Sunday, March 04, 2012

Week Eleven: The Classics

Jesse Spencer has signed on to star as the lead in a new drama series, it has been reported. Spencer currently plays Robert Chase on FOX's medical drama House, opposite lead Hugh Laurie. According to Deadline, the thirty three-year-old Australian actor will be starring in an NBC pilot called Chicago Fire. Spencer's character will be Matthew Casey, a firefighter, dealing with a separation from his wife. Also cast in the pilot is Charlie Barnett, who will be playing a rookie firefighter named Peter Mills. This new move makes Spencer the first House cast member to book a new series regular role on another network. FOX announced earlier this year that House will be ending after an eight-season run on the network.

Alex O'Loughlin will be taking 'extended leave' from his hit CBS show Hawaii Five-0. A spokesperson for the actor told E! that he will be receiving 'supervised treatment for prescription pain medication due to a recent shoulder injury.' O'Loughlin plays Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett on the action show, opposite Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, and Grace Park. The thirty five-year-old actor's absence will not affect filming, as production on the second season of the show is said to be 'ahead of schedule.' CBS released a statement on O'Loughlin's temporary departure, saying: 'We respect and support Alex's decision. Everyone at CBS Television Studios and Hawaii Five-0 wishes him well and we look forward to his return.' Hawaii Five-0, a remake of the classic 1960s television series, premiered in 2010. In an earlier interview, O'Loughlin described his new interpretation of Steve McGarrett as more 'agressive' and 'ruthless' than his predecessor's.

Mad Men star Jon Hamm has criticised those behind the delay to the show's fifth season. A dispute between AMC, Lionsgate TV and series creator Matthew Weiner led to the 1960s-set drama being off-air for eighteen months. Speaking to David Letterman on The Late Show, Hamm said: 'These decisions get made at a much higher pay grade than I'm allowed to partake in. 'I've described it thusly, and I've gotten in trouble, so I'll do it again the same way - when billionaires fight, it takes a lot longer to settle. So we had some very wealthy people determining how long we would be off the air.' Hamm previously revealed that the new season will delve deeper into the relationship between his character Don Draper and Joan (played by Christina Hendricks). 'The Don/Joan dynamic is something that we do explore,' he confirmed. 'They have worked together for a long time, they know one another very well and I'll leave it at that.' Mad Men will return to AMC in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK with two-hour premiere A Little Kiss in March. 'I like the title to have some kind of synergy with the show so it will pique your interest,' explained showrunner Weiner.

A tabloid report claims that the BBC has received 'some' complaints over the forthcoming lesbian plot in Upstairs Downstairs even though it hasn't aired yet. Which is totally silly because, as everybody with half a brain knows there is nothing (and I mean nothing) in the world that can't be improved by at least thirty per cent by lezzing it up. And that's a scientifically proven fact, dear blog reader. Anyway, the Mirra - furiously stirring the shit for all it's worth, as per usual - claims that the BBC has received 'a handful' of complaints about the lesbian romance that will feature in Sunday night's episode of the popular costume drama. The lesbian romance between Blanche Mottershead (Alex Kingston) and Lady Portia (Emilia Fox) will be the central storyline of tomorrow's episode. According to the Mirra one - anonymous - person wrote online: 'It really is a pity that the BBC has to push the boundaries to raise its ratings.' You know what homophobia really says about you, don't you, pal? So, anyway, that's one complaint. From an anonymous coward. And this constitutes 'news', apparently. The BBC has been promoting the episode with trailers teasing the lesbian plot. Writer Heidi Thomas had previously mentioned the subplot before the series returned saying: 'There's a real whiff of scandal in the air when this relationship becomes apparent.' So, it would seem. And, they whiff of something far more disturbing, as well.

And, so to the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Saturday 10 March
I'm A Pop Star - 9:00 BBC2 - is the third of three music documentaries and gets inside the mind of a particular type of music star, the one that prefers to go it alone, the one that craves the limelight, the one that prefers to share the stage with no one else - unless it's a couple of dozen backing dancers and singers. Those discussing life as a solo performer include Kylie Minogue, Adam Ant, Sandie Shaw, Cliff Richard, Will Young, Craig David and Kelly Clarkson.

