Sunday, July 03, 2011

Week Twenty Eight: Hurt, Scorned, Rejected

The Doctor and Amy Pond are heading back out West, this time to San Diego's annual Comic-Con. Doctor Who stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan will make their first-ever appearance at the popular multimedia event, BBC America has revealed this week. On Sunday 24 July the TARDIS will land in Southern California where the pair will take part in Doctor Who panel alongside show writer (and Being Human creator) Toby Whithouse and executive producers Piers Wenger and Beth Willis.
Stephen Fry has signed up to play God in a forthcoming BBC4 comedy drama. And about bloody time, too! Entitled Holy Flying Circus, the film deals with the religious controversy created by the Monty Python movie The Life of Brian, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 'This is a smart and witty take on both the nature of censorship and the world of Monty Python,' said BBC4's controller, Richard Klein. The Life of Brian was, of course, a 1979 movie based around the titular character, who was born in the stable next to Jesus and spends his life being accidentally mistaken for the Messiah. The movie sparked a number of outraged reactions, in particular from the British religious establishment, most of whom hadn't actually seen it, condemning the film immediately following its release. Fry was recently named the new president of mental health charity MIND. The Qi host opened up about his battle with bipolar disorder earlier this month, confessing that he could one day commit suicide as a result of the disease. Fry can be seen next in the highly-anticipated sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows as Mycroft Holmes. He is currently in New Zealand shooting The Hobbit.

Neil Gaiman has insisted that HBO's proposed adaptation of American Gods will be 'faithful' to the original novel. It was recently announced that the project is in development at the cable network and could have a budget of between thirty five and forty million dollars per season. Gaiman told Collider: 'I want to make it faithful, but also would like it to have a few surprises for people who read the book. I hate that thing where people have read the books and they [think they] know everything that's going to happen.' The author also revealed that he is determined to have each character's race remain true to the American Gods novel. 'I don't like it when black characters become white in movies, or things like that,' he explained. 'That was something I found deeply problematic with the attempt by some people who had a lot of money and a lot of clout, and who wanted the rights to Anansi Boys, at one point.' Gaiman continued: 'They made the fatal mistake of saying to me, "And, of course, the characters won't be black in the movie because black people don't like fantasy." They were suddenly very surprised that we were no longer interested in selling them the book.'

Broadcaster Sky has apologised to customers after its pay-per-view coverage of a world title boxing fight was hit by technical problems. It said there was an 'issue' with late phone and online bookings amid 'unprecedented demand' to watch British boxer David Haye take a right spanking off Wladimir Klitschko. The 'glitch' meant that many fans were unable to order the £14.95 pay-per-view fight. Haye lost on points to Klitschko, and subsequently blamed the loss on a broken toe. Yes, of course it was, David. We believe you. Thousands wouldn't. During the fight, Sky's Twitter feed urged those experiencing problems to 'please find your nearest pub.' Viewers were still able to purchase by using their remote controls, as there were no issues with that method, Sky said. A statement on the Sky website after the fight said: 'We are sorry to have disappointed any viewers who were unable to order Haye versus Klitschko tonight. Sky had an issue during the evening with new telephone and online bookings for the fight. We had encouraged early booking over three weeks leading up to the fight, through a range of media including on-air promos and press advertising. However, we experienced unprecedented demand on the night and whilst early telephone and online purchases worked there were issues with late bookings through these routes on Saturday.'

And so to the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Friday 8 July
The Good Cook - 7:30 BBC1 - appears, on the surface, to be a rather cruel conceit. Take Simon Hopkinson's sticky toffee pudding, for instance. It looks like something angels would serve at a dinner party for the Baby Jebus. Surely no human could possibly make such a dish? But Hopkinson, writer of some of the best cookery books to find their way onto the overloaded Cookery Book shelves, is a down-to-earth type of chap. There's no Ramsey-style flashiness or Nigella-esque quasi food pornography to his oeuvre, just good old fashioned Delia-type common sense, sharp techniques and a love of good food. In the first of a new six-part series (and it's rather sadistic of the BBC to schedule it on a Friday, surely the one night of the week when people who have to work for a living are actually permitted a guilt-free Chinese takeaway), Hopkinson, in his enviably expensive rustic kitchen, makes some extraordinary dishes. A pasta bake with porcini mushrooms, a beurre blanc with scallops and an almighty coq au vin. We do get a few Nigella-like glimpses of Hopkinson's life: at the market, in the wine shop, in the deli. Though, thankfully, there's no ludicrous Sophia Dahl-like nonsense for middle-class wankers in Hampstead to lap up. Instead, this is the kind of thing that can be enjoyed by everyone. And for the truly avant garde, there are on-screen Quick Response scans of ingredient details for compatible mobile phones. Welcome to the Twenty First Century, dear blog reader. It's tasty.

