Sunday, February 19, 2012

Week Nine: Let Me Be Who I Am, And Let Me Kick Out The Jams

Matt Smith is to feature on Top Gear as the Star in the Reasonably Priced Car. The segment of the popular motoring show - well, except with hippy-Communist-louse Gruniad Morning Star reporters and anti-BBC-on-principle jackbooted thug scum bully boys from the Daily Scum Mail, and the Daily Torygraph and the Daily Mirra ... and Mexicans, of course - was recorded at the Top Gear test track last Wednesday as Matt was put through his paces by The Stig. His attempts will appear in the episode due to be broadcast on 26 February on BBC2 and BBC HD. Both of Matt's immediate predecessors in the role of The Doctor have appeared on the show in the past, albeit in different cars. Christopher Eccleston drove round the track in the original reasonably priced car, a Suzuki Liana in 2005, a task which he completed in 1:53:4. Slower than Eddie Izzard. But, faster than Vinnie Jones. David Tennant followed in 2007 in the, slightly faster, Chevrolet Lacetti. He did his lap in 1:48:8 (half a second slower than co-star Billie Piper had previously achieved. Albeit, she cut a corner. But Jeremy Clarkson let her get away with it because she was wearing a see-through top!) Matt will be driving the show's third reasonably priced car, a Kia Cee'd which has been used for the last three series. The current faster lap time is held by Matt LeBlanc (1:42:1), followed by Rowan Atkinson, John Bishop and Ross Noble.

Matt's Doctor Who co-star Alex Kingston has been talking about the period setting on Upstairs, Downstairs (returning to BBC1 this weekend): 'Setting this series just before the Second World War is clever,' Alex noted. 'In 2012, our world is changing radically and that is reflected in Upstairs Downstairs, too. These characters are on the verge of something, they don’t know what is going to happen and people will identify with their fears. This is the beginning of the modern world and here is a society just clinging onto what they know, but it is going to change irrevocably.'

When a substantial portion of the nation settles down to watch the first episode of Upstairs Downstairs on BBC1 on Sunday, many will be wondering how the latest series will match up to its ITV rival, Downton Abbey. But as the conveyor belt of period drama continues to deliver polished productions of life in the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, one of Britain's most successful television executives is arguing that Sunday-night television programmers needs to leave their middle-aged comfort zone. Sir Peter Bazalgette, who has been both celebrated and vilified for his role in bringing Big Brother to British television screens, believes the BBC needs to deliver a wider range of dramas, including those dealing with contemporary subjects and designed to appeal to younger audiences. 'BBC1 needs to have a mix,' said Bazalgette. 'When X Factor is on ITV during the autumn it is quite right that BBC1 has the older "skewing" show, Strictly Come Dancing. But generally speaking, it is important to have a mix and appeal to all viewers of all ages. The more contemporary you go, the more risky the drama. But all arts bodies receiving state funds are expected to take risks. The licence fee, as public money, is there to encourage the BBC to make an investment in risk.' At a recent media conference Bazalgette described BBC Sunday-night scheduling as a bizarre 'heritage zone.' Statistics suggest that Sunday evenings on BBC1 have become a refuge for middle-aged middle Britain, with around ninety per cent of its audience aged over thirty five. Programmes such as Songs of Praise, Antiques Roadshow, Countryfile and Call the Midwife have conspicuously failed to attract younger viewers. An analysis of BBC1, compiled using Broadcasters' Audience Research Board figures, of the hours between 6pm and 10pm from 15 January, when the first episode of Call the Midwife was screened, to 5 February, showed that ninety per cent of the audience was over thirty five, meaning just seven hundred and nineteen thousand under-thirty fives were watching. Women comprised fifty seven per cent of the audience. The comparatively affluent were heavily represented, with fifty seven per cent belonging to the top social bracket of ABC1. The big exception to the trend is Sherlock, which took the percentage of under-thirty fives watching on 15 January to seventeen per cent. Former BBC executives confirm that the 'safe way' to get big audiences and maintain BBC1's dominance over ITV is to 'super-serve' loyal older viewers who watch more than the average four hours and two minutes of TV each day during the winter. 'Women aged over fifty five watch significantly more television, an average of thirty nine hours and thirty four minutes a week,' confirmed Thinkbox, the body that represents commercial television. As Britain's population ages, that audience is growing. Danny Cohen, the controller of BBC1, who took over the billion-pound annual budget last year, shrugs off criticisms of a Sunday-night heritage zone. 'There is no particular shift to target older viewers,' he told the Observer. 'Dramas are chosen by the quality of the scripts, and period dramas do tend to attract older viewers. At this time of the year you tend to have those sort of shows,' he said, with the recent adaptations of Birdsong and Great Expectations bearing this out. Cohen has ordered a second, longer series of Call the Midwife, and another new drama series in production is about The Wars of the Roses, based on Philippa Gregory's novels. He added: 'I think it is wonderful that British viewers have such a great and intelligent interest in history and the historical context. The enduring interest in the classic novel now sits alongside an audience hunger for television drama that brings the past to life. It's very British to say "here's a success, let's knock it."' He rejected the idea that the BBC was playing safe. 'I think that's nonsense. Call the Midwife rated fourth on an internal BBC monitor of what is viewed as "fresh and new", after Earthflight, Sherlock and Mrs Brown's Boys. I would really argue it is not a safe commission.' Bazalgette said: 'The BBC's natural default position is heart-warming heritage, and then they occasionally lurch into contemporary when criticised. They need to think of younger audiences; they are at the heart of Britain too.' But he also pointed out that historical series such as Upstairs Downstairs and Call the Midwife had taken several years to develop, and were inherited by Cohen. 'I would be very surprised if he did not now want to introduce a more contemporary feel.'

