Saturday, September 10, 2011

Week Thirty Eight: Terrible Timing

Leading female newsreaders at the BBC have reacted to criticism from a gobshite, rent-a-quote Tory MP about them 'smiling' while reading out serious stories and using 'too much Botox.' David Amess - yes, the same David Amess who once, infamously, made an utter fool of himself by asking a question in the House of Commons about an entirely fictitious drug, Cake - the MP for Southend West, has been accused of 'desperate publicity-seeking' after he complained of 'one or two' female BBC newsreaders smirking while reading out serious news items. A Tory MP making a name for himself by talking rubbish and getting newspapers to print it? How singularly unusual. The MP said: 'It annoys me when one or two female presenters, I don't know whether they've had too much Botox or something, when they are presenting the news and it's a very serious subject, they are smiling, which I find slightly annoying.' Despite refusing to confirm which presenters he was allegedly talking about - for the obvious reason that, if he did, then he'd likely be challenged to repeat his crass and groundless accusations outside of parliamentary privilege - Amess did say that 'they have to get up early in the morning,' suggesting that he was referring to BBC Breakfast hosts such as Sian Williams, Susanna Reid and Louise Minchin. Speaking to the Daily Scum Mail, Reid denied that she had ever used Botox and stressed that 'no-one smirks during bad news. I'll tell you what I use - moisturiser and make-up. I don't know anything about Botox and I have never encountered it, as anyone who has seen my laughter lines will know,' she said. 'I don't know any BBC newsreaders who use Botox. I can tell him I do take something to help me cope with the early mornings: A very hot, double-strength latte. But that's all I take to get me through those 3.30am starts. All BBC newsreaders are sensitive and no-one smirks during bad news.' Minchin, who turned forty three this week, also denied using Botox, saying: 'I'm flattered if people think I have.' Amess made his disgraceful and cowardly comments in Parliament as part of a wider, equally disgraceful and cowardly, attack on the BBC, including criticism of the corporation's 'absolutely ludicrous' salaries paid to senior management and 'fervently anti-cuts' bias. And yes, this is the same David Amess who faced criticism from voters in his Southend West constituency after his expense claims were revealed. Amess claimed four hundred pounds a week for food, and money for a second home in London despite his constituency being in easy commutable distance from London. He has since failed to several answer calls from his local newspaper the Evening Echo, after he was confronted on his expenses whilst out canvassing, seeking refuge in a local hairdressers while avoiding the press. In September 2007, Amess visited the Maldives, on a trip paid for in part by the government of the Maldives, yet no registration of the trip appeared in the Register of Members' Interests. Amess subsequently revisited the Maldives between August and September 2008, again in part paid for by the Maldives government. That visit was registered. In September 2009. A year late. So, one would've thought, with all that eating and all that travelling he'd have little enough time watch, let alone comment upon, TV.