As previously noted, Channel Five show a lot of programmes about big, rugged, manly-type men - usually with big, rugged, manly-men type names such as Rusty, and Carl, and Jeff. You never get a Kenneth or a Derek on Ice Road Truckers, do you? Anyway, Danger: Diggers at Work - 8:00 - is another of Channel Five's 'manly-men' shows, a documentary exploring the work carried out by employees at a digger-hire firm. In the first edition, a Boeing 747 aeroplane is broken down for scrap, and two drivers help battle a forest fire. A team also creates a fake beach along Regent Street in London, and one of the company's office workers receives a driving lesson.

The latest of BBC4's generally excellent musical documentaries for Friday night is Troubadours: The Rise of the Singer-Songwriter - 9:00. Californian director Morgan Neville has made dozens of terrific music documentaries for the Beeb and this latest - eulogising the emergence in the early 1970s of singer/songwriters at Los Angeles's Troubadour club - is equally authoritative and stuffed with classic (and often rare) clips and interview soundbites. Carole King and Sweet James Taylor feature large, with asides from Jackson Browne and Elton John. Dickie Davis, the club's former lighting and sound man, sums up the creative spirit of the era perfectly: 'The bedroom was Laurel Canyon, the living room was the Troubadour and marijuana was the church.' Don't bogart that joint, baby. Superannuated hippies nearing pension age will doubtless bliss out, neophytes will no doubt head to the iTunes store straight afterwards. Us old angry young men will wonder did we fight The Punk Wars for this? Never trust a hippy, dear blog reader. (Though it should be noted that King and Taylor's excellent 2007 reunion concert is on at 10.25pm, and is well worth watching.)

Saturday 9 July
Big gay John Barrowman's going to be virtually omnipresent on telly this week just like he was for large chunks of 2008 and 2009. There's Torchwood later in the week, of course, and we'll be talking about that much more later on. But, first he's back with a new series of Tonight's the Night - 7:10 BBC1. Barrowman returns with the entertainment show that seeks to 'make dreams come true for members of the audience at home and in the studio.' The Queen of Country Dolly Parton gives one of her biggest fans a masterclass, a teaching assistant sings with The Wanted, and a DJ becomes Elvis for the night. Thangy'verymussh. He does so by joining the cast of hit musical Million Dollar Quartet rather than eating lots of cheeseburgers and dying on the lavatory. Also, one member of the audience dances with Strictly Come Dancing professional Artem Chigvintsev and a lady vicar swaps her cassock for a jockey's uniform to race at Silverstone. And, as usual, it's amiable and inoffensive enough - it's basically Jim'll Fix It with dance routines and lots of sequins. Barrowmen himself is rather magnetic, occasionally very annoying and dazzles the entire from two rows of the studio audience with the glare off his teeth.

In the latest episode of the Scandiwegian version of Wallander - 9:00 BBC4 - the detective and his team investigate when a petty crook is killed by a sniper, and Pontus receives an unexpected visit as he reconsiders his career. Dramatisation of the Swedish detective stories by Henning Mankel, starring Krister Henriksson.

If you haven't already been blinded by John Barrowman's teeth then you might like to check out Penn & Teller: Fool Us - 8:00 ITV - and see if the sheen from Jonathan Ross's hair-product can finish the job. Award-winning female magician Romany, teenager Daniel Kramer, illusionist Alan Rorrison and Kent-based performer Richard Bellars, who appeared on the pilot show, try to outwit the American double act with mind-boggling tricks, in the hope of appearing on stage supporting them in Las Vegas. The duo also perform a spectacular trick of their own involving Teller's head inside a block of concrete. Jonathan Ross presents. Can't you use Wossy's head in the concrete instead of Mr Teller's, guys? That'd be a big improvement, frankly.

