Sunday, March 18, 2012

Week Thirteen: They Run And Hide Their Heads

Filming on Doctor Who has now completed in Spain, with the cast and crew having returned to the UK on Thursday. Guest cast-member Rob Cavazos commented: 'Back in London. Muchas gracias, Almería. We had fun.' The BBC have released an official photo of Karen Gillan on location at Fort Bravo Studios via Facebook, noting: 'Olé! It’s a wrap as cast and crew prepare to depart sunny Spain. Back to Cardiff on Monday morning for more filming of Series seven.' Filming obviously attracted much media attention, though this was more focused on the social activities of the cast during their free time, with crass, inaccurate and rather pointless coverage of shopping, social activities eating habits by the Sun and the Daily Scum Mail. Meanwhile, it has also been revealed that Andrew Brooke is to appear in Doctor Who playing a character known as The Reckoner, according to his online CV. Andrew has appeared in a number of TV shows, including The IT Crowd, The Inbetweeners and My Family, with more substantial roles as Oleg in Pulling, Alan Clacy in Collision, and more recently as Ashley in Phoneshop. And finally back in January, Steven Moffat had made a rather enigmatic comment about following Sophia Myles on Twitter, saying 'I'll explain later. Or not.' That statement led to widespread speculation as to whether the actress would be returning to Doctor Who, and whilst The Moffster his very self has yet to say anything else to confirm or deny this, the actress herself mentioned being in Spain on Monday at the same time as production was taking place in Almeria: 'My bag has just been located at Malaga airport. Hope it gets to me tomorrow.' To be fair, she might've just been there on holiday, but further fuel for the fire appeared on Friday with Arthur Darvill saying to her on Twitter: 'Great to meet you.' The plot thickens! It remains to be seen whether the actress really will re-appear in Doctor Who or if these are just coincidences. Which do happen. Occasionally.

Most long-term dear blog readers will know that the Gruniad Morning Star reporting twaddlish middle-class bollocks that nobody gives a utter shit about is, kind of, par for the course. But, yer actual Keith Telly Topping had his best laugh in months when reading the following piece of horsewank from one Damien Pearse. Who, obviously, failed his 'real journalist' exams: 'Researchers have established a direct link between the number of friends you have on Facebook and the degree to which you are a "socially disruptive" narcissist, confirming the conclusions of many social media sceptics.' Apparently. Which may very well be true - in fact, in yer actual Keith Telly Topping's case it very definitely is true - but I still reckon that I get invited to more cool-kids parties than any of these alleged 'social media sceptics.' Whoever the hell they are. Because, let's face it that's what this revelation is really all about. The amount of time it's been since some people have got laid. The research, Pearse's astonishing work of journalistic genius goes on to suggest, 'comes amid increasing evidence that young people are becoming increasingly narcissistic, and obsessed with self-image and shallow friendships.' But ... hang on. Haven't young people always been narcissistic and obsessed with self-image and shallow friendships?! I know that I was when I was a 'young adult.' Damien, fer Christ's sake mate, go out tonight, pick up a whore and have yerself some fun, you sound like you could really use it.

'You can't accuse Let's Dance For Sports Relief of not giving us variety' some glake of no importance at the Radio Times claimed in the latest issue. Well, you can. And, in fact, you'd be right if you did. This year we've seen pointless gyrations to everything from Public Enemy's 'Fight the Power' (Chuck D would be turning in his grave ... if he was dead) to Tina Turner’s take on 'Proud Mary' and Austin Powers's 'Soul Bossa Nova.' And while, Radio Times claim, 'a few' reckon it's been 'nothing to make a song and dance about' - this blogger very much included - nearly six million people have tuned in every week to watch various alleged celebrities huffing and puffing their way through dance routines and all in the name of charriddeee. Glakes, the lot of them. So this weekend we reached the final. Unfunny, odious professional northerner Paddy McGuinness, sulky Welsh stereotype Rhod Gilbert and good old reliable Frank Skinner were on the judging panel to provide the usual sort of witless critiques you get on these things. Recently sacked Steve Jones and hideous, shrieking pain in the dong Alex Jones presented the final of the dance contest, with eight acts competing to win the crown. The hopefuls were: The comedian Terry Alderton, former EastEnders duo Laurie Brett and Tameka Empson, the world's worst ski-jumper Eddie The Eagle Edwards, comedian and actor Miles Jupp, Tracy Beaker and Outnumbered stars Dani Harmer and Tyger Drew-Honey, Omid Djalili (who, obviously, hasn't got any adverts to do this week), musician and presenter Rowland Rivron and big horrible javelin tosser Fatima Whitbread. At least three of whom yer actual Keith Telly Topping used to have a bit of respect for. Sorry Miles, sorry Rowland, sorry Omid, but all of you are now dead to me now. Rowland won, incidentally. Although whether his career will ever recover from this fiasco is another matter entirely.

Meanwhile, here's today's gratuitous Gillian Anderson shot.
And, with that out of the way, here's yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Saturday 24 March
Holly Willoughby and Reggie Yates co-host the much anticipate debut episode of The Voice - BBC1 7:00. It's described as 'a fresh take on the singing contest,' judged by Tom Jones, Jessie J, Will.i.am and Danny O'Donoghue. All of whom appear on a set that looks like they're on the bridge of The Liberator. They 'seek out and nurture' the nation's best vocal talent. But there's a simple twist of fate - the four coaches select their teams through 'blind auditions', so that looks play no part in the selection process, ensuring each singer is chosen on vocal ability alone. The first show kicks-off with a group performance by the coaches.

