Saturday, January 14, 2012

Week Four: We've Been Asked To Speak Politics To You Today!

Here's another mystery for Sherlock Holmes to solve. Eagle-eyed viewers – and the Sun – spotted a mystery object in the background of the second episode of the new series of BBC1's Sherlock that looked uncannily like the TARDIS.
Well ... sort of, I suppose.

The BBC is considering introducing 'controversial' plans to charge viewers for watching TV shows from its huge archive of content online. Well, controversial according to some Communist louse of no consequence at the Gruniad Morning Star who, seemingly, took five minutes off from rooting around in dustbins trying to find yet another completely invented Jeremy Clarkson story to file this. Under the plan the corporation is considering introducing a 'pay-per-view' scheme to charge viewers who want to watch thousands of hours of BBC programming after it has appeared on the iPlayer's seven-day catch up TV service. You know, like buying a DVD, for instance. The scheme is one of a number of ideas the corporation is looking at to attempt to recoup some of the considerable cost of making the BBC's enormous archive of programming available for viewing online. It is, this clown at Gruniad claims, 'almost certain to court controversy with licence-fee payers who are already charged £145.50 a year for access to BBC programming.' However, a spokesman for the BBC said that this is not a 'two-tier' licence fee system, but a micropayment to cover costs including payments that would have to be made to programme makers for the rights. 'We never stop future-gazing at the BBC and there are always a number of new ideas under discussion,' said the spokesman. 'Any such ideas would need to be developed in conjunction with the industry and with rights-holders and they would certainly not lead to a two-tier licence fee.' The plan does not involve BBC Worldwide, which is responsible for commercialising BBC content, and would only involve charging a small fee to cover costs. If the 'pay-per-view' scheme gets the greenlight it will not be implemented until about 2016.

The West Wing's producer John Wells has claimed that the show would never broadcast on network television in 2012. The political drama, which starred Martin Sheen, Richard Schiff, Rob Lowe and Bradley Whitford, was broadcast on NBC from 1999 to 2006. It remains the greatest TV show in the history of the medium (that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title, anyway). Promoting his new show, Shameless, at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, Wells said: 'It took us a long time to sell West Wing at the time, and I think it would be completely impossible to sell it now to network television. You would take that show to cable [these days].' However, the producer added that competition from cable is forcing network television to take more risks. 'I've noticed an increased willingness to take risks at the networks and try different things,' he said. 'The network numbers have come down and the cable numbers have come up and the audience is now looking for their shows wherever they can be found. But we would never be able to sell [ABC's '80s Vietnam War drama] China Beach to a network now. I would never be able to sell ER, actually, which was hard to sell to a network at the time.' The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin's new show The Newsroom will be broadcast on cable channel HBO later this year.
Dennis Miller has signed up for a guest role in Hawaii Five-0. The former Saturday Night Live star will appear in an episode of the CBS drama during February sweeps, TV Line reports. He is expected to play a talk radio DJ who becomes bored after retiring. In an attempt to give himself something to do, he sets up a pirate radio show in Hawaii. Ed Asner also recently signed up to appear in Hawaii Five-0, thirty six years after he starred in the original version of the show.

There's a very interesting piece asking the question does a show becoming much talked about on social media have anything to do with how many people actually watch the thing by Red Bee's Emma Willis.

Great to see Hustle - finally - back last night after an extra week's delay for its eighth (and final) series. Decent episode too - the curious case of Rushie's beard, notwithstanding. The episode has an overnight audience of 5.1m viewers.
And so to yer next actual Top Telly Tips:

Saturday 21 January
Birgitte's proposal for gender quotas in the boardrooms of Danish companies causes controversy both in parliament and the outside world in the latest episode of Borgen, Men Who Love Women - 9:00 BBC4. She is also confronted by the country's most powerful businessman, who makes a demand that could have serious consequences for her and her coalition government. Elsewhere, a tired and emotional Katrine is reluctant to accept an offer of help, and shady Kasper's romantic life becomes increasingly tangled.
That's immediately followed by episode six in which the president of a former Soviet republic makes an official visit, and announces his plans to make a sizeable investment in Danish wind turbine technology. However, the arrival of a noted dissident from his country embroils Birgitte and her government in a serious conflict, and leaves her with a moral dilemma on her hands. The embattled prime minister also faces trouble at home, as her father clashes with Philip. Utterly superb Danish political drama starring Sidse Babett Knudsen, Birgitte Hjort, Juul Pilou Asbaek and Mikael Birkkjaer. If you liked The West Wing (or, State of Play or House of Cards etc.) then you'll love this. If you haven't caught it yet, then you need to put that right. Forthwith, if not sooner.

