Sunday, November 11, 2012

Week Forty Seven: See My Enemy At The End of A Rope

A curious, but very pleasing, conundrum was posed on this week's Qi - what do blue whales actually do when they dive right down to the very ocean depths? No one knows, Stephen Fry admitted. 'Gossiping', suggested Sue Perkins, cheekily. Yer man Fry had an alternative theory; maybe they all part-take in TV quiz programmes and ask 'is the answer Alan Davies?'
Strictly Come Dancing averaged two million more overnight viewers than The X Factor on Saturday evening. This is the sixth week running that Strictly has had the better of Saturday's against its old nemesis the Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads-created talent show. It's also the biggest audience gap between the two yet. Strictly averaged 10.4 million punters on BBC1 from 6:30 with a peak of 11.6 million. The X Factor's figures were an average of 8.4 million and a peak of 9.6 million (these figures include viewers on ITV+1). Merlin was watched by an overnight audience of 5.4 million on BBC1.

And so the inevitable fall-out from the latest Newsnight fiasco begins with a massive scalp. The BBC's director general, George Entwistle, has resigned. In a statement given outside New Broadcasting House, Entwistle said: 'I have decided that the honourable thing to do is to step down.' One imagines the chap, in some ways will actually be relieved. Next time some rent-a-quote MP demands to know what he's doing about all this malarkey on his doorstep yer man George can tell them to go effing screw themselves and the horse they rode in on, it's not his problem any more. Mind you, the loss of the half-a-million quid salary would appear to be the ying to that particular yang, I guess. Money. It's the root of all evil, they reckon. Earlier, Entwistle had said that the Newsnight report, which - although never actually naming the chap - wrongly implicated ex-senior Tory Lord McAlpine should never have been broadcast. Entwistle only took up the post of director general on 17 September and barely a day has gone by since when he wasn't getting twatted by somebody over something. Usually, the crass and odious bullies at the Gruniad Morning Star who will, no doubt, be delighted this morning that their constant pressure on the chap has finally got him to jump. Well done, guys, this blogger is sure your mothers are all very proud of you. In his statement, Entwistle said: 'In the light of the fact that the director general is also the editor in chief and ultimately responsible for all content, and in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday 2 November, I have decided that the honourable thing to do is to step down from the post of director general.' Honourable. Not a word you'll find used a lot in any aspect of this story. Entwistle said that when he was appointed to the role of director general, he was confident BBC trustees had chosen the best candidate for the post and the 'right person to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead. However the wholly exceptional events of the past few weeks have led me to conclude that the BBC should appoint a new leader,' he said. 'To have been the director general of the BBC even for a short period, and in the most challenging of circumstances, has been a great honour. While there is understandable public concern over a number of issues well covered in the media - which I'm confident will be addressed by the review process - we must not lose sight of the fact that the BBC is full of people of the greatest talent and the highest integrity. That's what will continue to make it the finest broadcaster in the world.' BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten - who stood next to Entwistle and had a face like thunder throughout - made a statement following Entwistle's resignation. He said: 'This is undoubtedly one of the saddest evenings of my public life,' adding: 'At the heart of the BBC is its role as a trusted global news organisation. As the editor in chief of that news organisation George has very honourably offered us his resignation because of the unacceptable mistakes - the unacceptable shoddy journalism - which has caused us so much controversy. He has behaved, as editor, with huge honour and courage and would that the rest of the world always behaved the same.' If only wishing made it so, Chris. Tim Davie, who is currently the BBC's director of audio and music, has been made acting director general. Earlier, Entwistle has given an unreserved apology to Lord McAlpine after Internet speculation arising from the Newsnight report wrongly implicated the former Tory party treasurer in nefarious skulduggery and nasty shenanigans. Entwistle said he was 'not aware' of the Newsnight episode until after it was broadcast. The BBC Trust said it expected 'appropriate action' to be taken. The abuse victim, Steve Messham, apologised to Lord McAlpine after saying that McAlpine was not the man who assaulted Messham. Oddly, he didn't also extend his apology to the BBC for giving them misinformation. Some might consider that strange given the repercussions of his allegations. Messham claimed that in the 1990s he had been 'shown a photograph' by a police officer of his alleged abuser but was incorrectly told it was Lord McAlpine. On Friday, he was shown a photo of McAlpine and, he claims, 'realised' his alleged abuser was not the peer. Newsnight had reported Messham's claims against a leading 1980s Tory politician on 2 November but did not name him. Lord McAlpine's name was subsequently linked to the allegations by some Twitter users and a number of bloggers, all of whom, one imagines, are now about to get sued for everything they've got. Entwistle said: 'It's no kind of excuse or exoneration, but it's important to say that the film itself did not make a named allegation.' Entwistle, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday said: 'We should not have put out a film that was so fundamentally wrong. What happened here is so totally unacceptable. In my view the film should not have gone out.' He was then filleted and served on a plate of chips by Today presenter John Humphrys and it was probably this, more than anything, which subsequently led to his resignation. Entwistle said that had commissioned a report from BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into what happened with the Newsnight investigation which he expected on his desk by Sunday morning. Of course, the desk is still there but Entwistle himself is now gone. So who will actually read the report is a different matter entirely. 'This was a piece of journalism referred to senior figures within News, referred up to the level of the management board and had appropriate attention from the lawyers,' Entwistle said. 'The question is, in spite of all that, why did it go wrong? Something definitely went wrong, something definitely and clearly and unambiguously went wrong.' No shit. Jesus, that a mess.

