Saturday, June 18, 2011

Week Twenty Six: All The Jewels In The Crown Of England's Glory

Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond have filmed one of their madcap stunts on the Great Central Railway according to This Is Leicestershire. That will probably have a few Gruniad readers weeping salt tears into their muesli. Which is, of course, great. The website reported that a crowd of onlookers gathered on the railway's bridges to watch the trio race cars – one towing several caravans – along the railway tracks between Quorn and Rothley station. Photographer Joel Marston 'who captured their antics on camera' said: 'It was one of their crazy stunts and there was a few dog walkers and me watching them. The day I saw them was absolutely gorgeous weather and Jeremy was sitting there having a fag break.' I'm presuming he means a cigarette there rather than, you know, anything else. The railway itself was 'secretive' about the presenters' visit said This is Leicestershire, but did confirm that they production team had spent Tuesday and Wednesday filming for the hit BBC2 programme. In May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond brought another part of Middle England Market Harborough to a standstill when they turned up in the town to ask residents how much two luxury cars were worth. The rotters!

In one of the most thoroughly crap 'manufactured' media stories of the year - even more fake than the current Doctor Who shenanigans, to be honest - Fiona Bruce has 'caused a stir' by appearing on Friday night's BBC News bulletins wearing a pair of 'divisive glasses.' The Antiques Roadshow host was wearing the spectacles 'in order to combat an eye infection,' but still sparked a slew of unhelpful comments across a number of social networking sites and the Digital Spy website forums. None of which this blog intends to repeat because, frankly, I've got more important things to talk about than what some bloke hiding behind a ridiculous Internet username thinks about Fiona Bruce's glasses. Jesus, haven't you people got anything better to do with your time? No, stupid question - sorry I asked. Twitter users were equally as amused by Bruce's new look, variously comparing her to 'Cruella de Vil's sister' and 'Thelma [sic] from Scooby Doo.' I think you'll find that's Velma, mate. Don't you ever think that, just maybe, there are some people in this world with too much time on their hands and access to a computer? I mean, this blogger, for one. Bruce explained on BBC Radio 2 earlier, joking: 'Last time I wore my specs on the news there was a whole hoo-ha, and lots of newspapers wondered if I was trying to make either a feminist point or present myself as some kind of dominatrix. It's actually neither, it's just very boring - I've got an eye infection.'

Hugo Blick's noir thriller The Shadow Line - which yer actual Keith Telly Topping is going to have a complete seven episode rewatch of over the weekend to see if it made a bit more sense the second time around! I'll report back later on that score - concluded with almost two million viewers on Thursday evening, whilst ITV's The Choir That Rocks got an only marginally better 2.6m according to overnight audience data. The Shadow Line appealed to 1.73m on BBC2 in the 9pm hour, with a further one hundred and fifty eight thousand viewers watching on BBC HD. Afterwards, comedy panel show Mock The Week had an audience of 1.86m from 10pm. On ITV, Piers Morgan's Life Stories was seen by 1.01m from 10.45pm. Which is still 1.01m too many, frankly. Andrew Marr's Megacities achieved 2.27m on BBC1 in the 8pm hour and the immigration documentary Breaking Into Britain got 3.26m from 9pm. BBC2's The Culture Show maintained a steady audience of seven hundred and ninety thousand in the 7pm hour, before Springwatch gained 2.31m from 8pm and one hundred and three thousand on the BBC HD channel. Help! My House Is Falling Down entertained 1.3m on Channel Four in the 8pm hour and three hundred and sixty seven thousand on C4+1. Acclaimed documentary series Born To Be Different - yer actual Keith Telly Topping's pick of the day on Thursday's Simon Logan Show - was watched by 1.61m from 9pm and one hundred and forty one thousand an hour later. Highlights of England's Test clash with Sri Lanka attracted six hundred and seventy one thousand to Channel Five in the 7pm hour. On BBC3, the latest episode of Ideal was watched by five hundred and twelve thousand viewers.

Jenny Agutter and Miranda Hart have both joined BBC1's new series Call The Midwife. The six-part drama, which was first announced in January, is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth and is a period piece focusing on the lives of midwives working in London in the 1950s. Worth was working on the project with screenwriter Heidi Thomas, who previously wrote Upstairs Downstairs and Cranford, but died earlier this month. The project continues, however, with newcomer Jessica Raine landing the lead role of Jenny, who goes to live with a group of nuns and nurses. Raine has previously appeared in two episodes of Garrow's Law and the movie Robin Hood. British film icon Agutter and award-winning comedian and writer Hart will both play members of Jenny's new community, along with Pam Ferris, Judy Parfitt, Helen George and Bryony Hannah. The BBC's controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson said: 'This superb cast of some of our best established and new actresses will bring to life the extraordinary true stories and friendships of midwifery and family in 1950s East End London.' Meanwhile, the show's executive producer, Pippa Harri,s described the series as 'a fascinating portrayal of birth, life, death and a community on the bring of huge social change.' Filming for Call The Midwife will begin in London shortly and the drama is scheduled to be broadcast on BBC1 next year.

