Saturday, March 12, 2011

Week Twelve: It Starts With An Earthquake, Birds And Snakes And Aeroplanes

The divine vision of loveliness that is Karen Gillan has revealed that she was bullied at school because of her trademark red hair. Yeah, me an'all, Kaz. We've clearly got much in common! Karen explained: 'I remember walking down the corridor and someone going, "Eurgh, you're tall, lanky and ginger!" I'd been itching to get out for years.' But Karen didn't let the taunts get to her, adding: 'I'd never had a problem with being tall, and in terms of having red hair I always had a belief it would benefit me in the long run.'Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's old mucker and ex-writing partner, the legend that is Martin Day, has a new episode of Doctors on BBC1 and BBC1 HD at 1.45pm on Thursday 17 March, and again on BBC HD at 4pm. His tenth, I think. Martin notes that Pretending To See The Future (yes, it is an OMD song title, well spotted) 'stars the wonderful Luisa Bradshaw-White (who I still remember as Kira in the seminal This Life).'

Producer Colin Wratten has claimed that the final series of Waking the Dead will end the show 'on a high.' The BBC forensic crime drama launches it's last batch of episodes on Sunday night and Wratten described the ninth outing in glowing terms. Writing in a BBC blog, he said: 'This last series of Waking The Dead certainly provides us with the opportunity to do something special, and hopefully surprising. There are brief references to Mel Silver, Stella Goodman and Boyd's son Luke, not in a reverential way, but as a way of prompting audience memories.' He continued: 'It's great working on such a highly regarded show. It's the producer's job to galvanize a film crew of sixty people. My job has been made so much easier because the quality you see on your television screens, in turn, attracts high calibre actors and crew year after year. Quite simply, quality stems from quality.' Speaking about the programme's conclusion, he added: 'The decision was made to finish and it certainly feels that we're finishing on a high, having not outstayed our welcome. Boyd is about to come up against the biggest challenge of his life this series.'

ITV's detective drama Poirot could be cancelled after twenty two years, according to 'sources' at the broadcaster. The Sun reports that the decision to recommission the series, based on the novels of Agatha Christie and featuring David Suchet in the titular role, is now 'in doubt' due to ITV's budget restrictions. Because ITV, like the BBC it would seem, haven't got a pot to piss in. A 'source' (anonymous) at the channel allegedly told the newspaper: 'ITV has said it is finding it difficult to get financial backing for [Poirot] and they have got no money. It seems certain now there will be no more.' An ITV spokesman, however, when asked for a comment said: 'ITV is in active discussions about doing more.' Given that these two statements - one from the (anonymous) 'source' and one from the spokesman - appear to be inherently contradictory, clearly, somebody is lying.

Bones producer Stephen Nathan has claimed that the show's sixth season finale is still 'up in the air.' Nathan told Give Me My Remote that the writing team are considering 'every conceivable permutation' in the relationship between Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel). 'Hart [Hanson] and I are working that out now,' Nathan revealed. 'We are trying to follow their relationship as honestly as we possibly can. We haven't worked out the last episode yet in great detail, so everything is up in the air.' Nathan also suggested that extra work required on the season's nineteenth episode, which will serve as a backdoor pilot for spin-off series The Finder, has delayed progress on the season finale. He explained: 'With all the chaos at the end of the season, just wrapping up the season and all the different stories and everything we've set up, plus The Finder episode, it's taking a little bit longer because we want it to be as good as the other season finales.' This week's episode of Bones, incidentally (The Killer In The Crosshairs) was really rather good. I particularly enjoyed Ryan Cartwright's delivery of the line: 'I'm confused. Are we investigating a murder or preparing lunch for the Palin family?' when presented with the corpse of a dead stag! And, it's always nice to see Billy Gibbons turning up once a season to give his son-in-law, Jack Hodgins, a hard time.

An rare British sport cars owned by Top Gear's Richard Hammond is up for sale on Auto Trader – with a one hundred grand price tag. Hammond, forty one, is the only previous owner of the 2008 Morgan Aeromax which he has raved about on the motoring show on many occasions. Only one hundred of the Morgans were ever made – with Hammond’s only one of six right-hand drive manual models – giving it the air of exclusivity that a traditional supercar can't match. A mix-mash of English styling and German engineering, the Morgan Aeromax certainly grabbed the attention of the petrolhead fraternity when it was announced in 2006 with all one hundred produced instantly selling out. This grey model, which has just three thousand five hundred miles on the clock, benefits from sat-nav, air conditioning, leather seats, cruise control and driver and passenger airbags. Hamster's Aeromax took pride of place on the drive of the star's mansion – nicknamed Hamelot – alongside a Jaguar E-Type, convertible Aston Martin, Porsche 911, Land Rover and a series of motorbikes. He decided to get rid of the Aeromax after two years of ownership and it is being offered through Surrey-based Mole Valley Specialist Cars for fifty quid under one hundred grand. Director John Heywood said: 'The Morgan Aeromax is one of those cars which passers-by give the thumbs up too. It's very rare, very fast and sounds like a spitfire – and it comes with one previous, infamous, owner!' News of Hammond's car being advertised on Auto Trader comes just a few weeks after a grey Lamborghini Gallardo previously owned by his co-star Jeremy Clarkson was also advertised on the same website.