Which brings us to the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips in the area:

Saturday 25 February
Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman return as more famous faces take part in the unorthodox general knowledge quiz in one of the most aptly named TV shows ever, Pointless Celebrities - BBC1 6.15. Yes, that sounds about right, I'd've said. In this opening edition of this shit excuse for a format, the duo challenge Christopher Biggins and Lesley Joseph fer Christ's sake to come up with the least likely correct answers to a series of questions posed to members of the public. 'Celebrities'? Can we have a recount, please. Because, to sum up, what we've actually got here is one person who hasn't been on TV in a decade (and, wasn't very good when she was on it) and another camp old hasbeen who now makes his living appearing on arse the likes of this. Oh, I must drop everything and watch this show, dear blog reader. Something tells me it's going to be a winner. Please, for God's sake, Ben Miller, stop being so good in Death In Paradise and get back to writing your sketch show with Xander so he doesn't feel obliged to keep signing himself up for crap like this.

In I'm In A Boy Band - BBC2 9:20 - we have the first of three programmes exploring the experience of, well, being in a boy band, basically. So, you know, you can't criticised them for false advertising or do them under the Trades Description's Act on that score. Why anybody would want to watch somebody talking about 'the experience of being in a boy band' is another matter entirely and one which, I think, we should sit quietly and think about, dear blog reader. And, now we're done. This conceit features contributions by a cross-generational selection of artists, including members of Motown ensembles The Four Tops (who weren't 'a boy band' or anything even remotely like it so that's probably one thing you can do them for under the Trades Description's Act) and The Jackson Five (though, one guesses, not Michael). As well as modern groups such as One Direction.

A renowned local resident is found dead at a notorious hotbed of prostitution on the outskirts of Vigata, and the coroner's findings suggest a romantic rendezvous may have played a part in his demise in the latest episode of Inspector Montalbano - BBC4 9:00. Montalbano tries to get to the bottom of the matter, but is hampered by interference from ecclesiastical and political dignitaries who are desperate to keep the more scandalous details of the case from becoming public knowledge. Well, this is Sicily we're talking about, the church and politics, essentially, amounts to the same thing. Fending off pressure from prominent local figures who wish to keep the case under wraps and navigating the intricacies of party politics, Montalbano goes about making sense of the available evidence, including the incongruous discovery of an expensive necklace found at the site of the murder. Italian crime drama, starring Luca Zingaretti.

