Saturday, April 23, 2011

Week Eighteen: Wir Fahr'n Fahr'n Fahr'n Auf Der Autobahn

The BBC was forced to blank out parts of Have I Got News For You on Friday night to protect the identity of an alleged celebrity who has allegedly won a gagging order. Allegedly. Rent-a-quote Tory MP Louise Bagshawe - who seems to have an opinion on pretty much any subject you can name - came close to identifying the man. Who may or may not be a married Premier League footballer who had, or didn't have, an affair with Big Brother's Imogen Thomas – but was censored. Or not as the case may be. It came as the secretary of state for justice Ken Clarke was urged to order judges to 'put freedom of the press before the privacy of the rich and famous.' Senior Tory John Whittingdale said that the Government should intervene after a series of injunctions were handed down by the courts. As part of the BBC1 topical news quiz's Odd One Out round, four silhouette images of people were displayed with their faces blacked out. Baggydraws, who is also the author of several really awful chick-lit novels - and who was, to be fair, actually jolly entertaining on the show - said: 'You're not allowed to know who they are. They may or may not have done something with ladies who are not their wives. One of them definitely doesn't rhyme with ... even though he is a footballer.' When she said the word, whatever it was, the sound was muted and a black bar was placed across her mouth. Would that such a thing could happen whenever other Tory MPs open their big traps. But, anyway, Bagashite said that she was considering using parliamentary privilege, which allows MPs to speak without fear of prosecution, to 'name and shame' in the Commons those people who are known to have taken out injunctions. She also noted that the former RBS chairman Sir Fred Goodwin could be the 'odd one out' since he was 'named' in the press in March as having been the subject of a so-called superinjuction after the existence (or otherwise) or such an injunction, which may or may not have existed, was revealed by John Hemming, a back-bench Liberal Democrat MP who does exist - at least, the electorate of Birmingham Yardley better hope he does since they voted for him - during a business debate in the House of Commons. The Incredible String Bagshawe went on to note that because Hemming had said this covered by parliamentary pribilege she was also at liberty to report the fact that he'd said it, 'whether or not he was right, who's to say?' 'I do,' said Ian Hislop with the sort of cheeky grin he usually gives judges who've just done Private Eye for several hundred thousand smackers for contempt! David Cameron has accused judges of using the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights into British law, to usher in a privacy law by the back door. The Ministry of Justice has told MPs that it only collects details of the number of applications for an injunction, not the outcomes. Anyway, at the end of all that, it was a pretty good episode of Have I Got News For You - even Marcus Brigstocke wasn't as annoying as he usually is. And Hislop and Merton were on stunning form. Check it out on iPlayer if you missed it.

An open-air play with a cast of more than one thousand and a Hollywood star in a leading role is taking to the streets of Port Talbot for the next three days. The Passion, a re-working of biblical passion plays, stars Michael Sheen, who has returned to his home town to direct the National Theatre Wales project. It is not just set in the south Wales town, it also involves hundreds of its residents as well as numerous local drama groups. The production started at 3pm on Aberavon seafront on Good Friday and will end on Monday. Hundreds watched from the promenade and the beach as the first elements in the drama unfolded. Organisers say it will run for seventy two-hours non-stop, with a series of public performances on each of the three days. Sheen will eat his 'last supper' before being locked in a police cell. The actor, whose films include Frost/Nixon, The Damned United, The Queen and The Twilight Saga: New Moon, has returned to his home town of Port Talbot to star as a Christ-like character in the marathon National Theatre Wales production. Although, sod the Oscar nomination, the actual highlight of his career will come in four weeks time when he does a voice on Doctor Who. I'm just saying. Sheen will spend Saturday evening eating a meal of beer and sandwiches in a dramatisation of The Last Supper at the Seaside Social and Labour Club - where Welsh rockers Manic Street Preachers will also perform. The actor will then be locked in the cells at the town's police station for the night, before being 'crucified' on a roundabout overlooking Port Talbot bay on Easter Sunday. More than one thousand local residents are also taking part in the production, which is being performed at venues across the industrial seaside town. The event actually began at 5.30am on Good Friday with a scene on the seafront inspired by John the Baptist's baptism of Jesus, which was watched by several hundred local people who had only heard about it by word of mouth. By 3pm, when the first main part of the play was performed on Aberavon Beach, there were thousands of spectators on the damp sands and along the promenade. Sheen provoked gasps when he emerged from the crowd sporting a scruffy beard and shaggy hair and wearing a blue hooded top with a red blanket wrapped round him. After a powerful speech which moved one woman to tears, he melted back into the audience and walked off down the beach in the direction of Port Talbot's imposing steelworks, before spending the night sleeping rough on a mountain on the outskirts of the town. Sheen, who is also co-director and creative director of the play, has described the project as like a soap opera. 'There's episodes of the story over the three days, and in between those official episodes there's other stuff going on but you just have to go and look for it,' he told This Morning. 'It's a story that is absolutely about the town now, but it is underpinned by the story of the last week of Jesus.' Sheen was inspired to put on the ambitious drama - which was two years in the planning and is the finale to National Theatre Wales's launch year - by watching performances of Passion plays in Port Talbot when he was a child.