And, on that note, here's yer next Top Telly Tips:

Friday 18 March
It's Comic Relief 2011 - 7:00 till late - on BBC1 tonight. Which is often more of a feat of endurance than a pleasurable experience, let it be said. But, it is all in a good cause and that's, I suppose, the really important thing. Red Nose Day returns with what's described as 'a fun-packed night of comedy and entertainment' - so, it'll almost certainly be neither of those things - to raise money for disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa. Which, again, is the important thing. From seven o'clock Michael McIntyre and Claudia Winkleman kick-off the show, introducing a special pint-sized edition of Outnumbered guest starring tennis player Andy Murray. There are two half pint-sized episodes of Doctor Who written by Steven Moffat and then Ruby Wax, Claudia Winkleman and Miranda Hart compete in Comic Relief Does MasterChef. Which should, at least, previous a few laughs. Later Graham Norton and Davina McCall take over proceedings, introducing the conclusion of a Comic Relief storyline in EastEnders, a Downton Abbey spoof featuring Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley and Victoria Wood - so that'll be worth avoiding - plus Ant and Dec race against time to raise money. Then, it's over to Dermot O'Dreary to grasp the reins and welcome a performance by comedian Peter Kay. Another, alleged, comedian James Corden returns for the latest from Smithy, this time featuring Paul McCartney - who should, frankly, know better. Harry Hill is joined by some special friends, before Take That and Adele perform live in the studio. After the Ten O'Clock News, Jonathan Ross and Claudia Winkleman are at the helm with the story of how David Walliams managed to survive being on a variety of panel shows for twenty four consecutive hours. Steve Coogan returns with a special edition of I'm Alan Partridge, a-ha, and The Inbetweeners embark on a rude road trip across the UK. After midnight, Kate Moss participates in a sketch and Summer Heights High's Chris Lilley premieres his new show Angry Boys. It's for a good cause. Give generously. Personally, yer Keith Telly Topping will be watching it until the Doctor Who sketches are done and then he'll going to bed with a good book and a nice cup of milky cocoa. It's Friday night, dear blog reader, there's no point in changing the habits of a lifetime.

Meanwhile, Planning Outlaws - 7:30 Channel Four - is Melody Howse's documentary following three individual struggles against planning regulations in Britain, exploring the highs and lows of challenging the system. A man who decided to live in his straw-bale house after gaining approval for an educational centre, and has spent the past four years fighting to save his home, talks about his troubles. Plus, the story of a homeowner who erected stone lions on Pevensey Marshes without permission, and how seventy six-year-old Nicole Harper had her flat demolished because it violated the rules. Part of the First Cut strand.

Saturday 19 March
There's a major drama event on BBC2 tonight at 9:30. Christopher and His Kind is the story of the novelist Christopher Isherwood who arrived in Berlin in the 1930s to stay with the poet WH Auden, his friend and occasional lover. Christopher is thrilled by the city's thriving gay subculture and decadent nightlife. However, the failure of a love affair leaves him heartbroken - so he sets out on a journey of self-discovery among the chaos of the German capital in the early years of the Nazi surge to power. Tomorrow, as it were, belonged to them. Period drama based on the author's 1976 autobiography, starring Matt Smith, Douglas Booth, Pip Carter, Toby Jones, Imogen Poots and Lindsay Duncan. 'The story is such a fascinating one,' noted Matt. 'I loved the idea of playing someone so extreme to me, that different kind of vocalisation and physical shape. Christopher Isherwood is such an interesting man. There’s something very romantic about Christopher and Auden going off as young men to Berlin.' Matt also met with Isherwood's partner, Don Bachardy, when preparing for the role to find out more about the writer. Based on this, and the details of Matt's gung-ho attitude to playing a gay man and experiencing stubble rash for the first time, Christopher and His Kind really looks like a film not to be missed.

For one night only, in March 2011, the city of Leeds will play host to a spectacular live TV event – the marriage of mad scientist Victor Frankenstein and his bride-to-be. Frankenstein's Wedding: Live in Leeds - 8:00 BBC3 - is a drama and music event based on Mary Shelley's novel, starring Andrew Gower, Lacey Turner and David Harewood, broadcast live from Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds. On the day of the wedding between Doctor Victor Frankenstein and his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth Lavenza, the scientist's creature makes his way through the city's streets towards the ceremony for revenge. His journey gives the audience an insight into his world - rejection for his looks, a desire to belong, and a broken promise that a female companion would be made for him. With Mark Williams and Jemima Rooper. Frankenstein's Wedding: Live In Leeds is a bold and ambitious music and drama event. It will explore the iconic story through contemporary dance performance and cutting-edge musical content. A collaboration between BBC Wales, BBC North and local organisations.

Sunday 20 March
In the latest episode of yer actual Time Team - 5:30 Channel Four - Tony Robinson and gang of merry diggers head to Groby Old Hall in Leicestershire - formerly the home of Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV - and discover a surprising array of archaeology beneath its gardens. These include a medieval wall and possible evidence of a Norman castle. They are joined by the author Philippa Gregory, who delves into the complex history of the Grey family, the house's former owners and one of the most powerful dynasties in medieval Britain. This was filmed in April last year and, by the sound of the local press coverage at this time, this looks like being one of the long-running archaeology series' best episodes yet.

