Friday, May 27, 2011

Week Twenty Three: Lies And Smiles, These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

Arthur Darvill took time out this week to talk to What's On TV about playing Rory in Doctor Who and to give out a few - minor - spoilers on his latest adventure in an acid mine. The second part of this Doctor Who story begins this Saturday with Rory in danger as he looks for Jennifer Ganger in the monastery. Rory, the magazine noted, seems to have a bigger role in this series? 'He's really part of the gang now,' replied Arthur. 'I think getting married and proving himself to everyone. Waiting two thousand years for Amy has helped his confidence. It hasn't made him "Mr Total Confidence" because I don't think he'll ever be that. But he definitely feels like he deserves to be there, and has a role to play and can help out with whatever adventure they have. There are still various tensions there, but he's not still trying to work out what's going on between the Doctor and Amy and the whole time travel thing. He's got it now!' So, does Arthur see Rory as a fully fledged companion? 'Absolutely and his nursing skills have definitely come into play. The Doctor finds him more useful now. Their relationship is growing and it's a very complicated relationship, but they are getting quite close. They're good friends and can tell each other what they think, rather than Rory kind of shying away from that.' The magazine noted that Rory had a big part to play in this latest two-parter? 'This is quite a good adventure for Rory because he's really at the point where he really wants to prove himself,' Arthur added. 'Here, he knows he's useful and can help out. He really goes for it in these episodes. There's a big war going on between the Gangers and people, and it's really a battle of humanity. He sometimes thinks the Doctor gets swept away to solve a situation and forgets about individual people who are being hurt.' he went on to note that the follow episode is a big one for Amy. 'There are really things that up the stakes about how much danger they're in, affecting each other, and how much danger the Doctor is putting Amy in. But Rory feels a responsibility to keep everyone safe. There's the ending to end all endings in this episode. I'm not saying exactly what it is, but it's a biggie! Saying that, there's a terrific cliffhanger in the next story, in episode seven. You won't want to miss that either.' Has Arthur got over having to sport a ponytail and a mullet in the last series? 'I'd like Rory to cut himself a Mohican and travel back to the 1970s to the punk rock era,' Arthur said. 'Everyone, friends and family, loved that ponytail! It was really attractive, wasn't it?' Finally the magazine asked if Arthur was an SF fan before he joined Doctor Who? 'I was just a kid when Doctor Who was on before and caught the end of Silvester McCoy's Doctor. I've now caught up on Tom Baker's stories on DVD and they were brilliant - he's the Doctor I really like. I do dip in and out of sci-fi stuff. I think Star Trek The Wrath of Khan is one of the best films ever made! And I did watch Masters Of The Universe the other day and that's a classic.'

Series seven of Graham Duff's surreal sitcom Ideal starring Johnny Vegas debuted with almost six hundred and thirty thousand punters on Thursday evening almost exactly the same figure that Psychoville got on BBC2. The episode of Ideal, The Police, which featured a guest appearance from The Goddamn Modfather his very self, Paul Weller, averaged six hundred and twenty eight thousand for BBC3 from 10.30pm. Half-an-hour earlier, Psychoville was pulling in six hundred and sixty thousand viewers. Just for comparison, highlights of England's Test Series against Sri Lanka had an audience of six hundred and forty one thousand on Channel Five in the 7pm hour. Johnny Vegas, ladies and gentlemen. Almost as popular as Andrew Strauss and Reece Shearsmith!

Speaking of ratings, as previously announced the much-criticised Geordie Shore, the Newcastle-based version of US reality show Jersey Shore, debuted with MTV’s biggest audience in years on Tuesday. The six-part series, following a group of twentysomethings at they work, party, flash their tits off for the cameras and spew all over the street when they've spent too long oot on the hoy drew an average audience of three hundred and twenty thousand sad crushed victims of society across the 10pm hour and a further twenty five thousand on MTV+1, according to overnight BARB figures. It was more than four times the slot average of seventy nine thousand, recorded since MTV moved up the EPG from 350 to 126 at the beginning of February. The performance also eclipses overnights for anything shown on MTV since the beginning of 2006. MTV’s previous highest overnights were two hundred and fifty five thousand even sadder clowns for Kerry Katona: Crazy in Love on 17 February 2008. Although how many of those same punters will be back for more next week remains to be seen. Geordie Shore, made by The Only Way is Essex producer Lime Pictures, also beat the best performance to date of its original incarnation. On 1 March this year, Jersey Shore drew its best UK overnights to date of one hundred and twenty six thousand on MTV. Earlier in the evening, SF drama Primeval returned for a fifth - and, probably final - series on Watch with its biggest audience to date on the pay channel. It marks the first time that new series of Primeval has debuted on Watch, following a co-production deal with ITV, BBC Worldwide and German broadcaster ProSeiben that resurrected the big budget show. The latest six-part run debuted with three hundred and fifteen thousand across the 8pm hour and drew a further seventy thousand on time-shifted Watch+1. It beat the slot average of two hundred and fifty nine thousand for the year to date and was the second highest-rating programme on Watch this year, behind US superhero drama No Ordinary Family. The series will be repeated on ITV later this year. Wednesday night's ratings saw The Apprentice continue its very impressed start to the latest series with an audience of seven and a half million for BBC1. This had the knock-on effect for the audience for Midsomer Murders on ITV which was a mere 4.8m the lowest ever figure for a first-run episode of the (once) popular crime drama. Maybe John Nettles has taken a chunk of the audience with him? Waterloo Road also did very well against Midsomer, scoring an overnight audience of 5.3m.