In the latest episode of Casualty, the second of a three part story, Yvonne arranges for Jordan and Scarlett to give a talk at the local school on the effects of knife crime, hoping it will enable her to find a witness to the shooting. What shooting is this I hear you ask, dear blog reader? Why, the shooting which occurred in the first of the three-parter that you haven't seen. Capiche? However, as Anton becomes increasingly paranoid that Stevie will talk to the police, he resorts to extreme measures to ensure his silence. Guest starring Dominique Jackson (Hollyoaks' Lauren Valentine) and Melissa Suffield (Eastenders' Lucy Beale). Are you an ex-soap actress unable to find gainful employment elsewhere? If so, Casualty could be the very place for you.

Walter (Nick Nolte) prepares Gettn'up Morning for its first race, having been forced to put rookie jockey Rosie Shanahan (Kerry Condon) in the saddle in Luck - 9:00 Sky Atlantic. Meanwhile, Ace (Dustin Hoffman) meets his former business partner Mike Smythe (played by a mad-haired Michael Gambon) to discuss his plans for the racetrack, while Jerry risks frittering away his Pick 6 winnings in another high-stakes poker game with his nemesis Leo Chan. Elsewhere, jockey agent Joey Rathburn is infuriated by Leon and Ronnie's problems. With Joan Allen (from The Bourne Ultimatum).

Sunday 11 March
Having spent the last seven week shuttling backwards and forwards between 4pm and 5pm start times, some bright spark at Channel Four has had the ludicrous idea of putting today's episode of Time Team on at eight o'clock. Or, in other words, opposite the season finale of Top Gear. Now, that's a smart move. Tony Robinson and the team dig at the site of New Place, the home of William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. Once the area's largest house with twenty rooms and a dozen servants, the archaeologists aim to reveal how large the Bard's abode really was, why he wanted such a grand place, and where he got the money to pay for it.

Meanwhile, in the conclusion of Top Gear's eighteenth series, Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May set out to discover if they can go motor racing for less than it costs to play a round of golf. There is also a double helping of guests, with rock star Slash and F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen - who has returned to the grid after two years in other motor sports - taking to the track in the Reasonably Priced Car. Meanwhile, Richard gets behind the wheel of the new BMW M5, which is powered by a twin-turbo V8 engine instead of the high-revving V10 of its predecessor. So remember, Gruniad Morning Star, you have just this episode to find some bollocks to whinge about before you'll be forced back to reporting real instead. The series will return in the summer.

Big plans are made for national hero Brody, but his increasingly erratic behaviour threatens his status as the media's latest darling, prompting the Vice President to send an adviser to check him out in the latest episode of the excellent Homeland - 9:00 Channel Four.
Carrie nears the end of her four-week surveillance warrant and grows desperate for evidence linking the marine to Abu Nazir, but Saul instructs her to focus on the terrorist's money trail. Superior, brilliantly-written thriller, starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.

And, speaking of excellent US drama, children are snatched from their school bus and the kidnappers' ransom demand is for eighty million dollars-worth of cocaine which was recently seized in a drug bust in Hawaii Five-0 - 9:00 Sky1. As the McGarrett and his detectives work to locate the missing children, Steve persuades the Governor to let them use the confiscated narcotics as bait. Crime drama, starring Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park, Masi Oka and Lauren German.

Tom's romantic prospects look set to improve when he crosses paths with Allison, a geeky teen who shares his curse in Being Human - 9:00 BBC3. She reveals someone has been uploading video footage of werewolves to the Interweb, and the love-struck lad takes her to meet Cutler, unaware the mild-mannered vampire is behind the whole thing. Meanwhile, Hal risks sparking his blood lust by going on a date with a customer from the cafe, and Annie tries to help the ghost of her grouchy neighbour Emrys resolve his unfinished business. Guest starring Ellie Kendrick.

Monday 12 March
Jeremy Paxman continues his history of the Empire - 9:00 BBC1 - by tracing the growth of a peculiar type of British hero; gentleman adventurers with a love of exploration and sport in equal measure. Paxo follows in the footsteps of Victorian explorers searching for the source of the Nile, finds out how the British in Hong Kong indulged their passion for horses by building a spectacular racecourse, and reveals how cricket - the greatest imperial game of all - became a battleground for racial equality in Jamaica.

Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones resume their excellent partnership as the northern-based crime drama Scott & Bailey returns - 9:00 ITV in the Whitechapel slot. This show did very well last year on Sundays so it'll be interesting to see if the audience will follow it to a different night. In the first of a two-part story, the badly burned body of a disabled man turns up in a remote part of Manchester and a few days later another corpse is discovered. The detectives start to realise the victims were not just murdered, but tortured too. They make an arrest, but it becomes clear their investigation has just scratched the surface. Meanwhile, Janet throws her husband out and Rachel's estranged brother turns up on her doorstep. With Lisa Riley and Pippa Haywood.

Dirk and Macduff visit the university from which the detective was expelled for cheating in the second episode of Dirk Gently - 9:00 BBC4. They have been asked to guard a robot for Dirk's former mentor Professor Jericho - but soon after their arrival, the robot goes missing and the academic is found dead. While they struggle to clear their names and identify the culprit, Macduff faces another problem - his girlfriend Susan is also in town for a job interview, which, if successful, could put an end to his sleuthing career. Comedy drama based on characters created by Douglas Adams, starring Stephen Mangan and Darren Boyd, with silly little Helen Baxendale, Bill Paterson, Sylvestra Le Touzel and Will Sharpe.

Tuesday 13 March
After eight weeks of mad-tough competition, conspiracy theory, ovens getting turned down, truffles going missing in bins and various assorted other malarkey, shenanigans and discombobulation, the remaining three hopefuls enter the last week; three consecutive nights of crazed culinary challenges after which one of them will be crowned the MasterChef Champion - 9:00 BBC1. To begin with, they are sent to three of the finest Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe, where they are mentored by the head chefs, challenged to create a signature dish and face the pressure of cooking in service. Back in the MasterChef kitchen, they put their new skills into practice by showing Gregg Wallace and John Torode what they have learned. Continues tomorrow.

Six months after the episode was first shown in the US, Ted Danson joins the CSI cast as the team's new boss, the quirky DB Russell - 9:00 Channel Five. And, very good in it he is too. His first episode - Seventy Three Seconds - involves the investigation of a shootout on a tram car that leaves two dead and three injured. The only physically unscathed passenger is a young boy who is too traumatised to speak about the incident, leaving investigators struggling to determine what he saw - until Russell finds a way to get through to him. Meanwhile, Sara and Greg are puzzled by a case in which a young man who appears to have the skin of a much older person is found dead, and Ecklie's estranged daughter Morgan Brody (Elisabeth Harnois) joins the team. She's very good in it too.

David Frost charts the development of the TV interview, examining how the art of questioning politicians and celebrities has evolved during the past sixty years in Frost On Interviews - 9:00 BBC4. He explores why the questions asked of MPs and figures in the news have become more demanding, reflects on the development of the chat show on both sides of the Atlantic, and analyses how the balance of power has shifted between interviewer and subject through the decades. Featuring contributions by Michael Parkinson, Melvyn Bragg, Joan Bakewell, Clive Anderson, Ruby Wax, Andrew Neil, Tony Benn, Alastair Campbell, Stephen Fry and AA Gill.

People assume that they are in control of their lives, deciding what they want and when they want it - but scientists now claim this concept of free will is, in fact, simply an illusion, something explored in the latest episode of Horizon - 9:00 BBC2. Experiments reveal that what a person does and what they think can be very different, with the unconscious mind often influencing the decisions they make, from what they eat to who they fall in love with. Horizon reveals to what extent people really do control their own destiny.

Wednesday 14 March
Full-of-his-own-importance Andrew Neil investigates human rights, in light of the controversy over the inability to deport radical cleric Abu Qatada and the banning of prayers before council meetings in Rights Gone Wrong? - 9:00 BBC2. He uses his inside knowledge of the corridors of power to ask whether human rights laws are equitable and searches for a way Britain can regain public support for a justice system that many feel lacks common sense.