For more than fifty years Pod, Homily and Arrietty Clock have delighted 'human beans' of all ages with their small-scale adventures under the floorboards – and this Christmas they look to enchant a new audience, as The Borrowers return to television. Stephen Fry announced his involvement in this a few weeks ago but confused everyone into thinking it was a film rather than a one-off TV movie. With a cast that also includes Victoria Wood, the new ninety-minute adaptation of Mary Norton's Carnegie Medal-winning children's novels will be broadcast on BBC1 over the festive season. Christopher Eccleston and Sharon Horgan will star as Pod and Homily Clock, determined to protect their rebellious teenage daughter Arrietty from humans. Unsurprisingly, Arrietty has other ideas – befriending the boy who lives above the Clock family, and landing them in serious trouble. Fry and Wood will revel in their roles as adults on the hunt for the little people – Fry as the scientist Professor Mildeye desperate to capture a Borrower, and Wood as Grandma Driver, determined to banish them from her house – while excitable teenagers will be thrilled to see Misfits' Robert Sheehan further reinforce his tearaway status as the leather-jacketed Borrower Spiller. The movie will be written by Ben Vanstone. 'I couldn't be more thrilled with Ben's take on this classic Christmas story,' said Juliette Howell, head of television at Working Title, which is making the programme. 'It feels fresh, original, and above all funny.' The BBC first adapted the books for television in the early 90s as acclaimed Sunday teatime series The Borrowers and The Borrowers Afield, which starred Ian Holt, Rebecca Callard and Penelope Wilton. In 1997 John Goodman, Jim Broadbent and Celia Imrie starred in a film adaptation of the much-loved children's books, the first of which was published in 1952. Ben Stephenson, controller of BBC drama commissioning called the show: 'A brilliant and bold, contemporary version of this classic tale.'

Is this the greatest headline you've ever seen, dead blog reader?

The BBC has strongly defended broadcasting a kiss between two male Holby City characters. Complaints were received from 'some viewers' - homophobic twats, in other words - who thought that the scene in the BBC1 hospital drama between Dan Hamilton (Adam Astill) and Antoine Malick (Jimmy Akingbola) was 'inappropriate.' Because they're homophobic twats, basically. The storyline saw tension between Dan and Malick result in a physical fight, which led to the surgeon kissing his openly gay colleague. Responding to the complaints - from these homophobic twats - the BBC stated: 'Holby City aims to reflect real life in the setting of a medical drama and this means telling stories about characters from many different backgrounds, faiths, religions and sexualities. We approach our portrayal of same-sex relationships in the same way as we do heterosexual relationships and aim to ensure depictions of affection or sexuality between couples are suitable for pre-watershed viewing.' On the plot, it continued: 'Regular viewers will have seen the subtle build-up to this story as Malick's sexuality wrong-footed Dan and the love/hate relationship they have endured since Dan realised Malick is gay. This is a story we will continue to tell with sensitivity and integrity as we follow a character who struggles to come to terms with his sexuality.' They forgot to add 'we also do not bow to feigned 'shock-horror' moral outrage from homophobic twats who've read too much of the Daily Scum Mail.' To be fair, they probably didn't add that because they're far too nice people to say such horrible things. But, I'm not. The BBC offered similar defence recently when responding to complaints - also from homophobic twats - about a bedroom scene between EastEnders gay couple Christian and Syed.

Which brings us to the latest batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips in the area:

Friday 24 June
And, speaking of nation treasure Miranda Hart as we were earlier, there's a repeat of one of the finest episodes of the first series of Miranda - 9:30 BBC1. In a bid to encourage Gary to see her in a more sexual light, Miranda joins an evening class to learn French. But, she is horrified to discover that it's run by her former school teacher, Mr Clayton (played in a splendidly middle-class Nigel Havers-style-Lothario way, and very much against type, by the great Peter Davison). The hapless singleton - Miranda, this is, not any of the other hapless singletons who population this excellent sitcom - then decides a tango class is a more romantic option, only for her plans to take another turn for the worse. As usual. It was this particular episode - I think the first that I saw - which made this blogger realise Miranda was so much better than I'd given it such dismissive credit for based on the pre-publicity and the trailers. A major (by which I mean Brigadier-General) re-evaluation took place thereafter, based largely on this episode. Comedy, with of course the great Miranda Hart, Sarah Hadland and Patricia Hodge. If you missed it first time around, check it out, trust me, your funny bone will thank you.

Glastonbury starts today and continues, at various points, on BBC's 2, 3 and 4 over the next three days. Morrissey at Glastonbury - 9:00 BBC4 - is one of the highlights of the opening day as the former Smiths frontman, whose solo hits include 'Suedehead', 'The Last of the Famous International Playboys', 'Interesting Drug', 'Everyday Is Like Sunday' and 'Irish Blood, English Heart', performs top of the bill on the Pyramid Stage. Introduced by another Mancunian, Mark Radcliffe.

