Monday, April 30, 2012

Roy's The One

He's played the world's greatest detective, and currently has parts in two of the biggest movie franchises in Hollywood - Star Trek and Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit – but Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch says that he's trying to avoid a proposed role in Dracula. 'There's a script in the pipeline,' revealed Cumberbatch, 'I've been fighting it rather than being in it. There's a lot of Gothic in Sherlock. I don't like to repeat myself too much. I think there are too many vampire franchises,' he told Kate O'Hare. Cumberbatch said that he was keen to steer clear of big movie series for a while: 'I have become involved in another one [as well as Sherlock and Star Trek] - The Hobbit, playing the Dragon and the Necromancer, so that should keep me in fine wine. I suppose I'm part of three franchises. I plan on not getting involved in another one. Like a lot of things in my life, it'd be nice if the culture had a bit of time to breathe and not see another revival of the same thing again and again and again,' he added. So what would Cumberbatch like to do next? 'I want to do something with an American accent, so you won't recognise me.'

Channel Four's new Friday night comedy line-up has attracted only lukewarm overnight audience figures. The return of Eight Out Of Ten Cats and new impression show Very Important People only scored about three-quarters of the channel's average overnight audience for the two slots. At 9pm, the Jimmy Carr-fronted panel show returned with 1.1 million viewers, notably down on the 1.7 million average for the previous run last year. It was immediately followed by Morgana Robinson and Terry Mynott impersonation show, which attracted one million viewers. The show also divided the critics. The Independent's sour-faced malcontent Grace Dent said: 'I just loved this show; the mimics are good and the material strong. It's disgustingly unfashionable to enjoy TV impression shows these days but there are moments of brilliance in here.' But, although the Sunday Mirra's full of his own importance knobcheese Kevin O'Sullivan was impressed by the 'brilliant' impressions, he concluded: 'The dazzling duo's alleged all-out attack on celebrity culture was about as hard hitting as Daybreak. Therefore, it wasn't very funny.' And, for possibly the first time ever, yer actual Keith Telly Topping agrees with an opinion held by odious, wretched, horrorshow (and drag) Kevin O'Sullivan. I think I'll go and have a shower. Channel Four's performance was in marked contrast to BBC1's highly-rated comedy double-act which went out at the same time: Have I Got New For You recorded 4.98 million viewers at 9pm – beating Piers Morgan's Life Stories on ITV yet again despite some unseemly crowing to contrary by the odious Morgan on Twitter – followed by 4.23 million for Lee Mack's Not Going Out.

Sophie Griffin and Sam Buttery have become the first contestants to be eliminated from The Voice's final twenty. Matt and Sueleen and Sam were in the bottom two from Team Tom. Ruth Brown, Adam Isaac and Leanne Mitchell made it through after gaining enough public votes. For Team Will-i-am, Joelle Moses and Sophie Griffin were in the bottom two. Jaz Ellington, Frances Wood and Tyler James were saved by the public. On Saturday, the first live show kicked-off with Team Will and Team Tom unleashing their acts on the UK. Next week it will be the acts from Team Jessie and Team Danny. 8.6m overnight punters watched Sunday's results show on BBC1.

Anyway, here's the final consolidated ratings week ending Sunday 22 April:-
1 The Voice - BBC1 Sat - 11.24m
2 Britain's Got Toilets - ITV Sat - 9.82m
3 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.30m
4 EastEnders - BBC1 Thurs - 8.75m
5 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 7.47m
6 The Apprentice - BBC1 Wed - 7.24m
7 Silent Witness - BBC1 Sun - 7.16m
8 UEFA Champions League Live - ITV Wed - 6.18m
9 The Syndicate - BBC1 Tues - 6.08m
10 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.95m
11 Have I Got News For You - BBC1 Fri - 5.87m
12 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.61m
13 Vera - ITV Sun - 5.29m
14 Scott & Bailey - ITV Mon - 5.29m
15 Waterloo Road - BBC1 Wed - 5.25m
16 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.01m
17 Not Going Out - BBC1 Fri - 4.83m
18 Long Lost Friends - ITV Thurs - 4.69m
19 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 4.65m
20 New Tricks - BBC1 Thurs - 4.57m
21 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 4.56m
22 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - BBC1 Sat - 4.55m
23 Watchdog - BBC1 Thurs - 4.45m
24 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Wed - 4.40
25 The ONE Show - BBC1 Wed - 4.33m
None of the ITV shows on this list include ITV HD numbers as figures for that are 'not available' on BARB. A couple of other ITV figures deserve highlighting: Piers Morgan's Life Stories (4.04m - so, that's a bit of a slap in the mush of old odious twat-faced Morgan then. not only did Ian Hislop get more viewers than him Last week but so, too, did Lee Mack, a repeat of New Tricks, Dale Winton, Ann Robinson and Alex Jones. Blimey, I'd give up now Piers, mate, whilst you're ... you know, losing). Also All Star Family Fortunes (3.71m - bragging about that one on Twitter this morning were you, Vern?) and Keith Lemon's Lemon Aid (2.99m) and The Cube (2.78m). Oh dear, there goes ITV's Saturday schedule. BBC2's highest rated four programmes were The Hairy Bikers Bake-Ation (3.43m, including HD), The 70s (2.93m), Match of the Day (2.87m inclduing HD) and The Apprentice: You're Fired (2.80m, inclduing HD). Channel Four's most watched programmes were: The Undateables (2.65m), Homeland (2.64m) Embarrassing Bodies (2.60m) and Elizabeth Taylor: Auction of a Lifetime (2.28m). Channel Five's top four were: CSI (2.39m), NCIS (2.10m), The Mentalist (2.04m) and Once Upon A Time (2.03m).

And, still on the subject of ratings, according to the ever reliable Sun, Britain's Got Talent 'trounced' The Voice on Saturday. (The overnights, you'll remember, were 9.6m versus 9.3m. I'd hardly call that a trouncing or anything even remotely like it.) However, the Sun has the answer - it's all to do with the swivel chairs, apparently. Someone probably should inform the Sun that the swivel chairs were gone last week, when The Voice had more viewers (see above). But then, presumably, last week everyone watched in the hope that a chair might swivel somewhere. However, upon realising that they'd completely wasted their time, several hundred thousand punters vowed never to watch another show with fixed chairs. Mind you, that said, this blogger does quite like the implication of the Sun that people would actually prefer to watch swivel chairs than Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads. Cos, if you look up 'back handed swivel chair complients' on Google, you'll find that one right at the top.

The Radio Times has seemingly become an unlikely battleground for supporters and opponents of the Bahrain government, after the nation's foreign minister urged Bahrainis to vote in an opinion poll on the magazines website. So far more than one hundred and fifty thousand visitors have cast in excess of seventy five thousand votes on a page asking users to vote on which programme they think should win the Current Affairs prize at this year's BAFTA Television Awards. This has been, at least in part due to an intervention from the Khalifa dynasty which rules Bahrain with an iron fist inside and iron glove. On Saturday, Bahrain foreign minister Khalid Al Khalifa tweeted to his nearly eighty thousand followers, urging loyalists to vote against the Al Jazeera documentary Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark in the Radio Times poll. One might've thought that the foreign minister of a major Arab oil-producing nation might have had a few more important things to do with his time than indulge in such nonsense but, seemingly, not. 'I call on everyone to stand with Bahrain,' he wrote, providing a link to the poll, 'and vote against the harmful Al Jazeera film.' Shouting in the Dark, a documentary about how the Bahrain regime prevented the Arab Spring of 2011 from taking hold there with the help of Saudi troops, has already won numerous awards for Al Jazeera. Bahrain's human rights record has been under scrutiny again in recent weeks, following protests surrounding the Formula 1 Grand Prix, held in the island kingdom on 22 April. In the Current Affairs category at this year's BAFTAs - Britain's most prestigious television awards - Shouting in the Dark faces competition from two BBC1 Panorama films, Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed and The Truth about Adoption, and a searing - and controversial - award-winning Channel Four investigation into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's Killing Fields would seem to be the main beneficiary of the Bahrain government's unexpected intervention: the Panorama programmes have only one per cent of the current vote between them. Al Jazeera has reported that activists who oppose the regime in Bahrain have taken to social networks, also linking to the Radio Times poll and calling for a vote for Shouting in the Dark. At the time of writing the Al Jazeera film is winning the poll by a distance, with sixty per cent of the overall vote, although that percentage has fallen slightly since Saturday. Of course, the irony here is that the Radio Times readers' vote does not, in any way, affect the actual result of the award itself: it will be decided by a BAFTA jury and announced on 27 May at London's Royal Festival Hall. The only BAFTA award that can actually be voted for by Internet users is the YouTube Audience Award. Nominees this year include Celebrity Juice, Sherlock and The Great British Bake Off. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping, incidentally, urges all dear blog readers to vote Sherlock and would like to see the Bahraini government join me in this endeavour. You know it makes sense.