EastEnders favourite Dot Branning is to be reunited with her estranged sister, Rose, in a forthcoming storyline. The BBC soap has cast actress and singer Polly Perkins in the role of Rose, who has had little contact with Dot for most of their lives. Animosity between the sisters began many years ago when Rose embarked on an affair with Dot's first husband, Charlie. However, after suffering a bout of hypochondria later this year, Dot - played by June Brown - will decide that it's finally time to put things right and track down her sister. Billed as 'flighty, fun and not one to age gracefully,' Rose is very different from Dot and is not pleased to see her sibling after so many years. However, 'insiders' have allegedly hinted that there could be another reason why Rose is uneasy about the unexpected reunion. Perkins is best known for her role as Trish Valentine in the BBC soap Eldorado. She has also appeared on screen alongside Brown before as they both appeared in drama Rules of Justice in the 1980s. Speaking of her casting, Perkins commented: 'I am thrilled to be joining the cast of EastEnders, the show is a real British institution with an extraordinary creative team. I'm really looking forward to working with June again, who I have been friends with for over thirty years.'

Cheryl Cole has reportedly been left 'shocked and stunned' by her exit from The X Factor USA. The Girls Aloud singer has been 'let go' by FOX executives over fears that her accent would not be understood by the American audience, unconfirmed reports have widely claimed. Other sources have suggested that Cole herself quit due to homesickness. Which would seem to negate the 'shocked and stunned' line of reportage, somewhat. 'She is completely shocked and stunned,' a 'friend' allegedly told the Sun. There you are, we told you she was 'shocked and stunned,' didn't we? 'She never saw this coming at all,' the 'friend' allegedly continued. 'The fact that Simon didn't tell her in person hurt. She never thought he would do that to her.' Cole was apparently told several days ago that network bosses were 'concerned about her performance' after watching auditions. 'Her language, accent and diction were heavily screen-tested. The network knew exactly what she could do before things kicked off,' her alleged 'friend' allegedly alleged. Cowell and Cole had spoken privately about the situation after being put under pressure by Mike Darnell, president of alternative entertainment at FOX, it has been claimed. 'Cheryl can hardly say this was a total shock. She actually knew about it three days ago,' another 'insider' is quoted as saying. 'Simon told her in person at his house that it wasn't working and that he was under so much pressure to release her. She knows she has been nervous in her performances and TV execs were privately concerned.' A second 'source' allegedly quoted in the Mirra added: 'In the end Darnell put his foot down and said enough was enough after watching the LA auditions. Cowell is an influential man and pushed Cheryl as much as he could but in the end Darnell's ­influence proved too powerful.' No official comment has been made by Cole or Cowell's teams, Syco, FOX or ITV, but it has been suggested that the singer might rejoin the UK version of the show, just twenty one days after it was confirmed that she had quit it for her new role. Whether such a move would be tenable - given that all of those she is likely to be critiquing will be able to retort 'been sacked from any good TV shows lately?' to any negative comments - is debatable. Elsewhere, regular Simon Cowell mouthpiece (and 'close friend' allegedly) Sinitta gave her - completely worthless - views to OK! TV. 'Who said she's been axed?' she asked. Well, pretty much everyone it would seem, love. Except you. Not in the loop much these days? 'Has anyone heard Simon say she's been fired? All the reports that I've heard had said that she's doing really well on the show.' Then, perhaps, you've been hearing different reports to FOX executives. Anything's possible. British designer Julien MacDonald has dismissed reports about Cole's X Factor USA exit as 'media blah.' The Britain's Next Top Model judge was at the launch of the Lorraine High Street Fashion Awards on Thursday and revealed that he had spoken to 'a really happy' Cole only a few days ago. 'When I spoke to her from America she was really happy, she was having the time of her life,' he said. 'So I think it's a bit of a "media blah" to get press for The X Factor.' On Wednesday 11 May the first whispers of discontent in the X Factor camp emerged as unconfirmed reports leak about audience members booing some of Cole's comments to the acts. Her PR team insisted that all the judges have been heckled by a tough crowd and that Cole was holding up well. However, Paula Abdul's Twitter followers let their feelings be known about Cole grabbing the all-important seat next to Cowell. 'Paula is our sweet little angel! Why is Simon letting that big-haired girl take her seat?' complained one member of the Abdul fanbase. A 'show insider' allegedly commented: 'To see Cheryl in between Simon and Paula put her in the firing line.' On Tuesday of this week Cole failed to endear herself to LA locals by questioning their habit of having plastic surgery. She was also, allegedly, told by 'FOX bosses' to dump her on-off lover, the dancer Derek Hough. Even more bizarrely, Simon Cowell is alleged to have asked Cole to 'show more of her legs' to increase publicity for the show. The Times columnist Caitlin Moran says that the conspiracy theories currently being written about Cole on Twitter make the mystery of JFK's assassination 'look like chicken feed. All of Britain is absolutely obsessed with the truth behind what's going on.' well, to be honest, I'm not. And I dare say a few other people aren't either so, you know, don't speak for everyone Caitlin. 'No one can seem to take on board the fact that it was probably just a big mistake and some people changed their minds. If it has been set up, then that is Simon Cowell really messing things up for Cheryl,' Moran commented. 'I don't know that even Simon Cowell would do that. It would be really bizarre to get publicity by humiliating her. I think it's far more likely that someone has messed up.' But Moran believes that it was no shock Cole's brief introduction to the US market did not end well. 'I just couldn't even see how, or why, it would work. The one thing America is not short of is pretty girls. I couldn't work out why they would export one over there. It was absolutely baffling.' Olivia Foster, a reporter at celebrity wankrag Heat, agrees. '[Cheryl] has kind of struggled. Essentially America doesn't know who she is. I think there's a big problem with people not warming to her instantly.' Meanwhile, with regard to the accent thing, in one of the most patronising excuses for an 'article' imaginable the Gruniad Scum Morning Star's Mark Oliver (no, me neither) has this to say on the subject. As one of his readers rightly notes in the comments section afterwards, 'Bet the Guardian wouldn't mock Benjamin Zephaniah for his accent, so why the difference? (As if it wasn't obvious!)'

