Monday, January 16, 2012

Too Many Florence Nightingales, Not Enough Robin Hoods

Just in case anybody ever thought there was any doubt about the matter, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss took to Twitter on Sunday evening to confirm that there will be a third series of Sherlock. And that, like Moriarty with Holmes, they'd just been messing with our heads with all that 'we'll have to wait and see if he survives' nonsense! Of course he survives. I've read the next book, he has to! The co-creators of the show revealed the news shortly after the end of the concluding episode of Sherlock's second series, which was broadcast on Sunday to an overnight audience of just short of eight million. Moffat wrote: 'Yes of course there's going to be a third series - it was commissioned at the same time as the second. Gotcha!' You are a bad man, Mister Moffat! Gatiss confirmed a few moments later, essentially, the same details. It was a good night all round for Moffat, a few hours after the Sherlock finale in Los Angeles The Adventures of Tin-Tin the Steven Spielberg movie with his (co-written) script won best animated feature Golden Globe.
It was, in fact, a good night all round for British talent in the television categories at the Golden Globes, which saw ITV period drama Downton Abbey named best mini-series. 'How fabulous this is,' said series creator Lord Snooty Julian Fellowes. 'The whole Downton Abbey adventure has been an extraordinary one, like spotting a promising child and waking up to find they won the Olympics.' Idris Elba collected a best actor prize for BBC1 crime drama Luther, while Kate Winslet was recognised for HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce.
Meanwhile, photographic evidence reaches us which appears to suggest that John Watson's taken Sherlock's apparent death far harder than he suggested to his therapist.
The three-part series has been lauded by critics. The Gruniad's Sam Wollaston said that Sunday night's episode was, at times 'faithful to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Final Problem, then it will wander, taking in mobile phone technology and computer hacking and what have you. But it doesn't feel like cheating; more like an open relationship, agreed by both parties.' The Daily Torygraph's Sarah Crompton said Cumberbatch was 'riding the wave of what has been a triumph.'

Sherlock's 7.9m overnight audience (an astounding figure considering that the drama didn't finish until 10:30) wasn't, quite, the BBC's biggest of Sunday night. Their new period drama Call The Midwife pulled in 7.95m punters in the 8pm hour.
Not really this blogger's cup of tea, admittedly, but it's always good to see a piece of drama connect with an audience. Particularly as both Sherlock and Call The Midwife had larger audiences than ITV's watchword for crass, dumbed-down celebrity-by-non-entity brain-crushing horseshit, Twatting About On Ice (7.71m). Wild at Heart's audience rather collapsed under the strain of the BBC1 onslaught, pulling just over six million, one of the popular drama's lowest ever audiences. Helped by a further 5.88m who watched Countryfile, overall BBC1 finished the night with a 26.4 per cent primetime audience share ahead of ITV's 22.5 per cent. Interestingly the Gruniad's take on last night's ratings includes only mentioning Christine Bleakley as Twatting About on Ice's host (is that seeds being sown for why this series will be perceived as a flop?) and a description of Call The Midwife's rating as merely 'promising.' Which seems to be damning with somewhat faint praise.

