Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week Five: Whatever Happened To The Life That We Once Knew?

Sherlock's executive producer Sue Vertue has dismissed suggestions attributed to her husband Steven Moffat that the massively popular BBC drama will return in 2012 (although whether he actually said that is now the subject of considerable debate). The showrunner was supposed to have said in an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star on Friday that a third series of the BBC drama - which concluded last Sunday - could be broadcast as early as late this year. Moffat also claimed that scenes showing how Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) survived his rooftop plummet in series two finale The Reichenbach Fall had already been filmed. In response to the comments, Vertue took to Twitter and clarified that a late 2012 Sherlock return is unlikely. 'Sorry to be a killjoy but Steven didn't actually mean series three of Sherlock would [transmit] before end-of-year,' she wrote. 'I think that is sadly unlikely.' Moffat has, however, said that fans will not have to wait 'that long' for the next series of Sherlock. Vertue also described the proposed US Sherlock Holmes series Elementary as 'extremely worrying.' Elementary - which like the recently-concluded BBC series is a modern take on the Victorian detective - was picked up by CBS on Tuesday. The announcement prompted Vertue to say: 'Interesting CBS, I'm surprised no one has thought of making a modern day version of Sherlock before. Oh hang on, we have!' Vertue further stated that although bosses from the US network have 'made great assurances' that the shows will not overlap, she remains wary of the project. 'We understand that CBS are doing their own version of an updated Sherlock Holmes,' she told the Independent. 'It's interesting, as they approached us a while back about remaking our show. At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernised Sherlock Holmes doesn't resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying. We are very proud of our show and like any proud parent, will protect the interest and well being of our offspring.' Whilst there appears to be some sort of understanding between the Sherlock and Elementary teams at present, legal experts have warned that a copyright claim could occur if the new series infringes on the former's distinctive style. 'The concept of a new Sherlock Holmes is unprotectable,' copyright specialist Margaret Tofalides notes. 'But if the unusual elements of the BBC series - the modern settings, characters, clothes, plots and distinctive visual style - were closely reproduced in the CBS version, that could form the basis of a potential copyright claim.'

The flat that is the shooting location for Sherlock, can now be yours to rent if you can spare three hundred and thirty quid a week. Which, actually, isn't bad for central London. The one-bedroom flat, situated on Gower Street, just off Tottenham Court Road, above a cafe called Speedy's, has been watched by ten million viewers a week on the show as Sherlock and John Watson use its black door in the Victorian terrace. That and the cafe's red awning have made the location a distinctive tourist hotspot. On screen, Sherlock's lodgings - 221B Baker Street - are filled with dusty books, a chemistry set and of course his violin. However, the interior shots were filmed in a studio in Cardiff and the real flat is furnished rather more sparingly. But that has not stopped people from flocking to view it. 'We have seen a higher number of people look around this property than normal. A lot are keen to have their own little piece of Sherlock,' the Daily Scum Express quoted Ali Pishgou, from estate agents McHugh and Co, as saying. 'Some are surprised that it isn't actually on Baker Street and looks completely different inside,' he said. That's because they're stupid. The exterior of Speedy's cafe has featured in a number of storylines, and is attracting visitors from the US, Japan and Australia who flock to have their picture taken outside. All this is good news for the owner Chris Georgiou, who says that business has been given a boost as a result. 'We get about ten to fifteen extra customers a day. It's fantastic to be part of something as exciting as Sherlock,' he said.

Saturday overnight ratings: First the important stuff - six hundred and sixteen thousand and four hundred and seventy eight thousand for the two episodes of Borgen. respectively. Almost exactly the same as last week's figures. Right, that's the best programme of the night out of the way, as far as everything else was concerned it was, again, BBC1 leading the way with 5.7m for Casualty (which is really doing rather well since its recently relocation from Bristol to Cardiff), 5.8m for Who Dares Wins, 4.4 for Match of the Day, and four million a-piece for The Magicians and Winter Wipeout. Steady. Unspectacular. But decent enough (although The Magicians is a bit of the low side, I think the BBC will have expected more from that particular format). Nevertheless, it's a right hard toe in the knackers for ITV who could only manage a high of 4.8m for risible odious Take Me Out. For all the publicity generated by the Paddy McGuinness-fronted dating show's various tabloid prostitute dramas, it's still being spanked, weekly, by of all things, the National Lottery show, Who Dares Wins. Time for a rethink, ITV?

