Saturday, November 26, 2011

Week Forty Nine: Here Kitty Kitty, You Better Move Along

TV comedy highlight of the week: A brilliantly po-faced Mackenzie Crook's suggestion on the 'previously unseen bits of' episode of Would I like To You? that when he won the Pirates of the Caribbean 'sand castle making competition,' Keith Richards got so annoyed by coming second that he stamped on MacKenzie's castle's drawbridge. And threw Johnny Depp's bucket into the sea. Sadly, it turned out to be a lie. No shit!
Almost, though not quite, as good was Paul Merton's incredulity - and, frankly incandescent fury - on Friday's Have I Got News For You that the Fenton the Dog story had got so much media coverage.
And then there was the most surprising TV comedy thing of the week - that Chris Addison managed to be both entertaining and, for once, not at all irritating, on Qi!
Wonders will, quite literally, never cease. Unlike, hopefully, Addison's needy 'everybody look over here at me, me, me, me, me' thing. Because he really doesn't need to do that, he's a funny enough man when he just calms the fuck down a bit.

So, from several very funny people to one person who used to be funny. Once. Long long ago. Rory Bremner is, apparently, turning quiz show host in a new pilot for Channel Four. because, of course, there aren't enough of those on TV as it is. The impressionist and Strictly Come Dancing contestant will front the show Absolute Zero, in which contestants have to guess the numerical answer to a question as accurately as possible. The further away they are, the more points they accrue - with the aim being to score as close to zero as possible. Rory, mate. Three words. Alexander Armstrong's recent career. Sorry, that's four words ... but you catch my drift, I'm sure? Pointless. On several levels. The format is being piloted next week by Objective Productions for a possible daytime slot on Channel Four. The format was devised by Adam Adler, who also created ITV's The Cube.

Meanwhile, Adrian Chiles and his Curiously Orange mate, Christine Bleakley have been sacked from ITV's breakfast flop Daybreak. That's not, actually, news, per se. But it is still funny.
There was another great comedy moment of Saturday night's The X Factor when Dermot O'Dreary announced 'Next time on The X-Factor, Olly Murs performing live ... with the Muppets.' Couldn't he have just said, 'Next time, performing live, The Muppets'? That would, surely, have included Olly anyway.

Sir Bruce Forsyth has claimed that Strictly Come Dancing is beating The X Factor in ratings because of its variety of entertainment. Possibly. Personally, I think it's been beating The X Factor - on Saturday's only, to be fair - for the last few weeks because it has a slightly warmer and more inclusive format. But then, that might just be me. Forsyth argued that Simon Cowell's ITV talent show has 'a stale format' and accused the singing competition of 'staged fights' between the judges. Speaking on Radio 4's Front Row, the veteran TV presenter said: 'Strictly has other things to offer, not just singer after singer after singer and judges making up rows between themselves. Scripted, I think. Although ours is a reality show, we do have people getting up and doing something, we have got beautiful music going on, great singers, we have comedy from the judges, there is [also] comedy from me.' yeah, the old chap's certainly got a point. 'I am just thrilled that our show is getting a bigger audience than ever this year,' he concluded. Strictly has beaten X Factor in the ratings three times on overnights this year, including the Hallow'een and Wembley Arena specials. The switch in fortunes for the show's ratings is in contrast to the 2009 series, which was won by Chris Hollins. Speaking about the show's supposed 'fall in viewers' two years ago, Forsyth blamed an unnamed show boss for 'booking poor talent. We didn't have the right people on the show. It was a decision made by somebody - I won't mention any names - that we didn't have the people. This year we have people who are interesting,' he said. Unfortunately, in this Bruce has rather fallen victim to a bit of Stalinist like rewriting of history that the tabloids rather enjoy indulging in. In actual fact the series' seventh series in 2009 had an average consolidated weekly audience of 8.44m per episode. The previously year's series, in 2008, had an average consolidated weekly audience of 8.48m. So, this 'fall in viewers' was, actually, around forty thousand people, a statistical fraction in TV ratings terms.