Sunday 10 July
There's a new series of the very popular Law And Order: UK starting tonight - 9:00 ITV. In the opening episode Brooks and Devlin investigate a hospital department where three patients have died in suspicious circumstances in six months - the latest being a woman brought into A&E with flu-like symptoms. The detectives learn that she died after being given a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs - but with an unsigned patient chart and an extremely busy evening on the ward, tracking down the killer proves to be challenging for the dedicated detective duo. Superior crime drama, guest starring Peter Davison and James Fox, with the usual impressive regular cast including Bradley Walsh and Jamie Bamber.

Something quite remarkable happened last week on British TV, dear blog reader. A new series of Top Gear kicked-off and the opening episode produced a grand total of zero wholly manufactured rubbish 'Top Gear Offends Someone ... With Something' allegations in the Daily Scum Mail and the Gruniad Morning Star supported by dubious quotes from publicity-desperate cum politicians. Which, I'm sure, will have been a massive disappointment to all concerned - including, quite probably, the production themselves. So, let's see if they can put that to rights with this week's exciting installment. In the latest episode - 8:00 BBC2 - Jezza Clarkson and Richard Hamster find second-hand bargains for the same price as Britain's cheapest new car, the £6,995 Nissan Pixo. James May, meanwhile, is in Nevada to test the toughness of the Range Rover Evoque, driving it through Death Valley before chauffeuring a megastar across Las Vegas. How hard can it be? Plus, the McLaren MP4-12C is compared with its deadliest supercar rival, the Ferrari 458, and reigning Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. And, if he goes round the track faster than The Stig, there'll be trouble.

Immediately afterwards in Coast - 9:00 BBC2 - the team explore Wales. It's full of Welshmen, what's to explore? Well, as it happens, Nick Crane investigates evidence that a devastating tsunami hit the Welsh coast four hundred years ago, and finds out why scientists planning a trip to Mars find the local landscape a surprisingly good stand-in for the red planet's surface. The Goddess of punk archaeology Alice Roberts tests a claim that the world's first powered flight was made by a Welsh carpenter seven years before the Wright brothers and Dick Strawbridge reveals how, in 1947, a man on holiday to Anglesey came up with the design for a new car that would conquer the world - the Land Rover.

Oh, and it's the finale of Popstar to Operastar. Not that anybody's even remotely interested in that. Except, of course, in that this will hopefully see the thoroughly odious Myleene Klass's television career effectively scuppered beyond repair. See, even out of the nastiest things in life some good must, surely, come.

Monday 11 July
Countrywise Kitchen - 8:00 ITV - returns with its remit of touring the UK in search of the best regional cookery. In the first edition, presenters Paul Heiney and Mike Robinson visit Devon in search of Salcombe crab and cream teas, as well as discovering the delights of the county's 'red ruby' beef.

And speaking of returning series, there's Small Teen, Bigger World - 9:00 BBC3. Dear blog readers may remember that last year the documentary Small Teen, Big World won an audience, critical plaudits and awards for its touching and rather beautiful portrayal of the life of seventeen-year-old Jasmine Burkitt, who has restricted growth and is the height of an average nine-year-old child. Just three foot eight inches tall but with a spirit that would dwarf giants, Jazz winning personality and stoicism in the face of,frankly, unfair world won viewers hearts and it was great to see the original documentary repeated on BBc1 and picking up even more converts. In the follow-up, cameras follow Jazz as she moves out of home to pursue her dream of studying animal welfare at a residential college, and forges a new relationship with her estranged father.

Criticised by the blood-crazed maniacs who run Iran's criminal fundamentalist dictatorship even before it's been shown, that's one very good reason for everyone to watch The Life of Muhammad - 9:00 BBC2. But, it's not the only one. In this rather good looking three-part series, Rageh Omaar charts the life of the prophet who established Islam, whose name is invoked in reverence by Muslims across the world billions of times every day. The journalist investigates the context of religion in ancient Arabia where Muhammad grew up, and draws on the expertise of academics and commentators to examine the key events in the prophet's life, including his first marriage to a wealthy woman from his birthplace Mecca. It's worth remembering, the next time the Daily Scum Mail spew forth one of their agenda-ridden worthless criticisms of the BBC, the kind of people who would also seek to silence the corporation for telling their viewers the truth of what's going on in the world. Strange bedfellows. And I'm sure they respect each other in the morning, an'all.

