Friday, June 10, 2011

What Makes Y'Feel Like Doin' Stuff Like That?

It was great to have Mock The Week back on BBC2 for a new series this week. The highlight of the opening episode was, probably, Chris Addison's brilliant little rant about Sepp Blatter appointing Henry Kissinger to the FIFA Ethics Committee: 'An eighty eight year old war criminal! Next they're going to appoint, Abu-Hamza, the Child-Catcher from Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang and the judges from Britain's Got Talent!' The great Milton Jones was also, as usual, on spanking form. 'Last year I went on a ballooning holiday. Put on four stone!' As previously noted, Mock The Week often works best in a week when there's not a lot of news to mock and, therefore, classic gag-merchants - like Milton - can just, basically, tell jokes. Last night's episode was just such a show.

A slight over-run in Mock The Week meant yer actual Keith Telly Topping was very annoyed to miss the first twenty seconds of the fiftieth episode of his beloved Ideal on BBC3. Thankfully, I turned over just in time to watch my mate Alfie Joey's one line of the episode! Hey, it's what friends are for, isn't it? As a direct follow on from last week's climax we pick up the action two months after Moz's last chance to make some money seemed to have disappeared in a torrent of herbal soup. Moz and Nikki have now started running rival hash dealing businesses from across the landing, and a price war is in the process of kicking-off, big style. Meanwhile, in Keith's old flat, Brian and Carmel have opened a brothel. Amid the Star Wars, Die Hard and Torchwood references, we had a smart little cameo concerning Cartoon Head's suddenly very complex domestic life (his baby son, Plastic Face, is a psychotic brat who can compel mum Judith the Necrophiliac into murderous rampages by the very power of his thoughts). Plans are hatched, a murder is almost committed (twice) and there's a stunning flash-forward sequence to Moz and Colin as centenarian dealer and buyer ('I'm on for a cremation!') Now that Jason's new band are in the charts thanks to Tania's business acumen, poor old Lee (Andrew-Lee Potts looking, for the first time in Ideal, the way he looks in Primeval!) is having a hard time of it. But, he's being positive, he's got a job stacking shelves, and is still keen for another crack at stardom. He's writing new songs (about stacking shelves, admittedly). You just have to wonder if that plotline has been inspired by Joe McElderry's likely next career opportunity. Moving in areas that Ideal sometimes dabbles in, it's a really dark, in places quite disturbing, episode with barely a laugh in sight. Well, at least until Psycho Paul turns up. There are some great one-liner, though, like Brian's caustic noting: 'He who travels without Vaseline is cruisin for a bruisin.' Or the bit when Moz tells Judith about the recent gang killing where a chap was decapitated and had thirty two Kit-Kats shoved into his neck stump. The chunky Kit-Kats at that. He observes how this - along with some other mysterious demises - might be connected to the now, seemingly, very real Red Mist. 'If it was just a solo decapitating and Kit-Katting. But when you add it to the other deaths...' Carmel gets the episode's finest line, though. After she had brained her ex-pimp, Enrique, who tried to choke her (and then Brian tried to choke him, with a pink feather boa!) she and Brian tie him up. 'We can't have a man bound and gagged in here,' she noted. 'It will upset the customers. Well, not all of them...' Brilliant. Even on one of its darkest days, Ideal continues to reach the comedy parts that other sitcoms wouldn't go anywhere near.