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

Friday 2 December
The BBC's Friday night comedy schedule continues to provide the goods on a weekly basis. Have I Got News for You - 9:00 BBC1 - this week features the former tennis player Bonkin' Boris Becker and the comedian Marcus Brigstocke. This blogger could never stand Brigstocke a couple of years back. From The North considered him to be like Chris Addison in the 'show off' department but nowhere near as talented. But, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is happy to confess that he's grown to, if not exactly love the chap's humour then, at least, live with it. Anyway, he and Boris join in the fun on the satirical current affairs quiz, with regular team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton. Are we sure it's Boris Becker and not Boris Johnson? Oh well, that's certainly what the Radio Times says. Later there's also Live at the Apollo - 9:30 BBC1 - in which Mock The Week regular Andy Parsons hosts the stand-up show recorded at London's Hammersmith Apollo, inviting comedians to share their light-hearted views on modern life. In the latest episode he introduces routines by Andrew Lawrence and the greatest gag-merchant on the British comedy circuit at the moment, the one and only Milton Jones. Then, once that's finished you'll just have time to flick over to BBC2 for Qi at 10:00. Stephen Fry, as usual, hosts the quiz with a difference, joined by comics Jo Brand, David Mitchell, Phill Jupitus and regular panellist Alan Davies. He asks questions tonight on the subject of intelligence, and awards points for the most interesting answers. The XL edition will be shown on Saturday at 9:00.

Saturday 3 December
In the latest episode of The Killing II - 9:00 BBC4 - Lund and Strange head to Sweden, hoping to protect the last surviving member of Raben's former army squad. But their investigation is hampered by interference from senior officers and Special Branch. Meanwhile, Buch is put under pressure to go against his principles and pass stringent new anti-terrorism laws. Superior Danish crime drama, starring Sofie Gråbøl. The next episode follows immediately afterwards.

Elsewhere on Saturday night, you've got what you normally have - a choice between the two biggest shows currently on British TV. The X Factor - 8:00 ITV - sees the four remaining acts performing two songs each as they battle it out for a place in the final and the chance to win a recording contract. And then have a Christmas number one with a cover version, a sixth month wait for their next work, followed by a spectacular flop debut LP, the in-tack, and within a year they're back to stacking shelves in Tescos. Before that, however, as usual, they are hoping to gain praise from Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland, Tulisa Contostavlos and Louis Walsh, but their fate is in the hands of the public, whose votes alone decide the line-up for next week's show - which will be held in front of ten thousand numskulls at Wembley Arena. Dermot O'Dreary deals with the war of words as the judges voice their opinions after each performance. The results can be seen tomorrow at 8pm. if you can stomach it. Or, alternatively, there's Strictly Come Dancing - 7:00 BBC1. The six remaining contestants celebrate the best of the silver screen as they compete in a movie-themed special for a place in next week's semi-final. Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly get the celebrities' reactions as they leave the dance floor, before judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Alesha Dixon reveal their scores.

Sunday 4 December
The latest drama from the talented pen of yer actual Charlie Brooker is Black Mirror which opens with The National Anthem - 9:00 Channel Four. This is the first of three darkly comic horror stories about the power of technology in the Twenty First Century. The Prime Minister, Michael Callow faces a dilemma when Princess Susannah, a much-loved member of the royal family, is kidnapped, and he and his staff struggle to deal with shifting public opinion as information about the case spreads across the Internet. Written by Brooker, and starring a great cast that includes Rory Kinnear, Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan and Ideal's Tom Goodman-Hill.

In A Night with Beyoncé - 9:00 ITV - Steve Jones presents a one-off special in which the American singer performs some of her biggest hits, which include 'If I Were a Boy', 'Halo' and 'Crazy in Love', as well as songs from her latest CD 4 in front of an audience of fans. What a pity it isn't, instead, in front of an audience of the indifferent, that might be quite entertaining. I've never been a big fan of preaching to the converted. The R'n'B singer, who first rose to prominence in the late 1990s as part of the group Destiny's Child, also answers questions about her career and personal life. Sounds riveting.

