Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize, Money, Money, Money That's All I Want

Doctor Who could soon make it on to the cover of the prestigious and long-running American weekly listings publication TV Guide for the very first time. The programme is among the ten nominated shows for the magazine's third annual Fan Favorites Cover Poll, and whichever programme wins will feature on the cover of the edition for the week starting Monday 10 December. Polling ends on Sunday 28 October at midnight Pacific Time, and people can vote as often as they want to, although they have to 'Like' the publication on Facebook first. The other programmes nominated by TV Guide are: Fringe, Grimm, Happy Endings, Parks And Recreation, Pretty Little Liars, Scandal, Spartacus: Blood & Snots, The Vampire Diaries and The Walking Dead.

New images have emerged from Doctor Who's ongoing location-shoot in Wales. The pictures show Matt Smith - wearing a tweaked version of his usual outfit - interacting with new companion actress Jenna-Louise Coleman. Doctor Who will return to BBC1 at Christmas followed by eight new episodes - the latter half of the show's seventh series - in early 2013.
BBC2's The Great British Bake Off achieved its best-ever overnight ratings on Tuesday night, proving more popular than Holby City on BBC1 in the process. The penultimate episode of the high-flying third series of the bakery show averaged 5.6 million viewers and a 23.7 per cent audience share in the 8pm hour, including five hundred and forty thousand viewers on BBC HD – prompting speculation that it could become the latest BBC2 show to be nabbed by BBC1. BBC2's hit bakery show proved more popular than perennial Tuesday 8pm hour ratings winner Holby City, which averaged 5.1m. The Great British Bake Off launched in August 2010 with just over two million viewers and has grown its audience steadily since then. Last year's final averaged 4.6 million in early October and in recent weeks the 2012 series has been attracting about four and a half million viewers on overnights and five million plus on final, consolidated ratings. Tuesday's ratings surge is possibly down to a scheduling fumble by ITV, which broadcast a repeat of the movie Mamma Mia!, averaging just 2.5 million viewers between 8pm and 10.10pm. Last Tuesday, ITV's live Champions League football averaged 3.7 million viewers in the same slot. The Great British Bake Off was the third most popular show on any channel on Tuesday, beaten only by BBC1's EastEnders (7.7m) and ITV's Emmerdale (6.6m). Other 8pm competition included Channel Four's Double Your House for Half the Money (1.6m). The third episode of BBC1's department store costume drama, The Paradise, averaged 4.9m viewers, slightly up on last week's audience. The first episode averaged an overnight 5.5 million two weeks ago so that one seems to be holding reasonably steady. Competition at 9pm included BBC2's Ian Hislop's Stiff Upper Lip – an Emotional History of Britain (2.3m, including one hundred and thirty thousand on BBC HD). Overall, BBC1 led primetime with a 23.4 per cent of the audience share, nearly double ITV's 12.9 per cent. BBC2 edged closer to ITV with an excellent 10.9 per cent in third place.

The British Association of Social Workers - yes, there really is such a thing - is engaged in a battle with the BBC over a storyline in EastEnders. Last Friday, the soap featured a social worker removing a baby from a teenage mother, Lola (l-o-l-a, I said Lola), apparently without sufficient grounds to do so. The BASW immediately condemned the plot. It accused BBC producers of being 'too lazy and arrogant' to get their portrayal of the child protection process right. Many social workers took to Twitter and Facebook to say the episode 'made a mockery' of their profession. Blimey, angry social workers, that must be a sight to see, dear blog reader. Presumably the flinging of some quiche at the TV was involved. Bridget Robb, the acting chief of the BASW, who sounds like a hell of a laugh, called the storyline 'shabby' and said it had provoked 'real anger among a profession well used to a less than accurate public and media perception of their jobs.' And, of course, yer average social worker's favourite newspaper, the odious louse-scum Gruniad Morning Star was straight on the case (taking but five minutes off from having their entire staff working on stories about Jimmy Savile, it would appear). Sadly, the BBC's response wasn't 'haven't you people got anything more important to worry about?' Though, it should have been. Next, expect a protest coffee morning - with plenty of quiche - and some really strong letters to the Radio Times.