ITV has released the first photo of the cast for their new sitcom about 'life, love and long-term unemployment', featuring Sarah Hadland and Russell Tovey. The Job Lot's supporting cast includes Sophie McShera, Tony Maudsley, Martin Marquez, Angela Curran, Jo Enright and Navin Chowdhry.
The creators of BBC1's Merlin have discussed the development of the title character in the fantasy drama's upcoming fifth series. Speaking to SciFiNow, co-creator Julian Murphy explained: 'I think it's interesting because you saw a glimpse at the end of [Series 4], particularly when he killed Agravaine, [Merlin] was becoming a much more stronger, focused and powerful character.' Murphy continued: 'We're really interested in taking him on that journey with all its dangers and the temptations it will bring, so that will be a big part of the fifth series.' Discussing the possibility of a romance for Merlin, the creators have described the character as 'a curiously non-romantic figure.'
Lord McConnell, the former first minister of Scotland, has begun legal action after evidence emerged suggesting that his and his children's phones may have been hacked by the Scum of the World. The former leader of the Scottish Labour party has been told by police that his and his children's details were found in the paperwork of the former Scum of the World private detective Glenn Mulcaire, dating back to when McConnell took office as first minister in 2001. McConnell, who led the Scottish executive until 2007, has started legal proceedings against News International and has been joined in the action by his daughter Hannah, thirty three, and son Mark, twenty eight. In what is the most significant hacking allegation so far in Scotland, it is understood that the Metropolitan police are investigating other potential data breaches against McConnell, in addition to the alleged hacking of the family's mobiles. 'The initial intrusion appears to start early in Jack's time as first minister but the family and the police don't seem to be ruling out anything at this stage,' an alleged 'source' allegedly close to the family allegedly told the Gruniad Morning Star. Allegedly. A 'family friend' allegedly told the alleged Scum Mail on Sunday: 'Jack is angry that this might have happened to him but is absolutely furious that someone could have been interfering in the private lives of Hannah and Mark.' The Scottish Labour party has ratcheted up the pressure on Alex Salmond, McConnell's successor as first minister, over his perceived close relationship with Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch the small. It emerged at the Leveson inquiry last week that Salmond had allegedly offered to lobby the UK government on behalf of the Murdochs to support their proposed takeover of BSkyB, just as he was seeking the support of the Scottish edition of the Sun in last year's Holyrood elections. Margaret Curran, the shadow Scottish secretary, said Salmond and the Scottish National party should 'put the integrity of the Scottish parliament' before their dealings with the Murdochs. 'The Scottish government's response to this growing scandal is weak and insufficient. Their story changes by the day and is utterly self-contradictory. They are treating people like fools in order to cover up their own murky deals with the Murdochs,' Curran said. 'Our Scottish parliament was meant to do things differently, meant to set higher standards. On this issue, that has not happened and Scotland is the poorer for it. This is a test of the Scottish parliament and a test of the SNP's commitment to it.' Salmond has said he offered to support the BSkyB bid 'in the interests of protecting Scottish jobs', and argued that other news organisations have 'been implicated' in hacking and illegally accessing confidential data. So, that makes it all right, then. He has brushed off complaints that he was the only party leader to deepen his personal dealings with Murdoch after it emerged in July last year that the Scum of the World had hacked missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone. In February, Salmond hosted a lunch at his official residence, Bute House, for Rupert Murdoch, Tom Mockridge, the News International chief executive, and Frédéric Michel, the News Corp lobbyist who 'facilitated' contact between Salmond and James Murdoch. The previous weekend, the launch edition of the Sun on Sunday had revealed Salmond's preferred date for the Scottish independence referendum, and Murdoch had sent out admiring tweets about Salmond. Salmond told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday: 'I think Rupert Murdoch is one of the most substantial figures in journalism for the last fifty years, so it would strike me as important to have a good and businesslike relationship with him. The idea that malpractice and potential illegality is confined to one newspaper organisation is for the birds.' On Sunday, a spokesman for Salmond claimed that the first minister had 'welcomed' the closure of the Scum of the World over the hacking allegations, but 'would not comment directly' on Scottish Labour's complaints about Salmond's links to the Murdochs. He added: 'It is disgraceful that Mr McConnell and his family could have been subjected to such intrusion. The first minister condemns outright all examples of phone-hacking and other press malpractice, regardless of who the victims are and who the perpetrators were. In addition, he has every confidence that Strathclyde police will vigorously pursue, without fear or favour, any evidence of criminality committed against any Scottish citizen.' Until now, the most significant Scottish hacking cases centred on the disgraced Scottish socialist leader Tommy Sheridan and other figures involved in a Scum of the World investigation into his extramarital affairs and visits to a swingers club. It is suspected that phones belonging to McConnell's children may have been targeted because his own answering service was pre-set to send callers to a paging service. There is no evidence, however, that his wife, Bridget, a prominent council executive in Glasgow, was also targeted. McConnell was suspicious during his time as first minister about the source of several newspaper stories about his private life. He was first told of the hacking suspicions several weeks ago by Strathclyde police on behalf of the Met.

Labour is demanding that David Cameron makes a Commons statement on the row surrounding the lack culture secretary. Yep, this story just isn't going anywhere any time soon. Which is, of course, terrific. There have been calls for the vile and odious rascal Hunt to resign after it was revealed his special adviser was in contact with News Corp during its bid for BSkyB. I mean, there were calls for that before it was revealed, chiefly from this blogger, admittedly, but never mind. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that. The prime minister has resisted demands to order an inquiry into claims the ministerial code was broken. But Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi said that there was 'clear evidence' of a breach and questioned government 'integrity'. Commons Speaker John Bercow has yet to announce whether he will ask the prime minister to address MPs. Cameron has argued that he wants to hear the vile and odious rascal Hunt's evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on press standards before deciding whether to hold an inquiry. But, appearing at a Labour event in London, Milimolimandi said: 'Lord Justice Leveson himself has said it's not for him to judge whether the ministerial code was followed or breached.' He added that it was the job of Cameron's independent adviser on ministerial interests - Sir Alex Allan - to investigate the vile and odious rascal Hunt's conduct. A job, incidentally, that Allan is paid thirty grand a year to do. When he's allowed to do it. Milimolimandi added: 'There's clear evidence that Jeremy Hunt breached the ministerial code in at least three ways.' He added that it was 'an all-party call' for Sir Alex to launch an inquiry, as Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes and Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, who chairs the Commons Public Administration Committee, had backed it. Milimolimandi also said: 'People need to know, in these difficult times, that they have a government standing up for them. [That there is] probity and integrity in the way government is run.' Responsibility for ruling on the BSkyB takeover bid in a 'quasi-judicial' manner was given to the lack of culture secretary in 2010. Last week the Leveson Inquiry published one hundred and sixty pages of e-mails between the vile and odious rascal Hunt's special adviser, Adam Smith, and News Corporation's head of public affairs, Frederic Michel, about the company's efforts to take over the sixty one per cent of the broadcaster it did not already own. The vile and odious rascal Hunt has denied Labour claims that the e-mails show the firm had a 'back channel' of influence to his office, but his 'lone rouge' adviser quit last week, saying the extent of contact 'went too far' and had not been authorised by the vile and odious rascal Hunt. One or two people even believed him. Smith has subsequently resigned but Labour says the lack of culture secretary himself should also go - ideally far, far away - because the ministerial code states that ministers are ultimately responsible for not only their own actions but, also, those of their special advisers. It has also accused the vile and odious rascal of misleading Parliament about whether he had published all exchanges between his department and News Corporation, part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire. The vile and odious rascal Hunt has promised to disclose private texts and e-mails between him and the 'lone rogue' Smith to the Leveson Inquiry, to which he will give evidence next month. Cameron told BBC1's Sunday Politics all of the details of the row would be 'laid bare.' He said the e-mail contact had been 'too close' but claimed that, as things stood, he did not believe the vile and odious rascal Hunt had broken the code. Well, no. I mean, he went to a nice school, didn't he? But, Cameron added that he, as prime minister, was 'ultimately responsible' for ensuring the ministerial code was upheld and the issue had to be properly investigated.