The latest episode of The Kennedys - 9:00 BBC2 - is called Failed Invasion, Failed Fidelity. You don't need to wonder too hard what that's all about. Bobby tells his father he is having doubts about taking on the role of Attorney General, but Joe Senior insists that his brother needs someone who will remain loyal. John's advisors urge him to launch The Bay of Pigs invasion despite his worries that it could upset Cuba's ally the Soviet Union, and when his worst fears come true, he has a difficult decision to make. Drama, starring Barry Pepper, Tom Wilkinson and Greg Kinnear.

Saturday 25 June
Henry Winkler, Shane Richie, Milton Jones and Ulrika Jonsson is a line-up that you wouldn't expect to see on too many TV shows. They are guests on Lee Mack's All Star Cast - 9:50 BBC1 - the BBC's new entertainment show featuring chat, stand-up comedy and a chance for members of the public to win their moment in the spotlight. Also including music by The Feeling featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

Mildred Pierce - 9:00 Sky Atlantic - is, of course, unless you've been living under a rock a mini-series drama, based on James M Cain's much filmed 1941 novel and starring Kate Winslet, with Guy Pearce, Melissa Leo and Mare Winningham. Set in Glendale, California, in the 1930s, the book is the story of the titular middle-class housewife's attempts to maintain her and her family's social position during the Great Depression. Todd Haynes adaptation is much more faithful to the source novel than the Oscar winning Joan Crawford/Michael Curtiz 1945 version. In the opening episode, Mildred throws her husband out of their family home after discovering that he has been unfaithful - but faces ruin as she struggles to raise her two young daughters alone amid the hardships of the Great Depression.

From the first sighting by a wayward buccaneer in 1688, through Abel Tasmin's complete inability to even spot it was there, all the way up to the Sydney Olympics, Australia has been influenced by many different and diverse cultures. Including, of course, its own indigenous ones. Lovely Tony Robinson, taking a break from Time Team for a working holiday, brings his distinctive passion for storytelling and discovery to reveal some astonishing quirks of history on the island continent in the jolly-looking Tony Robinson Down Under - 10:00 on the History Channel. The series arc roughly follows a chronology: from the earliest sightings of Terra Australis Incognita through to today. Each era is defined by a theme (rather than equal blocks of time). The characters who left their fingerprints on Australia’s formative years were predominantly English and Irish. Nonetheless Tony will also reveal some surprising and controversial stories of the settlers and un-settlers from other countries (Austria, France, Israel, Germany and more): the rebels, ratbags and revolutionaries who in some small way contributed to the birth of a nation. As usual with one of Tony's pop social history conceits, it'll be amusing, well-made, presented with a real passion and, the the annoyance of serious historians everywhere, pretty much historically accurate. They hate it when that happens do serious historians. It fair gets on their collective tits, so it does.

Sunday 26 June
Guess who just got back today, them wild-eyed boys that've been away. Haven't change or had much to say, but I still them cats are crazy. Doubtless to the teeth-grinding chagrin of various Gruniad-reading lice-stinking hippies and Communists, the Daily Scum Mail and full-of-their-own-importance alternative comedians (or, possibly, to the delight of these people since it gives them all something to whinge about for the next six weeks) Top Gear returns - 8:00 BBC2. In the first episode of the new series, Jeremy Clarkson celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Jaguar E-type by driving a modern-day interpretation of the classic sports car, and throwing a typically low-key party involving live music, fighter planes and the Royal Marines. Richard Hammond is in South Africa, where he tests a bigger, more rugged alternative to the Humvee, and James May enlists the help of Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams to try out the latest Mini rally car. Plus, The Stig takes the BMW One Series M Coupe around the test track and the Godfather of Sham Rock, Alice Cooper gets behind the wheel of the Reasonably Priced Car. Lots of people don't like this show. For a variety of different reasons. And all of them are wrong. Expect the first wholly made-up story of feigned outrage by somebody over something to hit a newspaper website near you probably by about 10:30 on Monday morning.

Coast - 9:00 BBC2 - is unlikely to attract many complaints from viewers, expect when it gets bumped off in favour of the motor racing, as happened a couple of weeks ago. Me, I like both so I wasn't too fussed, personally. Partly because I knew the episode which got bumped would show up eventually. Tonight, in fact. Postponed from 12 June due to Jenson Button's finest hour going on for five hours, Nick Crane visits the Devon and Cornwall coastlines, joining a fishing expedition on board one of the last remaining Brixham trawlers, which were constructed more than one hundred years ago. He explores a string of forts built by Henry VIII, before taking a ferry to the Isles of Scilly, where the deadly killer Miranda Krestovnikoff goes snorkelling in the underwater seagrass meadows. Mark Horton recalls how Lawrence of Arabia helped to develop rescue boats in Plymouth, Celebrity MasterChef runner-up and national treasure Dick Strawbridge learns about the steam-power revolution pioneered in the tin mines of Cornwall, and the Goddess of Punk Archaeology, Doctor Alice Roberts discovers how weather far out at sea generates waves that hit the UK's shoreline. But, whither Scottish Neil (and his lovely hair) I hear you bemoan dear blog reader? Busy doing A History of Ancient Britain, most like.