Two of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors - Phil Davis and Gemma Jones - have signed up for guest roles in the upcoming fourth series of Merlin. The BBC has confirmed to the Digital Spy website that the former [spooks] actress Jones will appear in the new season's opening episode. She will play a character known as 'The Cailleach', described as 'the gatekeeper to the Spirit World.' Gemma currently plays Madame Pomfrey in the Harry Potter films and recently appeared in Woody Allen's You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger. The veteran actress was also a regular in in ITV's long-running crime drama Trial And Retribution from 2003 to 2008. She remains however, for a certain age-group, best remembered as the stoic Louisa Trotter in BBC1's classic The Duchess of Duke Street. Her most recent TV appearance was in the bowel-shatteringly scary 2010 remake of Whistle And I'll Come To You. Whitechapel star Phil Davis will play the role of 'The Gleeman' in the third episode of Merlin's new series. An olde-worlde Circus-master, the character will arrive at Camelot to attend Prince Arthur's banquet, but he is hiding a dark and sinister secret. As most of the characters in Merlin seem to be. Something of a pre-requisite to live in Uther Pendragon's kingdom, that. One of this country's best character actors going all the way back to his appearance in Quadrophenia in the late 70s, Phil's recent television credits have included steller guest roles in the likes of Ashes to Ashes, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Collision, Five Day and My Family. He has also appeared in such films as 2010's Brighton Rock and 2009's Dead Man Running and in a quite unforgettable performance as Wilfred Brambell in The Curse of Steptoe.

The debate over whether BBC3 should be axed to save money as part of the corporation's austerity measures is already over, according to the digital channel's new controller, Zai Bennett. Responding to a question from the floor at the Sheffield Doc/Fest on Thursday, Bennett said that 'people who bring up the subject don't watch the channel and don't know how television works.' While nothing was 'off limits' over future funding cuts, he added that the BBC has ruled out abolishing the service, which is aimed at sixteen to thirty four-year-olds and costs about one hundred and fifteen million pounds a year to run. Bennett, who was given the new job in December last year after the previous incumbent Danny Cohen landed the job of BBC1 controller, added that BBC3 was the most successful digital channel in the UK. The former ITV2 controller said that 'the range and volume we do' had killed the debate over whether 'BBC3 is of use.' He added that none of BBC3's rivals can 'experiment' with talent and formats in the way it does, especially with new comedy. 'People trust this channel and they come to it,' he said. 'When I was at ITV2 we couldn't do the same with comedy.' Bennett declined to speculate on the likely outcome for BBC3 of the BBC's Delivering Quality First review, which is seeking cuts of twenty per cent across the corporation with the conclusions expected to be finalised next month. But he said that 'nothing is off limits' during the review – except, it appears, getting rid of the service.

For Arthur Darvill, last Saturday's mid-season climax of Doctor Who came as something of a relief. It means he can - finally - talk about the big revelation that TARDIS companions Rory and Amy Pond are the parents of the enigmatic River Song, played by Alex Kingston. 'I forget what I can and can't talk about, so I end up talking about nothing for hours - which has become quite a skill,' noted Darvill when talking to the BBC News website at the Globe Theatre. 'My mum sent me a text straight after the episode saying: "Does this mean I'm Alex Kingston's grandmother?"' Sporting a ginger beard, Arthur is deep in rehearsals for the Globe's first production of Christopher Marlowe's tragedy Doctor Faustus. Arthur plays Mephistopheles opposite Paul Hilton as Faustus, the scholar who makes a pact with the Devil in exchange for knowledge. 'It's been a play that I've loved since I was quite young,' he says. 'Mephistopheles is an agent of the Devil in human form. I find the relationship he has with Faustus and the people whose souls he collects quite fascinating.' The production, performed in Renaissance costumes, features giant dragon puppets and horned stilt walkers to bring to life the fantastical elements of Marlowe's play. It is familiar territory for Darvill, who grew up surrounded by puppets. His mother performed in a puppet theatre at the Midlands Arts Theatre in Birmingham. 'It was normal for me - I used to go on tour with her and help set up the puppets. Later on, my mum did children's TV - she was the Why Bird on Play Days for ten years.' He adds: 'There are puppets all over my house and I've got a ventriloquist's dummy. I'm rubbish at doing it, but I really like it.' Across the river from the Globe, two former TARDIS residents - David Tennant and Catherine Tate - recently took to the stage in Much Ado About Nothing at Wyndam's Theatre. And at the Donmar Warehouse, Alex Kingston stars next week in Schiller's Luise Miller. So, is Arthur expecting fans of the popular family SF drama show to flock to Faustus? 'If people who wouldn't normally come to the theatre come because they are fans of Doctor Who it can only be a good thing,' he says. 'Maybe it will inspire them to see other things. We've got such a brilliant theatrical tradition in this country.' Arthur first got hooked on the theatre during trips to the Edinburgh Festival and Stratford. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and his theatre credits include Swimming With Sharks in 2007 with his future TARDIS companion Matt Smith. 'When he got Doctor Who I didn't have a clue I'd be doing it, so when I got the part of Rory it was great to turn up on the first day and work with someone who's a good mate. It made things very much easier on such a big show. The press have been really good at keeping things under wraps - otherwise it's like watching a football match and knowing the result,' Arthur says with regard to recent revelations. 'I suppose it's testament to the show that people care about it so much. I'm so excited the second half of the series that's coming up - what Steven [Moffat] has done is something quite brilliant - it's really going to surprise people.' A bigger surprise than Rory being River Song's dad? 'Oh that's nothing!' he laughs, and exits to resume his new persona as Satan's servant.