So, ironically, after weeks of being under fire for not broadcasting Newsnight's 2011 report of child abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile, the BBC has now had to apologise for a child abuse investigation it did broadcast. Arguably, the second episode is even more damaging to the corporation's journalistic reputation than the former. Not only is the corporation facing that possibility of legal action from McAlpine - given the fact that they didn't actually name him in the report, it's difficult to see how a libel action against them could succeed, although one is sure that some well-paid lawyers may well be able to get round that particular fly in the ointment - it must also answer serious questions about how the report came to be broadcast in the first place, without its allegations being put to McAlpine himself, or his photograph being checked with his accuser. It's damaging not just for Newsnight but also for the reputation of BBC News as a whole. Asked, by Humphrys, if he should have been 'aware' of the report prior to broadcast, Entwistle said 'not every piece of journalism made inside the BBC is referred to the editor-in-chief.' Earlier, McAlpine said the Internet claims were 'wholly false and seriously defamatory.' His solicitor, Andrew Reid, said the peer will take legal action against those who named and linked him to the false allegations. As well as the report from MacQuarrie, the BBC ordered a senior news executive to 'supervise' Friday night's disturbingly self-flaggellatory edition of Newsnight on which an apology was broadcast. It also ordered an 'immediate pause in all Newsnight investigations to assess editorial robustness and supervision' and an 'immediate suspension' of all co-productions with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism which Newsnight worked with on the programme in question. Entwistle said questions needed to be asked about the Newsnight film. These included: 'Did the journalists carry out basic checks, did they show Messham the picture, did they put allegations to the individual, did they think of putting allegations to the individual? If they did not, why not? And did they have any corroboration of any kind?' Given subsequent events, the answer to all of these questions appears to have been no. If necessary, disciplinary action would be taken, he said. The BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body, issued a statement on Saturday, saying 'this is a deeply troubling episode. The Trust notes the BBC Executive's apology and would like to offer its own apology also. The Trust has impressed upon the DG the need to get to the bottom of this as a matter of the utmost urgency and will expect appropriate action to be taken as quickly as possible.' However, Entwistle said that there was no suggestion the programme would be shut down, saying such a move at this stage would be 'disproportionate.' He also said that the BBC was suffering a 'bad crisis of trust,' but emphasised that it surrounded Newsnight, not other output by the corporation. Unless it's being reported in the Daily Scum Mail or the Gruniad Morning Star, of course. Expect them to try and fold The ONE Show, Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, Merlin,  Top Gear, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Hebburn into this row. It'll happen, mark my words. Especially Top Gear. It's only a matter of time. 'It's very important to recognise that this is about Newsnight. Of course this has huge implications for the BBC, for trust in the BBC, but it would be absolutely wrong to slur by extension the rest of the amazing work going on across BBC News. Ninety-nine per cent of what the BBC does is going out to the usual excellent standards.' Questioned then about his own position, poor old Entwistle, who only became director general in September and must've been wishing he'd never taken the job in the first place as he'd had nothing but diarrhoea flung all over him from all directions ever since, said he answered to the BBC Trust. 'I am doing the right things to try and put this stuff straight. I am accountable to the Trust in that endeavour. If they do not feel I am doing the right things, then obviously I will be bound by their judgment.' A few hours later, that situation changed. Kevin Marsh, a former editor of the Today programme, said Entwistle did not give the impression of 'a man who is absolutely in charge of everything. He can survive it but I think he's made it very difficult for himself.' Broadcaster and Gruniad columnist Steve Hewlett speculated to BBC News it was 'hard not to conclude' that Newsnight had been trying to atone for its alleged 'failings' in the Savile case by being 'so eager' to broadcast this 'exclusive.' 'It looks like this happened on the rebound,' he said. Hewlett added that the second scandal would put further pressure on Entwistle: 'He's doing all he can now, all credit to him. But why didn't he know this was coming? People are going to be scratching their heads on how the director general was not across this.'

Meanwhile, here's a picture of someone who is still - for the moment, anyway - in a job, Phillip Schofield busy apparently fondling Holly Willoughby's arse.
Hopefully, that'll have cheered everyone up.

EastEnders' character Derek Branning will be killed off in a future storyline, it has now been confirmed. Speculation had been rife over the character’s departure for some weeks but with the release of official pictures from the character's funeral this week, it is speculation no longer. The character, played by Jamie Foreman, is expected to be killed off over the festive period but producers are keeping the exact details surrounding the villainous character’s departure under wraps. Derek first appeared in the soap in 1996, then played by Terence Beesley, he was seen opposing his sister April's wedding to Nikos, as well as being racially abusive towards Carol's then partner Alan Jackson. He returned last year, this time played by Foreman, and has since wasted little time in making enemies around the Square. Derek’s brother, Max, is currently the bookies' favourite to kill him.

