Saturday, May 21, 2011

Week Twenty Two: Waiting For The End of The World

Good morning, dear blog readers and welcome to apocalypse ... maybe. 'I love the smell of prevarication in the morning.' Nice day for it, an'all. I'm off out in a minute to buy myself a new microwave, as it happens. However, Christmas Island and other locations near New Zealand, where self-styled 'scriptural scholar' Harold Camping predicted that the apocalypse would strike by Friday night Los Angeles time, so far remain free of any 'super-terrible' earthquakes. The eighty nine-year-old Oakland-based doomsday predictor told his followers that destruction would begin on 21 May, wherever it happens to be 6pm. New Zealand is nineteen hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Saving Time. As of 7:30pm on Christmas Island - also known as Kiritimati - no earthquakes had been reported within the previous hour-and-a-half, according to the US Geological Survey, which tracks seismic activity worldwide. Camping had previously warned: 'The earthquakes will then roll on, time-zone by time-zone.' Because, clearly, God had a system according to Greenwich Mean Time even though it wasn't invented until 1847. The saved - perhaps two to three per cent of the world population according to Camping - will be whisked away to God in a process known as The Rapture. Not to be confused, of course, with the rather fine Blondie single of the same name from 1980. 'Sure shot!' Meanwhile, the rest of humanity will be obliterated in what Camping calls 'a super-horror -story.' Which, if it happens that way, would certainly be accurate as far as yer actual Keith Telly Topping is concerned since all this is due to occur forty five minutes before the latest episode od Doctor Who. Why, God, why? Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, 'super-horror-story.' Sounds like my life anyway, matey. Camping reportedly reads neither Hebrew nor Greek, the two main languages in which the Bible was written, but he insists that his arithmetic is 'ironclad.' He calculates that God gave humanity seven thousand years to prepare for its destiny, just as Noah had seven days to prepare for the flood, and that 21 May is the terminus of human history if one counts time by the Jewish calendar. Anyway, if any rumblings start by the conclusion of this blog, don't worry dear blog reader. You can always repent really quickly. That's what I intend to do. Oi, did somebody let four horses in here?
Mark Gatiss has revealed that that he thinks Doctor Who should provide its viewers with 'a healthy scare.' Speaking to the Digital Spy website at the Philips British Academy Television Awards nominees' party, the actor and writer asserted that being scared is just as good as being entertained. When asked how he felt about recent complaints - by glakes even bigger than this clod that reckons the world's going to end - that the BBC1 show had become 'too frightening,' he said: '[It's] thrilling, wonderful. Of course it should be too scary. When I wrote my very first one for Chris Eccleston, I actually went on [BBC Radio 4's] PM with Eddie Mair because they'd had people saying, "It's too frightening." He said, "How do you feel?" and I said "I'm absolutely over the moon." Of course that's what it's about.' Gatiss wrote The Unquiet Dead, which featured gaseous villains the Gelth, during Eccleston's tenure as The Doctor. He has also written The Idiot's Lantern, featuring David Tennant, and last season's Victory of the Daleks for Matt Smith.

Approval for News Corporation's plan to spin-off Sky News as a way to gain approval for its takeover of Sky has been delayed after the Department for Culture, Media and Sport received around forty thousand submissions to its consultation. The vile and odious rascal Hunt, the lack of culture secretary, said this week that issues regarding 'brand licensing' and 'carriage agreements' between the hived-off Sky News and parent company Sky still needed to be worked out. It was expected that approval for the move would be announced by the vile and odious rascal Hunt at the end of April, but the decision has now been pushed back. Speaking to journalists at a Broadcasting Press Guild event in London, the vile and odious rascal Hunt said that he 'never had a deadline on the process' and would not give one now. The vile and odious rascal of a minister said that he wanted to be sure the solution was 'financially robust and sustainable over the long term,' and that it 'satisfied the crucial issue of media plurality.' He will also consult with the Office of Fair Trading on the decision. The vile and odious rascal Hunt added: 'I've asked my officials to really look carefully at all the comments and responses we had to the consultation, of which there were a great many, to make sure that we are all comfortable that the solution we have is financially sustainable.' The delay will be bad news for News Corp, which has seen Sky's share price rise considerably on the back of continued strong financial results, driving up the cost of the proposed takeover. Meanwhile, the vile and odious rascal Hunt said that his plan to revitalise local television in the UK was 'veering towards' a 'bottom-up route' rather than a new national TV channel. He stressed that no decision has yet been made, but suggested that the most likely approach would be auctioning about thirty to forty individual licences for financially independent services. He added that the scheme is the government's 'biggest priority.' One good thing if the world does end today. The vile and odious rascal and all of his scum mates will be among the first cast down into the bottomless pit with the wailing and the gnashing of tetth and all that.