Moving on, quickly, to the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Friday 3 June
Back when yer actual Keith Telly Topping was naught but a mere slip of a lad in his teens, and his hormones were rampaging like nobody's business as he discovered punk rock and girls (in that order) there were two BBC Radio 1 shows which he would never miss short of, like, the world ending. One, of course, was the great John Peel's eclectic nightly programme. The other was Annie Nightingale's Request Show and many a dull Sunday afternoon during 1978 to 1982 was enlivened by listening to the Queen of Rock Chick-ery (Tip) playing some choice new reggae or slammin' power pop. I still recall, a few years later, Annie playing for the first time on BBC radio the nine minute 'carnage' version of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 'two Tribes' and then, after Patrick Allen had said 'mine is the last voice you will ever hear,' asked her listeners 'are you glad you weren't born in the Nineteen Century? Because you'd never have got to hear that!' Annie Nightingale: Bird on the Wireless - 9:00 BBC4 - is a profile of the broadcasting legend. She was hired - probably as a crass example of tokenism - as Radio 1's first female presenter in 1970. The programme charts how her tastes have fluctuated during her career, which has seen her champion musical styles including punk, new wave, acid house and dubstep. Artists including Paul McCartney and The Clash's Mickey Jones also discuss her - often undervalued - impact on Britain's musical landscape. Thoroughly bass.

In tonight's episode of Have I Got News for You - 9:00 BBC1 - TV presenter Richard Madeley and stand-up comedian Joe Wilkinson join regular team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton on the satirical current affairs quiz. Watch out for the extended version Have I Got More News For You tomorrow at 9:00. It's been generally excellent this year - particularly the Alexander Armstrong/Victoria Coren/Ross Noble one but they've all had something worthwhile about them.

On The Graham Norton Show - 10:35 BBC1 - The host is joined by renowned actress, singer and gay icon Liza Minnelli, who discusses her life and career, before performing in the studio. Graham also welcomes State of Play, Shameless, Last King of Scotland and X-Men: First Class star James McAvoy, and deadpan comedian Jack Dee who'#s plugging the new series of his sitcom, Lead Balloon.

Saturday 4 June
The final episode of Doctor Who before it goes off for a summer break - 6:40 BBC1 - is called, ominously, A Good Man Goes To War. The Doctor? Rory? Both of them? Somebody else entirely? Well, I can tell you that, shocktrick-shocks, Amy has been kidnapped and, in her cell in Stormcage, River Song reluctantly acknowledges the approach of The Battle of Demons Run, the conflict that will see The Doctor 'face his darkest hour.' Who is the mysterious one-eyed Madam Kovarian (Frances Barber) who seems to have spent most of the last seven weeks getting very interested in the contents of Amy's dreams from an observation hatch in a non-existent door? Meanwhile, the Time Lord (and Rory) races across galaxies to gather his allies for a rescue mission, unaware - perhaps - that he is straying into a carefully concealed and intricate trap. Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and Alex Kingston star in the mid-series finale, with the rest of the popular family SF drama - six further episodes - set to be broadcast this autumn. Oh, and the presence of Nick Briggs on the cast list may get you any idea of who else is featured.

Blah, blah Britain's Got Talent Final. Blah, blah 7:00 ITV. Blah, blah national talent search comes to a close. Blah, blah ten finalists take to the stage one last time. Blah, blah competing to impress judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Michael McIntyre and David Hasselhoff. Blah, blah as well as the voting public. Blah, blah winner's prize is one hundred thousand smackeroonies of wonga. Blah, blah slot at the Royal Variety Performance performing a'fore Her Majesty (or, whoever's drawn the short straw this year). Blah, blah Ant and Dec. Blah, blah results can be seen ... Whatever.

Finally - finally - BBC2 is showing the XL edition of the Qi episode Games (9:45). Just eighteen months after the thirty minute version was first broadcast. A mere thirteen months since Dave showed the XL version for the first time. Good things come to them that wait, apparently. Liza Tarbuck, Phill Jupitus and Sean Lock join regular panellist Alan Davies to answer questions on the subject of games and pass times, with points awarded for the answers which host, the Godlike Genius of Stephen Fry, finds most interesting. And, it's worth it just for Sean's answer to Stephen's question about which popular game traditionally ended with all of the players being thrown into a lake of fiery sulphur. 'I hope it's showjumping!' Yes. Yes, i say to thee, Sean Lock. Let's hope that the BBC get enough of their shit together to show the other three series seven episodes of XL that still haven't had a terrestrial slot. Particularly the Danny Baker/Jezza Clarkson/Bill Bailey one.