With two strikes already against The Times editor James Harding (Rupert Murdoch last week criticised not only every aspect of the outing of the blogger Nightjack, but also the paper's failure to buy details of MPs' expenses and letting the Torygraph get them instead), one spectator's behaviour at the Leveson inquiry prompted speculation. While watching his dad and brother James Murodoch the small doing their stuff, Lachlan Murdoch seemed fixated on the tweets of BBC business editor Robert Pestinfestation, who - the Gruniad suggest - 'appears to be back in favour with the dynasty, his shouty Edinburgh TV festival row with James forgotten'. Making the former Sunday Times journalist a plausible addition to the line-up of potential successors – also thought to include chief leader writer (and Newsnight fixture) Danny Finkelstein and the Wall Street Journal's Gerard Baker – when the umpire calls the third strike on the hapless Harding.

The Badminton Horse Trials have been cancelled after heavy rain waterlogged the course and sparked flood warnings across the South West. Which is, of course, tragically sad news for anyone who enjoys nothing more than watching a bunch of long-faced, toothy in-breeds (and, their horses) falling over and getting all clarty in the mud. It's like Total Wipeout for rich people. Tragedy, so it is. The trials in Gloucestershire were due to be held from Thursday to Monday. Tewkesbury, which was devastated by flooding five years ago, is among the areas affected by heavy rain. Somerset has also been affected, with the Environment Agency issuing flood alerts for every river in the county. Hugh Thomas, event director for the horse trials, said: 'The recent exceptional rainfall has left the ground at Badminton totally waterlogged and partially flooded. Further rain is due this week, leaving no chance of the ground drying out. Very sadly therefore, the 2012 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials has been cancelled.' There are currently 19 flood warnings in the South West, seven in the Midlands, seven in the Anglian area and two in the North East.

White Van Man, the BBC3's alleged sitcom about a Manchester handyman, has been cancelled after two series as the channel appears to be attempting to 'realign' its comedy output. Starring Will Mellor as reluctant handyman Ollie, forced to forgo his restaurateur dreams and take up the family business, the ITV Studios-produced series was created and written by stand-up comedian Adrian Poynton. The first series of White Van Man was commissioned by Danny Cohen, but broadcast from March 2011, shortly after the disastrous Zai Bennett took over running BBC3. The six-part run achieved an average audience figure of seven hundred and fifty thousand punters - a reasonably healthy number for the digital station, and was swiftly recommissioned. Speaking to The British Comedy Guide, Poynton said: 'It's a strange place to find ourselves really. We honestly believe we made a second series bigger, bolder and stronger than series one and audience reaction seemed to back that up. The final episode of the series is a great way to end the show, although I did have a few more stories I wanted to tell, and a few final things to wrap up for the regular viewers. Sadly, it seems BBC3 wants to take its comedy output in another direction.' White Van Man was one of only three comedy programmes - alongside Mongrels and Russell Howard's Good News - that were not immediately axed in a Night of the Long Knives-style purge upon Bennett's arrival at the channel, as series including How Not To Live Your Life and long-running hits Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps and Ideal were brought to a close. Mongrels has also since been axed. However, the second series, broadcast during February and March this year, struggled to attain the same ratings after being moved to a different day and timeslot. Neither White Van Man nor the first series of new channel favourite Pramface, which it was broadcast back-to-back with, performed as expected, with White Van Man achieving an average audience of just over four hundred thousand viewers. Repeats, particularly those in the competitive Friday night line-up, had consistently higher figures, but it would appear not enough to save the show from cancellation. Pramface, meanwhile, had been recommissioned before it had begun broadcasting. The news of White Van Man's cancellation comes as BBC3 struggles to realign its comedy output under Bennett's control. Flagship commission World Series Of Dating, a hybrid comedy-reality series in which humour is derived from commentating on dating encounters as if they are a sport, has flopped after opening with an audience of just three hundred and twenty thousand punters viewers: the final two episodes of the eight-part run have been tucked away as a double-bill from midnight on the morning of Tuesday 8 May. Meanwhile, the channel has ordered an unscripted sketch show pilot called Boom Town, another comedy-reality hybrid that will see real people from across the UK filmed for the apparent 'comedic value' in their real lives and natural behaviour. The footage will then be edited and broadcast such that it appears they all reside in the same town. And, they cancelled Ideal for this, ladies and gentlemen.

BBC executives have been somewhat coy about explaining why their planned commercial download service is known as Project Barcelona, and still coyer about saying whom came up with the name in the first place; but it seems pretty clear that it was meant to signify the mixture of glamour and excellence associated with the Catalan capital's all-conquering football team. In the light of recent events, though, and Barca's defeat by Moscow Chelski FC last week, they may be looking to drop the moniker. After all, you don't want punters to get the idea that what's on offer is endless fiddling around that doesn't, actually, get you anywhere, do you?

Roy Hodgson is set to start talks with the Football Association on Monday and is expected to be appointed England manager within days. The FA says that the West Bromwich Albino manager, sixty four, is 'the only person it has approached' about succeeding Fabio Capello. He has already spoken with FA chairman David Bernstein and will meet with the four-man panel. Roy said he would 'be delighted' to manage England, in a BBC Sport interview before the FA's approach. Hodgson has extensive international experience, having managed Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Finland, and domestic teams in Sweden, Italy (including Internazionale) and England. Of course, that didn't stop Dan Roan on BBC News suggesting that Hodgson's only 'high profile' job had been at Liverpool, where he had something of a torrid time (although, arguably, his record is about the same as current Alabama Yee-Haws manager Kenny Dalglish over a similar period). Because, of course, managing Inter Milan isn't 'high profile' is it? The parochialism of this country's football media is almost as astonishing as the parochialism of this country's football supporters. Bernstein said: 'Roy is the only manager we have approached and we remain on course to make an appointment within the timescale we set out.' The four-man panel which will decide who takes over from Capello are Bernstein, FA general secretary Alex Horne, FA director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking and managing director of Club England Adrian Bevington. Bernstein approached West Brom on Saturday and was given permission to speak to Hodgson, who is likely to be appointed on a long-term basis. It is expected any contract will cover the three tournaments up to and including Euro 2016, at which point he will be two months short of his sixty ninth birthday. Hodgson's contract with West Brom ends on 30 June. Stottingtot Hotshots boss Happy Harry Redknapp had been heavily linked with the job ever since Capello left the post in February, indeed every football journalist worth his salt had been lining up on Sky's Soccer Supplement on Sunday mornings for the last two months to give Happy Hapless Harry's ringpiece a reet good rimming and inform viewers that the FA had a shortlist of one and Happy Harry was on it. (The Torygraph's Paul Heyward used those exact words just six weeks ago.) One or two of those will, no doubt, be feeling rather stupid today. That's if football journalists don't feel stupid most of the time, of course. Indeed, the amount of egg on various faces in Fleet Street and at Sky Sports News itself (another regular Redknapp cheerleader) who'd all but given him the job twenty seconds after he walked out of court two months ago after beating a fraud charge must be half the gross annual produce of Norfolk. I think it's hilarious, personally. The FA has decided to discuss the position with Hodgson, who has previous international experience from his time in charge of Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Finland. In total, he has managed eighteen teams either at domestic or international level, including two spells as Inter Milan boss. Former FA chief executive Mark Palios does not believe the talks with Hodgson necessarily rule out a move for Redknapp. He said the FA is 'under pressure' to 'do something' about the vacant job with Euro 2012 a matter of weeks away. 'Hodgson is a candidate they would naturally speak to,' he told the BBC. 'West Bromwich Albion's season is settled and they are now safe. But this doesn't mean to say there aren't other people they would approach.' Hodgson, who had a disappointing time at Liverpool last season, has steered West Brom to mid-table in the Premier League. Prior to the Liverpool job, he took a very average Fulham side to the final of the UEFA Cup. He also managed Blackburn Rovers for two seasons (also getting them into Europe in the first year). Albino chairman Jeremy Peace remains hopeful he will stay on at the Hawthorns. Peace said: 'Roy has done a fantastic job over the past fifteen months and the fact that the FA wants to discuss the England role with him is testament to that. Roy is a proud Englishman and we can understand why he wants to speak to the FA about this highly prestigious managerial position. However, we have emphasised to Roy how much we would like him to remain as our head coach and continue his major contribution to our project at the Hawthorns as we look to establish ourselves as a Premier League club. Everyone here has an excellent working relationship with him and he is immensely popular with our supporters.' England have two fixtures before their Euro 2012 opener against France on 11 June, with friendlies planned against Norway on 26 May and Belgium on 2 June. Stuart Pearce - who is in charge of both the England Under-Twenty One squad and the Team GB Olympic set-up - is currently in temporary control of the national side and oversaw a 3-2 friendly defeat by the Netherlands at Wembley last month. Pearce said he 'would be prepared' to lead the team into Euro 2012 and stated earlier this week that he could name the squad on or around 10 May if no new manager was in place by that date. Hapless Happy Harry his very self has, reportedly 'wished Roy Hodgson well' after the Football Association approached the West Brom manager for the England role. The Hotshots boss also said he did not 'hold any grudges' at being overlooked.

