Sunday, November 18, 2012

Week Forty Eight: Graverobbers At My Coffin Before My Body's Even Cold

BBC America have published a press release for this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special, which will be broadcast in the US on Christmas Day at 9:00pm (Eastern Standard Time). it says; 'The title of this year's Doctor Who Christmas special is The Snowmen. A new companion, a new look for The Doctor, plus a new monster will all be introduced in this movie-scale episode. Starring Matt Smith as The Doctor and introducing Jenna-Louise Coleman as new companion Clara, The Snowmen follows their adventures as they embark on a mission to save Christmas from the villainous Doctor Simeon (Richard E Grant) and his army of icy snowmen. A sneak peek was released earlier, during the broadcast of the BBC Children In Need special, revealing a new costume for The Doctor. Additionally, a special prequel was released showing the impact of the loss of the Ponds, with old friends Vastra, Strax and Jenny trying to persuade The Doctor not to give up his adventures. Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer, said: "The Doctor at Christmas is one of my favorite [sic] things - but this year it's different. He's lost Amy and Rory to The Weeping Angels, and he's not in a good place: in fact, he's Scrooge. He's withdrawn from the world and no longer cares what happens to it. So when all of humanity hangs in the balance, can anyone persuade a tired and heartbroken Doctor that it's time to return to the good fight. Enter Jenna-Louise Coleman."'
Well, that's all as maybe but I think I can speak for everyone when I note that this blogger is fairly sure The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat didn't say 'favourite' without a 'u' in it. Oh no. Learn to flaming spell you colonials, will you?! Anyway, yer actual Smudger his very self commented: 'For this year's Christmas special we have the wonderfully villainous Richard E Grant as Doctor Simeon. As well as lizards, Victorian assassins and deranged warriors from the future, who all return to convince the Doctor that he should board the TARDIS again and save the world. Add to that Jenna-Louise Coleman and so begins the Christmas Special 2012. I hope everyone enjoys it!' Everyone will, Matt. Except professional misanthropes and smug with an agenda. They're more difficult to please. The press release also promises 'an additional eight epic episodes will premiere in the spring.' The BBC have also published a press release for the special, although unlike the United States the time of transmission has yet to be confirmed. It was announced some weeks ago that the episode would, as usual, go out on Christmas Day on BBc1. Down under, they have to wait twenty four hours. The Snowmen, will make its Australian début on Boxing Day, Wednesday 26 December 2012 at 7.30pm on ABC1. The previous two Christmas specials, A Christmas Carol and The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, also premiered in Australia on Boxing Day.
It may be the season of joy and goodwill to all men – but at least one Time Lord will not exactly be feeling the festive cheer this Christmas, according to Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat: 'He's lost Amy and Rory to The Weeping Angels, and he's not in a good place: in fact, he's Scrooge. He's withdrawn from the world and no longer cares what happens to it. So when all of humanity hangs in the balance, can anyone persuade a tired and heartbroken Doctor that it's time to return to the good fight? Enter Jenna-Louise Coleman.' He said. Only this time, in English. Or, in The Moffster's case, you know, Scottish. The Snowmen also promises the return of Strax, Vastra and Jenny, a new look for The Doctor and the introduction of a new monster that 'will have families shivering behind the sofa.'
Strictly Comes Dancing was, again, the highest rated TV show of Saturday evening according to overnight figures, averaging 10.33m viewers from 18:30 to 20:00, a 43.9 per cent share of the audience. And, for the seventh week in a row it gave its old nemesis The X Factor a right good hiding. Which is always good for a laugh. Strictly's peak was 11.4m during the last ten minutes of the episode. The X Factor pulled in an average of 8.23m on ITV, with a peak of 9.16m at 21:45. Still not bad figures, not even remotely close, but a huge drop from the sort of audiences the show was pulling in two years ago before Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads decided the grass was greener on the other side of the pond. As it were. Even ITV's current flavour of the week, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) couldn't live with Strictly's figures. The latest episode of the jungle-based fiasco was watched by an average of 8.49m from 21:20 on ITV with a peak of 9.22m at 21:50. It was rotten night all round for ITV with their thoroughly ordinary X Factor lead-in shows - You've Been Framed! (2.57m) and odious, risible Take Me Out (2.99m) - flopping miserably against Strictly and BBC1's earlier Children In Need highlights show (3.96m). Merlin continued with 5.50m whilst, later, Match Of The Day was watched by 3.69m.

