Sunday, March 11, 2012

Week Twelve: Venus And Mars Are All Right Tonight (And Jupiter ...)

Word up, dear blog reader. And first, yer actual Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie has confirmed the return date for the new series of The Apprentice. Series eight of the BBC1 show will premiere on Wednesday 21 March at 9pm, the entrepreneur confirmed on his Twitter page. "Its [sic] now official The Apprentice is back on on 21 March BBC1 9pm,' he wrote. Aides Nick Hewer and Karren Brady will return to keep an eye on the new contestants as they battle it out to earn an investment from Lord Sugar-Sweetie. Tom Pellereau won the last series after pitching a business aiming to reduce the financial and personal costs of employee back pain through specialist chairs. Lord Sugar-Sweetie recently admitted that he had 'made some mistakes' in the past when it came to firing candidates on The Apprentice. 'I don't think I've made too many mistakes in picking the winner. The mistake or firing the wrong person is usually in the early episodes of the show. Something like episode five, six or seven,' he said.

David Walliams has reportedly signed up to play Michael Barrymore in a TV drama about Barrymore's life. The comedian, actor and charity swimmer will, it is claims, depict Barrymore during the height of his career. That was before it all went pear-shaped after that chap Stuart Lubbock was found drowned in suspicious circumstances and with what were described as 'severe anal injuries consistent with a sexual assault' at Barrymore's gaff. The project is the work of Sky according to the Sun. And, let's face it, they would know. An alleged 'source' allegedly told the alleged newspaper: 'It's a four-part drama looking at Michael's glory years. It shows how he was a hugely popular family man and television icon who had a number of skeletons in the closet. David will be perfect to play him. He's great at improvising but can also portray fragility and the darkness at the heart of the story.' Allegedly. The report claims that Walliams is 'planning to improvise scenes involving Strike It Lucky and My Kind Of People - the TV programmes that made Barrymore famous - for the series.' Sky Entertainment drama 'chief', Anne Mensah, is 'heading the show,' which is due to begin filming later in the year. Geoff Atkinson, who ghostwrote the autobiography of the late Cheryl Barrymore, Michael's ex-wife, is also involved. Barrymore himself, reportedly, isn't.

Rumours abound that Paul Smith's allegedly 'tense and compelling' new four-part drama One Night (which is due to star Jessica Hynes and Douglas Hodge) is going to be a bit of a disaster. Certainly the scheduling (it's being stripped across four nights, Monday to Thursday, at 10:35) suggest somebody with a say in these things doesn't have much faith in it. Set over one blisteringly hot summer's night, One Night is the story of four ordinary people whose fates are linked by a seemingly inconsequential event. In each episode the events of the night are re-told from a different character's point of view.

Alexander Armstrong confirms here that there are no plans for another series of The Armstrong and Miller Show.
Harsh.

For the first time in over a decade, people can catch a glimpse of five of the planets in the solar system in conjunction over the course of one night. Here, astronomer Francisco Diego describes how to make the most of a special event in the skies over the coming days.
And, on that bombshell, here's yer next batch of Top Telly Tips:

Saturday 17 March
In a new three-part series How God Made The English - 8:00 BBC2 - Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch explores how English identity has slowly been shaped by the interplay of Church and State over the last fourteen hundred years. 'Who are the English?' is a topical question, discussed time and time again by columnists, presenters, journalists, novelists, poets and every single Prime Minister in the last two decades. And, this blog for that matter. The conventional wisdom is that there is a neat, static and ageless set of characteristics that define 'the English.' But, of course, there isn't. Throughout the series, Professor MacCulloch will explore this notion of a timeless 'Englishness' and will argue that, in fact, English identity has changed - constantly - over time, and that these changes are a result, not of the usual suspects of politics, wars and economics, but a polyglot product of religion – in particular Christianity and the Church. Sounds fascinating.

That nice Gary Lineker presents action from the Premier League clashes Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance vs Swansea City at Craven Cottage and Relegation-Haunted Wigan Not Very Athletic vs West Bromwich Albino at The DW Stadium in Match of the Day - BBC1 10:45.
Mark Lawrenson bores everybody titless, Alan Hansen says 'unbelieveable' a lot and Wor Alan Shearer elbows somebody in the mush. For a reet-good laugh. So, just a normal week, then.