Dannii Minogue's exit from The X Factor has reportedly caused 'chaos' behind the scenes. The Mirra claims that 'bosses' are 'growing tired' of Simon Cowell's indecision over who will sit on the judging panel for the new series. Cowell previously confirmed that Take That's Gary Barlow will join Louis Walsh - who is expected to return to his position. However, it has been suggested that there are fears that possible replacements Tulisa Contostavlos and Kelly Rowland will disappoint viewers. 'She is not a big enough name,' one boss allegedly said of the N-Dubz singer. 'She is not another Cheryl Cole or a Dannii.' An 'insider' allegedly continued: 'ITV wants things signed and sealed but Simon is still changing his mind and thinking of new names. The feeling is that without Cheryl and Dannii a big sexy female star is needed. If they end up with Tulisa and Kelly Rowland, who are the favourites for the jobs, fans will be very disappointed.' Never mind, mate, it's not the end of the world. That's due later, apparently. Minogue announced last weekend that she had quit the show due to clashes with Australia's Got Talent. Her decision saw scheduled auditions in Manchester postponed until next month. Responding to the claims, an ITV spokesperson said: 'We are very excited about this year's show. We'll announce the judges' line-up shortly.'

A senior News of the World executive has been implicated in the phone hacking scandal, Jude Law's barrister has told the High Court. The actor is taking civil action against the newspaper and Hugh Tomlinson QC said documents seen by the legal team disclosed the name. BBC home affairs correspondent June Kelly said it was a 'bombshell moment.' Lawyers for the newspaper contested the claim, which came as Mr Justice Vos set details for five test cases in January. It emerged Jude Law and Labour MP Chris Bryant will be among the five people used as test cases in civil action against the NoW. The other three are interior designer Kelly Hoppen, who is actress Sienna Miller's stepmother, football pundit Andy Gray, and sport agent Sky Andrew. Mr Justice Vos said the cases would allow him to decide the damages that were properly payable, and resolve other cases without the need for further hearings. A secondary list of five claimants has also been drawn up in the event that further people drop out. They include comedian Steve Coogan, former footballer Paul Gascoigne, Max Clifford's former assistant Nicola Phillips, ex-MP George Galloway and Mary-Ellen Field, former adviser to model Elle Macpherson. Tomlinson told the court the hacking of Jude Law's phone was 'tantamount to harassment.' A week ago Miller was set to accept one hundred thousand pounds in damages from the NoW, after the paper admitted liability over hacking her phone. It was due to make a full disclosure in private to her legal team to show the extent of all wrongdoing. Lawyers for Miller said there had been a full admission of liability and that she had been vindicated. The News of the World said it was 'pleased we have managed to bring this case to a satisfactory conclusion.' Four alleged victims have already reached out-of-court settlements with the newspaper, including celebrity publicist Max Clifford, who received a reported one million pounds. The scandal dates back to 2006, when the paper's former royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for hacking into the mobile phone voicemails of royal aides. Since then, a series of inquiries and legal cases have been exploring just how widespread the practice was, with implications for the police, celebrities and politicians. More and more celebrities and public figures have alleged their phones have been hacked and some have launched legal actions against the paper or the police for allegedly failing to investigate. The News of the World's owner, News International, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, has offered to co-operate fully with a Metropolitan Police inquiry. The News of the World's chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former news editor Ian Edmondson were arrested last month on suspicion of having unlawfully intercepted voicemail messages. They were released on bail until September.

From the News of the World, we return to the end of the world. Are we ready to repent yet, dear blog reader?
No? Well, okay, we'll move on swiftly to the latest Top Telly Tips. That's always assuming that the world doesn't end sometime this evening. However, just to be safe, you might want to think about setting your recording devices, wisely, for some of the following. That's all I'm saying:

Friday 27 May
Paul Merton's Birth of Hollywood - 9:30 BBC2 - is a new three part series in which the comedian, and silent movie fan, travels to America to explore how Hollywood's pioneers created the blueprint for the country's cinema industry to mark its one hundredth anniversary. Paul - who, of course, has made several previous documentaries about cinema history, which have been generally excellent - begins with a look at the career of DW Griffith, who progressed from making short cliffhangers to producing cinema's first genuine epics including The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance during the 1910s. Hollywood is still a sleepy California backwater of orange groves about to be transformed by filmmakers from the East Coast in search of sunny locations and wide open spaces. During this explosive early period, one of Hollywood's most influential and controversial directors was DW Griffith. Within the space of a few short years, he went from making short 'cliffhangers' to three-hour cast-of-thousands epics as Hollywood cinema became a worldwide entertainment medium. Paul retrieves cinema's founding DNA and explores Griffith's career and the beginnings of the star system after co-founding the United Artists film studio in 1919 with Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Well worth an hour of your time this, I reckon.

The Joy of Easy Listening - 9:00 BBC4 - is another documentary which charts the history of the genre, from its emergence in the 1950s to its heyday in the late 60s, through its survival in the 70s and 80s, followed by a revival - as kitsch - in the 90s. The film traces the hidden history of a music that has reflected society every bit as much as pop and rock - just in a more relaxed way. Invented at the dawn of rock 'n' roll, easy listening has shadowed pop music and the emerging teenage market since the mid-50s. It is a genre that equally soundtracks our modern age, but perhaps for a rather more 'mature' generation and therefore with its own distinct purpose and aesthetic. Contributors include Richard Carpenter, Herb Alpert, Richard Clayderman, Engelbert Humperdinck, Jimmy Webb, Mike Flowers, James Last and others. Nice. Dig out yer copy of This is Easy and prepare for a night in front of the fondue.

Saturday 28 May
Don't Scare the Hare - 4:50 BBC1 - is, as previously noted, a highly distressing game show for all the family (if that family is, say, the Fritzls), filled with self-disgust and loathing, solemn regret, nightmarish imagery and a four foot robotic hare. Just the thing, in fact, for one of the days after Armageddon. A man willing to do pretty much anything to remain in the public eye - Jason Bradbury - along with the hare, play host to two teams of utterly desperate individuals - most, seemingly, with the collective intellectual capacity of a trio of woodlouses. Also, six giant alarm clocks, fifty angry frogs, a breastfeeding eel and a whole field full of genetically modified mutant carrots that fire lasers. See, very post-apocalyptic. Perfect. But, if the teams want to escape this nightmarish Hell in which they find themselves with any trace of their dignity in-tact ... they've got no chance. To get out alive, it's simple. Merely debase yourself on national television. Narrated by a weeping Sue Perkins. At least Total Wipeout is occasionally funny.

The latest episode of Doctor Who - 6:45 BBC1 - is The Almost People, the second in Matty Graham's two-part story about cloning. As the solar storm continues to rage, a doppelganger seeks revenge against her makers and vows to lead her fellow slaves in a revolution against humanity. However, with the installation crumbling around them, there is no time for disputes and the Doctor struggles to help both parties put aside their differences and solve the problem together. With Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. Guest starring Sarah Smart Marshall Lancaster and Raquel Cassidy.

Tonight also sees the Live UEFA Champions League Final - 7:00 ITV - between Barcelona and Manchester United (Kick-off 7.45pm). Coverage of the showpiece match at Wembley Stadium, where the biggest prize in European club football is at stake. This is the second time in three seasons that these two sides have met in the final, with goals for Barca by Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi proving the difference at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome two years ago. The Spanish champions start as huge favourites following another impressive campaign in which they have clinched the La Liga title for the twenty first time in their history, but The Scum are the only club to have avoided defeat in this season's competition so far. Knockout wins against Marseille, Chelsea and Schalke have helped The Scum to their fifth European Cup final, while their opponents are playing in their seventh. Both have triumphed on three previous occasions. United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar is set to play his last match before retirement, and manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping the Dutch star turns in another vintage performance to prevent the star-studded Barca attack from showcasing their talents on the big stage once again. Presented by grumpy whinge-bag Adrian Chiles, with commentary by Clive Tyldesley and Andy 'You know nothing' Townsend. Subsequent programmes subject to change if it goes to extra time, penalties, or gets sent off for decapitating Carles Puyol for 'looking at me in a funny way.' Normally one would - of course - be backing the English team here. But, let's face it, it is The Scum were talking about so, you know, Arriba Barca!

