Monday, May 16, 2011

Bantu Stephen Biko, Listening To Rico, Harpo, Groucho, Chico

If, like this blogger, you're still buzzing over Neil Gaiman's Doctor Who episode on Saturday night you might want to check out his description of an unfilmed scene - The Planet of the Rain Gods - from his original draft of The Doctor's Wife script over on the BBC website.
The Doctor's Wife had an audience Appreciation Index (or AI) score of eighty seven. This was the second highest of Saturday night on the four main channels with only The Comedy Genius of John Sullivan on BBC2 scoring higher.

As previously mentioned several times on this blog, the Metro's Keith Watson is one of yer actual Keith telly Topping's favourite TV reviewers currently working in the sphere. I don't always agree with his opinions, but they're always well-written and well-expressed with a casual wit that is neither intrusive or unwelcome. He's passionate too and unlike several TV reviewers, he does actually seem to quite like the medium that he's paid to talk about. Having said that I don't always agree with him, however, it's important to note that, oftentimes, I do. And today is one of those days. Here's yer man Keith, on the subject of Saturday night's Doctor Who: 'Though it was competing in the strangeness stakes with the time travelling madness that was the Eurovision Song Contest – what's not to love about Greek heavy metal folk strewn around a stage that looked like a dismantled Parthenon? – the latest series of Doctor Who (BBC1) truly hit its stride this week with a story garlanded in endearing weirdness by graphic novel master Neil Gaiman. Embellished by a guest turn by the spellbinding Suranne Jones, an actress made for other-worldly roles, The Doctor's Wife took us into a strange scrapyard world on the outer fringes of a recycled universe, a situation where the imagination can truly take wing. The emerging theme in the Steven Moffat era of Doctor Who is to place the emphasis on the Who, not the Doctor. What makes us who and what we are is the question bubbling away like a backbeat. And it's the double heart of the matter for the man himself, Matt Smith adding layers of self-doubt and complexity to his already winning turn as the celebrated Time Lord. Moffat has quite rightly rounded on so-called tweeting fans who can’t help themselves twatting Doctor Who plot details all over the Internet before it's even been screened. He's right to jealously guard the franchise he's inherited. Stories need surprises is his watchword and, in an age of too much information, it's harder and harder to maintain the surprise element. But in The Doctor's Wife we had surprises by the bucketload and tears to boot, in a story that was funny and moving by turn.' Oh, baby. And, a pretty good excuse for another picture of Suranne Jones, frankly.
Even better, though, was Keith's absolute demolition of the latest smug-git Piers Morgan interview. 'Is there a Guinness World Record for the fastest collapse in ratings between programmes on the same channel on the same night? I really hope there is and that it happened twixt Britain's Got Talent (surely a battle between fab boy singer Ronan and the French dancer with the spinning head) and the latest Piers Morgan’s Life Stories. Here we had the unedifying sight of 'where's my peerage?' Morgan licking the ego of man of the people John Prescott – you know, the alleged socialist who couldn't wait to swathe himself in ermine in the House of Lords – talking adultery, bulimia and temper tantrums with an air of smug self-importance that defied belief. Then again, there was so much bullshit flying about that studio it was impossible to know if anyone believed in anything.' You da man, Keith, mate.

Top Twenty programmes week ending 8 May 2011:-
1 Britain's Got Talent - ITV Sat - 10.20m
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 9.81m
3 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 8.66m
4 Doctor Who - BBC1 Sat - 7.85m
5 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 7.08m
6 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 6.08m
7 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 Sun - 6.06m
8 Case Sensitive - ITV Mon - 6.00m
9= Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 5.81m
9= Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.81m
11 Vera - ITV Sun - 5.71m
12= Waterloo Road - BBC1 Wed - 5.67m
12= Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.67m
14 UEFA Champions League Live - ITV Wed - 5.61m
15 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Wed - 5.51m
16 Exile - BBC1 Tues - 5.31m
17 Atlantis - BBC1 Sun - 5.11m
18 Have I Got News For You - BBC1 Fri - 4.69m
19 Watchdog - BBC1 Thurs - 4.48m
20 Inside The Human Body - BBC1 Thurs - 4.30m