And so to yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 17 November
It is alleged that the more hopeless a celebrity is at dancing, the fewer clothes their professional dancing partner will wear in Strictly Come Dancing - 6:30 BBC1. An interesting theory and it could be a helpful guideline for those of us at home trying to judge what's happening on the dance floor while being distracted by the swooping camerawork so beloved on Strictly. Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly present a ballroom bonanza live from Wembley Arena, where the couples entertain an audience of six thousand punters, dancing down the decades from 1920s Charleston to 1970s disco. As ever, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell pass comment and give their scores, although the viewers' votes help determine which two pairs will be in the dance-off tomorrow night. There is also an appearance from pop princess yer actual Kylie Minogue, performing a new version of her early single, 'The Locomotion.' Choo-choo-tastic in the area. The results programme is on tomorrow at 7.20.

Bad, wicked, naughty Morgana finds herself in a unique position of power, having a Camelot insider under her spell - and now the pair hatch a plot to murder the king in Merlin - 8:00 BBC1.Ooo, she's a bad'un, that Morgana, seen here modelling her 'I am the spirit and dark and lonely water' look. But, when stable hand Tyr Seward becomes caught in the crossfire, he threatens to ruin everything for the black witch. Can a suspicious Merlin unravel the truth before it is too late? We've all seen King Arthur being particularly pig-headed before, but his blindness to the truth has dire consequences this week as season five hits the halfway mark. After the blinkered royal falls from his mount during an ambush by rascally brigands, he rounds on poor Tyr and accuses him of sabotage. Anyone who saw last week's fun episode in The Dark Tower will know who's really to blame, of course. And, even though Merlin turns detective to draw out the culprit, he's soon fighting against time as well as dark magicks. But Merlin's amusingly crabby aged alter ego makes an overdue return, and the line 'Keep yer grubby hands off my dumplings' is a surprise, so it's not all doom and gloom. Just, you know, mostly. Colin Morgan, Katie McGrath and Bradley James star.

Three stand-up acts performing their comedy, TV formats don't get simpler than Live At The Apollo - 9:45 BBC1. Half-an-hour of gags at a time of the week when that's ideal for an audience which is, mostly, ready for bed. Or, at least, for Match of the Day, anyway. The series returns with Dara O Briain at the helm and his ten minutes are typically brilliant. Nobody turns an embarrassment into a golden comedy routine like Dara — in this case, the story of his - disappointing - attempts to surf on Bondi Beach. After Dara comes radical ventriloquist Nina Conti, who turns two members of the audience into her dummies in an inspired piece of improv. And, there's also 'the irrepressible' - it says here - Danny Bhoy.

Detective Sarah Lund is celebrating a milestone — she's been a police officer for twenty five years. There's cake in the squad room and a commendation ceremony. Lund's mind is focused, however — she has had enough of darkness and murder, she wants a new, cushier job, with the Danish police's planning and analysis unit. Which, we learn, is a standing joke among her colleagues. Lund is so distracted, so determined to get out of day-to-day policing, that she can barely be bothered when a man's dismembered body is found in a scrapyard by Copenhagen's docks, as the opening episode of the much-anticipated third - and supposedly final - series of The Killing begins at 9:00 BBC4. As a general election rages (are we getting a crossover with Borgen, perhaps?) and Denmar'’s largest company, a shipbuilder, holds the government to ransom by threatening to move to Asia, it seems Lund is trapped by pen-pushing boredom until that old, familiar glow returns. With ten days to go to the election Sarah prepares to celebrate her twenty fifth year in the job and looks forward to the prospect of a move to something less ... murdery. But her relative peace is shattered when body parts are found at Copenhagen dock only hours before a scheduled visit by the prime minister. Starring the terrific Sofie Gråbøl.

Sunday 18 November
If you are a sucker for haunted house mysteries, then The Secret of Crickley Hall - 9:00 BBC1 - an adaptation of James Herbert's novel will transport you into dark realms. Everything is packed in, every horror cliché you'd expect, every shock tactic — a lightning storm, mysterious footsteps, doors creakily opening by themselves, disembodied voices, the works. It even has wildly over-the-top, spooky discordant music which will make you involuntarily jab the air like Norman Bates in the shower. Suranne Jones and Tom Ellis play Eve and Gabe Caleigh, a couple tormented by the disappearance of their five-year-old son, Cam. As the first anniversary of his abduction approaches, the Caleighs take their two remaining children to Crickley Hall to escape — they hope — bad memories. But, as the audience sees in a parallel story, Crickley Hall is a troubled place with a troubled history, once home to a Second World War orphanage run by a sadistic brother and sister. And some of the unhappy children haven't left the gaff. The drama follows parallel storylines which chronicle strange events at a mysterious building where secrets from the past threaten the sanity of its modern-day inhabitants. London couple Eve and Gabe relocate to the North and move into the grand old Crickley Hall, where it is hoped the change of scenery will give Eve some comfort. But before long, strange things start to happen. How strange? This a James Herbert story, you guess. Meanwhile, in 1943, Nancy begins work as a tutor at the Crickley Hall orphanage. But as she gets to know the children better, she becomes concerned for their welfare - and suspicious of the mysterious manager Augustus Cribben. As well as Jones and Tom Ellis, David Warner, Olivia Cooke, Douglas Henshall and Sarah Smart also star.

