Monday, February 28, 2011

Goodbye Is Too Good A Word, Babe, So I'll Just Say Fare-Thee-Well

BBC1 will broadcast a six-minute Doctor Who sketch for this year's Red Nose Day, according to yesterday's News Of The World. The newspaper claims that: 'Doctor Who will see two Amy Ponds turn up in a sketch for Comic Relief.' Red Nose Day 2011 takes place on Friday 18 March. The charity helps to transform the lives of poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged people across the UK and Africa. The Doctor Who production team has previously made specially-filmed mini-episodes for BBC1's Children In Need in 2005, featuring David Tennant and Billie Piper, and 2007, the fabulous Time Crash featuring David Tennant and Peter Davison as well as a comical sketch for this year's National Television Awards event.

Yer Keith Telly Topping is not, by nature, a prejudiced man, dear blog reader. No, Honestly, he's not. But there are undeniably some things in this life that really grates his cheese and snobbery is one of them. That's one of the reasons why he was so surprised by some comments attributed to one of his favourite TV writers, Andrew Davies, which this blog reported the other day. 'Viewers want to see "intelligent drama" on BBC1 and ITV,' Andrew told the Torygraph. Do they really, Andrew? And, you've ask all of them, have you? I mean, let's be fair here, 'intelligent drama' is not something that yer Keith Telly Topping, necessarily, wouldn't like to see a very great deal of on British TV. But, I like to watch other stuff as well and the comment did, immediately, raise a question. Who the hell does Andrew Davies think he is implying to a national newspaper that he's the sole spokesperson for about fifty million TV viewers. Yer Keith Telly Topping knows, for a Goddamn fact, that Andrew didn't ask him for his opinion on this matter. And, as a reasonably intelligent forty seven year old man, even if he does say so himself, he'd like to think that he can - if required - make his own public pronouncements on what he want to see from television and what he doesn't. Without any help from Andrew Davies thank you very much. See, here's the problem: There's a certain, very unwelcome, snobbery around the TV industry. People in TV sometimes make the most ridiculous pronouncements about the art-form that they're a part of when, in reality, most of the 'normal' people watching television - in all probability - want something from it that's vaguely more interesting than the Test Card to watch between getting in from work and going to bed and nothing more. Something a bit thought-provoking every now and then would be nice, but we also want to be entertained, not just lectured at. The recent accusations of MasterChef having been 'dumbed down' are yet another example - as though previous series of MasterChef have been some kind of last word in intellectualised TV perfection watched only by a discerning intelligentsia. It's a cookery show, for Christ's sake - a damned entertaining one, as it happens, but it was never The Ascent of Man and nor did it need to be! You're wondering if there's a point to all of this ranting, I'm sure, and yes, there is. That advert for the new 'quality' newspaper - i - really gets right on yer actual Keith Telly Topping's tit-end! That's the point! I'm sure you've seen it and, if you haven't, here it is. It features lots of a bright young media people who drink lattes on Islington high street and work in public relations - effing Guardian readers, basically - wittering on and on about what a 'rilly great' thing this is and how it's, like, a significant moment in the history of Western Civilisation. I mean, that's bad enough - it's a ruddy newspaper not The Second Coming - but it gets worse as the thoroughly nauseating pretentious full-of-itself advert progresses. For a start, you've got Dom Joly, a man whom I think is quite funny in small doses, telling us that i doesn't feature any of that, and I quote, 'celeb gossip nonsense.' Followed by a plumy-voice over informing us that it, instead, includes 'just intelligent stuff.' So, even an advert that's unremittingly full-of-itself revelling in its own inherent intellectual snobbery of the great unwashed still can't resist a bit of dumbing down of its own by using the horrible Twenty First Century media buzzwords 'celeb' and 'stuff.' Not, you'll note, 'this newspaper is full of thoughtful articles and incisive critique, with an editorial stance that allows the readers what we hope is a balanced view of the world.' No, it's just 'full of stuff.' Because, God help i if they actually included any words longer than two syllables for fear that 'common people' wouldn't understand them. Snobs come in all shapes and sizes, dear blog reader. Yer Keith Telly Topping himself is one of them about certain things and he's bloody well proud of it too. One thing he is not snobbish about, however, is the media. Because that's something which no one working within it - even on the periphery like myself - has any right to feel remotely snobbish about.

And, speaking of rank snobbery, Matthew Fox has confirmed that he has no plans to return to television. The former Lost actor, who is preparing to appear in the West End play In A Forest, Dark And Deep, explained that television series 'take up too much of his time.' Pity for him. 'This has nothing to do with any kind of snobbery,' he unconvincingly told the Torygraph, even though it probably does. 'I think some of the best writing is on television. It's because of the time commitment, how much it restricts my ability to spend time with my family, and do things that I love to do. Having a studio tell you when to jump and how high eight months of the year for six years is not a relationship I want to get into again.' Yeah, yeah, pull the other one matey. The history of the last decade is simply littered with bright young things who had a couple of hit TV series, thought they were IT to the point that their swollen head wouldn't fit through the door of their trailer any more, and so left it all behind for the promise a glittering movie career. Only, a few years on, to find themselves back where they started, except that bit older. I've got three words for you Matthew Fox, three words which you would do very well to study and reflect upon. Sarah. Michelle. Gellar.

The latest insider news from the set of Ideal in Manchester, now. From The North's own (borrowed) 'insider', the legend that is yer actual Alfie Joey, informed his Facebook followers on Sunday that - stop the press! - 'Pizza Express don't do Calzone! Eh? That's like going to a chippy and them saying "We do most fish just not cod or haddock."' Yer Keith Telly Topping was forced to suggest to his sometime writing partner that he could always simply buy a normal one and then 'fold it over yourself, y'lazy git!' Dear, dear, how this young lad ever expects to complete an all-singing, all-dancing piece of top quality musical theatre with yer Keith Telly Topping and the great Mark Deeks, to be called Monopolise and making its debut at the Liverpool comedy festival at the end of April, with that sort of slovenly attitude is, I'm sorry to say, somewhat beyond me. To some, they were unlikely TV stars, but The Hairy Bikers' popularity has led to the BBC signing them up for an exclusive two-year deal. Following the success of programmes such as The Hairy Bikers' Cook Off and Hairy Bikers: Mums Knows Best, David Myers and Wor Simon King will form what the BBC said was 'a key part' of BBC2's cookery output. As part of the deal they will make two new shows, Hairy Meals on Wheels and Bakeation. In Meals on Wheels they will show a new side to their standard TV act by exploring the issue of local council food provision to those on benefits. Their mission will be to 'reignite the Dunkirk spirit in order to get meals back on their wheels,' according to the BBC. Err ... you do realise that we lost Dunkirk, don't you chaps? Bakeation, meanwhile, sees the pair taking a two thousand-mile gastronomic road trip across Europe as the bikers seek out the best baking on offer. King and Myers said: 'We're chuffed to bits to be working with the BBC again in this amazing two-year deal. We can't wait to get on the road making some brilliant shows we hope everyone will enjoy.' I'm assuming that they didn't say it together, simultaneously, like they're some kind of Jedward-style gestalt entity, of course. Because that would just be wrong on so many level. The BBC2 controller, Janice Hadlow, added: 'It's been brilliant to see the Hairy Bikers evolve on the channel over the last few years to the point where I can't imagine our cookery offer without them.' Alison Kirkham, BBC factual, features and formats commissioning editor added: 'The Hairies are such distinctive and well-loved faces on BBC2; we are looking forward to developing new programmes with them over the next two years.'

Smug, full-of-himself Mirra TV critic Kevin O'Sullivan continues the recent press avalanche of negative reviews for the new series of MasterChef. No surprise there. However his piece includes the following bit of quite Stalinist-like rewriting of history: 'After half-a-million appalled viewers deserted last week’s laughable auditions, Torode and his partner in culinary crime Gregg Wallace continue to rack up the contrived drama.' Not a single mention of the fact that, the next episode saw just about all of those half-a-million 'deserters' back, and that the vast majority of them hung around for episode four as well, of course. Because that wouldn't be a story, would it? Sullivan, as longer-term readers of this blog may remember, is something of a total cheb at the best of times. As this story from 2008 demonstrates. But, it's nice to know that - as with various colleagues around the media - he's also got the habit of using statistics in ways which suit him and ignoring them when they don't. Colonel Gaddafi would be well-proud of you, Kev!