Sunday 26 February
Jeremy Clarkson and James May pay tribute to Saab, the Swedish car manufacturer whose future looks uncertain, but which has created several successful models since production began in the late 1940s in the latest episode of Top Gear - 8:00 BBC2. Richard Hammond takes the passenger's seat in a Skoda rally car that races a rocket-propelled flying man. And, as noted previously, Doctor Who star Matt Smith gets behind the wheel of the Reasonably Priced Car to see if he can go faster than his predecessors Chris Eccleston and David Tennant went. Jeremy also shreds the tyres of the noisy Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale and the 510bhp Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series. And some knobwipe from the Gruniad Morning Star will complain about something. As usual. Which is always good for a larf.

After a couple of weeks of episodes starting at, like, just after four o'clock, Tony Robinson and the Time Team head to Swansea at 5:20 on Channel Four. Why it's an hour and twenty minutes later that the previous episode, Gold only knows. Nice to see Channel Four treating one of their longest-running and most popular formats like a turd they've accidentally trodden in. Two hundred years ago, Swansea was one of the wealthiest cities in the country, if not the world. The source of those riches was neither the coal nor the steel recently associated with the area, but copper. The Welsh port city once led the world in copper smelting, but today there's almost nothing to be seen of this unique heritage. So Tony Robinson and the Team investigate one of the very first copper works, White Rock. Records show that its Great Workhouse housed as many as twenty furnaces, right by the River Tawe, and also that copper production once devastated this landscape, leeching deadly toxins into the ground and sending countless workers to an early grave. The poisonous fumes blighted the landscape, and the valley was described as akin to Dante's Inferno, with smoke, noise and pollution. It's a complete contrast to what can be seen there today. But as the archaeologists strip turf and shift tonnes of muck, they reveal the traces of this once-great industry and rediscover the story of the men who worked in it.

Brody (the excellent Damien Lewis) struggles to live a normal life at home with his wife (the equally excellent Morena Baccarin) and family, suffering hallucinations, nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by his eight years in al-Qaeda captivity in the second episode of Homeland - 9:00 Channel Four. But while Estes tries to get the hero soldier in front of the cameras to remind everyone of the conflict, Carrie remains convinced he is not telling the truth about his ordeal and keeps his house under constant surveillance. Brody is in the kitchen when he spots a reporter lurking in his backyard. He goes out and tells the reporter he has ten seconds to get off his property. The reporter takes the opportunity to start asking Brody some questions instead. Brody violently strikes him in the throat while son Chris (Jackson Pace) watches in horror. Brody, looking disoriented, wanders off. Superior US political thriller, also starring Claire Danes and David Harewood. 24 with a brain, essentially. I really hope this finds an audience because, on the evidence of the first couple of episodes, it's the best thing to come out of the States since Lost finished.

Lady Agnes distracts herself from her bad news by throwing a dinner party, where she catches the eye of charismatic American millionaire Casper Landry - and it is clear the attraction is mutual in Upstairs Downstairs - 9:00 BBC1. But the festivities are interrupted by news of the Nazis going on the rampage in Germany, leaving many Jews dead and Lady Persie needing a safe passage home, forcing the family to pull together and do its best to help. Meanwhile, Mrs Thackeray has one too many arguments with Mr Pritchard, prompting her to make a momentous decision that throws the running of the house into chaos.

Kirby, a charismatic ghost from the 1970s, turns up at Honolulu Heights claiming Nina sent him to help look after Eve in Being Human - 9:00 BBC3. Annie is instantly disarmed by his easy charm, and begins to suspect her departed friend might have turned matchmaker. Tom also finds himself drawn to the newcomer, happy to accept an alpha male into the house to teach him the ways of the world.
Only Hal remains suspicious, and Kirby makes it known the distrust is entirely mutual.