And so to Waking the Dead - 9:00 BBC1. The final series of the popular cold case drama continues with the start of a two-part story, Care. Trevor Eve and Sue Johnston, as usual, star. The plot, as usual, is convoluted and a bit bonkers, but brilliantly played and beautifully filmed. This really is a very fine series indeed when it's on the top of its game. A woman who went missing from a care home in 1986 is found brutally murdered in a burnt-out car, and Boyd's team discovers she had recently abducted a teenage girl herself. As the investigation continues, both cases appear to be linked to an urban myth about a character known as The Bag Man - an eyeless street villain who kidnaps children. With Eva Birthistle, Tara FitzGerald and Wil Johnson. Concludes tomorrow. Whether this one will be as good as past episodes like, say, Life Sentence, Special Relationship, Breaking Glass, Final Cut, False Flag, Fugue States, Straw Dog, Undertow, The Fall, Sins or even last year's Endgame we'll have to wait to find out.

The latest episode of Hawaii Five-0 - 9:00 Sky1 - sadly, doesn't feature too many shots of Grace Park in a bikini (really sorry, Mick). On the other hand, it is one of the best of the first series so far. So, you know, 'what you get in one hand,' and all that ... McGarrett's team is called when the horrified discover of a charred body of a police officer is found in a luau fire pit. Danno is devastated to discover that the victim was Meka Hanamoa, a former partner who befriended Danno when he first arrived on the island. Meka, however, was the target of an internal affairs investigation at the item of his death. So, with a promise made to his widow (played by Dollhouse's Dichen Lachman), Danno sets out to clear his friend's name, leading to encounters with corrupt cops and a cocaine cartel. And, Scott Caan acts his little cotton socks off in the one. He usually gets all the pithy one-liners in an average episode - and he's very good in that role - but, this time, he gets a chance to act a bit as well. And, that's a good thing.

Meanwhile, also at 9:00 over on BBC2 there's Wonders of the Universe. Professor Brian Cox explores how gravity influences events across the universe, discovering why such a relatively weak force dictates the Earth's orbit around the sun - as well as the solar system's movement through the galaxy. He also explains why the gravity of a neutron star is much stronger than that of Earth, and looks back through history to reveal why scientists' research into the power of attraction has given mankind a far greater understanding of the cosmos. Science is the new rock and roll. Just accept it!

Monday 21 March
Tonight's Panorama documentary is called The Big Squeeze - 8:30 BBC1. Tragically, it's nothing to do with Difford and Tilbrook. Instead, Andrew Verity considers new research suggesting that most people are significantly worse off than they were two years ago. Particularly the BBC, it would appear. Well, no shit, Sherlock. You've just noticed this, have you? He also reveals which occupations are being hit the hardest by the current financial situation, speculates on what will happen if interest rates go up, and discusses how householders can stave off the worst effects of the squeeze. Emigrate, probably.

In Law & Order: UK - 9:00 ITV - a pregnant junior doctor is found beaten to death in a hospital car park. Blimey, I know the NHS has its critics but that's a bit harsh. Anyway her boyfriend, Joe Nash, becomes the prime suspect when he cannot provide an alibi. for the time in question. Brooks and Devlin come to believe that Nash is having an affair with his therapist, but what initially seems like a simple, straightforward crime of passion unravels into a dark conspiracy involving senior government officials, with Steel and Phillips risking their careers to find the truth. Bradley Walsh, Jamie Bamber, Freema Agyeman, Ben Daniels, Bill Paterson and Matthew McNulty star.

If, like yer actual Keith Telly Topping, you're planning on taking a rail trip anytime during the next few weeks (he's taking Mama Telly Topping down to visit his brother and sister-in-law in lovely Harrogate sometime next month) Dispatches: Train Journeys from Hell - 8:00 Channel Four might be something you want to watch. Or, maybe, avoid! Possibly this is one case where ignorance really is bliss. The actor Richard Wilson investigates the state of Britain's railways in the face of complaints from passengers about high ticket prices, overcrowded carriages, farcical explanations for rank incompetence and last minute cancellations. Grumpy old Victor Meldrew experiences the hustle and bustle of the daily train commute, and interviews experts, industry insiders and members of the public. And, presumably, finds that he doesn't belieeeeeve it. Or something. Greenock-born Wilson was hired by Dispatches to probe complaints at a time when a major government spending review on the rail network is expected within weeks. I can give them a quick overview now, based on personally experience. It's not fit for purpose. Wilson was, reportedly, bamboozled by the automated messages as he tried to buy a ticket from Manchester to, ironically, Harrogate. Or 'Harrowgate' according to somebody at the Daily Mirra who can't spell. Maybe yer actual Keith Telly Topping will see him there if the poor old chap is still wandering around Harrogate town centre in a state of confusion ... a bit like Agatha Christie was in the 1920s. He was asked by the Traintracker system if he wanted to go to Trowbridge in Wiltshire, Kyle of Lochalsh in the Highlands, Angel Road in London and Severn Beach in Avon before giving up. Shaking his head, he told the phone line: 'No! You've got it wrong again.' A 'source' reportedly revealed: 'He resorts to sitting on the toilet at one point, because someone tells him that it's a good seat to have.'