In the least-surprising story of the year so far, The King's Speech has been crowned best picture at the Oscars, with Colin Firth named best actor. Tom Hooper was named best director for the film, which also won for best original screenplay at the ceremony and with which the American public is currently having a rather torrid love affair. Not undeservedly either, but I do tend to wonder if it'd been The Sheet Metal Worker From Gateshead's Speech whether it would have found quite the same audience! Its best picture rival, The Social Network, won three awards, for adapted screenplay, film editing and score. Natalie Portman won best actress for Black Swan. Christian Bale and Melissa Leo won supporting acting awards for boxing drama The Fighter. Firth, who had been firm favourite to win for his portrayal of King George VI, joked: 'I have a feeling my career's just peaked.' Well, yeah, Col. It's all downhill from here! The success of The King's Speech denied director David Fincher and his film The Social Network, the story of the creation of Facebook that was considered its closest rival at the ceremony in Los Angeles' Kodak Theatre. Paying tribute to his film's stars, Hooper said: 'Thank you to my wonderful actors, the triangle of man-love which is Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and me. I'm only here because of you guys.' Screenwriter David Seidler thanked the Queen for 'not putting me in the Tower of London' for the swearing that featured in his Oscar-winning script. The King's Speech had led the nominations, competing in twelve categories, ahead of the ten nominations for True Grit - from which the Coen brothers' Western, sadly, won nothing. There had been eight nominations each for Inception and The Social Network, the adapted screenplay for the latter winning an Oscar for The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin. Portman had been the favourite for the best actress prize for her performance as a disturbed ballet dancer in Black Swan. 'This is insane, and I truly, sincerely wish that the prize tonight was to get to work with my fellow nominees - I'm so in awe of you,' said the former Queen of Naboo. Among the women she beat to the Oscar was The Kids Are All Right actress Annette Bening, who has now been nominated four times without success. Look on the bright side, Annette - it took Paul Newman seven goes before he got one. And, even then, it was probably a sympathy vote for a not-particularly-distinguished movie! After being named best actress in a supporting role, Leo said: 'I know there have been a lot of people saying some real, real nice things to me for several months now, but I am just shaking in my boots here.' Her triumph denied Briton Helena Bonham Carter, nominated for her role as Queen Elizabeth, the future Queen Mother in The King's Speech, as well as The Fighter cast-mate Amy Adams. Leo had to be bleeped by broadcasters when she swore during her acceptance speech and later apologised, saying it had been 'very inappropriate.' During his speech, Bale joked: 'I'm not going to drop the F-bomb like she did.' The Welsh-born actor said: 'What a room full of talented, inspirational people - and what am I doing in the midst of you?' He also paid tribute to his wife, whom he described as 'my mast through the storms of life.' SF spectacular Inception won four technical awards, for cinematography, visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing, while there were two for Alice in Wonderland, for art direction and costume design. The best make-up prize went to The Wolfman. Danish film In a Better World collected the best foreign language film prize. The best animated feature award went to Toy Story 3, which also picked up the best original song Oscar for 'We Belong Together.' The Lost Thing was named best animated short film. The best documentary feature Academy Award went to Inside Job, an examination of the recent global financial crisis. After collecting his award, director Charles Ferguson said: 'Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail - and that's wrong.' The documentary short film prize went to Strangers No More, and the live action short honour to God of Love. James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted the eighty third Academy Awards and joked about the organisers' plans for a more youthful feel to this year's ceremony. 'You look very appealing to a younger demographic,' Hathaway told her co-host.

Emily Watson has defended ITV's upcoming drama Appropriate Adult. This focuses on the period between the arrest of serial killer Fred West and his subsequent suicide. Watson, who plays the social worker Janet Leach, has now told the Daily Torygraph that the drama is 'not nasty. It is really about the investigation and the interviews,' she said. 'It's only indirectly about what happened.' She added: 'It's handled very sensitively.' Watson's co-star Dominic West, who will play the killer, recently admitted that he found his research for the show 'disturbing.'

Bishaash, a twenty four-part drama made by the BBC World Service Trust for audiences in Bangladesh, will be broadcast in the UK for the first time on Asian channel Zee TV. The drama has been given for free to Zee TV by the World Service Trust, a charitable organisation that produces content with financial help from donors including the Department for International Development as well as charitable trusts such as the Gates Foundation. It will begin broadcasting in March. Billed as south Asia's first supernatural detective series, Bishaash follows the journey of Zara, a young British-Bangladeshi woman who moves from London to Bangladesh after discovering she is the co-owner of an antique shop in Dhaka. Here, she encounters supernatural investigator Abir and his world of mystery, magic and adventure. Bishaash, featuring dialogue in Bengali and English, has already been shown to great acclaim in Bangladesh, where it regularly attracted audiences of around fourteen million viewers per episode, according to the World Service Trust. The drama also has a partner programme, BBC Janala: Mojay Mojay Shekha, which will also be aired on Zee TV. The educational game show builds on the English used in the drama in order to help teach the language. Both programmes are part of English in Action, an initiative launched by DfID to support the economic development of Bangladesh by raising the English-language skills of twenty five million people across the country. The BBC World Service Trust's Asia director, Caroline Howie, said: 'For many British Bangladeshis the desire and need to learn English is strong, even today. This new partnership will provide an opportunity for people with low English skills to share in the unique learning experience provided by the shows.'

The Broadcasting Press Guild have announced the nominations for their thirty seventh Annual Award Ceremony as mentioned in a previous blog. This year, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) has been nominated for the Writer's Award for both his work on Doctor Who and alongside Mark Gatiss and Steve Thompson for Sherlock. Other nominees for this award are Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine and Joanna Scanlan for Getting On, and Lord Snotty Julian Fellowes for Downton Abbey. The winners will be announced at the BPG Awards lunch on 25 March at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

A ban on product placement has been lifted, allowing advertisers to pay for their goods to be seen on British TV. Paid-for references to products and services are now permitted for the first time in shows produced in the UK, including soaps and one-off dramas. The first product, Nestlé's Dolce Gusto, has appeared on This Morning on Monday. The Church of England and doctors' leaders have opposed the move, saying it could damage trust in broadcasters and promote unhealthy lifestyles. Under Ofcom regulations, broadcasters must inform viewers by displaying the letter P for three seconds at the start and end of any programme which contains product placement. The telecoms regulator has said any placement must be editorially justified and not unduly prominent. It will not be allowed in news, current affairs or children's programmes - or for alcoholic drinks and foods high in salt, sugar and fat. And it will continue to be banned for BBC shows. In the United States, advertisers such as Coca-Cola and Apple pay millions of dollars to place their products in films and TV programmes. When the European Union lifted its ban on such payments, there was heated debate over whether it should be allowed in productions made in the UK. Commercial broadcasters and independent producers argued it would help to pay for programmes. The last Labour government eventually gave the go-ahead, but only after setting out strict limitations.

Pregnant Holly Willoughby missed Monday's edition of This Morning, after pulling out of the previous evening's Twatting About On Ice on doctor's orders. Big fat cuddly Coleen Nolan stepped in at as a last minute as a replacement. Co-presenter Philip Schofield said on Sunday on his Twitter account: 'So! @hollywills is suffering from migraines and has been advised by her doctor to rest. Coleen will present DOI with me tonight. Get well soon, Holly.' Willoughby's spokesman said: 'She's absolutely fine but suffered from a nasty migraine this weekend. Her doctor advised her to rest properly and she'll be back at Twatting About On Ice next week.' On Monday, Willoughby was said to be 'still too unwell' to resume presenting duties, and was replaced on that day's edition of This Morning by Ruth Langsford. But her spokesman quickly reassured fans, telling the Metro: 'Holly is fine and is just resting at home. She is hoping to be back at work tomorrow.'

Howard Overman, writer and creator of E4's Misfits, will take part in a BAFTA question and answer event next month. As he prepares to shoot series three of the BAFTA award-winning show, Overman will reveal where his ideas for Misfits came from, how it's written and perhaps hint at where it's going in 2011. Illustrated with clips, the Q&A will be led by Kate Leys. The event takes places at 6.30pm on Monday 28 March, at Nottingham's Broadway Cinema. It will last approximately ninety minutes.

A second series of Sky1's action drama Strike Back has begun filming. Conceived from the novels by ex-SAS soldier Chris Ryan, a first series was broadcast in May 2010, featured a cunning mixture of 'stuff blowing up' and 'tool-stiffening violence' and starred Richard Armitage, Andrew Lincoln, Orla Brady, Shelley Conn and Colin Salmon. Jointly commissioned by Sky and HBO/Cinemax, Strike Back will increase its run from six to ten episodes for series two, with the first six episodes filmed on location across South Africa before the production moves to Hungary in the early summer. Elaine Pyke, Sky's Head of Drama, said: 'We look forward to series twobeing even bigger and better.' Andy Harries, Executive Producer for Left Bank Pictures commented: 'Strike Back was conceived as a high octane action adventure with the scale and impact of a US series and to have HBO/Cinemax on board will turn this ambition into reality.' The second series will feature 'original storylines that run across globe-spanning settings as a former US Special Forces operative teams up with Section Twenty to stop an international terrorist group.' Two new characters will be introduced, played by American actor Philip Winchester and Australian Sullivan Stapleton.

