Nicole Smith, Nancy Durrant chats to artist Mary Kelly and Tom Dyckhoff travels to Miami to meet architect Frank Gehry, who discusses his next project for the New World Symphony. Something for everyone, in fact.

And, so to the news: The father of murder victim Meredith Kercher has condemned a new trailer for the controversial television movie based on her death. Amanda Knox: Murder On Trial In Italy tells the story of the events surrounding the death of twenty one-year-old student Meredith and the subsequent trials, which found Rudy Guede and later Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox guilty of her murder. A recently-released promo and a set of stills from the movie show the three convicted murderers pinning Kercher to the ground while the victim, played by Amanda Fernando Stevens, screams for help and struggles against her attackers. John Kercher has now expressed his outrage at the depicted scene, calling the images 'absolutely horrific. It's so awful what these film people have done,' he said. 'Your imagination runs riot as it is about what happened but to actually see it like this is very different and very distressing. I'm also surprised they went that far in the film. I was told the original brief and synopsis of the film was to take it up to the point of the killing but not actually show the killing itself. It's obvious from these pictures they are showing the killing.' Knox and Sollecito have always denied involvement in Kercher's death, and their appeal is due to resume in March. Amanda Knox: Murder On Trial In Italy - which stars Heroes actress Hayden Panettiere as Knox - is broadcast in the US on the Lifetime Channel on 21 February.

Jenny Éclair says that Neil Kinnock once saw her 'front bottom. It wasn't his fault,' she added quickly. 'He was a visiting dignitary at a newly opened hospital where I was having a little post-baby repair work done. They should never have shown him into that particular ward.'

David Dimbleby has seemingly criticised plans to move production of Question Time from London to Glasgow but he did it in such a way that nobody was entirely sure if he was being critical or not. The weekly political panel show is to be relocated as part of BBC proposals to produce fifty per cent of its content outside of London by 2016. Staff on the show are said to think that they should be based in the capital, close to the political centre of the country. Whilst Dimbles would not comment directly on the move, he told the Gruniad Morning Star: 'Question Time looks simple enough on air, but actually it's the result of a great deal of work behind the scenes - at Westminster.' And, of course, with their disgraceful shat-smeared anti-BBC agenda, the Gruniad just lurved that the mostest, baby. The programme's editor Ed Havard, who was reportedly chosen by Dimbleby, resigned earlier this week because of the planned relocation. 'Ed is a brilliant editor, one of the best we've ever had,' Dimbleby said. 'It's sad when a programme at the top of its game, getting big audiences, loses its editor.' Look, mate, if you don't want to go to Glasgow just tell them. I'm sure there's someone in BBC Scotland who could do just as good a job as you and probably for far less money.

Piers Morgan has admitted that he has 'learned a few lessons' as a result of the audience reaction to the first few weeks of his CNN chatshow. Fortunately for us, coming back to England doesn't appear to be one of them. Hurrah for America.

Amanda Byram has insisted that Christine Bleakley can 'weather the storm' she has faced since the launch of the disastrous ITV breakfast show Daybreak. The Total Wipeout host admitted that she had been in a similar position when she joined Channel Four's The Big Breakfast following Denise Van Outen and Johnny Vaughan's departure. 'I think Christine is a tough chick,' Byram told the Digital Spy website. Now, see, if that had been a Sky Sports presenter calling a woman a 'chick' there'd have been all manner of discombobulation and sackings thereupon. Which, admittedly, would have been funny. 'She's very intelligent and very competent and very good at what she does,' continued Byram. 'I know she'll weather this particular storm and is respected for what she does professionally. She's with ITV as a whole now, it's not like this is the be all and end all of it. There's rumours of her doing The X Factor and I know ITV really, really nurture their talent. She'll be having that kind of conversations with the network, her agent and production companies. Behind the scenes, whereas it might look really bad to everybody else thinking "poor Christine," I'm sure she's absolutely fine and that there is other stuff being talked about. She's really good at what she does.'