Sunday 5 June
Case Histories - 9:00 BBC1 - is a rather fine looking crime drama, based on the novels by Kate Atkinson, starring Jason Isaacs and Amanda Abbington, with Sylvia Syms, Natasha Little, Fenella Woolgar and Phil Davis. Quality cast. It's a six part series split into three two-part stories concerning troubled private investigator Jackson Brodie (Isaacs) who visits a regular client to help look for her lost cat. But, the seemingly innocuous task takes a peculiar turn when her neighbours plead with him to find their sister, who went missing thirty years previously. However, his priorities become complicated when an old acquaintance arrives at his office. Continues tomorrow at 9pm.

We wondered when a second series of Coast - 9:00 BBC2 - was announced about four years ago whether they were running out of ideas (and coastline to visit for that matter). Well, here we are on series six and the format is showing no sign of flagging as yet. Nick Crane visits a project to build a new seaport for London, before travelling across the channel to Belgium, where he takes a ride on a tram that runs along the country's coastline. The Goddess of punk archaeology Doctor Alice Roberts learns how to be a seaside landlady in Margate, and Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) tells the story of British forces' efforts to stop Hitler's biggest battleships reaching the coast of Kent during the Second World War. Back in Belgium, Mark Horton reveals the lovely city of Bruges's role in the history of brick-making, and the deadly killer Miranda Krestovnikoff goes shrimp-fishing on horseback. With a big fuck-off harpoon! This is what I pay my licence fee for, ladies and gentlemen. Well, this and the fact that if i don't I'll probably get sent to jail.

Murray Walker: Life in the Fast Lane - 8:00 BBC2 - is, as the title suggests a portrait of the motor-racing commentator whose voice became one of the most recognisable on British television, and who continues to contribute to the BBC's Formula One coverage. Just in case you thought it was a programme about something else. The documentary follows Murray as he travels to the 2011 Australian Grand Prix, looks back at highlights from his career on radio and TV and recalls his time in the Army. Featuring contributions by at least five former Formula One world champions Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. Four of whom are British. And, the one that isn't, is The Stig we're claiming partial ownership on him as well.

In Popstar to Operastar - 8:00 ITV - well-known horrorshow, faceache (and drag) Myleene Klass, this time without arse-licking gnome Alan Titchmarsh, presents 'the crossover singing contest' in which eight rather past-it pop singers, mentored by Katherine Jenkins and Rolando Villazon, learn to perform classical songs accompanied by an orchestra. Or, at least, learn to attempt to perform classical songs. Really, they're just happy to have their boat-races back on TV again, in some cases for the first time in many years. The desperate contestants this time around are X-Factor winner turned not so much pop star as flop star and, now, shelf- stacker at Morrison's in South Shields Joe McElderry, Eurovision skirt-dropper Cheryl Baker, Jocelyn Brown, faded 70s glam-queen Midge Ure, Erasure's Andy Bell, ex-Steps singer Claire Richards, Toploader frontman Joseph Washbourn and former Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton. Four of them battle it out in the first edition, but only three can survive the public vote. Plus, a chart-topping pop act and a classical star join forces for a one-off performance. Can't wait.

It's also a good night for repeats. If you missed it last year, A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss - 9:00 BBC4 - is hugely recommended, whilst Thursday's second episode of the superb Ideal (9:30 BBC3) is also shown again. A penniless Moz calls in his debts, but his friends seem reluctant to actually pay him back. Meanwhile, Jess falls under the spell of the masked hitman Cartoon Head. And poor old Derrick's getting kicked out by Yasuko.

Monday 6 June
Injustice - 9:00 ITV - is a new crime drama series, another one of these two-part 'potential pilots that might become series if they get a good audience' things. Celebrated London barrister William Travers moves his family and practice to Suffolk after suffering a nervous breakdown. Then, his life is thrown off balance for a second time when he sees a familiar shabby figure at a train station. Meanwhile, Ipswich detective Mark Wenborn is assigned to investigate a murder at a deserted farm and his inquiries lead him into a game of cat-and-mouse with Travers. Rather decent looking thriller, written by Anthony Horowitz (Foyle's War) and starring James Purefoy, Charlie Creed-Miles and Dervla Kirwan. Continues tomorrow.

The final episode of Adam Curtis's latest TV-think piece All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace - 9:00 BBC2 - has the fantastic title The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey. Curtis explores the work of evolutionary biologist WD Hamilton, who hypothesised that people's behaviour is shaped and guided by mathematical codes in their genes. The film interweaves the strange roots of the scientist's oddball genetic theories with the history of the West's relationship with the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly the Belgian Congo, and then Zaire) and Rwanda over the past one hundred years, showing how liberal attempts to help post-colonial Africa have sometimes ended in disaster and had an effect far worse than could ever have been expected. Last in this fascinating series.

In Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - the police inform Fiz they are going to exhume Joy Fishwick's body and investigate her death now they know someone claimed Colin's inheritance. Tracy is quick to comfort Steve as he clears up the trail of destruction left by Becky, while aunts Upma and Grishma return to haunt Sunita. Graeme battles with his emotions when Xin prepares to leave the Street.

You can just tell that an entire team of twentysomething TV executives spent a long team-building weekend away in the Lake District when they came up with the name for Sky1's new fly-on-the-wall police documentary series. Cop Squad - 9:00. Yes, it does sound like something off The Young Ones, I agree. This, rather disappointingly if you were expecting something like The Professionals, follows the work of Cambridgeshire police officers as they tackle crime in a city renowned for its university, tourism and picture-postcard appearance. The first episode features aggressive burglars, cannabis farmers and a road rage attack. No international terrorists, though.