Elsewhere on a, frankly, bit of rubbish night for TV, we've got Casualty - 8:40 BBC1 - in which Linda's sister turns up in the ED accompanied by her teenage daughter and young son. She's on the run from social services and desperate for a place to stay. The nurse agrees to assist her, but soon regrets the decision. Meanwhile, Lloyd's determination to help a patient suffering from memory loss inadvertently places her in danger. Starring Christine Tremarco and Michael Obiora.

Sunday 22 January
Oh no, Sherlock's finished. What am us to do now with our Sunday nights? Never fear, dear blog reader, the BBC have something else to get your hooked. For the next two weeks at least. Birdsong - 9:00 BB1 - is the first of a two-part drama based on Sebastian Faulks' best-selling novel about two lovers brought together and torn apart by the First World War. France, 1910, and Englishman Stephen Wraysford arrives to work at the textile factory of the Azaire family, only to fall desperately in love with his host's wife Isabelle. Before long, the pair begin an illicit and all-consuming passionate affair, with the grunting and the shunting and the big hot sweaty punting. With huge consequences for them both. Eddie Redmayne and Clemence Poesy star as the lovers, with support from Joseph Mawle, Richard Madden and Matthew Goode. Adapted by Abi Morgan, writer of The Hour and current Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady.

Danny finds a potential lifeline for the family as he pitches for a grant from a pharmaceutical company looking to fund an environmental project in the latest episode of Wild At Heart - 8:30 BBC1. The money would enable them to buy their former home, but Danny's old boss Ed Lynch turns out to be his rival. Du Plessis is determined to do whatever it takes to prevent the sale of Leopard's Den to Lynch - but his plan has disastrous consequences. Or, possibly, hilarious consequences. With this show, one is never too sure.

Tony Robinson and the team of intrepid diggers investigate Gateholm Island, Pembrokeshire, where a number of mysterious artefacts were discovered years ago, suggesting the site was once of religious importance in the first episode of a new (nineteenth) series of one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite TV formats, Time Team, 6:00 Channel Four. The archaeologists - as usual - battle inclement weather to begin a dig on the mainland. Incredibly, it seems that Gateholm Island was once inhabited, but whether it was inhabited by Romans, Vikings or Celts nobody knows. A handful of mysterious objects were found on the island years ago, including a rare Roman stone phallus and a beautiful bronze stag, suggesting that it may have been some sort of religious centre. Of course, the team have to dig for answers, but the weather's throwing everything it has at them. To make their task that bit tougher, they discover they also need to dig at a second site a quarter of a mile away. Team leader Francis Pryor thinks it looks like what they're investigating is a classic Iron Age fort, with curved banks and ditches on one side and a sheer cliff on the other. If he's right, it should give Phil Harding and his diggers at least enough work to keep them busy for three days. And if he's wrong, there's no hiding place on this beautiful but bleak coast. And, as usual, dear old Phil says 'Oooo, arrr' a lot. Predictable, but brilliant. And frequently unmissable.

With just months to go before the big event, Jeff Brown and Katie Gornall meet the northern athletes hoping for Olympic and Paralympic success this summer in Olympic Dreams - 5:00 BBC1. Long jumper Chris Tomlinson keeps his own video diary as he struggles to overcome injury. Boxer Amanda Coulson, quite literally, fights for her place in the Games, and we look back to hear from some of the northerners who made Olympic history -including the diver who trained by jumping off a board into a pond outside a County Durham colliery.