Saturday 28 January
A far-left political party alleges it is being illegally monitored by the government's security services in the latest episode of Borgen, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil - 9:00, BBC4. But as Birgitte tries to get to the bottom of the case, she discovers Minister of Justice Troels Hoxenhaven has very different ideas on how to handle the accusations. The prime minister also finds herself struggling to keep her family happy, while Katrine faces a difficult decision. That's immediately followed by episode eight, The Silly Seaon. An uneventful summer in the Danish parliament is disrupted when former prime ministerial contender Michael Laugesen releases a tell-all book about his life in politics, and spin-doctor Kasper discovers he cannot run from his past. Meanwhile, Birgitte tries to win favour with her family by spontaneously organising a holiday. Stunning Danish political drama series - quite possibly the best thing on TV in the world at the moment now that Sherlock's finished - starring Sidse Babett Knudsen, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Pilou Asbaek, Mikael Birkkjaer and Lars Knutzon.

Another set of contestants, including a bollard salesman, a farmer and a comedian, tackles the seasonal obstacle course in Winter Wipeout - 5:35 BBC1. Because, let's face it, there genuinely is nothing funnier in life than seeing a bunch of over-confident people getting dumped in the sludge with a custard pie in their face. Richard Hammond provides commentary as the intrepid adventurers try to manoeuvre past Granny's House, with the fastest competitors progressing through to the Ski Lift and Winter Blunderland before taking on the perilous Winter Wipeout Zone.
Amanda Byrom stands around and laughs a lot without making any great point.

Sunday 29 January
Tony Robinson and the team descend on Bitterley, Shropshire, where local headmistress June Buckhard has been leading an exploration of a field, which locals believe used to be the site of houses and streets in the latest episode of Time Team - 6:00 Channel Four. The villagers begin to excavate test pits in their own gardens to help the professionals, but it is three days before their answer is revealed.
To the sound of much tutting from the hippie Communist lice at the Gruniad Morning Star and the jackbooted bully boy numskull thugs at the Daily Scum Mail with their vaguely sinister agendas, Top Gear is back - 8:00 BBC2. Let their be rejoicing throughout the land. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May put three supercars through their paces in Italy. Their weapons of choice are the 691bhp Lamborghini Aventador, McLaren's hi-tech MP4-12C, and a British brute in the form of the Noble M600.
The journey begins at Nardo, a high-speed testing ground so vast it can be seen from space, and includes a nerve-racking drive in Rome before reaching its conclusion with a timed challenge against The Stig at the Imola circuit. The trio also look forward to some of 2012's most exciting cars and are joined by a celebrity guest who takes the wheel of the Reasonably Priced Car. Place your bets now as to how long it will be before some professional offence-taker manages to find something in the episode to whinge about, loudly, to anyone that will listen (and, indeed, anyone that doesn't want to).

In the second of the two-part Birdsong - 9:00 BBC1 - as Stephen recovers from his injuries, he continues to be haunted by memories of his affair with Isabelle - and while he and his men prepare for a major offensive at the Somme, he unexpectedly meets his former lover again. However, she is unable to explain why she left him, throwing him into a state of turmoil before the battle. Eddie Redmayne and Clemence Poesy star in the conclusion of the drama based on Sebastian Faulks' novel, with Joseph Mawle, Richard Madden and Matthew Goode. Adapted by BAFTA-winning writer Abi Morgan.

Or there's Twatting About On Ice - 7:00 ITV - if you feel that life has nothing more worthwhile to offer.