Monday 27 February
The angriest, least tolerant man to TV (and that's why we love him) Jeremy Paxman presents a five-part documentary tracing the story of the British Empire, beginning by asking how such a tiny island in the North Atlantic came to rule more than a quarter of the world's population in Empire - 9:00 BBC1. Paxo travels to India, where soldiers and maharajahs helped a handful of British traders to take over vast areas of land, and to Egypt, where a temporary peace-keeping visit turned into a seventy-year occupation. He also travels to the desert where Lawrence of Arabia brought a touch of romance to the grim struggle of the First World War and tells the story of the triumphant conquest of Palestine by Imperial troops - and Britain's role in a conflict which still haunts the Middle East to this day.

In the latest episode of The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff - 9:00 BBC2 - Jedrington Secret-Past questions the morality of his business empire as he comes to terms with the apparent death of his wife, before being visited by three ghostly rabbits. As you do. Meanwhile, the pupils of St Nasty's suffer the worst extremes of Victorian education, Victor goes missing in a suspicious accident involving an automatic caning machine, and a mysterious amnesiac woman is spotted wandering the East End. Will the Artful Codger be able to help her in her hour of need? Dickensian spoof with Robert Webb and Johnny Vegas.

The two-part series finale of Whitechapel begins tonight - ITV 9:00 - when a dangerous patient and former Whitechapel resident escapes from a psychiatric unit around the same time that a babysitter is found murdered. With the area becoming the focus of a series of terrifying events in quick succession, Chandler's quest to bring in a suspect alive jeopardises his relationship with Miles. Third series finale, starring Rupert Penry-Jones and Phil Davis. it has to be noted that, on the evidence of the first two stories, Whitechapel is back to the bonkers-but-fun levels of the first series after the hugely disappointing 2010 season.

Tuesday 28 February
In 1970, an exploding oxygen tank put paid to NASA's third mission to the moon, and left the astronauts - Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and the late Jack Swigert - in extreme danger two hundred thousand miles from Earth. For six days the world held its collective breath as the story dominated news programmes. (And, given that all this happened in the week that The Beatles broke up, that really is saying something.) Thankfully, through a combination of the skill and bravery of the astronauts, the combined intellectual problem-solving weight of the best minds at NASA and some luck, they made it home in one piece. Twenty-five years later, Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton starred in Apollo 13, the Oscar-winning account of the disaster. But how much of the film was fact and how much was fiction? Channel Five attempt to give you the answer in Apollo 13: The True Story - 8:00. The short answer is, as anyone who's seen the film will know, it got pretty close. This documentary highlights the heroism of everyone involved, investigates the real cause of the explosion that crippled the spacecraft and reveals how close the trio really were to carbon dioxide poisoning and who built the air filter that saved them. Contributors include Jim Lovell, retired NASA engineer Glynn Lunney, science writer Jeffrey Kluger and the movie's director, Ron Howard.

The popular supernatural drama The Vampire Diaries returns after a mid-series break - 9:00 ITV2. A furious Klaus turns to violence to try to retrieve the coffins holding the bodies of his family that were hidden by Stefan. After a frightening incident, Elena and Alaric become more concerned than ever about Jeremy, while Tyler continues to enjoy his new status as a hybrid, though he does not realise the consequences of his actions. Enjoyable enough fluff for what it is although it's always worth remembering that Joss Whedon did it all with a lot more depth and hell of a lot more class a decade ago in Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Beauticians from Loughton in Essex, enlist the help of the Diversity frontman to teach them how to street dance in the T show with the most ludicrous title quite possibly of all-time, Ashley Banjo's Secret Street Crew - 9:00 Sky 1. But, tragedy, problems arise when one member of the group becomes age-conscious, and another's negative attitude holds her back. Just when you think television cannot throw up anything more risible and degrading than Don't Scare The Hare, along come Sky to prove you wrong.

Gemma is distressed to discover Andy has been released on bail due to insufficient evidence, and worries the case against Steve is breaking down, while suspecting he knows about her betrayal in the latest episode of Prisoners' Wives - 9:00 BBC1. Paul sends Francesca a map so they can sneak off for sex during family visiting day, and Lou moves in with Harriet, desperate to get Mason out of care - and with no idea how she will break the news to Sean about their son.

