Saturday, February 26, 2011

Week Ten: I Know If I Don't I'll Go Out Of My Mind, Better Leave Her Behind

It was the day when Two Jags came to town and Jezza met Prezza. Fortunately, the only blows exchanged between John Prescott and Jeremy Clarkson on BBC2's Top Gear were verbal ones about the former deputy Labour leader's fondness for luxury cars and his creation of a motorway bus lane. On Wednesday afternoon the former deputy prime minister and the Top Gear presenter engaged in a bit of banter during the filming of the final episode of the current series of the popular show, to be broadcast on BBC2 on Sunday night. Prescott on more than one occasion got to his feet to remonstrate with the Top Gear audience following Clarkson's teasing – principally about the M4 lane which Prescott created in 1999. And, given that we all know Prezza packs a pretty decent right-hook, I'd've taken a step back if I'd been in the audience personally. Known to some as Prescott's Folly, the bus lane was scrapped by the new government's transport secretary, Philip Hammond, last year. 'What in the name of all that's holy were you thinking when you said "let's put a bus lane on the M4,"' asked Clarkson. To which Prescott replied: 'I'm going to introduce you to a revolutionary thought, Jeremy. You can go slower and you can get there quicker and that's to do with flow.' 'John Prescott's appearance was quite raucous but by the end of it there were two men sitting around talking about Jaguars – it was quite sweet really,' said a BBC source. Earlier that day Prescott had sat behind the wheel of a Kia Cee'd for the show's regular slot, Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car, in which celebrities attempt to drive a car around the Top Gear race track outside the studio at the Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey. The BBC is remaining tight-lipped on how John actually performed in the test run, which is one of the most popular features on the show and has attracted celebrities of the calibre of Hollywood stars Tom Cruise, Eric Bana and Cameron Diaz.

ITV drama Downton Abbey and BBC1's Sherlock will compete in three categories in this year's Broadcasting Press Guild awards. The hit shows have each been nominated for best drama series, the writer's award and in acting categories. Hugh Bonneville, who plays the Earl Of Grantham in Downton Abbey, will compete with Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch for best actor. Also nominated in the category is Tom Hollander for his performances in both the BBC2 comedy Rev and the Channel Four drama Any Human Heart. Downton Abbey actor Dame Maggie Smith will compete with Helena Bonham Carter, the star of BBC1's Christmas film Toast, and Julie Walters, who played Mo Mowlam in Channel Four's Mo. Channel Four's Coppers, BBC4's The Great Offices of State and BBC2's Wonders of the Solar System have been shortlisted for best documentary series. BBC2 leads the list of nominations for this year's awards with twelve, followed by Channel Four with seven and BBC1's six.

Tamsin Greig has revealed that talks are under way for a second series of Episodes. The actress, who starred alongside Stephen Mangan and Matt LeBlanc in the sitcom, told Richard Bacon's 5Live show that 'some parties' had already said yes to a follow-up. 'We are now in negotiations,' she commented. Speaking about the upturn in positive reviews for the programme, she added: 'I think in some ways it was pitched in the wrong way. It was pitched as Matt LeBlanc's new comedy, but I don't think that it is a comedy. I think it was a drama about Hollywood and if you find it funny it's because the whole world is ridiculous. That's what happens.'

And, of that bombshell, dear blog reader, here's yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Friday 4 March
And, speaking of Tamsin Greig, she's also featured in the first of this week's picks, Friday Night Dinner - 10:00 Channel Four. This is, just in case you've missed it so far, Channel Four's attempt to do a sort-of slightly more traditional sitcom, a kind of My Family with Jewish jokes, oy vey, my life, written by Robert Popper. And, as it happens, it's a little, good-natured gem benefiting hugely from a great performance by Tamsin herself. In tonight's episode, the siblings are intrigued by their father's behaviour when they find him peering into his underpants with a magnifying glass. Their mother just wants to have a pleasant meal, but it is constantly interrupted by neighbour Jim, who is terrified of his own dog, and Adam receives a lecture about girls from his dad. Also starring Paul Ritter and the far less annoying than usual Simon Bird.

