Sunday, March 06, 2011

Guilty Secrets - Part The First

Cheryl Cole has reportedly told friends that she is 'unhappy' after doubt was cast on her X Factor US job. The singer, apparently, feels that she is simply 'hanging around' after recently relocating to Los Angeles, and is embarrassed that Simon Cowell hasn't guaranteed her a spot on the American version of the singing competition. According to the Mirra, she has said to friends: 'I feel like I've had enough. I want to go home. On the outside I'm smiling, inside I'm crying.' Oh dear God, she's quoting Smokey Robinson now. This is serious. 'I feel as if I'm being torn in so many different directions. Simon wants me to do one thing, but others expect me to do something else - I don't know who I am anymore. I keep getting told to smile, smile, smile - to show more hair and teeth - but it's hard when I feel so sad on the inside. The more stressed I get, the more I smile because that's what people want from me. I just don't know what to do.' I think that might well be the longest sentence I've ever heard from The Heaton Horror. Which is one of the main reasons why I don't believe a single word of it. A 'source' allegedly added: 'Cheryl is feeling bombarded. The paps are everywhere, hounding her, and she is getting so many calls daily from friends, family, work colleagues and people she barely knows, all wanting her undivided attention. Cheryl's a tough cookie and she will be okay.'

Doctor Who star Matt Smith has revealed that he tried to 'wholeheartedly go for it' with the nude scenes in the forthcoming BBC2 drama Christopher And His Kind, in which he plays gay novelist Christopher Isherwood. Airing later this month, the one-off drama explores Isherwood's formative years in 1930s Berlin in the run-up to the Second World War and co-stars Lindsay Duncan, Imogen Poots, Toby Jones and Worried About The Boy's Douglas Booth. Matty told BBC Press Office: 'You've just got to commit to it, gung-ho. It's different from when you're doing nude scenes with a boy than doing them with a girl, as you can imagine. But I tried to commit to it and wholeheartedly go for it.' He added: 'Having to kiss boys, and finally understanding the nature of stubble rash, was interesting.' Asked what attracted him to the role, Matt said: 'The story is such a fascinating one. I loved the idea of playing someone so extreme to me, that different kind of vocalisation and physical shape. At the heart of the piece is Christopher's acceptance of his own identity and self-discovery - I think we learn about a man exploring his sexuality and the arena in which he can do that freely.'

Steve Hughes has confirmed he is directing an episode of the forthcoming sixth series of Doctor Who. The Doctor Who Newspage report that the director has confirmed via Twitter he is involved currently filming an episode in Cardiff. Probably either number eleven or twelve in the series. Filming on the story commenced on Thursday at the location featured during the first week of production of the revived series, Howell's Department Store in Cardiff. Steve's previous directing credits include Holby City, Dream Team, Land Girls and numerous episodes of daytime soap Doctors. He joins previously confirmed directors on the new series Richard Clark, Adam Smith, Toby Haynes, Julian Simpson, Peter Hoar and Jeremy Webb.

Meanwhile, filming on the next series of Torchwood - Miracle Day - continues with recently locations including Orlando international airport. The crew are now back in Los Angeles according to Kai Owen who recently tweeted that he was stuck in arrivals at LAX. Something which will be very familiar to the many British regulars at the Gallifrey One convention in LA. They don't seem to like letting people into the land of the free at times.

Stephen Fry made his much anticipated appearance on the Irish TG4 soap, Ros na Rún this week. The actor, presenter, writer and national treasure was touring Connemara last year and filming a minority language programme, when he filmed a cameo with the soap. He played a bewildered English tourist who gets more than he bargains for when he wanders into the premises of Ireland's crankiest publican! To the amusement and scorn of Tadhg and resident barfly, Séamus, Fry attempts to ask for directions. Tadhg and Seamus see an opportunity to exploit him, but things don't turn out as they planned. Stephen's production company also shot some behind the scenes footage of Ros na Rún and plan to include it in his forthcoming documentary series Planet Word which is due to be broadcast on the BBC later this year. So, there you go dear blog reader, he's not popular with the humourless Japanese, but they just love him from the craic in the Emerald Isle!