Sunday 29 May
Scott & Bailey - 9:00 ITV - is a new six-part crime drama series following the personal and professional lives of two detectives working for a Manchester police unit that specialises in murder cases. DC Janet Scott (The Shadow Line's Lesley Sharp) and DC Rachel Bailey, played by ex-Corrie actress Suranne Jones who was so good in Doctor Who last week. This odd couple investigate the case of a pregnant woman who was killed in her bedroom. Meanwhile, Rachel's love life takes a turn for the worse and Janet gets a call that reawakens a past tragedy. Also starring Rupert Graves, Amelia Bullmore and Nicholas Gleaves and written by the great Sally Wainwright (At Home With The Braithwaites). Suranne co-created the drama - along with her former Coronation Street colleague Sally Lindsay, who also appears. So this one has potential quality stamped all over it. ITV clear have big expectations for it, putting it in the Sunday night Lewis/Vera slot.

Jake Humphrey presents action from the sixth round of the season, held at the Circuit de Monaco in Formula 1: The Monaco Grand Prix Highlights - 7:00 BBC3. Mark Webber edged out his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel to take the honours here last year, with Renault's Robert Kubica finishing in third place and 2009 world champion Jenson Button only getting as far as the second lap before an engine failure ended his race. This year, Vettel's running away with the championship leaving the rest - led by Lewis Hamilton - in a race for second. Will things change on the most unique circuit in world motor racing? With commentary by Martin Brundle and David Coulthard.

Monday 30 May
Springwatch 2011 - 8:00 BBC2 - returns for a new series tonight. Kate Humble and Chris Packham are joined by Martin Hughes-Games to follow the fortunes of wildlife in mid-Wales, home to red kites, herons, egrets and pied flycatchers. Charlie Hamilton-James also observes the lives of beavers in the wilds of Scotland. And, as usual, some poor BBC schlep of a volunteer will be stuck half-way up a mountain in the Farne Islands protected only by a flimsy cagoule getting pecked to death by gannets. It's a rough life in the BBC Natural History department, ladies and gentlemen.

Meanwhile, hang out the bunting - you know, the stuff you've got left over from the Royal Wedding - Simon Cowell returns - almost Christlike - for the first of the five semi-finals in Britain's Got Talent - 7:30 ITV. He will be joining Michael McIntyre, Amanda Holden and David Hasselhoff as the first eight of forty acts compete to impress the judges and secure the all-important viewers' vote. And, presumably, the first thing that Cowell will be asking is 'what the *$£+ have you don't to my show? The ratings were seventeen million when I left!' At stake, of course, is the chance to win a cash prize of one hundred thousand smackers. And appear at the Royal Variety Performance. But, to be honest, most people are slightly more interested in the cash. Ant and Dec host. The results can be seen at 9.30pm. Continues tomorrow. And all week. And, thankfully, by the weekend it'll be over.

If you fancy a nice, cheerful alternative to Simon Cowell's flights of egomania then how about Pol Pot's Executioner: Welcome to Hell - 9:00 BBC4? Sounds remarkably similar, to be honest. This is a documentary about Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Comrade Duch, who ran the Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison camp in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh during the rule of the Khmer Rouge. The prison came to be regarded as one of the most notorious symbols of Pol Pot's victimisation of the Cambodian people, and in 2010 Duch became the first of the regime's major figures to be put on trial for his part in the Killing Fields atrocities. Part of the Justice season. I wonder if anybody will be singing a cover of 'Holiday in Cambodia' on tonight's Britain's Got Talent. I'd vote for that.

Tonight also sees the second episode of All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace - 9:00 BBC2 - as Adam Curtis explores the perception of nature as a self-regulating ecosystem, tracing the concept to its roots in the work of scientists in the 1950s. He examines how the application of machine-like properties to the environment proved to be inaccurate as ecologists discovered it was a dynamic, constantly changing system, and draws a link with the thinking behind social networking websites.

Tuesday 31 May
In the latest episode of Coronation Street - 9:00 ITV - John is frantic when Katy reveals she is about to have an abortion and as he rushes to speak to Chesney. But, when Fiz follows him to the basement, there she discovers the awful truth of what, exactly, has been going on down there. And, that's when it all kicks off big-style(e). Meanwhile, Kylie is rattled when David walks in on her meeting with the social worker, and Eileen tries to get Graeme to make up with Xin.

Secrets of the Superbrands: Food - 9:00 BBC3 - sees Alex Riley turn his attention to global food and drink giants. He investigates how brands including Coca Cola, Starbucks, McDonald's and Heinz have become instantly recognisable, and the ways in which they ensure customers repeatedly buy their products. Last in the series.