Sandy: Anatomy of a Superstorm - 8:00 BBC2 - is a (swiftly-made) minute-by-minute account of the effects on New York state of the storm surge caused by Hurricane Sandy, using satellite imagery, CGI mapping and the personal testimonies of those who lived through it. The film gives an insight into the meteorological, engineering and human devastation wreaked by the storm.

The CIA team got a shock at the end of the last episode of Homeland - 9:00 Channel Four - and frankly so did most of the viewers. Carrie and her colleagues are on the back foot, scrambling to regain the initiative. It puts Brody under pressure from both sides. 'You're going to have to play a larger role now,' terrorist contact Roya tells him. 'Things are going to move very quickly.' But towards what? Meanwhile, poor, anguished Dana longs to come clean about the hit-and-run accident that she was part of while she was with her boyfriend, Finn. Which would be so much easier if she wasn't the daughter of a congressman and he wasn't the vice-president's son. But, her quest to tell the truth collides with her father's secret mission, and has serious consequences. Meanwhile, Saul visits Aileen Morgan in solitary confinement, hoping she will provide key intelligence on this latest attack.

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse reinvent themselves as Ricky Gervais, and the original 1930s version of Oscar-winning film The King's Speech is unearthed in the latest Harry & Paul - 10:00 BBC2. There is also a chance to see what Sherlock Holmes would have been like in a 1970s comedy. Elsewhere, I Saw You Coming has opened an artisan bakery and the posh surgeons, Charles and Sheridan, discuss video games. With a guest appearance by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, most recently seen proving he does seem to have a sense of humour on Have I Got News For You.

Monday 19 November
In the last in the current series of Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature - 9:00 BBC1 - the presenter goes in search of creatures with extraordinary powers, including the eel-shaped hagfish and migrating humpback whales, devising experiments to explain their specific capabilities. He also learns how scientists have transferred the natural talents of these and other animals to modern technology - from an invisible tank based on cuttlefish camouflaging techniques to a custom-built suit based on the exoskeleton of arthropods, which has enabled a paralysed man to walk again for the first time in seven years. Engineers looking to nature for inspiration: the theme of this series hovers on the cusp between natural history and hi-tech science and that's a domain where Richard Hammond is very comfortable indeed. His reports from the frontiers of science this week showcase inventions from a military tank inspired by camouflage techniques. With Hammond's trademark have-a-go experiments, it's a brand of show-and-tell that can be pleasantly educational. Which is more than you can say for any TV show Stewart Lee's ever been involved in.

It's week three of the latest series of MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:30 BBC2. The next ten chefs enter the kitchen, where twisty-faced Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace challenge them to make a dish using just seven ingredients from a selection of chicken thighs, bacon, leeks, chocolate, brandy, grapes and tarragon. They each have merely one hour to hold their nerve and demonstrate their creativity to the judges. Your heart rather goes out to most of this week's contestants as they present their first dish to Monica and Gregg. There's a horribly long pause as the judges survey the food in front of them before, in several instances, wincing and reaching for the puke bucket. 'I don't like your presentation' is Monica's frequent stern criticism and you can see her point after seeing the third or fourth plate of creamed leeks slopping about under a rapidly unravelling ballottine. It must have been such a relief when she was given a chocolate pudding instead. Will any of this week's contestants be as impressive as early front-runner James? You'll have to watch to find out, dear blog reader.

Actor, biographer, director, broadcaster and all round renaissance man Stephen Fry shares his passion for technology, trying out all the gizmos and prototypes he can lay his hands on and attempting to create his own super-gadget each week in Stephen Fry: Gadget Man - 8:30 Channel Four. So, The Gadget Show with gravitas, essentially. What we have here is, essentially, a reminder that Stephen Fry may adopt the camouflage of the benignly beige  corduroyed English fogey, but is in fact as un-fogey-ish as you can get. Not least when it comes to technology. Forget for a moment Fry the novelist, the actor, the Qi quiz-master, the linguistic connoisseur and embrace instead Fry the futurologist, obsessed as he is with any way that clever electronic gadgetry can improve our lives, or fail trying. For this series he simply tests out interesting innovations, from an inflatable bike helmet to an in-car espresso machine, and enthuses. Addressing the problems of commuting, he coaxes Jonathan Ross onto electric roller skates and wonders aloud, 'How about pimping a taxi-cab such that it becomes an amphibious vehicle?' Whereupon a team of mechanics, in best Starship Enterprise style(e), makes it so. And the Stephen drives into the Thames just like Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me. Telly gold, dear blog reader.