Sunday 18 March
Top Gear has now finished its current run, which is, obviously, the cause of almost suicidal misery in the offices of the Gruniad Morning Star since it means the miserable hippy Communists now have to go out and find some real news to report. Tragedy. But, wait, what's this coming over the hill to the rescue? Tonight sees the first in a series of compilation episodes featuring highlights from the show's seventeenth and eighteenth series - BBC2 8:00 - 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 were whinged about on an almost weekly basis by lice at the Gruniad. So, encore? The trio were 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 a celebrity guest thrashing the Reasonably Priced Car in a bid to reach the top spot of the lap times board.

Afzal Hamid, the lone surviving terrorist from the compound in Afghanistan, is captured, and Carrie and Saul are tasked with finding out everything he knows about Abu Nazir's plans to attack the US in the latest episode of the best drama on the planet at present, Homeland - 9:00 Channel Four. But there is a catch - and, isn't there always? - Estes wants Brody to help with the interrogation, claiming he is in a unique position because of his history with the man who kept him captive for eight years. Stunning US drama, starring David Harewood, Damian Lewis and Claire Danes.

After one week at 8:00, the Time Team are back on the afternoon beat, today's episode going out at 4:40 on Channel Four. Just what the blithering-fek are C4 playing at? Anyway, Tony Robinson and the team head to Kenfig in south Wales, to search for the remains of a once-thriving harbour town believed to have been buried beneath sand dunes in a series of storms more than five hundred years ago. The archaeologists have only three days to determine the size of the lost community and search for evidence of the battles between the locals and the Anglo-Norman settlers.

Annie finds herself returning to the grim hallways of Purgatory at the behest of the mysterious woman from the future, who gives her an unthinkable task to save the world from vampire domination in the latest episode of Being Human - BBC3 9:00. Meanwhile, Cutler's plans for Tom come to fruition, and Hal succumbs to the temptation of drinking blood ahead of his second date with Alex. Supernatural drama, starring Lenora Crichlow, Michael Socha and Damien Molony. Sherlock co-creator, Doctor Who writers, Hammer aficionado and all-round top chap Mark Gatiss makes a guest appearance as the mysterious and thoroughly nasty Mr Snow.

Monday 19 March
Despite arresting four people, the detectives face a wall of silence in their investigation into the grisly murders - but they eventually make a breakthrough, which doesn't quite give them the answers they were expecting in Scott & Bailey - 9:00 ITV. On the domestic front, Rachel (Suranne Jones) wakes up in bed with charismatic colleague Sean (Sean Maguire) - a mistake she is keen never to repeat - and Janet (Lesley Sharp) wants to keep her newly single status a secret. So the last thing she needs is daughter Taisie telling Andy about her dad moving out. Also starring Harriet Waters, Amelia Bullmore, Pippa Haywood and Nicholas Gleaves.

In Dirk Gently - BBC4 9:00 - the holistic detective discovers that several of his clients have been murdered. And that, perhaps inevitably, the police want to talk to him about this - leading him to fear that he is being framed for the killings. However, whilst he makes plans to flee the country, he is interrupted by a woman who wants him to investigate who has been stalking her. Much to Macduff's surprise, Dirk takes the case - then reveals he already knows the stalker's identity. With Lisa Dillon (from Cranford) and Tony Pitts (Scott & Bailey). Last in the current series. Thankfully, silly little Helen Baxendale isn't in this one. Good. Can't stand her.

University Challenge: The Story So Far - BBC2 7:00 - is, as the title suggests, a documentary tracing the origins and development of the long-running student quiz show which was first broadcast in 1962 and has been immortalised in the British film Starter for Ten. Featuring contributions by former contestants including Stephen Fry, John Simpson, Lord Snooty Julian Fellowes and Miriam Margolyes.
And its hosts the original Bamber Gascoigne and the current terroriser of hesitation, Jeremy Paxman.

