Sunday, November 27, 2011

Just Get The Cameras Rolling

With seven celebrities still left in the competition, Strictly Come Dancing averaged an overnight audience of 10.61m viewers on Saturday night, grabbing over forty two per cent of the total audience share. The BBC1 dance contest peaked at a massive 11.52m during the second half of the show. Merlin followed with 6.01m at 8.15pm and Casualty rounded off the broadcaster's primetime line-up with 4.34m. On ITV, Harry Hill's TV Burp was watched by 4.7m from 7.30pm, attracting a further one hundred and forty two thousand viewers on ITV+1. The X Factor's final five performed in front of 9.99m viewers from 8pm. Two hundred and forty five thousand further punters chose to catch up with the episode an hour later. It's the fourth week in a row that Strictly has beaten The X Factor on Saturday overnight ratings. I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) averaged 8.23m, whilst two hundred and twenty two thousand chose to watch the jungle-based fiasco on timeshift. BBC2's very disappointing talking-heads clip-show TV Greats: Our Favourites From The North had an audience of 1.51m from 8.15pm, whilst Qi XL was watched by 1.41m at 9.15pm.

Channel Five News presenter Matt Barbet is reportedly being lined-up to replace the sacked Adrian Chiles on Daybreak. Mind you, this is according to the Sunday Mirra so, chances are, it's a load of old diarrhoea masquerading as an 'exclusive.' Time will tell, dear blog reader. it usually does. Producers are said to have approached Barbet in the hope of giving the ITV breakfast show 'a greater focus on current affairs,' following the long overdue departure - due to sacking - of Chiles and the Curiously Orange Christine Bleakley. Daybreak bosses are apparently planning to pair Barbet with BBC Breakfast host Sian Williams, who was - the tabloid claim - 'offered the job earlier this week.' Current support hosts Dan Lobb and horrible Kate Garraway will present Daybreak until the new duo arrive in the New Year, according to the Mirra. 'Matt and Sian are seen as the ideal team to bring more of a newsy feel to Daybreak,' an alleged 'source' allegedly told the alleged newspaper. 'It is a bit of a gamble as ITV cannot afford another high-profile failure, they are pulling out all the stops to land them as presenters.'

There was a very good piece in the Gruniad by Marina Hyde this week on the subject of, you know, 'where did it all go wrong?' for Daybreak. Marina noted, with some amusement, Chiles's comments 'we had been assured we could go with our dignity intact' and then added, pithily: 'Your what? Adrian, Adrian, Adrian. You've spent fifteen months linking between breast-screening and beach-volleyball, and failing to coax the owl from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding down from the studio rafters, to which it had sensibly retreated on a guest appearance. I can't help feeling that HMS Dignity has sailed.' She went on: 'As for the legendary "chemistry", Lost in Showbiz traditionally defines that as "an overly matey bloke and a woman who wouldn't give him one in a million years." Though you could modify it to "a bloke who reckons the format's too shallow for him and a woman who's out of her depth." Admittedly, there have been magical moments on the programme. Who could fail to enjoy the show's crime correspondent announcing portentously: "I cannot tell you where I am in the country – it's a top-secret location", right above a screen caption reading "LEICESTERSHIRE". But too often it felt like Daybreak was providing its own punchlines. The green room was infested with fleas and had to be fumigated. Twice.' There follows a really good character assassination of the vile and odious, pie-scoffing lard-bucket Eamonn Holmes which I thoroughly recommend to all dear blog readers. You'll laugh until you stop. And then laugh some more.

Tom Baker appeared at the launch of the late Elisabeth Sladen’s autobiography which took place on Saturday at the Doctor Who Experience in London. Baker said that meeting Sladen changed the direction of his life as it made him so happy in the role of The Doctor that her realised he could play the character for the rest of his life and didn't need to act any more. He spoke emotionally of how they 'adored' each other and how he fondly remembered standing arm-in-arm with her inside the TARDIS, giggling while they waited for their cue. Baker was joined at the launch by former Doctor Who Script Editor Terrance Dicks and by Sladen's daughter Sadie Miller. Dicks remembered Sladen's qualities of self-possession, dignity and independence, qualities which, he said, he drew on when writing scripts for the character of Sarah Jane, while Miller said that the family were keen to have the autobiography published as a thank you to the fans of Elisabeth.