We've got the start of a new - fourth - series of Lead Balloon - 10:00 BBC2. In which dry, sarky comic Jack Dee plays ... dry, sarky comic Rick Spleen in a piece of type-casting that even Dennis Waterman might have thought twice about. The opening episode is called Pig. A Sunday newspaper decides to write a feature about Mel, and with his efforts to produce a best-selling novel on indefinite hold, Rick sets out to hijack her moment in the spotlight in an effort to restart his career. However, his plan to acquire a pet pig to pose with in photographs ends up falling disastrously flat.

Wednesday 1 June
In Waterloo Road - 7:30 BBC1 - Karen invites the Director of Education to the launch of the new community cafe, but the inauguration is jeopardised by Shona and Rhona's grandmother, who is involved in a bitter custody battle with the twins' mother. With hilarious consequences, no doubt. Meanwhile, Rob's estranged wife Naomi confronts Karen, and Vicki decides to reveal her affair with Aiden to Jess and Ronan. All of which gives Robson Green the chance to play his usual stock 'sound bloke' character very effectively.

Tonight's episode of Emmerdale - 7:00 ITV - sees Paddy surprised to learn Marlon and Rhona have already named the baby, and continues to feel left out once they return to the village. Adam and Ella have another secret rendezvous, David tells Leyla he has resigned from the council, and Aaron struggles to hold things together.

Wonderland: The Men Who Won't Stop Marching - 9:00 BBC2 - is a rather good looking documentary in which film-maker Alison Millar spends four months with the men of the marching bands from Belfast's Shankill Road, exploring how well the scars of war have healed ten years after the end of The Troubles. In an atmosphere of entrenched prejudice and a resistance to talking about the past she meets eleven-year-old Jordan - an aspiring drummer - and his former paramilitary father.

Thursday 2 June
On tonight's The Culture Show - 7:00 BBC2 - David Attenborough explores the work of one of his favourite artists, romantic painter John Craxton, as an exhibition of his work opens at Tate Britain. John Mullan talks to author Alan Hollinghurst about his book The Stranger's Child and Big Quiffed Marky Kermode meets actor Philip Seymour Hoffman to discuss his directorial debut Jack Goes Boating. Presented by Arty-Andrew Graham-Dixon.

And, speaking of Arty-Andrews, Andrew Marr's Megacities - 8:00 BBC1 - is a new series for the big-eared former superinjunctioner and broadcaster who finds out how metropolises feed, protect and move populations totalling more than ten million. He begins by looking at London, Dhaka, Tokyo, Mexico City and Shanghai, exploring daily life in each area and considering what cities of the future can learn from today's heavily populated regions.

EastEnders - 7:30 BBC1 - occasionally comes up with some strange bedfellows and they don't come much stranger than Masood and Phil who try to exact a bit of grievous revenge on Yusef. But, the postman becomes unsure of himself as the situation takes a vicious turn. Mercy sees her relationship with Fat Boy in a new light, and angrily resolves to prove Ashley wrong. Carol is furious when she discovers Ricky is thinking of taking a job in Dubai.

And finally for the week, in the latest episode of Psychoville 2 - 10:00 BBC2 - Tealeaf and Peter Bishop join forces to solve the mystery of the locket, but as danger mounts, things do not go to plan. Mr Jelly once again takes on Mr Jolly's role, with unexpected results. Comedy thriller, starring Daniel Kaluuya. And, as usual, highly recommended. Unless, of course, Judgement Day occurred. In which case, like I say, might be an idea to use your recording devices wisely.

The news, now: The BBC has responded to viewers who were 'unhappy' that Family Guy was broadcast later than scheduled due to live coverage of Radio 1's Big Weekend. The two-day festival came to a close last Sunday night as pop superstar Lady GaGa performed a well-received forty five-minute set in Carlisle. However, due to a late start, the performance continued past 10pm - leaving the animated comedy delayed to the fury of its tens of fans. In an official reply to those who contacted the corporation directly to voice their frustration, the BBC apologised for the 'inconvenience' the delay had caused. 'Live events such as this can sometimes overrun and have a knock on effect to the published schedule,' it said. 'We appreciate that many viewers were waiting for Family Guy to begin but in situations such as this we have to balance up the demands of both audiences and make a decision that we feel is best for our audience as a whole. Radio 1's Big Weekend is a once a year event and Lady GaGa's performance was the culmination of the festival. The audience would therefore naturally expect us to continue with coverage until it had concluded.' It continued: 'We endeavoured to let everyone know that Family Guy would follow the gig in a variety of ways. As well as displaying on-screen information notices we also used our social media outlets such as the BBC3 live Twitter feed and Facebook pages to keep our audience updated.' The BBC added that new episodes of Family Guy are repeated on Saturdays, ensuring that fans 'have another opportunity' to watch the programme.