Tuesday 20 March
The murder of a middle-class family on an eco-friendly housing estate initially seems to be a straightforward case when the evidence points to a neighbour, who quickly confesses in the latest episode of CSI - Tell Tale Hearts - Channel Five 9:00. However, soon afterwards a woman walks into the precinct and admits to carrying out the killings. Her testimony leads the investigators to another potential suspect, who also claims to be the sole culprit. As Russell, Catherine, Nick and the team try to make sense of what is happening, they begin to realise all three of the supposed perpetrators might be hiding something. Crime drama, starring Ted Danson, Marg Helgenberger and George Eads, with Amy Davidson (Eight Simple Rules).

Talk at the BBC - BBC4 9:00 - is a clip show featuring highlights of classic interviews from BBC TV programmes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. First of a, potentially fascinating, three part wallow in nostalgia.

Surgeon Gabriel Weston explores why so many people are piling on the pounds in the Horizon film The Truth About Fat - BBC2 9:00. And, she learns about new ways to fight the flab. She discovers the hidden hormones that control appetite and sees the latest surgery that fundamentally changes what a patient wants to eat - by altering how their brains work.

The second leg of Si King and Dave Myers' journey in search of Europe's finest baking takes them through the Low Countries in The Hairy Bikers' Bakeation - BBC2 8:00. Holland's heritage as a spice-trading nation shines through in such dishes as Dutch apple pie, smothered in cinnamon, and Jewish buns coated in muscovado sugar. Plus, of course, hash brownies. Oh yes. In Belgium, the duo make their own chocolate truffle cheesecake, and get busy again in Luxembourg, cooking a pork pie with Riesling jelly to the vast amusement of several Luxembourgoise. Along the way they snort chocolate (yes, we believe you, lads), taste the sweet delights of Bruges and get a recipe for macaroons with ice-cream.

Wednesday 21 March
Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie begins another search for a candidate worthy of setting up in business with him - with a two hundred and fifty thousand smackers investment to help get their idea off the ground. The first task sees the sixteen candidates split into two teams - boys versus girls - with each group buying blank goods, adding their own designs, then selling them on the streets of London in a test of creativity, marketing and salesmanship. While one team opts for cute kids' clothes, the other plays it safe with Union Jacks for tourists. But before long, the pressure of their tight deadline grows and the back-biting begins.

Dealers of art, collectibles and antiques are seated in separate rooms, and members of the public approach them individually, offering to sell some of their prized possessions in Four Rooms - Channel Four 9:00. Items tonight include a chair used by author JK Rowling during the writing of Harry Potter, the original music score by Bernard Herrmann for the film Psycho, artwork by Marlon Brando, and Francis Bacon's paintbrushes.

The team members are surprised when Gibbs asks DiNozzo's father to join them in their investigation of a murder committed at the US Naval Academy in NCIS - Channel Five 9:00. However, Tony Sr's experience turns out to play a vital role in the inquiry, which finds the team hunting for a missing nuclear weapon they suspect is about to be sold on the black market. Guest starring Robert Wagner, Bruce Boxleitner and Kal Weber.

Thursday 22 March
John Bishop's Sport Relief Hell - ITV 9:00 - features step-by-painful-step coverage of the comedian's recent three-part challenge in aid of Sport Relief. Setting off at the Eiffel Tower, he faced a punishing one hundred and eighty five-mile cycle ride to Calais. But that was just the beginning. With little rest, he then got in a boat and had to row his way across the choppy waters of the Channel - with support from Davina McCall, Denise Lewis and Andrew Flintoff, helping to boost the sleep-deprived comic's spirits. Once in England, his gruelling journey continued with a three-day run from Dover to London - each day covering more than a marathon - again, with celebrity friends such as Dermot O'Dreary, Frank Skinner, Greg James and Robbie Savage running alongside to keep him going as he headed toward the finish line in Trafalgar Square.

Lucy and baby Arthur are made homeless when her father Will is evicted, while Penny is shocked when she finds out about Dominic's affair and goes to see her mother at the nursing home where she works in Love Life - ITV 9:00. Joe feels his life is becoming increasingly complicated, so when he bumps into a girl he met on his travels he again hears the call of the open road. Drama, starring Andrea Lowe, Alexander Armstrong and Sorcha Cusack.