Peter Serafinowicz has revealed that he will have a role in the upcoming Arrested Development film. The British comedian, impressionist and actor, who starred in Arrested creator Mitch Hurwitz's recent TV show Running Wilde, told Splitsider that he was 'too nervous' to ask Hurwitz who he'll be playing in the FOX sitcom's movie spin-off. 'Mitch told me is that he's writing me into the Arrested Development movie, which I'm super excited about,' he said. 'It's all properly happening. I don't know anything about it other than that he's writing it and it's happening and I'm going to be in it, apparently.' Serafinowicz has also appeared in Spaced, Shaun Of The Dead, Couples Retreat and his own BBC sketch comedy The Peter Serafinowicz Show. Although the latter was crap, to be fair.

Victoria Coren's game show Only Connect is to return to BBC4. The channel's controller, Richard Klein has commissioned Presentable to produce a fifth series. The show will be produced by creative director Chris Stuart and comprise a twenty six episode series with four half-hour specials. There are also plans for an enhanced online presence. Presentable has also been commissioned by BBC Wales to make Connie Fisher's Musical Map Of Wales and the four-part documentary series Calling Time, exploring pubs in different parts of Wales and their struggle to survive. Elis Owen and Judith Winnan ordered the two series for BBC Cymru Wales. Owen has also commissioned Presentable for two programmes featuring veteran Welsh entertainer Max Boyce and a sixty minute documentary on the life of Lloyd Coleman, a young, deaf and visually impaired musician.

Entrepreneur and company owner Hilary Devey is to join the next series of Dragons' Den, it has been announced. The fifty-year-old will replace James Caan, who quit his role on the show last month. Devey launched her own business Pall-Ex in 1996, a pallet distribution company which has she has turned into a multi-million pound European empire. She joins Peter Jones, Theo Paphitis, Duncan Bannatyne and Deborah Meaden, who will all return for the new series. After being rejected by banks to back her business, Devey sold her house and car to fund its start-up. 'At a time when the banks are failing to invest in British small businesses, I am proud to be able to do my part to support the next generation of UK entrepreneurs,' Devey said. 'I would have loved the opportunity to have stood before the Dragons, and I will remember my own experiences and the realities of running a business today, when choosing to support - or reject - the budding entrepreneurs joining me in the Den.' Janice Hadlow, the controller of BBC2, said: 'Hilary is a welcome and impressive addition to the Dragons' lair. With her extensive business experience, she will bring a new dynamic to the Den, turning up the heat on prospective entrepreneurs as they seek that all important investment.' Devey also appeared on the Channel Four show Secret Millionaire in 2008 in which she helped several struggling projects in Rochdale.

Jon Hamm has admitted that he drew inspiration from the memory of his father when first figuring out the character of Don Draper for Mad Men. The actor said that he lost his parents at a relatively young age but that he did not let it affect him as he was growing up and going to work. He told the Daily Scum Mail: 'My mother had died of cancer when I was ten. I was twenty and still in college when dad died. He had ­diabetes and had been in poor health for some time. That could have unmoored me, taken over my life, but people rallied around me.' He recalled: 'Dad was smart and fun, but also rather sad. After he died I recall opening his closet and there were forty suits, every colour. He had two jewellery boxes full of watches and cuff links. He'd been a big shot around town, and was well-connected, but he'd probably been unfulfilled in many ways, and when I was looking through the Mad Men script for clues to Don ­Draper's character, I realised that my dad was that guy. On the exterior, he's got everything under control. But inside, he's desperately dancing to keep up.'

Paul O'Grady has claimed that he turned down an offer to become a judge on Britain's Got Talent. The chat show host, who was linked to the role following the departure of Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan, admitted that he couldn't deal with rejecting hopefuls auditioning for the talent show. 'I was tempted but I wouldn't be able to deal with seeing kids upset at getting buzzed and booed off,' he told the Sun. 'I could handle me getting booed - no problem, I've had the lot. But it's not for me to watch kids get rejected. And to be honest, I've got no ambitions left. I think I've done it all.'