The latest Arena film, The Dreams Of William Golding - BBC2 9:30 - is a documentary profile of the writer, from impoverished schoolmaster whose first novel, Lord of the Flies, was published when he was forty three, through his winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983, to his death ten years later. The film has unprecedented access to his unpublished diaries, in which he recorded his dreams - revealing his private obsessions and insecurities. The author's children, Judy and David, speak frankly about their father's inner demons, while other contributors include playwright Nigel Williams. Benedict Cumberbatch reads extracts from Golding's work. One of the stories revealed in the piece deserves highlighting: According to legend, a professional reader (one Miss Parksion) at the publishing house Faber and Faber scribbled a withering note on Golding's submitted Lord of the Flies manuscript: 'Absurd and uninteresting fantasy. Rubbish. Dull and pointless.' Then, she wrote a big 'R' for 'rejection.' Luckily for us all, Golding's brilliant allegory, the story of a group of shipwrecked English schoolboys who turn to savagery on a desert island, was eventually picked up by Faber and went on to sell forty million copies worldwide. What happened to Miss Parkinson is, tragically, not recorded. This thoughtful, engrossing Arena talks to Golding family members and devotees. These include Stephen King, who as an inquisitive, misfit child was handed Lord of the Flies by a generous librarian on the mobile library in Maine. But only on the understanding that Stephen never reveal where it came from, because it was an adult book and thus highly unsuitable for a child! Given what King went on to write, that librarian has a lot of answer for!

Sam investigates an elderly soldier's mysterious pains in an attempt to distract herself from the General Medical Council official who is interviewing her colleagues in response to Keith Parr's allegation of assault in the latest episode of Casualty - BBC1 9:00. Meanwhile, Linda takes a second job at a private clinic to earn extra money, but her exhaustion leads to potentially dangerous mistakes. Guest Starring the great Michael Byrne (Coronation Street's Ted Page if you only watch soap operas, one of the finest actors of his generation if you have a slightly broader appreciation). After the last episode in which Superintendent Rippon was furious that Jordan and Tess hadn't told her Jade was raped, Anton was furious that one of his gang raped Jade and Stevie was furious, too, but so are his brother Kris and their gran, it's become very noticeable of late that, basically, there's a lot of anger abroad in Holby these days. That'll be because they all woke up one morning to discover that Holby had shifted from Bristol to Cardiff, no doubt. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that it all kicked off with swarms of hoodies rampaging through the ED, knocking over equipment. Right in the middle of which Zoe had a massive row with Sam, while Dylan treated a dog that was sick from eating chocolate. Top quality drama, ladies and gentlemen. You don't get this from Grey's Anatomy!

Tonight also sees a repeat of one of the best ever episodes of CSI - 9:00 Channel Five - A Space Oddity from a couple of seasons ago which is just about the only TV episode that's ever done a story set in an SF convention that, actually, got it right. Summed up the ridiculousness but, also, the goodness, the humour, the life affirming aspects of people simply indulging in something they like with like-minded individuals. You know, the kind of thing that Gruniad Morning Star journalists probably would sneer at like twats. God, I loathe those nasty, pompous full-of-their-own-importance frappuchino-sipping tossers. Anyway, the plot involves the curiously watchable double act of Dave Hodges (Wallace Langham) and Wendy (Liz Vassey) who bump into each other at a convention for a hokey old 1960s Star Trek-like series that's about to get a dark, deconstructed Battlestar Galactica-style Twenty First Century makeover. But, because this is an episode of CSI after all, the event is soon disrupted by the murder of the producer of the proposed remake. All of which happens in a pre-title sequence which is entirely constructed in such a way that it climaxes with Hodges ringing Captain Brass to deliver the, frankly, long-overdue line: 'He's dead, Jim!' The investigation soon highlights what can happen when a much-loved show is meddled with. The episode features cameos by the stars of genre shows, including Battlestar Galactica's Grace Park and Kate Vernon, and Babylon Five's Joshua Cox. And jolly entertaining it is too. If you missed this first time around, it's well worth missing Britain's Got Talent for.

Sunday 18 March
Tony Robinson and his chums head to the Roman legionary fort of Caerleon, in Gwent, where they investigate evidence that a huge structure - a courtyard surrounded by stone buildings - once led from the fort down to the River Usk in Time Team - 4:10 Channel Four. Which is getting earlier and earlier. Expect the next series to be going out at breakfast time. The fort of Caerleon is one of the most famous and best preserved Roman sites in Britain. It stood right on the edge of the Roman Empire, but its huge amphitheatre and immense baths, and the scale of its ruined walls, are all testament to its power and importance. But, just outside the fort, archaeologists have discovered signs of yet another huge structure leading from the fort down to the river. It seems to be a vast courtyard surrounded by stone buildings and with a mysterious square structure standing in the centre. Joining the archaeologists are a large team from Cardiff University. Tony and the team have just three days to help piece together the story. And when they do, it casts new light on what was once seen as solely a military outpost.