Legal proceedings are reportedly being taken by a footballer against Twitter for allegedly publishing information covered by a superinjunction. The player, identified only by the initials CTB, is also known to be taking action against the Sun newspaper and ex-Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas. He has lodged papers in the High Court against 'Twitter Incorporated and persons unknown.' The contents of the application have not been made public at this stage. Twitter has been resisting attempts by the US government to subpoena information on a number of users in relation to the Wikileaks debacle. To date, there have been no such actions against users who published anonymously or under assumed names. Media lawyer Nick Lockett said the legal action against Twitter may not have much effect. 'What will have to be established is that Twitter was subject to the jurisdiction of the court,' he said. While UK courts claim worldwide jurisdiction this has often proved impossible to enforce. In the case of the US, said Lockett, the situation was complicated by the Communications Decency Act which grants immunity from prosecution for providers of 'interactive computer services' under certain circumstances. Lawyers acting for CBT may struggle to prove that Twitter does not deserve this immunity.

ITV has reportedly ruled out making a long-rumoured acquisition of Shameless and Midsomer Murders producer All3Media. The commercial broadcaster was widely speculated to be readying a bid for All3Media after its owner, private equity Permira, asked for expressions of interest earlier this week. It was thought that ITV chief executive Adam Crozier wanted to acquire the company as part of plans to introduce 'creative renewal' at production arm ITV Studios. However, a 'source close to the six hundred and fifty million pound auction of All3Media' said yesterday that ITV has decided against lodging a bid, according to Sky News city editor Mark Kleinman. Writing on his blog, Kleinman said that ITV has ruled out the move as it would prefer a production business with a stronger international presence. ITV Studios actually saw its external revenue rise by seven per cent to sixty four million smackers in the first quarter of 2011, but the division's internal revenue - drawn from UK sales and commissions - fell at the same time last year. Sources close to the auction also said that Permira was happy with the interest shown in All3Media, including trade bidders and private equity firms.

John Barrowman will reportedly replace Nigel Lythgoe on the So You Think You Can Dance judging panel this weekend. According to the Digital Spy website the Torchwood actor will fill in for Lythgoe, who is currently busy launching the US version of the show and exec-producing the final of American Idol. Lythgoe had always agreed with the BBC that he would be unable to make this particular live show due to his commitments in the US. However, he will return from the quarter-finals onwards on 28 May. Well known faceache (and drag) Arlene Phillips will become the Head Judge, while Barrowman will apparently take Phillips's 'Queen of Mean' title. Which will probably suit Big Gay John down to the ground! Barrowman said: 'This is such an amazing opportunity. I met all these guys when I was a guest judge at the Choreography Camp rounds a few months back, and I can't wait to come back and see how they have improved and developed as performers.' Lythgoe apologised for his absence, commenting: 'It is a great shame that I can't be there to see our top ten dancers perform this weekend due to my commitments to Idol, but I will be watching them dance for their lives from LA. I have no doubt John will bring his incredible pedigree to the panel and keep the dancers on their toes. It's going to be great now it's down to the top ten dancers - the competition is getting hotter.' What a pity, therefore, that but five people are actuall watching the thing. No, not pity. What a delight.

Jedward have reportedly received a two hundred thousand pound offer to appear on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! According to the Sun - who've being doing lots of stories about I'm A Celebrity ... this week, you might have noticed - the Irish twins were approached after finishing eighth in the Eurovision Song Contest last weekend. However, the paper claims that the duo's manager Louis Walsh has asked for another one hundred thousand pounds to see John and Edward appear in the next series of the jungle-based reality programme. 'Whatever your thoughts are on Jedward's "music," you can't argue that the lads are great entertainment - thirteen million BBC viewers can't be wrong,' a 'source' allegedly claimed. 'Watching them try to bolt down creepy crawlies will be TV gold.' A report last summer claimed that the brothers would appear after accepting an offer of ten thousand pounds each - said to be the lowest fee in the show's history. But, it never happened. What's the betting that will also be the case this time around?