Finally, it would seem, the press is starting to turn in relation to MasterChef. Well, they are in Cumbria, anyway. Anne Pickles (no, really) writing in the Carlisle News & Star in a piece entitled It's MasterChef Not Mastermind writes: 'The new format of Masterchef has taken some flak for being too close to an X Factor formula; a bit dumbed down if you like. Racy. [sic] Dumbed down from what? Be honest, Masterchef was never exactly highbrow, was it? Though John Torode and Gregg Wallace always liked to ham up a load of fake gravitas, neither really pulled it off. This series at least makes no pretence at quality. Gregg Wallace doesn't even try to avert his eyes from former beauty queen contestant Alice Taylor's cleavage and I'm expecting teams to have to cook a four-courser while dancing on ice any week now. Dumb? Yeah well – dumb is the purpose of game shows. This is just another dumb game show with kitchens thrown in.' Hurrah. Finally somebody gets it! Give this lady a job on one of the nationals.

The Top Gear Australian tour continues apace. Cars worth more than two million dollars left Brisbane bound for Melbourne as the popular motoring show takes to the road. To bring culture to the masses. The Top Gear Live convoy of thirty four cars included Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, an Aston Martin DB9 and a classic Corvette Stingray. Co-host Shane Jacobson took a break from show preparations at the Boondall Entertainment Centre to officially bid the convoy farewell and safe travels. During the convoy, sponsor Michelin will run the Michelin Energy XM2 Fuel Saving Challenge. The convoy will travel a total of nineteen hundred kilometres stopping at Coffs Harbour, Sydney, Wollongong and Shepparton before arriving at Melbourne Showgrounds on Friday 11 March. Meanwhile, we have this picture of Jez and Hamster taken somewhere in the vicinity. Come on, be honest, that's Newcastle's Quayside really, isn't it? I dunno, BBC cutbacks ...

National heartthrob David Tennant brought Comic Relief to the kids who most need the charity's help on a moving trip to Africa. The former Doctor Who actor joked around with youngsters in Uganda. But, in moving diaries, he tells of the serious side of his trip - to track how the money raised by the charity helps to fight illness and disease. In the diaries, written for the Radio Times, the actor writes how he felt compelled to make the journey. He said: 'I don't have any particular expertise in telling other people's stories to the world but then Comic Relief asked me to travel to Uganda to see how the money you raise is used where it is needed most. I suppose the idea is that someone new to it all will be easier to identify with. I feel woefully under-qualified and ill-equipped, but I figure I can't keep reading out the phone number and telling everyone how necessary it is without seeing it up close.' The films made by the thirty nine-year-old actor will be shown as part of Red Nose Day 2011 on 18 March 18.

BBC4 has bought the second series of the Danish murder mystery drama The Killing, it has been announced. The channel will broadcast ten new episodes later this year, the Torygraph reports. The second series, starring Sofie Grabol as detective Sarah Lund, has already been shown in Denmark. Richard Klein, the controller of BBC4, said: 'The Killing is the most intensely thrilling television drama experience in British broadcasting of the moment and I'm delighted that series two will be on BBC4. It is a diamond of a series - complex, dramatic, thoroughly gripping. It never loses sight of its truly brilliant insight: the humanity and the emotion that goes on behind a police investigation into a brutal and sordid murder. At its heart, this is The Killing's genius - to truly portray the human cost of tragedy. And it is to the BBC's acquisition department that real credit lies for the clever discretionary spot-and-pick-up of a gem of a series.' Sue Deeks, head of programme acquisition for the BBC, added: 'BBC4 viewers have been utterly gripped by The Killing and we are delighted to announce that they will be able to enjoy the next compelling series later this year.'

ITV's hit period drama Downton Abbey began filming its second series this week, to be broadcast in the autumn.