James Corden is to star in a new comedy for BBC2. So, that'll be worth avoiding, then.

Yer actual Jack Dee is to present a new series for Sky Atlantic. Don't Sit in the Front Row - snappy title and, possibly, horribly prophetic if it turns out to be rubbish - sees four members of the public sit in the front row of the audience with their lives providing the raw material for a panel of comics. Sounds suitably tasteful. Created by two former producers of Have I Got News For You, guest comics featuring in the series include Phil Jupitus, Frank Skinner and Sue Perkins. The twist is that Dee knows everything about the Front Rowers, whilst the panel knows nothing, creating the perfect opportunity to probe into their life stories in search of laughs. The more material the Front Rowers provide, the longer they'll last as the panellists have to choose who to eliminate at the end of each round. The last Front Rower standing will be crowned with the ultimate prize of a much coveted 'Golden Chair Award.' Okay, admittedly, it sounds about as welcome as a wart on the genitals, but the quality of the named guests so far (not to mention dry-as-a-bone Jack his very self) does, at least, suggest it might be worth a few minutes of your time.

QVC presenter Cassie Slane fainted live on air earlier this week. The technology expert was discussing the FabTab Pro Tablet with main host Dan Wheeler at the weekend, when she suddenly suffered a bout of dizziness. Well, that those prices, who wouldn't go a bit woozy? Slane later told her followers on Facebook that she had recovered, and blamed the incident on 'low blood sugar levels.'

The cultural impact of Dame David Bowie her very self is to be examined at an academic conference in the Republic of Ireland later this month. Organisers at the University of Limerick believe that Strange Fascination? A Symposium on David Bowie is the first event of its kind. It 'marks the fortieth anniversary' of the popular Bowie song, 'Changes', according to the organisers. Which is rubbish since the song originally appeared on the Hunky Dory LP, in November 1971, thus making this year the forty first anniversary. It is, however, most definitely the forty fifth anniversary of 'The Laughing Gnome'. 'Bowie is a truly iconic figure,' said co-organiser Doctor Eoin Devereux. 'His ability to reinvent himself, his capacity to capture the zeitgeist of the age in terms of mankind's alienation and his versatility as a singer, performer, artist and actor are just a few of the many reasons Bowie will be examined at our event.' 'The zeitgeist of the age in terms of mankind's alienation'? No, me neither dear blog reader although it sounds like someone;s been taking their pretentious pills along with 'your queue line and a handful of 'ludes'. The three-day symposium, which will begin on 26 October (yer actual Keith Telly Topping's birthday, just in case you'd forgotten, dear blog reader), will feature a panel discussion on Bowie's long and varied career, along with his contribution - massive - to pop culture. 'Our event has attracted interest from all over the world and has already had almost eight thousand "likes" on David Bowie's official Facebook page, where it has been featured,' said Doctor Devereux. Because, it would seem, getting a 'like' hit on Facebook has now supplanted Twitter as 'the great arbiter of the worth of all things.' Has somebody told the staff at the Gruniad Morning Star? They'll be weeping into their Frappuccinos for days when they find out. 'The three days will feature papers from Bowie experts from as far afield as New Zealand, Australia and the United States.' The University of Limerick has previously held similar academic conferences on the cultural influences of yer actual Morrissey and Harry Potter. Separately, an exhibition charting the career of David Bowie will open at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in March. It has been given unprecedented access to Bowie's own archives to curate what will be his first international retrospective. The David Bowie Is exhibition will feature handwritten lyrics, original costumes and set designs alongside the sixty five-year-old star's own instruments. That's musical instruments, we presume, not the sort of thing The Thin White Duke and Angie used to use for 'a bit of fun' on a boring night in Beckenham in 1970. The exhibition will explore Bowie as a musical innovator and cultural icon.

Stroppy temper tantrum guy Gary Barlow has agreed to return to The X Factor this weekend after flouncing out in high dudgeon on Sunday. But he has, reportedly, 'made it clear that' he will quit if Sunday's 'controversial deadlock drama' is repeated. So, dear blog reader, you all know what to do.