Monday 30 January
Thank Christ for that, it's the final episode of the wretched Royal Bodyguard - 9:00 BBC1. Seldom has a TV show begun in such a blaze of expectant publicity and then dissipated like a fart in a spacesuit. Its only memorable feature being the lingering rank smell of unqualified failure around it. Hubble is put in charge of security when the princess attends a friend's hen party, but his attempts to play chaperone end in disaster when he loses the young royal amid a gaggle of excited drunken women. To add to the security chief's problems, there follows a mysterious attack - and he ends up with his own personal bodyguard. Comedy - it says here - starring David Jason.

DI Joseph Chandler and DS Ray Miles return to investigate the deaths of four people who were slaughtered at a tailor's fortified workshop, a gruesome and seemingly impossible crime that has left London's East End gripped with fear in the third series of Whitechapel - 9:00 ITV. The first series was excellent, the second really not all that good at all so, hopefully, this will be a return to form. Edward Buchan joins the detectives once again, hoping his historical expertise will help them solve the grisly case. Thriller, starring Rupert Penry-Jones, Phil Davis and Steve Pemberton.

Coppers - 9:00 Channel Four - follows Tayside police's newest recruits as they hit the streets for the first time, witnessing their first arrest, drugs raid and sudden death. Unlike most English forces, the rozzers in Bonny Scotland are still recruiting, but life on the front line proves to be a world away from the classrooms the new officers are used to at the Scottish Police College.

Jeremy Paxman asks the questions in tonight's University Challenge - 8:00 BBC2 - or rather he growls angrily at a bunch of terrified students who wither, visibly, in his presence. Teams from the universities of Manchester and Newcastle compete in a quarter-final match. The contest represents the last chance for both to remain in the competition, as teams need to win two matches in this round to progress to the semi-finals.

Tuesday 31 January
In the first of a new drama series, Prisoners' Wives - 9:00 BBC1 - a man is arrested on suspicion of murder, and his wife's belief in his innocence turns to doubt because he has no alibi, leading to a shocking confession when she confronts him in prison. But as she agonises over standing by her man, she finds friendship with another woman whose husband is already serving time. Drama, starring Emma Rigby, Jonas Armstrong, Polly Walker, Pippa Haywood and Iain Glen.
One of the most thoroughly satisfying moments of the TV year so far was when the overnight ratings for the opening episode of The Exit List - 8:00 ITV - crawled in. Two million. Hardly worth bothering, really, was it? Still, never had a TV show been better named in terms of its chances of getting a second series. This game show, hosted by the thoroughly no-reason-to-be-anywhere-near-so-smug-as-he-appear Matt Allwright, based on an epic challenge in which a pair of contestants descend into a giant twenty six-room maze containing varying amounts of money - with only one room holding the coveted one hundred thousand mucho wonga. Standing in their way is a set of questions, and their answers are added to the Exit List, which the players must memorise to make their final escape with the winnings. Followed by the equally risible and equally tanking The Biggest Loser. The failure of these two wretched formats kind of restores your faith in the viewing public, doesn't it?

You can always bank on Channel Four's documentary film-makers to be first at the scene of any natural disaster, can't you? Terror At Sea: The Sinking of the Concordia - 8:00 - was, its seems, being put together before they'd even got the last of the bodies of the victims off the ship. An investigation into the capsizing of cruise ship the Costa Concordia off the west coast of Italy on 13 January, discovering why modern maritime technology failed to prevent the disaster. The film uses computer graphics to reconstruct the events that led to the tragedy, and features interviews with survivors, rescuers and experts. The programme also details accusations that flaws in the design of some modern cruise ships has made them vulnerable to this sort of event.

Entrepreneur Alex Polizzi wages a self-appointed one-woman campaign to save family firms struggling in the current financial climate in Alex Polizzi: The Fixer - 8:00 BBC2. She begins with a bridal wear business in Kettering, run by a mother and her two squabbling daughters. Owner Anne Preece has remortgaged her house to keep the shop afloat, but profits are still falling, the premises are tired, dated and overstocked, and the constant arguing doesn't help. Alex has her work cut out turning around the business's fortunes and getting the women to re-evaluate their personal feelings.