Speaking of ratings, BBC1 also dominated the primetime schedules on Saturday night. The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins was watched by 5.71m at 8pm before Casualty upped the broadcaster's viewing figures to 6.07m. Live at the Apollo managed 3.64m at 9.30pm. On ITV, risible, odious lowest-common-denominator crap Take Me Out's ratings were down on last week's 4.86m, according to the latest overnight data. In a week where ITV resolved to choose contestants 'more carefully' after a series of tabloid scandals involving prostitutes, the dating show was watched by 4.73m desperate crushed victims of society and a further two hundred and seventy thousand on timeshift. The Mark Wright-fronted Take Me Out: The Gossip was viewed by five hundred and thirty five thousand people with no self-respect or dignity on ITV2 at 8.30pm. Back on ITV, The Talent Show Story had an audience of 2.38m and The Jonathan Ross Show continued its disappointing run mustering a mere 2.4m watching at 9.30pm. it's a far cry for the regular four million punters Jonny was getting in his BBC days. On BBC2, The Man Who Made Eric and Ernie documentary had an audience of 1.83m. Ken Russell: A Bit of a Devil followed with eight hundred and ninety thousand punters. A broadly successful night for Channel Four began with Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which was watched by 1.41m from 7.45pm. The film generated an extra two hundred and eighty thousand on timeshift. The Million Pound Drop Live increased the audience to 1.86m from 9pm. On Channel Five, NCIS achieved nine hundred and sixty nine thousand punters before Celebrity Big Brother and Along Came Polly were watched by 1.71m and nine hundred and twenty five thousand viewers respectively. Foyle's War predictably took the largest multichannel audience of the evening, scoring 1.34m from 9pm on ITV3. The third episode of BBC4's hugely impressive Danish political drama, Borgen was watched by six hundred and twenty seven thousand viewers. BBC1 had an overall 22.1 per cent primetime share, followed by ITV's 13.7 per cent.

Here's the Top Twenty consolidated ratings for week-ending 8 January:
1 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 10.98m
2 Sherlock - BBC1 Sun - 10.27m
3 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.24m [711k HD]
4 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 8.59m [521k HD]
5 Twatting About On Ice - ITV Sun - 8.42m [874k HD]
6 Wild At Heart - ITV Sun - 7.44m [547k HD]
7 Endeavour - ITV Mon - 7.38m*
8 Casualty - BBC1 Mon - 6.99m
9 Mrs Brown's Boys - BBC1 Mon - 6.60m
10 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 Sun - 6.41m
11 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 5.96m
12 The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins - BBC1 Sat - 5.88m
13 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.75m
14 Ten O'Clock News - BBc1 Wed - 5.51m
15 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.47m
16 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 5.45m
17 Celebrity Mastermind - BBc1 Tues - 5.37m
18 The Magicians - BBC1 Sat - 5.27m
19 The Royal Bodyguard - BBC1 Mon - 5.23m
20 Earthflight - BBc1 Thurs - 5.08m
Those programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. Sherlock's timeshift was over two million (2.11m actually). Extrordinary. And, once again, it's worth remembering these figures are for TV and timeshifts only, they don't include iPlayer. We'll come to that in a moment. That's Casualty's best rating in almost a year. The Royal Bodyguard clings onto a top twenty place by the skin of its teeth (it's a fairly safe bet to say it won't be there, or anywhere even near it, next week). Endeavour is now virtually a certain for a series on the back of its impressive ratings (even without the bonus of any HD figures). And, it's jolly nice to see a top twenty featuring the genuinely funny, if somewhat old-fashioned Mrs Brown's Boys with over six and a half million viewers just a few weeks after Jonathan Ross rather blithly noted that the series hadn't been nominated for a British Comedy Award because 'unfortunately, it's not the year 1972.' Pity really. If it was then Wossy's own miserable failure of a chats how would've been cancelled by now. BBC2 had a good week with four episodes of two programmes topping three million, Nature's Weirdest Events (4.13m and 3.34m), the two parts of the documentary King George and Queen Mary: The Royals Who Saved The Monarchy (3.81m and 3.62m). Channel Four's best performer was, again, One Born Every Minute (3.54m). The opening episode of Celebrity Big Brother on Five was watched by 3.5m punters, although it was all downhill from there. Sky Sports 1 topped the multi-channel figures with 1.95m viewers for Wednesday's Live Ford Football Special between Stottingtot Hotshots and The Everton. Two days previously, the channel also had a hit as 1.77m viewers watched, delighted, as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Magpies give The Scum a damned good thumping. 3-0, so it was. And, dear blog reader, it was glorious in my sight. That was exactly the same audience as Sky1 pulled in for the second episode of Treasure Island.