Food writer Stefan Gates delves into the past to discover the origins of British cuisine, focusing on an often overlooked Golden Age, some three hundred years ago in Calf's Head and Coffee: The Golden Age of English Food - 9:00 BBC4. He also recreates a host of old recipes in his kitchen, from the titular calf's head surprise to a 1699-style salad. Few would deny that British food and restaurant culture have undergone a renaissance in the past twenty years or so, but the century from around 1650 marked an equally seismic change in our farming, cooking and eating habits — a true culinary enlightenment. Stefan produces some tasty eighteenth-century treats — John Evelyn's 'sallet' is a colourful delight — but one is not sure peeling the skin off a calf’s head and restuffing it is going to take off in today's domestic kitchens. You never know, though. If Heston Blumenthal did it, we'd call him a genius. Featuring contributions from historians Doctor Annie Gray, Ivan Day and Peter Brown.

Tuesday 20 November
Writer Sally Wainwright has left behind the mean, crime-soaked streets of Manchester and Scott & Bailey to return to the kind of warm-hearted family turmoil she first explored in her hit series At Home with the Braithwaites. Last Tango in Halifax - 9:00 BBC1 - is a rather sweet love story with, at its heart, an unconsummated romance which reaches back decades. Celia and Alan (Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi) first knew each other as teenagers. But, after a misunderstanding, their burgeoning relationship collapsed and they married other people. Many years later, when they've both been widowed, the pair re-establish contact through Facebook. They both have grown-up families now, each member of which has a secret sorrow, or just a secret. There are times when Last Tango in Halifax may make you gasp in disbelief, but because the cast is so good and works so hard to make it all credible, you’ll probably be won over. With Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker.

Writer and broadcaster Stephen Smith explores the importance of diners in Twentieth-Century American culture, arguing they are its last surviving link with the mentality of the frontier - a place where strangers are thrown together and anything can happen in America On A Plate: The Story of the Diner - 9:00 BBC4. Stephen embarks on a girth-busting road journey that takes him to some of America's most iconic diners. He meets the film-makers and singers who have immortalised them, and looks at the role diners have played not only in America's greatest paintings and movies, but also in the fight against racial oppression and the chain restaurants' global takeover. For Stephen, it is because the diner is the last vestige of a vital part of the American psyche - the frontier. Like the Dodge City saloon it is a place where strangers are thrown together, where normal rules are suspended and anything can happen. He travels across the country to visit some of the most famous establishments and analyse their roles in works of art including Edward Hopper's painting Nighthawks and Michael Mann's film Heat.

In Dara O Briain's Science Club - 9:00 BBC2 - the comedian and his team of experts take a weird and wonderful look at life, death and extinction. Comedian Mark Steel learns how to deflect an incoming asteroid and neuroscientist Tali Sharot attends the first-ever taste test of beef grown solely in the lab. Journalist Alok Jha asks whether pandas should be allowed to die out, as he examines if there are other species it would make more sense to invest effort in saving, and oceanographer Helen Czerski reports on the possibility of bringing extinct species back from the dead.

Wednesday 21 November
Dallas Campbell traces the story of how humans have transformed the world in just a single generation, visiting the largest and most ambitious engineering projects, exploring the power of human ingenuity and the making of the modern world in Supersized Earth - 8:00 BBC1. He begins by visiting some of the most amazing constructions on the planet, travelling from the glittering heights of the world's tallest building in Dubai to the bustling favelas of Rio and to the planet's biggest city of all - Tokyo. Along the way, Dallas undertakes extraordinary feats, from dangling on a rope hundreds of metres above the ground to scuba-diving through Mexico City's toxic sewage. 'The Blue Danube' waltz fills the soundtrack as a vast tunnel-making machine rotates under Mexico City, removing earth and laying sections of tunnel wall as it goes. It's a sort of pastiche of 2001: a Space Odyssey, and one of many arresting sequences in Campbell's look at how the past few decades have seen us re-engineer the planet. There is no special agenda here: Campbell simply celebrates great feats of urban engineering, like Dubai's half-mile-high Burj Khalifa tower, and tries to impress on us the stunning scale of the ways we're changing the world to accommodate seven billion humans. It's strikingly filmed, full of head-spinning statistics and accessible to a young audience, who may enjoy the daring scenes where Campbell cleans the highest windows in the world or descends into those hellish Mexican sewers – and finds a horse's skull.

The BBC Board is due at Lime Grove Studios to watch a recording of The Hour - 9:00 BBC2 - and they all want to meet heart-throb Hector. But Hector is, currently, in a police cell, the nightclub floozy he dallied with last week having accused him of beating her up. The Maddens host a gathering of friends at their flat, but the party atmosphere is shattered when two policemen arrive at the door to arrest Hector on suspicion of assaulting Kiki. The next day Bel has a tough job trying to keep it a secret from Randall, while Freddie further complicates matters in the newsroom when he decides to hold a controversial interview with a fascist on the same day members of the board pay a visit. Just because he is handsome and charming doesn't mean Hector (Dominic West) isn't a thug, of course, but his producer, Bel (Romola Garai and her excellent bottom) puts doubt to the back of her mind as she tries to help her star anchorman. Will Hector embarrass the BBC? The very idea! Yet this is another curiously passionless episode. Considering so much is at stake for The Hour team there's no tension; even a sub-plot about racism on Freddie's doorstep seems rather perfunctory - although beautifully acted by Ben Whishaw - and ends up sounding rather sanctimonious. So thank goodness for Anna Chancellor and Peter Capaldi as foreign-desk chief Lix Storm and head of news Randall Brown.