A Mormon couple prepare for the birth of their second child, a boy, in One Born Every Minute - 9:00 Channel Four. Leah describes how her only ambition at school was to one day become a mother, while Richard explains his determination that they carry on his family's tradition of naming a male child after its father, despite his wife's reluctance.
Meanwhile, Mel and James are anticipating their first baby, and after both having difficult early lives they are eager to prove they will be good parents.

John Torode and Gregg Wallace set the hopefuls a test to cook three types of amuse bouche - bite-sized tastebud-tinglers designed to showcase their different approaches to cooking in the second-to-last episode of MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1. Then comes the penultimate challenge, in which they prepare a three-course meal to be judged by seven of the world's greatest chefs, including scowling Monica Galetti, Michel Roux Jr, Jason Atherton, Tom Kitchin and Clare Smyth, who designed the menu from which they all have to work. With tomorrow's final cook-off ever closer, this is their chance to show the best of the best that they have what it takes to one day join their ranks. Concludes tomorrow.

Faye and Melissa hold an anti-Valentine's Day sleep-over, but the night takes a wilder turn than expected when Lee gatecrashes the party and Diana tries the mood-altering drug Devil's Spirit in the latest episode of The Secret Circle - 8:00 Sky Living. Elsewhere, Cassie turns to Adam and Jake when she is haunted by the ghosts of some vengeful witches.
Thursday 15 March
In the second episode of Paula Milne's White Heat - 9:00 BBC2 - as the students prepare to graduate, each face their own personal demons. Charlotte fights the painful truth that her relationship with Jack makes her feel unworthy, Victor suffers casual racial abuse on a daily basis and Alan badly misjudges his long-awaited move on Lilly. But an anti-Vietnam War rally leads to confessions and unexpected acts that will change some of the friends' relationships for ever. Milne's epic drama, starring Claire Foy, Sam Claflin, MyAnna Buring, Lee Ingleby, Tamsin Greig, Hugh Quarshie, Juliet Stevenson and Lindsay Duncan.

Love Life is a new drama written by Lark Rise To Candleford's creator Bill Gallagher - 9:00 ITV. Joe returns from a year abroad and is shocked to find his former partner Lucy is pregnant and will not say who the father is. Only, that it's not him. Joe eventually learns that it's her married boss, Dominic, who's put her up the duff, Dominic's wife is having trouble conceiving, so Joe confronts Dominic about it. With hilarious consequences. Drama, starring Rob James-Collier, Andrea Lowe, Alexander Armstrong and Gregor Fisher.

Wor Si King and Dave Myers bike from North to South through Europe, searching for the best baking each country has to offer in the first of a new series, The Hairy Bikers' Bakeation - 7:00 BBC2. They start their five thousand-mile road trek in Norway, picking up tips and recipes from professionals and home bakers - including a ninety five-year-old who still makes waffles on her sixty five-year-old waffle iron. The duo also rustle up some of their own favourite Norwegian recipes - Scandinavian rye bread, cardamom and lemon cookies, and ham and cheese-filled pastries.

It's all cookery on the BBC tonight, thank goodness. Because, after eight weeks of competition, the search for the country's best amateur cook reaches its climax in MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1. The finalists have to push themselves to the limit one last time before judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace decide the winner. They have just three hours to produce three courses, the like of which they have never cooked before, proving they should be crowned MasterChef Champion 2012. Last in the current series. Now, the BBC will give you a few weeks to get yourselves settled before Celebrity MasterChef returns in the summer.

In Top Of The Pops 1977, David Kid Jensen presents an edition from 10 March 1977, the first week in which really annoying American vocal quartet the Manhattan Transfer topped the chart with 'Chanson D'Amour.' With a rat-at-tat and, indeed, at-tat. The show also features the UK's 1977 Eurovision entry, 'Rock Bottom' by Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran, as well as musical theatre star Barbara Dickson, pub rockers Graham Parker and the Rumour, glam rock singer Brendon, ELO, The Brotherhood of Man, The Real Thing, Smokie, The Rubettes and resident dance troupe Legs & Co.