Three teenagers discover what they assume to be a body in an abandoned Second World War bunker, but the team soon realises the victim is still alive in Hawaii Five-0 - Sky1 8:00. McGarrett and the team face a race against time to solve the crime before Chin Ho's wedding. Drama, starring Daniel Dae Kim, Scott Caan, Grace Park and Alex O'Loughlin.
Friday 23 March
The leading names in sport and entertainment unite once more for an evening of fundraising entertainment in aid of charity projects in Britain and Africa in Sports Relief which, as usual, is on just about all night on BBC1. From 7.00pm Claudia Whatsherface and that nice Gary Lineker kick off the fun, with England faceache Frank Lampard and his curious orange giggling bit, greedy Christine Bleakley, appearing in Outnumbered at Stamford Bridge. Which tells the story of André Villas Boas's final dark days at Moscow Chelski FC, no doubt. There is also the first part of a Strictly Come Dancing rematch between 2011 finalists Harry Judd and Chelsee Healey - only this time, they perform underwater, and music by LMFAO. From 7.30, boxing superstar Amir Khan and England footballer Jermain Defoe brush up on their schooling with help from Stephen Fry and the Horrible Histories cast, and there's part two of the underwater Strictly special. Will Chelsee and Harry make a big splash? Big splash, d'ya get it? Oh, never mind. Next Dermot O'Dreary and Davina McCall - a couple from hell if ever there was one - take over presenting duties as Frank Skinner tries to overcome his lifelong fear of water by completing a length of his local swimming pool in West Bromwich. Also, Miranda Hart shows off her (lack of) tennis skills to the cream of the sporting world, including Jessica Ennis, The Little Shit, Paula Radcliffe and Roberto Mancini. David Walliams chats about his fundraising swim down the Thames. Does a lot of work for charriddee does David. Two of the biggest shows on the box get in on the action, as Benidorm meets Britain's Got Talent, starring Simon Cowell, talentless greed bucket Alesha Dixon and, of course, Ant and Dec. Snow Patrol also perform. So, that's another very good reason to make this the half hour you pop out and make a cup of tea. From 9.30pm JLS sing the Sport Relief single 'Proud', and England football stars get busy in the kitchen with James Martin. After a break for the news, John Bishop, Fearne Cotton and fat odious, unfunny clown James Corden are among the presenters as Kate Moss, Stella McCartney, Colin Jackson and Linford Christie pop up alongside Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley in an Absolutely Fabulous sketch. Sue Barker appears as never seen before to present A Question of Sport. One hopes that's 'with her mouth closed.' Freddie Flintoff attempts to break a world record (if it involves being pissed an pedalo, that might, just, be worth watching), there are potted editions of Celebrity Juice and 8 Out of 10 Cats, and Emeli Sande sings live. Around midnight, full-of-himself Patrick Kielty takes the baton as JLS perform with a chorus of rugby internationals, Mo Farah takes on the race of his life against Misery Bear, there's a special (and very rude) Mock the Week and plenty more live surprises as well. Throughout the night, the stars report on how the money has been and can be used both in the UK and the world's poorer countries. or, you could just do what I do, have a nice cup of milky cocoa and go to bed early with a good book.

And, so to the news: Anthony and December will no longer be eligible to enter the National Television Awards under new plans, it has been claimed. Organisers at the annual ceremony have, allegedly, decided to remove the pair from the shortlist after tiring of them winning the 'Entertainment Presenter' prize - which they've secured for the past eleven years in a row. Producer Indigo Television instead plans to rename the award after Ant and Dec as 'a tribute' to their past success in the category, the Sun reports. So, this is almost certainly lies, in that case. 'Ant and Dec have taken more awards than any other show or star in the ceremony's seventeen-year history,' an alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'So now there's talk they will step out of the competition to give others a chance and organisers will rebrand the category "The Ant and Dec Entertainment Presenter Award." It will be news to them and the idea will depend on whether they want to go along with it. They might just say "No", in which case the organisers can't not let them enter.'