Bradley Wiggins: A Year in Yellow - 10:30 Sky Atlantic - is a documentary following the cyclist - and King of the Mods - in a year when he became the first Briton to win the Tour De France, as well as capturing gold in the time trial at the London Olympic Games. There are many moments in this film charting Bradley's year of glory when you simply can't understand how he puts his bony frame through it. The hours spent slogging away on a bike machine, the lonely mountain rides on the washed-out roads of Majorca. It's all so viscerally painful, yet when he finally earns the famous yellow jersey, there's no triumphant outpouring of emotion. Instead, Wiggins gives an awkward bow, waves the teddy lion that's bizarrely handed to the winner on the podium, and shuffles off. It's a beautifully muted portrait of sporting sacrifice.

In October 2011, a handful of students from the same high school in the small town of Le Roy, New York, developed the symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome - facial twitching, violent limb gestures and uncontrollable verbal outbursts, a story told in The Town That Caught Tourette's - 11:10 Channel Four. Potential theories as to the cause varied from stress, an infection or mass hysteria (the suggestion that they were, basically, copying each other) to environmental causes (jet trails, a chemical spillage in the 1970s or using their mobile phones too much). A hoax was even suspected. 'Why would I fake it,' asks one sixteen-year-old angrily between repeated twitches, 'when I can't do anything I used to do?' The epidemic strangely seemed to affect only teenage girls and the eventual diagnosis was one of mass hysteria, where symptoms spread among vulnerable people in close proximity. This documentary features interviews with those at the heart of this outbreak, including the girls who have recovered, as well as those who are still suffering. Using archive footage, it also tells how this bizarre situation began and how the individuals and their families not only dealt with the symptoms, but how they reacted to the media frenzy which came to surround them.

Thursday 22 November
This is the one Keith Telly Topping has been waiting for. Yer actual David 'Kid' Jensen - wearing, it should be noted, a particularly nasty tank top-type sleeveless sweater - presents a vintage edition of Top of the Pops - 7:30 BBC4. This one comes from 27 October 1977 and features music from yer actual Slade (check out Dave Hill's bonza Kojak look), Mary Mason, Darts (making their TOTP début and with Den Hegarty on especially fine gurning form), Boney M, The Tom Robinson Band (two-four-six-eight ...), Smokey Robinson, Rod Stewart, ABBA and Baccara. Yes sir, they could, indeed, boogie. Plus, in one of the single most memorable moments of TV in the 1970s, we have Legs & Co indulging in one minute and fifty eight seconds of headbanging in fishnets to Ram Jam's 'Black Betty'. Bam-ba and, indeed, lam. Truly, dear blog reader, it is a sight to see. Has anyone ever looked as disturbingly alluring as Lulu Cartwright in this sequence? No, thought not. Thank God Jimmy Savile wasn't presenting that week. I mean, on all sorts of levels.

Byzantium Security is ordered to kill Jack Turner, but when the assassination attempt fails, Sam is exposed as a spy in Hunted - 9:00 BBC1. As the billionaire produces the evidence he has against the company's client, Sam finally begins to recover the terrible memories explaining why the Hourglass conspirators want her dead - but it may be too late as unknown to her she has already been poisoned. Thriller, starring Melissa George, Adam Rayner and Patrick Malahide. Last in the series and, given the declining ratings it been getting, almost certainly the last ever. Still, never mind, it's nearly over.

James Spencer-Churchill, the Marquess of Blandford, his features smudged by years of dissipation and drug abuse, earnestly tells documentary-maker Patrick Forbes: 'I will try to be as good a custodian as I can be of this place' in the opening episode of Channel Four's The Aristocrats - 9:00. 'This place' is Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Jamie Blandford was once a tabloid staple, the classic toff-gone-off-the-rails. By the mid-1990s he had a twenty-year drug habit, a jail sentence and various fines. He was such a mess that in 1994 his father, the eleventh Duke of Marlborough, went to court to try to disinherit his troubled and troublesome son. It was a bitter battle, though the years have softened relations between the pair, who are now reconciled. But this difficult piece of family history is only a backdrop to a standard, behind-the-scenes-at-a-big-house film, as we see the effects of a wash-out summer, and visits by strangely camera-shy local MP, one David Cameron. The two-part documentary explores modern-day high society, with access to the daily lives of aristocratic families.