The BBC have released some additional information on Matt Smith's previously announced project for 2012 Bert and Dickie, which he filmed during the summer. Written by William Ivory and starring Matt Smith Bert And Dickie is, the BBC note, 'the uplifting story of how two young men defied all the odds and achieved gold in the double sculls.' Thrown together just five weeks before the 1948 London Olympics, Bert Bushnell and Dickie Burnell not only pushed physical and emotional limits, but also rose above distinctions of birth and class to become Olympic gold medallists. Bert and Dickie’s personal battle reflects a much greater struggle as London prepared to host the Olympic Games. In 1948, just three years after the end of the Second World War, London had been half-destroyed. But, determined not to 'let the Games die,' the British Olympic Committee convinced Prime Minister Attlee that the Olympics could help to bring a country still suffering from rationing back together – and the Austerity Olympics are born. While London again prepares to host the 2012 Olympics in a difficult economic climate, this film will remind viewers what the Games are really about – heroic personal endeavour, courage, determination… and a little bit of luck! Matt Smith plays Bert Bushnell whilst Sam Hoare is Dickie Burnell.

Steven Moffat celebrated his birthday in some style by all accounts with a party last Saturday that saw three Doctors alongside the show's lead writer. Speaking on Monday's BBC Breakfast, whilst doing publicity for the recently released series six DVD box-set, Matt Smith said: 'I saw David [Tennant] on Saturday; it was Steven Moffat's birthday party. I was like, "It's Doctor Who!" I saw Peter Davison there as well. He was at the same party. Steven was very excited that there was more than one Doctor there, and I can't help but go "Oh my God. It's Doctor Who!" But then I realise I'm the Doctor!'

Bill Bailey is under strict instructions not to talk about his role in the Doctor Who Christmas Special: 'I will be just about to tell you what happens and then a tranquilliser dart will thud and the phone will go dead. They'll be all over me like a rash if I divulge any of the secrets, but yes just to say I have a cameo in it and great fun it is too. It's fulfilled a lifetime's ambition for me, being a Doctor Who fan,' Bill told the East Anglian Times. In another interview, with the Radio Times, he noted: 'It's the equivalent of a knighthood. I've watched Doctor Who for as long as I can remember. My earliest memory of watching TV is hiding behind the sofa from the Cybermen. I had an irrational fear of leaving doors open for years after that.'

Martin Brundle is moving to Sky to commentate on its Formula One coverage, it has been confirmed. One sincerely hopes that leaving the Beeb works out for Martin slightly better than it did, for example, for Adrian Chiles. It was announced earlier this year that Sky will share the rights to Formula One with the BBC from 2012, launching a dedicated channel specifically for the coverage. It was rumoured that Sky would attempt to poach the BBC's lead Formula One commentator, and indeed it's now been confirmed that Brundle will head its team to cover every race, qualifying and practice session live. Revealing the news on Twitter, Brundle said: 'Can confirm I'll be commentating on Sky Sports F1 in 2012. All races live on dedicated F1 channel plus more tech features is what motivates me. Yes I'll be doing grid walks in the future of course, it's my trademark. It's not for me [to] announce who else is working where from next season. I'm convinced two mighty broadcasters in Sky and BBC head-to-head at ten races will be great for F1 fans overall. Be patient, lots happening.' He added: 'Yes money is better but with deals I could have put around lower key BBC role plus fifty per cent of my income going to UK taxman, not the deciding factor.' The BBC will show half of the twenty races from next year in a move that has angered some Formula One fans. Although many of us aren't that bothered and take the view that we'd sooner see ten races on the BBC than none. Which is what would have happened if they hadn't worked out the deal with Sky. The corporation recently announced the ten Formula One races that it will show live next season, with presenter Jake Humphrey confirming that he is sticking with the BBC.