Channel Four has announced that their news presenters Jon Snow and Krishnan Guru-Murthy are to work more closely with the broadcaster's flagship documentary strands. Snow is to join Dispatches, while Guru-Murthy will become an ambassador for Unreported World. Both presenters will remain part of the Channel Four News team. Under the changes, Snow will be more embedded into the Channel Four current affairs unit, giving him greater freedom to investigate key issues, such as human rights. On 14 June, he will be seen presenting Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, an investigation into the civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers. The documentary's shocking video evidence of alleged war crimes was shown to the United Nations last week. Snow will also front a number of Dispatches films this year, starting with Landlords From Hell on 4 July exposing rent racketeers who exploit those who can't afford to buy their own homes. Dorothy Byrne, Channel Four's head of news and current affairs, described Snow and Guru-Murthy as 'some of the best journalists in this country.' Well two of them, anyway. 'They have never just sat in studios reading autocues - this new way of working will enable them to go out in Britain and across the world to investigate and highlight the stories which they really care about, holding those in power to account,' she added. 'This is part of our joined-up approach in maximising our heavyweight journalists across both our news and current affairs output.' Snow added: 'Dispatches is a jewel in the crown of Channel Four and has unearthed some revelatory stories and provoked important debate. It's great to be doing more of these programmes and really getting under the skin of issues like human rights, international affairs and housing issues at home and abroad. There's such affinity between the news and the rest of the current affairs family - and this will just cement that bond. I can't wait to get stuck in.' In the autumn, Guru-Murthy will become an ambassador for Unreported World - the long-running foreign affairs series. As well as presenting several editions of Unreported World every year, Guru-Murthy will also link to the show on the main Channel Four News and debate the issues raised through social media, including live chats on Twitter and regular blogging. He said: 'Unreported World consistently shines light on stories that are missed by the mainstream. It finds unheard voices, challenges dominant perspectives on the world and is an essential part of what Channel Four is for. I look forward to joining the team and discussing the issues and films with our viewers. Now that Unreported World and Channel Four News can be watched online around the world that is a truly exciting global conversation.' The changes follow an announcement that political correspondent Cathy Newman is to become the third main Channel Four News presenter alongside Snow and Guru-Murthy. Newman will also present some Dispatches investigations 'in due course.' Channel Four has further named the BBC's Matt Frei as its new Washington correspondent, and appointed Newsnight's Jackie Long as social affairs editor.

House creator David Shore has revealed that the upcoming eighth season will introduce 'new players.' He told TV Line that a new female character will likely be introduced to fill the void left by the departing Lisa Edelstein. 'It's safe to say there'll be new players next season,' he said. 'We would want to have a female presence, absolutely.' Shore refused to be drawn on who will directly replace Cuddy as House's boss, but did admit that promoting Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) is one possibility. '[The new season is] wide open,' he claimed. 'Everything's on the table.' The showrunner previously admitted that he is 'really disappointed' by Edelstein's departure from the show. 'I am still reeling from it,' he confessed. 'But we just started meeting a few days ago to map out the first half of the next season, and we are having some very frank discussions about what we are going to do.'