ITV reportedly ordered a pilot episode of Red or Black? - or, at least, a show very like it - eight years ago, but decided that the format was 'too flawed' to work as a hit show. Claudia Rosencrantz, the controller of entertainment at ITV in 2003, commissioned a pilot of Red or Black?, but the programme was never transmitted or publicised. She told the Gruniad that a number of flaws were revealed in the format after she analysed the trial version. Rosencrantz, who commissioned Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? for ITV, said that viewers would feel differently about contestants who had won one million smackers on merit as opposed to those who had simply won the sum on luck. 'I didn't believe people would like to see someone win a vast sum of money, with no skills at all involved. Second, gambling is not a spectator sport, you get an adrenaline rush from participating in it,' she said. 'I also did not like the idea of a show about gambling, which I, personally, loathe. If Archie Norman had asked my advice I would have saved him a lot of money.' Richard Holloway, an executive producer at The X Factor maker FremantleMedia, also confirmed that his company had made a pilot of Red or Black? for ITV. The original host for the show was Brian Conley. On Thursday night, Yorkshire pig farmer Darren Thompson became the third person to win the one million pound jackpot on the Simon Cowell masterminded ITV game show, presented by Ant and Dec. However, Cowell has been forced to defend the programme from criticism that one of its millionaire winners, Nathan Hageman, had a previous criminal record for serious assault. The show has also suffered rapidly declining ratings since its premiere last Saturday. Just 3.8m viewers watched Thursday's episode and similar number saw Friday's - and it is very noticeable that ITV, who were bigging up the shows numbers last weekend have gone very quiet on the subject since around Tuesday. Perhaps significantly, Cowell's Syco production company had not associated itself with Red or Black? in 2003, and Rosencrantz said that the show was offered to ITV by Paul Worsley, now group director of the James Grant talent agency, which represents Ant and Dec. Most of the channel managers and executive team at ITV have changed since the original pilot, while Rosencrantz left the broadcaster in 2006 for Living TV where she was responsible for such masterpieces of modern television of Jade: A Year Without Her. Red or Black?, which is jointly produced by Syco and ITV Studios, is estimated to be costing around two million smackers a night to make due to the celebrity guests, lavish stunts and prize money.
Les Hinton, the former boss of News International, has dismissed an allegation by the former Scum of the World royal editor Clive Goodman that the reporter was offered his job back after being imprisoned for phone hacking as long as he did not implicate the paper at his trial. In a letter to MPs published on Friday, Hinton said he has 'no reason to believe' that Goodman's claim was 'accurate' or that there was 'any evidence' to 'support his allegation.' Hinton added that he 'stands by' evidence which he gave to a parliamentary committee in 2007 and 2009 in which he said that he believed Goodman was 'the only person' involved in phone hacking. Hinton, a life-long employee of News Corp who ended up as Rupert Murdoch's chief lieutenant until he resigned in July, made his comments in a letter to the Commons culture, sport and media select committee. It is the first time that he has said anything about the phone-hacking allegations since his previous appearance in front of the select committee in 2009. 'I answered all questions truthfully and to the best of my knowledge,' said Hinton. It is his remarks about Goodman's claims that are most significant and indicate the legal line News International is likely to take in relation to the former royal editor's sensational claims. Goodman's letter was written four years ago and was particularly important because it claimed phone hacking was 'widely discussed' at editorial meetings chaired by the then editor Andy Coulson. Goodman also claimed that Coulson offered to let him keep his job if Goodman agreed not to 'implicate' the paper in hacking when he came to court. Goodman further suggests that hiss own hacking was carried out with 'the full knowledge and support' of other senior journalists at the newspaper, whom he named in his letter. Hinton said: 'As for Mr Goodman's assertion that he had been promised he could come back to a job at the newspaper "if [he] did not implicate the paper or any of its staff in [his] mitigation plea." I had no reason to believe that his allegation was accurate, and am not aware of any evidence to support it. Accordingly, I testified before the committee in 2009, no evidence was provided to me that the conduct of Mr Goodman had spread beyond him.' Earlier this week the Scum of the World's former lawyer Tom Crone also claimed at a select committee hearing that Coulson was 'eager' to re-hire Goodman even if Goodman was convicted and jailed for phone-hacking offences.

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has admitted that he has no interest in becoming the next Doctor Who. Something he'd already said about a year ago so why the hell people keep asking him about it is, frankly, a mystery. Speaking on The Jonathan Ross Show, the actor confessed that he would feel 'uncomfortable' with the 'promotional aspects' of the show, such as merchandising and tours. Ross asked Cumberbatch: 'Someone said, "Would you ever be in an episode of Doctor Who?" and you said, "I wouldn't be in an episode," which I think means you may be in more than one episode. So here's the deal: Would you want to do it?' Cumberbatch replied that he would not. 'David [Tennant] is a friend of mine and he said "Go up for my old job," and I said "I don't think so." They're huge shoes to fill and I think I'm more similar to David than I am to Matt [Smith]. One of the reasons the Doctor Who job is so hard is because you are on the flask, you are on the school lunch box, you have to sometimes go on the school bus as Doctor Who on promotional tours. I like to keep the work on the set!'