It's the eve of Jack and Sarah's, if you will, repeat-wedding and, as Jack's sister Vicki warns, 'There's always an argument at a Geordie wedding.' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping can confirm this to be true. Except, that's not what transpires in this final episode of Hebburn's first series - 10:00 BBC2. The series has a likeable way of setting up a particular comedy premise and then ambling off in a completely different - though, no less interesting - direction. The route the plot goes turns out to be rather moving, though not quite for the reasons you'd expect. And as the menfolk gather at Swaze's for a pre-service pint, club singer Gervaise has an idea: 'I was thinking of doing 'Ave Maria' at the wedding, what with Sarah being all Jewish and that,' he suggests. 'It won't be tacky, man – I'll do it with a bossa nova beat.!' Fantastic. Jack and Sarah prepare to have their marriage blessed in a church ceremony, but Pauline and Dot are still treating it as the couple's big day, with the bridesmaids a vision in buttercup yellow. Sarah would like Denise to stop reminding her of when she and Jack were seeing each other, while Joe gives his son a pep talk and a gift that's been handed down through the generations of the Pearson family that will, hopefully, bring him luck. Will everything go according to plan? That would be telling. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping expect's, indeed, demands a swift recommissioned for this one and, with luck, many series to come. The best sitcom the BBC have created since Ideal.

Friday 23 November
James Bond legend and suave chap about town yer actual Sir Roge Moore takes the Have I Got News For You host's chair - 9:00 BBC1 - for another round of the current affairs quiz. Roge will be raising an eyebrow or two as Ian Hislop, Paul Merton and their guests - comedian-actor Marcus Brigstocke and journalist Rachel Johnson - poke fun at the week's headline happenings.

Stephen Fry hosts another round of Qi - 10:00 BBC2 - the cult panel quiz which seeks to find 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.
The Joy Of The Single - 9:00 BBC4 - is a rather decent looking documentary taking a journey through the decades to celebrate cherished stories and memories associated with the music single. Artists including Jack White, yer actual Saint Noddy Holder his very self, Richard Hawley and Suzi Quatro reveal the powerful impact that singles have had on successive generations, from the 45s bought by 1950's rock 'n' rollers to the MP3 downloaders of today.
And so to the news: And, it's back to poor old George Entwistle, I'm afraid. When was appointed as BBC director general, he was something of a surprise choice. Smart and affable, he had risen from obscurity within the corporation with dizzying speed. Editor of Newsnight (oh, the irony that it was this show which ultimately brought him down), controller of knowledge, then a year as director of vision, the bombastic job title referring to the corporation's television channels. Few would have picked him out as the top man five or even two years ago. Lord Patten, though, did. The most important qualities in a director general are not political or programme-making experience but simply intellectual robustness and resilience – to deal with the relentless storms of criticism that affect the BBC. His predecessor Mark Thompson, who ironically starts his next job, as chief executive of the New York Times on Monday, seemed to have that strength. But Entwistle clearly didn't, folding when it became clear BBC News had lost control. The director general, who lasted only fifty four days, concluded that he had to take responsibility for Newsnight's catastrophic errors. He knew that he had performed poorly on the Today programme against John Humprhys – that, in and of itself, was probably not enough for him to conclude he was not up to the job (although it certainly didn't help) – but the failures as regards the Newsnight broadcast of Friday 2 November would ultimately prove fatal. According to the Gruniad, a newspaper which has relentlessly undermined Entwistle at every given opportunity, alleged 'insiders' allegedly say the 'chain of approval' for the ill-fated paedophilia programme 'went wider than is currently known' – higher up the organisation (although not to the director general) and wider – to places such as the BBC's legal department. BBC News, in short, had made a catastrophic misjudgment without anybody bothering to alert the man who was the BBC's editor in chief. Except Entwistle probably should not have been alerted. He was unable to be consulted, prevented from being involved in the Newsnight film because he was under investigation for whatever - apparently minimal - role he had in allowing tributes to Jimmy Savile to go ahead when Newsnight, in an earlier incarnation, had tried and failed to reveal that the late BBC presenter was alleged to be a sexual abuser.

Lord Patten has paid tribute to Entwistle. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Patten described Entwistle's resignation over the Newsnight affair as 'one of the tragedies of life.' However, Patten confirmed that the pair had 'several' discussions on Saturday before Entwistle made his decision and that he thinks the 'right decision' was made. The sixty eight-year-old said that Entwistle would have carried out necessary infrastructural reform at the corporation had he not been the victim of 'awful journalism which disfigured that Newsnight programme.' He further reflected: 'One of the ironies is that he was a brilliantly successful editor of Newsnight himself for some time, which I guess is why Jeremy Paxman said some properly gracious things about him. But now, he's been destroyed by these two programmes.' Paxman has suggested that Entwistle was 'scapegoated by staff. George Entwistle's departure is a great shame. He has been brought low by cowards and incompetents,' Paxo said. 'The real problem here is the BBC's decision, in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry, to play safe by appointing biddable people.' Defending Entwistle's integrity, Paxman added: 'I had hoped that George might stay to sort this out. It is a great pity that a talented man has been sacrificed.' Echoing Newsnight anchor Paxman's view that the corporation has become 'bloated' with management, Patten said that 'structural, radical overhaul' would be needed to resolve the 'ghastly mess' and agreed with Marr's suggestion that a 'new organisation will emerge.' However, he insisted that the BBC remains 'one of the most respected institutions' in the UK.