Further highlights from the seventeenth and eighteenth series of Top Gear occur - 8:00 BBC2 - in which Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May got up to more motoring mischief and sampled some of the world's most exciting cars. And some worthless shit at the Gruniad Morning Star breaks off, briefly, from writing about Facebook to find something crap to whinge about in this. The trio were, of course, involved in a collection of chaotic challenges and spectacular stunts, while The Stig put a range of sporty vehicles through their paces on the test track. There is also another chance to see another celebrity guest thrashing the Reasonably Priced Car in a bid to reach the top spot of the lap times board.

The story of HMS Titanic is re-told in Titanic - 9:00 ITV - an allegedly 'epic drama' (ie. a very expensive one), by Downton Abbey writer Lord Snooty Julian Fellowes. This, according to the pre-publicity, weaves 'fictional and historical characters into the action.' So, it's 'a drama' in other words. Wow. Epic. Southampton docks, April 1912, and people from all walks of life board the White Star Line's gleaming new liner for its maiden voyage to New York, from aristocrats and holidaying celebrities to steerage passengers and crew members dreaming of a better life in America. Friendships are made and conflicts arise - but then the 'unsinkable' vessel collides with a geet big nasty iceberg and none of their lives will ever be the same again. Linus Roache, Toby Jones, Geraldine Somerville and Steven Waddington star. Good cast, I'll give it that. But, I still hope it sinks faster than the ship itself did. The four-part drama concludes on 15 April - the one hundredth anniversary of the real-life disaster.

The CIA director - David Harewood playing, basically, a cross between Vigil Tibbs and Shaft. Not very well - is reeling after losing key players in Nazir's plot against America, so Carrie (the excellent Claire Danes) suggests ordering lie-detector tests on everybody involved in the case. Including, of course, Brody (Damien Lewis, in a star-making performance of a lifetime). Carrie believes that this is her chance to finally get the truth from Brody about what went on during his imprisonment in the latest episode of Homeland - 9:00 Channel Four. Meanwhile, as Brody prepares to deliver the eulogy at Tom Walker's funeral, he is racked with guilt at what he did (or, at least, believes he did) to his friend while they were prisoners and the situation with Mike and Jessica comes to a head. The best drama currently on TV. By a distance as well.

The Old Ones have arrived in Britain, setting in motion the chain of events the trio have discovered will inevitably bring about an apocalyptic future in Being Human - 9:00 BBC3. Tom is given words of warning by the vampires' brutish werewolf bodyguard and Hal struggles against his very nature as the imperious Mister Snow (guest-star Mark Gatiss) invites him back into the fold. Meanwhile, Annie comes to terms with the dreadful task she must complete to save the world from ruin. Toby Whithouse's fabulous supernatural drama, with Lenora Crichlow, Damien Molony and Michael Socha reaches the end of its fourth series.

Monday 19 March
A Very British Holiday: A Wonderland Film - BBC2 7:00 - follows events at Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park on the Isle of Wight during a busy summer, revealing how people escape the stresses of urban Britain. Activities shown include family barbecues, water fights and entertainment shows, as well as members of the second Enfield Boys' Brigade giving junior campers lessons in self-sufficiency and independence.

So, after Lord Snooty's take on the Titanic the other night, how about two hours of Jay Hunt tackling the same subject? No, me neither. Inside The Titanic - Channel Four 8:00 - is a 'drama-documentary' telling the story of the sinking of passenger liner RMS Titanic in April 1912 from the point of view of those below decks. Based on records from the official inquiry, the film follows the men working in the ship's massive machine rooms, and their desperate battle to save the vessel, as well as those in the passenger cabins - including the man racing to save his secret mistress, the nurse searching flooding corridors for the child in her care and the brothers perched on the lip of the sinking ship deciding whether to jump. And the difference between this and ITV's multi-million quid extravaganza? ITV's version has a better cast.

Tonight's Storyville - BBC4 9:00 - is a documentary from award-winning director Errol Morris, charting the stranger-than-fiction story of former US beauty queen Joyce McKinney, whose pursuit of her estranged Mormon lover to the UK in the late 1970s led to a number of lurid newspaper stories. Following two films about US foreign policy and militarism (The Fog of War and the stunning Standard Operating Procedure), the acclaimed documentary maker Morris returns to his favourite 'stranger than fiction' territory with this playful yet poignant portrait of a romantic obsessive. An American former beauty queen, McKinney became a 1970s UK tabloid sensation after allegedly kidnapping, imprisoning and indecently assaulting her Mormon ex-boyfriend. This is a juicy though superficial movie, as interviews with the bubbly, now sixty-something McKinney and other key figures quirkily combine with animation, stock-footage and archival clips to detail the totally bonkers story behind the salacious Scum of the World headlines. Candid revelations about magic underwear, S&M parties, and even dog-cloning, keep the viewer intrigued, although Morris borders on being exploitative by compounding the absurdity of events by using titillating, Carry On-style phrases flashed up on-screen like newspaper pull-quotes. One supposes that it's supposed to be an incisive critique of tabloid excess but, as with many things that are supposed to parody something else, you end up running the risk that those watching can't tell the difference between what's being parodied and the parody itself. The end result is concerned with the subjective nature of truth, rather than actual facts, but its overall effectiveness is weakened as Morris neither challenges statements nor looks at their wider significance. Well worth a couple of hours of your time, though.