BBC America has released a new trailer showcasing their winter drama highlights, including a first look at David Tennant in The Spies of Warsaw. Starring the former Doctor Who actor alongside Janet Montgomery, BBC4's new two-part drama is adapted from Alan Furst's novels by a pair of TV legends, yer actual Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais his very self. Set in Poland, Paris, London and Berlin in the years leading up to the Second World War, The Spies of Warsaw follows French and German intelligence operatives locked in a life-and-death struggle on the espionage battlefield. The preview also includes clips from the Doctor Who Christmas special, series two of The Hour and BBC1's forthcoming Ripper Street.
The BBC, meanwhile, has released a clip from the opening episode of The Secret of Crickley Hall, BBC1's upcoming haunted house drama. Episode one will broadcast at 9pm on 18 November. In the scene, the Caleigh family arrive at Crickley Hall, looking for peace and quiet to escape the anniversary of their missing son. However it soon becomes clear that the house is not all it seems, with mysterious footsteps, ghostly voices and doors seemingly opening of their own accord. Ooo, scary.

BBC1 is bringing together award-winning comedians David Walliams and Frank Skinner plus Micky Flanagan - who can't really be described as a comedian since, to be a comedian you need to be remotely funny once in a while - for a new comedy-entertainment series. I Love My Country will see two teams of well-known British faces from the worlds of sport, entertainment and music, led by Skinner and Flanagan, battle it out in a contest of who knows the United Kingdom best. The show will also feature live music courtesy of a house band fronted by multi-MOBO Award winning singer-songwriter, Jamelia. I Love My Country is based on the Dutch TV hit of the same name created and produced by Talpa, the company of media entrepreneur John De Mol. Eight episodes will be broadcast in early 2013. Sounds dreadful, even with the involvement of a genuinely amusing chap like Frank.

David Mitchell has married the divine Goddess that is Victoria Coren at a ceremony in Belsize Park on Saturday. The Chortle website reports that guests included David Baddiel, Morwenna Banks, Jimmy Carr, Sandi Toksvig, Barry Cryer and Claudia Winkleman. Some people who weren't comedians also attended. Well, actually, come to think about it, that would also include Baddiel. Anyway, Mitchell's best man was his Peep Show co-star and frequent comedy collaborator Robert Webb. Victoria was given away by brother, The Times columnist and Supersizers presenter, Giles Coren. Bless 'em. Hope they'll both be very happy. Although, mind you, you'd've though David could've at least shaved before the big day, he looks like a scruff in the wedding photos. Mitchell said in his recent autobiography that Coren is 'clever, funny, beautiful' - though, to be fair, we all knew that anyway - adding: 'I think she's amazing. She's brilliant at what she does. For three years I thought about her all the time, and I still do but in a much happier way. I didn't know whether I was built to be in a couple, and finding that I am is tremendous. Life is a lot less bewildering and stressful when there's someone to talk to who you know will back you up whatever happens.'

And so to yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 24 November
After the excitement of Wembley Arena, it's back to the BBC studio for the pro-celebrity couples. And, with another pair having been voted out last week, Strictly Come Dancing will be more tense than ever at 6:40 BBC1. But there will still be plenty of sexy salsa, spinning and sequins as they go all out to please the judges (whose scoring has been somewhat uneven this series) and win the all-important votes of the viewers. Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly present, while Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell are the chaps (and lady) to impress. The results can be seen tomorrow at 7.20pm. Whether you prefer your Strictly with or without Brucie, it apparently makes no difference to audience figures. The show is winning the ratings battle against the brasher X Factor by a country mile - see above - and has been for some weeks. About three million more people tuned in to see Kimberley Walsh and Fern Britton perform in the dance-off than watched the battle of boy on ITV. Perhaps it's the uneven scoring that keeps people hooked – the panel almost came to blows over Louis Smith's waltz after Craig Revel Horwood only gave him a six when the others each awarded a well-deserved nine.