Element TV and a Scottish consortium have become the latest bidders to express an interest in taking on cthe lack of ulture secretary the vile and odious Hunt's new national TV channel for delivering local content to major British cities. The Element TV management team comprises of veterans of the TV, technology and investment industries, including senior experience at Sail TV,, City Channel Ireland, Chellozone, Chello Central Europe, Channel M, Channel Six (Ireland), TV3 (Ireland) and the Guardian Media Group. Oh, God. The thought of a Guardian TV channel is just too horrible to contemple. You can imagine, for instance, their award-winning comedy improv show Whose Frappuccino Is This Anyway? Or, their gritty new urban soap IslingtonEnders. Speaking about the bid, Element TV founder and chief executive Jamie Conway said that there is 'a commercially viable' future for local TV in Britain, but only if people think differently. Creating pan-national networks that opt out to short bursts of local programming provides nothing new and merely pays lip service to the concept of local broadcasting,' he said. 'Solutions and opportunities to let local businesses advertise to their local areas is as essential in creating a relevance to viewers as local programming is.' Caroline Bailes, head of 'corporate development and intelligence' at the GMG, has been appointed Element TV's director of finance and strategy. But, just before we go on, can we have a look of that job title again? There's a head of 'intelligence' at the Gruniad? Does she have 'vayz of making you tok' one wonders? Bailes was recently involved in putting together the business plan for Channel M, the local TV channel serving Manchester. She said: 'The Channel M project proved beyond doubt that there is a healthy appetite for local TV in this country from both viewers and advertisers. The network model that we propose will allow local channels to flourish in a way that was previously impossible. The future really is bright for local TV.' Last year, Element TV met with Nicholas Shott's independent television panel, which submitted an investigation report to the vile and odious Hunt in December, along with media regulator Ofcom and the vile and odious Hunt's Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The vile and odious Hunt wants bidders to submit proposals by tomorrow for providing the channel on Freeview, which would have a national schedule but enable local operators to 'opt out' in certain areas to deliver local shows and adverts. Element TV said that its 'exhaustive research' into both audience and local business demands has produced a sustainable model for local TV. Alongside the TV channel, Element would also focus on the delivery of content across mobile, IPTV and video on-demand platforms. It has already formed strategic partnerships with technology companies in those areas. The vile and odious Hunt believes that local TV is commercially viable in between ten to twelve major cities, but Element claims to have 'developed the ability to provide support and broadcast solutions that will allow towns and villages to launch their own TV services in ways that could never have been considered before. Providing on-the-hour local news, events, sport and weather is something that has never really been considered before' said Conway. 'A thirty-minute evening news bulletin covering thousands of square miles was fine for the 1950s, but people today want information that is relevant to them and they want it regularly. We propose to make sure that viewers are never more than thirty minutes away from a local bulletin of news, weather, sport and local information throughout the day.' David McCormack, Element TV head of operations, added: 'The technological advancements of the past two years alone means that getting pictures onto people’s screens is cheaper than ever without any loss of quality or production values. We're proposing to let channels flourish in smaller areas by letting them focus on content creation and we'll take care of all the backhaul and broadcasting issues that would ordinarily destroy their balance sheets.' Also vying for the local TV channel is a consortium of Scottish campaigners hoping to create a new network covering the whole of Scotland. The group, led by Institute of Local TV campaigner David Rushton, wants to establish eight main local stations in Scotland, catering for audiences ranging from one hundred and forty thousand people in Perth & Kinross to three quarters of a million in Glasgow & Clyde. A further six local stations would cover the Highlands and Islands running from the Shetlands to the Western Isles, producing local news and other programming. The strategy would dovetail with plans already put forward for the creation of a new Scotland-wide digital channel to operate outside of the BBC and STV. Element TV and the Scottish Network join former ITV News editor Nigel Dacre and Welsh independent production company Tinopolis in expressing an interest in the channel, along with Richard Horwood's Channel Six group and the Local Television Network, led by Greg Dyke.

Bob Dylan's former girlfriend Suze Rotolo, the inspiration for some of the singer's best love songs, has died at the age of sixty seven. Rotolo also appeared with Dylan on the iconic cover of his 1963 breakthrough LP The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. She inspired such songs as 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right', 'Boots of Spanish Leather' and 'Tomorrow Is a Long Time.' And, their break-up was behind several of the songs on 1964's Another Side of Bob Dylan, most notably 'It Ain't Me Babe' and the bitter 'Ballad in Plain D.' Her friend and Village Voice critic Jim Hoberman wrote that she died in her New York apartment 'and the arms of her husband of forty years, Enzo Bartoccioli.' Dylan met Rotolo, then aged seventeen, after a gig in 1961 and the couple stayed together for the next three years enjoying a sometimes tempestuous relationship that included several periods apart. Dylan later wrote that meeting her 'was like stepping into the tales of 1,001 Arabian Nights,' adding: 'She had a smile that could light up a street full of people. A Rodin sculpture come to life.' Rotolo, who worked in a variety of roles in the civil rights movement and whose political views were widely regarded as having triggered Dylan's own topical songwriting, went on to become an artist and teacher. She also wrote a very affectionate and amusing memoir of life in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, A Freewheelin' Time, which was published in 2008 and appeared in Martin Scorsese's 2005 Dylan documtnary No Direction Home. She is survived by her husband, Enzo and son, Luca.

Reports that England defender Ashley Cole - yes, Cheryl's ex-bloke - shot a man at Moscow Chelski's training ground in Surrey are to be investigated, police have said. The News of the World reported on Sunday that a twenty one-year-old man had been hit by a lead pellet fired from an air rifle belonging to Cole. Chelski issued a statement saying that the matter had been investigated and 'appropriate action' is being taken. Surrey Police said no allegation had been made but they will contact the club to see if an offence had occurred. According to reports (see left), Tom Cowan - a sports sciences student who is on a work placement with Chelsea - was treated by the club's medical staff at the training facility in Cobham and did not require hospital treatment. A spokesman for Surrey Police said: 'We can confirm that while no direct allegation has been made. The matter has been brought to our attention through reports in the media and we will be contacting the club in due course to establish whether any criminal offence has been committed.' The statement from the club said: 'We have fully investigated the incident and we are taking appropriate action. We will not be commenting further as it is an internal matter.' Cole, recently became the most capped full-back in English history and was named the England squad's player of the year in 2010 despite the fact that for much of his career he was seen by many in the game as a nasty little cheat who often feigned injury to get fellow professionals sent off.

Occasionally, this blog gets vistors who've arrived through the most curious of routes. This weekend, for instance, a From The North piece from last October which included a review of the Armonstrong & Miller Show episode featuring A-ha's Morten Harket was, seemingly, viewed by someone who'd arrived via a Google search for 'spanking morten harket bare botom' [sic]. Sorry, mate. Not my particular bag, that one. But, I'm sure there will be a specialsit website out there, somewhere. Good luck with your search, my friend.

And, so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Well, in honour of yesterday's stunning cricket match between England and India it was going to be this. Queue the trumpets.But, on further reflection, and in tribute to the late Suze Rotolo, I suppose I'd really better make it this one instead. (Yes, I know it's the Johnny Cash version, but you try finding a version of it by Bob on You Tube, dear blog reader! Be fair, I could've gone for the Elvis version! Or, the Chet Atkins version for that matter.)Seems fitting, really.

Jump On Board, Take A Ride, Yeah!

[spooks]'s Peter Firth has spoken about the popular BBC1 espionage drama's upcoming tenth series, noting that 'the bar’s quite high, but we can jump.' Interviewed to promote next week's series nine DVD release, Firth commented: 'We start [filming] very soon and that will air in the Autumn of this year, probably early October. And I can tell you ... virtually nothing! It's always been the case that the producers have kept their cards very close to their chest, so they're not really including me as yet in what the storyline's going to be.' He continued: 'The show's improved year-on-year, culminating in last year which is widely perceived as the best year series that we've done.' Asked about possible plots for series ten, Firth joked: 'We've run out of storylines, that's the truth! We've covered every radical group in the world, virtually.' He added: 'We have a gifted and talented team of writers who have the ability to look at what might happen and then narrow that down to what will probably happen and then dramatise that. Frequently over the years we've been spot on with that and that's given us some kind of kudos that most programmes don't have.'