Friday 16 March
If you missed it when it was first shown last November, Martin Scorsese's Arena documentary tracing George Harrison's life George Harrison - Living In The Material World is repeated tonight - 9:00 BBC4. The opening of two episodes traces George's early life, in Liverpool, The Beatles' first gigs in Hamburg, the advent of Beatlemania, his psychedelic phase and his increasing fascination with Indian culture, both musical and spiritual. Featuring contributions from fellow Be-Atles members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, producers George Martin and Phil Spector, and George's best mate Eric Clapton. Harrison was, of course, the Quiet Beatle. Posthumously, and poignantly, he found his voice. Irony figures strongly in George Harrison's story. People just couldn't get a handle on him in the sixties, unlike his more two-dimensional colleagues, so he became 'the quiet one.' He was also, it was said, the Beatle most obsessed with money and, then, the one who went all religious and weird. John might have been 'the funny one' but which Beatle ended up working with the Monty Python lads? Paul wrote most of the great ballads, but who penned what Frank Sinatra described as 'the greatest love song of the last fifty years?' When George died, in 2001, many of the world's newspapers were filled with cartoons which depicted George joining John in heaven, full of overt Christian imagery. The irony of which would, probably, not have been lost on one of the world's best-known Buddhists. George could be stubborn and difficult – something occasionally reflected in both his music and his lyrics. He was, probably, the first Beatle for whom the merry-go-round stopped being fun. Lennon died shortly after stating that he felt betrayed at having been virtually ignored in George's autobiography. And it was only at the very end of his life that George and Paul got to grips with their sometimes fractious relationship. The product of a close-knit family, of all the Beatles George probably had the keenest sense of traditional Northern working-class values - keep your feet on ground and remember who your real friends are. He valued privacy and loyalty yet he was also a man of great dry humour and wit who also loved motor racing and James Bond films. Scorsese has pieced together a cinematic love letter to Harrison. The surviving Beatles, George's two wives, Olivia and Patti and countless friends all form a respectful queue paying tribute in this two-part film. It's not, though, a symphony of sycophancy. Their memories – spliced together with archive interviews, evocative home-movie film and some captivating early Beatles studio footage – are preserved, you sense, by the deep affection they clearly felt for George. But it's the music that provides the stitching in this immaculately crafted tapestry. The moment you hear the opening drumline to 'Something' or the jaunty acoustic intro to 'Here Comes The Sun', you realise you're in the company of genius. The Quiet Beatle is silent no longer.

Comedians Russell Kane - very popular with students - Mock The Week's Andy Parsons and Steve Punt join the host for Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask - 9:40 Dave. In which panellists must first devise questions before answering them. Last in the current series.

The story of Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton's five hundred-mile journey across Antarctica in her latest charity challenge to raise money for Sport Relief is told tonight - 8:30 BBC1. With the help of cross-country skis, a kite and a bike, she travelled to the South Pole in temperatures as low as minus thirty six degrees, and had to endure blisters, not washing for weeks and a cough that threatened to give her pneumonia.

On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a tiny British outpost in the South Atlantic, prompting then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher to send a naval task force to liberate the islands. A story retold (again) in Revealed: The Great Falklands Gamble - 8:00 Channel Five. This documentary looks back at the ensuing conflict, revealing that while Britain may have won the war, a series of mistakes and logistical numskullery led the nation perilously close to defeat. Senior officers from the campaign reveal how overstretched air defences, poor communications and simple incompetence sometimes stacked the odds against the British, whilst veterans of the bloodiest battles talk through the fighting.