And, on that lack of a bombshell, here's yer next lot of Top Telly Tips:

Friday 16 September
The most bizarre bit of scheduling any TV network has come up with in the last decade at least is what the BBC have done with Celebrity MasterChef this year. On the back of the most recent series of MasterChef bringing in the series highest ever ratings, you'd think the BBC would be pushing this for all they're worth. So, what do they do? The thirty-part series showing mid-afternoon at quarter past two from Monday 12 September. Eh? What's that all about? How utter befuddling. Perhaps the Beeb know something we don't and that the standard of this series isn't up to the previous one but it's still hard to fathom what on earth they're playing at. In addition to the strip-scheduled daily daytime shows, weekly half-hour 'highlight' editions will be shown on Friday and Saturday night. With me so far? Bloody odd, I call it. Anyway, the first such show is on tonight - 8:30 BBC1. 'In an accompaniment to the daytime series,' it says here, 'the celebrities return to share their experiences of the culinary contest. Celebrity MasterChef catches up with the four celebrities (Linda Lusardi, Michelle Mone, Nick Pickard and Darren Campbell) who have been battling this week to impress judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace - one of the best comedy double-acts on TV. After some gruelling culinary challenges, only three celebrity cooks remain. The trio are on location at the top London restaurant, Redhook. Under the watch of head chef Jose Azevedo, the contestants take on their first challenge within a real restaurant setting, preparing dishes for paying customers. Under the pressure of the professional kitchen though, cracks begin to appear as the celebrities fight to keep on top of customer orders. The day's second task comes in the form of the head chef's signature dish, as the celebrities are asked to recreate his own recipe of white wine and crab tagliatelle with lime. With the pressure on to match the high standard, will the celebrities be able to stick the recipe? It's great to have it back but, seriously, somebody somewhere appears to have screwed up big-style over the scheduling. Continues tomorrow at 18:10 - yes, it's Doctor Who's lead-in show, how bizarre is that?

Digging for Britain - 9:00 BBC2 - began its second series on Friday with a beautiful episode about the Romans. Quality stuff, this - the BBC doing what Time Team's had to itself for the last var nigh twenty years. Nice to see the Beeb recognising a trend. Eventually. And, of course, they're got a former Time Team regular and the divine Goddess of punk archaeology to present it. Double bonus. Jolly Doctor Alice Roberts continues to yomp around the windy British countryside in her quest for treasure. Or, revelation. Or both. Mainly, though, as usual she finds lots of pottery and few skeletons. This week she's on the trail of the Vikings, which takes her to the Outer Hebrides and Orkney, where she hunts for evidence of earlier Viking settlers and visits an archaeological dig at a Viking chief's citadel. She also looks at some infamous Viking finds, including the amazing, Twelfth Century Lewis Chessmen, discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis and at the centre of new research. Of course, no journey through Viking Britain would be complete without a trip to York: Jorvik, heart of the northern kingdom, functioned as the capital of Viking Britain. There's an extraordinary collection of silver and gold that demonstrates the furthest reaches of the Vikings' trading empire.

In DCI Banks - 9:00 ITV - Stephen Tompkinson's titular hero is as anguished as ever, but at least he seems a bit less overwrought since novelist Peter Robinson's detective had his first set of outings last year. Maybe it's because he's had a holiday in Mexico, although don't ask him about it - personal questions make Banks uncomfortable and he'll just get all agitated and discombobulated again. Banks and his lippy sidekick Annie Cabbot (played by the delightful Andrea Lowe) are investigating an arson case in which a bookshop owner and his narrowboat home are burnt to a frazzle. The discovery of a stash of cash, a work of art and another blackened body which suddenly bobs up out of the canal muddies the waters nicely, for both them and for the viewing audience. By the end of the episode, you'll still have no clue where this is headed (the story concludes next week), but you'll probably be left feeling slightly disquieted by John Bowe's character, Doctor Aspern, because of his much, much younger wife. It's nice to see Tompkinson back, that. And, thankfully it's the Stephen Tompkinson of Drop The Dead Donkey, Brassed Off and In Deep rather than the annoyingly twee Stephen Tompkinson of Ballykissangel or the one that gets acted off-screen by lions and giraffes in Wild At Heart.