Ron Sexsmith: Love Shines - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary charting the life and career of the singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith, who has struggled to achieve mainstream fame despite his songs being covered by artists such as Michael Buble and Rod Stewart. And despite the fact that yer actual Keith Telly Topping has five of his CDs in his collection. And, as you well know, dear blog reader, he only buys good stuff. Except for that copy of The Best of Carl Douglas. I don't know how that got in there. Anyway, the film follows Ron in the studio as he enlists the help of producer Bob Rock, hoping to record a commercially successful CD entitled Long Player, Late Bloomer. Featuring contributions by his celebrity fans including Elvis Costello and Steve Earle.

Saturday 5 March
In The Books We Really Read: A Culture Show Special - 8:00 BBC2 - as part of the BBC's literature season Sue Perkins embarks on a journey to discover the essential ingredients of a best-selling novel. Not, necessarily the books we should read, but the books we do. She visits the former home of Agatha Christie, whose books have sold an estimated four billion copies, spends time at a racetrack with Dick Francis's son Felix to find out more about the perfect backdrop for a thriller, and meets author Lee Child to learn more about his anti-hero Jack Reacher. She also tests the popularity of a Sophie Kinsella chick-lit novel in an Edinburgh hairdressing salon, and encounters crime writers Ian Rankin, Ruth Rendell and Colin Dexter, plus Anthony Horowitz and Joanne Harris. Part of an evening of programmes dedicated to World Book Night.

On this week's All New Total Wipeout: International Special - 5:40 BBC1 - a team of British contestants faces competitors from Germany, France and America as they compete in physically demanding challenges. So, basically, this is Jeux Sans Frontières: The Next Generation. Only with Richard Hammond instead of Stuart Hall and Amanda Byram replacing Eddie Waring. And, let's face it, the only thing better in life than watching a series of boastful young professionals getting hit in the mush with a rubber boxing glove and falling in the mud is watching a series of boastful young professionals getting hit in the mush with a rubber boxing glove and falling in the mud when they're doing it for Britain! Hamster presents from the safety of the studio, while Amanda meets the contestants on the purpose-built obstacle course in Argentina. It's daft, it's rather pointless and it's bloody good fun!

Sunday 6 March
The latest episode of Time Team - 5:30 Channel Four - is called The Furnace in the Forest. Tony Robinson and his gang of cheery much diggers travel to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's vague neck of the woods, Derwentcote in Durham, where they explore the Industrial Revolution's impact on the region by digging through the undergrowth to search for old furnaces and forges. Their search is also helped by the diary of an eighteenth-century industrial spy, and records from the time help to shed light on how the area's cottage industries gave way to the power of expanding cities such as Sheffield and Newcastle. Entertaining and education, as always.

Civilization: Is the West History? - 8:00 Channel Four - is a new series in which the historian Niall Ferguson explores the West's rise to global dominance, and asks whether its ascendancy is coming to an end. His study begins in 1420, when China's Ming dynasty seemed the most advanced society in the world, while England was preoccupied with the Wars of the Roses and people still chucked shit out of their window into the street below. However, China's inflexible system of governance could not translate technological superiority into economic growth, whereas Europe's political divisions created an atmosphere of intense competition. Plus, they hadn't discovered how to make glass yet. Although they had come up with tin foil cartons that keep rice warm till you get it home, which, in the great scheme of things was probably the greater of the two discoveries.

Last year, Wonders of the Solar System was one of the BBC's surprise hits and made its presenter, the knowledgeable and enthusiastic professor Brian Cox (yes, him out of D:ream) into a genuine TV superstar. Wonders of the Universe - 9:00 BBC2 - is the much anticipated sequel. In this, Cox explores how the development of mankind and the history of the universe are intertwined, visiting dramatic locations around the world to illustrate the fundamental scientific principles that govern the laws of nature. He begins by investigating time, charting the evolution of the cosmos and explaining why the universe must one day come to an end. Although, hopefully not during the next few weeks because it'll mean we'll miss the end of the series. Actually, if it could hang on a few weeks after that so we get the new season of Doctor Who underway, that'd be pretty useful too.