'A good man is just about to take on the Impossible Job.' That was the conclusion of the Daily Torygraph's Henry Winter in writing about the Football Association's decision to offer the England football manager's job to Roy Hodgson. The reason was made abundantly clear in the coverage in other national papers on Monday morning. As Winter noted, they were declaring Hodgson 'a failure before he's even been appointed.' A couple of editors registered their surprise - and, implied criticism - in front page headlines: Hod choice for England (Daily Mirra), What are the Hods on that? (the Sun) and Forget 'Arry, it's Roy in the frame for England (the Daily Lies). In the sports pages, the boot really went in. Reminding readers of Hodgson's brief and unhappy stewardship of Liverpool, the Daily Scum Mail's main headline said: Kop flop Roy is FA's choice. The Mirra was critical too: Oh why, oh why, oh Woy? This reflected the widespread bafflement - amongst various sport writers, if not the actual general public - that the media's favourite, Harry Redknapp, had been overlooked. The general view from almost every football commentator was that Hodgson was little more than a safe and uninspiring choice. They included the Sun's Steven Howard, 'After Fab ... the drab', the Scum Mail's odious fat lout Martin Samuel (Is this a job for Mr Average?) and the Daily Scum Express's John Dillon, 'Little joy in a chase for Roy Hodgson.' The biggest Redknapp cheerleader of the lot, the thoroughly full of his own importance Brian Woolnough in the Daily Lies predicted that the FA would suffer a backlash from fans. 'He is a safe pair of hands rather than the "character" England needed,' he wrote. The word 'safe' can be found in almost every reaction - as though that is, in and of itself, a bad thing. Daniel Taylor in the Gruniad thought Hodgson 'a safe option, a mid-table manager whose best work in England has been done at two relatively small clubs in Fulham and West Bromwich Albion.' In the Independent, Musa Okwonga thought Hodgson's appointment has infuriated 'people' (though he didn't say, exactly, which people) 'because it shows us what we really are: we are outsiders, peering up at football's elite.' So a pragmatic choice makes sense. Tony Evans, The Times's football editor, was wholly unimpressed by the appointment of a man 'whose bathroom cabinet is bigger than his trophy cabinet.' It was 'a retrograde step,' Evans wrote and then had the gall to add: 'It is unfair to pillory Hodgson.' You mean, like what you've just done you odious tosser? In what is clearly a self-fulfilling prophesy Evans concluded that Hodgson 'will become the focus of public criticism very quickly.' Hell hath no fury, it seems, like a football journalist who's back the wrong horse. Amid the negativity, it was a pleasure to read the piece by Winter's only real rival for the best jobbing football journo, Oliver Holt in the Mirra: Don't destroy Roy: why Hodgson deserves better than to be written off before he's even got the England job. He accepted that Hodgson, unlike Redknapp, he lacks 'the common touch', nor does he have the charisma of Martin O'Neill. But, wrote Holt, 'he is tactically astute, he is a clever coach and he is well-respected throughout the game. What he will need to overcome is the inverted snobbery that will be aimed at him by some because he's a cerebral manager.'

Which brings us to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week Nineteen: Hunted Down Like A Dog

David Cameron 'would, of course, act' if the vile and odious rascal Hunt's evidence to the Leveson Inquiry suggested that he had breached the ministerial code, Downing Street says. Of course. Difficult to see what else the prime minister could do so, that entire statement was a bit pointless, really. Like much else that comes out of the Eton Rifle's gob. The lack of culture secretary claimed, somewhat unconvincingly, that he acted with 'total integrity' during News Corp's attempt to take over BSkyB. Labour, some Lib Dems  and even a small smattering of Tories, plus everybody else who's non-aligned would quite like a new probe into whether he broke any rules and what all this back channel malarkey is all about. But No 10 said that it would not 'risk pre-empting' the inquiry, after Justice Leveson rejected the vile and odious rascal Hunt's request to bring forward his appearance - expected to be in mid-May. So, they're going to leave him swinging in the wind, basically. Which is, of course, top comedy. The lack of culture secretary has been under pressure since documents released to the inquiry revealed close contact between his special adviser and News Corporation during its planned takeover of satellite broadcaster BSkyB. The vile and odious rascal Hunt was meant to be acting in what he himself described as 'a quasi-judicial' role in deciding whether the proposed merger should be referred to the Competition Commission for final approval. His special adviser, Adam Smith, has resigned over what he admitted was an inappropriately close relationship with News Corporation. The minister has said he did not know about the extent of the contact between the media giant and Smith and, by implication, suggests that Smith was a lone rogue adviser. But, even if this is true, under the ministerial code of conduct, the vile and odious rascal Hunt is still responsible for the actions of his special advisers. Labour has repeated its demand for the prime minister to call in his independent adviser on the ministerial code of conduct, Sir Alex Allan. And, the Leveson Inquiry has refused a request from the lack of culture secretary to have his appearance - expected to be in mid-May - moved forward so he could defend himself at the earliest opportunity. Lord Justice Leveson had emphasised that he would 'not act as an arbiter.' But a Downing Street spokesman said: 'We have always been clear that the prime minister and not the Leveson Inquiry is the arbiter of the ministerial code. Jeremy Hunt will be appearing before the inquiry under oath and has made clear he will be providing all necessary evidence for consideration. It does not make sense to cut across a judicial inquiry with a parallel process that would risk pre-empting, duplicating or contradicting it. Once Jeremy Hunt's evidence is made public and he is questioned, it there is anything that suggests there has been a breach of the code the prime minister would of course act.' So, all in all, it's not been a very good week for the vile and odious rascal Hunt.
Meanwhile, Tommy Watson (power to the people!), the Labour MP who, along with the Gruniad Morning Star helped uncover the full disgracefulness of the Scum of the World phone-hacking scandal, is to write to all other MPs asking whether they have ever been 'threatened or bullied' by News International. He is taking the action after Max Mosley, the former Formula One racing boss, announced that he would fund legal assistance for MPs to reveal potential blackmail and intimidation against them by Rupert Murdoch's newspaper group. Chris Bryant MP, who was also instrumental in exposing the scandal, claimed the intimidation of MPs was 'widespread' and that he intended to list all the threats he had received in his evidence to the Leveson inquiry. Watson said on Saturday: 'The Leveson inquiry needs specific examples of bullying and intimidation so I will be writing to all MPs this week to ask if they have ever been threatened. They can also maintain their anonymity.' Mosley, who won sixty thousand smackers damages from the Scum of the World in 2008 over false allegations he had taken part in an alleged 'Nazi' orgy (which he hadn't), said that he was bankrolling the action in an attempt to expose News International's 'hidden hold on British politics.' Mosley told the Independent that he believed 'at least ten MPs' might have evidence about News International's dealings with politicians. He said: 'Organisations like Hacked Off are trying to make sure that everything that should be put in front of Leveson will be – and that's particularly important where there have been a large number of cases where News International have set out to intimidate, even blackmail, members of parliament and other people in positions of authority. So as far as it's possible to do so, those facts have to be brought to Leveson and I'm trying to help in a modest way. I am making legal advice available.' MPs who are worried about disclosing embarrassing evidence could remain anonymous, Mosley said. Watson has said that attempts were made by News International to make him drop his investigations into the company. Bryant, said in a Commons debate last year that an associate of Rupert Murdoch had warned him that campaigning on hacking would 'not be forgotten.' Bryant said he intended to detail all the threats he had received from News International and News Corp when he gives his evidence to the Leveson inquiry. 'News Corp always worked a double pincer, offering fear and favour. Intimidation was relatively widespread but mostly aimed at people who were the most exposed such as those on the culture, media and sport committee.' Hopefully, this will include the claim made by Bryant during a BBC Panorama episode Breaking The Murdoch Spell. In this Bryant claimed that after he had asked one too many awkward questions about News International was, it is suggested, effectively 'targetted' by them. Bryant, who is of course openly gay, was thereafter the subject of some especially nasty attention for a couple of years in the middle of the last decade. (They weren't alone, it should be noted, the Scum Mail on Sunday joined in with the kicking on at least one occasion when Bryant was pictured posing in his underwear on an online site.) 'On one occasion at a Labour Party Conference,' Bryant suggested, 'Andrew Pierce who was at the time writing for The Times, took me into one party and there as I came in was Rebekah Brooks. She said to me "Oh, Mr Bryant, it's after dark. Shouldn't you be on Clapham Common?" At which point her then husband, Ross Kemp, said "shut up you homophobic cow!"' And, let's face it, it really does take something spectacularly wicked to make one feel all warm and fuzzy about Ross Kemp. Mosley told the Independent that he was 'aware' of two other cases in which News International had brought undue influence to bear on MPs. In 2011, News International executives instructed journalists to scrutinise the lives of the MPs of the culture, media and sport select committee. Private detectives were hired to tail Watson. Shortly after the appearance of the Murdochs before the select committee in July 2011, committee member and Conservative MP Louise Mensch said that she was e-mailed by a journalist calling himself 'David Jones' threatening to expose various past misdeeds including taking naughty drugs. The e-mail was copied to the Conservative chairman and the Conservative chief whip. Mensch then issued a statement to the media confessing to the some of the accusations and concluding: 'I have not the slightest intention of being deterred from asking how far the culture of hacking and blagging extended in Fleet Street.' The true identity of David Jones was never established but colleagues on the select committee say that Mensch has kept a significantly lower profile on the subject of News International and phone-hacking ever since.

