Sunday, August 19, 2012

It's A Long Road, It's A Good Call

The demand for tickets for the upcoming New York preview of Doctor Who's new season opener Asylum of the Daleks has been heavy enough to cause major problems for the ticketing website, where all eight hundred available tickets were sold in less than twenty minutes. The special showing will take place at New York's Ziegfeld Theater on 25 August followed by a live Q&A session with yer actual Matt Smith his very self, Karen Gillan and executive producer Caroline Skinner. Comic Mix reports that shortly after the ticket release, the purchase system 'slowed to a crawl', with 'access severely limited.' The site's customer service number was also jammed as people attempted to see if aborted transactions had resulted in a sale or not. BBC America apologised that the process didn't go as smoothly as it could have done but have said that they are pleased the event had proved to be so popular with fans. The new Doctor Who series is due to launch in the US on BBC America in early September, although no date has yet been officially confirmed. It'll be shown in Britain too. Apparently.

Bad news, for all you Doctor Who fans Twitterers, or Twatterers or whatever you call yourselves in the Twitterverse. Your actual favourite Time Lord his very self has 'no plans' to join Twitter. Which proves he's got more common sense that most Premier League footballers. When asked recently if he'd be joining his cast mates from the show on the social media site, Matt Smith looked genuinely uncomfortable. He revealed to fans and press at the Asylum Of The Daleks screening on Tuesday that he had signed up for a Twitter account, but doesn't think he'll be using it: 'I joined for a day when I was in ComicCon. It's just not my cup of tea. I spend enough time on my phone. And I think who cares what I'm doing? And you've got Moff and Karen and everybody else on there. No, I don't see it happening any time soon.' Doctor Who showrunner, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) hinted that the real reason is that Matt simply doesn't like the social networking site. Which is something Smudger shares in common with this blogger besides intellect, devastating good looks and a loathing of Cybermen: 'There's a line in episode four where The Doctor says the word "Twitter", into which Matt pours his entire disgust,' The Mofftser revealed. Whether it's the idea of microblogging every aspect of his life that's at issue, or Matt really just holds Twitter in complete and utter disdain, like this blogger, isn't entirely clear at this time.

The X Factor returned with an average overnight audience of 8.09m viewers between 8pm and 9:15pm on Saturday night on ITV, it's lowest series opener since 2006. Despite the talent show topping the night's ratings by some distance - peaking with 9.2m in the last half hour of the episode - the average figure is down a hefty 2.7m year-on-year and is a far cry from the twelve million punters who watched the launch audience of the 2010 series. An additional six hundred thousand punters watched the episode on ITV+1. Still a very good figure, of course, eight million plus is not to be sneezed at under any circumstances. And the audience share of forty two per cent is similarly impressive. But, ITV may be slightly (and I do mean only slightly) disappointed with that audience. Certainly the figures issued by their publicity officer, one Jenny Cummins, on Twitter on Sunday morning in only quoting a peak audience (and, mendaciously, including ITV+1 figures) of 9.9m smacked of a marginal desperation in making a decent figure into a mega-brilliant one. So, the jury's still out although, as ever, X Factor's audience will tend to grow as the series progresses. But, the big story of the night was the - very satisfying - floppage of Red or Black? Which was piss-yer-pants funny. Remember how last year one of Ms Cummins' predecessors was claiming in a thoroughly deceitful crowing tweet that twenty four million viewers had watched Red or Black? A figure arrived at simply by adding up the totals of the audiences for the seven episodes which were shown? Rumours are already doing the rounds within the industry that, despite the slashing of costs for this second series, advertising revenue for Red or Black? is significantly down on what ITV pulled in last year. No attempt, this time, was made to disguise just how thoroughly rotten Saturday's two episodes had done (3.25m viewers for the 7:15pm episode, and 3.59m for the one starting at 9:15pm after The X Factor had finished). Yes, it's true, it was the hottest day of the year so far over large parts of the country. But, clearly, the BBC's decision to show Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opposite the first Red or Black? - and the first half of The X Factor - appears to have had some knock-on effect. The movie's third terrestrial TV showing pulled in an overnight audience of four million punters (and a peak of 4.7m just as Red or Black?'s opening episode was reaching its climax). It was actually quite a decent night all round for BBC1 - despite losing primetime due to The X Factor's pulling power - with Casualty beating the second Red or Black? episode with 4.2m, an audience which was maintained for the subsequent BBC News at ten o'clock and then 3.62m watched the first of a new season of Match of the Day, giving it a small lead over The Jonathan Ross Show (3.4m) on ITV. Writing in the Daily Torygraph, critic Michael Hogan said Saturday night's opening X Factor episode 'still seemed slightly out of step with the national mood. Maybe it's because we're still full of positivity post-Olympics. Perhaps it's the fact it launched on the hottest day of the year when The X Factor traditionally feels like an autumnal event. But it's back, it's still a slick machine and once it gathers momentum, we'll be powerless to resist,' he added.