Tuesday 7 June
Our War - 9:00 BBC3 - is a new documentary series exploring the war in Afghanistan through the words and pictures of the soldiers involved in it. This episode focuses on friends serving with 3 Platoon, 1 Royal Anglian, who were sent to Helmand Province in 2007. The tour was filmed on a helmet camera by the platoon's sergeant, and the programme explores the death of nineteen-year-old Private Chris Gray, who was killed in a Taliban ambush.

If you missed Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands - 9:00 BBC1 - when it was shown on BBC3 earlier in the year then now's the perfect opportunity to find out what you missed. This is an excellent documentary following seven newly qualified doctors as they begin work on the wards of two of Newcastle's busiest hospitals. In the first episode, Suzy Batchelor is thrown in at the deep end as she deals with emergencies in A&E, Adam Beaini feels he is spending more of his time filling out paperwork than treating his patients, and Lucy Holmes conducts her first rectal examination. As I said earlier in the year, I happened to stumble across the opening episode by accident and I was really rather impressed with it. Something which I didn't expect. 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.

It's just about all documentaries tonight, a useful reminder, perhaps, that not all TV is crass talent shows and all that malarkey. Poor Kids - 10:35 BBC1 - is a documentary providing an insight into the lives of the three and a half million children being raised in poverty in the UK. The programme places the spotlight on a ten-year-old girl from Glasgow who hides the fact she lives in a Gorbals tower block from her friends, and an eleven-year-old Leicester boy whose single-parent father struggles to bring up his family alone. Also featured are sisters from Bradford who play in a dangerous derelict building.

The one exception to the 'it's all documentaries' rule is Angry Boys - 10:40 BBC3. This is a new comedy in which Australian comic Chris Lilley - best known for Summer Heights High - plays a host of characters all confronting various dilemmas facing young men in the Twenty First Century. Teenage twins Daniel and Nathan dream of making a success of the small farm where they live with their widowed mother, her new boyfriend and their younger siblings. However, cars, girls and friends prove a distraction.

Wednesday 8 June
Recently BBC1's new controller Danny Cohen stated that he found much of the channel's sitcom output 'depressingly middle-class.' Which - Mrs Brown's Boys excepted - it is. With that in mind, just about every time a new sitcom starts on the Beeb questions are going to be asked about whether the comedy in question is going to do anything to change that situation. In the case of In With the Flynns - 8:30 BBC1 - the answer is, probably, I doubt it. Describes as 'a warm, authentic, half-hour comedy series,' Will Mellor and Niky Wardley play Liam and Caroline, Mancunians in their early thirties who are raising their three children and holding down jobs. It's tough – and even tougher because they're still growing up themselves. They are blessed with a rebellious teenage daughter, Chloe, and two younger sons Mikey, who is 'always up for a lark,' and Steve who, definitely, isn't. Liam and Caroline both find that trying to be a good parent is a minefield of dilemmas and blunders – but help is at hand, albeit in the form of Liam's wayward brother Tommy (Craig Parkinson), who never ceases to complicate matters, and their grouchy dad Jim (Warren Clarke), who believes they'll never be as good as he was at parenting. Both are on hand to offer advice which often ends in disaster. So, Outnumbered with Northern accents in other words. Might be decent - the cast suggests that's not beyond the bounds of possibility - but, seriously Danny, if you want to address the lack of working class sitcoms on your watch them it might be an idea to actually commission some.

Tonight's episode of The Apprentice - 9:00 BBC1 - is called Rubbish. Must ... resist ... obvious ... lazy ... journalism. Anyway, Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie calls the candidates to a rubbish dump, and challenges them to form junk-collection businesses. One half of each team has to haul the rubbish themselves while the others offer quotes on big clearances. Profits prove hard to come by with Cockney scrap dealers and quick-witted builders giving them a run for their money, and one project manager is reduced to tears by the gruelling work.

The second series of the cult US show Nurse Jackie begins tonight - 10:00 BBC4. After breaking up with Eddie, Jackie tries to reconnect with her family, but she reaches the end of her tether when her ex-lover overdoses and she runs out of drugs. Edie Falco stars in the black comedy about a no-nonsense ER nurse with issues.

Wonderland: Travels with My Family - 9:00 BBC2 - is a documentary exploring the trivial and momentous aspects of family car journeys by following four different trips. The Hennessseys are taking their son, who has Asperger's, on a pilgrimage to the Stan Laurel museum in Cumbria. Ian Craig and his sister Alison are headed to a prison visitor centre, and Kerry Lewis is taking his three young sons to the Isle of Wight, to scatter their mother's ashes a year after her death.

Thursday 9 June
The documentary strand Born to Be Different - 9:00 Channel Four - returns, providing an update on the lives of six disabled children as they reach the ages of nine and ten. The first programme reveals how some are searching for the independence that will ultimately allow them to move away from their parents, while a few face difficult choices as they decide whether to undergo major surgery, and others are fighting just to stay alive.

It's a big night for returning favourites on Channel Four as there's also a new series of Help! My House Is Falling Down - 8:00 Channel Four. Sarah Beeny comes to the aid of more homeowners who have found serious problems with their properties. She begins in Narborough, Leicestershire, where a couple are worried their Edwardian home is sinking after discovering a slope in the first floor. Sarah and the team show them how to use their budget wisely to deal with the subsidence, as well as a leaking roof and black mould.