Wednesday 29 February
The five remaining contestants enter the seventh week of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1 - in which John Torode and Gregg Wallace challenge them to prepare three course meals for the food critics; sour-faced and acid-tongued Tracey MacLeod, sarky-cheeky-chappie Jay Rayner and odious lard bucket and Peter Griffin lookalike Charles Campion. With the task set, the pressure in the kitchen becomes intense as timings go awry and emotions take over - and, let's face it, that's always good for a laugh. The cook with the least impressive menu faces the exit. And, then there were four. All of which will be, I'm sure, very exciting, but are we ever going to find out which good-for-nothing scallywag and disgrace turned down Aki's oven when she was making her brownies? Because, whoever it was, hanging's too good for them!

It's all food shows tonight, I'm afraid, dear blog reader. The Food Inspectors - 8:00 BBc1 - is a new series in which odious full of his own importance Matt Allwright and equally odious full of his own importance Chris Hollins follow the work of food inspectors - who may, or may not also be odious and full of their own importance, we'll have to watch the programmes to find out. Their mission, should they chose to accept it (which, it would seem, they do) is to protect the public from unhygienic restaurants and potentially harmful foodstuffs. In the first edition, the food inspectors investigate the problem of counterfeit bottles of alcohol, which are often dangerously strong, and members of an unsuspecting family have their meal time assessed to see whether their cooking poses any health risks. The team also examines one of the most harmful bacteria.

Writer and explorer Monty Halls becomes a traditional Cornish fisherman in The Fisherman's Apprentice with Monty Halls - 8:00 BBC2. How someone can 'become' traditional, one can only but speculate. Because, this blogger always thought that was something which you either are or you aren't, it's not really a state of being that one can aspire too, is it? Based in Cadgwith Cove in the south of the county, Monty has to prove his competence to seasoned professionals before being trusted to take charge of his own fishing boat. Halls learns that such small vessels make up eighty per cent of the UK's fishing fleet, but that this is reducing all the time and they face an uncertain future.

A repeat, but a very good one and highly recommended, is Stranded! The Andes Plane Crash Survivors part of the Storyville strand - 11:20 BBC2. Where's the Andes, you may wonder dear blog reader? It is, of course, on the end of your wristees. Oh yes, dear blog reader. Next? The true story of a rugby team's extraordinary seventy two-day survival after their plane came down on a remote Chilean glacier. With no equipment, food or realistic hope of rescue, they had to decide whether to eat the flesh of their dead friends as their only means of surviving. Thirty years on, they vividly recall the harrowing stories of extreme human endurance.

Comedians Jason Manford and Matthew Crosby join sometimes-funny-but-occasionally-annoying Micky Flanagan and never-funny-and-always-annoying Mark Watson to answer questions on the most unusual and funniest adverts about smoking from the UK and abroad in The Mad Bad Ads Show - 10:00 Channel Four. The team captains also get the chance to shoot their own commercials - although, tragically, not each other - with the studio audience voting for the best. Or, perhaps, just vote so they can get the hell out of there. Hosted by Mark Dolan. Which is one more reason to avoid this pile of old toot like you'd avoid a stinking Harry Ramp in the streets.

Thursday 1 March
John and Gregg take the contestants to Thailand in the week's second episode of MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1. In their first challenge, each is given a market stall to run and a popular dish to prepare with the help of award-winning chef David Thompson. Next, they travel to the Northern Mountains, where they create a traditional ceremonial banquet for finally specially invited guests, before facing their last task in the country - cooking a dinner for a Thai prince and his family. Rumours that anybody who prepares a substandard dish will face fifteen years in the Bangkok Hilton cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied.