ITV is to launch a print advertising campaign to promote its new factual arts strand Perspectives, as part of the broadcaster's renewed push on arts programming. According to Campaign Live, the first advert focuses on Looking for Lowry, a documentary presented by Sir Ian McKellen on the life and legacy of the acclaimed Manchester painter LS Lowry. The advertisement features a grimy factory wall reminiscent of the many scenes painted by Lowry, with stencilled writing proclaiming 'ugly is in the eye of the beholder,' as well as various other messages. Looking for Lowry will be broadcast on ITV this Sunday. More print adverts will be launched to promote other films from the Perspectives strand, including Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's Pre-Raphaelites, Pitman fronted by Robson Green and New Orleans with Hugh Laurie. Created by the BBH agency, the adverts will appear in The Sunday Times, The Times, the Observer, the Guardian and FT Weekend. You know, all the newspapers that the average ITV viewer would never read in a million years. ITV has faced criticism for its arts coverage ever since its decision to cancel The South Bank Show in 2009, ending the arts programme's thirty one-year run on terrestrial TV. In July last year, former South Bank Show presenter Lord Melvyn Bragg criticised ITV's commissioning strategy, claiming that the broadcaster had been 'taken over by slide rules and suits.' At the time, Lord Bragg said: 'People who don't know how to design a boat are being asked to design a boat and then other people have to sail in it. I think they are wrong, wrong and wrong. They look at these statistics and they think that's what it adds up to. They are so wrong and they will find out that they are wrong and I hope it's not too late.'

And so to the latest lot of yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Friday 29 April.
Another Bank Holiday, dear blog reader. Because of the royal wedding. Great. We all get another day off work. The time is out of joint. O, cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right. The telly's utterly crap though so, you know, might be an idea to get out, go to the coast, get a bit of fresh air into your lungs. I'm being completely serious here by the way this is, genuinely one of the single worst twenty four hours of TV I think I've ever been reluctantly forced to comment upon. There is nothing. Not a sausage. Bugger all. If you insist on staying in, then you've got the fourteen hour brown tongue-fest that is the royal wedding to wade through. I mean, I don't mind the royal family as people, I'm sure they're very nice and all that. Charles is quite an interesting chap, Wlllie's a pop star and even Andrew, who does appear to be a complete berk, flew helicopters in a war zone which is something I wouldn't be able to. But this peasant has, frankly, got better things to do with his time than wave a flag at the TV in a sick orgy of manufactured euphoria every time one on them gets themselves hitched. Especially when they're using some of my taxes to pay for the party. The BBC have, at least, employed some proper journalists to cover the majority of it so if you feel obliged to watch any of it, that's probably the option to go for. ITV have hired Phillip Schofield. Which, I think says it all, really. Mind you, it could be worse. And, on Sky News with their coverage fronted by Eamonn Holmes, it will be. At work the other day a colleague casually mentioned, in passing, that he felt there should be a channel dedicated to everything but the royal wedding for that day so that, you know, viewers have at least the option to avoid it if they want to. 'There is,' I replied. 'It's called Dave.'