To celebrate one of the most low-key music act of all time, there's a welcome repeat of 2007's The Pink Floyd Story: Which One's Pink? - 9:30 BBC4. They began by turning pop songs into open-ended sonic experiments, pioneered spacey prog-rock and were the kings of the stadium performance. They also created two LPs at least twenty years ahead of their time and two or three that were five years behind theirs. Their story is told effectively by the band members themselves - well, most of them, anyway - in Which One's Pink?, a classic documentary first shown in 2007 which opens the evening's celebrations. It culminates in the band's reunion at Live 8 in 2005, but the best stuff comes earlier with footage from the archives featuring the legendary Syd Barrett. Before he went mad with all the Mandrax. As for the documentary itself, if you can manage to survive the eighteen minute version of 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene' from Up Pompeii! - titter ye not - it's worth checking out what follows. The footage of good old miserable-as-sin Roger Waters fiddling with a beautiful-looking VCS3 synthesizer in Abbey Road recording 'On The Run'. And, as a consequence, inventing Radiohead's entire catalogue two decades early.

Saturday 17 September
Doctor Who - 7:10 BBC1 - reaches for the parts other popular family SF dramas can't handle in The God Complex. The TARDIS lands in a kitsch 1980s-style hotel. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's pretty sure he's stayed in that one. It's not the Regent Palace in London, is it? Anyway, all is - perhaps inevitably - not quite what it seems. Is it ever? Certainly not in the Regent Palace, that's all I can say. As the Doctor, Amy and Rory explore the place, they discover moving walls, twisting corridors and rooms containing deadly nightmares tailored to fit each visitor. But, the worst horror of all is to come. Yes, David Walliams guest stars in this episode which is written by Being Human creator the great Toby Whithouse. There is a room for every visitor which contains their deepest, darkest fears. Fears that will kill them. This is sounding more and more like the Regent Palace, I'm forced to note. What lies in the Doctor's room? And when his turn comes, will he welcome death like all the rest? No, of course he won't. Because Matt's just signed up for a Christmas special and another series. And, apparently, so has Karen and Arthur's alluded to being in episodes next year as well. So, that's the suspense gone!

Later on, there's Qi: XL - 9:00 BBC2. Stephen Fry hosts an extended edition of the quiz with a difference, joined by guests bone-dry Jack Dee, smug David Mitchell, mental Bill Bailey and regular panellist Alan Davies. He asks questions with an 'international' theme, and awards points for the most interesting answers.
Saturday's fast developing into yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite night of the week Doctor Who, Qi: XL, Spiral, a glass of wine, a Chinese takeaway and a big dirty woman. What more could one, in all honest,y ask for? Well, there's vast oodles of wealth, obviously. Okay, I'll get back to you on that score. Meanwhile, in Spiral - 9:00 BBC4 - the inquiry into Elina Andrescu's murder takes yet another disturbing turn when the body of her missing sister Sophia is found in a freezer. A distraught Ghislaine Androux is brought to trial in connection with the murder of her baby, but Judge Roban soon begins to regret meddling in the affair.

The Story of Film: An Odyssey - 9:00 More4 - sees Mark Cousins looking back at 1920s cinema, visiting Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Shanghai and Tokyo to explore the places where film-makers were pushing the medium's boundaries. German expressionism, Soviet montage, French impressionism and surrealism are some of the more famous highlights of the era, but the programme also investigates Chinese and Japanese films and recalls the now largely forgotten film star Ruan Lingyu.

Sunday 18 September
It's been a long and at times difficult road but we've finally reached the beginning of the end for [spooks] - 9:00 BBC1 - yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved espionage drama which begins its tenth and final six-part series. The team is still reeling - reeling, I tells ya - from Lucas's naughty betrayal, with acting leader Erin Watts keeping things ticking over while Harry is 'under disciplinary action.' But following a tribunal, the head of Section D is quickly back on The Grid, in time to investigate the assassination of a retired spy he worked with in Berlin. Ghosts from the past come back to haunt Harry Pearce, prompting a shocking revelation about his time as a spy during the Cold War. Meanwhile, Russia's foreign ambassador has arrived in London to negotiate a ground-breaking strategic partnership with the UK - and it seems he is the next target for the killer. The Home Secretary insists that Harry put a lifetime of animosity behind him and make friends with the old enemy, a request made even more urgent when the killer of Max Witt now appears to be targeting Gavrik. Gavrik isn't in the UK alone; he has come with his wife trophy Elena, and is joined by his son Sasha, a London-based FSB officer who is tasked with the security of his family while they are in the UK. Peter Firth heads the cast in the final run of the acclaimed spy drama, co-starring the great Nicola Walker, Max Brown, Lara Pulver, Geoffrey Streatfeild, Jonathan Hyde, Alice Krige and Simon Russell Beale.