Monday 23 January
Agnes goes on a diet after her family's comments about her weight, but soon realises how difficult it will be to lay off the fish and chips in the latest episode of Mrs Brown's Boys - 9:30 BBC1. Yes, that's most definitely a problem that yer actual Keith Telly Topping has faced in his time. His tip, dear blog reader, ignore all diets - they're crap. Meanwhile, Cathy's new partner seems more interested in her mother when he visits the Brown household, and Rory has a professional dilemma when he discovers illegal drugs at work.

The Real Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines: A Wonderland Film - 9:00 BBC2 - follows three teams as they take part in the Round Britain Rally, an amateur microlighting contest in which participants fly around as much of its coastline as possible. The pilots risk their lives as they take on the ultimate test, sleeping under the wing of their light aircraft and doing their best to keep the machines in one piece.

In Above Suspicions - 9:00 ITV - Travis follows her instincts independently from the team, but her devotion to the force begins to lead her down a dangerous path. Langton continues to suspect that his colleagues scuppered his chances of becoming Commander, and tries to secure a confession from one of them. Crime drama, starring Kelly Reilly, Ciaran Hinds, Michelle Holmes and Shaun Dingwall. Last in the series.

Tuesday 24 January
Following the opening four episodes of week three, the twelve finalists face one another in the kitchen for the first time in the latest series of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1. They now have just ninety minutes to prepare a big sexy dish of their own choosing for a selection of former MasterChef contestants - including the winners from the past seven series (Tim The Mad Professor, Dhruv, Mat Follas et al) and impressing the sodding bejesus out of them. They must also cope with the scrutiny of John Torode, who is determined to ensure every course is prepared to his exacting standards. In an enjoyably shouty way. Gregg Wallace stands around smirking a lot and getting all orgasmic when presented with a nice pudding. India Fisher makes the word 'jeu' sound like porn. Wouldn't have it any other way, frankly.

Sally Lindsay narrates a tribute to Coronation Street's feisty character Becky McDonald, played by Katherine Kelly, who leaves the Weatherfield cobbles this week after six action-packed years on the soap in Farewell Becky - 7:30 ITV. The programme features interviews with members of the cast, including Simon Gregson (Steve McDonald) and Kate Ford (Tracy Barlow), and charts Becky's journey from her first appearance in a police station through her many triumphs and traumas, and ends with her emotional send-off on the show.

Officers from the West Midlands Police Dangerous Dogs Unit try to tackle the growing problem of attacks by dangerous and illegal dogs on Britain's streets in Death Row Dogs - 10:35 BBC1. The programme investigates why, despite laws introduced in the early 1990s, criminals are still using breeds such as pit bulls to carry out attacks, and discovers the legal complications that sometimes lead to sociable animals being destroyed and potentially violent ones going free.

Wednesday 25 January
Dermot O'Dreary hosts the star-studded ceremony celebrating the best of British TV over the past year, as the biggest names on the small screen gather at the O2 Arena for the results of a nationwide poll across fourteen categories in The National Television Awards - 7:30 ITV. Ratings rivals Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor are named in the line-up for the nation's favourite talent shows alongside Britain's Got Talent and Twatting About on Ice, while Downton Abbey is nominated for the first time as best drama, up against Merlin and former NTA winners Doctor Who and Waterloo Road. A new award recognising reality programmes sees The Only Way Is Essex, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want), Come Dine with Me and The Apprentice battle it out, and the Loose Women take on Jonathan Ross, Graham Norton and Alan Carr in the talk show category. Dermot himself could also take home the trophy for best entertainment presenter, facing competition from Ant and Dec, Keith Lemon and Michael McIntyre.

Glamour model-turned-bodybuilder Jodie Marsh relives uncomfortable memories of her secondary school years, during which she became a target for bullies in Jodie Marsh - Bullied: My Secret Past - 8:00 Channel Five. She reveals how an injury during a hockey match altered her facial appearance, resulting in barbed taunts and physical abuse that eventually prompted her to contemplate suicide. She explains how it took her the better part of a decade to recover from the ordeal, and tries to make use of her experiences to help vulnerable schoolchildren who have also fallen victim to bullying. All of which sounds excellent - a properly important subject that affects many people tackled in a thoughtful way. What's the betting, however, that Channel Five - a network owned by a soft-core pornographer - will manage to trivialise and tabloidise the subject? I've got two-to-one on, any takers?