It's a big night for BBC2 as it happens. They're also showing The Many Faces of Michael Caine at 7:00. In this, the popular actor reminisces about his movie career, which has spanned more than fifty years, in a series of archive interviews woven together with contributions from colleagues and critics, plus clips from some of his most famous films. These include Zulu, which gave the future knight his first starring role, espionage adventure The Ipcress File, Alfie, superior gangster thriller Get Carter, the iconic heist comedy The Italian Job and the 2009 film Harry Brown, in which he appeared as a vigilante OAP. He made some great films, did Michael, he also appeared in some of the worst movies ever made. Which, actually, makes his career far more interesting than some of his contemporaries who got stuck in a rut of character roles and arthouse movies. I've got to be honest, I'd've killed to be an actor and have The Swarm on my CV! Not a lot of people know that.

Monday 27 June
In tonight's episode of the popular soap opera Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - Becky organises a birthday party for Jason in the Rovers, complete with cheap beer, a stripper and a new jukebox. Sounds like an average Saturday night round yer actual Keith Telly Topping's drum, to be honest. Unfortunately, she struggles to quell the commotion when a brawl breaks out. Yep, definitely like a weekend scene for Keith Telly Topping's gaff. Meanwhile, Izzy discovers Gary failed to tell her Will called at the flat, and gossip about Carla and Frank leaves Maria horrified. Elsewhere, Peter and Leanne invite Stella and Karl to dinner.

They still haven't got around to The Bottom Inspectors yet, although Channel Five seem to have been inspecting just about everything else of late. Take, for instance, The Restaurant Inspector - 9:00 on Five. This sees Fernando Peire, the director of London's exclusive and extremely expensive the Ivy, going 'undercover' (like a dirty stinking Copper's Nark) at a roadside restaurant in Somerset which specialises in Greek cuisine. Unfortunately, he has a bit of trouble finding it because of poor road signs. Expect Channel Five to commission The Road Sign Inspectors any day now. Six months after a change of ownership, the eatery is suffering from a lack of customers and losing about two grand a week. But despite this, the new boss is reluctant to make any changes. Which is fair enough, if he wants to be bankrupt, leave the chap alone you nosy bastards! 'It is' claim Channel Five, 'left to Fernando to overhaul the menu and change the decor.' Nobody's asked him to do this, of course, he's just decided to because he's The Bottom Restaurant Inspector, and he can. Does any of this seem a bit ... I dunno, totalitarian to anyone? A bit Stalinist?

Guilty Pleasures - 9:00 BBC4 - is a new two part documentary series which opens with a first part called Luxury in Ancient Greece: Nothing in Excess? This exploring how attitudes to the concept of 'luxury' have shaped and divided societies throughout history. In ancient Greece, for example, public opinions of luxury items and delicacies varied wildly, with some held up as being emblematic of democracy while others were regarded as symbols of weakness and decadence. However, social attitudes toward opulence proved especially problematic in the city-state of Sparta, where attempts to deny luxuries to the Spartan populace played a major part in their downfall.

Tuesday 28 June
In the latest episode of Luther - 9:00 BBC1 - the moody detective takes a long-overdue holiday to look after teenage prostitute Jenny (the terrific Aimee-Ffion Edwards). And, to help her get back on her own two feet. As opposed to, you know, flat on her back with her legs apart. However, their plans for an almost sitcom-like Odd Couple domestic situation (with hilarious consequences) are interrupted by Ripley with the news of a violent attack at a petrol station. Prices too high? You know as much as I do, dear blog reader. To add to poor old John Luther's problems, Baba's heavies Frank and Toby continue to make their blackmail demands on him, which he knows he must follow for Jenny's sake - until he can find a way to exploit the antagonism between the two men.

There's the second part of Three Men Go to Venice - 9:00 BBC2. The excellent Dara O Briain, the often funny but sometimes a bit of a smart-arse Rory McGrath and the occasionally funny but usually a lot of smart-arse (but, quite cuddly with it) Griff Rhys Jones encounter difficulties travelling along the Adriatic out of season. However, they manage to locate Europe's largest nudist colony outside the Roman city of Pula. Of course they do. Just stumbled across it by accident, I imagine. We believe you, lads, thousands wouldn't. The chaps have also been entered into a cricket match with the local side against the MCC - the Munich Cricket Club. In which Dara's somewhat unconventional batting style is surprisingly successful. When they finally arrive in Venice, they are immediately thrown into training for the gondola race, and Rory heads for the island of Murano - home to the lagoon city's famous glass-makers - to create a suitable trophy to present to the winner.