As an alternative, there's Mark Zuckerberg: Inside Facebook - 9:00 BBC2. Witless pussy-haunter, faceache (and drag)Emily Maitlis explores the phenomenal success of the social networking website, including an interview with its co-creator Mark Zuckerberg. Over seven years, Facebook has gained eight hundred million users (including this blogger, as it happens! Well, I didn't want to feel left out, if we're being honest about this) and is predicted to be worth one hundred billion dollars if it is floated on the stock market next year. Witless-Maitlis explores the site's origins and its extraordinary cultural impact, and also questions Zuckerberg on why he believes there is no conflict between sharing and guarding users' personal information. Zuckerberg, hopefully, will tell her to mind her own effing business and if she's so clever why hasn't she come up with a one hundred billion quid idea. Which would be very funny.

Monday 5 December
It's all examples of the various strands of 'concerned busybody' telly tonight, I'm afraid. Starting with The Big Bread Experiment - 7:00 BBC2. This is a documentary following the efforts of volunteers trying to restore Crakehall Watermill in Bedale, North Yorkshire, which project leader and curate Cath Vickers hopes to use to make flour for a bakery. Professional artisan bakers Patrick Ryan and Duncan Glendinning are on hand to lend their expertise to the enterprise, which it is hoped will increase interaction between locals. Once a thriving farming community, most of the town's residents now commute to work and struggle to find the time to get to know their neighbours.

The Great British Property Scandal - 9:00 Channel Four - is the first of a two part investigation into why one million houses in Britain lie empty, even though the UK is enduring its worst housing crisis since the Second World War. Presenter George Clarke argues that refurbishing the properties would be a cheaper and quicker option than building new ones, thus providing suitable accommodation for the country's homeless. Clarke meets a woman and her young children who have been moved ten times in thirteen years. Part of the Great British Property Scandal season which is taking up much of Channel Four's schedule this week.

And, finally, there's this week's Panorama. And, again, it's not an episode called Everything's Going To Be All Right. What a surprise. In The Truth About Supermarket Price Wars -8:30 BBC1 - it is argued that Britain's leading supermarket chains are constantly competing for shoppers' cash with price drops, roll-backs, brand matches and two-for-one deals. Sophie Raworth explores whether these money-saving offers are all that they seem, revealing how some can lead to a nasty surprise at the checkout. Postponed from 28 November. Presumably because it was too depressing!

Tuesday 6 December
Still pulling in pretty decent audiences seven weeks into an eight week run, Death in Paradise - 9:00 BBC1 - continues. An outing to see Dwayne's favourite reggae group is cut short by the murder of the lead singer, who was not exactly popular with his mates. He regularly annoyed his fellow musicians with his pre-performance relaxation routine, which involved lying in a coffin below stage for fifteen minutes - prompting Richard and Camille to wonder whether it was enough for any of them to want him dead for real. Gentle, unassuming Caribbean crime drama, guest starring Keith Duffy, Ray Fearon and Robbie Gee.

In the latest episode of MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:00 BBC2
- the first two semi-finalists are challenged to work a shift at London's L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, famous for its French cuisine with Spanish and Japanese influences. The pair must prepare caramelised lamb sweetbreads served with a selection of nuts, blanched cabbage leaves and sauteed root vegetables, all under the watchful eye of head chef Olivier Limousin. They then face a final test in which they must use what they have learned from their Michelin experience to cook a main course and a dessert - but only one can go through to the last round of the contest.

Imagine: The Lost Music of Rajasthan - 10:35 BBC1 - sees Alan Yentob taking a road-trip around the Indian desert state of Rajasthan to examine the area's unique musical heritage, which is at risk of being forgotten as the republic's modern tastes stray away from traditional arts. The journey sees him encounter Bhopa bards who recite epic poems over the course of four nights, as well as saffron-clad sisters, cross-dressers and acrobatic gypsy dancers, all of whom help provide the region with its distinctive cultural flavour.

Or, if you fancy something utterly mindless, there's The Million Pound Drop Live - 10:00 Channel Four. Davina McCall presents the wretched quiz show in which contestants can win a million smackers. They are challenged to place large quantities of the cash over trapdoors and face a series of questions, the wrong answers to which will lose them money every time they slip up.