Primatologist Dr Anna Nekaris travels to the Indonesian island of Java to investigate the slow loris in the latest episode of Natural World, Jungle Gremlins of Java - 8:00 BBC2. The loris is a creature often considered cute, but possessing a deadly toxic bite unusual in a primate. Heading deeper into the jungle to find out more about its lethal capabilities, she makes a surprising discovery.
Thursday 26 January
We're given a A bird's-eye view of Asia and Australia in Earthflight - 8:00 BBC1. Demoiselle cranes negotiate a dangerous Himalayan pass on their way to India, while in Rajasthan, vultures watch hunting tigers and pigeons visit a temple dedicated to sacred rats. Down Under, rainbow lorikeets patrol the Gold Coast and budgerigars pass Ayers Rock and gather in one of the biggest flocks ever recorded. Narrated by David Tennant.

Historian Dan Snow uncovers the secrets of one of Britain's most significant discoveries - the Staffordshire Hoard in Saxon Hoard: A Golden Discovery - 8:00 BBC2. Found by an amateur metal detecting enthusiast in 2009, the cache of three thousand five hundred items offers an array of new clues into the Dark Ages, and the presenter pieces together the lives of the people who lived in these kingdoms.
In Top of the Pops 1977 The Beard of Despair Noel Edmonds presents an edition from 20 January 1977, the second week in which David Soul's 'Don't Give Up On Us' topped the chart. The show also features performances by Slade, Leo Sayer ('Bay-Be!'), Donna Summer, Silver Convention, Jesse Green, Thin Lizzy, The Drifters and Gary Glitter, as well as dance troupe Legs and Co.

We'll Take Manhatten is a much anticipated one-off drama - 9:00 BBc4 - based on the story of David Bailey's 1962 photoshoot in Manhattan with model Jean Shrimpton. Against the wishes of his editor at the UK imprint of Vogue, Bailey disregards the conventions of contemporary fashion photography and sets out to create distinctive, original images. During the course of a week in New York, both he and his muse accidentally change the course of both of their lives, as well as the world of fashion. Drama, starring Karen Gillan, Aneurin Barnard and Helen McCrory. Written and directed by John McKay.

In the latest episode of Mad Dogs - 9:00 Sky1 - the friends go on the run in Ibiza with the bag of money in tow, but strange forces come into play when they try to cover their tracks by heading to a remote mountain village. Psychological thriller, starring Max Beesley, Philip Glenister, John Simm and Marc Warren.
Friday 27 January
Delayed by a week due to circumstances beyond its control, Hustle - 9:00 BBC1 - features an episode which gives Ash (the terrific Robert Glenister) the chance to have his moment in the sun. He does so with a rousing speech about honour as he confronts a couple of gang bosses, including a sharp-suited Martin Kemp channelling elements of his two villainous roles, Reggie Kray and Steve Owen from EastEnders. Central to the story are a stolen Picasso drawing and a fake Picasso drawing. Both pass through the hands of various London underworld figures and the real one has to be secured by the Hustlers, otherwise a nasty man will kill Mickey, who spends almost the entire episode in the boot of a car. There's a reason for that: Adrian Lester directed the episode. The grifters discover a valuable Picasso has been stolen, so they try to sell a forgery of the painting back to the original owner - only to come unstuck when Mickey is kidnapped. To rescue their leader, the team have to find out who took the original and then steal it back, but with so many fakes and double-crossers lurking behind every corner, they have a challenge on their hands to save Mickey in time. Sheila Hancock and Bill Bailey guest star.
In the opening episode of the three-part How the Brits Rocked America, Go West the audience is told the remarkable story of British musics attempts to find success in the USA, beginning in the 1960s, the decade in which acts including The Beatles, The Hollies, The Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits and The Animals found fame on both sides of the Atlantic. The documentary examines how British musicians and American audiences became fascinated by each other's cultures, and features contributions by Paul McCartney, Graham Nash, Peter Noone, Eric Burdon, Donovan and Mickey Dolenz.