From the mundane to the essential, Mock the Week is back - 10:00 BBC2. Dara O Briain hosts the topical comedy quiz, as stand-ups the brilliant Milton Jones and Seann Walsh, The Thick of It's Chris Addison and Greg Davies from The Inbetweeners join regular panellists Hugh Dennis and Andy Parsons to offer opinions on the past week's world events. As with Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week works best either in a major news week - in terms of the scope for satire - or, in the polar opposite, a week when absolutely bugger all of any note has happened. Because, then, people like Milton and Stewart Francis can just tell jokes.

The third episode of the new series of Ideal - 10:30 BBC3 - is called The Brothel. Moz and Nikki set up rival drug-dealing businesses, and a price war soon breaks out, with each trying to undercut the other. Meanwhile, Brian and Carmel open a brothel. The episode guest stars cult Manchester musician Barry Adamson. With Johnny Vegas, Graham Duff, Nicola Reynolds, Joanna Neary, Ryan Pope, Alfie Joey, Emma Fryer, Ben Crompton, Andrew Lee-Potts, Tom Goodman-Hill et al. Best ensemble cast on TV, by about a street and a half.

And so to the news: Showtime has confirmed several notable guest stars for the upcoming seventh season of Weeds, as well as alluding to the new season's focus. The sixth season saw Nancy Botwin, played by Mary-Louise Parker, give herself over to the authorities for murder as her family fled to Amsterdam. Showtime has revealed that the new season will pick up three years later, when Nancy is released from prison into a halfway house in New York City. Justin Kirk, Hutner Parrish and Alexander Gould will all return as Andy, Silas and Shane respectively, while Kevin Nealon is also back as Nancy's pot-addicted accountant Doug Wilson. Guest starring in the new season will be Saturday Night Live regular Martin Short, recurring in at least three episodes as an eccentric attorney, while Game of Thrones star Aidan Quinn will portray a corporate firm CEO in several episodes. Lindsay Sloane will guest star as a potential new love interest for Andy, while Jennifer Jason Leigh is to reprise her role as Nancy's sister Jill in a four-episode arc.

Terry Gilliam's acclaimed production of The Damnation of Faust for the English National Opera is to be broadcast on BBC3 this autumn. The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus director transposed Berlioz's dramatic legend to the rise of Nazism in Twentieth Century Germany, with a stellar cast including Christine Rice, Peter Hoare and Christopher Purves. Gilliam will introduce The Damnation of Faust, a co-production between the ENO, De Vlaamse Opera and La Fondazione Teatro Massimo, when it is shown. Jan Younghusband, commissioning editor for BBC Music and Events, said: 'We're thrilled to be bringing ENO back to BBC Television. Terry Gilliam's opera directing debut has been hailed as a triumph, and we're delighted to make this major event in the opera calendar accessible to an even wider audience.' John Berry, the ENO's artistic director, added: 'Terry Gilliam and ENO have set the benchmark for Berlioz's extraordinary piece. I'm delighted the BBC and ENO are working together again and that the BBC is helping us bring opera to a wider audience.' Former Monty Python's Flying Circus animator Gilliam has directed various hit movies over the years, including Time Bandits, Brazil, 12 Monkeys and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.

People are snapping up tickets for the 2011 Hay Festival despite the recession, with sales for the literary event up about fifteen per cent, say organisers. Event director Peter Florence said keeping admission prices low had paid off and he was expecting two hundred and thirty thousand tickets to be sold. Figures from the literary world, politics and showbusiness are visiting the Powys books town. Hollywood stars Ralph Fiennes and Rob Lowe are among the headliners. The line-up also includes the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who will talk on Shakespeare. One of highlights of the first day is a tribute concert for the former Brecon and Radnorshire MP Lord Livsey, who died last year. He served as a festival vice-president for twenty years. He was also a member of Talgarth Male Choir, which will perform with two other choirs at the concert. Tickets for many of the events at Hay this year are five pounds. Florence added that he expected Twitter would make a big difference this year. 'Twitter didn't really exist [here] last year and everybody's got a smart or android phone now,' he explained. The town of Hay-on-Wye and the festival have grown in size and stature since an invitation was extended to 'a few like-minded friends' to gather for a weekend of literary relaxation in 1988. Since then it has attracted leading writers, politicians and musicians. In 2001, ex-US President Bill Clinton famously called it 'the Woodstock of the mind.' As well as The English Patient actor Ralph Fiennes, who will speak about Shakespeare's Coriolanus and The West Wing actor Rob Lowe launching his autobiography, other headline guests include Afro Celt Sound System in concert, Sarah Brown, the wife of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Egyptian presidential candidate, Nobel Peace Laureate and weapons inspector Mohamed El Baradei. Howard Jacobson will also speak about his Booker prize winning novel The Finkler Question, and there will be comedy from Paul Merton's Impro Chums, Dara O'Briain, Jo Brand, Sue Perkins and Sandi Toksvig. The Radio 2 breakfast show host Chris Evans will broadcast his show from Hay on 3 June. Other guests include film-maker John Waters, BBC Gardeners' World host Monty Don, Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul, Labour leader Ed Miliband, X Files and Any Human Heart actress Gillian Anderson, Cerys Matthews in concert, Philip Pullman on Jesus and Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave on Palestine.