Was yer Keith Telly Topping out of his tiny mind on drugs (chance'd be a fine thing, frankly) or did the BBC's Sunday night staple Countryfile really use Peter Hook's opening bass-riff from Joy Division's 'Transmission' as background music during a report about the sixtieth anniversary of The Archers? Isn't television odd, dear blog reader?

On Saturday 26 February, the overnight ratings for BBC1 was ahead of ITV for the entire day - with the exception of the fifteen minutes between 00:10 and 00:25! Among the BBC's big successes were Six Nations Rugby Union: England v France, watched by 7.32m viewers (with a peak of 9.56m at 18:40), Let's Dance for Comic Relief - 7.36m, The National Lottery: Secret Fortune - 5.93m, Casualty - 5.78m, BBC News - 5.22m and Match of the Day - 4.01m. On ITV Harry Hill's TV Burp could only manage 4.08m (with a further two hundred and twenty thousand viewers on ITV+1), Ant & Dec's Push the Button continued its thoroughly unimpressive second series with just a fraction over four million whilst the commercial broadcaster's highlight of the night was the mere 4.44m achieved by Take Me Out. Just for a bit of necessary context, that's the lowest rating for a new episode of TV Burp since 2008, I believe. It must have been something of a shock to ITV that a number of their biggest potential audience grabbers - Ant and Dec and Harry Hill - got such a spanking off Steve Jones, Alex Jones, Nick Knowles and a fifteen muddy men chucking an egg-shaped ball around.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite line from Sunday's series finale of Top Gear - When Prezza Met Jezza! - dear blog reader? Why, it just had to be Jeremy noting 'speed limits are like Herpes. Once you've got them, you'll never get rid of them!' The new series, according to Mr Clarkson, returns in June. The Gruniad Morning Star's whinging about some aspect of it or other will resume one day subsequently.

Director Paul McGuigan has confirmed that he will be working on the second series of the BBC's Sherlock, which begins filming later in the Spring. McGuigan directed last year's acclaimed episodes A Study In Pink and The Great Game and, more recently, has directed the opening part of ITV's new medical drama series Monroe. Writing on Twitter, he revealed: 'I'm only doing two episodes of Sherlock - the same as the last time. It's impossible to do all three even though I would love to!' Earlier this month, the show's co-creator and writer Mark Gatiss tweeted: 'For those kindly asking, we start shooting the new series of Sherlock in May and will be back on TV in the Autumn.' Sherlock was recommissioned last August, with Gatiss and Steven Moffat teasing: 'There'll be baffling new puzzles, old friends and new enemies - whether on two or four legs. And we might well be seeing the cold master of logic and reason unexpectedly falling. But in love? Or over a precipice? Who can tell?' So, that's Hound of the Bakservilles, A Scandal in Bohemia and The Final Problem, then?! Next ...

Ministers are determined to ensure that the BBC reveals which presenters are paid the most amid growing quite disgraceful Tory scum 'dismay' at the delay in releasing salary bands showing much it pays its talent according to a particularly spiteful and ignorant piece of invective in the Sunday Torygraph. BBC executives were first told to publish the earnings 'of top names such as Anne Robinson and Jeremy Paxman in June last year,' when Sir Michael Lyons, the chairman of the Trust, said it needed to be more transparent. However, the Torygraph says that it has 'learnt' (how many times? It's 'learned', gentlemen. Didn't any of you go to school?) that 'senior figures' at the corporation are determined not to be bounced into releasing the details of individuals’ pay and the BBC has admitted it has serious reservations over the move. Their stance is likely to be one of the first areas of conflict with Lord Patten, the 'preferred candidate' for BBC Trust chairman whom the Government hope will be a nice little lap-dog for them and will be 'more robust' in 'holding BBC bosses to account.' See what I mean. Scum. A 'senior Government source' told the Torygraph that Patten and the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious Hunt, would 'press for full transparency over stars' pay.' They can press all they like but I trust that the BBC will tell them to take their 'pressing' and go and stick it somewhere that'll hurt.

Doctor Who's showrunner Steven Moffat has described the actor Nicholas Courtney, who died earlier this week, as 'kind and generous and funny.' Courtney was best known for his role as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in Doctor Who, most recently playing the character in a two-part story of The Sarah Jane Adventures in December 2008. Moffat wrote on the show's official website: 'I only met Nicholas Courtney once and very briefly - but he was as kind and generous and funny as his reputation suggests.' He continued: 'And on screen, his perfectly pitched performance as the Brigadier carved a very special place in the history of Doctor Who. Not just because he could be grave and funny at the same time, and wise and silly in the same moment, and not just because you could still love him when he was clearly in the wrong, or because he could point a gun at you and still somehow twinkle - but because out of all the people the Doctor has met, in all of space and time, Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart was the only one who was ever his boss.' He added: 'Somewhere out there, the Doctor just got a little lonelier.'

Meanwhile, Sheridan Smith is reportedly 'desperate' to land a role in Doctor Who. The Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Jonathan Creek actress admits that it's her 'dream' to appear alongside leading man Matt Smith in the BBC1 family drama, and fight the Daleks. She said: 'It's every actress' dream to be the new assistant - fighting the Daleks. I'd kick their arse.' Meanwhile, Matt himself has promised that the new series will feature 'one of the greatest monsters in the history' of the show. If it's Sheridan Smith in her fetish gear outfit from Grownups (see right), then I think you might just be correct in that assertion, Matthew. He told BANG Showbiz: 'I do think we've got one of the greatest monsters, especially during my tenure on the show, but I think in the history of it, it's a real cracker. We've also got some great guests stars. We've got Lily Cole, Hugh Bonneville, David Walliams, so it's really exciting.' And James Corden. Yeah. it was all looking so good up to that point! Elsewhere, the time-travelling Time Lord and his faithful chums Amy and Rory are going to be faced with some 'seismic choices' about their triangular relationship, which could rock the foundations of their friendship. Matt added: 'The Doctor and Amy are going to be faced with some really harrowing and seismic choices about who they are, and why they are important together.'

ITV is set to report on Wednesday that pre-tax profits almost tripled in 2010 thanks to a resurgent TV advertising market, with the cash-rich broadcaster expected to announce its intention to reinstate a dividend this year. Analysts forecast that ITV will report pre-tax profits of about three hundred million smackers, on the back of a sixteen per cent surge in advertising revenues thanks to shows such as Downton Abbey, The X Factor and the World Cup. It is expected to report that advertising in the first quarter of 2011 is up ten per cent. While there is an expectation that ad revenues could be up as much as twenty per cent in April, thanks to a combination of the royal wedding and Easter, ITV will warn on tougher year-on-year comparatives from May onwards. The company's strong position – net debt will have more than halved to about three hundred million quid, with forecasts that it could be wiped out altogether by the year's end, and more than seven hundred million pounds in the bank – has led to speculation over how it might use its financial muscle. Possibilities include acquiring a production company to bolster its under performing in-house production business, ITV Studios, which produces shows such as Emmerdale and Coronation Street. Possible 'big ticket' targets include Midsomer Murders maker All3Media and Big Brother company Endemol. ITV may also increase its investment in programming, with its over dependence on Simon Cowell, who is attempting to split his focus between commitments in the US and UK, said to be 'becoming an issue.' ITV's online business is expected to report revenues of twenty million wonga, two per cent of revenues, with management yet to announce a plan for the operation to achieve its target of substantially increasing digital revenues. A general improvement in the market is also thought to have significantly benefited ITV's pension deficit, which stood at four hundred and forty nine million pounds.

Sarah Parish has revealed how she got 'up close and personal' watching open heart surgery in preparation for her role as a cardiac surgeon in ITV's new medical drama Monroe. She told the ITV Press Centre: 'I know a heart surgeon in Southampton, so I called him as soon as I got the job and he invited me to come and watch a couple of operations. I figured I would be at the back of the room but I was right at the head of the patient where the anaesthetist stands.' She continued: 'It was the most awe-inspiring experience. I felt very privileged to be there watching the medical team perform an incredible job. They were so calm, I’d imagined it to be a very tense atmosphere but it’s not at all. It’s like a beautifully choreographed ballet and before you know it four hours have passed and you've been standing in the same spot the whole time.' Written and created by Peter Bowker (Occupation, Desperate Romantics, Eric & Ernie), the six-part series also stars James Nesbitt and Tom Riley. Discussing her character, Jenny Bremner, Parish admitted: 'I tend to get cast a lot as strong women and Bremner is very much the strongest of them all, there's no doubt about that! To play someone that is so supremely confident is quite refreshing.'