The news, now: Singer Charlotte Church has sued the People, demanding libel damages for a story in which the risible Sunday tabloid falsely claimed that she had drunkenly proposed to her boyfriend while singing karaoke in a Cardiff pub. The story, headlined Marryoke – Charlotte proposes after pub karaoke session, was published on 6 November last year and Church swiftly issued a comprehensive denial. Her statement, carried in the Daily Scum Mail, said: 'This story is a complete fabrication. I have not proposed to my boyfriend, drunkenly or otherwise. It is embarrassing for me (and him) for our families and friends to read that I have. I was not in the pub they mention on the night they allege this happened. I haven't been there for five months. At the time that I was apparently drunkenly proposing I was in fact performing in a completely different town with a large public audience. There is literally not one shred of truth in this story.' It transpired that Church and her boyfriend, Jonathan Powell, had been giving a live concert at the Acapella Studio in Pentrych, some miles from Cardiff. In a BBC story the following day, Church attacked an 'out of control tabloid industry.' Three weeks after the story appeared - and just the day before Church was due to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry - the People published a spectacularly terse and unconvincing 'apology': 'On 6 November 2011, we said Charlotte Church had proposed marriage to Jonathan Powell at a boozy karaoke night at the Robin Hood pub in Cardiff. We were misinformed. On the night in question Ms Church and Mr Powell were performing a gig at studios in Pentyrch, Cardiff and Ms Church did not propose that night or at all. We are happy to set the record straight and we apologise for our mistake.' Church told the Leveson inquiry that the apology was not good enough. The terms of the apology had not been agreed in advance. In Church's claim, she states that she suffered 'substantial damage' to her reputation because of the story, as well as 'considerable hurt', distress and embarrassment. The writ alleges that the People failed to take proper steps to check the allegations. She further claims that the paper invented quotes attributed to her, Powell and to an unidentified - and, it would appear, entirely fictitious - friend. Church argues that despite a complaint from her solicitors. Lee and Thompson, the paper failed to provide a full and proper explanation as to how the story came to be published in the first place. The day before she gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry the paper published a brief - mealy-mouthed - apology despite her wish that any apology should only be published in an agreed form. Church is seeking damages and an injunction banning repetition of the allegations made against her. Church is also engaged in a legal action against News International over alleged phone-hacking, along with her parents, James and Maria. A Bloomberg story reveals that the Churches filed a writ last month against NI and the private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who worked for the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. During her evidence to Leveson, Church said that police had told her Mulcaire had targeted her phone.
All tabloid newspapers could be 'reputationally damaged' if journalists are allowed to submit anonymous evidence to the Leveson inquiry into press standards, the Daily Scum Mail publisher has told the high court. Oh dear. What a shame. And, for an industry that thrives on quoting anonymous (and often entirely fictitious) sources one trusts that the irony of this claim is lost on no one. Associated Newspapers told the court on Friday that 'untested' testimony from journalists could unfairly tar its titles 'with a broad brush.' Yes. And the problem with this is? The Daily Scum Mail, Scum Mail on Sunday and Metro publisher wants the high court to overturn a ruling by Lord Justice Leveson that journalists can submit anonymised evidence to his inquiry. Leveson ruled in November that the anonymous submissions would not name any individual or any specific newspaper. About twenty journalists have submitted anonymous evidence to the inquiry. It is due to be heard by Leveson from the week beginning Monday 25 January. Mark Warby QC, counsel for Associated Newspapers, told the court that such evidence could damage the 'rights and interests' of all tabloids, which 'are, in a very real sense, on trial.' He argued that because the evidence would not explicitly identify specific newspapers, the public would reasonably have suspicions about all 'predominantly tabloid and midmarket titles.' Warby referred to evidence submitted on behalf of the National Union of Journalists, which he said includes 'serious allegations of illegality and unethical behaviour.' He told the court that 'any title in that group is likely to be defamed' if allegations of impropriety are made by journalists. 'The point is, everybody [would be] under reasonable suspicion of having being involved,' he said. 'It is incomplete and an incompletely reasoned balancing exercise which ignores reputational concerns and gives the superficial appearance of fairness.' Robert Jay QC, counsel to the Leveson inquiry, argued that there was 'no basis' to the complaint that all newspapers would suffer reputational damage from journalists giving anonymous evidence. He told the court that the inquiry would be 'denied the opportunity to hear and access vital evidence' if Associated Newspapers' challenge is successful, adding that the inquiry had only made a 'gateway determination' that anonymous testimony may be permissible and had not made a decision on individual cases. Jay referred to the witness HJK, who gave evidence to the inquiry anonymously in November. He pointed out that no journalists or newspapers had been named in HJK's evidence, and that no core participant to the inquiry had raised any objections at the time. The hearing continues. Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Sweeney and Mrs Justice Sharp are expected to hand down judgement on whether the Leveson inquiry acted unlawfully by permitting anonymous evidence at a later date.