With an unkindness of ravens despairingly cawing above Camelot, now is not exactly the ideal time for Merlin to go off gallivanting with all and sundry. But that's, effectively, what happens in The Hollow Queen, this week's episode of Merlin - 8:00 BBC1 - when the affable young alchemist agrees to help a Druid boy, Daegal (Alfie Stewart). It's a move which comes back to haunt Merlin, even though the citadel doesn't really notice his absence due to the arrival of the ominously named Sarrum of Amata (played by veteran character actor John Shrapnel). The warlock leaves Camelot on his dangerous mission. But, as the sky darkens so do Merlin's suspicions - is there more to Daegal than meets the eye? And can a man as ruthless as Sartre be trusted? Fantasy drama, starring Colin Morgan.

In the latest extended edition of Qi XL - 10:00 BBC2 - Stephen Fry hosts another round of the popular intelligence quiz and finds out how much Greg Proops, David O'Doherty, Reginald D Hunter and regular panellist Alan Davies know about jungles, awarding points for the most interesting answers.
Sunday 25 November
The spirit of sadistic, cane-wielding psycho headmaster Augustus Cribben is stalking the draughty, creaking corridors of Crickley Hall. Eve Caleigh (Suranne Jones) is convinced that old Cribben knows the whereabouts of her missing son, Cam, in The Secret of Crickley Hall - 9:00 BBC2. In the first episode Eve heard Cam tell her, through the novel communication device of a spinning top, 'Mummy, I'm not dead,' so she consults an unhappy medium to try to reach her little boy. This is all a load of old spooky nonsense, of course, but it's hard not to caught up in it via even the cheapest of cheap shocks – grabbing hands coming out of nowhere, a noisy horror-movie thunderstorm, a dark and mysterious cellar. It's daft, thoroughly well-acted and, if you don't think about it too hard, loads of fun. There's even a splash of simmering eroticism in tonight's episode as Augustus's barking-fruitcake of a sister sheds her dressing gown whilst in something of a kerfuffle. And, because Suranne is such a really good actress, you go along with it all, even as you are reaching for a cushion to hide behind. The Caleighs continue to be troubled by disturbances, so Eve goes in search of answers, meeting someone with knowledge of the house who, very reluctantly, agrees to hold a seance. A creaky old house? A seance? What, as Jezza Clarkson might say, could possibly go wrong? Meanwhile, Gabe makes a discovery which gives him an insight into the terrible history of the house and employs a parapsychologist to convince his wife there is no such thing as ghosts. In 1943, meanwhile, Nancy continues her investigation into Cribben, learning about his punishment book - but when she tries to get hold of his mysterious tome, things do not go according to plan. Tom Ellis, David Warner, Olivia Cooke, Douglas Henshall and Sarah Lynch also star.

The lies which are tangling his relationships with Carrie, Roya and Jessica leave Brody heading for a meltdown as he struggles to keep them all separate in Homeland - 9:00 Channel Four. Against Quinn's orders, Carrie stages a risky intervention to keep Brody in line, forcing both of them to deal with their conflicted emotions. Meanwhile, Dana turns to an unlikely source for comfort following her hit-and-run involvement. Brody is being pulled four ways by four different women: Jess wants her husband back, Carrie pressures him to feed the CIA all his dirty little secrets, Roya has orders for his next terrorist move and Dana needs her father to be a rock in her troubled world. It's a lot to juggle and even a liar and dissembler as cool as Brody has his breaking point. Starring Damian Lewis, Claire Danes and Morgan Saylor.