X Factor hopefuls have reportedly been warned that they face legal action if they breach a contract which aims to stop them talking about their experience on the show. Which, in and of itself is very welcome. I mean, I'm all for freedom of speech but anything with keeps talentless wannabes from filling up the pages of the tabloids is to be applauded. The four-page document apparently tells the auditionees that they must not 'disclose to any person' information about the ITV competition, which includes talking about old judges Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue, claims the Sun. New judges Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos and Kelly Rowland are also protected by the agreement, along with the presenters Dermot O'Leary and new Xtra Factor duo Olly Murs and Caroline Flack. Or something. X FactorThe acts taking part are also banned from disclosing details or sharing pictures on personal Twitter and Facebook accounts. Or from 'talking about it to members of their family, somebody they met in a pub or on the street.' Probably. The contract warns them that, if breached, TalkbackThames 'and/or related parties or any other interested party may need to commence legal proceedings.' And, that they could be in for the hiding of their lives. Probably. X Factor auditionees who have signed the contract must obtain 'prior written consent of a senior executive of the company' if they want to speak about the show. However, some of those who are competing in the live audition stages - which recently began filming in Birmingham - have expressed concern over the 'frightening' legal document. 'It was the most frightening thing I've seen. I was worried that I couldn't even tell my mum how I'd done,' one hopeful told the paper. And, in doing so, effectively broke the terms of the contract. 'We were told that unless you signed the form, you weren't allowed to go do the show. They were saying that it was important the element of surprise was kept in there and that we didn't just blab everything. I could understand that but it has put people on edge as we're mainly kids - we don't understand legal jargon.' Or, seemingly, the concept of sticking to a contract either. But, you've already picked up a notion of how to call a tabloid journalist and sell a story and, in showbusiness, that's an important thing to know.

Meanwhile, Tulisa Contostavlos has stated that she is 'not trying to replace Cheryl' on the forthcoming series of The X Factor. Course, that's exactly what she is doing so, you know ...

Indeed, already the spin doctors are hard to work in an almost Stalinist-like rewriting of history. Remember how, just a few months ago, many commentators were suggesting that The X Factor couldn't exist without Wor Cheryl? Now, it would seem, even her former biggest allies are running as far away from her as possible. Louis Walsh, for instance, has claimed that Cole will soon be forgotten on The X Factor. The judge insisted that Cole, who has been replaced by Contostavlos after three series on the show, is 'not missed' on the panel. Walsh quipped to the Daily Lies: 'Cheryl who?' Wow, that's got to sting. 'Cheryl will soon be a distant memory, believe me,' he continued. 'Tulisa has fitted into the panel so well. There is a great dynamic now.' Indicating that there wasn't before? Walsh added: 'Tulisa has that girl-next-door appeal that Cheryl had and I'd say she's even better. And Simon better watch out too, as we've proved we don't even need him on the panel.' It seems that Sun-tzu was right, you keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

BBC Worldwide is understood to be taking legal advice over a national advertising campaign in the Metro newspaper featuring a character with more than a passing resemblance to Top Gear's Stig promoting a motoring event. Metro, which is owned by Daily Scum Mail and General Trust, ran a wraparound cover on Thursday featuring a full-page promotion for its low-carbon motor festival, ecovelocity, in London. The advert features a Stig-like figure in a white racing suit - adorned with coloured flowers to indicate the event's 'green' credentials – and helmet. The character is described as an eccentric and mysterious driver – 'some say he once rode to Norway on a seal' – known only as 'Clive.'
'We were surprised to see the creative that Metro have chosen to promote this event and would like to make it clear that it is not associated with either Top Gear or the Stig character in any way,' said a spokesman for BBC Worldwide. 'We are currently assessing our options regards next steps.' The identity of Top Gear's Stig has been a closely guarded secret – only a few BBC executives including producer Andy Wilman and presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are said to know his name – and the 'tame racing driver' is known for equally eccentric habits such as learning German whilst at the wheel. Last year the BBC unsuccessfully took legal action to attempt to stop the publication of an autobiography by Formula 3 driver Ben Collins talking of his time as the Stig, a move which resulted in Collins' sacking. In a blogpost last year Wilman referred to the distinctive character as 'ours' - which he is; the character was created by Wilman and Clarkson and is, one presumes, copyrighted - and that the corporation would look to protect the intellectual rights of the eight-year old character from 'chancers.' The large-scale Metro promotion – the newspaper has a 1.4m daily national circulation with around eight hundred thousand of that number the London edition – comes at a sensitive time for BBC Worldwide, which is gearing up to promote its own Top Gear Live event which is also held in London. Top Gear is one of BBC Worldwide's top grossing brands and was its biggest-selling TV show internationally in the year to 31 March 2010. Top Gear – coupled with Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing and the output of the BBC's natural history department – helped to make £147.3m in revenue for BBC Worldwide in the year to 31 March 2010. This represented a fifteen per cent year-on-year increase in revenues.