Tulisa Contostavlos, meanwhile, has called Lord Sugar-Sweetie 'a twat' after his very Lordship questioned her judging skills on The X Factor. The pair exchanged a series of heated Twitter messages after The Apprentice boss claimed the singer has no talent. Which might well be true but it's still a bit pot-kettle-black coming form the man who used to own the company that made the ninth best hi-fi system on the market. And then, the second best satellite dish on the market (when there were only two ON the market). And then owned Stottingtot Hotshots. When they were shit. Look not at the speck in other people's eye, Lord Sugar-Sweetie, but the beam in yer own. Jesus said that. Probably. Tulisa hit back: 'As someone that came from nothing to something maybe u [sic] should have a little more respect for people that have done the same.' Big fight, little people. Matt Smith, you're well out of nonsense like this!

Mo Farah has reportedly agreed to appear as a mentor on The X Factor. Mind you, this is according to the Sun, so it's almost certainly a load of old made-up bollocks. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads is claimed to have been 'in talks' with the double gold medallist as he wants the new series to 'capture the "spirit" of London 2012,' the odious tabloid rag reports. In which case, can this blogger suggests that Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads might want to recall the words of another multi-gold medallist, the great Matthew Pinsent during the Olympics: 'I hope after the games we watch that "reality" stuff with a better idea of what winning, talent and drama really are.' So, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, if you really do want to keep the 'spirit' of the Olympics going, can this blogger further suggest that you shut down your odious shit excuse for a talent contest and go and do something vaguely worthwhile to justify your existence?

Fans of Top Gear presenter James May will have the opportunity to meet their hero next month when he opens a new ride at the RAF Museum in Cosford. The museum is running a free competition for fans to enter and be in with a chance of joining the TV star on a ride in the 4D Experience along with their friends and family. May will be at the museum on 5 September and the competition winners will be treated like VIPs for the day. The 4D Experience uses cutting edge stereoscopic 3D computer animation with the added dimension of dynamic seating and special environmental effects. The competition involves answering one question, For further details, log onto the website before the closing date of 29 August. It will be the third time that James has visited the museum in recent years. But this time he will not be filming but will be there as a guest.

Meanwhile, James's oppo Richard Hammond is recovering after undergoing kidney stone surgery. The Top Gear and Total Wipeout presenter took to his Twitter page last month to tell followers that he was in hospital to have the stone removed. He wrote, 'Oh joy. Sending from hospital bed. A kidney stone arrived. Am specialising in crap conditions: this, shin splints. Might try gout next. So, either stone exits alone to manly grimacing from me tonight or they set off up the only available route in with axes and smash it. Nice!' A few hours later, Hammond showed that he was in good spirits by joking about the procedure. He tweeted, 'Nothing I can say that won't spark cries of TMI! Stone bust with laser, end of old chap like the end of a trombone.' Ow. Cripes, it's enough to make your virry eyes water. Expect some odious slime louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star to find an excuse to write a tutting and tragically unfunny article whinging about some aspect of this. Scum.