The average adult watches TV for an hour longer per day than they think they do, a survey for TV Licensing suggests. Industry figures suggest people watch more than thirty hours of TV a week but the two thousand and sixty six adults in the online survey said they watched an average of less than twenty hours of TV a week in January. Liars! The report also said more than nine-and-a-half million TV sets were sold in the UK in 2010 - double the number in 2002. And it says seventy two per cent of people ate at least one meal in front of the TV each day. The ICM poll, for TV Licensing, also suggests that the average number of of TV sets in each home has risen in the past ten years from 1.9 to 2.4. It said viewers of all ages watched an average of more than twenty eight hours a week last year - about four hours a day - compared with twenty five hours in 2001. Some eighty nine per cent of people watch most of their TV in their living room and only three per cent of households do not have a television, it adds. TV sets are also getting larger, with two million sets with screens of forty inches or larger were sold in 2010, compared with fewer than six hundred thousand in 2006. Iain Logie Baird, grandson of the inventor of the first television set John Logie Baird and curator at the National Media Museum in Bradford, said there was 'no question' that 'television is playing a more central role in our lives than ever.' Which, as far as yer actual Keith Telly Topping is concerned, is total fine and dandy.

Coronation Street bosses have reportedly become concerned about the amount of birds which inhabit the soap's new site. The Salford Quays development is home to an 'environmental wonderland' of diving birds, ducks and swans and producers are worried that they could be too noisy to film outdoor scenes, the Daily Lies Sunday reports. A source said: 'The subject about the birds has been raised but I don't think there are any ready-made solutions just yet. It's different from a plane flying over, which can happen in any outdoor scene, because you can hold things up until it's out of earshot. But quite what you do about wildlife like this is new territory, really. Jack Duckworth used to love his pigeons, so he's probably wishing he was still in the show now!' A local environment officer added: 'Salford has the largest numbers of herons anywhere in Greater Manchester. And we all know what a din seagulls and swans can make. It could be a nightmare for an actor outside trying to get their words heard.'

Channel Four has reportedly commissioned a Big Fat Gypsy Weddings special to coincide with the royal wedding. The one-off show will apparently feature the marriage of a real gypsy princess and prince from the travelling community, and will be broadcast on 29 April - the same day that Prince William and Kate Middleton marry at Westminster Abbey. A 'source' allegedly told the Daily Lies: 'The special will involve a very clever take on the royal wedding and will prove to be the real people's wedding. There's been a huge amount of interest in Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, so it is perfect to tie something in with the royal wedding. People will be gripped by wedding mania on this special day and we want to serve up something special for them to enjoy.' A second series and a Christmas special are also being planned following the huge ratings success of the show.

'Babe' Bill's left blushing and Sian's clearly all discombobulated and a bit jealous after saucy weather girl Carol's rather flirtatious gaffe on BBC Breakfast.

The eighth season of NCIS will reportedly conclude with a multi-episode serial killer plot. Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and his team will first encounter the psychopathic Port-to-Port killer in an episode due to be broadcast on 5 April, according to TV Line. Two new special agents will be brought onto the NCIS team in a future episode to help solve the case. It was previously announced that Brothers & Sisters star Sarah Jane Morris will play one of the new team members, Erica Barrett, who will also serve as a love interest for DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly). The eighth season of NCIS is currently expected to conclude in May. A ninth run has already been commissioned, after the show achieved a ratings high of 22.85m viewers last month.

John Slattery and Elisabeth Moss have admitted that they don't like smoking fake cigarettes on Mad Men. In an interview with Empire, Moss explained that the actors cannot light up real cigarettes for legal reasons. 'By law we're not allowed to smoke indoors, so the cigarettes are fake herbal,' she said. 'I've no idea what the health repercussions of those are. I guess we'll find out in twenty years.' Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling, also complained about the cigarettes. 'Those things are terrible,' he said. 'They're like smoking sand. You take a drag and you've got half the cigarette in your mouth and half on your pants. You're trying to act smooth and you're on fire! Oh, and the martinis? A glass of warm water with onion in it.'