Since his film career fizzled out, Michael Winner has become most renowned for his 'calm down dear' advertising catchphrase. And for a thoroughly wretched series called Dining Stars he fronted for ITV last year which was a ratings fiasco. But maybe he should have taken his own advice after becoming involved in a Twitter argument with writer and TV presenter Victoria Coren. Winner apparently called Victoria 'rude beyond belief' after she dared to make a late-night phone call to him following a series of bizarre Twitter posts in Winner's name in which he discussed the fulsomeness of her breasts. Victoria says that she initially assumed Winner's Twitter account had been hijacked by an adolescent. However, the former film director, has insisted that the tweets about Coren's firm and lovely bosoms were indeed his. He has a Twitter biography which reads 'I am a totally insane film director, writer, producer, silk shirt cleaner, bad tempered, totally ridiculous example of humanity in deep shit.' Yeah. Okay. But do you have to inflict all of that on the unwary? The seventy five-year-old had begun tweeting about Only Connect presenter Victoria last on Monday and referred to her 'knockers' before upsetting her brother Giles with a reference to their late father, the humorist Alan Coren. Broadcaster and food writer Giles replied to Winner: 'Why are you badmouthing my family? Why are you insulting my dead father? And when did I "stab you in the back?"' Winner's tweets about Victoria continued over the next day, leading her to remark that she was 'tweechless with amazement' over his continued references to her fun bags. In her regular - excellent - column in the Osberver, (wittily entitled Got To Get This Off My Chest) Victoria explained that she had presumed the tweets about her cleavage were from an impostor. 'He only had six thousand followers and the tweets were so weird and misspelt, I thought they were satirical,' she added. 'The stuff about my breasts was just pitiful and silly. But he made a rude remark about my father, who isn't here anymore, and that's not okay. That's the only thing that made me really angry.' Victoria had the last word in the matter though, and applauded Winner for his willingness to take on Twitter at his age. 'Firing off twenty tweets about my breasts in ten minutes is something you'd expect from a fourteen-year-old having his first can of cider,' she remarked. 'Of course, I felt embarrassed and sad. I can bluster my way through a comedy feud, but I'm not a stripper who confidently offers her assets for appraisal. I'm a writer, with an imperfect, private body. It was embarrassing to have a thousand people sharing public opinions about my chest. Winner tweeted merrily with a fan who wrote: "That's Victoria Coren's tits sorted. Piers Morgan should be our next victim." So nasty and yet so ludicrous. A Twitter spat with Michael Winner? Who could take it seriously? I'm a grown-up girl, I've heard worse. Far worse – I've played poker with John McCririck. But what about the women who aren't pre-gruelled by years in a macho gambling underworld? How does Michael Winner treat a nervous twenty three-year-old waitress when he's showing off in The Ivy? What does he say about the daughters of his friends? And these critical men who rush to defend the principle of dirty personal remarks; how do they behave around girls who are more timid, less articulate, less battle-weary than I am? I didn't think Gray and Keys should be fired. I think free speech is all and humour is the best defence. But I do wish some people found it easier to understand what's funny and what isn't.'

Cheryl Cole will reportedly not serve as a judge on the upcoming US version of The X Factor. What a shame. According to the Daily Lies, the singer has been 'snubbed' by FOX bosses over concerns about her 'thick' Geordie accent and lack of profile stateside. Never mind, pet, ye come back yerm with us thick Geordies, we divvent care how y'taak, like. Friends close to Cole have claimed that the twenty seven-year-old will now fill 'the Sinitta role,' advising head judge and executive producer Simon Cowell in the latter stages of the competition. A 'source' allegedly said: 'Simon really wanted Cheryl on the panel with him but it's been an unwinnable battle. People just don't know who she is over there and struggle to understand what she's saying. Simon is consoling her with the offer of helping him win the first series, which would give her profile a massive boost. The fact is, she's got a decision to make.' Cole was thought to have been working with an Los Angeles voice-coach in order to quell fears about her regional twang, but the publication claims that Cowell has simply been unable to win over unconvinced network chiefs. 'Simon Cowell is still one of her biggest supporters,' the 'insider' claimed. 'But even though the X Factor is his idea, it's the executives at FOX who have the ultimate say over the make-up of the show.' They added: 'Cheryl hasn't heard or seen him since she arrived.' Oh dear. How sad. Anyway ...

Andrew Davies, who has adapted classic novels from Pride and Prejudice to Little Dorrit for the small screen, said that viewers want to see 'intelligent drama' on BBC1 and ITV. Presumably, he's asked all of them. Although, interersting, I don't remember getting that questionaire personally. 'TV audiences are getting older, which is as it should be,' said Davies in an interview with the Daily Torygraph. 'When you are eighteen to thirty, you shouldn't be sitting in on a Sunday night watching a costume drama, you should be out at clubs, picking one another up. So why shouldn't older viewers be allowed to watch what we know they like?' The opening episode of Davies's new period adaptation, of Winifred Holtby's novel South Riding, proved a hit for BBC1 last Sunday, picking up nearly seven million viewers against stiff competition from ITV's Twatting About on Ice and Wild at Heart. Davies added that 'you need money, love and conflict between the sexes for something big and popular in TV drama.' He is renowned for the sauciness of some of his adaptations, including the wet shirt scene featuring Colin Firth in his BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. He said that Downton Abbey, ITV's period drama hit from last autumn, pointed the way to more 'ambitious' TV drama projects. 'I found it very satisfying and it clearly reached a big cross-section of the audience,' said Davies. 'And while it was running, I was struck that over on the BBC there was nothing much with that sort of appeal. People in TV still think about BBC and ITV audiences as being very different, with ITV much more tabloid, but Downton Abbey went a fair way to disprove it. Hopefully they will be more ambitious again now in their commissioning.' Davies and the BBC had a public falling out in 2009 when the corporation's drama chief, Ben Stephenson, shelved two of Davies's adaptations, Charles Dickens's Dombey and Sons and Anthony Trollope's The Pallisers. Davies accused Stephenson of 'going downmarket' and only being interested in classic adaptations if they were 'popular warhorses.' Stephenson has also introduced more recent period dramas, such as Small Island, adapted from Andrea Levy's novel about Jamaican immigration to Britain in 1948. South Riding itself is set in 1934, and echoes modern Britain as it depicts fictional attempts to fight the depression. 'The 1930s is a decade not seen much on television,' said Davies. 'What I found particularly interesting about Holtby in the current climate was the bold and imaginative way she shows South Riding County Council spending its way out of recession with roads, schools and hospitals, rather as the Americans are doing right now, but the very opposite of the Coalition government.' The BBC recently announced that it had recommissioned its new version of Upstairs, Downstairs - also set in the Thirties - for a six-episode run next year. Actually, I dunno if you know this, dear blog reader, but there is, in fact a very big 1930s revival going on all over the country. Whole families trying to live on five quid a week. Davies added that it is 'a pity' TV only shows adaptations of the most popular books of some classic authors, with the result that 'There are warhorses that come round again and again. If only Jane Austen had written twenty novels.' But, she didn't. So, whaddya gonna do, you know?

Scotland Yard is to contest a lawsuit which could establish the true number of victims in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Mark Lewis, a solicitor who has acted for people suing the newspaper, contends that 'a senior figure' in the Metropolitan police, Detective Sergeant Mark Maberly, told him in 2008 that as many as six thousand phones may have been hacked. Lewis repeated this conversation when giving evidence to the culture, media and sport select committee inquiry into allegations of phone hacking by the newspaper and a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire. The Met insists that Maberly, now a detective inspector, did not give Lewis the six thousand figure, or tell the solicitor he would give him 'enough rope to hang them' as Lewis maintains. The Met's denial prompted Lewis to launch a libel claim that the force will seek to strike out in court on Thursday and thus close down a line of inquiry that could reveal the extent of the evidence it holds relating to the scandal. 'This is about my reputation,' Lewis said. 'The police accused me of lying about my conversation.' To support his libel action, Lewis is demanding that the Met hand over documents taken from Mulcaire's office that could establish the number of phone-hacking victims. So far, only documents relating to the growing number of celebrities who have launched civil actions against the News of the World have been released. Lewis told the parliamentary select committee that, based on his conversation with Maberly, he had been led to believe 'they had found there were something like six thousand people who were involved. It was not clear to me whether that was six thousand phones that had been hacked or six thousand individual people including the people who had left messages.' Maberly's alleged comments to Lewis contrast starkly with statements made by other senior officers in the Metropolitan police. Andy Hayman, a former assistant commissioner at the Met, who led the original investigation, has said there were only 'a handful' of victims. John Yates, the acting commissioner who led a follow-up investigation, told the home affairs select committee that 'the voicemail pin codes of up to one hundred and twenty people were discovered.' In response to concerns that it failed to conduct a sufficiently thorough investigation into the News of the World's phone-hacking activities, the Met has launched a new inquiry conducted by deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers and involving forty five detectives. But MPs have called for an outside force to launch its own investigation. Earlier this month Paul Farrelly, a member of the culture and media committee, wrote to the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, to express his concerns about the Crown Prosecution Service's role in the affair. 'At every twist and turn, the CPS simply "rubber-stamped" the Metropolitan police's approach. The CPS' public statements, indeed, appeared to be a "cut and paste" of the police's stance,' Farrelly wrote. 'It is time not only for the Metropolitan police's conduct and approach to be independently reviewed, but the CPS's as well.' In his response, Starmer said a new review of the evidence collected by Scotland Yard, to be conducted by a senior CPS prosecutor, would be 'rigorous and robust.' In response to Lewis's libel action, a spokeswoman for the Met said: 'We can confirm that the Metropolitan Police Service is making an application to strike out the claim. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.'