Kidnap and Ransom finished its three-episode second series with an overnight average of 4.20 million per episode - is down a whopping 0.87m on last year's first series. It'll probably be touch and go on whether that one comes back. Particularly as Trevor Eve is, reportedly, on such a large salary.

The brother of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie has been charged with her murder. Tony McCluskie, thirty five, was arrested on Wednesday after the actress's headless and limbless torso was found in a Hackney canal. He will appear before Thames Magistrates' Court on Monday. Twenty nine-year-old Gemma, who appeared as Kerry Skinner in the soap throughout 2001, disappeared from Bethnal Green last Thursday. Divers are continuing to search the canal for her missing body parts and police are currently reviewing CCTV footage from a hospital opening ceremony in Whitechapel on the day of her death, the last place she was seen alive. Detective Superintendent Fiona Mallon, who is leading the investigation into Gemma's death, said recently: 'We urge anyone with any significant information about this case to contact us as soon as possible. In particular we would like to hear from anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity around her home address in Pelter Street in Bethnal Green.' Gemma's EastEnders co-stars Joe Swash, Brooke Kinsella and Dean Gaffney have all paid tribute to her on Twitter.

Cheryl Cole is reportedly in talks to host a TV chat show. Although what language the show would be in is open to debate as it sure as shite won't be recognisably English. The Heaton Horror's manager, will.i.am, is claimed to be 'currently in negotiations' with the BBC regarding the summer project, the Mirra reports. 'It's all been tremendously exciting after Will pitched this idea and things have been moving at a rate of knots,' an alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'They are looking at a show in the summer which would be the ideal vehicle to relaunch Cheryl's TV career.' will.i.am is said to have an 'excellent' relationship with BBC bosses due to his role as a coach on The Voice and has already lined-up Rihanna and Justin Bieber as guests on the chat show. It is thought the potential deal could be worth up to three quarters of a million smackers for Cole, who is rumoured to be debuting her new single on The Voice.
And, speaking of shite you read in tabloids, the following is an extract from The Phone-Hacking Scandal: Journalism On Trial and a chapter written by Chris Atkins, the director of a film which showed how tabloid journalists could be fooled into accepting false stories and printing them without checking them. His Starsuckers documentary, first screened in 2009, exposed the utter and disgraceful deceit involved in much tripe 'celebrity reporting.' Some thirty minutes of the film was recently shown to the Leveson inquiry. Atkins begins his piece by explaining that there 'was abundant prima facie evidence of wrongdoing' by tabloid journalists, but the only way to prove it was by the use of subterfuge. He continues: 'We set out to feed untrue stories to tabloid newspapers to see if they would be printed without checks, and observe how the stories were relayed to the public. We created fictional celebrity stories that had no factual basis whatsoever, apart from the physical location of a celebrity at a certain time. We avoided fabricating anything malicious or defamatory to the celebrity themselves, and did not take any of the money that was offered in return for the stories. Researching our first story, we learned that the Canadian singer, Avril Lavigne, had been to the nightclub Bungalow Eight. The next morning, on 18 March 2009, our researcher Jen Richardson called the Daily Mirror news desk pretending to be French party girl 'Gigi', with the story that Lavigne had fallen asleep in Bungalow Eight, and started snoring.' Richardson, Atkins noted: 'had spent a large amount of time (and expense) visiting celebrity nightclubs and working on Gigi's character, in order to make her stories convincing. From this first call it was clear that this research was redundant – the journalist at the Daily Mirror simply wrote down what Jen said, and didn't probe further. Our fabricated story appeared in the newspaper the following day without checks. Jen was told to send in her bank details to receive the fifty pounds payment for the story, which we did not do. As the investigation continued we created more and more outlandish stories to see at what point suspicions would be raised.' Within a fortnight, almost every daily tabloid newspaper in the UK had published one of the Starsuckers team's bogus stories about the likes of Amy Winehouse, Pixie Geldof and Guy Ritchie. At times, the fake stories were reproduced by media outlets across the world, where they were presented to millions of readers as fact. The Lavigne story was not run in the Express, the Sun or the Daily Star, all of which had been called about it by the documentary team. But over the next fortnight, all four newspapers would be duped into publishing fabricated stories. 