In the latest Coronation Street - 8:30 ITV - Kevin relents and tells the police he transferred the cash himself. Carla overhears Leanne revealing news of her pregnancy, whilst a nervous Audrey heads to a bar to meet one of Marcia's cross-dressing friends. Dev and Sunita, meanwhile, are shocked - shocked, I tell ya - when Amber announces that she is staying for the summer.

Tuesday 12 July
There's a new series of Homes from Hell - 9:00 ITV. The series focuses on real-life stories of people's property nightmares, beginning with the North London homeowners who had to go to court when their nine hundred thousand pound dream purchase was taken over by dirty lice-infested hippy squatters with their filthy doings and their ways. Not laying this on too thick, am I? Well, this is scummy, lowest-common-denominator, 'using words with less than two syllables in case some people from council estates don't understand' tabloid TV of the very worst kind that we're talking about. The programme also features British 'expats' (ie. those who decided they didn't want to pay their taxes anymore so emigrated) whose rebuilding of their damaged home in Andalusia was halted by the police, and a retired couple who bought a villa in Cyprus reveal how they lost their money on a crumbling wreck.

On a completely different tack, if you've been watching that 'Original British Drama' trailer the Beeb have been running all summer, in addition to various bits of The Shadow Line, Torchwood and the forthcoming The Hour you might also have noticed some references to The Night Watch - 9:00 BBC2. This one-off drama is adapted from the best-selling novel by Sarah Waters, following the love affairs of four young Londoners throughout three different stages of the 1940s. The story is, interestingly, told in reverse, beginning in 1947 and moving backwards to 1944 and 1941. At the beginning (or, the end, if you see what I mean) Kay is roaming the streets, haunted by a traumatic personal loss, while Helen and Viv run a marriage bureau, helping people rebuild their shattered lives by finding love - but their own complicated relationships are less easy to solve. Meanwhile, Duncan's fragile existence is threatened when a face from his past reappears. Anna Maxwell Martin, Claire Foy, Jodie Whittaker and Harry Treadaway star.

Meanwhile, in EastEnders - 7:30 BBC1 - Mercy tells Grace she plans to return to Nigeria in secret. However, when Dot discovers her plan, she urges Fat Boy to change his wife's mind before it is too late for all concerned. Billy and Julie meet their grand-daughter, Lola, for the first time. Christian feels guilty after his drunken antics cause chaos in the Square and Eddie makes a big impression on Jean.

Wednesday 13 July
If there's one subject that guaranteed to provoke discussion, it's The Great British Weather - 7:30 BBC1. This is a 'live interactive series', made by BBC Learning which taps into the nation's apparent obsession with all-thing-weather, presented by Alexander Armstrong, Chris Hollins and Carol Kirkwood. Former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff is a guest on the first edition, which comes from St Ives in Cornwall, while Hollins goes in search of the world's second largest fish, the basking shark. With contributions by veteran weather presenters John Kettley, Michael Fish and Bill Giles, and meteorologist Tomasz Schafernaker. Kirkwood will also report on the weather, not from the safety of a BBC Studio – but from fifteen thousand feet in the air as she paraglides into the heart of an enormous cumulus cloud: How vast is it? How much does it weigh? What does it taste like? I'm gonna guess strawberries and sulphuric acid, personally. Anyway, Carol will - bravely - put her head in the clouds to find out. So that you don't have to, dear blog reader. The team will also explain how the success of some of Britain's biggest military operations, such as D-Day, were dependant on the technologically advanced weather forecasting of the time. Not only this, but the team will also help to debunk popular weather myths and explain fun weather facts, such as where the ultimate indispensable British accessory – the umbrella – came from.

In This World: Italy's Bloodiest Mafia - 9:00 BBC2 - Mark Franchetti investigates the Camorra crime syndicate of Naples, which has been in existence for more than one hundred years and is alleged to be Italy's deadliest Mafia-style organisation. He talks to insiders who have never spoken to the media before and interviews Neapolitans who have been victims, but are now starting to fight back.

What a jolly unpleasant woman Jo Frost appears to be. Seriously, dear blog reader, if you have children, which I imagine some of you may do, would you let this woman within a hundred miles of them? In the latest episode of Extreme Parental Guidance - 8:00 Channel Four - the self-appointed 'childcare expert' tackles nine-year-old Max, who has never eaten a hot meal and exists on a diet of custard creams, leaving him with no energy and unable to concentrate at school. And the problem with this is? As Roger Waters once said, Jo, hey, leave them kids alone. Trenyce, meanwhile, is bullied at school and the seven-year-old takes out her unhappiness on her family. Jo has to teach her to speak to her mother and give them both the skills to manage her anger. Well, she doesn't have to, she wants to. And is paid a great deal of money by Channel Four to. Thoroughly, pointlessly, wretched.