Wednesday 1 February
John Torode and Gregg Wallace give the previous week's losing contestants a chance to redeem themselves, challenging the five of them to cook lunch for three hundred and fifty factory workers in the latest episode of yer actual MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1. They have twenty minutes to design their menu and just two-and-a-half hours to cook more than one hundred portions each of two meat dishes, as well as a substantial vegetarian option. The remaining chefs then return to the MasterChef kitchen and try to prove their skills as individuals.
Tonight's Natural World film, Tiger Dynasty - 8:00 BBC2 - is a documentary following Baghani, a tigress chosen to breed in the wild. She is airlifted from her home in an Indian park to a new reserve where she encounters Rajore, a male who has also recently been released. The pair are filmed over two years, as they fight leopards for territory and learn to hunt boar, while trying to avoid being killed by poachers.
When Bentham DeQuetteville falls to his death from a roof after seeing a headless horseman, the members of his aristocratic family seem more concerned about their forthcoming Civil War re-enactment than the incident in the latest episode of Midsomer Murders - 8:00 ITV. As Barnaby and Jones try to discover the truth behind the ghostly figure, their investigation uncovers shocking secrets about the DeQuettevilles. Drama, starring Neil Dudgeon and Jason Hughes, with James Callis, William Gaunt and Raquel Cassidy.

Thursday 2 February
The friends try to repair the damage they have unwittingly done when they are confronted by a ruthless villain, forcing them into a race to find the remaining money in the third episode of Mad Dogs second series - 9:00 Sky1. When it seems all hope is lost, Woody remembers Alvo mentioning a stash of hidden cash before he died, leading the boys to interrupt a wedding. Psychological thriller, starring Max Beesley, Philip Glenister, John Simm and Marc Warren.
Cash depot manager John Coniston faces his worst fear when armed robbers attack, holding his family hostage while they force him to open the safe at gunpoint in another new drama, Inside Men - BBC1 9:00. As the tension reaches cliche levels, the action moves back nine months, revealing Coniston to be a responsible married man, proud of his untarnished work record. But when he discovers fifty thousand quid has gone missing, there begins a search for the truth that ends with him thinking up a sudden, unexpected idea. Drama, starring Ashley Walters and Steven Mackintosh and Warren Brown from Luther.
It also features one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite actresses, the brilliant Nicola Walker (Touching Evil, Chalk, Torn and, most memorably, [spooks]). So, that'll make it worth watching even if the rest of it's rubbish. I've a feeling it's not going to be, though. The trailers looks really rather good. Crazy Ruth Gemmill from Waking The Dead's in it as well. Even better.

Winter Road Rescue - 9:00 Channel Five - is the first of two documentaries following snowplough teams and RAC patrols in Scotland and the north of England, working to ensure the roads are clear when the winter weather hits. In the fishing village of Applecross, the snowplough drivers' main priority is keeping open the single-track road that connects the locals to the outside world, while another ploughing team sets out on a routine gritting mission - only to grind to a halt in three feet of snow. In Northumberland, an RAC patrolman rescues a woman and her elderly mother who are stranded on an isolated moor - only to get stuck himself.

Scientists and researchers analyse discoveries about asteroids, and explain why studies suggest smaller rocks could pose a threat as they head toward Earth in Horizon: Asteroids - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - 8:00 BBC4. The experts explain the photon propulsion that powers the asteroids on their journey across space, and why some of these travellers carry a cargo of frost and ice that could have helped to start life on the planet.