Lord Sugar-Sweetie was forced to remove a Twitter message during one of the parliamentary expenses trials earlier this year, which speculated that a peer would be cleared because he was a Tory, it was revealed on Thursday. High court judge Mr Justice Saunders ordered the businessman and host of The Apprentice to take down the posting on the social media service, fearing it could unfairly influence jurors. Saunders referred the matter to the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, who has the power to bring contempt of court charges against individuals or organisations if he believes there is a threat that the outcome of a trial could be prejudiced. As he allowed the media to report what happened for the first time on Thursday, Saunders also questioned whether the attorney general could take action to minimise the risk to trials from celebrity tweets in the future. Sugar-Sweetie, who is a Labour member of the House of Lords, posted the message to his then two hundred and eight six thousand followers on Twitter on the second day of the trial of former Conservative peer Lord Taylor in January. He referred to former Labour MP David Chaytor, who had earlier received an eighteen-month prison sentence after admitting he fiddled his parliamentary expenses. Sugar-Sweetie wrote: 'Lord Taylor Tory peer in court over alleged expense fiddle. Wonder if he'll get off as he is a Tory compared to Labour MP who was sent to jail.' After learning of the online message, Saunders sent the jury out of court and addressed the lawyers in the case. He told his clerks: 'Can someone contact Lord Sugar and get that removed, and we will also have to refer the matter to the attorney general.' The offending tweet was removed from Twitter as soon as Sugar-Sweetie became aware of the problem. A spokesman for The Apprentice presenter said: 'Lord Sugar was away in America so wasn't familiar with the restrictions in the case. As soon as he was, it was taken down. It was a twenty-minute matter and is now finished with. There is absolutely no way that Lord Sugar would want to prejudice any legal process at all.' A spokesman for the attorney general's office said: 'The attorney considered the issue when it was made. He concluded there were no grounds for bringing proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act 1981.' Lord Sugar-Sweetie's comments can now be reported by the media after Saunders lifted reporting restrictions at the end of the separate expenses trial of Tory peer Lord Hanningfield. Taylor was found guilty in January of fiddling his Lords expenses so he could fraudulently claim more than eleven thousand pounds and will be sentenced at Southwark crown court on Tuesday. Saunders said on Thursday: 'At my request which was conveyed to Lord Sugar the entry was removed and there was no suggestion that the trial had been prejudiced. I reported the matter to the attorney general not for the purpose of taking any action against Lord Sugar but to investigate whether entries on Twitter sites of high-profile figures relating to trials which were going to take place or were taking place posed a risk of prejudicing the fairness of a trial and if so whether there were steps that could be taken to minimise that risk.'

Odious 'come and have a go if you think you're hard enough' berk Danny Dyer has suggested that he would 'headbutt' Mark Kermode if the two ever met. The BBC movie critic has frequently mocked Dyer on his weekly BBC Radio 5Live movie reviews show with Simon Mayo. Asked how he felt about the criticism, Dyer told PureMovies: 'I've seen it, yeah. He's such a prick. I don't even talk like that, you know what I mean?! I actually watched it and I found it quite funny, because I couldn't believe that this is the way he perceives me. He's the only one that sees me like that, I believe. It's very odd. He's just a got a bit of a problem with me, and what it is I really don't know. But I think he does tend to forget that I've done [Harold] Pinter and stuff like that. I don't think he takes me seriously as an actor.' Dyer added: 'But our paths will meet, one day, and there won't be no talking. It'll probably just be a headbutt straight to the fucking nose, and then he can go off and do his impressions with a broken nose. That'd be good, wouldn't it?' Yes it would because then you'd be arrested for criminal assault and, likely, do a bit of time. And, that'd really look good on your CV. Last year, Dyer was criticised when a Zoo magazine column published under his name urged a reader to 'cut [his] ex's face' after a split so that 'no-one will want her.' Very good at dishing out threats of violence is Danny Dyer it would seem. Of course, it should be noted that many people who do act in an overtly aggressive manner would, are actually nothing more than common bullies and would, in all likelihood, shite in their own pants and run and mile if anyone ever took them up on their offer.