Everything and Nothing - 9:00 BBC4 - - is a two part documentary in which Professor Jim Al-Khalili tells the story of how humankind has come to understand everything - from the size and shape of the universe to the science behind 'nothingness.' Along the way, he charts the remarkable stories of men and women who have made discoveries about the cosmos, and reveals how mathematics and astronomy have shaped current knowledge of space. Sounds great, I think I'll definitely give this one a go - science being the new rock and roll and all that - although I'm not so struck by the title. That appears to be the very definition of an except: 'Somebody who knows more and more about less and less until, eventually, they know everything about nothing.'

Tuesday 22 March
Katie: My Beautiful Friends - 9:00 Channel Four - is a new documentary series following the former model and TV presenter Katie Piper. Katie, you may remember was the subject of the incredibly moving and thoughtful 2009 film Katie: My Beautiful Face which described horrific acid attack that left her disfigured and blinded in one eye. Bravely, Katie chose to give up her anonymity and attempt to increase awareness about burn victims, something which the original Cutting Edge documentary highlighted. Now, she's set up a charity, The Katie Piper Foundation (with Simon Cowell at the patron), to help people living with their disfigurements and overcoming prejudice. Having come to terms with her own facial scarring Katie hopes to help others overcome their insecurities, beginning with a twenty three-year-old with a rare condition, and a former ballet dancer who suffered horrific burns after an epileptic fit.

On a far less worthy note from Channel Four, there's Supersize vs Superskinny Kids at 8:00. Concerned busybodies Doctor Christian Jessen and dietician Ursula Philpot try to solve eating problems among he UK's children, in light of claims that one in every six of them is obese. They also try to tackle anorexia, which is reported to have doubled among youngsters over the past decade. The pair begin by meeting seventeen-stone teenager Ieuan Rosser who consumes four thousand calories a day (that sounds like a light afternoon snack to yer actual Keith Telly Topping) and super-fussy thirteen-year-old Jess whose father is struggling to deal with her unhealthy diet. Continues tomorrow. Oh, for God's sake, just leave them alone, will you? If it's not you people, it's bloody Jamie Oliver, or Jo Frost, or Phil and Kirstie. We can live our lives perfectly adequately without any help from you, Channel Four, thanks all the same. And if we can't, then, you know, tough. It's our lives we're wasting, try sorting out your own problems before you get onto the rest of the country. I don't know about anybody else, dear blog reader, but yer Keith Telly Topping is just about sick to the back teeth of alleged experts on TV telling him how he needs to live his life, because he's 'not doing it properly.' If it's not what we eat it's how we decorate our homes. Or the clothes we wear. Or, that we're bringing up our kids wrong. Or something. It's always something. Never mind the nanny state, some of this stuff is Stalinist. God help us the day that these people finally solve all the things that we're doing wrong. Their lives will be so empty if they've got nothing to whinge about.

In Tutankhamun: The Mystery Revealed - 8:00 Channel Five - Dr Zahi Hawass conducts an examination of the Egyptian pharaoh's early years, focusing on the story of his parents and their mysterious fate, the boy king's accession to the throne, and the ways in which he transformed Egypt. Given the nature of the last show, they'll probably find that old King Tut died because he was eating the wrong things. And, if only Oliver, the Food God, had been around to put him right he'd still be with us today.

Now, yer Keith Telly Topping happened to stumble across the opening episode of Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands - 9:00 BBC3 - recently. And, he was really rather impressed, dear blog reader. And, he didn't expect to be either. Following five hard years of study, seven ordinary twentysomethings are about to embark on an extraordinary career. Laying both their professional and private lives bare, the series sees how the junior doctors cope with juggling their new found responsibilities and being a young adult. The junior doctors live together across three emotionally charged months, while working in roles that take us to the heart of some of the hospital's busiest departments. It's a bit like a soap opera but these are real people and, as the title says, every day for them involves issues of, quite literal, life and death. In the latest episode, the A&E department is moved to a new ward, and Jon reassesses his attitude toward work with the results of his surgery exam looming. Meanwhile, Adam gets an opportunity to assume greater responsibility and make more decisions in the Emergency Assessments unit, and Suzi's confidence takes a knock after a tough night shift. Highly recommended.

Wednesday 23 March
Yer Keith Telly Topping's current favourite TV show in all the land that am, MasterChef returns to BBC1 at 9:00. Scowly John Torode and slightly-less-scowly Gregg Wallace challenge the seven remaining contestants to prepare a dish for leading caterer Bertie de Rougemont. The six who get through this initial test will then have three hours to cook a buffet for the entire cast and crew of Merlin at the fantasy drama series' wrap party, hosted by ... wait for it, the actor Richard Wilson. Bloody hell, he gets everywhere that bloke. He must've managed to fix the rail network if he made it all they back to South Wales in time for the party. Personally, I don't blieeeeeve ... Oh, hang on, we've done that one haven't we?

In The Truth About Lions - 9:00 BBC2 - Big Cat Diary presenter Jonathan Scott investigates the behaviour of a pride of lions in East Africa as he discovers what makes these animals tick. He explores the possible reasons for the lions' social structure, including the benefits of pack-hunting and raising cubs, and reveals the findings of Professor Craig Packer's thirty-year study of the creatures. Hopefully, they won't get too close to what they're studying. Reminds yer Keith Telly Topping of the story of the cameraman and his soundman filming a lion in Africa. They get about fifty yards away from it and the lion, for the first time, notices them and gives a roar of anticipation. Never taking his eyes from the mighty beast, the cameraman starts to slip on a pair of running shoes. 'You'll never outrun that thing,' his soundman tells him. 'No,' replies the camerman, 'but I'll outrun you!'