If you're looking for something - anything - not wedding-related to watch on terrestrial then, to be frank, you are going to struggle. Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - is probably your best bet. There was a brief brouhaha last year when William Roache's real-life sons James and Linus made a couple of appearances on the Street. Barlow offspring Lawrence (Linus Roache), with his identical hair but polar opposite views, turned out to be the anti-Ken, while grandson James appeared to be a more sympathetic soul. Tonight, the latter returns and Ken jumps at the chance to offer him a bed. Just how much space is there at number one? Meanwhile, randy Tommy Duckworth is coaching Tyrone in chat-up lines. Why? The ones Tommy has been using on Tina and Sally should have earned him a restraining order.

Saturday 30 April
In the conclusion to the two-part series opener on Doctor Who, Day Of The Moon - 6.00 BBC1 - The Doctor remains locked in 'the perfect prison' whilst Amy, Rory and River Song are all being hunted down across America by the FBI, the CIA, the NSC, the CSI and various other letters in the alphabet soup of secrecy. With the help of their new friend and FBI-insider Canton Everett Delaware III (Mark Sheppard) they are, ultimately, reunited to share their discoveries, if not their memories, with the Time Lord. The world has been occupied by a sinister alien force - The Silence - which controls humanity through post-hypnotic suggestion, and no one can be trusted. But, aided by President Nixon (Stuart Milligan) and Neil Armstrong's foot, the Doctor must mount a revolution to drive out the enemy and rescue the missing little girl. Though no one knows why The Silence took her. Or why they have kidnapped Amy Pond either. Might just be thing for short skirts, admittedly. And, hey, who can blame them? As usual, stick around for the 'coming next week' trailer (for The Curse of the Black Spot) and then nip over to BBC3 at 7:00 for Doctor Who Confidential. The perfect Saturday night in on your own, what more could anyone ask? (If anybody says 'a life' at this point, they will be spanked with a wet plimsoll...)

The latest episode of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved Spiral - 9:00 BBC4 - see the police concentrate their efforts on putting Niko's prostitution ring under extensive surveillance in the hope of tracking down a man whom, the believe, is an essential link in the investigation into The Butcher of La Villette. Meanwhile, Bremont puts pressure on Gilou, prompting Laure to jeopardise her career to help her loyal lieutenant. And, Judge Roban suspects someone may have betrayed him (presumably, someone in addition to his lying bastard of a brother and his scheming blackmailing little shit of a student) but he also discovers some hard evidence to support his inquiry into municipal corruption conspiracy that links a crazed dog attack on a child to the president's office. Former public prosecutor Pierre Clement finds himself on the wrong side of the law, meanwhile, and turns for help to the most unscrupulous lawyer he knows. And, we've all got a pretty shrewd idea what she's called.

On the other hand, if you've just had a frontal lobotomy, then you may likely prefer Sing If You Can - 7:00 ITV. In this ... thing, Boyzone's Mikey Graham, Loose Women panellist Lisa Maxwell and former footballer and sacked-in-disgrace-after-making-a-tasteless-remark-about-the-2006-tsunami former-Sky Sports pundit Rodney Marsh take on 2009 Dancing on Ice champion Ray Quinn, ex-England cricketer and Strictly Come Dancing champion Darren Gough and singer Camilla Kerslake. Does the phrase 'absolute fiasco' strike any chords with anyone? The contestants perform songs including Blur's 'Parklife' while undertaking a variety of challenges designed to distract them, with the winning team raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Keith Lemon and Stacey Solomon present. Well, Keith Lemon (who is, let's remember, a character) presents. Stacey Solomon just stands around looking utterly bewildered and shouting 'everybody's goin' mentaaaaawl!' at dramatically inappropriate moments. Somebody, dear blog reader, got paid to come up with this. Actual money. Yes, I think it's a Goddamn disgrace as well. Maybe we should for a club?