Friday 3 February
The second part of How the Brits Rocked America: Go West - 9:00 BBC4 - looks at how British bands thrived amid the culture of excess that began to dominate rock music in the 1970s. The programme examines how Cream broke into the American market during the late 1960s, before Dead Zeppelin achieved even greater success at the start of the 1970s, fundamentally altering the sound of rock as a result. And, not necessarily for the better. The programme also recalls the 1974 California Jam, where acts including Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake and Palmer played to an estimated crowd of one million people, and charts the rise of arena rock concerts during the decade. With contributions by Jimmy Page, Jack Bruce, Paul McCartney, Tony Iommi, John Lord, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman and Jeff Lynne.

The grifters' friend Carol suffers a heart attack, and they discover she has been the victim of a sham diet plan run by American fraudsters Dean and Dana Deville in Hustle - 9:00 BBc1. Mickey decides to give the couple a taste of their own medicine, convincing them he has a miraculous diet pill to sell - and the gullible duo think they are onto a winner when Ash, at first wearing a fat suit, begins to speedily lose weight. John Barrowman, Raquel Cassidy and Jodie Prenger guest star, with Adrian Lester and Robert Glenister.
A murder inquiry is launched when the police are alerted to shocking Internet footage showing a teenage girl being attacked and shot in the latest episode of Law & Order: UK - 9:00 ITV. The investigation is hindered by the lack of a body, but the video provides enough clues to eventually put a name to the victim and track down her killers. However, a vow of silence between the defendants means Jake and Alesha face one of their toughest court battles yet. Very consistent drama starring Bradley Walsh, Harriet Walter, Freema Agyeman and Peter Davison.

Cutty Sark: National Treasure - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary following the restoration of the clipper ship after she was ravaged by fire in May 2007, offering an insight into the pioneering techniques and traditional skills used by conservationists to preserve her authenticity. The programme also charts the vessel's globe-trotting adventures from her launch in 1869. Featuring interviews with the people responsible for the Cutty Sark's rebirth, including the Duke of Edinburgh.
And so to the news: After this week's historic settlement with thirty seven phone-hacking victims, News International is in the middle of a bruising second round with a further batch of celebrities – including Charlotte Church, Steve Coogan and Pete Doherty – who are suing for damages. But few of the twenty three remaining cases are expected to get to court, according to the Gruniad Morning Star because of a conflict with potential criminal cases which may emanate from the scandal that engulfed the disgraceful Scum of the World. When the extent of phone-hacking was first revealed in 2009, civil action was the only course of redress for victims, because of the lack of police action and the fact that News International was defending its position, lawyers 'familiar with the case' snitched to the Gruniad like a dirty rotten Copper's Nark. But it was accepted at the high court during the settlement hearing that this is no longer the case. After more than twenty arrests over phone-hacking, computer-hacking and bribery and corruption, there is a likelihood of criminal charges later this year. There is also a view – aired in discussion in court on Thursday – that Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press ethics is now the best place to review all the cases. He has powers to see police evidence not seen by the civil litigants and is scheduled to hold a second inquiry into phone hacking once all the court cases are over. Currently, Mr Justice Vos, who presided over the settlement hearing on Thursday, is scheduled to hear a series of test civil cases on 13 February. Ten cases are 'ready, willing and able' to be heard on that date, Hugh Tomlinson, QC for the civil claimants, told the judge. These are cases being taken by Church, Coogan, Doherty along with the football agent Sky Andrew, Simon Hughes MP, Tracey Temple (the former mistress of Lord Prescott), jockey Kieren Fallon, Samantha Wallin (who allegedly had a child by Fallon) and Sally King (a friend of David Blunkett). The tenth victim is Laura Rooney, whose phone was allegedly hacked merely because she had the same surname as the famous footballer, Wayne. Coogan has already gone on record to say he is determined to 'have his day in court' and has said that he is one of the few rich enough to go to court and risk losing. One of the issues for any litigant is that the witness list will be limited because of the potential conflict with criminal trials. Evidence supplied by the police may also be restricted for the same reason. Of the twenty three cases, eight – including those brought by former spin doctor Alastair Campbell, footballer Paul Gascoigne and his friend Jimmy Five-Bellies Gardner – are in negotiation and are expected to be settled. Another five cases are unable to be heard on 13 February for technical reasons. These relate to Elle Macpherson's former adviser Mary Ellen Field, Ryan Giggs, Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell, Jacqui Hames, a police officer and presenter on Crimewatch and her husband David Cook, and Nicola Phillips, a former assistant to PR Max Clifford. Vos, who has been handling all the phone-hacking cases, was planning to hear five test cases in February which would then help establish a tariff of damages. By assessing damage and distress caused to different categories of litigants – victims of crime, celebrities, sports people – he would be providing a precedent for up to eight hundred potential victims who the police have identified (to date) as having being hacked or likely to have been hacked by the private investigator working for the Scum of the World. Among those originally scheduled as a so-called 'lead case' was Sheila Henry, mother of 7/7 victim Christian Small. Police are understood to have told Henry that her son's phone was targeted by the Scum of the World's private investigator Glenn Mulcaire after the July bombings in 2005. It is understood that she had left messages trying to find out her son's location on that day, when fifty two people died. She is one of those believed to be negotiating a settlement with News International.