BBC drama EastEnders took the top prize at the British Soap Awards at a ceremony in Coronation Street's own back yard - ITV's studios in Manchester. EastEnders won the best soap award for the fourth year running, beating Coronation Street plus Emmerdale, Doctors and Hollyoaks. The ceremony was held next door to the Coronation Street set in the year that the ITV soap celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with the tram-crash plot. That incident was named best single episode and most spectacular scene of the year. Despite missing out on the main award, Coronation Street won a total of eight prizes. The tangled relationship between the Webster and Dobbs families earned the storyline of the year accolade. Bill Tarmey, who played Jack Duckworth, won best exit and a lifetime achievement award. But he was not present to collect them. Liz Dawn, who played his late wife Vera, said that Tarmey was getting a rest before an operation. Jane Danson, who played Leanne Battersby, won best dramatic performance for her love triangle between Nick Tilsley and Peter Barlow. Meanwhile, EastEnders' Jessie Wallace, who plays Kat Moon, was named best actress, and her scenes with Shane Richie earned best on-screen partnership. The best actor award went to Emmerdale's Danny Miller, known to viewers as Aaron Livesy. The character has had a series of hard-hitting storylines about his struggle to come to terms with his sexuality. He beat Richie as well as Chris Gascoyne, who plays Peter Barlow in Coronation Street, and Hollyoaks' Emmett J Scanlan, who plays Brendan Brady. Miller made an emotional speech as he dedicated a special achievement award to Gavin Blyth, the Emmerdale producer who died last year at the age of forty one. The ceremony ended with almost thirty EastEnders cast members assembling on stage to accept the award for best soap. Steve McFadden, who plays Phil Mitchell in the BBC show, likened the contest to a football club playing at an opposition stadium. 'We do feel like we're away from home, but it's nice to get a result away from home,' he said. Referring to the competition with Coronation Street over the last year, he said: 'I think we've done well and I think they've done well and we enjoy the battle.' Richie joked: 'I got here about an hour early, snuck onto the Corrie set and sprayed on the wall: "Alfie woz ere." So when they go filming on Monday morning they're in for a shock.'

Emily Glenister the twenty three-year-old daughter of Amanda Redman is to join the cast of popular BBC drama New Tricks for the next series. Emily will co-star alongside her mother, James Bolam, Dennis Waterman and Alun Armstrong in the latest episodes to be screened on BBC1 later this year. Emily's father is Hustle's Robert Glenister, and Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes actor Philip Glenister is her uncle. This is, of course, the second occasion that one of the New Tricks cast will be working on the show with their daughter. Hannah Waterman has a recurring role on the detective drama.

Reports suggest that Lee Mack's new Saturday night entertainment show will begin on BBC1 on 18 June.

Ringers, a drama pilot starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, has been picked up but not by CBS as it was originally intended for but by The CW network instead. The hotly anticipated Ringers stars Gellar in a dual role; playing twins sisters. In the series Gellar plays Bridget, a young woman on the run from organised crime who decides to pose as her wealthy twin Siobhan but discovers that Siobahn has a bounty on her life as well. Ringers also stars Kristoffer Polaha, Ioan Gruffudd and Lost's Nestor Carbonell. Ringers has been given the greenlight for the Autumn season but not on CBS. Instead new CW entertainment president Mark Pedowitz has picked up the series, reports TVLine. This is, allegedly, because The CW is partly owned by CBS so the fellow network was able to acquire the series of its parent company.

Treme has reportedly been renewed for a third season by HBO. According to Deadline, the drama has been picked up again despite receiving lower ratings for its recent second season premiere than its launch last year. Treme, which comes from The Wire's David Simon and Eric Overmyer, follows the residents of New Orleans as the city deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The second season premiered in the US last month, while the first season recently finished airing in the UK on Sky Atlantic. The cast includes Khandi Alexander, Melissa Leo, Wendell Pierce, John Goodman and Clarke Peters.

Harry Hill is to launch a brand of peanut butter. The comic has loaned his face to Harry's Nut's – a Fairtrade enterprise which helps farmers in poor countries – for the past three years. Now he is extending the charity brand into peanut butter, with jars available in one hundred and ninety Sainsbury's stores from next month, priced one pound and sixty nine pee. The product will be made by jam manufacturer Duerrs. Now, personally, yer Keith Telly Topping rather likes the Australian Nobby's Nuts line of salted peanut products myself. But, I also like Harry's Nuts. Which is better? There's only one way to find out ...

Simon Cowell has poked fun at the 'big hairdo' Cheryl Cole showed off on the first day of X Factor USA auditions. The Heaton Horror began filming for the show last Sunday, just days after being confirmed as a judge on the upcoming FOX series. Cole will sit on the panel alongside Cowell, Paula Abdul and Antonio LA Reid. Speaking in an interview for FOX yesterday, the music mogul and egomaniac confessed that he 'wasn't a fan' of the twenty seven-year-old's do. 'Big?' he quipped as the interviewer tittered sycophantically. 'It was the equivalent of five gallons of hairspray and then standing in the middle of a hurricane.' Cowell also went on to dismiss claims that he has insisted that Steve Jones does not become romantically involved with any of his female colleagues on the show. Jones will co-host the series alongside Nicole Scherzinger. Branding the claims 'ridiculous,' Cowell added: 'Steve can do whatever he likes.'