Sunday 1 May
The BBC's much anticipated three-part drama Exile begins, 9.00 BBC1. John Simm, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Waking The Dead's Claire Goose, Shaun Dooley and Timothy West star in this new psychological thriller created by State of Play and Shameless author Paul Abbott and written by Danny Brocklehurst. Which, we are promised, 'tells an intimate story of prodigal redemption.' When Tom Ronstadt (Simm) is sacked from his job and dumped by his lover, he has no one left to turn to and does something he hasn't thought about doing for eighteen years – he heads home, to t'North. The drive up the motorway forces Tom to recall to the fateful night which led him to leave home in the first place. What made his seemingly loving, caring journalist father beat him up so badly? What secret had Tom stumbled on that Sam (Broadbent) so desperately wanted to keep from him? Tom's arrival at his sister house surprises Nancy. She is not only still upset and hurt that her brother left, she's also angry that he hasn't offered to help over the past few years. With their father becoming lost to the horrors of Alzheimer's, things have not been easy for her. Nancy (Colman) leaves for a few nights away and Tom is thrown into an alien world of being a carer. He tries to explore his father's mind, gently steering him towards that day in 1989 when he suddenly and inexplicably lashed out. Needing to get away, Tom heads to the pub. Over a drink with old school friend Mike, Tom opens up about why he left. All he remembers is that he was brutally beaten by his dad and the name 'Metzler' was prominently displayed on the paperwork in his office. Metzler is now Mike's boss – the leader of the council. Is this a lead Tom can use? Sounds terrific and the cast is good, too. Continues tomorrow and concludes on Tuesday.

In the first of two end-of-series compilation shows of Time Team - 5:30 Channel Four - Tony Robinson and John Gater chart the rise and development of geophysics technology since the archaeology programme's first dig in 1994. The presenters reflect on some of the most memorable discoveries made using geophysics, before Tony decides to test how precise the technology has become by challenging John to identify ten objects buried in a field - without doing any actual digging.

Vera - 8:00 ITV - is a new detective drama starring twice Oscar-nominated Brenda Blethyn, the first of four murder mysteries featuring the character of DCI Vera Stanhope, who tracks down killers with the help of her long-suffering sidekick DS Joe Ashworth (David Leon). Probably closer to the spirit of Lewis than Midsomer Murders, if we're honest. In the first film, adapted from Ann Cleeves' novel Hidden Depths, two people are murdered in the same manner - their bodies placed in water and surrounded by flowers. Vera, Joe and their crime squad team must work quickly to find the culprit, uncovering complex and dysfunctional relationships among a group of bird-watching friends who protect one another. The North East setting - like Inspector George Gently - gives the drama something different from ITV's standard home counties locale to play with. Also starring the lovely Gina McKee from Our Friends In The North, Wunmi Mosaku, Paul Ritter and Neil Armstrong.

Monday 2 May
There's another of those two-part ITV dramas starting tonight, Case Sensitive - 9:00 ITV - all of which seem to be exciting potential pilots for new series but very few of which ever seem to actually develop into a recurring series. New Detective Sergeant Charlie Zailer finds herself working with DC Simon Waterhouse for the first time when Geraldine Bretherick and her five-year-old daughter Lucy are found dead in the bathroom of their luxury home, and the two argue about whether the case is one of murder, suicide or something more sinister. What, on Earth, could be 'more sinister' than murder you might ask, dear blog reader? Sadly, the ITV press release, which reads like it was written by a fourteen year old with writer's block, doesn't give us any clues. Sample: 'Meanwhile, when Sally Thorne, a working mother with a husband and two young children, hears of the deaths, she is shocked and appalled.' As one would be, I'm guessing. What I can tell you is that Sally 'tells her best friend she had an affair with Bretherick's husband and wants to see him again.' I wonder if that's the 'more sinister' thing? Perhaps we'll never care. Thriller, based on the novel Point of Rescue by Sophie Hannah, starring Dollhouse's Olivia Williams, Darren Boyd, Rupert Graves and Amy Beth Hayes. So, it's got a decent cast, at least. Concludes tomorrow.

Julia Bradbury's Canal Walks - 8:30 BBC4 - might just be, Extreme Fishing With Robson Green aside, the most curiously named travelogue vehicle yet devised on British TV. Although B-Roads With Robbie Coltrane ran it pretty close, it should be noted. Then again maybe the alternative of Julia Takes It Up The Canal might have got the wrong sort of audience. Yeah, good point, actually. I'll give them that one. Anyway, in this conceit the presenter - and thinking chap's crumpet - Julia explores Britain's network of canals and towpath trails, navigating rolling countryside and industrial heartlands. Her first visit is to the Highlands, where she embarks on an eight-mile walk against the backdrop of Ben Nevis along the Caledonian Canal.