Rupert Murdoch has a battle on his hands to win over leading shareholders in BSkyB, who scent the opportunity for a high-stakes game of brinkmanship and are pushing for a premium price of well over ten billion pounds for full control of the pay-television company. BSkyB's biggest shareholders are co-operating, on a highly informal basis, to negotiate a sharp increase in News Corporation's £7.8bn, seven hundred pence-a-share offer for the sixty one per cent of the broadcaster it does not already control. They intend to push for a far more aggressive price than that sought by BSkyB's independent directors. One leading institutional investor told the Observer that a fair valuation for BSkyB was nine hundred and fifty pence per share – which would cost News Corp ten and a half billion pounds – and that the inclusion of a bid premium would push the true asking price up to as much as eleven pounds per share, or more than twelve billion pounds. 'We believe there's long-term value in BSkyB and if we didn't have a full and fair offer, we'd prefer to remain long-term shareholders,' said the investor. 'This is a very strong stock in terms of investment proposition and the way it delivers revenue and cash flow to shareholders.' BSkyB's top shareholders include investment firms BlackRock, Capital Research Global Investors, Franklin Templeton and Fidelity, and insurance group Legal & General. Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey of Odey Asset Management, which holds 2.3 per cent of BSkyB, has already declared publicly that he wants nine hundred and fifty pence per share. Odey, a veteran City agitator who has picked fights ranging from opposition to Railtrack's nationalisation to 'shorting' the shares of struggling banks, was once married to Murdoch's oldest daughter, Prudence. Independent analysts believe Murdoch can afford to pay significantly more than the present offer on the table. Richard Greenfield, a media analyst at BTIG, said a buyout of BSkyB at eight hundred and seventy five pence would be immediately beneficial to News Corp's earnings: 'Even at an eight hundred and seventy five pence acquisition price, we believe consolidating BSkyB can drive over twenty per cent free cash flow accretion in 2012 and thirty per cent in 2013.' News Corp has eight billion dollars in cash to deploy but has made it clear that it intends to be 'disciplined.' Since its seven hundred pence-a-share proposal in June, BSkyB's trading has improved and the broadcaster has reached its long-term target of signing up ten million customers. Murdoch's attempt to seize complete control of BSkyB has caused political anguish, with critics maintaining that the Australian-born press baron will become too dominant in British media. His stable of newspapers already includes The Times, the Sun and the News of the World. In a deal struck with the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt, News Corp last week agreed to 'spin-off' Sky News as an independent entity – but this, too, may trouble investors. One institution told the newspaper that it could be an 'irritant' to be left with a small stake in a moderately sized, loss-making business such as Sky News. More than three hundred and forty thousand people have signed an online petition urging the government to block Murdoch's BSkyB buyout. Agitators include the National Union of Journalists and the former deputy prime minister John Prescott, who has used his Twitter account to drum up signatories. The lack of culture secretary's decision not to refer the bid to the Competition Commission has even stirred reaction in the US among critics of Murdoch's conservative FOX News network. Ilyse Hogue of Washington-based Media Matters said: 'I'm outraged that the British government has decided to accept Rupert Murdoch's undertakings despite his track record, and I urge the secretary of state to reconsider.' Murdoch has, at times, paid over the odds for businesses that he particularly covets. News Corp paid £2.7bn in 2007 for the Wall Street Journal's publisher, Dow Jones – a sum which, at nearly fifteen times annual profits, was widely considered to be expensive. Minority shareholders in BSkyB are likely to sign up a heavyweight City bank to help them in collective negotiations, although an approach to Lazard for advice was recently rebuffed. The true tussle over the price of BSkyB will not begin until after 21 March, when a public consultation on News Corp's undertakings ends, allowing the government to give final clearance to the deal.