Moving back to the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt has been urged by a Liberal Democrat MP to 'clear himself' by asking David Cameron to refer his handling of the News Corporation/BSkyB deal to the independent adviser for the ministerial code. Lorely Burt told BBC Radio 4's The World at One that the vile and odious rascal Hunt should not have been given responsibility for the BSkyB deal because, she believed, he was 'always in favour' of News Corp's controversial takeover. 'I certainly think that Jeremy Hunt should give his evidence before a decision is made, but I think Jeremy would do himself a lot of good if he asked David Cameron to actually refer him to the independent adviser for ministerial codes,' Burt said. 'I was firmly under the impression that he did support the BSkyB bid before he took over the job of making this quasi-judicial decision and I don't think Jeremy should have been put in that position. It's right that Jeremy should clear himself because I think it's unfortunate that any suggestion of probity is left.' Burt is the latest figure from the Conservatives' coalition government partners, along with Lord Oakeshott, the senior Lib Dem peer, and deputy leader Simon Hughes, to call for the prime minister to refer the affair to Sir Alex Allan, the independent adviser on the ministerial code. Who, let's remember, is paid thirty grand a year for exactly this sort of situation.

Of course, Cameron claimed that there was 'no grand deal' with the Murdochs in return for their newspapers supporting the Conservatives before the 2010 election. The prime minister told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show he did 'not change policies' to suit newspaper proprietors. And he said he did not believe that the vile and odious rascal Hunt broke rules over his office's dealings with News Corp during its bid to take over BSkyB. Labour claimed he was 'afraid of scrutiny' and was trying to 'brush this away.' The News International-owned Sun newspaper switched its support from Labour to the Conservatives in September 2009, months ahead of the 2010 general election. But Cameron claimed it was 'not true' to suggest he would help the Murdoch's business interests or allow the BSkyB takeover to go through, in return for their support for his party. 'It would be absolutely wrong for there to be any sort of deal and there wasn't. There was no grand deal,' he claimed. One or two people even believed him. He claimed there was 'no great mystery' about his contact with media chiefs as opposition leader because he had 'wanted the support' of as many as possible so he could 'take the country in a different direction.' He said he had disagreed with Rupert Murdoch on some issues, including the detention of terrorism suspects and a licence-fee funded BBC. 'The positions I reach are because I believe them, I think they're right for our country. That's the platform I stand on. I do not do things, change my policies to suit this proprietor or that proprietor.' Cameron has faced questions about whether he had discussed the BSkyB bid with James Murdoch at a Christmas party hosted by then News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks in 2010. He told the BBC the party came shortly after Business Secretary Vince Cable had been stripped of responsibility for ruling on the BSkyB bid, having been secretly recorded by a couple of Torygraph journalists saying he had 'declared war' on Rupert Murdoch. Cameron said: 'What I recall saying, although I can't remember every detail of the conversation, is saying something like: clearly that was unacceptable, it was embarrassing for the government, and to be clear from now on this whole issue would be dealt with impartially, properly, in the correct way, but obviously I had nothing to do with it, I rescued myself from it.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt has denied Labour claims that e-mails between Adam Smith and Frederic Michel show the firm had a 'back channel' of influence to his office. Labour wants the independent adviser on ministerial interests, Sir Alex Allan, to look into the matter, a call backed by Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes and Conservative backbencher Bernard Jenkin. But in his BBC interview Cameron said all the details would be 'laid bare' by the Leveson Inquiry. He said the e-mail contact had been 'too close' and 'wrong' and said he was 'ultimately responsible' for ensuring the ministerial code was upheld. As things stood, he said, he did 'not believe' the vile and odious rascal Hunt had broken it but said the issue had to be properly investigated. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls told Sky News that Cameron was afraid of scrutiny of his own dealings with News Corporation. 'I'm afraid the prime minister is trying to brush this away. He's trying to push it into Leveson, because he's afraid of scrutiny and he knows the allegation of side deals with News International is about Jeremy Hunt and the prime minister himself.' And, on that excellent news of the vile and odious rascal Hunt squirming in a desperate attempt to save his own skin, so to yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Friday 4 May
On 9 December 2011, in one of the single most despicably cowardly acts in the history of broadcasting in this country, in response to a suspiciously concerted and sick agenda-soaked campaign of whispers against anything even vaguely connected to Jeremy Clarkson by the Gruniad Morning Star, the BBC elected to cancel, at very short notice, a scheduled episode of BBC2's Qi. Allegedly - and this is according to the vile Communist hippie lice at the Gruniad Morning Star so, it should be treated with the total disdain it deserves - 'because of fears it would prompt another backlash from viewers.' Tragically, they didn't bother to tell the person responsible for putting the episodes up on iPlayer and, two days later, for a good six or seven hours, the XL edition of the episode could be viewed by anyone who wanted to watch it. Including this blogger. Which was nice. And, inevitably, as anybody with half-a-frigging-brain in their head could have predicted (and that, of course, inevitably, doesn't include anybody even vaguely connected to the Gruniad Morning Star), it was a very good episode. One featuring nothing in the least bit 'controversial' and with Jezza doing his usual job when he's on Qi of being a reasonably affable and vaguely amusing raconteur and 'sound bloke'. Dara O Briain, Ross Noble and Alan Davies were also on fine form. So, there you go. Like they always used to say about 'Relax' by Frankie Goes To Hollywood when the BBC refused to play it, 'they tried to ban it, they tried to burn it, but it keeps sticking out!' Tonight, the episode finally reaches the greater general public at 10:00 on BBC2. And about bastard time, an'all. Stephen Fry asks questions on the subject of idleness, and awards points for the most interesting answers. Still no news yet on when the extended XL edition is likely to be broadcast. Probably sometime later in the year on Dave, like as not.

Anyway, as you know, dear blog reader, Friday night is BBC comedy night, starting at 8:30 on BBC1 with Would I Like To You? Team captain David Mitchell is joined by comedian Rhod Gilbert and actress Sally Phillips, while his counterpart Lee Mack welcomes TV presenters Des O'Connor and Tess Daly. Host Rob Brydon oversees proceedings as the contestants try to hoodwink their opponents with absurd facts and plausible lies about themselves on the comedy panel show. Ah, Des. Indefatigable crooner with his 'Careless Hands', butt of a thousand Eric Morecambe jokes, chat-show host and borderline national treasure. Who knew that he was daft enough to have eaten cat food by accident? Or is he? Maybe his long (and very peculiar) story about how he dined on this strange dish in a holiday villa is all utter nonsense made up by a clever comedy writer to sound plausible with the right sort of delivery. Des, looking as bronzed as Gene Hunt's Cortina, is a game contestant on Lee Mack’s team, and quickly gets into the spirit of the show after a giggly start. Meanwhile, on David Mitchell’s team, Rhod Gilbert regales us with an account of the acute trauma he suffered at an airport. And comic actress Sally Phillips (remember her from Smack the Pony?) apparently plays a texting-game with her husband while he's at the swimming baths. Worse, she once rode her uncle's mobility scooter. With disastrous consequences. Possibly. It’s a great show, and what Friday nights are for. Staying in.