Strike a light cor blimey guv'nor. And various other cheeky Cock-er-knee cliches. Simon Wicksy Wicks was back in Albert Square on Friday night to lay some flowers on his mom's grave. But blink and you may have missed the former EastEnders heartthrob. Wicky, played by Nick Berry returned to say farewell to his mum, Pat. Simon's brother David – played by erstwhile Holby City star Michael French – has also been back this week, having returned to Walford on New Year's Day after fifteen years away. Emotional stuff, no doubt. But will Berry's return signal another number one hit single as bad as 'Every Loser Wins'? It could be worse, of course – Berry could be returning to In Deep, the not-very-good detective drama he made with Stephen Tompkinson. Or even, perish the thought, Harbour LightsHeartbeat without the pulse.
Actually, here's a little story that might amuse, dear blog reader. Some years ago, along with a co-writer, yer actual Keith Telly Topping sold the script of a two-part pilot for a potential crime drama series to Nick's production company, Valentine. It never came to anything in the end, as many TV formats don't for one reason of another - mostly, because they're not very good. Last heard of, my thing was sitting on the desk of someone at ITV and has, presumably, been stuck between floors in Development Hell ever since. But, the point of all this is that this blogger's break into TV writing almost came via Nick. Almost, but not quite. For that reason, if not anything he actually did on-screen in Heartbeat, et al, I've always had a bit of time for that chap. And, he was very good in the - now virtually forgotten - Mystery of Men, too. Nice to have you back in primetime, Nick.

The author of the Dalziel and Pascoe crime novels, Reginald Hill, has died at the age of seventy five. His agent said that Hill had died peacefully at home in Cumbria on Thursday after a year long battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife of fifty one years, Pat, and two brothers, David and Desmond. Ian Rankin, the author of the Rebus books, described Hill as a 'fine writer and a great wit.' Hill was born in Hartlepool in 1936, where his father was playing professional football for the town's team, before moving to Cumbria with his family at the age of three. He studied English at Oxford University and worked as a teacher but kept writing. He eventually saw his first book, A Clubbable Woman, published in 1970. In 2010, the novel made the long list for the Lost Man Booker Prize which aimed to redress an anomaly which had meant that books published in 1970 were not eligible for the annual literary award. In 1980 Hill gave up teaching to write full time. The Dalziel and Pascoe crime novels found a wider audience when they were turned into a BBC television drama in 1996 featuring Warren Clarke and Colin Buchanan. The author of more than forty books, Hill won the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger in 1995 for his lifetime contribution to crime writing. Rankin paid tribute to him on Twitter. He said Hill was: 'A lovely man, fine writer, great wit. Great intelligence, humour and plotting; Falstaffian main character; literary sensibility - all found in Reginald Hill's Dalziel books.' Fellow crime writer Mark Billingham described him as 'a wonderful writer and the loveliest of men. One of a kind.'

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. A piece of vintage scratch dub from Yer Righteous Lee Perry his very self. Tune.

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