Misery-guts Dominic tries to negotiate the release of the hostages before anyone discovers that the daughter of the British foreign secretary is on board in the second episode of Kidnap and Ransom - 9:00 ITV. But a police sniper takes a shot at the kidnappers and they panic and drive the coach away. Thriller, starring Trevor Eve, Kimberley Nixon and Helen Baxendale.
Phil Spencer catches up with two couples who were expecting babies in the latest episode of the, once essential but now rather risible - Location, Location, Location - 8:00 Channel Four. In 2009, Rik and Helen Francis wanted to change their city-centre living in Manchester for a move to a family home in Hale and Altrincham. Whilst back in 2004, Alison and Phil Clarke were hoping to move from Bolton to Herefordshire to be nearer their relatives. Snooty, full-of-herself mumsy Tory Kirstie Allsopp also appears. So, that's a very decent excuse to find something else to watch instead, frankly.

Laura decides to book an appointment to find out what her options are regarding the pregnancy, but her parents surprise her with a pre-university shopping trip in the hope of strengthening family bonds in the second episode of BBC3's new sitcom, Pramface - 9:00. Meanwhile, Jamie comes to the conclusion that he should propose to his unborn baby's mother, which gains Mike's approval - but not Beth's. Comedy, starring Scarlett Alice Johnson, Sean Michael Verey, the great Ben Crompton, Anna Chancellor and Angus Deayton.
Friday 2 March
Actor Larry Lamb, comedian David O'Doherty and presenter Lauren Laverne join host Frank Skinner, making the case for their pet hates to be banished for ever in Room 101 - 8:30 BBC1. The trio's dislikes include high-fives, fancy dress, ostentatious dresses, being thirty five, fake tan and square plates.

Melvyn Bragg explores how the years following the Second World War were dominated by a new generation of artists in the second episode of Melvyn Bragg on Class & Culture - 9:00 BBC2. The grim but settled post-war years were followed by an astonishing surge of energy as writers, film-makers and musicians swept aside the culture of an earlier and more powerful class-bound era. The inspiration for this change were the angry young men of the 1950s, writing about their frustration at the snobbery and exclusivity of the system in which they had grown up. Contributors include Pete Townshend, Ken Loach and Fay Weldon.

The Joy of Disco - 9:00 BBC4 - ponders on the fascinating question of why one of the most frequently derided forms of pop music provided the soundtrack to some of the most important social changes of the 1970s, including gay liberation and female empowerment. The programme also explores how the New York disco scene provided the foundations for modern club culture, tells the tale of how acts including Chic, Sister Sledge and George McCrae broke into the mainstream on both sides of the Atlantic, and explores the importance of the film Saturday Night Fever in shaping the image of disco music around the world. Featuring contributions by Chic's Nile Rodgers, Robin Gibb, Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge, songwriter Kenny Gamble and the Trammps' Earl Young.

Big quiffed Marky Kermode celebrates Spanish and Latin American cinema with highlights of the Viva Festival in Manchester, and Arty Andrew Graham-Dixon explores the work of Victorian architect Augustus Pugin in the always fascinating Culture Show - 7:00 BBC2. Tim Samuels meets the man behind satirical news website The Daily Mash, and Philip Ridley discusses his latest play Shivered. Sue Townsend chats about her new book The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year, and there is also a profile of artist Osi Rhys Osmond.

To the news: Actress Dame Judi Dench has been diagnosed with a condition that can lead to blindness, she has revealed. The Oscar-winning star told the Daily Mirra she had age-related macular degeneration and struggled to read scripts or recognise faces. But the seventy seven-year-old has had treatment and is hoping it might slow the decline in her eyesight. AMD affects more than six hundred thousand Britons and last year research was published suggesting it could rise to three quarters of a million. Dame Judi, who is due to reprise the role of M in the twenty third James Bond film, Skyfall, told the Mirra: 'I can't read scripts any more before because of the trouble with my eyes. And so somebody comes and reads them to me, like telling me a story.' AMD, which affects the macula at the back of the eye, is the cause of more than half of registrations for blind and partially sighted people in the UK. She said: 'I've got what my ma had, macular degeneration, which you get when you get old.' Dame Judi stars as one of a group of pensioners who move to India in her latest film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which premiered in London earlier this month. She said that the worst part of the condition was not being able to see the person she was having lunch with in a restaurant. But she said that she had no plans to let it force her retirement and added: 'You get used to it. I've got lenses and glasses and things and very bright light helps.' She has been chosen to narrate the film Better Living Through Chemistry, starring Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde as a couple engaged in an affair. Dame Judi won a best supporting actress Oscar in 1998 for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love but she is not expected to attend next weekend's Oscars.