The BBC will not be sending its Match of the Day team to cover the opening stages of the Euro 2012 football tournament, it has announced. Presenters including Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer will, instead, deliver their verdicts from studios in Salford. Jeez - they'll be doing reports live from Garth Crooks's shed, next. The fortunes of the English and Irish teams will dictate whether they then travel to Poland and Ukraine for later stages. The BBC said that the decision to stay in Salford was 'solely based on providing value for money.' The corporation is cutting twenty per cent from its budget over the next five years, after the licence fee was frozen in the government's spending review. It also faces the challenge of covering the 2012 Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee next summer, in what senior executive Roger Mosey has called 'the BBC's most ambitious set of outside broadcasts in a lifetime.' The decision to keep Match Of The Day's presentation team in the UK for the first matches of the Euro 2012 tournament will not have any impact on the broadcast of live matches. The programme moved to Salford earlier this month, where staff joined colleagues from Football Focus, who had been in place for the start of the season. Several thousand jobs are moving to the BBC's new base in the north, with 5Live, BBC Breakfast, BBC Children's and BBC Sport among the departments to relocate. This year's Sports Personality of the Year event will also be held in Salford.

Singer Andrea True, whose biggest hit was the epic disco masterpiece 'More More More', has died aged sixty eight. The singer began her career as an actress in pornographic movie, shortening her name from Andrea Truden for the sake of her family. 'More More More', a top five hit in the UK, was recorded in Jamaica, where True had been filming a commercial in 1975. It came about almost by accident, after True was forbidden to leave the country with the earnings from her day job. True spent the money to flesh out a song she had made up, pairing a hazy piano-based instrumental with girly, pouting breathless vocals. She took the demo back to New York, where it was remixed by Tom Moulton and released as a single, credited to the Andrea True Connection. Reaching number four in the US, the single has been called 'one of the truly classic club hits of its time' by Billboard magazine. It was followed by an LP, also titled More More More, and two further UK hit single, 'Party Line' and 'What's Your Name? What's Your Number?' But her second LP failed to sell in large numbers, essentially ending her recording career. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 1976, Andrea stressed that she would not return to her former career in adult films - having previously made more than forty titles, including Deep Throat II. 'I would be a waitress or a typist before I'd star in another,' she told the newspaper. Instead, she moved to Florida and sang in clubs until complications from throat surgery made that impossible. In later years, she took a variety of jobs - including drug and alcohol counsellor, telemarketer and estate agent. She continued to earn royalties from her biggest hit, however. It has soundtracked numerous advertisements over the years - including recent campaigns for Nutgrain cereal bars in the UK and Honey Bunches of Oats cereal in the States. 'More More More' was also sampled by Canadian band Len for their single 'Steal My Sunshine', which became a top ten hit in 1999, and was covered by Rachel Stevens in 2004. True died on 7 November in a New York hospital. The news was announced by the Gilpatric-VanVliet funeral home in Kingston, New York, and confirmed by her friend, Louise Marsello, who told the New York Times that the cause had been heart failure.