It's an extra special night for Octogenarian crime lovers everywhere tonight as Midsomer Murders returns - 8:00 ITV - with a new face investigating the goings on there. DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) arrives in Midsomer to take over the role that his cousin, Tom, occupied for so many years. The headmistress of an upmarket girls' boarding school (steady!) wastes no time in asking him to patrol the forthcoming classic-car show. Probably on the off-chance that Jezza, Hamster and Cap'n Slow might turn up and lower the whole tone of the neighbourhood. Anyway, when the local DJ - who was set to judge the vehicles - is horribly crushed to death, the detective is soon investigating his first murder case since replacing John Nettles. And, of course, as the death toll rises, he finds himself in a perilous situation. Well, he's in a small Somerset village with a murder rate higher than Baltimore, for a kick-off that'd be enough to twist anybody's boat-race. Guest starring the great David Warner and Samantha Bond.

One of the crassest examples of sycophancy and crack licking towards the upper classes since we all stopped tugging our forelocks in the streets at anybody wearing a top hat, is Royal Upstairs Downstairs - 6:30 BBC2. This sick fiasco of Lording It over us common plebs sees Tim Wonnacott and Rosemary Shrager - who are obviously so much better than the likes of us - visit Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, which Queen Victoria visited in August 1850. And, they've been living off the reflected glory of that visit ever since. Which is grossly unfair, frankly. Time Team went there a few years ago and, to be honest, I'd be boasting about Tony Robinson being in the vicinity of the drum long before I got anywhere near some frumpy old Empress. Tim explores the vast building and highlights the curiosities that would have surprised the monarch during her stay, while Rosemary and Ivan Day are in the kitchen preparing the signature dish of celebrated French chef Alexis Soyer. And, viewers at home can sit in their hovels, unable to put the heating on since the cost of fuel is the same as the cost of a Bugatti Veyron these days, shivering like crushed victims of a society which doesn't care whilst these ... people swan around the gaff like it's 1915. And celebrate the lifestyles of the rich and chinless. 'Look how The Nobs live,' this programme seems to say. 'Aren't you just beyond sorry you weren't born into privilege and wealth like wot they are but, instead, got dragged up in the shit-stained gutters of some council estate in Newcastle? Know your place, you oiyk.' Well, don't know your place, dear blog reader. Not knowing your place is good. Unlike tawdry bollocks like this.

Thursday 24 March
Windfarm Wars - 7:00 BBC2 - is a documentary following global windfarm developer Rachel Ruffle, who faces opposition to her plans for the Den Brook Windfarm in Devon, featuring nine one hundred and twenty metre-high turbines in a valley four and a half miles from Dartmoor National Park. A local 'action group' claims the turbines are visually intrusive and ineffective, while a resident is torn between the need for action on climate change and his fears that the noise could blight the countryside. Now, this is a tricky subject because most of us probably wouldn't want to have a sodding great monstrosity of the kind stuck in our back gardens. The other side of the coin, however, is that renewable - and clean - sources of energy are desperately needed since the coal and oil is fast running out and, if it's not going to be wind power then what's the alternative? In many cases, protesters in situations such as those do, rather, strike me as classic examples of the Nimby mentality. They want all of the nice amenities of modern life - access to electricity, the telephone etc. - but they don't want to have their rustic splendour spoiled to actually get them. My solution would be simple - if you want to live like an extra in Constable's The Hay Wain then that's fine but I'm afraid we'll have to remove your electricity supply and give it to somebody who doesn't mind having their view spoiled by a few (to be honest, not that aesthetically displeasing) wind turbines. I wonder if the same people would have been complaining in the 1930s when the National Grid was set up and vast stretches of the country were covered for the first time in electricity pylons? I doubt it, somehow. And, to me, they're a far greater eyesore than wind turbines.

Women in Love - 9:00 BBC4 - is the first in a two-part drama by William Ivory, based on DH Lawrence's novels The Rainbow and Women in Love. The lives and romances of sisters Ursula and Gudrun are charted through their relationships with friends Rupert and Gerald in the build-up to the First World War. As the two liaisons intensify, the couples leave the Midlands and go abroad together, leading to conflict and tragedy. Starring Rosamund Pike, Rachael Stirling, Rory Kinnear and Joseph Mawle. Part of the Modern Love season.

In Too Old to Be a Mum?: Tonight - 7:30 ITV - Jonathan Maitland investigates the trend of women in their forties having babies, with the number doubling in the past decade. He hears from fertility experts who warn that choosing career first and starting a family later puts the health of mothers and their children at risk.

And lastly for this week there's the return of Russell Howard's Good News - 10:30 BBC3. The comedy in which the Mock the Week stand-up offers his perspective on stories dominating the media across TV, online and in print, as well as picking up on overlooked items which 'raise a smile.' In Russell and his writers if not, necessarily, with anyone else.