Perfume - 9:00 BBC4 - is, tragically, not an hour long documentary on the making of The Paris Angels' debut single. Rather, it's a new series which goes behind-the-scenes of the perfume industry, discovering the complex combinations of scientific know-how and creative flair that go into making and marketing the world's most popular brands. Parisian firm Guerlain is plunged into crisis while searching for a new perfumer-in-chief when family figurehead Jean-Paul Guerlain makes a racist remark on French television. In New York, Estee Lauder executives devise a new mass-market fragrance for fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger.

Wednesday 29 June
Waterloo Road - 7:30 BBC1 - continues with an episode in which the staff nervously await the Local Authority's decision on whether to close the school or not. Given that it's been recommissioned for another series and that they've signed up Paul Nicholls to appear in it next year, I'm presuming the answer to that one will be 'no, carry on doing what you're doing.' Pressure mounts on Eleanor as she realises the consequences of her actions, and Karen uncovers her betrayal. Meanwhile, Chris creates healthy competition between the teachers and pupils with a community garden project but soon finds himself drawn back into dealing with Scout's personal life.

24 Hours in A&E - 9:00 Channel Four - seems to be one of the fourth network's most popular factual programmes in some years (Big Fat Gypsy Weddings notwithstanding). In the latest episode, a seventy seven-year-old former motorbike racer arrives with a potentially deadly swelling of the main artery which could burst at any moment. His only option is major surgery, which could be very dangerous at his age. Although, arguably, not as dangerous as not doing anything about it. A woman whose boyfriend was killed in a cycling accident a year ago has also been injured while on her bike, and a medical technician and a mobile caterer talk about their roles in aiding people to recovery.

A repeat, but a really good one, is Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession - 8:00 BBC4. Professor Jerry Brotton examines the way in which maps have reflected contemporary politics and belief - and in some cases actually inspired them. He studies medieval religious cartography on maps showing pilgrims the routes to Jerusalem or heaven, Victorian illustrations of the world - with every nation awarded a score according to how 'civilised' they were deemed to be - and modern mapping of social problems including infant mortality and HIV.
Thursday 20 June
Polar Bear: Inside Nature's Giants Special - 9:00 Channel Four - sees veterinary scientist Mark Evans joins experts in anatomy, evolution and behaviour to study polar bears off the coast of Greenland. The team joins locals, who are permitted to hunt a small quota each year, to carry out an anatomical dissection of a bear and explore some of the mysteries of the species. They also hope to evaluate how climate change and man-made pollutants are affecting them.

I keep on say it every week but by quite a distance the finest sitcom on British TV at the moment is Graham Duff's superb In the latest episode Moz (Johnny Vegas) encounters a - no longer mythical - gang of mutant ginger gangsters known as The Red Mist. Ideal - 10:30 BBC3. Well, make the most of it because tonight is the last in the current series. Carmel (Hanne Steen) has to choose between Colin (Ben Crompton) and Jake (Danny Morgan), while Yasuko (Haruka Kuroda) leaves poor Derrick (Alfie Joey) for Fist. Story of poor-old Alf's life, that is! Guest-starring Rula Lenska. So, now whilst we ALL wait to find out if an eighth series will be commissioned for next year, remember series one-through-six are all available on DVD. Most of them for as little as four quid.

In the latest Mock the Week - 10:00 BBC2 - Dara O Briain hosts the topical comedy quiz, as guests Alun Cochrane, Micky Flanagan, Milton Jones and Zoe Lyons join regular panellists Hugh Dennis and Andy Parsons to offer opinions on the past week's world events.

Walking the Amazon - 9:00 Channel Five - has its concluding part tonight. This documentary features former soldier Ed Stafford and his Peruvian pal, Cho, who have reached Tabatinga, near where the borders of Peru, Brazil and Colombia meet. As they head due east toward Manaus, the state capital of Amazonas, they battle bugs, caimans, dehydration and mental fatigue - and a wrong turn proves costly while trying to make it to the river mouth.

And so to the news: Three more actors have signed up for roles in Aaron Sorkin's HBO pilot. More As This Story Develops, which was first announced in January, focuses on a group of people working in a broadcast newsroom. John Gallagher Jr, Thomas Sadoski and Josh Pence have all secured roles in the drama, TV Line suggests. Jeff Daniels has already signed up to play the role of anchorman Will McCallister, Emily Mortimer has landed the part of executive producer Mackenzie and Alison Pill will appear as associate producer Maggie. Gallagher will now take on the role of Jim, who chooses to come and work with Mackenzie when her previous show is cancelled. Jim also begins to develop romantic feelings for Maggie. Pence will play his rival Rob, who has been dating Maggie for five months, while Sadoski will star as Will's former executive producer who leaves him to work on another show with Will's old protégé. Gallagher and Sadoski are both best known for roles on Broadway. Pence recently appeared in Sorkin's movie The Social Network and has also appeared in episodes of CSI: Miami, The Gates and Parks and Recreation. Olivia Munn and Sam Waterston are among the other actors who have signed up for part in More As This Story Develops.

Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky has signed up to direct HBO's 'magicians and Nazis' drama Hobgoblin. The project, which is still at the pilot stage, follows the story of a group of conmen and magicians who use their various skills to battle Hitler's Germany. Aronofsky will also be the executive producer for the show, HBO confirmed. Michael Chabon (Wonder Boys) and Ayelet Waldman (Bad Mother) will write the script and are also executive producing.

The BBC has announced that it has picked up the rights to the hit US series The Voice. Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton feature as mentors on the American version - based on the original production The Voice of Holland. It sees hopefuls perform in 'blind auditions' where the judges face away from them. The acquirement was confirmed after BBC1 controller Danny Cohen reached an agreement with creator John de Mol on Friday. 'I'm absolutely delighted that The Voice will be coming to the BBC,' he said. 'It's a big, exciting and warm-hearted series and will be a fantastic Saturday night event on BBC1.' De Mol, owner of Talpa Media, added: 'The Voice stands for a new generation in its genre and I'm delighted that in the UK it has been picked up by the BBC who really share my passion and belief in the show.' Nick Southgate of Shed Media commented: 'We're thrilled to be working with John de Mol and his team at Talpa in bringing The Voice to the UK public. It's an extraordinary show that has captured the hearts of viewers round the world and we're proud to be part of bringing it to BBC1.' Split into three phases, the competition begins with the blind auditions and battle phase, which then lead onto the final live stage of the competition. The show's popularity in the US had sparked a bidding war for rights between the BBC and ITV. The Heaton Horror Cheryl Cole is reportedly the BBC's top choice for the judging panel.

Lark Rise To Candleford writer Bill Gallagher has started work on a new drama for BBC1. The Ladies' Paradise, which is based on a novel by Emile Zola, is set in the 1890s. It focuses on Denise, a young girl who is made homeless after the death of her father and moves to the city. She begins working at the first ever department store but soon discovers that there is a darker side to the shop. 'This project has been close to my heart for a long time and I'm thrilled to be making it with the BBC,' Gallagher said. 'The Ladies' Paradise is set at exactly the same time as Lark Rise, but now we're in the city, at a time of great change and upheaval, so the series is exciting and constantly dramatic. Like Lark Rise we will explore the lives of a colourful cast of characters struggling to survive and flourish in difficult and dangerous times.' The popular Lark Rise To Candleford was cancelled after four series earlier this year, sparking complaints from fans. Gallagher has also worked on shows including Clocking Off, The Prisoner and Conviction and recently began work on new BBC drama The Fuse, which will star Christopher Eccleston. Filming for The Ladies' Paradise is due to begin next summer and it will be broadcast early in 2013.

Hawaii Five-0 actress Grace Park has suggested that being famous can have bizarre side-effects. Park, who plays Kono on Hawaii Five-0 and previously appeared in Battlestar Galactica, explained that she prefers to live a much more private existence than most actors. 'This has been a really interesting journey,' she told Emmy magazine. 'I'm really grateful [for Hawaii Five-0], but with that comes a lot of exposure.' Park went on to say: 'There's an inordinate amount of attention put on actors. Some people want to make their lives public, but that doesn't mean everybody does. It kind of feels [as if] you landed in - well, not really Alice in Wonderland, because it's not that fun.'

Newcomer Elliot Knight has secured the lead role in Sky1's new drama Sinbad. Knight, who is just about to graduate from drama school, will take on the role of the mythical hero in the thirteen-part series. The show follows Sinbad as he flees his home and ends up being cast out to sea. After a magical storm, Sinbad teams up with his ship-mates and goes on a voyage of discovery. Knight said: 'I was thrilled when I heard I'd got the role of Sinbad. This is exactly what I have wanted to do since I was big enough to run around the garden waving a toy sword! Sinbad is a great character for any actor to be able to play: impulsive, adventurous, passionate, loyal and brave. A true hero. His story is packed with action, adventure and fantasy and I am looking forward to the exciting challenge of bringing him to life for a new generation.' Lost's Naveen Andrews has also been cast in the drama as Sinbad's mortal enemy Lord Akbari. Hotel Rwanda's Sophie Okonedo and Timothy Spall will also feature. Rounding out the cast are Dame Janet Suzman, Elliot Cowan, Marama Corlett, Estella Daniels, Junix Inocian and Dimitri Leonidas. Production for Sinbad has started in Malta and the show is due to be broadcast next year.