Monday 7 March
Law & Order: UK returns tonight at 9:00 on ITV. Brooks and Devlin investigate when former top-flight footballer and playboy Robbie Nichols (based, of course, on nobody particular playing for Moscow Chelski FC) is murdered in the East End of London, in what appears to be a robbery gone wrong. They question a man seen in the area on the night of the killing, who protests his innocence and points the finger at a known gangster he claims was also at the scene. With the detectives at odds over who to believe, Steel finds it increasingly difficult to prosecute the accused. Rather decent criminal justice system procedural drama with Bradley Walsh, Jamie Bamber and Ben Daniels among others.

In Parents Under Pressure - 7:00 BBC2 - Sophie Raworth travels across Britain to explore problems associated with bringing up children in today's society. She meets mothers who find it difficult to give their babies the love and attention they need due to outside pressures, adults concerned about the effect of leaving their offspring in nursery care, and young people who have been affected by having parents who are in conflict. The presenter also talks to childcare experts, whose research is throwing new light on the issue.

Channel Four continue in their self-appointed mission to get Britain out of the mess it's in with Dispatches: Selling Off Britain at 8:00. Personally, I thought that was the government's job but, since they're making such a cack-handed fist of it, I suppose we can't do any worse that give the TV networks a go. Anyway, Krishnan Guru-Murthy hosts a studio debate on whether ministers should dispose of state assets worth billions of pounds to reduce the crippling national debt. A panel of experts examines the possibility of the Government using the proceeds from the sale of items ranging from missiles to silver candlesticks as a preferable option to making spending cuts in the public sector. And, then there'll be a vote on what options to chose. What a great idea, let's take the national debt and turn it into the subject for the X Factor-style phone in TV reality show. Genius. Don't, for God's sake, anybody tell the Americans, we'll have FOX sorting out the Middle East by getting Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul to mentor Hamas and Hezbollah next.

Tuesday 8 March
Yer Keith Telly Topping has some major problems with the concept behind Caroline Quentin: A Passage Through India - 9:00 ITV. In this, the actress immerses herself in Indian life as she travels the sub-continent from north to south. She begins in the chaotic city of Varanasi, taking a boat ride on the River Ganges and attending an evening ceremony in which thousands of people light lamps and pray to the river. After catching a sleeper train to Jodhpur, Caroline gets the chance to see the Taj Mahal in Agra, before visiting an infertility clinic in the small Gujarat town of Anand, where couples from other countries hire Indian women to carry their children. Okay, fine. Nice scenery I'm sure and Caroline Quentin (despite her presence in those ruddy dreadful and annoying Marks & Spencers adverts) isn't the worst face in the world to front such a show. But, to the best of my knowledge she had no obvious connections to India. Unlike, say, Joanna Lumley or Nina Wadia who were born there, or Meera Syal or Sanjeev Bhaskar or Nitin Ganatra whose parents were. Or any number of other TV personalities who have some direct or indirect experience of the country. It's almost as though ITV have thought 'Caroline Quentin, we've got her under contract and we need something for her to do. People like her and audiences seem to enjoy travelogue TV shows so, let's find somewhere to send her.' And then, they've simply stuck a pin in a map and said 'India, yeah, that sounds like a format.' So, this blogger remains to be convinced on the merits of this show. It might be very good but, there appears to be something rather cynical behind the creation of it and that puts me off it a bit. Still, I could be wrong. It has been known!

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the start of Silk - 9:00 BBC1. To be honest, that was more in hope than expectation, it looked to me like just another BBC criminal justice drama, albeit one with a good cast. So, when the first episode started I only really had one eye on it whilst answering some e-mail and doing various other bits and piece. But, gradually, my interest started to take hold. It was nicely characterised and over the course of the hour, really began to draw me in. Quite unexpectedly, I found myself really getting into it. So, now we're up to episode three and Martha has to represent a teenager accused of having sex in a park. But, she is furious to discover he has misled her about the circumstances surrounding the case - and later realises the arresting officer may be lying further complicating matters. Meanwhile, Clive keeps a close eye on Niamh and Nick as they defend two dog owners charged with possessing dangerous animals. Starring Maxine Peake, Rupert Penry-Jones and Neil Stuke. Like I say, on the evidence of the first episode, one worth keeping an eye on. Or even two.