Laurie Brett, Tameka Empson and Terry Alderton have been voted through to the final of Let's Dance for Sport Relief. EastEnders actresses Brett and Empson were the first celebrities chosen to progress, as they received the greatest number of public votes. The pair began the show with a rendition of Lady GaGa's 'Telephone', which saw Brett wearing Coca-Cola can hair rollers and a American flag dress, and Empson in a red, white and blue outfit similar to that of Beyoncé in the song's video.

John Barrowman and his sister, Carole, have continued their promotion of their new book, Hollow Earth; when asked about Torchwood's future on Live With Gabby, John mentioned that whilst the series itself was on hiatus, the show hasn't been forgotten: 'I would love Torchwood to come back as I know thousands and millions of people would. We're writing a Torchwood novel, and can I just say to all the Torchwood fans out there the first chapter, what happens to Jack, is amazing - and I want that to go on screen!'

Lord Sugar is currently being sued by The Apprentice winner Stella English. English is claiming constructive dismissal after Sugar decided not to renew her one hundred thousand smackers-a-year contract. The mum-of-two, who won the BBC1 show in 2010, will claim at an employment tribunal that she was forced out of her job. Shehas already spoken about her letdown after taking up her prize – the right to be Sugar’s apprentice. She said: 'Lord Sugar has forgotten one of the first rules of business – never under-estimate someone who has nothing to lose.' Before winning the show, English, who grew up on a crime-ridden estate, had climbed the career ladder to become an eighty five thousand quid-a-year manager at Japanese bank Daiwa. She was dubbed 'The Ice Maiden' on the show. During the series she received high praise from Lord Sugar, who told her: 'At an early age you never had all these qualifications, then went out of the way to train yourself and get yourself the job that you've already got - and that shows me a lot of determination.' But the budding business relationship turned sour soon after she was hired to work in his Viglen offices as English complained the person she had to report to was 'less experienced' than her. She was then moved to another of Lord Sugar’s businesses called YouView where she later claimed there wasn't much work to do. Lord Sugar called her into the boardroom last September where he told her that her contract would end in December. She alleges that he told her: 'I've met my obligations to you as far as I'm concerned. If you think Lord Sugar is shitting himself when you left the Viglen job, you're wrong, cos I don't give a shit.'

Administrators say they have 'new information' on the takeover and running of Glasgow Rangers which will help form a full picture of club finances. Paul Clarke, a joint administrator from Duff and Phelps, was speaking as thousands of fans packed out Ibrox in support of the troubled club. Clarke said the transaction details had become available overnight. He also stressed that he believed HM Revenue and Customs would work with his firm for the survival of Rangers. Clarke said he expected to make an announcement next week regarding the new information relating to the club's finances. This came from solicitors who have previously been connected with the club. Rangers were forced to call in administrators Duff and Phelps on Tuesday over an unpaid tax bill of nine million knicker accrued since Craig Whyte's takeover in May. In a briefing ahead of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League game against Kilmarnock at Ibrox, Clarke said: 'We have received some information overnight in relation to various monies and various transactions in relation to Rangers Football Club. We're going to be looking at all of that information over the coming days and we expect to give some form of announcement during the course of next week. But, at the moment, from the financial side of things, we are still working so that we can prepare a proper statement for delivery next week.' Clarke said he had been in discussion with HMRC on Saturday morning, as part of ongoing talks. The club is also involved in a tribunal over a disputed tax bill dating back to before the Whyte era which totals an estimated forty nine million quid. A ruling on this is expected in the coming weeks. Clarke added: 'What they asked us to point out is that had they wished to close the football club then rather than issue the administration application that they did last week, it would have been a winding up petition to the court. So this is not about liquidation, it's about survival of the football club and we'll be working with them with that in mind.' Tens of thousands of fans turned out in a show of unity at Ibrox, packing the fifty thousand seat stadium to capacity. Supporters held up banners in support of manager Ally McCoist - 'isss just a weeeeeee staaaaain' - and criticising former and current owners of the club. And, just to complete a bad week for the Glasgow club, they lost 1-0 the Killies.