Yer man Clarkson is on TV again tonight as he's in the host's chair once again for the night's episode of Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1. A job he's done several times in the past and is usually very amusing at. And, there's always a gleeful prospect for anyone who enjoys watching him being needled by yer actual Ian Hislop. Remember the time, for instance, when Clarkson threw his pen at Hislop, who'd just had the temerity to cast doubt on Jezza's authorship of his own newspaper columns, and drew blood? Ian said the most embarrassing thing about it was that he was only the second person Jezza had ever blooded in his life. And, the first was Piers Morgan when Jezza stuck one on him. 'That's not the sort of company you want to be in!' he noted. Their exchanges should be even more spicy, considering Private Eye's pursuit of Jezza after he imposed a superinjunction on his ex-wife (a legal stricture Clarkson himself broke late last year). Surely everyone will have some sport with guest Nancy Dell'Olio, a woman who has turned preening self-obsession into a profession. Obviously, it'll depend what sort of a news week it's been, and the episode can't possibly be as good as the previous weeks ten minute assassination of the Murdochs and the vile and odious rascal Hunt. But, Have I Got News For You remains the most effortlessly funny satire on British TV, even on a slow news week.

A repeat, but a very worthy one, is Peter Green: Man of the World - BBC4 10:00. This sympathetic and very well made film by Steve Graham tells the story of the blues guitarist and singer, who found fame in the late 1960s as leader of Fleetwood Mac. You know, when they were good. Legendary blues guitarist BB King once named Peter Green as one of the greatest exponents of the blues, and the 'only guitar player to make me sweat.' If Green had only written 'Black Magic Woman', 'Albatross' and 'Oh Well', his name would still have a place in blues rock history forever. His three short years leading - what was then known as - Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac saw the band established as one of the biggest-selling groups of the 1960s. Yet at the height of their fame Green left the group, with his life spiralling into turmoil as drug-induced mental health issues took control. Rumours of his demise began to spread, and sightings of him became notorious. Featuring archive footage and interviews with a variety of noted fans, including Noel Gallagher, and Carlos Santana, Green's former band mates and the musician himself now, happily, in the last few years emerged from his exile and playing again, to great acclaim.

Saturday 5 May
With yer actual Sir Tom Jones and having both said goodbye to one of their acts last week, it's now the turn of Team Jessie and Team Danny to step into the spotlight, with viewers voting to decide who stays in the competition in The Voice - BBC1 7:10. And, of course, who goes. Becky Hill, Cassius Henry, Ruth-Ann St Luce, Toni Warne and Vince Kidd are singing for Jessie J, while Aleks Josh, Bo Bruce, David Julien, Hannah Berney and Max Milner represent Danny O'Donoghue. But which two will be leaving tomorrow night? Presented by Holly Willoughby and Reggie Yates. The results can be seen tomorrow at 7.15pm.

Carrie Fisher continues the nostalgic look back at 1970s kitsch culture, focusing on 1977, when she starred in SF blockbuster Star Wars in the latest repeat of I ♥ The 70s - BBC2 9:30. It was also the year that John Travolta strutted his stuff to all those Bee Gees classics in Saturday Night Fever, parents cringed as children sizzled their taste buds with Space Dust and skateboards gave light-sabres a run for their money in toy departments. Oh, and keep yer mincers peeled, dear blog reader, for a young TV reviewer talking about The Professionals and wearing a particularly nasty green shirt. One for which yer actual Keith Telly Topping wholeheartedly apologises to all able-sighted viewers. Horrorshow. Hell, what can I say? It was the 1990s, times were different back then. And green shirts were really 'in' that summer. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

In the first of tonight's two episodes of The Bridge - BBC4 9:00 - the murderer launches a twisted plan to highlight cutbacks in mental health care - by dispatching schizophrenic people to commit synchronised violent crimes in Malmo and Copenhagen. Saga and Martin hope a teenage runaway could prove to be the witness who gives them a vital break in the case. Then, once that's all done and dust, Copenhagen is up in arms following a court case in which a group of police officers who beat an immigrant to death are found innocent. One of the accused officers is kidnapped from his home and is found by the dead immigrant's brother, chained up in his basement. Will he forgive or take revenge on his brother's killer? Here, the murderer wants to draw attention to the fourth truth, namely the failure of the state's integration policy. For the first time Saga and the killer are in contact with each other. Scandinavian crime drama, in Danish and Swedish, starring Sofia Helin, Kim Bodnia, Ellen Hillingso, Emil Birk Hartmann, Christian Hillborg, Dag Malmberg and the fantastically named Fanny Ketter. stop sniggering it that back, it's the lasses name, she can't help it.

Today sees the FA Cup Final between Moscow Chelski FC v Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws. The kick-off is at 5.15 and, if it should happen to go to extra time and penalties then boy, oh boy, is that going to royally screw up ITV's carefully laid plans for starting Britain's Got Talent at 8:45 just after The Voice has finished. So, here's hoping that happens, then. Wembley Stadium is the setting for the one hundred and thirty first staging of what was once the single most important day of the footballing calender but is, sadly, now just another Saturday - as the Blues lock horns with the Reds. Moscow Chelski go into this clash as the slight favourites, having lifted this trophy in three of the last five seasons and thrashed local rivals Happy Harry's Hapless Hotshots 5-1 in their semi-final. However, sour-faced drag Kenny Dalglish's men enjoyed a hard-fought victory over neighbours Everton in the last four and have defeated the Londoners twice at Stamford Bridge this term, winning 2-1 in the Premier League in November and then prevailing 2-0 later that month in the League Cup. Presented by grumpy, greedy Breakfast TV flop Adrian Chiles, with commentary by Clive Tyldesley and Andy 'You! Know! Nothing!' Townsend, and analysis by scary Roy Keane, nowhere-near-as-funny-as-he-thinks-he-is Gordon Strachan and dull-as-dishwater Gareth Southgate. Subsequent programmes subject to change. And, almost certainly will. Much to the chagrin of Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads.

Sunday 6 May
Planet Earth: Live - 7:50 BBC1 - is, as you'll know if you were watching the presenters on The ONE Show earlier in the week, dear blog reader, something really rather ambitious. Richard Hammond and Julia Bradbury host this three-week event following the real-time stories of young animals as they try to survive through the most challenging and critical moments of their lives. Richard begins with reports on the lions and elephants in Kenya, while in North America, Julia is based in Minnesota and watches bears, whales and otters. There are also updates on the fates of other animals around the globe, including meerkats and monkeys. Experts and cameramen/women from the award-winning BBC Natural History Unit combine the spectacular cinematography of Frozen Planet with the live techniques of Big Cat Live and Springwatch to follow real-life animal dramas from around the globe throughout May - a critical time for many of the Earth's young animals.
From baby elephants in Kenya, black bears in Minnesota, macaque monkeys in Sri Lanka, grey whales in the Pacific to the lions of the Masaai Mara, the lives of many wild youngsters hang in the balance. Expect the unexpected as nature writes the script. If the trailer is anything to go by, it'll be stunning. Continues Wednesday.

Harry is called to Budapest by Hungarian human rights lawyer Anna Sandor to perform a second post-mortem on the body of a drowned prostitute in the first episode of the latest two-part Silent Witness, Bloodlines - BBC1 - 9:00. He begins to help his lover investigate the suspicious death, but finds himself implicated in her murder when she is killed in her bed. The pathologist calls on Leo for help as he is forced to retreat underground while continuing to work on the case. Continues tomorrow.

Brody makes his final preparations to die for his country, claiming the vice-president is a domestic threat to the US in the dramatic final episode of the first series of Homeland - Channel Four 9:00. As he does so, his fugitive fellow marine Walker is setting up his rifle across the road from where the policy summit is taking place. Carrie is confined to bed after her betrayal and sacking - but when she finally realises what is happening, she convinces Virgil to drive her to the scene, hoping she won't be too late. Feature-length conclusion of the thriller, starring Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin, Mandy Patinkin and David Harewood. Worry not, dear blog reader, it will be back later in the year in the US and, probably, early in 2013 over here.