Three posters appealing to people who are not religious to declare themselves as such in this year's census have been banned from appearing in railway stations. The posters, bearing the slogan If you're not religious, for God's sake say so, have been refused by the companies that own the advertising space, which say they are likely to 'cause offence.' The British Humanist Association, which published the posters, said it was astonished that such an everyday phrase should be deemed too contentious for public display. 'It is a little tongue-in-cheek,' said the BHA chief executive, Andrew Copson, 'but in the same way that saying "bless you" has no religious implication for many, "for God's sake" is used to express urgency and not to invoke a deity. This censorship of a legitimate advert is frustrating and ridiculous: the blasphemy laws in England have been abolished but we are seeing the same principle being enforced nonetheless.' The posters ask those who are not religious to tick the 'no religion' box when they fill in forms for the 2011 census. 'We used to tick "Christian" but we're not really religious. We'll tick "No Religion" this time. We're sick of hearing politicians say this is a religious country and giving millions to religious organisations and the pope's state visit. Money like that should go where it is needed,' says one of the banned posters. The ban followed advice from the Advertising Standards Authority's committee of advertising practice that the advert had 'the potential to cause widespread and serious offence.' The poster display company involved also said it did not want to take adverts relating to religion. The British Humanist Association has amended the campaign slogan on the adverts to read simply: Not religious? In this year's census say so. The posters are being displayed from this weekend on two hundred buses in London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, Cardiff and Exeter. The Humanist Association says that those who profess to have no religion rose from thirty one per cent in 1983 to fifty one per cent in 2009 and believes that many who ticked 'Christian' in the 2001 census did so for cultural rather than religious reasons. The organisation argues that unless this year's census gives a more accurate picture of the non-religious population, the data will be used to justify increased state-funding for faith schools and other religious organisations. The Advertising Standards Authority says that in 2009 the Christian party's There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life became the most complained-about non-broadcast advertisment ever, attracting twelve hundred and four complaints. The advert was a riposte to the British Humanist Association's There is probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy your life, which attracted three hundred and ninety one complaints. From The North's own - agnostic - take on this subject, God might exist, or might not, but we're not going to sort that out on a blog so why worry about it? has received a grand total of zero complaints. Which, frankly, yer keith Telly Topping is a bit pissed off about!

A line from an Alfred Lord Tennyson poem has been chosen to inspire athletes taking part in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 'To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,' from Ulysses, will be engraved as a permanent installation in the centre of the Olympic Village. The public was invited to suggest inspiring poetry representing the values of the Olympic Games last year. Four other poems will also feature around the complex. The selections were chosen by a panel which included Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, author Sebastian Faulks, poet Daljit Nagra and broadcasters Clare Balding and John Inverdale. Reasons for nominating the Tennyson line emphasised its universal appeal including comments such as 'it sums up the courage needed to live life to the full.' Nagra liked it because it is 'a clarion call to the best parts of our searching inquiring selves that is just as suited to a gold medal winner as it is to the ordinary worker in their daily round.' Lines from Robert Browing, Langston Hughes, Denise Levertov and Sean O'Brien poems were also selected from the public nominations. The Tennyson installation will be seen daily by the athletes and officials living and working in the Olympic Village during the 2012 Games. After the Games, the wall will remain after the Village is converted into new housing.

Dave Allen is to be remembered in a new one-man play aimed at keeping his memory alive. Star and co-writer Kieran Cunningham says that the Irish comedian – who died six years ago next week – is likely to soon be forgotten as his stand-up is rarely shown on TV and little of his work is available on DVD. The new play, which has the title At Large: Dave Allen – A Journey Through Life, depicts the comic in limbo, waiting to see if he could ascend to heaven despite his frequent attacks on the Catholic church. A similar plot device has been used in previous plays about dead comedians, including the stage hit Morecambe, and fringe production Goodbye: The Afterlife Of Cook And Moore. Cunningham said of the man he is about to portray on stage: 'I suppose he was the first alternative Irish comedian to break through into the English market. The research for the play has been fascinating and I have talked to his relatives to get a real insight into his life.' The actor also said many people have told him he looks like a young Dave Allen, 'so I've been leading up to it for a while.' The play opens in the studio of Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre on 16 March, as part of the city’s Irish festival. And, may his God go with him.