Oops. Australian TV channel Seven aired an old episode of Family Guy called Brian's Got A Brand New Bag this week. Complete with a gag about Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. Talk about awkward timing.

A woman has been arrested on drink-driving charges after fleeing in her car wearing nothing but a pair of cowboy boots. Taylor Burnham, eighteen, was spotted wearing no clothes in an alleyway in Corpus Christie, Texas, at around 3.30am last Sunday. Police officers discovered her in just a pair of cowboy boots while standing close to her Jeep Wrangler, according to the Mirra. Burnham fled from the police in her vehicle, and what was described as 'a low-speed chase' ensued with the teenager never exceeding thirty miles per hour. Burnham eventually stopped the car and surrendered to officers after driving through a neighbouring subdivision. A female officer then helped Burnham to dress herself, and she was given a breathalyzer and field sobriety test. She was charged with misdemeanour drunk-driving and evading arrest, and was released from jail after posting three thousand five hundred dollars bail. It remains unknown why the teenager was only wearing cowboy boots. Presumably because they were comfortable.

Michael Davis, bass player with the US rock band MC5, has died of liver failure aged sixty eight, his wife has announced. Davis died at Enloe Medical Center in Chico, California, on Friday following a month of treatment for liver disease, said Angela Davis. He was part of the MC5 line-up who rose to prominence with their blistering sound, epitomised by the 1969 debut LP Kick Out the Jams. Led by singer Rob Tyner and guitarist Wayne Kramer and Fred Sonic Smith, MC5 are widely regarded as pioneers of US punk rock (and, possibly, heavy metal as well). Born on 5 June 1943, David replaced original bassist Pat Burrows when Tyner and Kramer decided they liked his style. He went on to play on the Detroit band's debut LP Kick Out The Jams, the title song with its inflammatory opening statement of intent - 'Kick Out The Jams, Motherfuckers!' - going on to be one of their best known anthems. MC5, short form for 'Motor City Five', a reference to their hometown's automotive industry, were known for their confrontational anti-establishment stance and the subversive radical political themes running through their work as well as their powerful live performances and fearsome sound. Crystallising the counterculture movement at its most volatile and threatening their manifesto was summed up by their manager John Sinclair's infamous quote that the band were 'a total assault on the culture by any means necessary, including rock 'n' roll, dope and fucking in the streets.' After playing on the band's highly acclaimed second and third LPs (Back in the USA and High Time), Davis left - he was alleged to have been forced out due to his heroin addiction. He then spent seven years in the Ann Arbor-based art noise punk band Destroy All Monsters. He was also later a member of the Arizona band Blood Orange. In 2003 Davis reunited with fellow surviving members Wayne Kramer and Dennis Thompson to play a show at London's 100 Club as part of a promotion for an MC5-inspired line of apparel for Levi Strauss Vintage Clothing joined by various luminaries including Lemmy, Dave Vanian and Ian Astbury. The group reformed in 2004 with singer Handsome Dick Manitoba. Following a motorcycle crash in 2006, which left him with a serious back injury, Davis and his wife launched a non-profit organisation to support music education in US public schools. A talented artist, Davis - who dropped out of art school when he joined the band - also collaborated on projects with the likes of street artist Shepard Fairey. Davis is survived by his wife, their three sons, and a daughter from a previous marriage. Angela Davis said plans to announce a memorial were pending.

And, with that very sad news, what else can we have for today Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day but this?
Or, if you prefer, here's that legendary eight minute version off Beat Club from 1972 (Michael's replacement Steev Moorhouse is on bass for this one. Check out Rob Tyner's afro. Out-bloody-rageous!)

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