Thursday 14 July
In 2009, the best drama produced on British TV was a five part series shown across one week in July which, quite unexpectedly, gained an audience of six million viewers each night as it told its tale of dark secrets and hidden agendas. It was brilliant. It was called Torchwood: Children of Earth and was, remarkably, a spin-off from Doctor Who which far exceeded its station in life. Well, two years on and the show is back, albeit, in a very different world. It's been made in co-production with an American cable network, Starz, which is why it's being shown tonight in Britain, six days after its US debut. Not that most potential viewers are too bothered about that - once upon a time we had to wait months (sometimes years) to get new US drama in this country. But, sadly, a few outbursts of crass 'want-a-pony'-type whinging (this is a very good example from the Gruniad Morning Star) does remind us of the horribly over-the-top sense of sheer entitlement that brought forth some outrageous comments from so-called 'fans' in the wake of the death of the character of Ianto in the last series. Sometimes, dear blog reader, TV fans with their 'want, want want. Want it all, want it now, don't want to pay for it' attitude makes one wonder why we all bother. Anyway, all that aside, let's just celebrate the fact that Torchwood is back at all, with a new ten-part series entitled Miracle Day - 9:00 BBC1. Death has become a thing of the past. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, one day people no longer die - the get sick and injured just the same as normal, but nobody actually snuffs it. It's a fascinating idea and, initially, it seems great. But, inevitably, very quickly it leads to a population boom across the world. As experts predict it will be only four months before the human race will no longer be able to cope in terms of resources, kick-ass CIA agent Big Hard Rex Matheson investigates the phenomenon - and finds himself drawn into the world of a top-secret British institute known only as Torchwood, and the world of Captain Jack Harkness and Gween Cooper. John Barrowman and Eve Myles return in the SF thriller, with Mekhi Phifer (ER, Lie to Me) and Bill Pullman (Independence Day). Terrific.

On opposite that, there's the return of Single-Handed - 9:00 ITV - the crime drama set in rural Ireland. In this, the first of a two-part story, a visit from Jack's English cousin Brian leads to the unearthing of a devastating family secret, and the Garda sergeant must also deal with a troubled teenager who is the chief suspect in the murder of an elderly recluse. Starring Owen McDonnell, Ruth McCabe and David Herlihy, with Stephen Rea (so good recently in The Shadow Line), Simone Lahbib (from Wire in the Blood) and Matthew McNulty.

In Timeshift: The North on a Plate - 9:00 BBC4 - the Paris-based cultural historian Andrew Hussey visits the the North-West of England to explore the cultural and environmental characteristics that contribute to the distinctive qualities of the local food and produce. He learns about the role of the Industrial Revolution in shaping modern eating habits, and meets people who help him understand the culinary peculiarities of the region.

And finally, there's Mock the Week - 10:00 BBC2. This is 'a special edition of the show featuring previously unseen material, highlights and out-takes from the series.' Or, 'a clip show' in other words! With guests including the 'trying slightly too hard' Chris Addison, the great Milton Jones and Micky Flanagan (who will, presumably, be doing his 'cabbie speaking out of the corner of his mouth' routine again, and again, and again) joining Dara O Briain, Hugh Dennis and Andy Parsons (who, astonishingly, actually said something funny in the last episode) to offer opinions on world events.

Moving on to the news, now: Camelot will not return for a second season, the Starz network has confirmed. The fantasy drama, which starred Joseph Fiennes and Eva Green, broadcast its first season finale on 10 June. In a statement, a Starz representative blamed the show's cancellation after just ten episodes on 'production issues.' Rather than 'it was crap and no one was watching it.' Which is novel. The full statement read: 'Due to significant production challenges, Starz has decided not to exercise the option for subsequent seasons of Camelot with our production partners GK-TV, Octagon Films and Take 5 Productions.' Scheduling conflicts with some of the show's cast also contributed to the cancellation, according to Deadline. Plus, the fact that it was crap and no one was watching it. Camelot also starred Twilight actor Jamie Campbell Bower as Prince Arthur. The show's finale attracted 1.03m viewers, up on previous weeks but significantly down on the two-hour series premiere, which was Starz' highest-rated and most-watched premiere for an original series.