And so to the news: BBC bosses are alleged to have identified abandoning coverage of Formula One and Wimbledon as one way of saving money to help the broadcaster contend with the frozen licence fee settlement imposed last autumn. Senior managers drawing up cost-saving options have alighted on the forty million pounds-a-year motor racing deal and the long-running tennis coverage as ways in which the BBC could help achieve a six hundred million pounds annual saving targeted for 2014. Formula One, although helped by the popularity of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, is not peak-time programming, and as a result is viewed as a relatively expensive part of the sports schedule. Having been on ITV as recently as 2008, the sport is not seen as a mainstay of the BBC calendar, although it does get decent ratings given the time that it's usually on. Dropping Wimbledon, seen as a quintessentially BBC event, is also said to be under consideration, although that would be an even more controversial move. Although not with yer actual Keith Telly Topping, I must say. I can't stand two weeks of rank snobbery in which time seems to stand still and, often, programmes I like are shunted to one side without so much as a by-your-leave so other people can watch bloody tennis. The BBC has broadcast the event since 1937, and the close relationship between the All England Club and the broadcaster means that the exact cost of the rights is barely known outside a handful of people, according to the Gruniad. 'Wimbledon costs tens of millions, and is a very expensive contract, and costly to cover. No one is saying, definitely exit, but it is being looked at. Or perhaps, goes the thinking, this is a contract that could be shared with another broadcaster,' said one 'well-placed' BBC 'insider.' Allegedly. However, it would not be easy for the BBC to make a quick move to drop either sport, as both contracts run until 2014. Overall, the BBC spends about three hundred million pounds per year on sport coverage, although costs vary significantly from year-to-year particularly if there is a major event – in particular the Olympics or the World Cup. With the broadcaster under pressure to cut twenty per cent from its budgets by 2014, sport will need to save an estimated sixty million smackers. However, it is understood that the BBC would strive to protect football coverage, because of its appeal and the peak-time programming it provides in the form of Match of the Day. Even though the cost of football presenters – such as Gary Lineker, who earns a reported one million pounds per year – is high. The survey of the sports department was touched on by the incoming BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten, when he was vetted by the culture, media and sport select parliamentary committee on Wednesday. He warned that 'all hell will break loose' when cutting decisions are unveiled. Late on Thursday it emerged that the BBC was also considering a proposal to cut huge chunks of programming from its forty local radio stations. If the proposals are accepted, and the BBC stress that these are still only proposals, only the breakfast and drivetime shows would be retained, with the rest of the output replaced by content from rolling news and sport station BBC Radio 5Live. Which, as noted by just about everybody who has commented on it so far is a fantastically bad idea. See below. The BBC's English regions controller, David Holdsworth, stressed on Friday that no decisions had been taken - although the fact that they're even thinking about considering such proposals is, frankly, sick and wrong - but he also warned staff to be realistic about what sort of service the corporation could provide in the wake of the impending budget cuts. 'The BBC is going through a fundamental assessment of what it needs to do to maintain quality, audience trust and fulfil our purposes but with significantly less money,' he said in an e-mail to all local radio staff. The BBC may also make savings by cutting back regional network television made specifically for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and English regions, particularly on BBC2. One programme thought to be at risk, according to the Gruniad, is the Scottish soap River City, which has not found an audience outside Scotland. Cuts to regional programming would be controversial away from London, particularly as ITV has reduced its spending in these areas. A BBC spokesman said: 'We are looking at a range of ideas and it would be wrong to comment on what is speculation.'

The Media Trust has urged the BBC not to scale back its local radio services, arguing that the move would leave communities 'irrevocably weakened.' Caroline Diehl, chief executive of the Media Trust, said that communities and charities in the UK are 'hugely reliant' on BBC local radio to raise the profile of their services, causes and campaigns. 'Already Media Trust has seen growing concern among communities at the ongoing demise of truly local newspapers and commercial local radio. The BBC's investment in local radio keeps the commercial players on their toes, and maintains some level of competition,' said Diehl. 'Local radio is a key service for the millions of people who are not yet online, and provides a much-needed unifying media presence in localities. BBC local journalists are often the first "whistle-blowers" for local issues of national concern, able to be our nation's "eyes and ears on the ground," and a resource to national media.' She added: 'With UK government policy driving an increasing structural dependency on local charities and community groups to underpin our communities, it is vital that BBC local radio, one of the main resources for these groups, is kept in place, and indeed, strengthened.'

Morena Baccarin has admitted that she is uncertain if V will be renewed for a third season. The actress, who plays alien queen Anna, told The TV Addict that she is 'just waiting like everybody else' for news on the show's future. 'I'm happy with the work we did this season, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed,' she explained. 'Our ratings are holding in the demographic we need to, so who knows? Who knows how the new pilots for ABC are shaping up and what's going to be important to them? All I can do is my job.' She also admitted that it is frustrating to be in the dark about the show's prospects. 'It's completely hard as an actor to have other people control your fate,' she said. 'But it's kind of what I signed up for, so you just try to stay as zen as possible about it.' Baccarin added that she would like to see the emotionless Anna develop 'a romantic relationship or friendship' in a potential third season. 'I don't want to know too much [about Anna's future] because I don't want to be disappointed if the show doesn't come back,' she revealed. 'I would like to see Anna form an attachment that would force her to sort of grapple with human emotions and maybe realise that they aren't necessarily such a bad thing.'