Former Scum of the World editor Andy Coulson has put his house up for sale, reports Guido Fawkes in a fantastically - though, very amusingly - spiteful piece on his blog. The estate agent's asking price for the five-bedroomed Victorian detached house in south London is one million six hundred and fifty smackers. On 21 December, Coulson lost his high court bid to force News Group Newspapers to pay his potential legal costs over the phone-hacking affair. The judge also ordered Coulson to pay NGN's costs and refused him permission to appeal. Later that day, Fawkes revealed that Coulson was going to have to take his kids out of private school and would have to sell the family home. Coulson resigned as David Cameron's director of communications in January last year and is not thought to have worked since. He was arrested and bailed on 8 July by the Metropolitan police in connection with conspiracy to unlawfully intercept communications and payments to police officers. He has consistently denied allegations of criminal wrongdoing. Coulson recently attended the funeral for Daily Mirra columnist Sue Carroll and was also a guest at a party to celebrate the release of the movie WE, Madonna's dire film about Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. According to Daily Torygraph diarist Tim Walker, another former Scum of the World editor, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, also attended both of these events. Coulson and Brooks are said by Walker not to have spoken. As the subjects of a criminal investigation, it might be thought ill-advised for them to communicate. Brooks resigned as News International's chief executive in July last year and was arrested three days later by police investigating allegations of phone-hacking and allegations that police officers were bribed by journalists. Brooks and Coulson used to be close friends. When Brooks was briefly detained by police in November 2005 after a domestic dispute with her then husband, Ross Kemp, it was reportedly Coulson who turned up to offer assistance at the police station.

Christine Bleakley and Frank Lampard are reportedly planning a move to Los Angeles. Don't let us stop you. Mind you, this is all according to the Scum Mail on Sunday so, sadly, it's probably a load of bollocks. Tragedy. According to the newspaper the couple, who got engaged in June last year, could relocate to California if Lampard - as expected - gets his arse kicked out of Mosocw Chelski FC since they don't seem to rate him anymore and moves to LA Galaxy where all the old Galácticos who are past it go to die. Twatting About On Ice host Bleakley, meanwhile, is said to be 'confident' of finding presenting work in the US. Quite why she feels this when, as a nation, America has more than its own fair share of curiously orange, mouth-full-of-gobstopper, waste-of-space airheads is, at this time, unknown. But, Bleakley's not normally short of an atom bomb of insightful wit when answering such questions. No, sorry, that should read Bleakley is normally short of an atom bomb of insightful wit when answering such question. Good riddance to bad, greedy, rubbish. If you need a tenner for a taxi to the airport, guys, let this blog know, we'll organise a whip round.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. We'll stick with yer actual Be-Atles (popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) for the moment. And Joe Pytka's stunningly nostalgia-provoking video for 'Free As A Bird'.

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