Sky has announced plans to increase its investment in original UK-produced programming by fifty per cent over the next three years. So, it'll be up for a while tenner now then, will it? Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch said last night that the company expects to spend three hundred and eighty million pounds this year on in-house productions and external commissions, including forty million pounds on Sky News and Sky Sports productions. That figure will grow to six hundred million pounds annually by 2014, he added. Such an increase would take the amount Sky spends on homegrown productions to nearly double the investment of Channel Four, which spent three hundred and sixty two million smackers on UK programming in 2010 out of a budget of five hundred and seventy eight million. Sky wants to support more in-house productions in arts, entertainment, news, drama and comedy. Sky cites dramas including Mad Dogs - which reunited Life On Mars actors John Simm and Philip Glenister - and thorne, starring David Morrissey, as examples of recent successes in original drama. Which, to be fair, they were - both were excellent. To be equally fair, that's their only two. New projects include Stella, a comedy from Gavin & Stacey's Ruth Jones (so, that'll be worth avoiding, then), and Hit and Miss, a drama about a pre-op transsexual contract killer starring Chloë Sevigny and written by Shameless creator Paul Abbott. The company will spend a total of two billion quid this year across all of its channels, although £1.6bn of that money is allocated to sports rights and US programme acquisitions for networks such as Sky Atlantic and Sky1. In a speech at thinktank Reform, Darroch said that 'for too long' the broadcasting industry had 'suffered from the misconception that good outcomes only happen because they are ordained from above and enacted through some form of intervention. Or that content is only worthwhile if it is created through subsidy or by a particular kind of institution,' he added, presumably referring to the licence-fee funded BBC. The BBC's head of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson expressed his doubts over Sky's long-term commitment to backing homegrown drama last October, suggesting that the company is instead more focused on acquiring US-produced content. Darroch said that when Sky began it 'made perfect sense' for the company to focus on the 'relatively under-served' areas of sport, movies and twenty four-hour rolling news. But Darroch added that Sky's growth into a multi-billion pound pay-TV giant gives the 'incentive to broaden out and create more choice beyond those initial strengths. Homegrown content resonates strongly and we believe we can both bring more quality and value to existing customers, while also reaching out to more people who haven't yet chosen pay-TV,' he said. 'Our plans will take our original entertainment to an entirely different scale, complementing our existing strengths in sport, movies and news. They will mean working with the best production, writing and acting talent and will require focus and creative ambition as well as sustained financial investment. This is a significant undertaking for us and a demonstration of our commitment to the UK. Programming like this is inherently risky and time-consuming. But if we get it right, the results won't just be good for our business, but for customers and Britain's creative industries as well.'