Wednesday 7 December
Tonight sees the final episode of Frozen Planet - 9:00 BBC1. And, it's the one that got all the publicity a few weeks ago over its international sales since it concerns climate change. David Attenborough investigates what rising temperatures will mean for people and wildlife in the polar regions, and how changes there could affect the rest of the planet. He discovers polar bears in the Arctic are going hungry as the sea ice they hunt on disappears, and accompanies scientists studying waterfalls of melt water in Greenland that are leading to a rise in global sea levels. From the Antarctic there are images of the break-up of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, which covered an area the size of Jamaica.

Nothing else on TV tonight remotely compares to that but, if you're looking to have your social conscience pricked then you might like to check out Channel Four's moderately worthwhile Phil's Empty Homes Giveaway, also at 9:00. Location, Location, Location's Phil Spencer meets some of the homeless people worst affected by the housing crisis, and finds single men are sometimes worse off due to a severe shortage of one-bedroom accommodation. He tries to persuade the owner of a property that has been empty for years to let him renovate the building and rent it to those without a place to stay before the onset of winter. Part of the Great British Property Scandal season.

In the latest episode of Alan Carr: Chatty Man - 11:30 Channel Four - the host is joined by the stars of the alleged comedy series Life's Too Short, Ricky Gervais and Warwick Davis, for another helping of the entertainment show, and Ed Sheeran performs his latest single 'Lego House.'

Thursday 8 December
Without You is a new, and rather decent looking, drama series from ITV at 9:00. Schoolteacher Ellie Manning's life is thrown into turmoil when her husband dies in a car accident - alongside a woman with whom everybody assumes he was having an affair. She cannot accept her marriage had been a sham and determines to prove his innocence. Drama, based on Nicci French's novel What To Do When Someone Dies, starring the great Anna Friel and Marc Warren.

In Lives in Limbo: Tonight - 7:30 ITV - Fiona Foster investigates whether more could be done to help families who are searching for loved ones, with some disappearing for no apparent reason and others escaping financial or relationship problems. Police investigators spend around £100million a year tracking down people who have vanished without trace and may be in danger.

The first of a two-part special, Kevin's Grand Design - 8:00 Channel Four - sees Kevin McCloud set out to realise an ambitious building project that has taken him five years to get started - the construction of forty eco-friendly properties in Swindon, Wiltshire. The presenter falls out with his architect and faces strong local opposition to his plans, but after joining forces with a Housing Association, he finally comes up with some land to get things started.

Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City - 9:00 BBC4 - is a new series in which Simon Sebag Montefiore tells the story of the city from ancient times to the present day and explores its importance in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He begins in the era of the Canaanites, when Jerusalem first came to be regarded as a sacred site, and examines the evidence that King David made it a Jewish city. He also discusses the construction of the First Temple by Solomon, the life and death of Jesus Christ, and the expulsion of the Jews by the Romans.

Friday 9 December
And so we come full circle back to Qi - 10:00 BBC2. Stephen Fry hosts, again, joined by comedians Wor Ross Noble and Dara O Briain, Top Gear's Jezza Clarkson and regular panellist Alan Davies. He asks questions on the subject of idleness.
Gardeners' World Christmas Special - 9:00 BBC2 - is a festive edition of the horticultural show. Monty Don and Rachel de Thame spruce up Longmeadow by cutting back plants and moving a holly tree that has become too big. Carol Klein, with her really desperately annoying voice, discovers some of Britain's best winter walks and Joe Swift visits an urban vineyard in Hackney, east London, to find out what varieties of grape can be grown at home. Poet Pam Ayres - someone else, like Rory Bremner, who used to be funny about thirty years ago but, now, isn't - also demonstrates how she encourages wildlife to visit her garden, before the green-fingered team reflects on the past year.