The first episode of $£*! My Dad Says arrives in the UK tonight - 10:30 Fiver. This is a comedy, starring William Shatner. Who's discovered irony these days and seems much nicer for it! A struggling writer loses his job at a men's magazine, and is forced to move back in with his argumentative seventy two-year-old father, whose frequent, politically incorrect rants become an unlikely source of inspiration for his son. Based on the online ramblings of Justin Halpern, which became a hit when he started posting his own father's colourful quotes for all to read. It's controversial in the US, largely because of its title, but it's built up a strong and vocal audience and the two episodes I've seen I've rather enjoyed, albeit the comedy might be a bit crude for some dear blog readers. Give it a go, you'll very quickly be able to work out if it's your kind of thing or not.

Meanwhile, it's the final episode of How TV Ruined Your Life - 10:00 BBC2. Charlie Brooker traces how the presentation of factual TV programmes has developed over the years, changing their focus from experts in spectacles and with beards to celebrity hosts with nice teeth and few braincells. The Screenwipe satirist provides his thoughts on archive material including Danny Dyer's encounter with an alien, and supernatural activity involving famous faces. Last in the current series. Hopefully, we'll get some more of this next year.

Wednesday 9 March
It's all cookery on TV tonight - what with MasterChef on one side and the wretched Jamie Oliver new vehicle on the other, both at 9pm. (You don't need me to tell you, dear blog reader, you should be watching the former and avoiding the latter like a car crash.) However, before both we've got Great British Food Revival - 8:00 BBC2. In this, chefs and cooks help to bring traditional British produce back to the nation's kitchens, highlighting the gastronomic and cultural richness of local ingredients. Tonight award-winning chef Michel Roux Jr, sets out to uncover the secrets of hand-made bread, and demonstrates how easy it is to bake at home, whilst Wor Hairy Bikers focus on cauliflower and provide three recipes. Yer Keith Telly Topping hates cauliflower. It makes him puke. He prefers chips. They're British.

How Drugs Work - 9:00 BBC3 - is a documentary using computer graphics to journey inside the body and brain of three cocaine users over the course of one night, exploring how the drug induces its highs and lows. The film meets a seventeen-year-old who needed a pacemaker fitting after the narcotic led to a heart attack and follows a patient requiring nose surgery as a result of too many lines of coke. Last in the series.

In Escape to the Country - 7:00 BBC2 - Denise Nurse heads for Somerset, where she hopes to find the perfect home for a family that has already viewed forty properties and found none that suited their own, very particular, needs. With a budget of seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds, one which in the North could buy ... ooo, Lancashire at least, she searches for a dwelling with room for an office, five bedrooms, a garage and a paddock for raising llamas. Yes, llamas. Notice, dear blog reader, they never have normal people on these shows. Because, if they did, the conversation would go something like: 'I want a house, two bedrooms, a kitchen, maybe a garage.' 'Don't you want space for an external annex so you can practice your tumbling act, sir?' 'Not really.' 'Why's that?' 'Because I'm a welder.'

Thursday 10 March
Kirsty Young explores British working lives since the Second World War, combining archive footage with testimonials from members of the public in a new series called The British at Work - 9:00 BBC2. The opening episode, We Can Make It concerns the post war years up to the early 1960s. Kirsty, taking time from scaring the bloody bejesus out of the nation on Crimewatch, hears from women about the various experiences of moving into a male-dominated workforce, and examines how the optimistic dreams of the post-war years were undermined by poor management and bickering workers, bad pay deals, strikes over bad pay deals, strikes over the right to strike, strikes over the right to have strikes over the right to strike. You get the general idea.