Louis Walsh has spoken of his 'shock' at Dannii Minogue's shock exit from The X Factor. Which is, of course, shocking. Over the weekend, the Australian judge - and least famous of the Minogue sisters - confirmed that she will not return to the judging panel for the upcoming eighth series. Minogue, who mentored winner Matt Cardle last year, leaves Walsh to be joined by three new judges. 'I'm shocked,' the Sun quotes Walsh as saying. There you are, we told you he was shocked. 'I genuinely thought she was coming back. I thought they'd done a deal. It's a big show and an amazing opportunity. I'm sad for Dannii that it didn't work out.' However, an 'insider' has allegedly claimed that if programme bosses had 'really wanted' Minogue to stay on the panel, they would have worked out a schedule to accommodate her commitment to Australia's Got Talent. 'It's true that during discussions there was an issue with dates as she was supposed to filming in Australia when we were due to record,' the 'insider' allegedly told the paper. 'But if we wanted her on the show we would have been able to work round it. We have already changed the auditions for another judge (Gary Barlow) so he can fulfil his tour dates. It's our show - we can do what we like.' The newspaper claim that the 'source' continued: 'Simon has been telling producers he wants Kelly Rowland and Tulisa from N-Dubz and the simple fact is there wasn't room for everyone. Something had to give - and that something was Dannii.' The judging panel were due to begin filming auditions in Manchester on Wednesday, however these have now reportedly been delayed until June.

Alan Carr has revealed that he turned down an offer to host a reality television programme featuring gay pilots. The comedian and chat show host admitted that he was 'stunned' to be asked to front Up, Up and A Gay. He also declined a second series format entitled Ten Gay Celebrities On A Farm, the Sun reports. 'That would have involved me learning to fly and flying around the world talking to other gay pilots,' Carr said. 'The other one wanted to put ten gay celebrities on a farm. They just wanted me to be milking a cow squealing, aargh!' The thirty four-year-old added that he is focusing on his upcoming nationwide Spexy Beast Live tour, which begins in Brighton on 11 September. 'I have awards for my stand-up comedy,' he said. 'I don't want people to forget that. I just feel there's so much trash about I have to go back on tour to prove myself again.'

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, one of the most loved cars in the world, is going up for auction in Los Angeles. The eponymous star of the 1968 family movie was shipped to California from England to go under the hammer on Sunday. The unique vehicle, which is still in working order, is expected to fetch up to two million dollars. For the past four decades it has been kept in Stratford-upon-Avon by owner Pierre Picton, the man who looked after it on set. It has appeared at hundreds of shows and charity road races, but has never been auctioned until now. There were several Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cars made for the film, but this was the only one that actually worked. It was driven in the movie by Dick Van Dyke, who played the eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts who takes his children and his, ahem, friend Truly Scrumptious on the adventure of a lifetime to Vulgaria. No, really, if you've never seen it, trust me it's better than it sounds. And The Child Catcher is terrifying. The vehicle was designed by Oscar-winner Ken Adam and built by the Ford Racing Team. Its bonnet is crafted of polished aluminium; the boat deck is hand-crafted of red and white cedar, and the brass fittings taken from Edwardian cars. The car is powered by a Ford 3 litre V6 engine and has a dashboard plate from a British World War I fighter plane. Chitty was completed in 1967 and registered with the number plate GEN 11, given to her by Ian Fleming, who wrote the novel that the movie was based on. The registration spells the Latin word 'genii', meaning magical person or being. It is being sold by a Hollywood memorabilia company Profiles in History, which says the vehicle is attracting interest from around the world. 'I think it's the most recognisable car in the world,' said Joe Maddalena, the company's owner. 'This car is the best of the best. It takes your breath away. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a car collector or museum.'

The divine and gorgeous vision of loveliness Gemma Arterton has signed up to join Julie Andrews, Matthew Goode and Gabriel Byrne in a big-screen adaptation of Agatha Christie's Crooked House directed by Neil LaBute. Rewritten for screen by Downton Abbey creator Lord Snooty and Tim Rose Price, the film will feature a crime set against the backdrop of three generations of a family who live together in a large, seemingly crooked house. All of the members of the family - who each have their own eccentricities - become suspects when their multimillionaire relative is killed and a detective must determine whether Gemma's character is a murderess or the next victim. Although the book isn't one of Agatha's most well-known works it was one of her personal favourites. LaBute - who directed the 2006 remake on The Wicker Man for which we must all try to find it in our hearts to forgive him - said: 'The story has a couple of fresh sides to it that I didn't remember from Christie's work. There's a love story, which didn't feature strongly in many of her books, so that seemed very different to me and fresh. Plus it's quite morally ambiguous, which also appealed to me.' Budgeted at around twenty million dollars, Crooked House is set to begin filming in the UK this summer.

And so we come to Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day. The latest batch of which features three outstanding examples of The Poet Laureate of Harrow Weald, Mister Ian Dury and His Various Blockheads. Starting with all my brain and body needs. In fact, as they noted in This Is Spinal Tap, to be honest I can do without the rock and roll if push came to shove.
Next up, reasons to be cheerful. of which there are several, apparently. Love Davey Payne's lounge-style saxophone solo.
And finally, one of their most under-rated pieces. Their first release without Chas Jankel, Wilco Johnson playing the licks and Micky Gallagher and Johnny Turnbull's doon-The-Bigg-Market backing vocals. Nice.

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