In The Nation's Favourite Bee Gees Song - 9:00 ITV - Amanda Holden narrates a countdown of the Gibb brothers' most popular compositions, as voted for by the British public. Well, some of them, anyway. Barry, Maurice and Robin have had more than sixty hits spanning five decades, including 'Massachusetts', 'I've Gotta Get A Message To You', 'How Deep Is Your Love?' and 'Stayin' Alive', and as writers they have worked with the likes of Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Celine Dion, producing chart successes 'Islands in the Stream', 'Woman in Love', 'Chain Reaction' and 'Immortality'. This one-off programme discovers the stories behind twenty of their best-loved creations - although I think it safe to say that yer actual Keith Telly Topping;'s favourite, 'I Started A Joke' won't be featured. But that some trite bollocks like 'Words' will be - and reveals which is the nation's favourite. Featuring contributions by Robin and Barry Gibb, plus celebrity fans including Elton John, Cliff Richard, Dave Grohl, Mick Hucknall and Beverley Knight.

On a slightly different musical tack there's Public Enemy: Prophets of Rage - 9:00 BBC4 - which profile's the career of the hip-hop group, whose politically charged music and confrontational image made them one of the biggest acts of the late 1980s. However, they also attracted fierce criticism from much of the mainstream media, with some commentators claiming their records promoted racial division - an allegation that became more serious when one member of the group reportedly made anti-Semitic remarks. Featuring contributions by Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff and Hank & Keith Shocklee, as well as Run-DMC, Method Man, Dave Pearce, Jurassic Five rapper Chali 2na, Anthrax's Scott Ian and writer Kevin Powell. Narrated by Ras Kwame.

And so to the telly news: The producers of Merlin have given their first hint that the series could continue past its fifth season despite previously talking of a 'five year-arc' for the fantasy drama. Merlin continues to deliver impressive ratings to BBC1 on Saturday evenings despite facing tough competition in the form of The X Factor. In fact its ratings have pretty much improved year-on-year bucking the trend of decreasing ratings for returning dramas. The fourth season of Merlin is currently broadcasting on Saturday evenings on BBC1 and a fifth season has already been commission. It will go into production early next year. Up till now the producers of Merlin have talked about having a 'five year arc' planned for the fantasy drama which always gave the impression the series would likely end after five series. In a new interview with SFX though the producers have given the strongest hint yet that the drama may well continue beyond. Johnny Capps told SFX: 'To us, it's all about whether the audience carries on enjoying it. If the audience carries on enjoying it, and we carry on enjoying making it, then we'll keep making it.' At the moment it seems very much that audiences want more Merlin and there's that movie which is, reportedly, in development but the producer says this is very much in the 'early stages.'

Carol Decker, the massive haired singer of turgid eighties rockers The T'Pau Group has responded to Gary Barlow's negative comments about her on Saturday's X Factor. With some venom. Amelia Lily performed the band's 1987 wretched, pompous, overblown ear-ache inducing anthem 'China In Your Hand' during the show, prompting Barlow to note that it was pleasant to hear the song being sung, for once, in tune. 'Gary Barlow you twat!' Decker wrote on her Twitter page. To her ... no doubt, six followers. 'And I had to suffer a Take That concert for the sake of my kids this summer,' she continued. So, he's got your money now, in other words - which among you is the richer? She then tweeted Barlow directly, asking: 'What's your fucking problem? I actually have perfect pitch.' I think his fucking problem, madame, is he doesn't like your record. It's not, actually, a crime to have that opinion, you know? Unlike 'China in Your Hands.' Which is.

Warwick Davis has described Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's new show Life's Too Short as 'a tragic comedy.' yer actual Keith Telly Topping, on the other hand, describes it as, merely, 'tragic.'

Freesat has this week announced a sponsorship deal for Charley Boorman's debut series on Channel Five, as part of the subscription-free satellite platform's new marketing drive. The deal, which represents Freesat's first ever programme sponsorship since it launched in May 2008, will see the company's branding and idents appear around Charley Boorman's Extreme Frontiers when it launches on Channel Five on 28 November at 9pm. Last week, Freesat - a joint venture between ITV and the BBC - launched a major marketing campaign promoting its 'catch-free' TV proposition in the run-up to the key Christmas shopping period. Channel Five's commercial sales director Nick Bampton said: 'Freesat has become a key player in free TV. This sponsorship is the beginning of a deeper partnership utilising Channel Five's assets to help with the growth of the Freesat platform.' Freesat's marketing and communications director Will Abbott added: 'This is an exciting development for Freesat - our first TV sponsorship. Charley Boorman's Extreme Frontiers was the perfect fit for the Freesat brand, reflecting the sense of freedom at the heart of our offer.'