Monroe - 9:00 ITV - is a new medical drama series which, from the pre-publicity blurb sounds uncannily like a British version of House. This following the professional and personal life of maverick neurosurgeon Gabriel Monroe, played by good old Jimmy Nesbitt, who's described as a bit of a genius but not very good with people. When a woman is admitted to hospital with a brain tumour, Monroe has to help her decide whether to undergo surgery that could save her life, but also carries the risk of her being left paralysed or unable to speak. Meanwhile, the medic's home life and relationship with his wife spirals out of control. Sarah Parish and Susan Lynch also star, along with Sarah Smart. Good cast. And, it's written by Peter Bowker (Occupation, Eric and Ernie, Desperate Romantics, Blackpool) so, that's another point in its favour. Admittedly, not the most original idea in the world and Jimmy's presence could go either way. as previously noted, when the material is dark (Murphy's Law, Jekyll) Nesbitt is a great actor and an asset to any production. When it isn't, we're talking Cold Feet and that's not a good thing, trust me. So, jury's out on this one.

Dog-lovers of Britian, your time has come. Crufts 2011 - 7:00 More4 - sees Clare Balding presenting highlights of the annual dog show, covering events in the main arena, including the agility and flyball competitions and the judging of the group finalists. Topics such as how to buy a puppy, DNA testing and dog obesity are discussed, and reporter Dougie Anderson hunts for stories around the event. Two hours of dogs shitting live on stage. Unbeatable telly, ladies and gentlemen. Continues tomorrow.

Make Your Own School: Tonight - 7:30 ITV - is a report which follows the efforts of a group of parents attempting to establish a 'free school,' in light of a new education policy. The Government claims allowing parents, teachers, charities and businesses to set up their own institutions will help raise standards, but critics warn it could have a negative impact on the state system. The first such schools are set to open in September.

And, so to the news: Jessie Wallace has admitted that competing on Strictly Come Dancing made her feel 'physically sick.' The EastEnders actress was the fourth celebrity eliminated from the 2008 series of the dancing competition. Speaking to TV Times, Wallace confessed that she had not enjoyed the experience. 'I'm not a dancer,' she said. 'I did it for the fun side of things, but it was just so serious. And it was such a rollercoaster - learning the dances in only five days, going out in front of ten million viewers and standing in front of the judges who can be so nasty and cutting and personal. Then you have to wait of the results. It made me physically sick. I couldn't stand it.' The thirty nine-year-old also described how she had been affected by her personal appearance on the show. See left, in which she does, admittedly, look like she's just shat in her own pants. Claiming that she looked like 'a butch Barbara Cartland,' Jess explained: 'When I did Strictly, people kept saying, "Oh you're going to lose weight," but I put it on! I was training all day, so I'd get home at night and think, "I can eat what I want," so I'd have pie and chips. You always look bigger on TV and Darren Bennett, my dance partner, was tiny. He looked like he was dancing with a big bear.' She added: 'I just thought "Oh my God!" I was really unhappy with the way I looked and got really down.'

Frank Carson was great friends with Tommy Cooper, and used to exchange false clues for crossword puzzles according to the comedy website Chortle. One of Cooper's best was: 'Ocean-going mammal. Two words, five letters and three letters.' The answer? Ship's cat. But Carson got his own back with: 'Favourite game in Scotland. Four letters, starts with a "T."' It flummoxed Cooper to such an extent that he rang Carson at 2am one morning and said: 'Big fella, about that clue. What was the answer?' Carson said: 'Golf.' There was a pause of about thirty seconds until the penny dropped. Just before the phone went click, Carsons heard Tommy say: 'Arsehole!' It's the way he tells 'em.

Black Books actor Dylan Moran has criticised the proliferation of comedy panel shows. Moran said that he disliked the format of panel programmes because they are 'too structured' and also criticised the number of them on TV. Speaking on Richard Bacon's 5Live show about why he had never appeared on a panel show, the Irish comedian said: 'They bore me. That's the honest answer. Stand-up came naturally to me because people in Ireland talk. But that's not talking on panel shows, it is structured fun. It reminds me of some tragic aunt clapping her hands and bouncing into a room and announcing we should all play games. And if we don't we are all a rotten spoilsport. That's fine up to a point. I'll play charades for a few minutes. But there's too many of them. And it's the same people on all of them. It's structured fun and everyone thinks afterwards we go off for juice and fairy cakes. I don't want to watch that.' He also admitted that the competitive nature of the shows annoyed him. 'Buzzers and other chaps annoying you by saying other things. It would drive me insane,' he said. 'I couldn't live with that sort of democracy. Boys like showing off and saying, "I can do it better than you and with one hand tucked under my whatever." It doesn't get me going at all.'