EastEnders - 8:00 BBC1 - sees Jane trying to mark her fortieth birthday by putting her relationship with Ian behind her. But while she lets her hair down at the pub, there is a surprise waiting for her at home. Birthday parties are always a reet good laugh in Albert Square, dear blog reader. In case you hadn't noticed, they usually end in a riot. Literally as well as metaphorically. Meanwhile, Roxy visits Ronnie in prison - where she's been and gone and got herself banged-up good and proper with all the murderers and the sex offenders and the people who nick stuff from Kwik-Save - after receiving shocking news from her sister's lawyer. Well, she's going out of the series and, therefore, that probably means a long stretch in Holloway at Her Majesty's. Meanwhile, Masood makes a last-ditch attempt to prove his love to Zainab, Whitney jumps to conclusions when she spots Ryan talking to Lauren, and Grace voices her reservations about Mercy and Fat Boy's plan.

Tuesday 3 May
The Quite Remarkable David Coleman - 9:00 BBC2 - is, as the title suggests, a documentary highlighting the career of the sports broadcaster and presenter David Coleman as he celebrates his eighty fifth birthday. The programme examines his varied roles as a presenter, commentator, interviewer and quiz show host - on Sportsnight With Coleman, Grandstand, Match of the Day, A Question of Sport and others - and take a light-hearted look at some of his most famous on-air gaffes, which became affectionately known as Colemanballs. Includes contributions by Michael Parkinson who will - as usual - talk about the time he interviewed 'the late, great, Gene Kelly', Linford Christie, Daley Thompson, Huw Edwards, Ian Botham, Bobby Charlton and Princess Anne. My own, particular favourite David Coleman moment - apart from his genuinely superb comment when Scotland played Zaire in the 1974 World Cup '... And, for those of you watching in black and white Zaire are in the light shirts!' - is this classic outtake from the BBC's coverage of the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. Or, this one. Steady, Dave! Quite extraordinary. Back to the studio...

In The Secret Millionaire - 9:00 Channel Four - pregnant heiress Simrin Choudhrie, one of Britain's wealthiest women, puts aside her lavish lifestyle and heads for Burngreave in Sheffield, which was once at the heart of the city's steel industry. She is accompanied by a highly trained security team, whose job it is to maintain not only Simrin's safety, but also that of her unborn child. Disguised as a first-time mother-to-be taking part in a reality TV show, she explores enterprises hoping to improve conditions for the city's refugees, asylum-seekers and homeless people, as well as those suffering from dementia.

The latest episode of Holby City - 8:00 BBC1 - sees Greg struggling manfully to remain detached when a young patient asks him to speak on her behalf and argue she does not need surgery - despite medical evidence to the contrary. Meanwhile, Frieda is forced to work a shift without wearing her usual make-up, and Ric's return to work brings out Dan's competitive side - but the pair's friendly rivalry results in a potentially disastrous mistake.

Wednesday 4 May
With a title like Two Greedy Italians - 8:00 BBC2 - the BBC are, surely, asking for yet more Mexican-stand-off-style trouble over national stereotyping? Or, maybe not. Chefs Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo tour Italy to discover how their home country's culture has changed since they left more than 40 years ago, and how this has affected the way the population eats. Beginning in Emilia Romagna, the pair have Sunday lunch with a traditional family, before meeting a group of career women in Bologna who do not cook at home any more.

In Boudica's Lost Tribe: A Time Team Special - 9:00 Channel Four - Tony Robinson traces the story of the female warrior as he follows an excavation in Norfolk which may hold clues to what happened to her tribe, the Iceni, after their cataclysmic defeat at the hands of the Romans in 60AD. The presenter visits Caistor St Edmund to investigate whether it was really the Empire that crushed Boudica's people or if she herself led them to their inevitable destruction.