There's also the latest episode of the excellent Scott & Bailey - ITV 9:00.

Tuesday 20 March
The Syndicate - BBc1 9:00 - is a new five-part drama from Kay Mellor, a writer whose works, for this reviewer, usually falls into one of two distinct categories, the really very good indeed (Playing the Field, Between The Sheets, A Passionate Woman) and the downright effing lousy (Fat Friends, Band Of Gold, The Chase - remember all those poxy trailers for the latter about everybody having it off 'with the nurse'). Which category this one falls into, I'll leave up to you, dear blog reader. The plot is certainly an intriguing one, however. The five-strong staff of a struggling Leeds supermarket face an uncertain future. But then the unthinkable happens - the group's numbers come up on the lottery and eighteen million quid falls into their grubby hands overnight. It could be the answer to all their problems. Or maybe, life is about to get a lot more complicated. It's the old 'money doesn't buy you happiness' conundrum. Personally, this blogger would quite like the opportunity to be rich and miserable just, you know, to see what it's like. Anyway, this stars the great Tim Spall, Matthew McNulty, arse-achingly boring Joanna Page (the only woman on telly with a voice more annoying than Alex Jones), Lorraine Bruce and Matthew Lewis. Could go either way on this one.

The work of scientists trying to understand why the world's weather seems to be getting more extreme and if these patterns are a taste of what is to come. That's the subject being looked at in the latest episode of Horizon, Global Weirding - BBC2 9:00. In the past few years, the UK has experienced very cold winters, drought and floods, while in Texas an unprecedented amount of rainfall has been followed by a record-breaking dry period.

Johnny Vegas Live at the Benidorm Palace - ITV4 9:00 - sees the comedian and actor performs a stand-up gig at the popular tourist resort in Spain, discussing everything from living with his scratchcard-addicted mother to his experience of Benidorm's nightlife. A member of the audience also gets a pottery lesson to remember as part of the entertainment. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping saw Johnny live recently (I mean, just a couple of weeks ago) and I'm happy to report that his new (almost slimline) show is every bit as good as this one, recorded a couple of years ago. Mind, I will warn anyone thinking of watching, if strong language easily offends you then you'd better frig-off and watch some other malarkey.

West Indies face Australia in Live International Twenty20 Cricket - Sky Sports1 7:30. Coverage of the first of two matches in the shortened form of the game, which takes place at the Beausejour Stadium in Gros Islet, St Lucia. The sides have only met here on one occasion in a Twenty20 fixture, when the Aussies recorded a six-wicket victory in 2010.

Wednesday 21 March
In the second part of WikiLeaks: The Secret Life of a Superpower - BBC2 9:00 - Richard Bilton uses the diplomatic messages published by WikiLeaks to explore America's foreign policy fears, including China's rising economic power, struggles with Russian aggression and the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb. He tells the story of a crisis at the heart of NATO with echoes of the Cold War and investigates Kremlin corruption by meeting the sources who gave information to US diplomats in the first place, as well as interviewing Chinese dissidents. And, he talks to some of those who tried to persuade America to indulge in a nice old-fashioned bloodthursty pre-emptive strike against Iranian President and Roy Keane lookalike Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Chris Naunton, director of the Egypt Exploration Society, profiles Victorian adventurer Flinders Petrie in The Man Who Discovered Egypt - BBC4 9:00. He explains how Petrie changed the world's understanding of ancient Egyptian civilisation by conducting a scientific survey of the pyramids, making valuable historical discoveries along the way. He also discusses how Petrie's methods of investigation revolutionised archaeology.

Martin and Jake discover how a pawn shop robbery connects a distraught flight attendant in New York, a man from India who is in America to scatter his father's ashes, a magician in Moscow and a Bronx-based mobster in the second episode of Touch - Sky1 9:00. Drama, starring Kiefer Sutherland (who's basically, playing Jack Bauer again), David Mazouz and Danny Glover.

Grumpy ITV breakfast flop Adrian Chiles presents a first-leg encounter from the quarter-finals of Europe's most prestigious club competition in Live UEFA Champions League - ITV 7:30. The clubs continue their bid to win the trophy lifted by yer actual Barcelona last season. The chosen match kicks off at 7.45pm. Moscow Chelski FC are, of course, the only Russian representatives left in the competition after beating Napoli in the last sixteen and will play Benfica of Lisbon. With Barca and Real Madrid the favourites to continue the impressive recent results of the Spanish contingent can Roberto Di Matteo's (temporary) boys continue to expand the borders of The Roman Empire. Or, will it not be all right on the night in The Stadium of Light.

Thursday 22 March
The Honeymoon Murder - BBC1 9:00 - is a Panorama report examining in detail the hours leading up to the death of Anni Dewani while on honeymoon in Cape Town in 2010. The film investigates the case against her husband, Shrien, currently fighting in UK courts to avoid extradition to South Africa to stand trial for murder, and includes CCTV footage that suggests a different side to the couple than the one which has so far been portrayed.