Why Poverty? Give Us The Money - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary by the Storyville team examining Saint Bob Geldof and Mr Bonio out of The U2 Group's campaign to end poverty in Africa, which started almost thirty years ago when both had established themselves as - mouthy - stars in the music industry - albeit, Geldof's career was certainly on the wane when he suddenly turned into the world's conscience from the comfort of his Surrey mansion. Where there is no snow, apparently. Using archive footage and new interviews with the pair, and with former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, the film scrutinises the effectiveness of celebrity-led activism and asks whether the two Irishmen have made any real and lasting difference to the continent's needy. What begins as a diverting study of Saint Bob Geldof and Mr Bonios 'war on poverty' becomes a hard stare at all of the inherent problems associated with celebrity activism. Particularly the more pompous end of it as inhabited by these two and their mate Sting.
The - still appallingly shocking - BBC news footage of dying Ethiopians in 1984 was what propelled the then Boomtown Rats singer Geldof into action. Through a mop of greying hair, Geldof's eyes still blaze with missionary zeal - he really does believe utterly in what he's doing and, agree with him or not, you have to respect that. The one hundred thousand pounds Geldof hoped to raise through Band Aid turned to millions, but it still wasn't anywhere near enough to even scratch the surface of the problems faced by Africa. Live Aid followed in 1985, and twenty years on Live Eight - ludicrously - attempted to tackle the repayment issue. But, while Saint Bob Geldof and Mr Bonio were courted by the media to give good soundbite on Africa ('every toime I click moi fingers, another choild doies.' Well, stop clicking yer bloody fingers, then, y'daft plank), some felt, not unreasonably, that it wasn't their job to do so in the first place. Part of Why Poverty? season.

Monday 26 November
The next ten chefs enter the kitchen, where scary Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace challenge them to make a dish using ingredients from a selection of beef mince, wild mushrooms, an aubergine, red wine, pears, brioche and almonds in MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:30 BBC2. They each have just one hour to hold their nerve and demonstrate their creativity to the judges without Monica ripping the flesh from their bones like a hungry Velociraptor if they make any mistakes. There are some real highs and lows among this week's invention test dishes. In the mystery box is a glorious jumble of items. Remarkably, two of the professional chefs serve up mushrooms without cleaning off the grit – not a good start and queue for a positively ear-shattering rant from yer woman in white. However, there are some delights, too. Monica greets one pudding with a lot of head nodding and 'mmmm-mmmm-mmmm-ing' followed by 'This tastes wonderful. I'd love Michel to try this!' To which a dazed Gregg Wallace asks 'who are you and what have you done with the real Monica Galetti?!' Another dish excites Gregg so much that he announces he doesn't just want to eat it, he wants to bathe in it. Y'mucky pup. Thankfully he doesn't do any such thing. The very thought.

You don’t have to be a tech-worshipping teen - the sort of person who begins an Internet review of a new piece of kit with the line 'Dude, this baby is primo-rad' fr instance - to enjoy Stephen Fry: Gadget Man - 8:30 Channel Four. It's full of simple pleasures and the belief that, as Stephen himself puts it, gadgets aren't 'merely there to be useful' (though that helps) but also to put a smile on your face, sometimes at their sheer absurdity. Into that latter category falls, you might think, a robot shopping trolley which follows you round the supermarket. And also, perhaps, the 'performance blender' whose blades spin so fast it cooks food as it chops. The theme of this week's episode is 'tasty tech' and yer man Fry's researchers have unearthed dozens of devices, including the world's most 'elaborate corkscrew' – a huge, steampunk-meets-Heath-Robinson contraption which has guest Dazzling Dezza Brown practically jumping for joy at its sheer ludicrousness. Another is a machine that somehow prints out your face in chocolate on a plate, but before you all rush out to buy one for Christmas, apparently it's still 'at the prototype stage.' So for a present for that special someone who has everything, one could suggest, instead, the French gizmo which turns any alcoholic spirit into a rich, inhaleable cloud of vapour – using ultrasound. Just what every home needs. The actor and broadcaster - who, with his beard these days has the look of a Dennis Wheatley character straight out of The Devil Rides Out - looks at how technology can make shopping and cooking easier and more entertaining. He escorts an automatic shopping trolley around his local supermarket, tests high-end barbecues and tries out an array of kitchen gadgets as he prepares to host a dinner party for friends like Derren, Carol Vorderman and Jo Brand. Oh, and Jeremy Clarkson's in the series as well so that'll be bound to put a scowl on a few twisty sour faces at the Gruniad Morning Star and the Daily Scum Mail. Which, let's face it, is always a good thing.