National heart-throb and moral compass Hugh Grant was reportedly turned away from a comedy show at the Edinburgh Fringe on Saturday night – thanks to overzealous bouncers. Are there any other sort? The movie star had turned up to see acclaimed American stand-up Eddie Pepitone at The Tron pub, but was denied entry when his friends couldn't provide ID. Why they needed to provide ID in a free country is, at this time, unknown. The group of eleven had arrived at the popular student haunt just before the 11.40pm show. Pepitone’s publicist reportedly tried to talk the doormen around, but said: 'The bouncers were very rude to him, his friends and to me, refusing point blank to let them in. They then refused to let me back in too.' Comedy club Just The Tonic is running shows in The Tron's basement during the festival. Not that anybody can actually get in to see them, of course.

US TV host Jay Leno - why the long face? - has taken a pay cut to save the jobs of other members of staff working on the popular late night talk show The Tonight Show. Some twenty staff reportedly lost their jobs on Friday, as broadcaster NBC moved to reduce the show's costs. 'Jay's foremost concern is for the wonderful people who work with him at The Tonight Show,' said Bruce Bobbins, a spokesman for Leno. Reports suggest his salary will drop by more than five million dollars per year. 'He did what was necessary to ensure their well-being,' said Bobbins. Leno's current salary is thought to be between twenty five and thirty million dollars, and it is understood he volunteered to take a cut if it would save some jobs. Other senior staff on The Tonight Show are also believed to have agreed to pay cuts. While the show remains the most watched late night show in the US, it struggles to make any money, according to experts inside the industry. The job cuts and salary reductions - first reported by - are believed to be part of a 'restructuring' programme that will see the show's weekly production budget, estimated to be around $2.3 million, cut by about twenty five per cent. NBC Universal has declined to comment. Leno has presented the talk show since taking over from Johnny Carson in 1992. However, he briefly left in 2009 for a primetime slot on the network, and was replaced by Conan O'Brien. But ratings for both shows slumped and NBC took the decision to move Leno's new show to his original 23:35 slot and move O'Brien and The Tonight Show to after midnight. Following an acrimonious dispute, O'Brien eventually quit with a thirty three million dollars pay-off after eight months, and Leno returned as host of The Tonight Show in March 2010.

Hundreds of cyclists are joining Britain's Olympic star Bradley Wiggins on a ninety nine-mile bike ride on the route he trains in Lancashire. The inaugural Ride With Brad marks the launch of The Bradley Wiggins Foundation, the charity founded by the cyclist to promote sport in the community. This year Wiggins won both the Tour de France and his seventh Olympic medal (fourth gold). Ride With Brad has two routes - one hundred and sixty kilometres and one hundred kilometres - both starting and ending in Barnoldswick. Ahead of the event, Wiggins said: 'Come and join me on a challenging ride through the stunning Lancashire countryside and experience the roads and climbs I regularly train on. This brand new event has been specially organised to help celebrate the launch of the Bradley Wiggins Foundation.' The one hundred and sixty kilometre route takes in the climbs and descents which have featured in the Tour of Lancashire, the Tour of Britain and the National Road Race Championships, including beauty spots such as Barley Fell, Waddington Fell, Nick o' Pendle, Trough of Bowland, and Longridge Fell. The shorter route misses out the northern moorland loop around the Trough of Bowland.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew has apologised for pushing an assistant referee as his side began their season with victory over Stottingtot Hotshots. Hatem Ben Arfa's late penalty earned the points after Jermain Defoe had replied to Demba Ba's curling strike. But Pardew was sent to the stands for pushing linesman Peter Kirkup while complaining about the ball going out for a throw-in during a Spurs attack just as a vast majority of the fifty thousand crowd were bellowing either 'Leave it, Pards, he's not worth it' or, alternatively, 'do you want us to hold your coat?'. 'We're overjoyed about the result but I hold my head in shame,' Pardew said. 'I was just saying to the players [beforehand] about the great Olympics and how to set an example and there's me pushing the linesman over. It was comical, he just happened to be right in front of me. I went in and said I'm sorry and said I would have to apologise publicly too because it was ridiculous.' Should the incident be mentioned in the match report by referee Martin Atkinson, Pardew could face a fine or a ban by the FA.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping would like to thank his good friend Jonny Arnold for the following jokette: 'With the signing of RVP, Manchester United are close to the best strike-force in the world ... They're four miles up the road from the City of Manchester stadium.' I, thang you ...