Fern Britton, Joz Calzaghe and Bob Mortimer will take part in an upcoming Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? special alongside their teenage children. The live Schools Out episode will see the trio joined by one of their offspring in a bid to win the one million quid prize for their respective charities. TV presenter Britton will be joined by daughter Grace, boxer Calzaghe by his son Connor and comedian Mortimer by his son Harry. Britton, whose chosen cause is The Fire Fighters Charity, commented: 'Grace and I are delighted to be playing Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? School's Out for the Firefighters. I only hope we can get them a good stash of money!' Calzaghe, who will play for LATCH, said that he is a 'big fan of the show,' while Mortmier will be hoping to win the top prize for The Anthony Nolan Trust. The quiz show special is the latest to be announced since ITV scrapped regular editions of the Chris Tarrant-hosted programme. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Schools Out will be broadcast on ITV on 15 July.

Mariska Hargitay's role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will apparently not be compromised by the addition of two new members of the cast. It was announced earlier this week that Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish will join the Law & Order: SVU cast for its upcoming thirteenth season. Pino was said to be a replacement for the outgoing Christopher Meloni, who will not return. Hargitay, meanwhile, will shift to a supporting role next season after her character, Olivia Benson, receives a promotion. However, SVU execs have insisted that the addition of Pino and Giddish will not affect Hargitay's role on the show, telling Entertainment Weekly that Hargitay will still appear in every episode of the show's new season. Hargitay, who recently adopted a baby girl with her husband Peter Hermann, requested a reduced role in order to spend more time with her family.

Alex Polizzi, who fronts Channel Five's The Hotel Inspector has reportedly been 'poached' by the BBC. Several media outlets state that the BBC has signed up Polizzi to front a new show in which she will help family run businesses which have come into difficulty. It has been suggested that the show will be styled on Gordon Ramsay's Channel Four show, in which he helps out small restaurants from closing. The Hotel Inspector began on Channel Five in 2005 and quickly rose to become one of the channel's most watched shows. Polizzi took over from Ruth Watson, who quit in 2008 and moved to Channel Four.

Price comparison website is launching a new advertising campaign - without Omid Djalili. The comic has been the face of the company's adverts for eighteen months, with a series of commercials playing on the British reluctance to haggle. John Prescott, Nigel Mansell, and Jedward have also featured in the campaign. But the twenty five million smackers account has been handed to a new advertising agency, Mother, who say they want 'a fresh approach.' So, their new campaign will be based on the 'euphoria' customers are supposed to feel at saving money on their car insurance. Moneysupermarket's director of consumer marketing Paul Troy said: 'We need to make sure we are always driving the category forward. This campaign is a fresh approach, and I’m confident it will really help us to continue to stand out from the rest of the crowd.' However, Djalili said he wouldn't be appearing in the new series of adverts because he was too busy. He said: 'Working on the Moneysupermarket ads has been a lot of fun. Because of my tour and other commitments I won’t have time for another campaign this year, unfortunately.'

A women's football team in Russia will play their next match in bikinis in an attempt to draw more fans. WFC Rossiyanka, based in Krasnoarmeysk near Moscow - where, thankfully, it only starts to get chilly around september - has struggled with deteriorating ticket sales despite the club's success. Its members now hope that competing half-naked will resolve the crisis, the Sun reports. So, this is almost certainly a bunch of lies. Anyway, the club has won the Russian women's top-tier football league three times in 2005, 2006 and 2010 and played in the women's UEFA Champions League in the past two seasons. Team coach Tatyana Egorova explained: 'We are the best woman's team in Russia and have won many championships, even representing our country in the UEFA Champions League. But few people have ever heard of us, and we don't get many people coming to games. So we've decided to give our profile a boost by appearing in bikinis.' Yeah, that ought to do it. The players have already posed in bikinis in a photo-shoot ahead of the upcoming game and Egorova said that she is optimistic about the publicity stunt. 'We hope it will also improve the numbers of tickets we sell,' she continued. 'We think it's a good idea - our players are beautiful, great athletes and determined to win.' I'm sure Channel Five are bidding for the UK broadcast rights as we speak.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day It's 1968 and Motown has lost Holland, Dozier and Holland but, curiously, discovered a social conscience in their place. As Diana, Mary and Cindy will now demonstrate. Tell 'em all about it, sisters.

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