Laurence Rees examines how Hitler tried to maintain his popular appeal in his final years, as his bond with the German people was tested as never before during the Second World War in the last episode of the fascinating (and at times disturbing) The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler - 9:00 BBC2. Hitler - he was effing mental, just in case you didn't know. And he only had one ball - had led the German army into a series of victories, but as the conflict progressed, the successes soon stopped coming. The citizens' faith in their Führer became fractured, yet he still managed to cling to power by one means or another - sometimes involving stringing his enemies up with piano wire - until the Red Army was just yards away from his bunker in Berlin. Then, he shot himself in the head and ended up in a ditch on fire. Which was good because he was a Nazi fuckhead and he deserved nothing less. But, before all that, the final part of this chilling series opens in 1941. Hitler and his generals were still on the crest of a wave at this point. After a series of military triumphs many Germans considered their Führer almost superhuman. At the height of his power, he decided on his boldest stroke yet: to invade the Soviet Union. Yeah. Bad move, that. The programme recounts how there was euphoria as Nazi forces thundered eastwards. Then the reverses began, and for the first time the gap between Hitler's promises and his achievements began to open up. How that psychology worked, and what happened when it failed, makes for a grimly fascinating programme.

Tuesday 27 November
Waldemar Januszczak lurks in the recesses of Roman catacombs, jabbing excitedly at cryptic symbols. He's a man on a mission, it would seem. He wants to rehabilitate the reputation of art during the so-called Dark Ages, the period during the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth centuries during which the Roman empire was contracting and the Scandinavians were putting it about a bit. In The Dark Ages: An Age of Light - 9:00 BBC4 - he starts with early Christian art, and highlights a fascinating array of subjects, from why the first representations of Jesus were of a blond, fresh-faced, androgynous young man, to why we can refer to 'Xmas' and not be blasphemous. Januszczak embarks on a trip around the world to discover if the Dark Ages were actually a time of great artistic achievement, inspired by novel ideas and religion. In the first edition, he discovers how Christianity emerged into the Roman Empire in the third and fourth centuries, and how the absence of a description of Jesus led them to draw on images of ancient Nordic Gods for inspiration. At times dogmatic – 'Art never lies!' – at times appealingly chummy – 'The mosaic-lovers among you' – Januszczak is never anything less than illuminating, and his sure-footed direction perfectly matches the interesting subject matter, with a pleasing mix of light and shade. Highly recommended for the more cerebral who don't, particularly, want to waste an hour of their lives watching I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want)

Celia and Alan continue their unconventional romance by buying an expensive convertible car instead of an engagement ring in Last Tango In Halifax - 9:00 BBC1. But they do throw a party, where they reveal the reason they never got together sixty years earlier - and who it was that stood in their way. Michael Dobson tries to blackmail Caroline over her relationship with Kate, and although she easily gets rid of him, it's clear she is uneasy about anyone finding out the truth. Meanwhile, Gillian is worried Raff will discover how his father died from Robbie - so decides to make a confession. Sally Wainwright's light-hearted drama, starring Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid, Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker.

Alan Yentob investigates the emotional power of music, an art form that people turn to when words are not enough, at funerals and weddings, at times of heartbreak or great euphoria in Imagine: How Music Makes Us Feel - 10:35 BBC1. He talks to singers and composers as varied as chart star Emeli Sande, opera diva Jessye Norman, dub-step artist Mala and classical maestro George Benjamin to find out how music makes people feel and why, as well as a vicar, a psychologist, an ad man and even the people who choose the songs to play in shopping centres. Along the way he sees babies dance to a rhythm and elderly people brought out of their silence by a melody.

Wednesday 28 November
In Goodnight Britain - 9:00 BBC1 - Sian Williams presents the first of two programmes tackling extreme sleep disorders, as people across the country struggle with extraordinary bedtime behaviour - from those who suffer night terrors and loud snorers to insomniacs who simply give up and end up baking all night. To investigate these and other problems, five volunteers move into a specially monitored house, where experts Doctor Kirstie Anderson and Doctor Jason Ellis watch every toss, turn and snuffle as they snooze - or not, as the case may be. Only then do the causes of their night-time traumas come to light and they can devise a treatment plan for each patient. Concludes tomorrow.

It's Christmas at Lime Grove and also a time for much soul-searching within the team in The Hour - 9:00 BBC2. Kiki has gone missing and Hector's self-destructive behaviour escalates. leaving Bel and Freddie to search for the truth about what happened to the showgirl. Meanwhile, Randall tells Lix the real reason for his return - but is she willing to dredge up the painful past?