McGarrett's sister (played by wet as a slap in the mush with a haddock Taryn Manning) is arrested for smuggling blood diamonds worth $20million in the latest episode of Hawaii Five-0, Kalele - Sky One 9:00. This, obviously, prompts big-rock-hard Steve (Alex O’Loughlin) to get a massive chimney on and to seek help in the setting up of a sting operation from an ex-con, who served thirty years in prison for a similar offence. Guest starring the great Ed Asner, who reprises a role he played in the original series back in 1975.

Monday 7 May
Mark Evans and Anita Rani explore the public's changing attitudes toward urban foxes, and the creatures' interaction with household pets in Foxes Live: Wild in the City - Channel Four 8:00. Mark investigates the case of a chihuahua that required stitches after being attacked, and a pet shop owner who became so fond of one fox, he decided to give it a home, complete with TV, sofa, bed and bathroom.

Meanwhile, speaking of wildlife cropping up in the most unexpected of places, Wor Robson Green heads to Texas, where he hopes to catch alligator gar - the second biggest freshwater fish in North America in Robson's Extreme Fishing Challenge - Channel Five 9:00. Later, he travels to the Gulf of Mexico to try to net a higher value of shrimp than the locals, before taking to the beach on the lookout for sharks. Robson ends his Texan journey by competing against an ex-US Navy rescue diver who has become a local fishing legend.

From one cheeky chappie doon Th' Bigg Market, to two more. Ant and Dec host the second of the live semi-finals of Britain's Got Talent - ITV 7:30 - in which another nine acts compete to impress the judges and secure the all-important viewers' vote in a bid to win one of the two places in Saturday's final. Tonight's winners will find themselves one step closer to an appearance at The Royal Variety Performance and a cash prize of five hundred thousand knicker.
Tonight sees the final episode of the excellent The King & the Playwright: A Jacobean History - BBC4 9:00. James Shapiro - with his relaxed, easy, engaging presentation style, compares the legacies of William Shakespeare and James I, and examines how the playwright continued to experiment and react to the troubled Jacobean world around him in his later plays, such as The Winter's Tale and one of his final - and greatest - works, The Tempest. This has been a real corker and a jewel in the crown of the Beeb's loosely-connected Shakespeare season.

Tuesday 8 May
New consultant Serena Campbell arrives on Keller and Malick's predictions come true when she ends up clashing with Ric in Holby City - BBC1 8:00. Tara becomes the target of Jac's anger when she interferes in her treatment of a difficult patient, and Eddi tries to project a nonchalant air following her kiss with Luc, but her efforts to appear laid-back place her at risk of seeming unprofessional.

Reports of a shooting at a retired military captain's home lead to the discovery of unusual shell cases but no body, suggesting the victim was cut apart by bullets to make it easier to dispose of the remains in a terrific episode of CSI (Zippered) - Channel Five 9:00. The officers learn a 'super gun' was used in the murder and when another similar incident is reported, they come face-to-face with an arms dealer selling one hundred and forty four of the weapons that were stolen from Pakistan. Crime drama, starring Ted Danson and Marg Helgenberger. With guest appearances from Annabeth Gish (The X-Files and The West Wing) and Titus Welliver (Lost's The Man in Black).
First Adam Curtis, in All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, demolished the long-held idea of the 'ecosystem.' Now it's Unnatural Histories' turn to poke holes in the theory that the Amazon has been 'destroyed' by Western diseases - BBC4 9:00. One by-product of Amazonian deforestation has been the chance it has given archaeologists to see evidence of sophisticated habitation going back thousands of years. Meanwhile, the discovery of fertile 'black earth' throughout a region where most soil is very poor also points to centuries of well-managed agricultural systems. Evidence of ancient man-made structures, including entire cities, hidden for centuries deep in what was previously believed to be untouched rain forest, could change perceptions of the region as a natural wilderness. Archaeologists are also discovering highly fertile soils that suggest sophisticated agriculture was present in much of the Amazon basin. Narrated by Deborah MacLaren. Last in the current series.

More Sex Please, We're British - Channel Four 10:00 - is a documentary shedding light on Britain's thriving sex-toy industry. One which is estimated to be worth in excess of two hundred and fifty million smackers. Oh, hang on, a minute. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self ought, really, to rephrase that. Two hundred and fifty million quid. 'Smackers' is probably a somewhat wholly inappropriate word to use in a sentence about sex toys, I'd've thought. Anyway, where we we? Oh yes. The film goes behind the scenes at Lovehoney, one of the nation's leading 'online erotic retailers', to discover how founders Neal Slateford and Richard Longhurst set up a seventy-strong team to provide people around the UK with everything they never knew they wanted for sex - from sexy lingerie to adult toys and literature and games - but were afraid to ask for.

Wednesday 9 May
Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan explores the challenges which sportspersons face once their careers are over in Sporting Heroes: After the Final Whistle - BBC1 10:45. He meets 1980s boxing champion Herol Graham, who struggled to cope and contemplated suicide, and ex-footballer Tony Adams who compares football to a drug which he cannot give up. Featuring contributions from tennis player John McEnroe, Open golf winner Darren Clarke, retired Olympic badminton player Gail Emms, one-time rugby union prop Matt Hampson and former world heavyweight champion and successful businessman George Foreman.

Edward VIII: The Plot to Topple a King - Channel Four 9:00 - is an exploration of former archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Gordon Lang's bid to remove the monarch on the grounds that his love for the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson 'made a mockery of the Crown.' Lang worked with Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times, and other establishment figures to bring pressure on the prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, to force an abdication, but his public criticism of Edward eventually backfired and his efforts to make the country a more religious place were unsuccessful. Documentary featuring dramatic reconstructions with one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, David Calder.

In the latest of BBC4's acclaimed Parkinson compilations - 11:00 - the chat show host recalls memorable moments from his encounters with Peter Cook, one of the most acclaimed British humorists of the Twentieth Century and, quite frankly in the opinion of yer actual Keith Telly Topping, the funniest man this country has, quite possibly, ever produced. A man who, in the week that he was named as 'Britian's Greatest Living Englishman' by Loaded magazine, had the perfect comedy timing, and genius, to die. Includes contributions from Cook's long-time comedy partner Dudley Moore.
The team investigates the murder of a popular hairdresser in a new episode of the excellent Bones, The Don't In The Do - Sky Atlantic 9:00. Lab intern Vaziri makes a breakthrough with the blue hair dye found on the body, providing the detectives with enough evidence to raid the salon where the victim worked. There, they uncover a secret drug problem and that learn jealousy is a possible motive. Meanwhile, Booth struggles to understand Brennan's complex post-natal emotions. With Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Tom Thyne, Michaela Conlin, Tamara Taylor and John Francis Daley.

Thursday 10 May
Phil Spencer: Secret Agent - Channel Four 8:00 - is a new series in which the Location, Location, Location presenter escapes from the withering glower of his usual oppo, Kirstie, for a few weeks and travels across the country. To escape. From Bromley to Birmingham, and Shropshire to south Manchester, he embarks on a mission to help get Britain's property market moving again, seeking potential buyers for the hardest-to-sell homes. Well, at least, that's what he says he's up to.

World's Scariest Weather - Channel Four 8:00 - looks at some of the most violent and dangerous weather ever caught on camera, from heavy storms to flash floods and world-shaking events. Footage shows someone being lifted into the air by a tornado that is causing devastation in America, and a heatwave leads to terrifying wildfires in Russia. A mother with three kids in the back of her car is plunged into darkness as a dust storm hits Phoenix, Arizona, and a British teacher watches as the tsunami of March 2011 washes away his home in northern Japan.

The Two Thousand Year Old Computer - BBC4 9:00 - follows the efforts of a team of international scientists to solve the mysteries of the Antikythera Mechanism. The two thousand-year-old device was recovered from a Roman shipwreck off the southern coast of Greece in 1901, and is believed to be the world's oldest computer. The object appears to be designed to predict solar eclipses, and according to recent findings, calculate the timing of the ancient Olympics.

If you can't find anything else to your tastes on TV tonight then you could do a hell of a lot worst than Qi XL - Dave 9:00. It's a particularly memorable episode, the 2099 Christmas special featuring David Tennant, Bill Bailey and Lee Mack. They join regular panellist Alan Davies to answer questions with a groovy theme, with points awarded for the answers host Stephen Fry finds most interesting. Do not miss, under any circumstances, the discussion about 'Big Graeme Osmond', the half-crazed brother whom the rest of the Osmonds keep locked in the attic till he writes another song like 'Crazy Horses'! Possibly the funniest five minutes of television in the last decade.
Friday 11 May
And so we return to BBC1 comedy Friday with the usual trio - Would I Like To You (8:30), Have I Got News For You (9:00) and Not Going Out (9:30). Quality entertainment, dear blog reader. Tonight also sees the final of the latest series of Mastermind - 7:30 BBC2.