Sky has appointed former tabloid editor Jane Johnson as the new director of Sky Living, with a specific remit to 'spearhead the development' of the brand. Johnson is currently Saturday and associate editor at the Sun. The newspaper is, of course, owned by News International, a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which is presently mounting a bid to take full control of Sky. Reporting to Sky's managing director of entertainment Sophie Turner Laing, Johnson will assume responsibility for all on and off-screen activity for Sky Living, Sky Livingit and Sky Living Loves. During her journalism career, Johnson helped launch the Closer, Fabulous and Buzz magazines. Sky said that she will use this experience to help 'cement Sky Living's position as a destination brand for women, as well as grow digital engagement, particularly online.' Prior to joining the Sun, Johnson was deputy editor of News of the World, where she knew nothing whatsoever about any phone hacking that might, or might not, have been going on, just want to make that absolutely clear from the outset, then editorial director of Fabulous, editor of Closer, executive editor of the Sunday Mirror and women's editor of the Daily Mirror. 'We are delighted that Jane's extraordinary experience and insight in connecting with female audiences will shape the next chapter in Sky Living's development,' said Turner Laing. 'Sky Living is an amazing brand that's grown and evolved for almost two decades, but a combination of a refreshed brand, extra on-screen investment and Jane's ability to tap into and help shape the female agenda will only serve to make it even more dynamic and engaging.' Johnson added: 'I have thoroughly enjoyed my three and a half years at News International - I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with such highly creative teams on two of Britain's biggest papers and to have launched two of the country's biggest magazines, Fabulous and Buzz. In my new role, I am very much looking forward to building on Sky Living's heritage as a strong female brand that combines style with substance and cheekiness with charm. It is a fantastic challenge and I am very much looking forward to working with Sophie and the Sky team.' Sky acquired Sky Living - formerly the Living channel - as part of its one hundred and sixty million pound deal to acquire Virgin Media's television channels. On Tuesday, the channel moved to position 107 on Sky's electronic programme guide, joining Sky1 at 106 and Sky Atlantic at 108. Under Sky's plans, Sky Living will enjoy a twenty five per cent increase in its budget and also benefit from the satellite broadcaster's multi-million pound pot for backing UK-produced content.

The executive producer of House has revealed that a future episode will feature several dream sequences. Greg Yaitanes told Entertainment Weekly that the episode will feature scenes in the style of a Western, a musical, a sitcom, a horror movie and a black-and-white film. All of which Buffy the Vampire Slayer was doing a decade ago. And Moonlighting was doing a decade before that. 'Within those dreams, the story of what [the team is] going through is being told throughout the episode,' he explained. 'It just allowed us to [tell the] message of this great story between them and let the fans participate in a new way.' Yaitanes admitted that the gimmick is likely to be 'polarising' among the show's loyal viewers. 'I think people will love or hate us for it, but I just think there's some incredible work there that was done,' he insisted. 'The musical is [unlike anything] anyone will have seen on television before.' Except Once More With Feeling. And The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice. And Blackpool. And the musical episodes of half a dozen other TV series. Come on, mate, it's a musical episode, it's not rocket science! He added that that the episode will be 'a very important episode' for the relationship between House and Cuddy. 'If you're enjoying their storyline, this is going to be a very important episode,' he said. 'Liz [Friedman] wrote an amazing script, and I think everybody really shines in a big way.'

A group who call thesmselves The Food Liberation Army has 'kidnapped' a statue of McDonald's mascot Ronald McDonald. Two members of the Finnish organisation stole the clown figure from outside a restaurant on 31 January while dressed as maintenance staff, AFP reports. The group has now posted a video on YouTube featuring the Ronald with a bag over its head. They have threatened to 'execute' the figure on 11 February if certain demands are not met. 'We love burgers, fries and McDonald's, but we can no longer watch in silence as the food we love is being destroyed and brought to shame because of greed and indifference,' one of the group said. As he signed off, the masked man added: 'Have a nice day.' And, who was it who said the Finns had no sense of humour? Oh yes, Monty Python, of course. We'll add them on the list with the Japanese and the Mexicans, okay?