Lord Alan Sugar Sweetie is still searching for candidates to take part in the next series of Junior Apprentice. Following the success of the first series in 2010, Sugar wants more young hopefuls who have potential leadership and a range of creative skills. Applicants must be aged sixteen before 30 June 2011, but no older than seventeen by 31 October 2011. We'll, that's me out.

Three of the BBC language services have gone off-air, as a result of cuts to the World Service budget. The BBC Serbian and Latin American services end more than seventy years of broadcasting on radio, but the Latin American service continues online. The Portuguese for Africa service, which is widely listened to in Angola and Mozambique, has also been closed. The BBC Yugoslav service began in 1939 at the start of World War II. Later it split into Serbian and Croatian. The Croatian service was closed in 2005 and BBC managers say Serbia now has reliable media, diminishing the need for the BBC's service. BBC Spanish broadcasts began in 1938, in an effort to counter Nazi propaganda, but faced their greatest challenge during the UK war against Argentina in 1982 over the Falkland Islands.

Tinopolis and former ITV news editor Nigel Dacre have reportedly joined the running for the government's new national TV channel for delivering local services. Using his consultancy company Inclusive Digital, Dacre is hoping to pull together a consortium to mount a strong proposal for the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious Hunt's UK-wide channel for delivering local content to major British cities. The vile and odious Hunt wants bidders to submit proposals by 1 March for providing the channel on digital terrestrial television, which would have a national schedule but enable local operators to 'opt out' in certain areas to deliver local shows and adverts. Dacre joins Welsh independent production company Tinopolis in expressing an interest, along with Richard Horwood's Channel Six group and the Local Television Network, led by Greg Dyke. Speaking to the Gruniad Morning Star, Dacre said: 'I am an optimist - to me it is absolutely inevitable there will be a growth in local video journalism, especially in lively conurbations, and at the very least that will be looking for outlets.' Last year, Dacre led the News Three consortium - including Trinity Mirror, the Press Association and TV producer Ten Alps - which won the independently funded news consortium contract for the Tyne Tees and Border region under the previous Labour administration. However, the IFNC scheme was vehemently opposed by the vile and odious Hunt, probably because it was somebody's idea other than his, and killed it off more or less immediately after the new coalition government came to power. Dacre said that the vile and odious Hunt's new proposal for providing 'a backbone' for local services made sense, as it would create a recognisable brand and keep down costs. 'No-one wants a loss-making channel,' Dacre said. 'The key is keeping costs down. You can clearly make low-cost but high-quality content, provided you have proper training, you avoid expensive studios, presenters and high-cost graphics. What local people want is their top local stories, told well in video. We all know that making local news stories is much cheaper than ten years ago, and so is launching a new channel. This should not follow a high-cost Channel Five model, with offices near Trafalgar Square.' This week, Horwood's Channel Six announced partnerships with leading universities and colleges around the UK to tap into emerging media talent for the local TV channel.

The government has confirmed that Lord Chris Patten is its 'preferred candidate' to replace Sir Michael Lyons as the next chairman of the BBC Trust. Prime Minister David Cameron approved Patten's appointment this week, and the former governor of Hong Kong will now move forward to a pre-appointment hearing at the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee on 10 March. The committee's conclusion will be 'carefully considered' by the lack of culture secretary, but the panel does not have the power to block Patten's appointment should the vile and odious Hunt eventually name him. Barring any late hold-ups, the appointment will be signed off by the Queen under the terms of the BBC's Royal Charter agreement. Patten - the chancellor of Oxford University - is expected to officially take up the BBC chairmanship next month. Lyons is due to officially step down from the post at the end of April. Patten would take up the one hundred and ten thousand, four days a week post just as the BBC is facing up to major cuts across its operation in response to its new licence fee settlement agreed with the government. The vile and odious Hunt is thought to view Patten as the right candidate to 'keep the BBC's management in check,' and picked him over Sir Richard Lambert, the former director general of the CBI and editor of the Financial Times.