Ferrari are aiming to finalise their 2013 driver line-up by the end of September as they search for a replacement for Felipe Massa. The team have not decided whether he will be dropped, but it is thought to be more likely than not. Ferrari have had talks with Jenson Button, but he is likely to stay at McLaren, while alleged 'sources' allegedly close to Ferrari allegedly dismiss alleged reports that allege Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen could, allegedly, return. The favourites to partner Fernando Alonso are Force India's Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg or Sauber's Sergio Perez. Ferrari are said to be 'interested' in Button, but any attempt to do a deal is complicated by the fact that the 2009 world champion is under contract to McLaren. Button is in the first year of a 'two-plus-one' contract, with the two fixed years taking him to the end of 2013, after which McLaren have the option to retain him. A further complication to Button joining Ferrari is that the Englishman wanted to sign a two-year contract. The Italian team only want to sign a one-year deal with their second driver for 2013 with an eye on the possible arrival of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel in 2014. Ferrari have an arrangement with Vettel for the season after next, but it is not clear whether it is a firm contract or the equivalent of a letter of intent for him to join them which isn't worth the paper it's not printed on. Other alleged 'sources' allegedly close to McLaren and Button allegedly dismiss alleged talk of him allegedly moving to Ferrari as, allegedly, 'complete rubbish.' Rumours of Raikkonen returning to Ferrari in 2013 emerged at the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend - he last drove for the team in 2009, after which Ferrari terminated his contract and paid him not to drive in 2010 to make way for Alonso. Alleged 'sources' allegedly close to Ferrari allegedly say the Finn's representatives allegedly did approach them to inquire whether the - that is Ferrari, allegedly - were interested in taking Raikkonen back. But, they were allegedly told that the team was, allegedly, not interested. Ferrari have been left in a quandary as the other drivers on the list are all to a certain degree unproven, and the team are unsure whether any would be an improvement on Massa. But the Brazilian's inconsistent form this year means that they are leaning towards replacing him. Massa started the season a long way off the pace of Alonso at a time when the Ferrari was very difficult to drive. His qualifying pace has improved in recent months but he continues to struggle to score points in races and has tended to get involve in racing incidents. Ferrari are seeking a second driver who can back Alonso up and also score enough points to help them win the constructors' championship. Perez is a member of Ferrari's driver academy, but the company's president, Luca di Montezemolo, has already said this year that he feels the Mexican is 'not experienced enough' to drive for Ferrari. Hulkenberg and Di Resta have very similar levels of experience to Perez, both having raced in F1 for a season and a half. Ferrari have long been keen on Robert Kubica, but the Pole has still not sufficiently recovered from the horrendous injuries suffered in a rallying crash in February 2011. Kubica can drive a road car and a rally car without problem but the nerves in his right arm, which was partially severed are still not healed sufficiently to allow him to move his fingers quickly or accurately enough to operate the controls on an F1 car. Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said at the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend: 'We're not in any rush to make any decision or to announce anything because we want to pick the right time. We are totally in line with Felipe and for us Felipe has to be protected because it's important for this championship and this is the situation. So at the moment there is nothing new on that subject.'

You never knew yer actual Keith Telly Topping was a television engineer, did you dear blog reader? No, neither did he for that matter but, nevertheless, he's just managed to fix his Uncle Alan's TV set which was doing the 'no signal received' thing thanks to some faulty wiring which was fixed in but a jiffy. Is there anything yer actual Keith Telly Topping can't do?! Answers on a postcard

So, we come to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. I've been keeping this one back for ages for just the right day to use it. But, finally, I got bored with that shit and used it today instead. Here's a little classic from james. And, a corking video featuring an early role for Kelley Hawes packing heat. Tasty.

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