It doesn't seem but five of yer actual Telly Topping minutes since the last series of Waterloo Road - 7:30 BBC1 - ended. Yet here we are already for a new term. Touchy-feely headmistress Karen Fisher (Amanda Burton) returns to the school and this proves eventful when new site manager Rob Scotcher discovers an abandoned baby on the premises. Eleanor Chaudry and Daniel Chalk adapt differently on their first day working at Waterloo Road, while Rob's son Aiden makes a memorable first impression on Jess and Vicki. Chuckle Brothers-style double act Robson Green and Mark Benton join the cast, and singer Dionne Bromfield makes a guest appearance.

Thursday 5
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Christopher Eccleston, Stephen Rea, Rafe Spall, Kierston Wareing, Sir Antony Sher, and Lesley Sharp star in Hugo Blick's sophisticated and gripping conspiracy thriller The Shadow Line - 9:00 BBC1 - which 'delves into the heart of human morality.' Apparently. Good. Can't ever have too much delving into the heart of human morality, can we? Two years ago Harvey Wratten, one of the UK's biggest crime lords, and his nephew Jay Wratten were in prison. After serving but two years for their supposed nefarious and dastardly deeds they received a Royal pardon – but just four hours into their freedom old Harvey is murdered. DI Gabriel has just returned to work after being shot on an undercover job; his partner was killed and Gabriel suffered amnesia with a bullet lodged in his head. Gabriel starts to investigate the Wratten case with his partner DS Honey. Joseph Bede, one of Wratten's men, is keen to find out who killed Wratten himself, and also wants to track down Glickman, their money man. And hand out a particularly severe brand of instant justice. With Wratten dead and Glickman missing, Bede is left holding the fort. Meanwhile, Jay Wratten is a loose cannon. Bede sends his foot soldiers on a mission to find Glickman, and also the missing driver who collected Wratten from prison, Andy Dixon. Sounds right proper decent, actually with a quality cast and a good author. Mind, we've said that before and ended up with ... well, Bonekickers for a start. So, you know, time will tell.

The weird and wonderful world of Psychoville returns to BBC2 - 10:00 - for a new series to fright and delight in equal measure, taking mystery and intrigue to new heights. The new six-part series of the award-winning comedy thriller follows on from the dramatic end of the first series, where the relationship between the seemingly unconnected characters was revealed as they were drawn back to the scene of their crime by a vengeful Mr Jolly. In episode one the survivors of the explosion at Ravenhill Psychiatric Hospital are reunited to bury one of their number killed in the blast. But there is no rest for the wicked as new mysteries beckon. The survivors of the blast are under surveillance by the mysterious Grace Andrews and her inept henchman, Kelvin. Meanwhile, Detective Finney starts to question the survivors in an attempt to find out more about Kenchington's return from the dead and her hunt for her missing locket. Co-creators and writers Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton once again take centre stage, playing a range of loveable grotesques in a world that only they could imagine.

In Jackpots and Jinxes: Lottery Stories - 9:00 Channel Four - people whose lives have been transformed for better or worse by scooping a fortune on the National Lottery, which has created more than two thousand five hundred millionaires since it began sixteen years ago. Mark Gardiner, one of the first winners, offers advice to someone struggling with sudden wealth, while Ray and Barbara Wragg discuss how their windfall has brought them nothing but happiness. The documentary also goes behind the scenes at Camelot to explore the inner workings of the lottery organisation. Part of the Cutting Edge strand.

The Space Shuttle: A Horizon Guide - 8:00 BBC4 - is a documentary chronicling thirty years of service performed by NASA's space shuttle programme to mark the final flight. The film examines the triumphs and tragedies captured in three decades of coverage of space missions and asks if the shuttle will be remembered as an impressive chapter in human space exploration or a flawed endeavour.