A few scheduling updates on ITV Press Centre: The Cube Corrie Special will be broadcast of Christmas Eve 6-7pm, the Downton Abbey Christmas special, despite much speculation - in the Sun, so not anywhere that anybody actually knew anything about anything - that it would be up against the BBC's Strictly special will actually go out on Christmas Day between 9pm and 11pm. And, lastly, Fast Freddie, The Widow and Me has a slot on Boxing Day 9pm to 10.30pm.

England spinner Graeme Swann has told BBC Sport he would like to see one-day international cricket scrapped. 'I think one-day cricket will have to give at some point, hopefully for everyone,' he said. 'I don't think that game should carry on for much longer. For me it's not as enjoyable to play in. I think Test cricket and Twenty20 are the way forward for cricket.' Swann, thirty two, said that the recent postponement of the World Test Championship was 'disturbing' and 'short-sighted.' A key member of England's side in all three formats of the game, Swann was top of the one-day bowling rankings as recently as October before slipping to third. He has taken ninety wickets in sixty four one-day internationals at an impressive average of 25.43. But he cut a frustrated figure for much of the recent five-nil defeat in India in which he took just two wickets in four matches and was surprisingly left out for the game in Mumbai. Swann said he has no imminent plans to quit one-day cricket but believes abandoning the format would help reduce overcrowding in the international calendar. 'We do play too much cricket and if something had to give my choice would be fifty-over cricket, or make it forty-over cricket or something,' added Swann, who captained England in their last three Twenty20 internationals. 'But that's a purely personal choice. I don't think many people agree with me. I think I will finish [playing] before any changes take place so I will carry on playing whatever they put in front of me.' Swann's calls are unlikely to be heeded because one-day cricket remains such a lucrative form of the game, especially in the subcontinent. Last week, the International Cricket Council called off the inaugural World Test Championship - due to be staged in England in 2013 - in favour of the fifty-over Champions Trophy after pressure from its broadcast partner ESPN Star Sports. 'This is frustrating because being English we rate Test cricket above and beyond anything else, and certainly the Champions Trophy,' said Swann. '[Abandoning the Test Championship] is a bit disturbing and short-sighted in my view but I'm not the powers that be.'