Lisa Edelstein has dropped hints about her character's future on House. The actress told Entertainment Weekly that future episodes will see Cuddy 'dealing with the fallout' of her recent break-up with House (Hugh Laurie). 'She took a major risk this season, and it didn't work,' Lisa explained. '[That's] extremely disappointing, but it was something she had to do.' Edelstein also suggested that viewers may be surprised by Cuddy's 'extreme' reaction to her romantic troubles. 'As mature as you think Cuddy might be, she's still dealing with House,' she said. 'His reactions are so extreme it puts her in a position of having deal with really extreme choices really quickly.' House creator David Shore previously dismissed the notion that Cuddy and House will become an 'on-off' couple. 'I can't rule it out [but] I don't think so,' he said.

The BBC's Panorama team and backbench Football Association councillors will ensure that the World Cup vote debacle in Zurich stays in the spotlight. Panorama have commissioned a second documentary on the 2018 and 2022 bids that is expected to focus on how Russia and Qatar - allegedly - 'bought their way to victory.' That's the Daily Scum Mail's phrase, incidentally, not yer actual Keith Telly Topping's. Necessarily. Pressure from fans' representative Malcolm Clarke has led to the FA promising that England 2018 bid chairman Geoff Thompson and CEO Andy Anson will face the FA Council at their next meeting on 24 March to explain what went wrong with their disastrous campaign. They will certainly be asked why England committed to an eighteen million pound bid that collected just one vote - apart from Thompson's - when FIFA's publicly stated strategy was to 'take the tournament to new territories.' Stoke chairman Peter Coates told the football governance inquiry yesterday: 'I'm surprised we didn't know more. It was wrong we couldn't do better. We weren't smart enough to get a feel.' Sunderland chief Niall Quinn added: 'A lot of good stuff got drowned in arguments.' Labour MP Paul Farrelly said he discovered during the select committee trip to Germany that Sir Bobby Charlton was told a year before the vote that England 'had no chance.' England 2018 complained at length about the first Panorama programme on FIFA skulduggery being broadcast on the eve of the December vote. But, it would seem that there'll be nothing like the outcry over a second show with the FA split as to whether it's worth repairing the relationship with Sepp Blatter's regime.

Frank Skinner has been breathalysed by police – even though he has been tee-total for twenty five years. He was pulled over for speeding on Tower Bridge, when the officer asked him if he'd been drinking that evening, to which Skinner replied: 'I can tell you now, I haven't had a drink since 24 September 1986.' 'He just looked at me in disbelief,' the comic told listeners to his Absolute Radio Show. 'I thought, I've never been more confident of passing a test in my life. But there was a tiny grain of doubt in my mind that I might fail the breathalyser test because, even though I haven't had a drink since then, I've never felt fully sober since.' Needless to say he passed, and the police let him on his way – and allowed him to keep the breathalyser tube as a souvenir.