And so to the news: The Weakest Link will end in spring 2012 when host - and scowling malcontent - Anne Robinson's contract comes to an end, according to the Gruniad Morning Star. The long-running BBC quiz show, in which Robinson honed her famed 'Queen of Mean' style, will end after eleven years. Robinson told the newspaper that the decision to leave was her own and that she is looking forward to other projects, including her second book, based on her own diaries. Although rumours that the BBC themselves were preparing to tell Ann that she was the weakest link and, say goodbye have been doing the rounds for the last eighteen months.
She explained: 'I'll miss it. It's been superb. So it is a hard decision. If there's anything about longevity in television, it's about knowing what to take and what to turn down, and what to stop. It's often about what not to do anymore. And I just simply haven't got time to do the book.' The presenter denied reports that she was displeased with cuts to her wages, saying: 'My fee wasn't cut. I originally said I would do [the programme for] ten years. I did a year more than I intended to. I think eleven years is more than enough.' When the series ends next year, it will have broadcast sixteen hundred and ninety three episodes, with more than fifteen thousand contestants. The show began in 2000 and enjoyed a brief run as an American version on NBC.

Declan Donnelly has spoken of his 'upset' after splitting up with girlfriend Georgie Thompson. According to the Sun, the relationship came to an end because Thompson wanted to start a family, while Donnelly wants 'to continue living a bachelor lifestyle.' The Britain's Got Talent presenter said that he was 'upset and disappointed' about the split, adding: 'I honestly don't want to go into why we split. I'll always have very fond memories.' A 'friend' of the couple allegedly said: 'Most people in a relationship that long would have moved in together - but they didn't.'

A Britain's Got Talent auditionee has reportedly been dropped from Saturday's show over fears that her act was 'too risky.' Britney Spears look-alike Lorna Bliss was, according to claims made in a tabloid newspaper, 'hand-picked by Simon Cowell' in order to 'sex up the show.' Her performance of 'Toxic', in which she 'writhes on the judges' desk wearing a revealing body stocking,' has 'now been axed' to avoid an Ofcom fine of up to five hundred thousand pounds if viewers complained, the Mirra alleges. 'It wasn't ideal for Simon - but he didn't have a choice,' the newspaper claims that a 'source' told them. 'Until yesterday Lorna was in the show, but when they saw the edit they thought it was too risky. Simon likes the show to be as sexy and controversial as possible but now is not the time to be taking chances. Ofcom could have seen it as show bosses sticking two fingers up to their authority.'

And, speaking of crap, former X Factor star Wagner Carrilho has reportedly joined the Celebrity Coach Trip line-up. The singer is said to have turned down the chance to appear on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! to take part in the show, and joined the trip in Rome. He 'immediately began serenading and chatting up the local women,' the Daily Lies claims. 'We didn't expect anything less of him. He was the most recognised out of all the celebs on Coach Trip and the women were all over him like a rash,' a 'source' said. We're presuming this is a different source to the Mirra's X Factor one. Although, you never know.

The Wombles are aiming to recycle their careers as they perform together for the first time in years at the world-famous festival. Great Uncle Bulgaria and the gang, who had several chart hits in the 1970s, are reforming to play the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury on 26 June. There's such a thing as taking nostalgia too far, you know? All four of their gold-disc LPs, plus the soundtrack to the 1977 film Wombling Free, are to be released ahead of their performance. The seven-piece group had a string of top ten singles, including 'Remember You're A Womble', before they finally split in 1978. Due to musical differences and an argument over Madame Cholet's saxophone solo on 'Superwomble.' Seriously, if you think the sibling rivalry in Oasis was bad, that was nothing to The Wombles. The tension in the studio when they were recording 'Minuetto Allegretto,' jeez, you could've cut the air with a knife. Tomsk and Bungo were off their faces in the corner on toot. But, perhaps I’ve said too much. Created by Elisabeth Beresford in 1968, the creatures originally featured in a series of children's novels before being adapted as a BBC series. The popular series, featuring overweight shirker Orinoco and handyman Tobermory, consisted of five-minute stop-motion episodes produced by FilmFair for the BBC. Voiced by the actor Bernard Cribbins, the first shows aired in 1973. There were eventually sixty episodes made over the next three years. The musical Wombles were the idea of composer Mike Batt, who wrote the series theme tune. In 1977, the live-action movie appeared, starring David Tomlinson and Bonnie Langford. It was shit.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping has resisted the temptation to populate today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day with Wombles singles and, instead, he's gone for another band that had their first UK top twenty hit in 1974. They were very into ecology too, as it happens. Works for trains as well as cars an'all. Achtung!

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