Also back tonight, and on opposite [spooks] is the massively popular Downton Abbey - 9:00 ITV. It is November 1916, and the family and servants are getting the house ready for a concert to raise funds to treat more casualties from the front. Bates returns from London with a proposal for Anna, while Isobel informs Robert and Cora that Matthew is engaged and wants to bring his fiancee to Downton. O'Brien plays a trick on new maid Ethel after taking an instant dislike to her. Costume drama, starring Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern.

It's a big night for new series, Antiques Roadshow - 8:00 BBC1 - kicks off its latest run. The hardest working bottom on TV, Fiona Bruce and the experts visit Manchester Town Hall, where items awaiting valuation include a chair that Arthur Negus examined on the show thirty years ago, artefacts from the Russian Revolution and a toy last used in Edwardian times. The presenter also tests viewers' knowledge by asking them to tell the difference between widely available antiques and rare pieces sought after by collectors.

Monday 19 September
In the latest episode of Doc Martin - 9:00 ITV - the GP returns to his former post at the surgery after the departure of Doctor Dibbs, agreeing to stay until a replacement is found. He persuades a reluctant Louisa to move into his house so that he can help raise their son, and suggests they could all move to London together in the future. Martin then delivers the eulogy at his aunt Joan's funeral and speaks to her sister Ruth, who proves to be just as cantankerous as he is. The great Eileen Atkins joins the cast, with Martin Clunes and Caroline Catz.

Tonight's Panorama is called Drinking Our Rivers Dry? - 8:30 BBC1. Demand for water has never been higher, making the nation's rivers an increasingly valuable resource. Simon Boazman investigates the impact on the associated wildlife and the effectiveness of regulatory safeguards.

Gypsy Eviction - The Fight for Dale Farm: Dispatches - 8:00 Channel Four - is, as you might expect, a documentary coinciding with the first day of a mass eviction on Dale Farm in Crays Hill, Essex. Deborah Davies investigates the relationship between travellers, residents affected by encampments and the law. She also asks whether Government proposals to crack down on unauthorised development will change the situation for better or worse, and explores the issues facing councils as they are expected to be granted more freedom to decide how many places should be allocated for travellers in their areas.

Tuesday 20 September
How long do we reckon it's going to be before somebody starts whinging that Keith Allen isn't as good a Trevor Eve on The Body Farm - 9:00 BBC1. In this week's episode, a wealthy recluse is suspected of murder when the severed hand of a young male is discovered near to his estate. However, Detective Hale is told the man is far too ill to be questioned, so it is up to Eve and her team to move the investigation forward. Although they make a compelling discovery, they still have trouble proving who is responsible for the young man's death. Tara FitzGerald and Keith Allen star in the forensic crime drama, with Michael Byrne, Gary Lewis and Adam Kotz.

Much anticipated by some although, to be honest, the trailers have left this blogger distinctly coolish This Is Jinsy - 8:00 Sky Atlantic - is a surreal comedy set on the fictional island of Jinsy, starring Chris Bran and Justin Chubb. So, essentially, it's The League of Gentlemen meets Father Ted down the pub for a pint. Expect a bumper audience for this opening episode as a the islanders prepare to be randomly married off by local celebrity Mr Slightlyman (the nation's heart-throb David Tennant) in the wedding lottery. Maven, the island's arbiter, decides to enter his hapless assistant Sporall into the draw. Madcap comedy with Harry Hill, Jennifer Saunders, Alice Lowe and Janine Duvitski.

The Bomb Squad - 10:35 BBC1 - is the second of two documentaries following the work of bomb disposal operators in Afghanistan. A team is dropped by helicopter into an area where a missile strike has killed an insurgent - but not before he had chance to plant an explosive device. Meanwhile, Search Team Nine joins the clearance of Char Coucha, one of the most dangerous villages in Helmand. Three months into their tour, the men have suffered heavy casualties with only four of the original seven left.