January Jones has revealed that no-one used to take her seriously as an actress. The thirty three-year-old, who is best known as housewife Betty Draper in TV drama Mad Men, said that she has always been up against people who never expected her to succeed in her chosen career. Jones told the Sun: 'It's hard to find material that gives you the chance to challenge people's expectations. I've had to fight blonde stereotypes and doubt my entire career until Matthew [Vaughn] gave me a role [in the next X-Men movie]. A lot of times on a film set I feel I'm acting even after they say "cut." A lot of that comes from insecurity and of having to deal with people doubting my talent because I look a certain way. But I've got a lot of confidence from doing Mad Men. The more confident I get, the more I'm allowing myself to be heard, giving the director more input on how I think my character should evolve. I love being at a point where you start seeing the possibilities unfold for you. I just hope I can also meet a great man who's going to make me feel that my life isn't just about the work.' She added that she would love to find an 'interesting' man but admitted that it is 'hard to find romance' because she is 'pretty idealistic when it comes to love.' Jones also said that she has never wanted to get work off the back of her good looks because she 'grew up in the kind of family where the important thing was to work hard and accomplish something.' The actress recently revealed that she is pregnant with her first child, despite being single since her split from Jason Sudeikis earlier this year. Sudeikis has refused to comment on reports that he could be the child's father.

TNT has confirmed that its reboot of Dallas could still be picked up as a series. The project was absent from the cable channel's official fall schedule, which was confirmed earlier this week. However, a spokeswoman for the network has since announced that TNT executives will make a final decision on the show's future in the next few weeks, after viewing the completed pilot episode. The show, which will feature original Dallas stars Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Larry Hagman, is not expected to premiere before 2012 if it receives a full series commission.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has hit back in a row with former US vice president Al Gore over the decision to drop his Current TV network from Sky Italia. A dispute erupted earlier this week after Gore claimed in an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star that Current TV had been dropped from Sky Italia in Italy after it hired left-leaning news anchor Keith Olbermann, who has often criticised Murdoch's media empire. Gore said that the move was a reflection of how News Corp, the parent company of Sky Italia, operated around the world. He said: 'News Corporation is an international conglomerate with an ideological agenda. It seeks political power in every nation they operate. They wield that power to shut down voices that disagree with the agenda of Rupert Murdoch.' News Corp responded by saying that the decision was purely financial and accused Current TV, which launched on Sky Italia in 2008, of demanding more money. In a statement, News Corp said: 'Current TV asked Sky Italia for double the carriage fee when primetime viewing had fallen by forty per cent in the past year. Sky Italia's offer was in-line with the market and reflected the performance of the channel. It had nothing to do with politics.' Sky Italia added: 'No other channel operators with which Sky is partner has ever asked Sky for such an increase over the last year. This led to the decision not to renew the contract. It is also useful to clarify that - though reasserting our appreciation of the quality of the programming of Current - unfortunately the channel performance isn't improving.' However, Current TV accused News Corp of 'taking liberties' with the truth. And, 'being a bit previous and all that,' presumably. In its own statement, the broadcaster said: 'In fact, we never offered any number to them before we were summarily informed that they were dropping us.' Current TV executive vice chairman Joel Hyatt said that the broadcaster's two eurocent per customer rise in carriage fees was in line with increases in viewing figures. He also claimed that 'a very senior News Corp source' had told him that the decision to drop the channel 'came from [News Corp's headquarters in] New York because we had hired Olbermann.'