CSI episodes specially selected by viewers will be screened on Channel Five over the coming weeks, it has been announced. The special run of episodes will mark ten years since the US drama was first broadcast on the channel in 2001. CSI star Marg Helgenberger (Catherine Willows) said: 'I would never have guessed [the show] would have gone [on for] ten years. {And that] it would become a show that would inspire young people to become criminalists.' She continued: 'I think a good mystery show will always be in vogue. It's just a matter of how you execute it and this was Twenty First Century Sherlock Holmes.' Helgenberger also admitted that she personally enjoys the 'wacky and fun' episodes of CSI. 'Sometimes those are a relief when you're doing some [other] episodes, especially the ones that are based on real cases,' she said. 'Those are very disturbing.' CSI viewer favourites due to air include the fourth season's Butterflied and season three episode Lady Heather's Box on Tuesday 21 June. The third series' penultimate episode Play With Fire is scheduled for later in the week, followed by A Kiss Before Frying from the show's most recent season. The seventh season's two-part premiere Built To Kill will air on 5 July, with season nine's two-parter Nineteen Down/One To Go which saw the departure of Gil Grissom and the arrival of Ray Langston and Nate Haskill following on 12 July. Gary Dourdan's final episode, For Warrick, will also be broadcast that night. The celebratory season will conclude with Quentin Tarantino's directorial effort, the two-part season five finale Grave Danger. Sadly, it doesn't appear as though yer actual Keith Telly Topping's suggestion to the network, series fives epically nasty Snakes has made the cut.

The BBC has announced the cast for the third series of its daytime drama Land Girls which is set during the Second World War. Returning cast members include Mark Benton, Susan Cookson and Carolyn Pickles. Becci Gemmell and Seline Hizli return as land girls Joyce and Connie in the new five-part series. Additional new faces joining the cast are Dominic Mafham as Richard Channing, who runs the medical hospital and is Lady Hoxley's new love interest, the great Joe Armstrong (Robin Hood, A Passionate Woman) as Danny Sparks, Connie's cockney ex-boyfriend' Paul Ritter as Dennis Tucker's brother Frank and Samuel Edward-Cook as Walter Storey, son of Vernon. They are joined by Lou Broadbent who plays new land girl Iris Dawson. Reverend Henry Jameson is played by Gwilym Lee. Created by Roland Moore, Land Girls is once again set on the Hoxley estate and in the village of Helmstead, against the backdrop of war-weary Forties Britain. The highly popular drama is based at the run down Pasture Farm and the opulent Hoxley Manor, which is taken over as a hospital when the local military hospital is bombed. Land Girls is being made by the team behind BBC Birmingham's award-winning Doctors, and is being currently being filmed on location in and around the West Midlands. The executive producers are Will Trotter and John Yorke.

Former EastEnders and Carry On star Barbara Windsor is to front a new Radio 2 series celebrating female comics. The six-part series will look back at the lives and careers of both British and US funny women, including Hattie Jacques and Lucille Ball. The shows will also contain contributions from people who worked with each of the featured performers. The first episode, focussing on Lancashire-born Hylda Baker, will be broadcast on 5 July. Most famous as a gossip with a silent, sullen companion named Cynthia, she was a comedy favourite for more than forty years. Robert Gallacher, Radio 2's commissioning editor, said: 'Over the past couple of years Radio 2 has put a spotlight on the stories of some iconic British male comics, such as Dick Emery, Dave Allen and Stanley Baxter. Now it's the turn for the ladies.' The series will be split in two with the first - entitled Barbara Windsor's Funny Girls - paying tribute to Baker, Jacques and Beryl Reid. The second, Barbara Windsor's Funny Gals, will look at US stars Ball, Annie Get Your Gun's Betty Hutton and veteran comic Phyllis Diller - the only performer out of the six who is still alive.

And, speaking of ancient relics, Archaeologists at the Roman Vindolanda Fort and Museum have unearthed dozens of circular huts which they believe could have been used as temporary refuges. The excavation at the site near Hexham has unearthed various finds from Roman Britain including letters, murder victims and shoes. It is thought the huts were built during the attempted Roman invasion of Scotland under Emperor Septimius Severus (AD 208-211). Doctor Andrew Birley described them as 'remarkable structures.' An earlier fort at Vindolanda was completely levelled for the construction of the buildings, which could number into the hundreds. The find has intrigued archaeologists at the site as Roman soldiers did not build round houses. They are interested as to why the Roman army would go to such lengths to accommodate the unusual structures. Birley, who is director of excavations, said: 'These are remarkable structures to be found inside a Roman fort, unique in fact. They are the sort of building you might expect to find north of Hadrian's Wall in this period, used by small farming communities. It is quite possible that what we have here is the Roman army providing for these farmers - creating a temporary refuge for the most vulnerable people from north of the wall. Those people may have helped to feed the army and traded with the soldiers, and would have been regarded as being traitors and collaborators in the eyes of the rebellious tribes to the north. It would make a certain sense to bring them behind the curtain of Hadrian's Wall and protect them while the fighting continued, as they would have had real value to the Romans and they certainly tried to protect what they valued.'