Elsewhere it's the battle of the flop dramas tonight. In the dull-but-worthy White Heat - BBC2 9:00 - the year is 1979, and the former flatmates gather to celebrate as Alan and Lilly tie the knot. Jay faces his biggest fear in telling his parents he is gay and Jack decides to join mainstream politics - but his dreams are jeopardised when Victor is arrested after a stop-and-search. Lee Ingleby, MyAnna Buring and Sam Claflin star in Paula Milne's Our Friends in the North knock-off. Which is twice-as-long and half-as-good as the Peter Flannery drama it is, so obviously, influenced by. On ITV at the same time, it's the final part of the spectacularly bad Love Life. Lucy is shocked when Joe comes to see her at the caravan and tells her he is leaving for Argentina, but later has second thoughts and is forced to decide what he really wants. Penny fears Dom may still have feelings for Lucy, and Liz tries to talk some sense into her daughter about her plans to take the baby. Starring Rob James-Collier, Andrea Lowe, Alexander Armstrong and Sophie Thompson. It won't be missed.

Jamie takes Laura on a day out to relieve her boredom, but he finds himself in a challenging position when she goes into labour in a shopping centre in the final episode of Pram Face - BBC3 9:00. Meanwhile, Mike pretends he is taking part in a fun run so he can raise money to pay for a prostitute, and Keith takes Sandra to the Lake District. Comedy, with a reasonable amount of laughs, to be fair, starring Scarlett Alice Johnson, Sean Michael Verey, Ben Crompton and Angus Deayton.

Stephen Smith explores the influence art nouveau had on British art and design in the early part of the Twentieth Century in Sex and Sensibility: The Allure of Art Nouveau - BBC4 9:00. He explores the work of illustrator Aubrey Beardsley and architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, as well as delving into the careers of less celebrated figures, including Mackintosh's wife Margaret MacDonald and artist and craftswoman Mary Watts. Smith also considers how entrepreneur Arthur Liberty helped popularise the art nouveau style through his London department store.

And if you're one of the six people still watching Glee - Sky1 9:00 - Sebastian tries to blackmail Rachel into pulling out as the day of the regionals arrives, and former bully Karofsky gets a taste of his own medicine. Meanwhile, Quinn attempts to regain her position on the Cheerios, and Finn and Rachel make a sudden decision about their future, leaving both sets of parents in a blind panic. Featuring a rendition of The Wanted's single 'Glad You Came'. Here's a format that got really old really quickly. One imagines Sky are rather regretting the reported squillions of quids that they spent on acquiring this from Channel Four.

Friday 23 March
First their was Lord Snooty's Titanic, then there was Channel Four's Inside The Titanic what, you might wonder are the BBC doing to combat this wave of anti-iceberg propaganda? Why, Titanic with Len Goodman, of course! No, really. Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman marks the centenary of the Titanic tragedy with a three-part series exploring 'the wider impact' of the disaster. Well, there's the latest line on Lord Snooty's CV for a kick-off. Len discusses his own (extremely tenuous) connection with the event, revealing how he once worked for a welding company that helped build the liner between 1909 and 1912. Like I say, extremely tenuous. He also meets the families of people who died on board the ship, and hears the stories of the survivors, for whom the experience had a longer lasting effect.

The spoof documentary Twenty Twelve following the exploits of the fictional Olympic Deliverance team returns - BBc2 10:00. Ian, Sally and Siobhan are forced to endure another crisis when the Algerian team threatens to boycott the Games after discovering the Shared Belief Centre does not face Mecca. Starring Hugh Bonneville, Olivia Colman and Jessica Hynes, with a guest appearance by Sebastian Coe.
When Ali Came to Britain - ITV 11:35 - is a documentary filmed to mark Muhammad Ali's seventieth birthday in January. The programme focuses on the former boxer's relationship with Britain and features contributions by those who met him on his many visits. Yorkshire heavyweight Richard Dunn describes what it was like to face Ali in his prime (or, in Dunn's case, when Ali was just past his prime), and talks about the hero's welcome he received in his native Bradford after he had been soundly beaten. Legend has it that after Ali had given Richard a right good chinning, he woke up in the dressing room being slapped around the face by his trainer who asked, 'do you know who you are?' 'I'm Dunn,' came the reply. 'I can see that for myself, but do you know who you are?' Oh yes. Every one a gem, ladies and gentlemen. TV presenter Dickie Davies discusses An Audience with Muhammad Ali in 1974, which he hosted, and Mohamed Hussein recalls the time Ali and his wife had their marriage blessed at his South Shields mosque during a visit to the North East in 1977. Naturally, it's packed with pugilists, and it also has Ali's trainer the late Angelo Dundee and Henry Cooper's son. Yet the best moments promise to come in the memories of others, such as Mohamed, who recalls Ali's visit to his South Shields mosque.

The making of rock band The Doors' 1971 LP LA Woman, which was recorded during a period of growing social unrest and change in America. In The Story of LA Woman - 10:20 BBC4 - the three surviving members, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby Krieger, discuss how their music was influenced by the country's sociopolitical climate, and the programme also features archive performances and analysis of the original multi-track recording tapes by producer Bruce Botnick. Pretentious wanker Jim Morrison, thankfully, is only heard singing. Which is a blessing.

Perhaps the least likely BBC4 Mark Lawson Talks To ... documentary occurs at 11:20 was Mark gets a one-on-one with Noel Gallagher. An interview with the former Oasis guitarist and songwriter, who released his debut solo CD, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds in October 2011. Noel discusses his turbulent youth, his antagonistic relationship with brother and former band mate Liam and memorable incidents from the band's rise to fame. He also assesses his personal contribution to Oasis's success, as well as their eventual split in 2009.