Some appalling sad news broke over Sunday lunchtime. The Wales football manager, Gary Speed, has, tragically, died - an apparent victim of suicide - at the age of just forty two. Gary had appeared on BBC1's Football Focus show on Saturday afternoon, just hours before his death and seemed to be in great spirits. He joked that he believed one of his former clubs, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved Newcastle United, had a good chance of getting something from their visit to Old Trafford that afternoon (which, as it happens, the did). This was, he noted, in marked contrast to his own period playing for The Magpies when they had a shocking record against The Scum. The presenter, Dan Walker, said that off-camera at the BBC's studios in Salford, Gary had talked enthusiastically about how well his sons were developing as teenage footballers and about his desire to come back onto the programme before Christmas. He also recorded a separate interview about his high hopes for Wales's forthcoming World Cup qualifying campaign. After the show ended, at 1pm, Gary met up with Match Of The Day pundits Alan Shearer - a close friend with whom Gary had played for six years at Newcastle - and Mark Lawrenson to watch the early Premier League game between Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers. Then, just before 3pm, he made the short journey to Old Trafford to watch Newcastle draw with Manchester United. The match finished shortly before 5pm and it is thought Gary travelled back to his home in Chester where, little more than twelve hours later, he was found dead.
    As news of the tragedy spread, the world of football queued up to pay tribute to Gary. His death was confirmed in a short statement by the Football Association of Wales. The statement said: 'We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family. We ask that everyone respects the family's privacy at this very sad time.' A spokeswoman for Cheshire Police said: 'At 7.08am today, Cheshire Police was informed of a sudden death at an address in Huntington. Officers went to the scene where a forty two-year-old man was found dead. The next of kin have been informed and have confirmed the identity of the man as Gary Speed. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. The family have requested that they are left in peace to grieve at this difficult time. A family tribute will be released at a later date, but not today.' Gary had taken over the Welsh manager's job in December 2010, and after some early disappointments, performances and results had begun to rapidly improve. He said earlier this month that the side's improvement had exceeded all of his expectations. A 4-1 friendly win over Norway represented a third successive victory for Wales and Speed's fifth win in ten games in charge - seeing his country rise in the FIFA rankings by over fifty places in just nine months. He noted: 'We've progressed further than I'd have thought in this space of time but we've still got a lot of work to do.' Gary won eighty five caps playing for his country during a fourteen-year international career. A national hero, he was given the top job in Welsh football despite only having four months managerial experience with Sheffield United. His former Wales team-mate Ryan Giggs said: 'I am totally devastated. Gary Speed was one of the nicest men in football and someone I am honoured to call a team-mate and friend. It goes without saying my thoughts are with his family at this tremendously sad time.' The Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, who had signed Speed for Newcastle in 1998, released Craig Bellamy from the Liverpool squad for Sunday's match against Manchester City, saying that Bellamy 'was very, very close to Gary' and was in no state, mentally, to play. Another former Wales team-mate, Robbie Savage, tweeted: 'The world has lost a great man in Gary Speed. I'm devastated. Spoke to him yesterday morning. I'll miss him so much. He came to watch Strictly three-to-four weeks ago. I high-fived him in the front row. He loved the show, he loved life, he loved his family.' Alan Shearer said: 'Gary was a magnificent person, bright, fun and a wonderful family man - he lit up every room he walked into. I am proud to have been his friend and will miss him dreadfully.' Former Wales international John Hartson was due to work on the 5Live's radio commentary of Swansea versus Aston Villa but was too upset to cover the game.
     A superb left-sided attacking midfielder, Gary had a glorious twenty year career as a player, mostly at the very top level of the English game. He played professionally for Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United between 1988 and 2009. Rarely troubled by injury - until late in his career - or suspension, Gary held the record for the most appearances in the Premier League at five hundred and thirty five, until it was surpassed by David James in 2009. He is still third on the all-time list behind James and his Wales team-mate Ryan Giggs. Born in Mancot, Flintshire in 1969, Gary began his career with Leeds as a teenage protégé making his league début when he was nineteen. He went on to play a key role as Leeds won promotion from the old Second Division in 1990 during his first full season in the team and, then, as the club took the last ever First Division championship title in 1992 as part of a tremendous midfield which also included Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty. Fast, mobile, hugely skillful, great in the air and with keen eye for goal, Gary also featured in Leeds's League Cup final defeat against Aston Villa in 1996. The flags at Elland Road were lowered to half-mast and fans laid tributes of shirts and scarves. The club said that it was 'stunned and saddened.' Howard Wilkinson, Gary's manager at Leeds, praised him as 'an ordinary, very honest, very genuine, very committed and hard-working bloke.' After three hundred and twelve appearances (fifty seven goals) for the Yorkshiremen, Gary moved to Everton - the team whom he had supported as a boy - in 1996, for a fee