Google is making a 'pretty big' change which will demote 'low-quality' or 'shallow' websites from online search engine results, in a move designed to tackle so-called 'content farms.' Ah well, that's anybody's chances of stumbling across From The North by accident gone for a Richard Burton, I reckon. Because, frankly, we here give low quality a bad name. The change, which will affect around twelve per cent of Google search queries - primarily in the US - follows pressure from the media industry and many of its users. Although Google did not specify which sites would be affected, the search engine has come under fire for allowing content farm sites like Demand Media – which produces thousands of articles a day based on popular search terms – to 'pollute' its results. 'This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites – sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful,' said Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, and Matt Cutts, head of the company's spam-fighting team, wrote in a blog post on Thursday. 'At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites — sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.' Nah, I'm still seeing nothing you get on From The North. Tittle-tattle, possibly! The move is Google's biggest yet in responding to growing criticism over the relevancy of the world's most popular search engine. It vowed to address the concerns in January. Last week Google launched an extension to its Chrome web browser allowing users to set up a 'personal blacklist' of sites that would no longer appear in their search results. Google said eighty three per cent of the 'top dozen or so' sites which most often featured on the blacklist were demoted with its algorithm change. Responding to Google's announcement, Demand Media's executive vice president, Larry Fitzgibbon, said: 'As might be expected, a content library as diverse as ours saw some content go up and some go down in Google search results. This is consistent with what Google discussed on their blog post. It's impossible to speculate how these or any changes made by Google impact any online business in the long term – but at this point in time, we haven't seen a material net impact on our content and media business.' The move will also be seen as part of Google's wider attempt to woo news organisations and other 'high-quality' content producers. Some publishers' content had slipped down Google search results as content farms rose in prominence. Last week Google unveiled plans for its One Pass online charging service for newspapers and magazines, just a day after Apple unveiled a rival internet payment offering for publishers.

A brilliant one hundred and fifty eight from captain Andrew Strauss saw England tie an extraordinary World Cup group match against India in Bangalore. The co-hosts set an intimidating three hundred and thirty nine-run victory target after a superb one hundred and twenty knock from Sachin Tendulkar. Strauss was in breathaking form and, along with Ian Bell, put England in command with a one hundred and seventy-run third-wicket partnership. Zaheer Khan dismissed both batsmen in successive balls, and Paul Collingwood a few balls later to put India back on top, until late blows from the lower order set up a grandstand finish. With England wanting twenty nine from the last two overs, having earlier faced a much easier equation of sixty seven runs from the last ten overs, they eventually fell just one run short of an improbable victory, needing two off the final ball. The late drama finished off the most enthralling match of the tournament so far, a game which both teams will feel they should have won but which both might easily have lost. The much-anticipated, sell-out Group B encounter featured two superbly crafted centuries and a maiden five-wicket limited-overs haul by Yorkshire's all rounder Tim Bresnan, fast becoming England's most reliable one-day bowler. The tourists' riposte had been constructed around an inspirational individual innings from Strauss, whose one hundred and fifty eight was the joint-second highest individual score by an England player in a limited-overs international. The England captain, dropped on twenty two by Harbhajan Singh, was in imperious form, smashing thirteen boundaries and a six in a ruthless one hundred and forty five-ball innings, silencing the fiercely partisan crowd inside the capacity M Chinnaswamy Stadium. But Zaheer struck just when England were about to accelerate their run rate after taking the batting powerplay in the forty third over. Bell was the first to fall for sixty nine when he top-edged an off-side scythe to Virat Kohli at extra cover and the very next ball saw Strauss trapped leg before wicket by a brilliant inswinging yorker. The double strike deflated England's innings, but late lower-order hitting from Bresnan and Graeme Swann, who each struck timely sixes, left England requiring fourteen from the final over of the match. Ajmal Shahzad shifted the odds in England's favour when he struck a six straight back over bowler Munaf Patel's head with the third delivery of the over. A leg-bye, followed by a two from Swann left the batsmen needing two runs from the final delivery of the match - but Swann's off drive could not beat Yusuf Pathan at mid-off, leaving the ninth-wicket pair to run through for the single which tied the match. The gritty performance against the pre-tournament favourites contrasted vividly with England's uninspired six-wicket victory over the Netherlands on Tuesday. England had only won one of their previous thirteen encounters against the co-hosts in India - and another defeat looked on the cards when Mahendra Dhoni opted to bat on what appeared to be good wicket, despite the persistent heavy showers which had engulfed Bangalore and the lush green outfield in the previous forty eight hours. England made two changes, dropping Ravi Bopara for Michael Yardy while Shahzad was summoned in place of the ill Stuart Broad. India swapped seamer Sreesanth for leg-spinner Piyush Chawla. The capricious Sehwag (thirty five) gave India a typically ballistic start before an audacious late cut from Bresnan's first over was too close to wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who took an excellent diving one-handed catch to his right in the eighth over at 46-1. Gautam Gambhir, an astute player of spin, maintained Sehwag's tempo while Tendulkar had been relatively restrained with twenty four from forty three deliveries. But a change of bat in the seventeenth over soon addressed his run scoring, thumping the first six of the match before bringing up ninty fourth half-century with yet another imperious maximum off Paul Collingwood. The onslaught was relentless - two successive leg-side sixes off the returning Swann, lofting the first over long-on before dispatching the second with a brutal slog-sweep high over deep midwicket and into the stands as the second-wicket partnership stretched to over one hundred. But an unplayable Swann delivery from around the wicket accounted for Gambhir (fifty one), pitching on middle before gripping and clipping the edge of the left-hander's off stump. The dismissal caused minimal disruption to Tendulkar's nerves, bringing up his forty seventh one-day century with a glance off his hip. To put Tendulkar's career achievements in perspective, the entire England XI have just twenty two one-day centuries between them - and he soon took his maximums tally to five with a stand and deliver smear over long-on. The thirty seven-year-old's majestic knock came to an end in the thirty ninth over but Yuvraj (fifty eight) and Dhoni (thirty one) took India beyond the three hundred mark before the impressive Bresnan cleaned up the lower-middle order as India were dismissed for 338 of the penultimate ball of their fiftieth over. Facing a required run-rate of 6.78, England openers Strauss and Kevin Pietersen took full advantage of some bizarre field placements by Dhoni, smashing nine boundaries in an exhilarating start during the opening power play. Strauss, given an early lifeline by Harbhajan when he misjudged a tough chance at mid-on, was in particularly belligerent mood square of the wicket. A huge slice of fortune accounted for Pietersen, whose ferocious drive straight at Patel's head was parried in the air before the bowler completed a simple one-handed catch while sitting on the ground. With his fast bowlers unable to exert any control, Dhoni turned to spinners Harbhajan and Piyush Chawla to apply the brakes as Strauss notched a run-a-ball fifty. After Jonathan Trott had added a run-a-ball sixteen, Bell looked at ease alongside Strauss at the wicket, although the number four was fortunate to survive an close lbw call turned down by umpire Billy Bowden at 163-2. India immediately referred the decision and the ball-tracking device available to the third umpire suggested the ball had made contact with Bell's front pad in line with the stumps - but more than 2.5m down the wicket, which saved Bell's wicket even though the ball was predicted to hit middle. That let-off allowed Bell to play an excellent foil as Strauss scored a quite brilliant century from just ninety nine deliveries, his sixth one-day international three-figure score. Bell launched a laconic sweep over deep midwicket for six to bring up his half century from just forty five balls as England dominated. But the match turned in the forty third over as Zaheer came back. Collingwood, Prior and Yardy soon followed as England's run chase looked to have faltered, but lusty sixes from the lower-order batsmen ensured England remained - just - contention through to the extraordinary final over. It was somewhat disappointing, however, to watch the BBC's early evening news some hours later and discover that their - alleged - sports correspondent, Amanda Davies, seemingly, does not know the difference between 'a draw' (a result which is, of course, impossible in limited overs cricket) and 'a tie.' Jeez, John Arlott must be turning in his grave!