The news now: A limited edition collection of celebrities' childhood memories of Doctor Who has gone on sale online. Behind the Sofa features writing by over one hundred famous fans of the show including Charlie Brooker, Emma Freud, Jonathan Ross, Josie Long, Michael Grade, Rufus Hound, Richard Herring and Stephen Merchant, as well as Doctor Who writer Neil Gaiman and former stars Hugh Bonneville and Tracy Ann Oberman. Advance orders are now being taken for the first edition run of three hundred books, compiled by author Steve Berry to raise money for Alzheimer's Research UK, and featuring original illustrations to accompany the famous fans' memories. The book can be pre-ordered for £14.99 and is also available as a PDF e-book priced £4.99 and in a number of special edition packs named after Doctor Who monsters. Fans who buy the Ogron package, at £19.99, will have heir names added to the list of donors in the book, while the Slitheen package, priced £39.99, also includes a signed print of one of ten illustrations by artist Ben Morris, a contributor to Doctor Who Magazine and Doctor Who Adventures. For £199.99, companies can purchase the Zygon package which will see their logo or a sponsor's message appear in the book, while the most committed (and wealthiest) Doctor Who fans can indulge in the Morbius package which, for £999.99, allows them to write their own three hundred-word memory of the show for inclusion in Behind the Sofa. A full run of the book is due in shops in September.

John Bishop has completed his 'week of hell' cycling, rowing and running from Paris to London. The forty five-year-old cheeky chappie Scouse comic ran into Trafalgar Square on Friday evening – completing his third marathon in three days – to learn that he has raised £1.6million for Sport Relief. Bish was greeted by hundreds of fans – including fellow comic Jason Manford – and told them: 'Just arriving here in Trafalgar Square. Amazing. You've changed the lives of people. I haven't.' And, when he was told the final amount he had raised, John added: 'That's just blown me away. That money's going to change lives. It's going to change the lives of people we don't know. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And on behalf of all those who will benefit from the money, thank you from the bottom of their hearts too.' Bishop set off on the trek on Monday, first cycling the one hundred and eighty five miles from Paris to Calais. After just one hour's sleep he then endured a twenty six-mile row across the English Channel accompanied by Davina McCall, Freddie Flintoff and Denise Lewis – before doing his three marathon runs.

Polish pubcaster TVP is on board to co-produce a BBC Worldwide spy drama based on Alan Furst's novel Spies of Warsaw. The two-part series is the first co-production between the pair, as TVP normally only acquires BBCW programming. It will be broadcast on BBC4 and on TVP in Poland later this year. Worldwide brokered the deal with Poland's Apple Film Production. The BBC first announced plans to produce Spies of Warsaw last August. Furst's acclaimed novel spans the tem years between 1933 and 1943 and portrays stories of people subjugated by the Nazi regime. The stories are set in European cities such as Prague, Warsaw, Rome, Berlin and Paris and have been dubbed as 'Casablanca meets John le Carre.' Coky Giedroyc (who helmed The Hour) will direct the TV series, with UK company Fresh Pictures attached to produce its first ever drama. Fresh's head of drama Richard Fell is executive producing. The great Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais - Porridge, Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, et al - are writing the scripts. 'We are very pleased to enter into this new co-production partnership with such a prestigious company as BBC Worldwide,' said TVP producer and editor Piotr Derewenda. 'Furst's thrilling story creates a unique opportunity for us to chart Poland's fascinating history from a more European perspective and provides the perfect backdrop for the thrilling tale of great love, friendship and betrayal.' The news comes following this week's Worldwide Showcase, in which the commercial arm of the BBC unveiled a number of deals, such as one that saw broadcasters in Ireland, Scandinavia and Belgium acquiring format rights to cooking format The Great Bake Off.