Returning, briefly, to today's theme of 'it's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)' the US government has offered advice on how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse. A member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which deals with public health and safety issues, posted a blog entry explaining how to boost chances of survival. 'You may laugh now, but when it happens you'll be happy you read this,' reads the blog. 'And hey, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.' Indicting that a post-apocalyptic zombie scenario isn't? The post says that people should always have an emergency kit bag in their homes, which should include items such as water, non-perishable food, soap and clothes. It also suggests keeping first aid supplies in the bag, although it adds that 'you're a goner if a zombie bites you.' It goes on to note that 'once you've made your emergency kit, you should sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan. This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your doorstep.' Zombiebusters? In the event of an outbreak, the blog recommends finding a zombie-free refugee camp. But not, significantly, 'shoot 'em in the head.' The agency affirms: 'If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak.' They also state that most of their advice is applicable to natural disasters, such as tornadoes and earthquakes. Personally, yer Keith Telly Topping is rather against the idea of struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic zombie scenario. I think the answer is to just get bitten and then try to change the system from within. It's much easier, and less zombies have to die in the process.
LS Lowry's depiction of the real Coronation Street in Salford, one of the roads that inspired the ITV soap, is to go under the hammer. The artist painted Coronation Street in 1957, three years before the show's creators borrowed its name. The painting shows a terraced back street filled with figures and pets, in the shadow of a factory chimney. It is expected to fetch between three and five hundred thousand smackers when it is sold by Christie's in London on Thursday. The soap's set was modelled on nearby Archie Street, which was demolished in 1971. The show was originally called Florizel Street, but that was changed after a tea lady at Granada famously remarked that it sounded like the name of a disinfectant. The alternatives were Jubilee Street and Coronation Street - both real roads in Salford. 'It was a street that Lowry knew well,' said Christie's director Rachel Hidderley. 'As a rent collector he had worked extensively in that area.' Such scenes incorporated Lowry's memories of Salford streets from before World War II, she added. 'They're inspired by his livelihood of wandering through the streets and seeing that old-fashioned view of Manchester. It's a typical Lowry street scene.' The painting has been on long-term loan to the Lowry gallery in Salford since 2000. It is one of a number of Lowry works to be sold on Thursday. The other lots include The Football Match, which is valued at between three and four and a half million pounds. The highest price paid at auction for a Lowry currently stands at £3.8m for his painting Good Friday, Daisy Nook in 2007.
The singer Kathy Kirby, best known for her cover version of 'Secret Love' in 1963, has died aged seventy two. She will also be remembered for representing the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest with 'I Belong', coming second to Luxembourg in 1965. During her career, Kirby had two top ten hits and three other singles in the top forty, as well as providing the well-remembered theme song to the BBC fantasy drama Adam Adamant Lives! In a statement, her family said that the singer had died on Thursday after suffering from a short illness. 'She will be greatly missed by her family and her many friends who have stood loyal over the years,' the statement said. Kathy was born Kathleen O'Rourke in October 1938 in Essex. While at convent school she had private singing lessons, at that stage seemingly set on an operatic career. But in 1954, when she was sixteen, she saw the bandleader Bert Ambrose with his orchestra at her local dance hall, the Ilford Palais de Danse. During the show – in an episode that went down in showbusiness legend – she walked up to the maestro and asked if she could sing with his band. Ambrose, for reasons unknown since one imagines he got that sort of request from people on a nightly basis, agreed. She sang with Ambrose's band for the next three years and he remained her manager and mentor until his death. She adopted the look of a 'blonde bombshell', and was compared to Marilyn Monroe. Her looks - lip-gloss and her powerful, pitch-perfect voice - became her trademarks. She had five top forty hits between 1963 and 1965, the best known of which is her melodramatic cover of Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster's 'Secret Love'. That year she won Top British Female Singer in the New Musical Express poll. She went on to appear on several US TV programmes, such as The Ed Sullivan Show. Kirby - whose niece, Sarah, is married to Sir Mark Thatcher -was a popular TV attraction, as in for instance her 1974 appearance on The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club. On 31 December 1976, Kirby performed 'Secret Love' on BBC1's A Jubilee Of Music. However, the death of Ambrose in 1971 at the age of seventy four on stage in Leeds, ultimately sounded the death knell for Kirby's career. Fiercely protective of her, even when rumours about her affairs with other celebrities were circulating, Ambrose had always made it his business to burnish her public image. In truth, though, her star was already on the wane: twelve singles and an LP recorded between 1967 and 1973 all failed to chart. She made her last major public singing appearance on a television special in the early 1980s. In the 1970s Kathy was briefly married to a former policeman turned journalist, Fred Pye. The remaining thirty years of her life were blighted by misfortune and failed comebacks. Her money drained away, and at one point she was said to be sleeping rough in a shop doorway. She suffered a much-publicised nervous breakdown and was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. A lesbian affair with a fan accompanied by scandalous tabloid headlines ended with the other woman being jailed for fraud and forgery. As a gay icon, Kathy continued to play the diva, and was often recognised by members of the public, even though she claimed that she sought Garboesque obscurity. 'Perhaps, Kathy,' one of her friends used to tell her, 'it's got something to do with the turban, the sunglasses and the fur coat.' In retirement she shunned publicity, and became a virtual recluse, living on state benefits. Even so, she retained a large fan base.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day provide a soundtrack for the forthcoming worldwide apocalypse. From Blondie.
From Elvis.
And from R.E.M.
What, too obvious?!

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