Steven Davies has received congratulations from present and former county and international team-mates, captains and even Stephen Fry for becoming the first English cricketer to announce his homosexuality during his career. But none could empathise with him quite like Alan Hansford. Hansford, who spent four seasons as a first class cricketer with Sussex from 1989 to 1992, outed himself in slightly lower-profile circumstances in the spring of 2008, suggesting in an e-mail exchange with his former Combined Universities captain Mike Atherton which appeared on The Times website that 'there can't be too many accountants who dismissed you twice in a first-class match.' Hansford had other matters on his mind when he learned of Davies's announcement, as he was preparing for his father's funeral on Tuesday according toe the Guardian. But he did send a message of support via text: 'Good luck to Steve Davies – he has done the hard bit.' That reaction was echoed on Twitter by the Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale, who is away with the England Lions in Barbados – where homosexuality is illegal, although the island is regularly described as having one of the largest gay populations in the Caribbean. 'Good on Stevie D, good bloke, takes some bottle,' Gale tweeted. 'Good role model, you are who you are, others may be more confident to come out now.' Vikram Solanki, chairman of the Professional Cricketers' Association who was Davies's captain for his five seasons at Worcestershire until the latter's move to Surrey last summer, added: 'Steve has the full support of all his colleagues in cricket. Many of those he plays with and against have known about this for some time and none of them regard it as anything other than an entirely personal matter.' In India, Ian Bell and the coach Andy Flower spoke on behalf of the England squad. 'We knew before the Ashes series,' said Bell. 'That didn't change anything for us. He is a very popular guy in our team. We're all with him, and the more cricket he can play for England the better. He is a good mate of mine and that doesn't change absolutely anything.' Flower, the first person to whom Davies opened up ahead of the Ashes tour, added: 'I would like to make it very clear that Steve is first and foremost a very talented cricketer and a valued member of the England set-up. Steve has had and will continue to have the full respect and support of the entire squad and everyone involved in England cricket. I have no doubt that he will continue to work hard to regain a place in the England squad.' Fry was, predictably, pithier. 'Brave, charming, modest and inspiring,' he said. 'No big deal yet of course a huge deal. Top man Steven Davies.' Former England skipper Michael Vaughan offered his full support to Davies, saying: 'Steve will get a huge amount of support for having the courage to come out. I am sure it's relief for him now that he is not hiding anything.' The BBC's cricket correspondant Jonathan Agnew was asked by one of his Twitter followers whether we have got to a stage 'where no one is bothered about players coming out.' Aggers replied 'I think we are there already. Big call for him, but little interest at press conference today.' Former England bowler Darren Gough said Davies had his full support via his own Twitter: 'Well done S Davies England cricketer, no one should be afraid to be themselves, admire your honesty. You have my support buddy.' Is every cricketer on Twitter these days?! Yes, it would seem they are as Matthew Hoggard's also got one: 'Well done to Steve Davies who has had the courage to announce he is gay. Very brave respect to him and hats off!'

In the week in which the England wicketkeeper Steve Davies came out, the only real secrets left in the game it would seem are what is reverse swing? What is David Lloyd actually on and an I get some? And is Mark Nicholas's hair real? Those and, of course, the perennial puzzler, will the real England please stand up? Having started their World Cup campaign with a surprisingly narrow and hard-fought victory over minnows the Netherlands, then tied an absolute thriller against tournament favourites India, they conspired to lose to Ireland from what appeared to be a virtually unloseable position. On Sunday the silly buggers only went and won a game against South Africa which, it appeared, they'd already lost! You couldn't make this up, really, could you? England produced the most astonishing comeback of the World Cup to beat South Africa by six runs in Chennai. Things had started badly when they lost two wickets in the first over and although Jonathan Trott (fifty two) and Ravi Bopara (sixty) put on a stand of ninety nine runs, they were eventually bowled out for a highly sub-par one hundred and seventy one in the forty sixth over. South Africa in reply appeared to be coasting at 124-3 but they lost four wickets for three runs in five overs to Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann. Stuart Broad (4-15) then took two wickets in four balls as South Africa fell for one hundred and sixty five with fourteen balls remaining. Quite how the hell they managed that, we're all still trying to work out.