Wednesday 21 September
The BBC have managed to get many famous people to investigate their own personal ancestry in Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1 - but tonight they've probably managed to top all previous contenders. Certainly in terms of record sales. Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb discovers how his paternal great-grandfather rose from poverty to become a decorated soldier, and heads to Paisley, Renfrewshire, to investigate a mysterious family breakdown. He also looks into the life of his maternal great-grandmother Cecilia Lynch, who was brought before the Midwives Penal Board because of a tragic case involving a baby she had delivered. And he does it all, one would hope, without his brother Barry bursting out of the wardrobe and singing in a terrifying falsetto. Unless, of course, they filmed that bit as a special insert.

Spin-offs are all the rage at the moment and Dragons' Den: How to Win in the Den - 9:00 BBC2 - comes with some decent pedigree. This programme provides advice on succeeding in front of the Dragons and analysis of why some presentations fail. The business moguls also catch up with entrepreneurs who gave memorable pitches to see how their ventures are faring. Scary-looking Hilary Devey scrutinises the accounts of Bob Davies, who secured investment from her for his gaming product, while Duncan Bannatyne visits Layla Bennett's falconry business in mid Wales to survey his new partners.

They're everywhere but they can't be seen, smelt, heard or touched by living beings. But now an embittered and vengeful Fade has found a way to break the barrier between the dead and the living and Paul, Mac and their friends and family are all right in the eye of the storm. But the most terrifying twist is yet to come – the fate of humanity rests in the hands of the two friends who already have enough trouble getting through a day in one piece, let alone saving the world. That's the set-up for The Fades - 9:00 BBC3 - a rather decent sounding supernatural drama. A chance encounter with a cabal of super-powered individuals drags Paul, a teenager with the ability to see the spirits of the dead, into a struggle to protect the world from a forthcoming apocalypse. Starring Iain de Caestecker and Natalie Dormer.

Meanwhile, Fresh Meat - 10:00 Channel Four - is an, alleged, comedy drama about six students sharing a house as freshers, including a public school boy with an inflated sense of entitlement, a woman determined to try new things and a socially-awkward know-it-all. Kingsley is bemused when he manages to pull at the pub, while Josie ends up in bed with JP - and is horrified to discover she will be living with him. Starring the really very unfunny indeed Jack Whitehall (I wonder which character he's playing), Joe Thomas, Kimberley Nixon and Charlotte Ritchie.

Thursday 22 September
The Spitfire: Britain's Flying Past - 9:00 BBC2 - sees the broadcaster and flying enthusiast John Sergeant celebrating the seventy fifth anniversary of the Spitfire by documenting the history of the fighter plane, from its creation to its retirement. He also meets people whose lives have been in some way intimately related to the aircraft.

Still on the road, Billy Connolly's Route 66 - 9:00 ITV - sees the comedian beginning this second leg of his journey in St Louis, Missouri, by climbing the Gateway Arch - which signifies the start of the American West. He visits a wolf sanctuary, takes in a Civil War re-enactment, tries his hand at hunting wild turkeys and makes himself comfortable in the world's largest rocking chair. His final stop is in Oklahoma City - which is 'oh so pretty' according to the song but, one suspects, it's probably a dump and Bobby Troup only said that because it rhymes with 'City' - where Bill visits a memorial to the one hundred and sixty eight victims of the bombing of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in 1995.

The Big Celebrity Swim - 9:00 Channel Five - is a vehicle for the Boyzone star Ronan Keating to lead a team of allegedly 'intrepid' celebrities donning wetsuits for a gruelling fifty six-mile relay swim across the freezing-cold waters of the Irish Sea. Also taking the plunge are the Gadget Show's Jason Bradbury (desperately hoping that everyone's forgotten all about Don't Scare The Hare), former Atomic Kitten singer Jenny Frost, comedienne-turned-clinical psychologist Pamela Stephenson and Olympic butterfly medallist Steve Parry. Yeah. Steve Parry's gonna win that I reckon! They are joined by four experienced 'super-swimmers' and two specially chosen members of the public - student Nikki and teacher Olly - who make up the eleven-strong team hoping to raise one million smackers for Cancer Research UK. Great cause, and one that yer actual Keith Telly Topping himself is very much committed too. So, I'll be less cynical than I usually am about stuff like this.