And, so to the news: My thanks to the very lovely Eric Briggs for alerting me to the following story. Coronation Street's William Roache is ready to face some grilling about his sex life when he steps onstage in Toronto with his one-man show, now that's making headlines back in Britain with the shocking admission he's 'had' a thousand women. Show promoter Andrew Stuckless said that during the question-and-answer portion of An Audience with William Roache Thursday night, an Ottawa fan did ask the Corrie actor about a recent taping of Piers Morgan's Life Stories, where Roache admitted he'd slept with 'more than one hundred' women. When Morgan asked if the number was really closer to a thousand, Roache replied, 'Well, I'm not denying it.' 'He expects it to be a topic across Canada,' said Stuckless, adding that Roache will answer all questions. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper kept the conversation much more highbrow in a private audience with Roache on Thursday. Harper didn't even ask Roache for inside information on future plot twists in the soap. 'They love the street and [Harper] wrote me a personal letter on the fiftieth anniversary and one to the cast,' said Roache. Harper and his wife, Laureen, spent about thirty minutes with Roache, who has played often-conflicted Ken Barlow in Corrie since the first episode in 1960. Given that Canadians are several months behind British viewers on the often-complex Corrie storyline, did the prime minister try to pump Roache for spoilers about what fates await cast members? 'He didn't enquire about storylines forthcoming,' Roache laughed. 'He's more diplomatic than that.'

Sir Tom Jones has questioned Simon Cowell's ability to judge singing competitions. Which is fair enough. Some people question Simon Cowell's right to oxygen.

Johnny Vegas has shot a BBC3 sitcom pilot about UFOs, just months after blasting the channel's controller for cancelling Ideal. He was right, though! Filming on A Saucer Full of Secrets in Johnny's native St Helens wrapped on Wednesday. According to the local newspaper, the St Helens Reporter, the comedian shot scenes with a cow at Siding Lane Country Park, 'before realising an alien spacecraft [was] approaching over the treetops. The scene involved a huge mobile platform that projected the alien "landing lights" down onto the park's grassed area.' Sounds suitably enigmatic! The pilot was a co-production between the BBC in Manchester and Steve Coogan's production company Baby Cow, who made The Mighty Boosh and Gavin and Stacey. But we'll just have to forgive them for those because they did make Ideal, after all. The pilot was written and directed by the Ideal team of Graham Duff and Ben Wheatley. Sheila Hancock, Roy Hudd and Daisy Haggard co-star in the pilot. The news comes as the BBC also announced V Sign, another SF comedy pilot about an alien invasion, this one shot in Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland.

Now, here's a thought, dear blog reader. Every time that Victoria Wood does another one of her odious, sycophantic brown-tongued 'aren't Sky, like, the greatest thing in all the land that am?' adverts, another kitten dies. And, of course, Victoria isn't doing them because they're giving her loads of wonga to say how great they are, is she? Oh no. Very hot water. There's someone else whose credibility - not that she ever had much in the first place in this blogger's opinion - has just fallen through the floor and all the way to hell. I hope the cheques paid for a nice kitchen extension, Victoria.

Discovery Communications will reportedly soon launch lifestyle channel TLC in the UK, as it seeks to offer a female-orientated network on these shores. Broadcast reports that (wholly anonymous) 'industry sources' have said Discovery is 'stepping up' its plans for TLC UK, including talks with TV platforms and production companies. The broadcaster, which originally intended to launch TLC in 2011, has put its head of programming for Western Europe, Dan Korn, in charge of the UK version of the channel. Broadcast claims that Korn is currently 'in early discussions with indies' about making original content for the channel, although 'no further details are known at this stage.' But, they continue, 'multiple sources' (sadly, none of whom actually had names it would seem) said that the channel's programming could involve Betty, the Freaky Eaters producer acquired by Discovery last year, along with some new shows being overseen by Julian Bellamy, the former Channel Four executive who is now Discovery's head of production and development. According to Broadcast's - anonymous, and probably fictitious - sources, TLC 'could' launch in the UK on Freeview rather than pay-TV, despite that strategy meaning Discovery will clash with its long-time pay-TV partner Sky. Discovery could still opt to make TLC a pay-TV channel, but it may have been encouraged by the success in Italy of the free-to-air Real Time network, the local version of TLC. A Discovery spokeswoman said that the company 'does not comment on market speculation and rumour.' Quite right too.

A teenage credit card fraudster has been caught out by the daughter of the person whose card he stole. Police in Manor Township confirmed that nineteen-year-old Joshua Devonshire tried to use the credit card to pay for petrol in a Pennsylvania convenience store, but his plan was foiled when the shop worker noticed her own mother's name on the card. Which, to be fair, you'd have to be pretty unobservant to miss. According to the Associated Press, Devonshire promptly fled the scene but was later spotted trying to put the stolen card back in the woman's car. The clerk had also recognised the teen as a former classmate. He was eventually arrested after being spotted sleeping in a car in the area and detectives recovered several suspected stolen items from the vehicle. And charged with being a prat.