We have a rather unusual themed Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day today, dear blog reader. One that yer Keith Telly Topping has actually been planning for a while now. It's the first of two batches of six or seven singles - the second one will be along in a couple of days time - which, frankly, don't really fit in anywhere else. We've all of us got some guilty secrets. No, let's call them guilty pleasures, dear blog reader. And, what follows are several of mine. They're none of them bad records per se by any stretch of the imagination - in fact some of them might well be considered little classics of their kind. But, none of them are exactly 'cool.' They're the sort of records that you've probably got some of, stored away towards the back of your collection that, occasionally, you look at and think 'why did I buy that in preference to the new Skids single?' Or the equivalent for 1965! But, then you think 'mind you, it's got a nice tune.' Each of these, in their own way, tells you something about the person who owns them. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping, in this particular case. 'Hopeless romantic' if the first one is anything to go by! This blogger has one recurring weakness - he just loves dumb break-up songs. Or, in this particular case, dumb-a-dumb-a-dumb doobie-doobie dumb-dumb break-up songs. (Whisper it, but yer Kweith Telly Topping even has a bit of a soft spot for The Partridge Family version! Shocking, I know.) From Neil, in a conceptually fascinating leap of faith, we move to his muse. One half of one of the greatest songwriting teams of the Twenthieth Century. Turned into quite a decent singer as well! But this one came out nine years before Tapestry made it cool to like Carole King. To be honest, I prefer this.
Now, at this point, it all starts to get a bit problematic. See, telling yer average tune-in punter that one of my so called 'guilty pleasures' is a Dusty Springfield single will bring gasps of horror from some of the cognoscenti. 'What's wrong with that?' they'll ask. 'The Goddess of blue-eyed Soul.' Ah, but hang on some of the cognoscenti, it's not 'Spook'y or 'Son Of A Preacher Man' or even 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me.' Instead, it's one from the teenage years. A song that was subsequently covered by the Bay City Rollers. And Annie Lennox. And, it's bloody fantastic. The next one almost defines the term 'guilty pleasures.' And, probably, the main difference between British attitudes to pop music and American ones as well. In Britain, see, we've always had this pop sensibility somewhat to the fore. So that when, for instance, the NME used to talk about a band producing 'a pop classic' it wasn't an insult, it was a compliment. As Cliff, Hank, Bruce, Brian and John are about to prove. 'From the Palladium pantomime Cinderella' - I mean, come on, it just doesn't get more 'guilty pleasures' than that. However, there is a vaguely cool connection to this single - it was featured heavily in Michael Reeves 1966 modernist horror classic The Sorcerers (as played by Susan George just before Ian Ogilvy stabs her to death with a pair of scissors). It is, therefore, almost certainly the only Cliff and the Shads single ever to crop up in a horror film. Unless, of course, one counts Summer Holiday as part of the horror oeuvre. To be honest, the next one shouldn't really be in here. In fact, it should be stuffed and mounted as a Goddamn national treasure. It's a Bacharach and David song, produced by George Martin for God's sake! And, it's sung by Cilla at the peak of her career. Forget Blind Date and Surprise Surprise, dear blog reader, this woman made half-a-dozen of the best singles of the 1960s. Fact. (Incidentally, if you don't know, there's a great story about the making of this: Burt Bacharach himself had flown in to play piano and conduct the orchestra on the recording. They're camped in Studio One at Abbey Road and they do a great first take, a decent second take and a sensational third take. But Burt's still not quite happy and he makes them go on and on and on for about another thirty-odd takes until they reach a point where Cilla's collapsed in a puddle on the floor, everybody's knackered and tetchy and Burt is, quite literally, tearing his hair out. And, through it all, George Martin sits there, doesn't say a word. Fianlly, on about takes forty five, with Cilla's voice completely shot, calm old George up in the control room gets on the intercom and says 'What, exactly, are you looking for, Burt?' 'A bit of magic, George' comes the frustrated reply. 'I think you'll find we had that on Take Three' says Mr Martin. And, indeed, that's the version you'll always hear.)Again, I'm not entirely sure, on reflection, that the next one should be hiding its light away under a Gary Bushell in 'guilty pleasures' either. It's a Randy Newman song, performace by The Alan Price Set and, twenty years later, would partly inspire Morrissey to write 'This Charming Man'. True story. But, anyway, yer Keith Telly Topping's pushed it in here anyway - large on the strength of the smug mugging to camera that Alan does on this Beat Club performance - so we might as well make the most of it. Incidentally I believe that's future John Peel Show producer John Walters on trumpet!As with Dusty and Cilla, Lulu had a pretty fair share of 'cool' moments as well, I mean, not 'Boom Bang-a-Bang', obviously, but 'Shout', a Bond theme, her work with Bowie etc. Even that single with Take That has a lot of admirers. But the lass herself is rather dismissive of her teenage 'pop' phase with Mickey Most in the mid-60s. I think that's a shame, personally, because 'The Boat That I Row', in particularly, is a brilliant single. Neil Dimaond song, too. There'll be some more guilty secrets along later in the week, dear blog reader.

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