And so to the news: Cheryl Cole has denied reports that she finds Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads "creepy". Odious, wretched, horrible, mean-spirited, nasty, full-of-his-own-importance, narcissistic to the point of nausea and the sort of person who would bottle your piss and sell it if he thought he'd get a good price, perhaps.
But, definitely not creepy.

EastEnders has won the top prize at the British Soap Awards after being named best British soap. The BBC1 show claimed seven awards in total at the single most pointless awards ceremony in the history of such things, the same number as ITV rival Coronation Street. Emmerdale took three prizes including 'most spectacular scene of the year.' Alison King, Coronation Street's Carla Connor, took the best actress award for playing a factory owner raped by her fiance. She said: 'It's been hard.' we're sure it has. 'It's been really emotional, I got a lot of letters from people who could relate to the story.' Katherine Kelly, who played Becky McDonald in Coronation Street, took the award for best exit. Her departure for Barbados was also named best single episode. For the second year in a row, best actor went to Emmerdale's Danny Miller, who plays Aaron Livesy.

The Ministry of Defence is considering placing surface-to-air missiles on residential flats during the Olympics. An East London estate, where seven hundred people live, has received leaflets saying a 'Higher Velocity Missile system' could be placed on a water tower. A spokesman claimed that the MoD had not yet decided whether to deploy ground based air defence systems during the event. But, estate resident Brian Whelan said that firing the missiles 'would shower debris across the east end of London.' Caused six pounds twenty seven pee's worth of damage. He said: 'At first I thought it was a hoax. I can't see what purpose high-velocity missiles could serve over a crowded area like Tower Hamlets. They say they'll only use them as a last resort, but ... you'd shower debris across the east end of London by firing these missiles.' Whelan, who claims to have 'seen soldiers carrying a crate into the building', added that his property management company put up posters and gave out the leaflets on Saturday. He continued: 'They are going to have a test run next week, putting high velocity missiles on the roof just above our apartment and on the back of it they're stationing police and military in the tower of the building for two months. [The leaflet] says there will be ten officers plus police present twenty four/seven.' Which will, presumably, mean that you'll be living in the safest street in Britain, mate. So, you know, up side and all that. Which, frankly, living in gaff like Tower Hamlets, you'd've thought he'd be glad of. The leaflet states that members of the Armed Forces will be at the location for a military exercise between 2 and 7 May. It goes on to say there will be a 'major national exercise' from 2 to 10 May to test the Armed Forces' capabilities for providing security during the Olympics. The document adds that if the government decides to use the missiles during the Games, the soldiers could be 'operationally deployed for a period of up to two months this summer.' The weapon being considered is a High Velocity Missile system, which would be based on the Lexington Building Water Tower. The tower contains residential flats. The MoD says in the leaflet that the missiles will not pose a hazard to residents and 'will only be authorised for active use following specific orders from the highest levels of government in response to a confirmed and extreme security threat.' The document states: 'Having a twenty four/seven Armed Forces and police presence will improve your local security and will not make you a target for terrorists.' It forgets to add, 'we hope.' 'The location has been chosen as it is situated close to the Olympic Park and offers an excellent view of the surrounding area and the entire sky above the Olympic Park. The top of the tower also offers a flat, uncluttered and safe area from which to operate.' The Army website claims that the HVM system is 'designed to counter threats from very high performance, low-flying aircraft.' It says the missile travels at more than 'three times the speed of sound', using 'a system of three dart-like projectiles to allow multiple hits on the target.' The missiles can be fired from the shoulder, from a lightweight multiple launcher or from armoured vehicles. A MoD spokesman said: 'As announced before Christmas, ground-based air defence systems [or, you know, missiles!]could be deployed as part of a multi-layered air security plan for the Olympics, including fast jets and helicopters, which will protect the skies over London during the Games. Based on military advice we have identified a number of sites and, alongside colleagues from the Metropolitan Police, are talking to local authorities and relevant landowners to help minimise the impact of any temporary deployments. As part of our ongoing planning, we can confirm site evaluations have taken place.' The MoD has previously said it was considering plans to install surface-to-air missiles in south-east London at Blackheath and Shooters Hill during the Olympics.

Despite a very unseemly bit of crass crowing on Twitter - inaccurate as it turned out - Piers Morgan's Life Stories couldn't quite overtake Have I Got News For You on Friday's overnight ratings and was beaten for the third time in three weeks. Albeit only just this time. The CNN anchor and odious twat-faced horrorshow (and drag)'s interview with Carol Vorderman was watched by 4.43m sad, crushed victims of society on ITV in the 9pm hour with a further two hundred thousand on +1. Have I Got News For You, meanwhile, averaged 4.67m for BBC1 between 9pm and 9.30pm, a drop of over six hundred thousand viewers week-on-week but still more than the odious, wretched, vile, oily lump of slime Morgan could manage. Which is always nice. Lee Mack's Not Going Out maintained a respectable 4.06m figure at 9.30pm, then The Graham Norton Show entertained 3.3m from 10.35pm. Earlier, Would I Lie To You? had an audience of 3.15m at 8.30pm, while ITV's 8pm filler Poms and Paradise picked up just 2.94m. Channel Four's new 'spring comedy' night made a slow start: Eight Out Of Ten Cats kicked off its new series with 1.11m at 9pm (and a further two hundred thousand on +1), after which 1.05m watched the new sketch show Very Important People at 9.30pm. How many of them will still be watching the second, we'll let you know next week. Anchoring the 10pm slot, Alan Carr: Chatty Man attracted a healthy 1.65m and two hundred and twenty three thousand more punters on timeshift, the network's highest audience of the night, by a distance. BBC2 fared much better overall, with the Mastermind (1.84m) and Gardeners' World (1.98m) combination coming up trumps in the 8pm hour. The excellent John Le Mesurier documentary It's All Been Rather Lovely was seen by 2.2m at 9pm, before the first new episode of Qi since Christmas was watched by 2.46m at 10pm. On Saturday night, after three weeks of coming second, Britian's Got Talent finally climbed back to the top of the overnight ratings jungle with 9.67m viewers for their latest episode. The peak audience was 10.7m.. The Voice's overnight audience was 9.33m, with a peak audience of 10.3m. So, as we said last week, they're both continuing to do well. Elsewhere ITV had something of a genuine horrorshow of a night, with Keith Lemon's Lemonaid continuing to flop bigger than a big flopping thing with an audience of just 2.39m (and, being beaten in the slot by BBC1's repeat of a two year old My Family episode!) You've Been Framed! (2.67m) and The Cube (2.71m) both lost also their slots. On BBC1 The National Lottery: In It To Win It (4.57m) and Casualty (4.57m) both performed up to their usual standards. Overall BBC1 easily won primetime with 28.5 per cent of the audience share. ITV had 19.5 per cent. The Bridge continued to do well on BBC4 with seven hundred and eighty seven thousand and six hundred and eighty three thousand viewers for Saturday night's two episodes, respectively.

A woman in Poland is facing a lengthy stretch in pokey after she surgically removed all thirty two of her ex-boyfriend's teeth. Dentist Anna Mackowiak had been recently dumped by Marek Olszewski, who then made a - perhaps, some would argue, somewhat unwise - appointment with her to get a toothache investigated. Personally, I might've changed my dentist in such circumstances. NDTV reports that Mackowiak allegedly gave Olszewski an anaesthetic, then surgically removed all of his teeth. She then wrapped his head in bandages, so that he wouldn't immediately notice the difference. 'I tried to be professional and detach myself from my emotions,' Mackowiak allegedly told reporters. 'But when I saw him lying there I just thought, "What a bastard."' Olszewski said that he could tell something was wrong when he awoke, but Mackowiak assured him that he couldn't feel his teeth because of the anaesthetic. He said: 'I didn't have any reason to doubt her.' Well, apart from your lack of teeth, obviously. 'I thought she was a professional. But when I got home I looked in the mirror and I couldn't fucking believe it. The bitch had emptied my mouth.' Mackowiak is under investigation for medical malpractice and abusing the trust of a patient, for which she could face three years in jail.

Here's today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader. A proper outrageous dub-reggae corker from yer actual Lee Scrath Perry, the Upsetter his very self. Eyrie, eyrie. Murda.