Qi creator John Lloyd is working on a new follow-up to The Meaning Of Liff, the classic comedy book he co-wrote with Douglas Adams. The original – a dictionary providing words for things and experience which should have a name, but didn't – was published thirty years ago and has been in print ever since. Adams and Lloyd wrote a follow-up The Deeper Meaning Of Liff, in 1990 – and now publisher Faber has announced it is to release Afterliff next August to mark the thirtieth anniversary. The launch will be accompanied by a live stage show at next year's Edinburgh Fringe, based on some of the new definitions. Lloyd has been working on the book for the past decade, with other friends of The Hitchhiker's Guide author, including Adams's daughter Polly and the novelist Jon Canter.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United's stadium name will revert to St James' Park after the Premier League club's owner agreed a four-year sponsorship deal with a company of (legal) loan sharks. Not that the majority of us ever called it anything other than St James' Park unlike some arse-licking media organisations who will be remembered as those who fell for Ashley's 'Sports Direct Meadows' malarkey. Odious high-interest rate lenders Wonga - they of the embarrassingly dreadful 'WONGA!' TV adverts - will (shamefully) become the club's main shirt sponsor from next season, replacing Virgin Money, and will also invest £1.5m in the club's academy. Which is, admittedly, a lot of, ahem, wonga. Albeit, it's a mere piss in the ocean compared to the massive profits the company have, reportedly, made over the last few years from charging huge interest rates on short term loans. Which is, of course, perfectly legal. But, morally corrupt. The firm also purchased the stadium naming rights and decided on a return to the traditional name, presumably in a bid to placate annoyed Toon supporters who've had their stomachs turned by the thought of a company which charges interest of four thousand two hundred and thirteen per cent APR having anything to do with their club. Presumably, 4-2-1-3 will be the formation The Mapgies will be playing next season. Maybe this also means that they'll be giving United eight million quid now but, at the end of the month, Newcastle will have to give them back thirty million. Meanwhile, the club's quoted price for midfielder Yohan Cabeye has, reportedly, risen from twenty million smackers to 'twenty million smackers and a pound of flesh.' The stadium had been called the Sports Direct Arena since November 2011. By one or two people and everyone at Sky News who just love getting their tongues right in there and giving Ashley's ringpiece a damned good lick.

Viddy well, my brothers, for the author of A Clockwork Orange is to be honoured in Manchester later when a blue plaque is unveiled at the university where he studied. Anthony Burgess graduated from the University of Manchester in 1940 and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the institution in 1987. He grew up in Harpurhey and Moss Side, before winning a scholarship to Xaverian College. As an undergraduate he also wrote music including a piano sonata. The ceremony will be proceeded by a trumpet fanfare Burgess wrote as a birthday present for his son - Andrew Burgess Wilson. Other than a plaque outside his flat in Monaco - where he lived for seventeen years - no other monument exists to the author, who died in 1993, the university said. Doctor r Andrew Biswell, director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, said: 'I'm delighted that the university has decided to install the first British public monument to Burgess, fifty years after A Clockwork Orange was first published.' The undergraduate John Burgess Wilson - who invented the name Anthony Burgess when he published his first novel - studied English literature at the university from 1937 to 1940. He went on to write thirty three novels, twenty five works of non-fiction, two volumes of autobiography, three symphonies and more than two hundred and fifty other musical works, including a violin concerto for Yehudi Menuhin. Burgess's 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange depicted the ruthless sexual ultraviolence of a teenage gang leader, Alex, in a lawless society. He wrote his screenplay for the film in 1969, but it was rejected by director Stanley Kubrick, who created his own take on the text as the basis for the controversial 1972 film adaptation. The plaque will be unveiled by Professor Jeremy Gregory, head of the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures.

Meanwhile, here's an interesting little something that popped through the letterbox of yer actual Stately Telly Topping Manor of late.
And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This one is, most definitely, for yer actual Mike Ashley his very self. You odious greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag). It's to be hoped your money keeps you nice and warm in the winter, Ashers.

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