'We went on to feed fabricated stories successfully to the Daily Star, the Daily Mirror again, the Sun and the Daily Express. As the tales became more absurd, the effect was not that they received more scrutiny, but that the payments offered increased along with the coverage. In all, six fake celebrity stories were created and fed to the tabloid press in a two-week period in March 2009. Our biggest story was in the Sun, revealing that Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud was secretly a fan of Quantum Physics. It ran as a lead story in Gordon Smart's Bizarre column. Smart's article also included an entirely fabricated quote: 'There is a lot more going on under that blonde barnet than Sarah is given credit for. She's a smart cookie and does read an awful lot.' This 'quote', Atkins notes, didn't come from Richardson, 'showing that the Sun will add fictitious quotes into their articles, as well as not running basic checks. At the time, Girls Aloud appeared regularly in the Sun, so it would have taken minutes to check with the agent or PR if there was any truth to our story. The Harding physics story was then was picked up by dozens of news sites around the world. Had we claimed it, the story fee would have earned us six hundred pounds from News International. Later we look at the culture of criminality in tabloid newspapers. We talked to several journalists and ex-journalists off the record who told us that the Goodman and Mulcaire convictions were just the tip of the iceberg. These sources explained that tabloid journalists, from the Sunday papers in particular, were still routinely breaking the law to get stories without any public interest. Our research also indicated that this behaviour was institutionally ingrained in tabloid culture. We wanted to test the Sunday tabloids to see if their journalists were willing to break the law, and the PCC code, to obtain private information about celebrities that was not in the public interest. The scenario was constructed to present the newspapers with a story that would involve them breaking the rules, and see which newspapers would engage with us. I would pose as an intermediary who was selling the details of celebrities plastic surgery operations, but was ignorant of the rules of modern tabloid reporting. I would claim that I was the ex-boyfriend of a nurse who worked in a plastic surgery clinic and who had evidence of high profile celebrities having operations. Given the intrusive nature of such stories, the newspapers would be likely to need to obtain proof that these stories were true in order to print them. Any such proof would inherently involve a breach of the Data Protection Act, which prohibits the sale of medical records. Even harvesting information to research the stories would involve a breach of the DPA, as this would constitute a fishing expedition. The DPA does have a general opt-out for journalists where the information is in the public interest. So we deliberately created stories that, while of interest to a tabloid readership, could never be classed as being in the public interest.' Atkins then details his conversations with four people from four news desks - the Sunday Express (which rejected the idea), the Scum of the World, the Sunday Mirra and the People. They showed, he claims, 'varying degrees of interest.' He concludes: 'To our knowledge, the PCC did not, in any way, investigate any of the allegations made by Starsuckers, even though three of the four newspapers we tested seemed willing to breach the PCC code and the DPA. I believe that Starsuckers shows that there are serious problems at the heart of the British media, in particular the tabloid press. These are problems that the media itself is incapable of investigating or solving, which is why I support stronger regulation of the press that is completely independent of both the press and government.' Of course, as previously noted many times on this blog (but, specifically, here) this blogger has a very low tolerance threshold for the shite that tabloids print.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, in tribute to certain celestial movements, here's the best song yer actual Sir Paul McCartney MBE ever wrote. About cocaine! (Once again, I draw dear blog readers attention to the fantastically under-rated minimoog player of yer actual Linda McCartney on this. She was about more than just veggie food, that lady. And, also, that's a really nice Gibson SG that the late Jimmy McCulloch's thrashing the living daylights out out, an'all.)

1 comment:

David Alexander McDonald said...

It's a lovely theory, lad, but that doesn't appear to be a MiniMoog she's using in that clip. but an Oberheim of some stripe. She was also the Mellotron player -- and I recall some sneering about the various keys being labeled with the sound names that they triggered. Which, well...I programmed samplers for a sound effects guy (formerly of the Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas Band!) who...promptly labeled all of the keys on the controller keyboard with the sounds each key triggered. Thus are the smartarses petarded, methinks.