Gary Lineker his very self presents action from the midweek Premier League fixtures, including Wigan Not Very Athletic versus Sheikh Yer Man City at the DW Stadium and Stottingtot Hotshots versus Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws at White Hart Lane in Match of the Day - 10:45 BBC1. The Citizens were unbeaten in their last seven meetings with Wigan and will have been determined for that record to continue as they aimed to keep pace with their title rivals. The Reds, meanwhile, will be looking to avenge a 4-0 defeat at the hands of yer actual Spurs in last season's corresponding fixture, which saw them end the match with nine men. Plus, all the goals from Everton versus The Arse, Moscow Chelsea FC versus Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance, Southampton versus Norwich City, Stoke City versus Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United, Swansea City versus West Bromwich Albinos, The Scum versus The Hamsters, Blunderland versus relegation-haunted Queens Park Strangers and Aston Villains versus Reading. With analysis from Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer. Tasty.

Thursday 29 November
Following in the footsteps of early Twentieth-Century travellers, Michael Portillo uses his 1913 copy of Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide to explore Switzerland, which was a favourite with Edwardian tourists in Great Continental Railway Journeys - 9:00 BBC2. A Tory who's keen on Europe? Well, that's got to be a first! Yer actual Mister Portaloo his very self - who is very good in these sort of conceits - begins in Basle, travels east to visit the industrial regions of Zurich and learns about the engineering feats needed to thread the rail network through the Alps. He takes in the striking beauty of Lake Lucerne, before ending with an ascent by train to Europe's highest station at Jungfraujoch.

Corfu: A Tale of Two Islands - 10:35 ITV - is a documentary about the lives of expats and tourists on the Greek island and focuses on Lisa and Marc, who explain why they have spent their last seventeen holidays at the same resort. Plus, Tanya talks about her success in the Kavos tattoo trade since relocating from Kent, and Mary reveals why her children are having to move abroad. Last in the series. If you haven't caught any of it so far, you haven't missed much.

The astounding story of Tanya Kach made international headlines when she revealed she had been kept in captivity for ten years by school security guard Thomas Hose, just a stone's throw from her home in Pennsylvania. True Stories - 10:00 Channel Four - gains an insight into how a fourteen-year-old girl disappeared in 1996, only to resurface a decade later still living within the same community, and Tanya, now thirty one, talks = candidly and movingly - about her ordeal. With contributions from friends and family, plus the police officers who worked on the missing persons investigation. Harsh and venal subject matter but, ultimately, a rather life-affirming story of survival. Recommended.

Friday 30 November
Odious, unfunny, smug, full-of-himself glake Jack Whitehall guest-hosts Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1. So, if you're only going to miss one episode of the BBC's popular and long-running satirical news quiz this year, then this is probably the one to go for, I'd suggest. Because, no matter how funny the other contributors are likely to be, the odious Whitehall's presence will be impossible to ignore. And, that's not a good thing. Whitehall, who has already ruined an episode of the current series of Qi a few weeks ago which his twattish interjections and lousy, hateful hair is joined by Countdown presenter Nick Hewer and the Conservative peer Baroness Trumpington (though, sadly, not Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble or, indeed, Grub) and team captains Paul Merton and Ian Hislop to poke fun at the week's news. And, hopefully, at odious Jack Whitehall and his spectacularly risible doings.

That's followed by John Bishop's Big Year - 9:30 BBC1 - in which the popular cheeky Scouse japester presents the first of two shows in which he combines stand-up, sketches and clips to take a light-hearted look back at the past twelve months. This was the year that Britons gathered to celebrate Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee and enjoyed the excitement of the Olympics and Paralympics. However, it was also the year that the nation stoically endured a miserable recession, celebrated the discovery of the so-called God Particle, had the wettest June since the dawn of time, and got hot and flustered over a certain series of novels. And then there was Jimmy Savile. John will cover these and other events in his own laid-back style. Which, whilst it might not be to everyone's taste is still, a million times funnier than anything Jack Whitehall could ever aspire to be.

Stephen Fry hosts another round of Qi - 10:00 BBC2 - the peculiar panel quiz and finds out how much Julian Clary, Ross Noble, Bill Bailey and regular panellist Alan Davies know about jumpers, awarding points for the most interesting answers. There's also The Review Show - 11:00 BBC2 - as Kirsty Wark is joined by a panel of guests to discuss the week's cultural highlights. And, on BBC4, it's Beach Boys night. Surf's up, kids.