Top Gear, Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow and Doctor Who helped BBC iPlayer to a record-breaking December, while the growth of connected devices pushed the platform close to two billion programme requests in total last year, new data has revealed. In December, iPlayer attracted a record-breaking one hundred and eighty even monthly requests across all platforms, a twenty nine per cent increase on the same month in 2010. Top Gear's India special was the most popular programme, attracting more than 1.7m requests after its transmission on 28 December. Presumably to the considerable irk of several mouthy malocontents who read and write for the Gruniad Morning Star. Good. Anything that gives those sour-faces tossers a dose of morning indigestion is okay in this blogger's book. The motoring show was followed by Michael McIntyre's Comedy Show at over one million requests, the EastEnders episodes on Boxing Day (nine hundred and sixty six thousand) and Christmas Day (nine hundred and forty seven thousand) and Doctor Who's The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (eight hundred and ninety two thousand). Overall, the corporation's catch-up TV and video on-demand platform attracted 1.94bn TV and radio programme requests across all platforms in the whole of 2011. Computers remain the most popular platform to access iPlayer, accounting for two-thirds of all requests last year. However, December saw a big spike in people accessing the platform on connected TVs, mobile devices and tablet computers. Last month, seven million programmes were requested on connected TV sets from brands such as Samsung and Sony, an increase of more than one thousand per cent year-on-year. Connected TV describes devices capable of delivering BBC iPlayer direct to TVs, including IPTV platforms such as BT Vision, connected 'Smart TVs' and connected set-top boxes, such as Freeview HD, Freesat HD and some Blu-Ray players. Virgin Media on-demand figures are reported by the BBC separately. Mobile smartphones generated 13m programme requests, up one hundred and sixty three per cent on the same month the previous year, while tablets pulled in ten million requests, up nearly six hundred per cent year-on-year. The BBC claimed that these figures reflect 'both the growing penetration of Internet-connected devices in the market, and the near-universal availability of BBC iPlayer on those devices.' BBC iPlayer registered its best ever week in the seven days immeidately after Christmas (26 December 26 to 2 January 2012), attracting 29.7m TV programme requests. This was primarily down to the estimated 6.8m iOS and Android devices activated on Christmas Day last year. 2 January was the most popular day over the period, registering 5.4m TV programme requests over the twenty four-hour period, including six hundred and twenty three thousand for the return of Sherlock. What makes that figure even more remarkable is that the episode didn't even go online until sometime around 10pm on New Year's Day night and yet by the end of 2 January it had been watched by near enough eight hundred thousand online viewers. That's staggering. 'While 2011 was a remarkable year for BBC iPlayer across the board, the real story was growth of iPlayer on TVs, mobile phones, and tablets, outpacing PC growth many times over,' said Daniel Danker, the BBC's general manager of programmes and on-demand. 'Having established itself as a must-have app for smartphone users and the gold-standard for TV on the go, we see huge potential for BBC iPlayer on the living room set in 2012 - the natural home for great TV - as audiences switch on to the benefits of connected TV.' The twenty best performing TV programmes from 20 December 20 to 2 January also includes Christmas Day's episode of Absolutely Fabulous (seven hundred and twenty five thousand requests), the opening episode of Great Expectations (six hundred and forty two thousaned) and the series finale of Merlin (five hundred and fifty thousand).

Robert Webb says that he hates his bald patch, which he calls a 'lagoon of follicle bereavement winking at me like a glassy eyed, toothless man beckoning towards my future doom.' Or, 'bald patch' as 'normal people' call them. Speaking in the new series of Room 101, the Peep Show star said: 'It's annoying as I look fifteen years older from the back than the front. It ages me from the back and is annoying for work purposes. I have realised on Twitter that there are a lot of people who think that I might not have noticed it. Well, yes I have noticed that I have become a baldie and a slaphead.'

Birdsong, of course, starts next Sunday and there is much excitement - particularly from the broadsheets - at the prospect of BBC1's Sebastian Faulks adaptation, which will fill the Sunday-night slot previously occupied by Sherlock. Joseph Mawle, who plays Jack Firebrace in the first world war drama, has revealed this week that the claustrophobic underground scenes were not as stuffy to make as they were to watch. But, unlike his fellow actors, Mawle had a problem or two working up the necessary sweat as the sewer rats wriggled ever closer to their German counterparts. The solution? An exercise bike was helpfully brought to the studio which Mawle would hop on to between takes.