A man cleared of a murder charge has been named by the Gruniad Morning Star as a private investigator - with links to corrupt police officers - who earned one hundred and fifty thousand pounds a year from the News of the World for supplying illegally obtained information on people in the public eye. Jonathan Rees was acquitted of the murder of his former business partner, Daniel Morgan, who was found in a south London car park in 1987 with an axe in the back of his head. The case collapsed after eighteen months of legal argument, during which it has been impossible for media to write about Rees's former Fleet Street connections. The ending of the trial means that for the first time the Gruniad was at liberty 'to tell how Rees went to prison in December 2000 after a period of earning six-figure sums from the News of the World.' Rees, who had worked for the paper for seven years, was jailed for planting cocaine on a woman in order to discredit her during divorce proceedings. After his release from prison Rees, who had been bugged for six months by Scotland Yard because of his links with corrupt police officers, was rehired by the News of the World, which was then being edited by Andy Coulson. The revelations, the Gruniad state, 'call into question David Cameron's judgment in choosing Coulson as director of communications at 10 Downing Street in May 2010.' Both he and the deputy prime minister had been warned in March 2010 about Coulson's responsibility for rehiring Rees after his prison sentence. Clegg had been informed in detail about Jonathan Rees's murder charge, his prison sentence and his involvement with police corruption – and that he and three other private investigators had committed crimes for the News of the World while Coulson was deputy editor or editor. In September 2002 the Gruniad published a lengthy exposé of Rees's involvement with police corruption and illegal newsgathering. But since April 2008 the press have been prevented from revealing Rees's connections with the News of the World, 'or placing it in the context of News International's denials about any knowledge of illegal activity on behalf of the company.' News International had, until recently, claimed there was just one 'rotten apple' at the company and that the paper had no knowledge of the illegal activities of another private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who was paid one hundred thousand pounds before being sent to jail in 2007. Rebekah Wade, now chief executive of News International, was deputy editor of the News of the World from 1998-2000 and editor from 2000 to 2003. Coulson was deputy editor of the News of the World from 2000 and editor from 2003 to 2007. Rees worked for the paper until 2000, when he was jailed for seven years, and then, again, after his release from prison in 2005. Rees, according to the newspaper, paid 'a network of corrupt police officers' who 'sold him confidential records.' He 'boasted of other corrupt contacts in banks and government organisations,' hired specialists to '"blag" confidential data' from targets' current accounts, phone records and car registration, allegedly used 'Trojan horse' e-mails to extract information from computers and – 'according to two sources' – commissioned burglaries to obtain material for journalists. According to the Gruniad. On Friday the crown said it could offer no evidence against Rees and two other men accused of Morgan's murder. An Old Bailey judge ordered the acquittal of Rees and his co-defendants. The prosecutor, Nicholas Hilliard QC, said the weight of paperwork – about seven hundred and fifty thousand pages going back over twenty four years – made it impossible to guarantee that defence lawyers would be able to see everything they may need for the trial to be fair. Morgan's family has called for an inquiry into the case. Scotland Yard admitted that corruption in the first murder investigation 'had shielded the killers of Rees's one-time business partner.' The Rees case, the paper suggests, 'raises new questions about the failure of Scotland Yard's 2006 inquiry into phone hacking' at the News of the World. 'For more than a decade, Scotland Yard has been holding detailed evidence of Rees's corrupt activities for the News of the World and other titles, including many hours of taped conversations from a listening device that was planted in Rees's office for six months from April 1999,' the paper states. Despite this the Met in 2006 accepted the News of the World's claim that its royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, who had been caught hacking voicemail, was a 'rogue reporter.' Detectives decided not to interview any other journalist or executive from the paper. They also decided not to seek a court order to force the paper to disclose internal paperwork. Rees, now aged fifty six, worked regularly for the Daily and Sunday Mirra as well as for the News of the World. His 'numerous' targets included 'members of the royal family whose bank accounts he penetrated; political figures including Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell; rock stars such as Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and George Michael; the Olympic athlete Linford Christie and former England footballer Gary Lineker; TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan; and people associated with tabloid story topics, including the daughter of the former miners leader Arthur Scargill and the family of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe,' the newspaper alleges. In February 2010 the Gruniad wrote to Coulson asking him to comment on his responsibility for hiring Rees. 'The Guardian's letter also asked about three other private investigators who were convicted of crimes committed on behalf of the News of the World,' they say. Steve Whittamore and John Boyall admitted buying confidential data from the police national computer, and Glenn Mulcaire was convicted of hacking voicemail messages. Coulson has always maintained that he 'knew nothing' of any of this activity. He was also asked to comment on the fact that 'Scotland Yard was believed to have arrested and questioned Coulson's former assistant editor, Greg Miskiw, in 2005 and questioned him about the alleged payment of bribes to serving police officers and the employees of mobile phone companies.' Miskiw 'declined to respond' to Gruniad questions about this. Along with Rees, Glenn and Garry Vian were also acquitted on Friday in the Morgan murder case. The police case involved 'a series of supergrasses and the crown dropped some of them during some of the longest legal argument ever seen in an English criminal court.' After his acquittal Rees was reported to have said: 'I want a judicial inquiry, ideally a public inquiry.' In a statement read on his behalf, Rees's solicitor said: 'When Daniel Morgan was killed it was an awful shock to me and to our business. Whatever anyone may say on 10 March 1987 I lost a friend and business partner.'

Beverley Callard has revealed that she will film her Coronation Street exit next week. The actress announced her decision to quit her role as Rovers Return landlady Liz McDonald last October. Press reports have claimed that her final scenes will see Liz bid an emotional farewell to the pub before leaving Weatherfield by herself. Asked if the door was being left open for a potential return to the ITV soap during an appearance on This Morning, Callard said: 'I think it is, but we've not actually filmed it yet. I think a lot of the newspapers have run stories about the exit.' She added: 'There's a couple of different versions anyway and so no one really knows yet. I believe I film it next week - either Wednesday or Thursday and so I'm not sure exactly what happens myself, but I don't think she dies.' Speaking about her decision to leave, Callard added: 'I needed to take some time off, just for me really. I took some time off last year - they gave me some time. Then the new producer Phil Collinson said, "Come back and shoot this amazing storyline." When I read the script, I just thought, "I can't say no to this!"'

Nicole Scherzinger has described Cheryl Cole's accent as 'charming.' A comment which, if delivered in some Bigg Market drinking hole, might get a rather different reaction than amused.

The UK's National Space Centre in Leicester is holding a special charity event over the weekend 19 and 20 March to celebrate British Science Fiction. Guests at the event include Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet) and Gareth Thomas (Blake's 7), plus special effects duo Matt Irvine and Mike Tucker will be presenting talks and displays on their careers at the BBC Visual Effects Department, which of course covers Doctor Who. Yer Keith Telly Topping's old mucker James Moran - author of scripts for Doctor Who, Torchwood, Primeval and [spooks] among many others - will also be attending. The press release also promises: 'An amazing display of original props and costumes will be guarded over by an invasion force of Daleks, who are out in force to raise money for Children in Need. And, you thought they had no heart!' Many other guests and activities are expected to take place over the course of the weekend - you can find full details via the National Space Centre.

I wonder if they're planning on inviting ArcAttack along? Quality act!

And so to the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day. For this one, we're doing another of those 'same riff/different songs' things, but this time with one of the most famous examples in rock and roll. How to get from Chuck BerryTo Bob DylanTo Elvis CostelloTo R.E.M.in four easy moves and without changing chords!

1 comment:

Cocoa Beach Slip and Fall Attorneys said...

I love Agatha Christie novels and films. Sad that Poirot will end soon. Even on her book, there was a novel that was the last case off Hercule Poirot. I just can't recall if he died there or just retired.