of three and a half million pounds. His spell at Goodison Park was not a great success, although he was club captain and, probably, the best player in a rather underachieving Everton side of that period. After sixty five games (seventeen goals) he moved again, to Newcastle, in February 1998. In his first couple of years at St James' Park, he again somewhat struggled in another average middle-of-the-table side although the team did get to - and lose - two successive FA Cup finals in 1998 and 1999. But, the arrival of Bobby Robson as manager in 1999 revitalised Gary's career and he then enjoyed a glorious Indian summer of three or four years playing some of the best football of his career. Along with the likes of Shearer and Robert Lee, Gary was one of the older heads in Robson's exciting young Newcastle side which finished fourth, third and fifth the three successive Premiership seasons early in the decade. He was very much a Robson-type player, the former England manager once describing Speed as 'brave as a lion.' A typical Gary Speed goal often involved a lung-bursting run from deep and a perfectly-timed header as he arrived in the box to meet a cross. Robson later converted Gary into a holding midfielder and, even though his pace was starting to go by then, his vision and tactical awareness helped to bring the best out of many of the youngsters he played with - particularly Craig Bellamy, Nobby Solano and Kieron Dyer. Steven Taylor, who came into the first team at St James' Park when Gary was one of the club's senior professionals, expressed his gratitude for the help Gary had given him. 'He helped me through, he was an absolute machine - the best professional in football. He had that aura about him. He always had time for the young lads and helped them feel good about themselves.' After the news of his death broke, Newcastle released a statement expressing their condolences, in which they described Gary as, 'an excellent servant to the club, the ultimate professional and an exceptional role-model for younger players.' By the time he left the Magpies - many felt he was sold a season or two too early - for Bolton in 2004, he had played two hundred and eight five times (forty goals) and had helped United back into Europe, including a memorable run in the Champions League in 2002-3. Gary signed for Bolton in a seven hundred and fifty thousand pound deal in July 2004. He had been capped for Wales eighty five times by this stage, second in the all-time list only to Neville Southall. He was handed his Wales début as a twenty-year-old in the 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica in May 1990. After captaining the country a record forty four times, he retired from international football in 2004 after the side's 3–2 defeat to Poland in a World Cup qualifier.
   He became the first player to make five hundred Premiership appearances when he played in Bolton's 4–0 victory over West Ham United in December 2006. In May the following year, he was named as the First Team coach for Wanderers. However in October, he left the job. Conflicting reports at the time claimed that then manager, Sammy Lee, relieved him of his duties so he could concentrate on playing. However Gary, in an interview with the Bolton News, claimed that he had chosen to step down himself. Four years at Bolton saw a further one hundred and thirty appearances (fourteen goals) before Gary finally dropped out of the Premier League and ended his career as player-coach at Sheffield United eventually retiring due to a persistent back injury just short of his fortieth birthday. With the 2010–11 season only three games old, United's manager Kevin Blackwell was sacked with Gary being confirmed as his replacement. However, on 11 December 2010, Speed was linked with the vacant Wales manager job and accepted the role as the Welsh national team manager a week later, succeeding John Toshack. Gary was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2010 Birthday Honours. Gary's professionalism, dignity, intelligence and passion for that game made him one of football's good guys. This blogger's thoughts are with Gary's family, his wife - Louise - and their two young sons - Edward and Thomas - and his many, many friends in the game. One look at his former Newcastle team-mate Shay Given, now playing for Aston Villa, in tears on the pitch at Swansea as a minute's silence turned, magnificently, into a minute's applause tells you everything you need to know about Gary Speed and what he meant to so many people. It's at times like this it's brought home to you that football, great game that it is, is ultimately just a game. Gary Speed. Legend.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day sadly, Gary Speed never made a record - although yer actual Keith Telly Topping is sure that if he had, it would've been a good one. But, Andrea True did. A great one. Bass.


Anonymous said...

Mr T

I fully echo your fitting tribute to Gary Speed.
An absolute gent, and a real man of the people.

I was fortunate to meet Gary on many occasions, and as clichéd as it may appear, he really did have time for everyone.

As I've mentioned to you in the past Keith, Gary loved his Newcastle life, and especially the good Geordie folk.
I last spoke to him three months ago, shortly after he'd returned from a charity bash on the Tyne. I asked about the affinity he had with Newcastle, to which he summed it up quite succinctly with, "They just get it".
Deep down, I suspect he wanted to return there one day, in a managerial capacity.

Sometimes in life, narrative is unnecessary, as beautifully epitomised by Shay Given's outpouring of emotion at Swansea.

RIP Speedo. A true legend, but most important of all, a fantastic human being.

Keep well Keith.

Dan Abnormal

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping said...

Yo, Dan

Long time, no hear.

I only ever met Gary once - and that was very briefly - but he was what you'd want from a hero. Pleasant, funny and passionate. I know how I felt yesterday was magnified a thousand times for those who knew him well.