Cheryl Cole has reportedly disagreed with US TV executives over their advice to tone down her Geordie accent. The X Factor judge, who is widely rumoured to be starring in the upcoming US version of the show, had apparently been told to refrain from using her catchphrases, such as 'why aye, y'buggar, like' and 'ah, pet, y'canna sing, man and ah divvant wanna vote for ya,' because American viewers wouldn't understand her. And 'keep ya feet still Geordie hinny, let's be happy thru th'neet..' Oh no, hang on, that was Joe Wilson. However, the singer - Cheryl, that is, not Joe Wilson cos he's been dead since 1875 - has decided that she wants to stick to her Newcastle roots after consulting fellow Novocastrians, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, the Sun reports. And, of course, the Current Bun nivva tells porkies, like. Straight as, schwear to God. Radgy, radgy, charva, gangsta. Knaa what ah'm sayin' like? A 'source' said: 'Cheryl has been in the spotlight in England for a long time now and hasn't been convinced to drop her accent yet.' Clearly not a North Eastern 'source' however, as it would've been more like 'Wor Cheryl's been gannin' her ends aboot this six and eight, an knaaa mistake. Cos she canna taak any diff'rent to what shi'taaks like ivry day, like. So, sh'sez if them radgies wanna mek somethin' of it, sh'll send Wor Ant and Wor Dec rund t'sort them oot, like. Cos, them two's reet nails.' Or, something. 'Now Ant and Dec are backing her,' said Mr Posh Poshity-Posh Soft Southern Wanker, the 'source.' 'She thinks it'll give her the edge over other women on TV over there.' Well, that and her conviction for actual bodily harm, of course. Cos y'divvant wanna mess wi'Wor Cheryl. Especially not if you're in the netties at a night club.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the day. And today it's a big one. And, I mean massive. And, more relevant than size, it's an important one too. So far this week we've featured The Jam and The Faces, now it's time for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved Oooo. (Nice circular link here since the first bit of today's bloggerisationism concerned yer Jezza Clarkson who is, of course, a massive Who fan and once even roadied for them. Ineptly!) So, what follows is a whistle-stop tour through ten singles by the, as Roger Daltrey once described them so accurately, 'nastiest horriblest geezers who make the biggest loudest racket you've ever heard in your life.' Ladies and gentlemen, prepare your ears to shed their wax. Starting in 1965 with a legendary performance on Ready, Steady, Go! that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about them. Geezer singer with a foghorn voice, tortured genius on guitar, quiet bloke who played a VERY LOUD bass and ... Keith Moon. Go on, Keith my son!Punk rock, in all its various forms, started there! Right. Next, proof that the guitarist with a big hooter could actually sing as well. Nice piano from Nicky Hopkins on this one. By the time the next single was released, they'd changed record label so this one was never the hit it should have been. Now, of course, it's regarded - rightly - as a twenty four carat Mod classic. And the irony was that when it was used in the movie Quadrophenia for the party scene, many of The Who's newer, younger fans thought it was The Beatles!Escaping, with Robert Stigwood, from Shel Talmy's grasp (albeit, not financially for a very long time. But, that's another story), The Who found themselves on Reaction. Where their first single was yet another masterpiece. And a standard that pretty much every kid who picks up a guitar learns to thrash. And, they still play it pretty nicely now! Although Kid Ringo - good as he is - is no Keith Moon. Anyway, back to 1967, we're now on another record label (their own!), and the band are appearing on Twice A Fortnight (a kind of proto-The Goodies) performing their first stab at psychedelia. Albeit, the 'Shepherd's Bush enjoyment' version of psychedelia, admittedly!At this point, it's probably worth reminding ourselves what a sodding arrogant little git Pete Townshend was! And, that's why we loved him. He was honest. Not always right, but still honest! I mean who else in 1966 would go on national TV in Britain and slag off The Beatles! (As in this well-remembered interview from BBC2's first voyage into 'yoof TV!' A Whole Scene Going for instance.) Here's