Big fat sweaty Beth Ditto has revealed that she recently vomited and wet herself during a night out on the razz. Well, we've all done it, be fair. No? Oh well, just me then. The Gossip singer explained that although she has matured in many ways, her drunken behaviour remains unchanged. She said: 'I got drunk and simultaneously puked and pissed my own pants recently.' The singer went on to insist that she has not toned down her raucous personality. 'If anything, I have more opinions now because I'm not a kid anymore and I know what I'm talking about,' Ditto added. 'I just think about things a lot more now.' The thirty-year-old has a marriage 'pact' with her best friend of ten years, Kristin, with whom she began a relationship shortly after ending her nine-year romance with former partner Freddie. She confirmed: 'When we were nineteen we had a pact we would get married. I love her so much.'

And so to your actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, dear blog reader. And d'you know what, I'm a bit tried of nothing but white boys with guitars after the last week. (Don't worry, I'll get back to them sooner or later.) Cos, like, yer Keith Telly Topping's always had this dance element to his music. It's not where you're from, it's where you're at. Kylie, Kylie, sweet and smiley, sing us a song in a rub-a-dub stylee.And now, sing us another one and bring Robbie along for the party! Them eyes, those lips. Tasty. 'I be looking for serial monogomy/Not some bird that looks like Billy Connolly.' Me too, baby. It's a dirty rotten shame, innit?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Yesterdays Shatter, Tomorrows Don't Matter

Benidorm returned to record-breaking overnight ratings on Friday as the sitcom reversed ITV's Friday night fortunes. The fourth series opener of the popular comedy drama - guest starring Cilla Black and Denise Welch - averaged a highly impressive 7.31m from 9pm, adding a further two hundred and sixty thousand viewers on ITV+1. BBC1's New Tricks repeat was second in the hour with 2.97m, followed by Channel Four's Embarrassing Bodies with 2.56m and almost seven hundred thousand on timeshift, while BBC2's Hidden Treasures of Australian Art was watched by 1.04m and The Mentalist got 1.07m on Channel Five. The comedy Friday Night Dinner, starring Simon Bird and Tamsin Greig, launched on Channel Four with a respectable 1.86m at 10pm and a further three hundred thousand an hour later on timeshift, ahead of BBC Two's last Fast and Loose, which could only muster a disappointing seven hundred and eighty five thousand, and Law & Order's 1.03m for Channel Five. The Graham Norton Show easily won its slot with 3.29m from 10.35pm. Earlier, Mastermind and Britain From Above achieved 2.3m and 1.29m for BBC2 in the 8pm hour, while Relocation: Phil Down Under managed 1.43m for Channel Four, and Ice Road Truckers was watched by 1.27m on Channel Five.

Simon Cowell has reportedly entered talks to take Big Fat Gypsy Weddings to America. According to the Sun so, you know, treat all this with extreme caution. Cowell, the alleged newspaper claims, has already met with 'bosses' from the documentary series' production firm Firecracker to discuss a US launch. Company boss Mark Soldinger is said to have 'boasted' to friends about his meeting with the TV talent judge. A 'source' allegedly told the Sun: 'Simon knows all the TV execs in America. He is the man to make it happen. Everyone at Firecracker is very excited about it.' Despite controversy, allegations of racism, threats of boycotts and legal action from certain members of the travelling community and a new story appearing in just about every national newspaper every day concerning some aspect of it, the show has been an extraordinary ratings hit in the UK, attracting up to eight million viewers in its Tuesday night slot. A Christmas special has also been commissioned. A spokesperson for Cowell refused to comment on the story.

Jerry Seinfeld has won a legal battle described as 'a victory for the right of comedians to tell jokes.' The comic had been sued for defamation after calling an author 'wacko' and 'a nut job' on David Letterman's talk show – but a New York state judge has now thrown out the case. Missy Chase Lapine had previously tried to sue Seinfeld's wife, Jessica, claiming that she had stolen ideas for her cookbook from Lapine's title The Sneaky Chef. Talking about the plagiarism case on Letterman's show, Seinfeld called Lapine 'angry and hysterical' and likened her to a stalker – comments which Lapine claimed constituted 'a malicious, premeditated and knowingly false and defamatory attack.' However, in her ruling judge Marcy Friedman said: 'As statements of opinion they are not actionable. The court finds it inconceivable that a reasonable viewer would have believed that Seinfeld's statements were conveying facts about Lapine.' Orin Snyder, from Seinfeld's legal team, told the Bloomberg press agency: 'Today's decision is a complete victory for Jerry - and also a victory for the First Amendment and the right of comedians to tell jokes.' Lapine's claims of plagiarism were dismissed by a federal judge in 2009.

Glynis Barber has confirmed that her EastEnders character Glenda Mitchell will be leaving Albert Square next month. Writing on her official website, the actress revealed that Glenda is about to find herself increasingly isolated in Walford - prompting her to leave the area behind. Glenda first appeared on screens in January 2010 and has been at the centre of many dramas in the past year, as her schemes and secrets have caused a stir among the various Mitchells. Speaking of her EastEnders departure, Barber told her online fans: '2010 was a busy and exciting year for me playing Glenda Mitchell in EastEnders. After Glenda manages to alienate practically everyone on Albert Square, she makes her exit in March 2011. But will she be back in the future to wreak more havoc? Well "she ain't dead" so anything is possible. Watch this space!' Barber added that she is currently 'working on a yoga-based project with a view to bringing out a DVD later this year.' The actress's screen daughter Samantha Womack (Ronnie Branning) is also due to depart EastEnders in the months ahead.

Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the centre of the News of the World phone-hacking case, has been ordered by the high court to reveal the names of the executives who commissioned him. The court ruled that Mulcaire, whose contract with the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid was worth one hundred thousand pounds per year, could not refuse to answer questions about his work on the grounds of self-incrimination. In legal actions brought by the comedian Steve Coogan and the former Sky Sports presenter Andy Gray, Mulcaire must now respond to inquiries about the names of News of the World journalists who ordered his services and the identity of celebrities whose phones were hacked. Coogan is suing Mulcaire and the News International subsidiary News Group for breach of privacy for allegedly hacking into voicemail messages left on his mobile phone. Mulcaire has already admitted passing phone intercept information to several individuals working on the News of the World news desk. Delivering judgment, Mr Justice Vos accepted that there was now 'abundant evidence that Mr Gray's voicemails were intercepted and a strong inference that some misuse will have been made of the confidential information thereby obtained.' He added: 'The twelve calls that have already been proved may well not be the whole story.' In terms of revealing the identities of the News of the World journalists who instructed them and the extent of Mulcaire's target list, the judge ruled that the convicted private investigator must answer virtually all the questions submitted by Coogan's and Gray's lawyers. 'These requests are relevant,' Vos said. 'It is alleged that [the News of the World and Mulcaire] were intercepting telephone voicemail on an industrial scale. It will be important to the claimant's case to establish the pattern of the interception activities. The general practice that Mr Mulcaire adopted in taking instructions from and reporting to journalists in admitted cases will be relevant to the existence of the conspiracy alleged. The identity of the other targeted names and the people who helped identify those names and the manner in which it was done will be relevant to the conspiracy between News Group Newspapers and Mr Mulcaire.' Mulcaire, he said, could not rely on 'the privilege against self-incrimination' to refuse to respond to the questions. Only one request put by the claimants was disallowed on the grounds that it constituted 'a fishing expedition.' Vos granted Mulcaire's lawyers leave to challenge the ruling on self-incrimination in the appeal court. The judge, however, refused permission to appeal over the issue of identifying Mulcaire's other victims. Mulcaire was jailed in 2007, along with the News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman, for hacking into phones belonging to staff at Buckingham Palace. Mulcaire received a six-month sentence, while Goodman was sentenced to four months. Lawyers for the Metropolitan police have claimed that so many messages are being examined by the force's phone-hacking inquiry it is difficult to identify every mention of a celebrity's name among 'hundreds of intercepts.' The proliferation of legal actions generated by complaints against the News of the World is also in danger of congesting the courts with 'parallel claims,' the judge hearing applications for disclosure in three other cases has suggested.