Police forces say they have received a number of calls reporting what is believed to have been a meteor. Reports of a 'bright light' and an 'orange glow' came in across the North of England and Scotland at about 9:40PM amid fears that a plane had crashed. The Met Office tweeted: 'Hi All, for anyone seeing something in the night sky, we believe it was a meteorite.' Durham Police said air traffic control had confirmed there had not been any incidents of aircraft in difficulties. A force spokeswoman said: 'The sightings are believed to be either an asteroid burning out or similar which has been restricted to the upper atmosphere only.' Meteors are particles from space that burn up as they plummet through Earth's atmosphere, sometimes emitting light, creating a 'fireball' effect. Meteorites are larger, more durable objects that survive heating in the atmosphere and land on Earth. Professor David Whitehouse, an astronomer, said: 'Occasionally you get a very big piece of debris coming into the Earth's atmosphere and this causes a fireball. When you see this fireball breaking up, you're seeing the wreckage of a planet that couldn't form properly when the solar system was young and a bit of rock that has been orbiting the Sun for perhaps thousands of millions of years.' Adrian West, of Meteorwatch, said that he had seen reports of sightings from Scotland to Devon. He added that he saw the meteor in Berkshire and believed it could have gone down in the English Channel or the Bay of Biscay. Adam Hepworth, from Helensburgh, in Argyll, told the BBC: 'I was leaving work and getting into my car and I noticed a really bright light moving slowly across the sky. At first I thought it was a sky lantern but then I realised it couldn't have been due to the speed that it was moving. I then thought perhaps it is a plane that had caught fire. I knew it was really odd and sat there for a few minutes just staring at it.' Grampian Police said that 'many people' had reported seeing a 'flare or a bright object with a tail,' while Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary said it had received reports of a 'large ball of fire in the sky.' Strathclyde Police said it had been 'inundated' with calls, while Lothian and Borders Police also reported taking calls. Hundreds of people tweeted about what they had seen and the Kielder Observatory, in Northumberland, said a 'huge fireball' had been seen travelling from North to South over the county. The Observatory posted on Twitter: "Of thirty years observing the sky [this] fireball [is the] best thing I have ever seen, period.' Another witness, who called BBC Radio 5Live's Stephen Nolan programme, said: 'I looked up and saw these two huge tails of light coming off it and I thought it was a plane on fire going down into Edinburgh. It was massive, there was the red at the back of it, then these two huge white tails and then these blue bits at the very end.'

An actor has been 'left outraged' after passport office staff told him that he did not have 'a proper job.' Michael Sheldon countersigned a passport application for his daughter's boyfriend, but the request was rejected due to him being deemed 'an unsuitable referee.' An investigation was launched when Malcolm Sinclair, president of the actor's union Equity, wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May about the incident. In The Stage magazine, he described the comments as 'staggering and something I felt I had to challenge,' adding that it had caused 'dismay, even outrage' amongst Equity members. 'Unless we are told otherwise, we must take it that the views of a clerk in the passport office represent those of the Government,' he said. 'If it is the Government's opinion that "acting is not a proper job" then I think they should come out with it.' A spokesman for the Identity and Passport Service confirmed: 'We will be investigating and looking at whether further staff training is required. We provide a list of occupations solely as a guide to assist customers. The occupation of the counter-signatory is not a determining factor in considering a passport application.' The passport was also reportedly rejected due to 'an unsuitable photograph,' according to the Associated Press.