what he thought of his bandmates. Even yer actual Jezza Paxman couldn't intimidate him, the man was a virtual God! Back to the music. Now, yer Keith Telly Toping, being something of a Who snob when it comes to obscurities, has always really loved 'Call Me Lightning', The Who's great lost pop-classic from 1968. In the US it was released as a single - and was a middle-sized hit. Over here, however, it was stuck away on the b-side of a very curious little song called 'Dogs' and hardly anybody even knows of its existence. That should change. Damned queer little video for it, too. (Course, as everybody who's seen The Kids Are Alright will know, in that they used this clip with Moony's 'Cobwebs and Strange' as the soundtrack. And, it works much better!)We'll pause for a moment in the singles run down, since we've reached 1968, it's clearly time for that performance of 'A Quick One While He's Away' on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. As Keef notes introducing, 'Dig The Who!' You are forgiven. Oh, and I suppose in the interests of historical accuracy, we should have some auto-destruction too. Here's a band, somewhat pissed off that they've been told to appear just before Jimi Hendrix at Monterrey, doing what they do best. Smashing the fucking stage up! Oi, Pete! That's a very expensive bit of kit you're trashing there in the name of pop art, mate! Back to the singles. The Ox always said he hated this one because it's, basically, five minutes of him playing one note. Everybody else loves it, however. And, here they are on Beat Club - introduced by the very Hairy Cornflake himself - doing it quite brilliantly. Too much. I'm gonna skip over Tommy, to be honest. It's all right, and 'Pinball Wizard's great, but I prefer the stuff either side of it. Like Pete's assessment of Woodstock to a very young Melvyn Bragg on Open House, for instance! 'It changed me, I hated it!' Or, that Russell Harty Plus interview which might, just, be the funniest five minutes of chat show TV ever! God bless Keith Moon, they should've given him a knighthood! Anyway, next we've got the wisest song that Pete ever wrote. At this point, however, yer Keith Telly Topping must give way to the rock journalist Dave Marsh because, then it comes to descriptions of 'Won't Get Fooled Again,' they don't come much better than this: 'There's nothing quite like the tension that builds as that synthesizer circles its prey, and there's nothing (or anyway, not very much) to match the triumph of the moment when Keith Moon bashes his way back into the picture. When Roger Daltrey follows his scream with the lyrics Townshend wrote to condemn the revolution, he is also celebrating the triumph of the old values of rock in new clothes Townshend has cut for them.' - Before I Get Old, page 388. Yeah, what he said. And, here's Keith's last hurrah before his shockingly untimely death. It's May 1978, Shepperton Studios and Jeff Stein has just begged Townshend for one more throw of the dice so that he can finish The Kids Are Alright with the bang it deserves. And, Christ did he get it! And now it's used as a TV theme tune. It's a strange world we live in, dear blog reader. Is it time for that clip of The Smothers Brother Show yet? I reckon so. Now, here's a thoroughly shocking fact. There isn't a single bit of footage that I can find of The Who playing 'Squeeze Box' with Keith. Unbelievable. So, unfortunately, you'll have to make do with Kenney Jones instead. I love 'Squeeze Box.' It's filthy!So, what else haven't we had before we wrap this thing up? Well, 'Wasp Man' obviously. And, '5-15' on Top of the Pops introduced by The Beard of Despair. And, the bit from The Kids Are Alright with Mad Ken Russell going off-it and making a profound political statement sandwiched between some moments of Moon lunacy. And, Pete on the subject of the on-set shenanigans on Tommy. It's time for the theme from CSI, isn't it? Actually, you know what, we're not quite finished yet. Before we go, we're gonna have 'Naked Eye' at the Isle of Wight from Message To Love as well. Because it's class. Right, and now, we're done. The Who, ladies and gentlemen. The greatest rock and roll band in the history of the world. The Rolling Stones? Mention them not. The Beatles? Pfft. Pop group! The Sex Pistols? Who did covers of whom? And, on that contentious bombshell ...

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