Odious, spoiled little rich girl airhead Peaches Geldof - you know, Saint Bob's daughter - has claimed that her late mother, Paula Yates, is 'watching over her.' Which, if true, would mean that she, personally, has got one more viewer than her risible ITV2 show OMG! With Peaches Geldof ever achieved.

Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli has backed Kara Tointon to replace Alesha Dixon. It was revealed earlier this month that Dixon had quit the BBC1 show - like a greedy traitor - to join ITV's Britain's Got Talent. Various names have since been linked to the show and Tonioli has recommended former winners Tointon and Jill Halfpenny for the role. Speaking of Dixon's departure, Tonioli told the Sunday Mirra: 'It's showbiz, these things happen. I was in the Caribbean sunbathing when I heard. I think Kara would be very good as a replacement as she is a ­champion and feisty. Jill Halfpenny would also be very good for the same reasons. I don't think a decision will be made until June or July when we have regrouped. I'm surprised Alesha quit, but that's the industry and I think she will be great on Britain's Got Talent. We'll carry on and we will come back bigger and better than ever.'

Now here's a funny thing, dear blog reader. The Daily Scum Mail spent last week trailing Alesha Dixon's fitness tips via giant photos of the outgoing Strictly Come Dancing judge. But there are often problems for the Scum Mail in using celebrities to woo readers, as its po-faced and sour columnists are so prone to royally slag them off. In Dixon's case, there's almost been a contest over the last few years: 'Utterly anodyne' and 'the resident twit' according to the odious, full-of-her-own-importance Amanda Platell; 'mad-eyed Alesha Dixon looked [at a red carpet event] like the cloakroom girl from the Playboy Mansion' from the acid-tipped pen of alleged homophobe bigot Jan Moir; 'about as much presence as a Miracle Whip' in the words of po-faced horrorshow, faceache and drag Janet Street-Porter; 'pitiful' according to the horrible, opinionated, and utterly worthless Allison Pearson. Yet there she was, apparently now a role model for all Scum Mail readers, on Friday's front page. In a dress which oddly – in the paper that made such a fuss about kids being exposed to so much of Rihanna – was slipping down revealingly. Crass rampant hypocrisy in the greedy pursuit of increased sales figures? From the Daily Scum Mail? Surely not? It might also be an idea for Alesha herself to recall what Nietzsche said about sleeping with monsters.

Ex-Cold Feet actress Fay Ripley has become the latest desperate wannabe to declare that she would like to join the cast of Downton Abbey. Yes, you and every other unemployed actor in the country, darlin'.

Leon Best's brilliant first-half strike took yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though, still unsellable) Newcastle United up to sixth spot in the Premier League table and spoiled Mark Hughes's first game as Queen's Park Strangers boss. Rangers twice hit the woodwork in the first half, through a fierce Shaun Wright-Phillips strike and Jay Bothroyd's curling effort. But Newcastle recovered from a somewhat shaky start and Best stroked home a clinical winner eight minutes before half-time after a pass from Ryan Taylor. Bothroyd wasted two good chances after the interval but the Magpies never looked seriously threatened. Alan Pardew's men, who lost key midfielder Yohan Cabaye to a worrying ankle injury in the first half after a thoroughly awful challenge by Shaun Derry, just about did enough to emerge with the points after claiming a fourth win in their last five games in all competitions in front of a crowd of forty nine thousand eight hundred and sixty five. So, despite the disgraceful brown-tongued blue-and-white-hooped slavvering that odious creep Ray Wilkins bleated for ninety minutes (plus injury time) on Sky Sports (one particularly enjoyed the cretin's opinion that 'he should just get up and get on with the game' as Cabaye lay in agony waiting for a stretcher to take him from the pitch), Queen's Park Strangers become the latest victims of Pardew's Black and White Army. Good. You were a crap player, Butch, and you're an even worse commentator.
And so, dear blog reader, to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Here's a twenty four carat masterpiece from the fourth best band in Hull.

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