McLaren's Jenson Button dominated the season-opening Australian Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton finished third. Button, who qualified second to his team-mate, beat him into the first corner and pulled away to win with relative ease. Hamilton lost second place to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel after an unlucky break with a safety car, and the German was able to hold him off. Vettal's team mate Mark Webber was fourth, ahead of the surprisingly quick Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. Williams driver Pastor Maldonado was on course to take a close sixth, but he lost control while chasing Alonso on the last lap and crashed at the turn seven kink. That handed sixth place to Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi. The Japanese won out in a seven-car fight to the flag. In a chaotic final lap, Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, impressive on his return after two years in rallying, took seventh ahead of the second Sauber of Sergio Perez. The Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo, Force India's Paul di Resta, Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, who had been eighth until Maldonado's crash led to frantic place-swapping, followed. Button was serenely unaware of the drama behind him - he was in a league of his own throughout the race after making a better start than Hamilton and passing him down the inside into turn one. 'As a team it really shows how important the winter is,' said Button, who kicked off his 2009 championship-winning year with victory in Australia. 'We had a strong winter and qualifying really shows that. It's nice to come away with a win in the first race of the season. Every win means a lot to you.' Hamilton was slightly more than three seconds behind Button by the time of their first pit stops, which he made one lap later than Button. That meant he came out behind Perez and in the four laps it took Hamilton to pass the Mexican, Button extended his lead to more than ten seconds. Button held his lead at about that margin until they both made their second stops on lap thirty six, but a safety car deployed on the next lap to enable the recovery of the stranded Caterham of Vitaly Petrov cost Hamilton again. 'It wasn't my day,' said a sulky Hamilton, who started the race on pole. 'I just have to keep my head down and my day will come.' Vettel was approaching the pit entry as the safety car signal was given. That meant Vettel was able to continue at full speed to the pits, while Hamilton had to slow to the pace required of the drivers when a caution period is called. The time gained meant the world champion exited the pits ahead of Hamilton and although the Englishman stayed within a second of the Red Bull until he began to drop back in the closing stages, possibly because he was struggling with high tyre wear. 'Jenson was unbeatable, coming away with second was great - not a lot of people would have expected that after yesterday,' said reigning world champion Vettel.
'The car has a lot of potential, we just need to get on top of it and it will be very close with these guys.' Webber recovered strongly after a poor start at his home race left him in ninth place on the first lap. Alonso drove a strong race after a disastrous qualifying session had left him in twelfth place. The Ferrari had looked very hard to drive throughout the weekend but it showed a surprising turn of race pace. The Spaniard drove a feisty, consistent race and although he was not able to hang on to the McLarens and Red Bulls he was able to hold off Maldonado to take fifth until the Venezuelan crashed on the last lap. Mercedes faded after a strong qualifying. Rosberg had run fourth in the early laps, just behind team mate Michael Schumacher, who retired with gearbox failure on lap eleven while trying to fend off Vettel.

Overall, Sky's news F1 channel coverage of the opening race was quite decent. Although it has to be said the rather shrill, hysterical, hyperactive commentary of former 5Live man David Croft (in marked contrast to Martin Brundle's much more laid-back, viewer friendly delivery) was something of an unwanted conceit for this particular viewer. Particularly at 4am in the morning.

England produced a dominant forward display to steamroller Ireland and finish second in the Six Nations table in coach Stuart Lancaster's first campaign in charge. Six penalties from the boot of Owen Farrell and a penalty try were a fitting reward as England's pack destroyed their opposite numbers at the scrum. Ireland had been within three points at half-time as Jonny Sexton punished England indiscipline, but the visitors were dismantled in a one-sided second half. Replacement Ben Youngs sealed the win with an opportunistic darting run from a tap penalty as the wheels came off the Ireland set-piece in the last quarter. Ireland had beaten England in seven of their last eight meetings but failed to adapt to the wet conditions, an epidemic of handling errors costing them any chance of another Twickenham win. On a day when Wales secured their third Grand Slam in eight years a few hours earlier and Scotland, hilariously, lost to Italy to finish with the Wooden Spoon, the comprehensive manner of England's win - making it four from five - meant Lancaster's job application for the permanent coach's role becomes even more persuasive. England had the lead within two minutes of the start, Farrell drilling over a penalty after Ireland's scrum had been penalised at the first set-piece. Steady drizzle made handling difficult with both Jamie Heaslip and Mouritz Botha spilling promising possession, and after Keith Earls accelerated down the right wing Lee Dickson slipped in pursuit of the kick through and came close to conceding a dramatic try. Full-back Rob Kearney hit the right-hand post with an audacious long-range drop-goal attempt in a frenetic opening, and Ireland were level soon after as Sexton's simple penalty punished Brad Barritt for going offside. If England struggled occasionally at the line-out their scrum was enjoying some dominance, Eoin Reddan going offside to gift Farrell the chance to make it 6-3 with just over a quarter of the match gone. Tom Croft and Manu Tuliagi both dropped garryowens as the quality dropped away before a trademark rampaging run from Ben Morgan put the Irish under more pressure, but England failed to capitalise and were turned over. The mistakes kept coming and the atmosphere, spicy at the start, ebbed away. It took Farrell's third successful penalty in three after Ireland skipper Rory Best hacked clear from an offside position to rouse the capacity crowd, and a desperate covering tackle from Chris Ashton to haul down Tommy Bowe after another steepling kick ricocheted from Ben Foden's fingertips. England dithered in their own twenty two on the stroke of half-time, Donnacha Ryan smashing into a ruck to allow Sexton to make it 9-6 at the interval. The errors continued as battle was rejoined. Dickson knocked on after a scrum won against the head and then Ireland did the same. A wonderful piece of counter-attacking from Foden then almost brought the first try. The full-back went on a curving, accelerating run and set Croft free on a barnstorming burst that seemed certain to replicate his match-winning score against France a week ago, only for the ball to pop from his grasp with the line closing in and Ashton on his inside shoulder. Ireland's respite was brief. Once again their scrum was mangled and Farrell landed his fourth penalty to extend his side's lead to 12-6. Next man in an ever-lengthening list to spill the bar of soap was the otherwise outstanding Morgan, and as Ireland counter-attacked Sexton reduced the deficit to three with a penalty after another ruck infringement. A clever grubber through from Farrell gave England a five-metre scrum and once again they took the men in green apart. Referee Nigel Owens went to his TMO as replacement Tom Palmer dived on the ball as it came loose, awarded another penalty and then, with the England pack in total control, signalled for a penalty try as Twickenham celebrated. Farrell converted for 19-9, his front row of Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley and Alex Corbisiero bear-hugging behind him. The demolition job continued. At the next set piece the Irish pack went backwards at pace, Owens blew again and Farrell popped over his fifth penalty to put England thirteen points clear with fifteen minutes left on the clock. Youngs spotted a gap in the tired defence after another scrum penalty to take a quick tap and dart over, and Farrell drilled over his sixth penalty with the seconds running out to seal a thumping win.

Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba remians critically ill in hospital after collapsing during the FA Cup fifth-round tie against Tottenham Hotshots with a suspected heart-attack. The twenty three-year-old is being treated in the intensive care unit of the the London Chest Hospital. Medics spent ten minutes trying to resuscitate him on the field after he fell to the ground with no other players around him. The score was 1-1 when the match was abandoned after forty one minutes. 'Bolton Wanderers can confirm that Fabrice Muamba has been admitted to The Heart Attack Centre at The London Chest Hospital where he is in a critically ill condition in intensive care,' said a joint statement from Bolton and the hospital released at half past nine on Saturday night. 'No further information will be issued at this stage. The club and hospital request that the media and public respect the family's privacy at this time.' Medical staff gave the former England Under-21 international mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and tried to revive him with a defibrillator. In total six medics were treating the player. Both sets of supporters chanted Muamba's name as he was taken off the pitch on a stretcher. ESPN, who were broadcasting the match, reported that he was not breathing as he was taken into the tunnel. Referee Howard Webb called the visibly shaken players off the field after consulting with Bolton manager Owen Coyle and Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp. Minutes later the match was abandoned. The former Arsenal midfielder was accompanied in the ambulance by Coyle and club captain Kevin Davies. BBC Radio 5Live's chief football reporter Dennis, who was covering the game at White Hart Lane, witnessed medics rushing to aid Muamba. 'When the medical staff arrived his face was on the turf,' he said. 'You could see them using a defibrillator and he was [electronically] charged on at least two occasions. Everyone could see Fabrice Muamba was fighting for his life. If he does pull through it will be down to the quick actions of the medics.' Soon after the incident, messages of support flooded in for the former Birmingham City and Arsenal player. Spurs' Rafael van der Vaart was one of those on the pitch when Muamba collapsed. He tweeted: 'Terrible what happened with Muamba during the game. We're all praying for him.' England international Jack Wilshere, who played with Muamba at Bolton, wrote: 'Hope Muamba is okay. Thoughts with him.' Middlesbrough defender Justin Hoyte, who played in the Arsenal youth team with Muamba, said: 'I seriously hope my best friend in football is okay. Stay strong bro, please please stay strong. God is with you remember that.' The Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said it was 'a terrible thing to see for all the football family. This can happen on a pitch and [it is] one of the reasons why we insist all youngsters coming into the game have the ability to have heart screenings to avoid this happening,' he said. FA chairman David Bernstein said their thoughts and prayers were with Muamba and his family. 'Fabrice has played thirty three times for England Under-21s, captaining Stuart Pearce's side during this time and is a player, and more importantly, a person we care greatly for,' he said. 'We are in contact with Bolton Wanderers over Fabrice's condition and are awaiting updates.' Muamba joined Wanderers from Birmingham in 2008 and has made almost one hundred and fifty appearances for the club. Born on 6 April 1988 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, was granted asylum status in Britain in 1994 at the age of eleven, rejoining his father who had been forced to flee his homeland on political grounds. He progressed through Arsenal's youth academy, representing England at every level from under-16 to under-21. It was unclear what caused the Bolton player to fall down in the forty second minute with the score 1-1, but it was clear immediately that he was in obvious distress. Players and staff immediately realised the seriousness of the situation, with Tottenham's players gesturing frantically for the paramedics to come on. Muamba lost consciousness and several attempts were made to resuscitate him on the pitch using CPR. Bolton's manager, Owen Coyle, shouted: 'He's just collapsed,' before running across to join the paramedics and looked on as the medical team struggled to revive his stricken player. As was widely noted when Gary Speed's shockingly untimely death was announced late last year, it's at times like this  it's brought home to everyone that football, great game that it is, is still ultimately just a game.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's the greatest B-side of any single, ever. Fact. Well, except possibly Benny Hill's 'Ting-A-Ling-A-Loo.'

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