And, so to the news: Chris Ramsey was thrown off Sky Sports show Soccer AM on Saturday morning for saying the word 'bumming' live on-air. He was made to apologise after he made reference to 'bumming your dad' on the live football-based talk show. It came as he recalled an exchange a tweet with a follower who accused him of 'flogging a dead horse.' Ramsey said: 'The horse is alive and currently bumming your dad.' Host Helen Chamberlain told him: 'That will be the last thing you say in this show, Chris Ramsey.' But the North Eastern comic later said the word again, causing producers cut his microphone - and was then thrown off the show altogether, before he could take part in the penalty shoot out at the end. Ramsey tweeted: 'Just been taken out of the studio for saying bumming again. Oops. Don't even get to do my kick now. I'd have probably fallen over anyway!' Later he added: 'I'm the first guest to ever be kicked off Soccer AM. Still had a good laugh though. But genuine apologies if you were watching with kids.' Ramsay is currently starring in the BBC2 sitcom Hebburn.

Ronnie Corbett is rumoured to have been lined-up as a possible replacement for Bruce Forsyth on Strictly Come Dancing. A tabloid claims that show producers are 'planning to approach' a number of alternative hosts in case the eighty four-year-old Forsyth decides to step down next year. According to the Mirra, Little Ron and professional dancer Anton du Beke - who has been on the BBC show since the start - are being considered as Forsyth's successors. Claudia Winkleman, who used to present Strictly spin-off It Takes Two and now fills in for Forsyth on the Sunday results shows, is also being 'touted as an option.' 'It's the first time we are hearing there could be movement with Bruce,' an alleged 'source' allegedly told the alleged paper. 'In previous years it's never even been spoken of. But ­producers seem to think that this year is [Forsyth's] last and they need to be prepared.' Both Winkleman and Corbett have previously filled in for Forsyth, with Winkleman hosting last Saturday's programme so the entertainer could rest in preparation for this weekend's Wembley Arena live show. Forsyth - who was last month named by Guinness World Records as the longest-serving male TV entertainer - had never voluntarily missed filming before last night. 'Ronnie's name is being mentioned around set and people seem to think it could mean Bruce is on the way out,' the alleged 'insider' allegedly continued. 'Ronnie was never allowed to be a ­contestant in case things with Bruce did come to an end and he was able to step in. He has the right temperament for the show, and viewers love him. He makes people smile and is full of life for his age. If Bruce is ready to go Ronnie is one solid option.' The alleged 'source' was allegedly 'keen to emphasise' that the BBC want to retain Forsyth's involvement in Strictly for as long as possible. 'Brucie can't go on for ever,' they allegedly said. 'He's had a good innings but eventually he is going to want a quieter life. And even if he wasn't the main presenter he'd probably feature in some way. He's been struggling with the autocue this year more than ever. All the signs are there that he could bow out.' The current series of Strictly is one of the most popular ever and last week averaged 10.4m viewers across the two weekend shows. It has also consistently beaten ITV rival The X Factor ass red raw. 'Bruce is a living legend and an integral part of Strictly,' said BBC1 controller Danny Cohen when asked about the rumours. 'He and only he will decide when it's time to leave the ballroom.'

A donkey has been denied the opportunity to run for election for a position in Ecuador's government. The animal had been nominated as a candidate to run for the legislature in the Ecuadorean city of Guayaquil by a number of the town's residents. The AP report that forty people from the town paraded the donkey, who was wearing a tie and nicknamed 'Mister Donkey', through the city streets. The party arrived at the town's electoral council offices and presented a mock voter registration card, showing the Donkey's photo superimposed onto a man in a business suit. One of the candidate's supporters, Daniel Molina, claimed on local television that the stunt was to draw voters' attention to the seriousness of the upcoming election, rather than as a calculated insult to any of the other candidates and their parties. Elected animal officials are not new - earlier this year a cat was re-elected as mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, bringing his time in office to a total of fifteen years. And, of course, there's Boris Johnson.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a well-skillful slice of yer actual Goodbye Mister MacKenzie, live at the Town & Country Club from 1989.

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