Three Pakistan cricketers and an agent will face corruption charges, the Crown Prosecution Service has said. Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were accused of 'spot-fixing' offences in the fourth Test against England at Lord's last August. The players and their agent Mazhar Majeed will be charged with conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments and also conspiracy to cheat. They have always denied the accusations of bowling deliberate no-balls. The International Cricket Council, which conducted its own investigation, will present its findings on Saturday. The players and Majeed, of Oaks Road, Croydon, are due to appear at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on 17 March. Simon Clements, head of the CPS Special Crime Division, said the charges 'relate to allegations that Mr Majeed accepted money from a third party to arrange for the players to bowl no-balls on 26 and 27 August 2010, during Pakistan's fourth Test at Lord's Cricket Ground in London.' He added: 'We are satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute.' He said summonses had been issued for the three players and they had been asked to return to the UK voluntarily, which they had agreed to do in September last year. 'Their extradition will be sought should they fail to return,' Clements added. Butt, the former Pakistan captain, and Asif and Amir were all provisionally suspended in September after the allegations of corruption surfaced during last year's tour of England. It was claimed Asif and Amir deliberately bowled no-balls at pre-arranged times during the Test, with Butt also said to be involved, in return for money from a bookmaker's 'middle man.' They have all denied manipulating parts of the game in this way, which is known as 'spot-fixing.' The News of the World, which originally made the allegations against the players, said it would 'continue to assist the police with their inquiries.'

Two of Malawi's most senior judicial officials are arguing over whether a new bill includes a provision that outlaws breaking wind in public. Justice Minister George Chaponda says the new bill would criminalise flatulence to promote 'public decency. Just go to the toilet when you feel like farting,' he told local radio. However, he was directly contradicted by Solicitor General Anthony Kamanga, who says the reference to 'fouling the air' means pollution. 'How any reasonable or sensible person can construe the provision to criminalising farting in public is beyond me,' he said, adding that the prohibition contained in the new law has been in place since 1929. The Local Courts Bill, to be introduced next week reads: 'Any person who vitiates the atmosphere in any place so as to make it noxious to the public to the health of persons in general dwelling or carrying on business in the neighbourhood or passing along a public way shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.' Chaponda, a trained lawyer, insists that this includes farting. 'Would you be happy to see people farting anyhow?' he asked on the popular Straight Talk programme on Malawi's Capital Radio. Leaving aside, of the moment, the observation that you don't, actually, see people farting, he added that local chiefs would deal with any offenders. With corks, presumably. When asked how it could be enforced, he said it would be similar to laws banning urinating in public.

Now, a question, dear blog reader. Anyone else reckon this is the single greatest newspaper headline ever in the history of the press?I'm going for 'yes,' personally. Others may disagree. And lastly, for all of the ladies over at Cold Dead Seed (and various other manpire-lovin' gaffs around the four corners of the Interweb), here's a nice photo of yer actual Sweet James Marsters taken at a recent US convention. And, that's probably put another hundred hits on today's blog. What can I say, dear blog reader? Yer Keith Telly Topping - dandy highwayman, bon vivant, sex machine, clothes horse and dude that he be - is nothing but a shameless whore when it comes to getting new brethren in the house. And will use any excuse he can to do so. Nice picture, though. Marriage and occasional appearances as a baddie in Hawaii Five-0 are obviously doing wonders for the chap. I actually met him once - very briefly - seemed like a thoroughly nice guy. (Tomorrow on yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 'famous people I've passed in a corridor', David Bowie!)For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day we've got the same - fabulous - song as recorded by different artists. Firstly by the great Betty.And then, by Elv and the Attractions. Although, sadly - and rather atypically - You Tube haven't got a visual reprentation of that one. Boo.

1 comment:

wrigglerosie said...

Thank you Mr Topping, Sir for using one of the photographs of James Marsters that I took last weekend in New Orleans, and for saying nice things about it (and him!). He is looking pretty damn good!
And yes, I got here via the CDS link...:-)