Dame Patricia Hodgson is stepping down from the BBC Trust to join Ofcom, months after missing out on the chairman and vice-chairman roles at the corporation's governing body. The Department for Culture Media and Sport has named Hodgson and Lynne Brindley, the chief executive of the British Library, as non-executive directors of Ofcom. Hodgson will join the board on 1 July for a three-and-a-half year term that will see her take on the role of deputy chairman from 1 January. Brindley will take up her role for three years from 1 September. Ofcom's non-executive directors receive forty two grand a year for 'up to' two days a week. Nice work if you can get it. The deputy chairman receives seventy thousand smackers per year for 'up to two-and-a-half days' a week. Even nicer. 'It is essential the regulator has people with extensive skills and experience on its board,' said the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt. 'I have no doubt they will play a major part in helping Ofcom carry out its essential role.' Hodgson was considered the lead internal candidate to replace Sir Michael Lyons as BBC Trust chairman, but Lord Patten was named as his replacement in February. She also put her name forward for the vice-chair role, but Diane Coyle was appointed in late March. Hodgson has been a member of the BBC Trust since the body was established in January 2007 to replace the board of governors.

Well-known faceache (and drag) Arlene Phillips has argued that the BBC's scheduling is 'partly' to blame for So You Think You Can Dance's dip in ratings. Rather than on the fact that it's a piss-poor rubbish show that got 'found out' by its audience who all left in droves which is this blogger's guess as to the reasons. The talent show has suffered from embarrassingly low viewing numbers during its second series and the BBC is almost certain to be cancelling its ass once the current run ends. Because, like as not, they're embarrassed by it. Phillips whinged to the Digital Spy website that a 'constantly shifting timeslot' and a young audience who watch the show online explained the drop in numbers. She quietly ignored the fact that before it was shifted to an earlier time, before Doctor Who, it was already getting appalling numbers and that during the four weeks when it had Doctor Who as a six million viewer lead-in show it managed to piss-away over half of those numbers within minutes of starting. 'Everyone can talk about ratings and generally I avoid talking about them,' she noted. Sensible, since they're appalling. And, you're correct, 'everyone' can indeed talk about the ratings for your show. Since they're dreadful. And, therefore, funny. 'But I'm very surprised. I'm not sure it's a show to put on at 5.30pm. But even last week we got low viewing figures. Is it to do with sunshine? Probably not, because if you really want to watch something you will,' she said. 'The thing is that our online viewing has been incredibly high. Hits on the website have been extremely high.' So, you generally avoid talking about the ratings - which are rubbish - but you've got no problem talking about 'online viewing'? Curious. 'The problem, for me, is that I drop off watching anything when the time moves around. Is it 6.15? Is it 5.45? Is it 7.30? Is it 8.00? You just give up.' She continued: 'I remember one year doing Strictly where they dotted it around and Brucie was saying, "And don't forget, next week's show is on at..." I just thought, "How will people remember?" It's 6.00, then it's 7.00, then it's 6.30 the next week. I find it quite confusing. What are you going to do? Write it down and put it in your handbag?' How about buy the Radio Times and learn to read, Arlene?

Steve Coogan has confessed that he had reservations about participating in The Trip. The actor revealed in an interview with NPR's Fresh Air that he struggled with playing a fictionalised version of his self but found comfort in working with HIS friend and co-star Rob Brydon on the series. 'My biggest fear, really, was that it would be self-indulgent. Actors play my parents and actors play various people I meet, but the only real people are Rob and I,' he explained. 'So it's a very difficult thing to try and be creative in that type of environment. But if you trust the person you're with, then you know when you're improvising you'll be able to create stuff and come up with ideas.' Coogan recently revealed that he and Brydon are currently in talks about the possibility of making another series of The Trip. Director Michael Winterbottom has suggested that The Trip could be classified as a documentary as it captures the true nature of Coogan and Brydon's rapport.

Melissa Joan Hart has admitted that she used to worry about being typecast by her roles in Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The actress noted that her stint on ABC's Dancing with the Stars changed the public's perception of her. Hart explained: 'I was Clarissa for so long, and I thought, "I'll never get out of that, I'll always be Clarissa." And then I was Sabrina, and [I thought] "I'm never going to get away from Sabrina." But then I did Dancing with the Stars and it made me go from "Sabrina" to "Melissa." All of a sudden, people in airports and out in public called me Melissa, not Sabrina.' However, Hart revealed that many fans still associate her with the role of Clarissa Darling, which she played from 1991 to 1994. 'Now it's come back to Clarissa,' she admitted. 'It's a little cult hit.' Careful what you say, love. John Whittingdale and the lice at the Daily Scum Mail don't like that word.

Cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew inadvertently injected a bit of X-rated banter into BBC Radio 4's Test Match Special this week. Aggers filled in time during a break in play in the second Test against Sri Lanka to describe Kevin Pietersen repairing the grip on the handle of his bat. 'It's not easy putting a rubber on, is it Michael,' he said to former England captain Michael Vaughan, his co-commentator. Vaughan managed to keep his composure just long enough to reply: 'No it's not. I was never good at that.' Vaughan descended into a fit of giggles – spurred on by former player and now ONE Show roving reporter Phil Tufnell, who was also in the commentary box kicking him in the shins – while Aggers appeared completely oblivious to his condomesque double entendre. Cue an instant Internet hit. Twenty years ago, of course, Aggers managed one of the greatest ever radio comedy moments bringing the Test Match Special commentary box, including notorious giggler Brian Johnston, to a laughter-induced standstill with a comment about Ian Botham who 'didn't quite get his leg over' whilst summing up the day's play. Anyone with a conspiracy-based bent might think he was doing it deliberately!

A man in Utah has been fined after attempting to hand over two thousand five hundred pennies to pay a twenty five dollar bill. The incident happened in a clinic when Jason West, thirty two, poured the coins on the counter, drawing laughs from nearby customers. 'I'm willing to wait if you want to count them so you can make sure you get every penny,' Yahoo! Finance quotes the man as telling the cashier. The clinic responded by calling the police, and West ended up receiving a one hundred and forty dollar fine for 'disorderly conduct.' Which, appears to be a euphemism for 'not playing the game.' A police statement said: 'The pennies were strewn about the counter and the floor. The clinic maintains it would have taken the money, but does "not tolerate pennies or any other objects being thrown at our employees."' However, West told newspaper the Vernal Express that he never threw coins at nobody, no sir, and that they simply rolled off the counter, adding: 'That's just the nature of pennies. They're round.' Flawless logic. West also claimed that he had paid the bill in question months ago, but never got the charge revoked. And, that his dog ate his homework. Probably.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day we've got a slight diversion from the norm. Because, it's not so much the three singles that we're featuring that are the issue here (although, all three are pretty decent) but, rather, a dance troupe who used all three to quite remarkable effect on a TV show. And, since television is the name of the game as far as this blog is concerned, I reckon that's fair enough. For a certain age-group of (mainly) fortysomething men in Great Britain the name Hot Gossip will send a little shiver of excitement to a special little boys place. For the uninitiated, they were ITV's answer to Pans People and Legs & Co on Top of the Pops. But, whilst the former, with the best will in the world - and all nostalgic affection aside - sometimes looked like your 'slightly more cool than the rest' aunties giving it some boogie at a family wedding, Hot Gossip appeared to be filled - in addition to several (probably gay) black men - with all of the dirtiest big sisters of the girls in your school. They existed for one reason and one reason alone. To give fifteen year old boys The Raging Horn. And, as a fifteen year old boy in 1978, the year they first appeared on The Kenny Everett Television Show, I can confirm that they succeeded in their ambition admirably. Over the next few years, on numerous TV shows, mostly the various Mad Ken vehicles, they strutted their stuff, flashed off their assets and caused wax to explode in the ears of mad old bat Mary Whitehouse. They were - splendidly - parodied by Not The 9 O'Clock News (as 'Blatent Pornography') and - tragically - by The Benny Hill Show. And, it's important to remember, that one of them ended up married to Andrew Lloyd Webber, another one married Billy Idol and their choreographer was a well-known faceache (and drag). So, without further ado, prepare to have your teenage years revisited on this.
And this - possibly their most famous routine on what, effectively, became their 'theme tune.'
And this, possibly their most controversial (particularly Donna Fielding's notorious 'naughty schoolgirl' schtick).
And, now it's time for a cold shower, I think.

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