Charlie Sheen has revealed that he is writing a tell-all book about his time on Two And A Half Men. The actor is said to want at least ten million dollars for publishing rights to the book, which, he claims, will 'lift the lid' on 'what really happened' behind the scenes of the hit sitcom, TMZ reports. The book will chart the comedy's eight-year run and the lead up to Sheen's radio rant against creator Chuck Lorre. Sheen apparently wants to name the book When the Laughter Stopped, and expects the volume to incite a bidding war between publishers. Sheen is rumoured to have quit the show after production on the remainder of the current season was shut down following his on-air rant. Sheen also hit out at those who have criticised him in the wake of his recent outbursts, and claimed that reports suggesting that he is anti-Semitic are ludicrous. 'They have awoken a sleeping giant,' Sheen reportedly told People this week. 'If I'm misunderstood after yesterday then people are worse off than I thought. This is warming me up,' Sheen threatened.

An Islamic extremist who made online threats against the South Park creators for depicting Mohammed in a bear suit has been jailed for twenty one years. Zachary Adam Chesser admitted the charges in October and said in court: 'I accept full responsibility for all of my actions, and I would like to take the opportunity to express remorse.' He made inflammatory posts on several websites in April last year warning South Park writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone they risked violent retribution for their actions, and included their home addresses. In one post he evoked the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh saying: 'We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh if they do air this show.' US Attorney Neil MacBride said: 'His actions caused people throughout the country to fear speaking out - even in jest - to avoid being labeled as enemies who deserved to be killed.' Chesser, who was born in America, admitted providing material support to terrorists, communicating threats and soliciting others to threaten violence. He was arrested in July last year after attempting to board a flight to Uganda with his baby son. He said he was trying to reach Somalia to join the militant Al-Shabaab group.

Denise Welch has credited Twatting About On Ice with helping her weather an ongoing battle with clinical depression. The Loose Women panellist expressed satisfaction with her success in the skating show, claiming that it had given her a new-found confidence in her ability to endure incredible amounts of pressure. She confessed to the Daily Mirra: 'When I agreed to take part friends asked me "Are you fucking mental? With all your problems? Why would you put yourself in a situation when you are being criticised and judged by ten million people every week?" But I've already been to the darkest place possible and although my depression can creep up on me at any time - even with the medication I take - I didn't want it to be an excuse not to challenge myself. I'm proud that I'm doing the show and coping with the nerves and stress in the same way as all the other contestants.' Welch also thanked her fanbase for helping her progress in the competition and stated that she was 'thrilled' to be seen as an inspirational figure for older women. 'What a lovely thought that me at fifty two - twenty years older than some of the other girls on the show - could even have lasted this long. I know it's the public that have kept me in and that's been amazing. I'll never be the best on the show but I'm giving it my all and am thrilled to be waving the banner for older women.'

Hugh Dennis's ex-wife says that she divorced him because he was 'too boring.' Miranda Carroll, who divorced Hugh in 1993 told the Daily Scum Mail: 'It's strange to see Pete [Hugh's real first name] being so spontaneous and exuberant on television, because those weren't qualities that were in great evidence in our day-to-day lives. I had to live with the Pete who was restrained, serious and unexciting.' The couple met while at school and dated at university, but Miranda said: 'He wasn't a funny guy. He could do some funny voices and impersonate the Archbishop of Canterbury, but there wasn't a lot of call for that. I was quite surprised when he got into Cambridge Footlights.'

Actress Rose McGowan has won a temporary restraining order against a man she accused of harassing her. The Charmed star requested the order against Luis Santo III, after he allegedly phoned the actress' office, 'insisting he is in love with me, demanding to talk to me even though I have never met him or spoken to him.' McGowan filed legal documents in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming Santo threatened her employees when they refused to let him contact her. Twitter messages he sent to McGowan were also added to the legal request, with one post reading, 'Rose don't hurt me! I will not kidding [sic]. u [sic] will be gone.' Santo has been ordered to stay two hundred yards away from McGowan until a scheduled hearing on 11 March, when the actress will request a permanent restraining order.

Big Fat Gypsy Weddings regular Paddy Doherty has reportedly been challenged to a boxing match with a one hundred thousand pound prize. According to the Mirra, the fifty one-year-old has been offered a fight by fellow Irish traveller Johnny Joyce, who was in court last week accused of grievous bodily harm against Doherty. The fight could take place in June at the annual Appleby Fair in Cumbria, with an audience of around four thousand people. And, an equal number of tabloid journalists, probably. Boxing promoter Wayne Barker is putting up half of the prize money and wants Doherty to find a backer to offer the other half of the winnings. Barker said: 'We don't want war-mongering in the community. Let's do it the proper way - the way these people have done it for years - and settle it in the ring. This is Paddy Doherty's chance to redeem himself in his own culture. If he had taken his beating like a man that would have been an end to the story.' Joyce was cleared of all charges by a jury at Manchester crown court after insisting that he had acted in self-defence.

Katie Price is reportedly hoping to land a role on the US version of The X Factor. The model and reality TV regular who recently split from her husband, is currently in Los Angeles and has arranged meetings with a number of contacts, including FOX TV executives, the Daily Lies reports. She will, apparently, also use her invites to Elton John's pre-Oscars party and the Vanity Fair Oscars event to discuss opportunities with Simon Cowell, who will be present at both. A 'source' allegedly said: 'Kate and Simon have been pals for a long time. He thinks she's feisty, fun and likes the fact she doesn't take any rubbish from him or anyone else. She admires his business brain and how he has become a global success. They're a match made in ambition heaven and make a perfect couple.' Do real people actually talk like that? I'm thinking not. Price allegedly told the paper: 'Everyone will be pretty shocked. I've got a big grin on my face because I know what's happening. I know people will say, "How does she do it?"' Price has allegedly hired a major American celebrity agent in her ongoing bid to break America. If that means we see a damn sight less of her in this country, then I'm sure many dear blog readers will join yer actual Keith Telly Topping in wishing Katie and her people all the very best in this endeavour.

And, speaking of people we'd rather see over there than over here, the vile and odious Piers Morgan has claimed that his 'coverage' of this year's royal wedding will help to cement his status as the top new anchor in the US. Morgan, who has received criticism for his show Piers Morgan Tonight since taking over from Larry King, said that his knowledge of both London and the Royal Family itself will ensure that he gets 'the best news' leading up to the event.
'The advantage that I have is that it's obviously my home town and I lived and worked in London for twenty five years,' Morgan told EW. 'I've also met and know quite well most of the royal family. I think it might be a home run for CNN,' the anchor added. 'I have connections that most American anchors can only dream of.' Yeah, of course you have, mate. I mean, let's remember, you are - after all - a disgraced former tabloid editor who once published faked photographs proporting to be of members of one of the Queen's regiments ill-treating prisoners of war, I'm sure they'll all be flocking to your door with their tongues hanging out begging you to interview them. Morgan also suggested that the royal wedding will be 'the event of the year' both in England and in the US due to the 'star potential' of the couple. 'This will be the biggest superstar event of the year because the two biggest stars in the world right now are Prince William and Kate Middleton,' Morgan explained. 'You can just assess that by the sheer oxygen of publicity that they're now beginning to get on American television, magazines, newspapers. And the same is happening all over the world.'

An elephant in a South African game reserve attempted to have sex with a car after mistaking it for another elephant, it has been suggested. John Somer and Carina Lowers were driving a particularly good looking Volkswagen Passat through the Pilanesberg Game Reserve when Amarula - a five-ton bull elephant - approached the car and began mating with it, before flipping the vehicle over. Somer told the Sun: 'I never thought I would be killed by an elephant. When I turned the corner there was another vehicle in the road in front of us. The driver started reversing and stopped next to us. I'm Irish and he was speaking Afrikaans, but I could make out the word "elephant."' However, he was unable to reverse out of a ditch and so turned off the engine to avoid attracting the animal's attention. 'It really did seem to regard the car as a female elephant and was making advances on "her." When the bull started flipping the car over my life literally started flashing before my eyes. The car landed on its roof and we were lying inside it. Carina was very scared and wanted to crawl out but first I wanted to see where the elephant was. When we saw it was walking away we crawled out through the window.' The elephant then turned its attention to a nearby car, but driver Riaan van Wyk managed to get rid of him after a fifteen-minute chase. Ah, playing hard to get, was it?

And, lastly, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Quite possibly the best 'break-up song' ever written. Ah, Clare. Lovely Clare. I would've walked into a withering hail of gunfire for Clare Grogan once upon a time. Actually, truth be told, I still would! No doubt for 'guys of a certain age', this'll bring back some fond memories: There's also a Top of the Pops appearance that you can find, which is okay although the dreadfully forced 'jolly' atmosphere and people throwing streamers about in a very Thatcherite 80s stylee is somewhat incongruous for song with such sad sentiments. Some nice Rickenbacker work on display, though. Produced by The Sweet and Blondie guru Mike Chapman, a deserved top ten hit in 1983 (the band's last) and featuring a painting of Big Joe Turner on the sleeve. Class all the way.