For Alex James, that wanker out of Blur turned cheesemaker, it was the dream that became a nightmare. For a weekend last September, he gave over his luscious farm in the Cotswolds to a festival celebrating his two great loves: food and music. KT Tunstall and The Feeling played, while chefs such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Yotam Ottolenghi gave cookery demonstrations. More than seven thousand people attended each day, including the cream of the so-called 'Chipping Norton Set.' Jeremy Clarkson rolled up in his Range Rover, disgraced and disgraceful ex-News International supremo and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks showed her face in public and even David Cameron, the Prime Minister, attended, his daughter Florence strapped to his chest in a harness as he browsed the street-food stalls. Alex James Presents Harvest was deemed something of a success – until a couple of days later, when the company behind the festival, Big Wheel Promotions, announced that it was in financial difficulties, with creditors later reported to be owed close to one million smackers. Since then, save for a terse statement, James has remained silent while abuse has been heaped upon him, both in the press and social media. Then again, this is Alex James, most right-thinking people have considered his a knob of obscene proportions since the release of Parklife. Finally, this weekend he spoke about the financial collapse, which not only cost him money but left friends in both the music and food businesses, neighbours in the Cotswolds and even a local primary school out of pocket. 'The fact that people didn't get paid really, really upset me,' he said. 'But I had to follow legal procedures and unfortunately that meant not talking about it.' The festival on James's farm was a sister event to Harvest at Jimmy's, a similar food and music festival that had been run for two years by Big Wheel on the Suffolk farm of broadcaster and farmer Jimmy Doherty. Many of those involved in that festival also remain unpaid. 'I had looked at the event at Jimmy's and they seemed to have a good business,' said James. 'Although I was simply giving my land for the festival, my major concern was making sure that, as I was seen as the host, everybody involved was paid on time.' Ticket sales were strong and the response positive. 'It was the best party I'd ever been to.' Within a week, however, the company announced that it was in trouble. 'They told me sponsors hadn't paid up and that the losses were substantial. I was shocked.' While some staff and performers were paid in advance, many others were left with huge unpaid bills. Among them was Kingham primary school, which received only half of the fourteen thousand pounds it had been promised for arranging a festival of local bands. The money was to go towards the salary of a music teacher at the school. After the collapse, Ed Read, the headteacher, said the school might not be able to fill that staff post. However, in December, a concert was staged in Chipping Norton to settle the debt. 'I pledged to match the funds raised from my own pocket,' James says. 'And we managed to return most of the money. I was very happy to do that.' Others have not been so fortunate. Ottolenghi received just a few hundred pounds of the two thousand smackers he was owed. 'I was surprised because it was a well-run event,' he said. 'The money was not such a big deal for me, but I was concerned about the many other people who worked on it and were relying on full payment.' The catering company Blanch & Shock was eight grand out of pocket. 'In business terms it's the worst thing that's ever happened to us,' said the firm's Mike Knowlden. 'Although I did think Alex could have been more supportive in his statements, I understood there were legal constraints. My anger is mostly directed at Big Wheel.' James acknowledges how furious many of those involved have been. Although he did receive part-payment upfront, it did not, he says, compensate for the work he put into the festival. 'It wasn't about the money I lost. It's just a mess. It was easily the worst business deal I've ever done. I'm gutted that some people didn't get paid.' A spokesman for Big Wheel said that, by going into a company voluntary arrangement, it was attempting to make sure creditors received at least twenty per cent of the money they were owed. 'Big Wheel Promotions has been responsible in trying to ensure all the people involved are compensated as much as we can for all their hard work. We are trying to honour our commitments to both them and the local community. We have not just walked away.'
And, speaking of Mr Cameron, here's Steve Bell of the Gruniad Morning Star's take on the news that Downing Street have admitted the then (and, hopefully, future) Leader of the Opposition 'may well' have ridden the ex-police horses well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks was given.
The actor Dennis Chinnery has died, aged eighty five. One of those great British character actors who seem to have been in just about everything, his credits included: Hancock's Half Hour, Dixon of Dock Green, Z-Cars and its spin-off Softly, Softly, The Saint, The Avengers, The Prisoner, The Champions, Public Eye, Reilly: Ace of Spies, Special Branch, Oh Brother!, No Hiding Place, The Man in Room 17, Orlando, Hadleigh, Harriet's Back In Town, Edward VII, Crown Court, Coronation Street, Raffles, Ladykillers, Doctor Who and Survivors. Born in 1926, Dennis trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, after which he took on roles in the West End, including understudying Paul Scofield in Ring Round The Moon and alongside Margeret Rutherford in Time Remembered. After some five years he then entered repertory for two years at The Old Vic, which included him playing Macbeth opposite Beatrix Lehmann. Making his movie debut in 1953's Three Steps To The Gallows. He appeared in a number of films in small roles, such as Constable Christian in the Hammer classic The Plague of the Zombies, and in All The Way Up (playing chauffeur to Bill Fraser's Makepiece). His first of three appearances in Doctor Who was in 1966 as Albert C Richardson, the ill-fated first mate of the Mary Celeste in The Chase. He took on a much more prominent role ten years later as the Kaled scientist Gharman in 1975's Genesis of the Daleks. He was to return to the series for a third time in Colin Baker's first story, 1984's The Twin Dilemma as Professor Sylvest, the hard-pressed father of the eponymous twins. Former actor and agent Robert Gray, announcing the news via Twitter, said: 'Very sad to have just been informed that the very fine actor Dennis Chinnery has died. He had a long career including several Doctor Who serials. I worked with Dennis Chinnery several times as an actor and was his last agent. A gent with a good naughty sense of humour.' In later life, Chinnery devoted his time to his other passion, painting, based at his home in Headley Down. He was married to South African newscaster Pat Kerr.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And this one is just to prove that we also play The Classics around here on occasions.

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