The Scum of Humanity were held by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved Magpies in a pulsating match at Old Trafford on Saturday. Javier Hernandez gave United an early second-half lead after Wayne Rooney's volley ricocheted off Steven Taylor before then hitting the Mexican and trickling in. Newcastle drew level from a disputed penalty after Rio Ferdinand was adjudged to have fouled Hatem Ben Arfa with Demba Ba scoring from the spot-kick. Jonas Gutierrez was then sent off for a second bookable offence, Tim Krul made a string of great saves, Ashley Young hit the post, but the Magpies held on. The draw leaves the champions four points behind rivals Manchester City, who travel to Liverpool on Sunday. Newcastle fully deserved a point from a tremendous game after defending stoutly throughout. They were unlucky to go behind in the first place, but with Steven Taylor in particular outstanding in defence, they repulsed everything the home side threw at them afterwards, even when down to ten men for the last fifteen minutes. That Newcastle left Old Trafford with a point also had much to do with Krul's superb goalkeeping performance and the visitors' ability to throw bodies in the way of the ball in a frantic period after Gutierrez's dismissal. Krul somehow got his body in the way of Nemanja Vidic's fierce header while Danny Simpson typified Newcastle's resilience when he cleared a Hernandez effort off the line. At times in that thrilling conclusion, Krul's goal seemed to be protected by a brick wall keeping the ball out of his net as Ashley Young rattled the post with a shot, while a last-gasp Hernandez goal was ruled out after the Mexican strayed offside when he poked home Ryan Giggs's cross. In the opening half Alan Pardew's side had looked to attack at every opportunity with Ben Arfa and Gabriel Obertan effective in creating chances with their vision and touch - both from the centre of the pitch as well as the flanks. Ben Arfa produced the cutest of passes with the outside of his foot to scoop the ball over the United defence to Ba, whose volley tested David de Gea. A cross from Obertan, who was arguably the visitors most effective player in that first half, created Newcastle's best chance, but Ryan Taylor miscued with his volley. However, that Newcastle went in at the break level was primarily to do with Krul's reactions. Early on he saved twice from Hernandez before the Dutch international flung himself to his right to produce a fingertip save from the deftest of flicks from Giggs. Just before the break Newcastle were handed a reprieve when Hernandez miscued with a shot when he probably should have scored. Strangely prior to Saturday, Hernandez had not scored at Old Trafford this season, and he knew little about the goal that ended that run on forty nine minutes. Steven Taylor had fouled Hernandez to win a free-kick just outside the box and although the Newcastle wall blocked Rooney's set-piece shot the England striker was quickly onto the rebound. Rooney's volley went deep into the Newcastle area before ricocheting off Taylor and then off Hernandez into the net. It was a desperately unlucky way to go behind, but the visitors were soon to profit from a contentious penalty that was awarded when Ben Arfa went down after a Ferdinand tackle. Television replays appeared to show the United defender had won the ball reasonably cleanly but the referee, Mike Jones, after consultation with his assistant awarded the penalty. Ba coolly slotted in as De Gea went the wrong way. The Manchester United goalkeeper produced a wonderful save to parry a Fabrizio Coloccini effort, but once Gutierrez had been dismissed Newcastle had only the manpower to concentrate on defending their goal. There were still plenty more heroics to come though, and former Manchester United man Simpson topped them all with the most staggering of goal-line clearances, before Hernandez had his late strike ruled out for offside.

Wretched nasty faceache, horrorshow (and drag) Ann Widdecombe has renewed her complaint that she was 'deliberately' snubbed by David Cameron for a peerage. The vile and odious Widdecombe told the BBC as she was an 'obvious candidate' for a seat in the House of Lords - and so modest, as well - it was clear the PM had decided to 'exclude' her. Well, it could just be that, along with most of the rest of the country, he just doesn't like you, you very silly woman. In which case it would be just about the only thing in his entire life that the prime minister has got right.

An Iowa college student has turned himself in after breaking into a local McDonald's restaurant. Whitley Allen Teslow surrendered to police in Cedar Falls this week when a local news programme featured security footage of a man illegally entering the fast food chain. While there, twenty one-year-old Teslow is said to have turned on the grill and prepared himself a hamburger as well as using the deep fryer to make french fries. He then left the premises with a soft drink. No cash was stolen from the establishment. However, Teslow has been charged with, if you will, hamburglary, criminal mischief and theft, according to the Des Moines Register. The McDonald's which Teslow broke into is reportedly located only blocks from a police station, as well as another McDonald's which is open for twenty four hours. Speaking to local news station KWWL, Teslow apologised for his actions, claiming that he was 'not in his right mind' and did not remember much from the incident. 'It's not who I am to do something like that. I've never been in trouble with the law before. It's pretty hard for me to be able to swallow.' Yeah, this blogger gets that when he eats a McDonald's quite often, mate. A tasty beverage usually takes the worst of it away. 'I just hope they understand that it was a kid making a dumb mistake,' Teslow said. 'If the charges stand and everything like that, it's going to kind of screw up my profession and my life plan.' If convicted, Teslow could face up to five years in prison and a minimum seven hundred and fifty dollar fine.

Alleged 'entertainer' Michael Barrymore has been charged with possession of cocaine and being drunk and disorderly following a car crash, according to police. Barrymore, fifty nine, was held in the early hours of Tuesday morning after a Citroen DS3 hit a kerb at Acton. Barrymore, who was arrested with another man, is due to appear at Ealing Magistrates' Court on 7 December. Born Michael Parker, Barrymore was held after officers on routine patrol discovered the crash scene.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a little trash masterpiece from the late Lux Interior, Poison Ivy Rorschach, Nick Knox and Candy Del Mar, live on The Tube.

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