Plumber Ian Puddick has been cleared of Internet harassment after tweeting and blogging details of his wife's affair. Puddick, forty one, hailed the verdict as 'a victory for free speech and the small man,' outside the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court. He had tweeted, blogged and posted videos online after being enraged by his wife's ten-year relationship with company director Timothy Haynes. Lawyers believe that the case may help define the limits of free expression online. There were cheers from the public gallery and Mr Puddick shook his fist in triumph and smiled as District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe delivered not-guilty verdicts on two harassment charges at the end of a three-day trial. Accompanied by his wife Leena, he said: 'For the last twelve months this has taken over my life. Purely and simply there has been an abuse of power. If this can happen to me it can happen to anyone. It is absolutely a victory for free speech and the small man. I'm a plumber and drive around in a Transit.' Haynes, from Billingshurst, had a ten-year affair with Leena Puddick, which was exposed after her husband read a text message on her mobile phone in 2009. The court heard details of e-mails and text messages that Haynes had sent her over the course of their affair. Mrs Puddick told the court that she and Haynes first had sex after a Christmas party in 2002 after initially meeting when she had joined reinsurance firm Guy Carpenter in 1997. Haynes was a company director. He would often send her thirty to forty text messages a day, she told the court, and would doctor expenses to pay for what she described as their 'wining and dining.' Haynes lost his job as a director at the firm as a result of the affair. He admitted he had been 'deceitful' but said that Puddick should have taken up his anger with him alone rather than launching 'a campaign of harassment against him.' But on Friday, defence lawyer Michael Wolkind QC, representing Puddick, said: 'All Ian Puddick tried was to be a little nuisance. The little nuisance value of the little man.' Haynes said both he and his wife needed counselling after the 'embarrassment and shame' of neighbours and colleagues receiving texts and phone calls. BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said that the case 'points up the issue of whether someone freely expressing themselves widely online can be guilty of harassment.' He added: 'As with jurors using Facebook, and people tweeting details of privacy injunctions, the law and the Internet are working out their growing and not especially comfortable relationship.'

A female scientist has tamed two whales underwater in the Arctic Circle while naked. Natalia Avseenko, thirty six, dived into the water completely nude in sub-zero temperatures to reach the beluga whales in northern Russia, after marine experts claimed that the species dislike artificial clothing including diving suits. The average human can only sruvive for about five minutes in freezing water before dying, but Ms Avseenko used meditation techniques to stay underwater at minus 1.5°C for more than ten minutes, the Daily Scum Mail reports. The dive took place in the Murmansk Oblast region of the White Sea. Though there are approximately one hundred thousand beluga whales in the sea, the mammals - usually either white or light grey in colour - can be found in various aquaria and oceanaria across the world. Belugas, also known as white whales, are capable of swimming backwards and can live for more than fifty years.

Kerry Katona has reportedly been dropped by her management, CAN Associates. The thirty-year-old former reality show regular, self-confessed taker of cocaine and bankrupt joined the company, led by Claire Powell, last year under strict conditions following her divorce from her second husband, Mark Croft. PR guru Powell also manages the careers of Peter Andre, Amy Childs and Nicola McClean. 'For those asking, it is true that Kerry Katona and CAN Associates have parted ways,' News of the World journalist Dan Wootton tweeted this week. 'Not great news for Kerry, in my opinion.' Meanwhile, it has been claimed that CAN let Katona go after she spent a night out with friends, failing to turn up at The Only Way is Essex contestant Childs's twenty first birthday party. 'We rescued Kerry from obscurity a year ago. We have spent a lot of money cleaning up her image. We have given her a whole new image, new clothes, a new life and she has blown it all,' an alleged 'source' allegedly close to the company allegedly told the Daily Lies. After signing the former Atomic Kitten singer, Powell had warned: 'Kerry knows this is her last chance. If she is prepared to work hard and stay clean she has a great career ahead of her.'

A woman in Savannah, Georgia has dialled 911 to complain that a Chinese restaurant had delivered the wrong order to her. The caller requested that police be sent to the restaurant to force the staff to refund her money. When the woman 'started to get disorderly,' officers arrived at her apartment to warn her not to make any more non-emergency 911 calls. A spokesperson for the police said: 'It is a misdemeanor to call 911 unless you have an emergency. The police were called because a food order was wrong and the caller wanted her money back. This is a civil matter, not criminal. The police were dispatched, however, because the caller was getting disorderly. This caller was not arrested but could have faced 911 abuse charges.' Police have also uploaded the call to the Internet, urging people not to follow the woman's example.

In the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we've got an Ian Dury song, given the full Max Wall treatment. 'Frankie Howerd, Noël Coward and garden gnomes/Frankie Vaughan, Kenneth Horne, Sherlock Holmes/Monty, Biggles and Old King Cole/In the pink or on the dole.' Genius.


fatoldtart said...

You know how similar our tastes are, so another well said, no doubt expected, but a hoist of the glass and heartfelt thank you for the Max Wall. Spot on mate!

Marcus said...

Hi Keith, Do you know when Land Girls is being broadcast? Looking forward to series 3!