In this week's Top of the Pops: 1976 - 7:30 BBC4 - Jimmy Savile OBE presents an episode from 9 September 1976, the second week of ABBA's run at number one with 'Dancing Queen.' Disco! Kiki Dee performs her solo single 'Loving and Free', following the chart-topping success of 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart', and the programme also features The Bay City Rollers, The Wurzels, Cliff Richard, Twiggy, Manfred Mann's Earth Band and, just a short reminder that in the next year a change is gonna come, Eddie & The Hot Rods. Not forgetting very forgettable dance troupe Ruby Flipper.

And so to the news: The BBC will be hugely happy with the overnight number they pulled into for Would I Lie to You? and Qi on Friday. The former got a very solid four million in the 9:30 slot on BBc1 whilst the latter, back on BBC2 after two years on the bigger channel, pulled in its highest ever BBC2 figure, 3.2m (just over three million on BBC2 itself and a further one hundred and fifty thousand on BBC HD). The bonus for Would I Like To You is that it beat ITV's much-hyped flop the Red or Black? results show in the same slot by a few thousand viewers. The list of BBC1 shows that ITV would have deemed unlikely to beat Red Or Black? now stands at Countryfile, New Tricks, Who Do You Think You Are?, Watchdog and Would I Lie To You? It's not been a very good week for Ant and Dec, has it? Never mind, lads, The Toon are at Queen's Park Rangers on Monday, that'll cheer you up. Earlier, Outnumbered also performed well pulling in 4.7m. Remember, these are overnight figures, the final consolidated viewing figures will be out a week on Monday.

A brand new comedy series for BBC1 will see the legendary comic Jasper Carrott (it says here) return to his stand-up roots. The One..., which will record from later this month, will see a different guest comic host each of its three episodes. The hosts for the other two episodes will be Lenny Henry and Griff Rhys Jones. The One Jasper Carrott will mark the popular comedian and folk-singer's first notable TV stand-up role since 1999's series Jasper Carrott - Back To The Front, and his first comedy role since the politically-correct BBC1 sitcom All About Me came to an end in 2004. In recent years, the star of hit 1990s sitcom The Detectives hosted six series of ITV game show Golden Balls. Until it was cancelled. Because it was shit and nobody was watching it. Meanwhile, The One Lenny Henry will cement the comic's 'return to his stand-up roots', presumably still doing much the same act that he's done since the 1980s. Which was funny then but how much has thirty years done to a large black man bellowing 'katanga my friends' a lot? Time, one imagines, will tell. The One Griff Rhys Jones will see the actor and comic - best known for his successful partnership with Mel Smith - back on the comedy scene after BBC2's hugely popular Three Men In A Boat travelogues with Dara O'Briain and Rory McGrath. And, as usual, Griff will be talking in that slightly-too-fast and highly mannered way of his, and then he'll realise he's doing it and slow ... right ... down. But, still, be fair, he's funnier than the other two put together. The One is described by the BBC as 'a mix of stand-up and sketches.' Each episode will focus on the host, who will bring some of their own talent to the mix: Or, in Henry's case, none of his own talent because he hasn't got any. Henry will be performing in a number of sketches, including some with old favourite characters from his impressive comedy career. Oh, yes. Are you gonna do Frank Spencer again, Len? Jasper, meanwhile, whom yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought was the funniest man on earth when I was sixteen - but that was long time ago - who came to stand-up via silly songs and folk music, will perform a number of tunes. The three-part series is expected to form a key part of BBC1's Christmas schedule.

Alan Carr has revealed that he's been asked to star in many reality shows. The comedian confessed that he was even asked to make a show about gay pilots. 'Every one,' he told Jonathan Ross when asked which reality shows he'd been offered. 'Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing on Ice. I got this one where they wanted me to learn to fly a plane and I fly all over the world. This was a genuine offer from a production company that I would fly all over the world and speak to other homosexuals who have a pilot's licence. Honest to god it was called Up, Up and a Gay!' Speaking of doing his forthcoming appearance on Who Do You Think You Are?, he added: 'When they asked about it I was like, "A free holiday," you know what I mean? So I said I'd do it.' 'Where did you end up?' Ross inquired. 'Peckham!' Alan replied.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a little forgotten pop masterpiece from Consortium. What do you mean, who?!

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