Mind you, it's not just the BBC facing a damned good spanking for the Newsnight report. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which investigated the Tory abuse allegations in conjunction with the BBC, is facing growing criticism for its role in the fiasco. Hours before the Newsnight report's broadcast on 2 November, Iain Overton, the editor of the bureau, tweeted - rather crowingly - that, 'all going well,' Newsnight would make explosive revelations that evening. 'We've got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile,' he wrote. This immediately prompted a Twitter row with Newsnight's former political editor Michael Crick - now at Channel Four - who told Overton that the politician in question had not been contacted about the allegations. A report about the story on the Bureau of Investigative Journalism's website has since been removed.

Meanwhile, according to the Chortle website, the comedian David Mitchell could be regretting having written the following passage in his new book, Back Story. Talking about his public image, he wrote: 'There's no doubt that if people have told you I'm a snooty swot and then you meet me, you're going to think it's plausible. It's like Jimmy Savile and child molestation – it rings true without being true. He in no way subverted people's stereotypical image of a child molester, any more than I do their vision of a snooty swot.' Possibly, some major editing required for the second edition, do you think?

And, speaking of Mitchell, Peep Show has received a start date for its upcoming eighth series. Isy Suttie, who plays Dobby in the sitcom, confirmed the launch date on Twitter. The show will return to Channel Four on Sunday 25 November at 10pm. Storylines for the upcoming season will include Mark paying for Jeremy to have therapy and Jeremy becoming an irresponsible life coach. Writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain have previously said that they have no plans to end the show, and Robert Webb has said that he and Mitchell will continue to make Peep Show as long as Channel Four lets them. Next year, Mitchell and Webb are also set to appear in new BBC sitcom Our Men, which follows the lives and loves of the British Embassy team in Tazbekistan.

The US election brought the highest traffic to the BBC News website so far this year, the corporation has revealed. Coverage of the election, which saw Barack Obama elected for a second term, brought 16.4 million unique browsers across the BBC website and mobile services on 7 November. This included 8.1m from the UK alone. Wednesday was the highest traffic day of 2012 so far, although not quite as high as the BBC's biggest ever day. On 9 August 2011, there were 18.2m unique browsers, 10.9m of which came from the UK, as people flocked to the BBC for news on the unrest which hit London and a number of other English cities. In a blog post, BBC News website editor Steve Herrmann said that the peak traffic point on 7 November was between 7am and 8am, as people in the UK checked the result as soon as they woke up. This blogger among 'em, let it be said. He said that UK usage figures on Wednesday were fifty per cent higher than the average for 2012, and non-UK browsers were seventy five per cent higher than average. And, considering that 2012 also included the prior of the Olympics when BBC news was getting massive daily figures, that really is saying something. 'We spent a lot of time working out how to provide the best possible service on mobile, so it's encouraging to see that nearly five million mobile devices visited BBC News Online [on Wednesday], a record figure for us on mobile, accounting for about thirty per cent of all users,' Hermann added.

Ten thousand bottles of red wine have been found in an abandoned house in China. The Chateau Lafite Rothschild wine, one of the more expensive reds in the world, could be worth up to ten million quid if it's found to be genuine. However, police suspect that the stash is fake and are already searching for the illegal workshop. They're also reported to be tasting the wine, one bottle at a time just to be sure. With only fifty thousand bottles of genuine Chateau Lafite Rothschild imported into China each year, officials say that seventy per cent of the bottles sold in the country are counterfeit. The large house in Wenzhou reportedly had good security including five guard dogs. However, the homeowner, known as Zou, told police that the property had been empty for nine years, and that he 'knew nothing' about the potentially valuable find.

One of yer actual Mick Jagger's (many) ex-girlfriend is auctioning some of his love letters in order to pay her bills. Actress (well, I suppose her appearance in Dracula AD 1972 just about counts as 'acting', per se) and singer Marsha Hunt dated The Rolling Stones front man from 1969 to 1970, with the relationship bearing a child, Karis Jagger Hunt. Marsha, who now lives in France, told the Gruniad Morning Star that she is selling ten love letters because she is 'broke,' saying: 'Anyone who has the impression that I have money knows nothing about me. I had friends who came to visit from Pennsylvania and there was no electricity in the house because the bill had been too high, I was kind of grooving it with a wood burning stove. One friend said, "Surely you've got something you could sell?"' The letters were written between July and August 1969, around the time Jagger was filming Ned Kelly in Australia shortly after he had ended his long-term relationship with Marianne Faithfull. It was while Jagger was in Australia that he wrote 'Brown Sugar', which Marsha has confirmed what many suspected, that it's about her. The letters will be sold at Sotheby's for an estimate of seventy grand plus. Sotheby's manuscripts specialist Gabriel Heaton said: 'They are much the best letters by Jagger to have come up at auction. It is obviously a really important time in terms of cultural history.'

Which brings us nicely to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Here's Marsha's stunning version of Doctor John's 'Walk On Gilded Splinters.'

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