FIFA has opened ethics proceedings against its president, Sepp Blatter. The action follows a charge by Mohamed Bin Hammam, his rival in next week's presidency election, that Blatter knew about alleged cash payments. Bin Hammam and vice-president Jack Warner will also be at Sunday's hearing to answer charges of bribery. Blatter issued a statement saying: 'I cannot comment on the proceedings that have been opened against me. The facts will speak for themselves.' The ethics committee are bound by their rules to investigate any complaint by an executive committee member under article sixteen of the ethics code. Bin Hammam and Warner face allegations from executive committee member Chuck Blazer that they offered bribes at a meeting of the Caribbean Football Union on 10 and 11 May. A file of evidence claims bundles of cash of up to forty thousand US dollars were handed over to members of the CFU at the meeting in Trinidad. In turn, Bin Hammam is effectively claiming that Blatter was aware of some wrongdoing but did not report it which is, in itself, a breach of the code. The committee, chaired by Namibian judge Petrus Damaseb, will also be under pressure to decide whether Blatter will face any charges or not. The move to place Blatter, one of the most powerful men in football, under investigtion is the latest twist in an increasingly bitter fight for the presidency of the sport's global governing body. And it also follows weeks of damaging headlines and allegations in the wake of the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. BBC sports editor David Bond said: 'FIFA is now an organisation completely at war. They cannot possibly continue in this way and many people will say they should suspend the presidential election, which takes place next Wednesday. Under FIFA's ethics code, they are duty bound, if a member of the executive committee makes a complaint to the ethics committee, to then investigate it. So, it may be that the allegations against Blatter don't come to much, and the allegations against Bin Hammam and Warner could be far more serious. Ultimately it seems the evidence against Blatter is only Bin Hammam's word against his. It is very difficult to predict exactly what will happen next, but it's hard to see this as anything other than a watershed moment for FIFA. It feels like at last the dam is breaking around them. It is a bit like the scene at the end of Reservoir Dogs when everyone has a gun pointed at each other's heads.' Meanwhile, the FA is due to send to FIFA the report they commissioned by barrister James Dingemans QC into claims by their ex-chairman, Lord Triesman, that the odious Warner and three other executive committee members made improper requests during England's 2018 World Cup bid. It is understood that only the claims against Warner have been corroborated by witnesses. The claim that Warner asked for financial help to build an education centre has been backed up by Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards, while Dingemans' file also includes an e-mail from Warner to Triesman asking the FA to pay for Haiti's World Cup TV rights. The e-mail in February 2010 is expected to form a crucial part of an FA report. In it, Warner urges the FA to contribute towards the cost of purchasing the rights to show World Cup matches on giant screens. Lord Triesman, speaking to a parliamentary select committee earlier in May, claimed that four members of the FIFA executive committee made what he described as 'unethical requests' during the bidding race for the 2018 World Cup. Among those claims were allegations that Warner asked the FA for money to build an education centre in Trinidad and for the FA to buy TV rights to the 2010 World Cup on behalf of Haiti. In the e-mail, he writes: 'If you can assist them in any way by contributing in part or in whole to the purchase of these rights I am sure all of Haiti will be eternally grateful.' He mentions that a company had bought the rights for 1.6m dollars but that he would be able to 'get this figure reduced substantially.' FIFA, the ultimate owner of outdoor broadcast rights to the 2010 World Cup, has told the BBC that no public viewing licence was ever granted for Haiti. It says it had no discussions anywhere in the world for an amount as big as $1.6m, but its response poses serious questions over the deal Warner was trying to arrange with the FA. On Wednesday FIFA announced its ethics committee would charge Warner and fellow executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam with bribery. And although it is not clear whether FIFA's ethics committee will add this latest allegation to the charge sheet faced by Warner, it places yet more doubts over the probity of world football's governing body. Blatter, writing for the Inside World Football website, stated: 'I take absolutely no joy in seeing my friends and colleagues of many years dragged before the ethics committee. I take no joy to see men who stood by my side for some two decades, suffer through public humiliation without having been convicted of any wrongdoing. Nobody is guilty until a judge has found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt.'

Actress and comic Janet Brown, who was best known for impersonating former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, has died aged eighty seven. Her agent said that she died in her sleep at a nursing home in Hove after a short illness. In a career beginning in the 1930s, she gained national TV fame in the 1970s and 1980s for her impressions on The Mike Yarwood Show. She also played Lady Thatcher in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. Over the years, the Scottish-born comedian and actress worked with a number of comedy icons including Hughie Green, Tony Hancock and George Cole. More recently she appeared in dramas including Midsomer Murders, Casualty and Hotel Babylon. 'She was a delightful client and we will all miss her very much,' said her agent Susan Angel. 'Her knowledge of sport was second to none. We will miss the endless discussions about football and her fellow Scot, the tennis star Andy Murray.' The actress, who was married to Carry On actor Peter Butterworth until his death in 1979, is survived by their son, the actor Tyler Butterworth, and a grandson.

A Chicago lawyer has accused a busty woman of deliberately distracting the jury in court. The woman, a paralegal assistant for the opposing lawyer, was sitting at the counsel's table when the objection was raised. Attorney Thomas Gooch believed his rival was using her as an unfair tactic, The Associated Press reports. Gooch claimed that her purpose was simply to 'draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings' and requested that the woman be moved to the public gallery. He said: 'Personally, I like large breasts. However, I object to somebody I don't think is a qualified paralegal sitting at the counsel table - when there's already two lawyers there - dressed in such a fashion as to call attention to herself.' Opposing attorney Dmitry Feofanov dismissed Gooch's claims, saying that the woman was entitled to sit at the table as she has previously been paid as a paralegal in two court orders. Gooch responded: 'That's not a qualification. That means Dmitry handed up a bill to a judge that said "paralegal" on it.' The trial was for a dispute over a used car.

Sparks from machinery triggered a scrapyard blaze on Tyneside, smoke from which could be seen more than thirty miles away, fire investigators have concluded. At its height, seventy firefighters tackled the blaze at the yard in Albion Row in Byker, on 19 May. No-one was seriously hurt, but people in nearby properties were told to keep doors and windows closed and yer actual Keith Telly Topping couldn't get to The Cluny to do some filming for Look North. Which was annoying. Tyne and Wear Fire Service said the accidental blaze started when sparks landed on flammable materials. Firefighters used water from the River Tyne to help fight the blaze and at its peak were using eight thousand litres a minute. Area manager Alan Robson said: 'This was a very intense and difficult incident and the fire developed very quickly, making it difficult to deal with. Our firefighters did extremely well to bring it under control as quickly as they did. Fire investigation officers discovered the fire was started as a result of sparks being generated when a mechanical grabber was used to pick up and move combustible materials covered in flammable liquids.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we have a little piece of glorious summer pop from 1986 by Mighty Mighty.

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