Sunday, January 20, 2013

Week Five: Zap! Bam! Pow!

The producer for Doctor Who's fiftieth Anniversary celebratory biopic drama An Adventure in Space and Time has been revealed to be Matt Strevens. Initially a script editor for EastEnders and The Bill, Matt became producer for the latter show until 2009, before turning his hand to the shows Raw, Skins and, most recently, he was the producer of the science fiction comedy drama Misfits. Speaking on Twitter, Strevens also confirmed that the production, written by Mark Gatiss and to be based at the Wimbledon Studios in London, is expected to commence filming from the beginning of February. It is scheduled to be shown sometime around November 2013.

Bernard Cribbins, who provided the voices of 1970s TV favourites The Wombles, has said modern children's TV has become 'too fast and noisy.' Bernard, clearly in need a nice hot cup of milky cocoa before bed time, said that some shows now 'neglect traditional storytelling' for the sake of 'gratuitous' use of CGI graphics. The eighty four-year-old, who was a fixture on Jackanory from the 1960s to the 1990s, said: 'You can't help but notice how children's TV has changed.' Yes mate. It's called 'progress.' The world runs on it. Cribbins is returning to the genre in the new Cbeebies show Old Jack's Boat. He said the series, which starts on Monday, has 'a very nice balance' between traditional storytelling and animation. But of other children's programmes, he said: 'It's all very fast and noisy now I think. You think of the gentleness of Jackanory, somebody would walk onto the set, sit down and say 'hello I'm going to tell you about Ratty and Mole and The Wind in the Willows and off you went. Nice and gentle, and the only thing you saw, apart from the guy or lady talking to you, was a few captions and illustrations, which were stills. That was how it used to be. Pure, simple storytelling. Now there seems to be - sometimes, not always - a tendency to use every single opportunity to put in CGI and animation and a lot of it is, I think, gratuitous when the story is actually doing the work for you. I think we've got a very nice balance with Old Jack's Boat of story and little bits and pieces [of animation] as well.' Old Jack's Boat was co-written by former Doctor Who showrunner Russell Davies and features Freema Agyeman. Cribbins is also known for playing Wilfred Mott in Doctor Who as well as for roles in Coronation Street, Last Of The Summer Wine and Worzel Gummidge. He holds the record for the most Jackanory appearances - one hundred and eleven in total - and played station porter Albert Perks in classic 1970 film The Railway Children.
CBeebies has apologised after a character from the children's TV programme The Tweenies appeared dressed as disgraced TV presenter and (alleged) sick paedophile Jimmy Savile. The episode, which was filmed in 2001, was shown on the BBC recently. In the scene, the character Max appeared in a blond wig, wearing Savile's trademark tracksuits and using his accent and catchphrases. Police claim that the DJ and presenter Savile sexually abused hundreds of people during sixty years in entertainment. The BBC said: 'This morning CBeebies broadcast a repeat of an episode of The Tweenies, originally made in 2001, featuring a character impersonating Jimmy Savile. This programme will not be repeated and we are very sorry for any offence caused.' Offence caused to whom, exactly, they didn't speculate since one imagines the vast majority of The Tweenies audience will have had absolutely no idea to whom the parody was referring. The episode, featured the character Max presenting a Top Of The Pops-style programme. He was wearing a wig and used Savile's familiar catchphrase: 'Now then, now then.' As it happens. The Tweenies, which was a co-production between Tell-Tale Productions and the BBC was cancelled in 2003 (not, necessarily, for anything related to Jimmy Savile, although it might have been) but episodes have been repeated regularly since then.

Celebrity Big Brother recorded its best audience since launching over a fortnight ago on Friday night. Which is tragic in and of itself but, never mind, I just report the news. Some 2.4m desperate sad crushed victims of society seemingly had nothing more fulfilling or worthwhile to do with their lives than watch the banal Channel Five reality show's eviction special in the 9pm hour as ex-EastEnders actress Gillian Taylforth left the house. Celebrity Big Brother's fortunes contrast favourably with the previous week's live eviction show, which lost out to Channel Four's popular one-off documentary Sixteen Kids and Counting. However, American Idol followed at 10pm with just six hundred and ninety six thousand, while Four's new Paddy McGuinness vehicle Paddy's TV Guide achieved a higher 1.3m. Not that this was any cause for celebration either, since the bloke is, without question, a oafish buffoon who shouldn't be allowed within a million miles of a TV studio such is his lack of any obvious talent. The popular panel show Eight Out Of Ten Cats, extended to an hour, was watched by 1.84m versus Big Brother at 9pm. BBC1's Silent Witness won the slot with 5.87m, easily outperforming ITV's dreadful alleged 'comedy' Great Night Out which had a piss-poor audience of but 2.95m. Elsewhere, Mastermind (2.09m) and a repeat of Qi (1.54m) pulled in strong ratings for BBC2. Meanwhile, Room 101 (3.99m) and The Graham Norton Show (4.03m) performed well for BBC1. Overall, BBC1 led primetime with 23.4 per cent of the audience share against ITV's 19.7 per cent.

A Winterwatch special gave BBC2 an unusually high Saturday evening audience. The Big Freeze, a rebroadcast of an old BBC film on the harsh winter of 1962-63, pulled in three million punters at 5.30pm, including yer actual Keith Telly Topping. It was very good. Richard Hammond's appallingly dreadful hidden camera show Secret Service continued to struggle with just 2.14m punter for BBC1 at the same time. Which, actually, is a minor cause for celebration from those of us who are sickened by television's inane obsession with the hidden camera format which was last funny, briefly, in about 1963, actually. With Dad's Army following with 2.61m, it is a rare feat for a BBC2 show to beat a BBC1 programme on a Saturday evening. You've Been Framed won the early evening slot with 4.28m for ITV. The last heat of Z-List Celebrity Drowning then attracted 5.24m to ITV from 7pm. The show's star Tom Daley promptly took to Twitter to crow: 'Great ratings for Splash! again this week! The semi-final is gonna be fuuuuuuun!' I think you used a few too many 'u's in the word fun there, Thomas. Maybe you should have stuck in a bit more at school instead of all this diving malarkey. BBC1 rival Britain's Brightest, hosted by Claire Balding, took 4.59m, despite having a fifteen-minute head start on the diving reality show. Although, to be fair, it wasn't helped by inheriting a risibly small audience from Secret Service and, actually, during the time that it and Z-List Celebrity Drowning were up against each other, the numbers for the two shows were, virtually, neck-and-neck. However, Dale Winton's eleven-year-old Lottery game show In It To Win It, broadcast from 8pm, topped the night with 5.43m and beat Z-List Celebrity Drowning when the pair clashed for half an hour. Meanwhile, Casualty exactly matched Z-List Celebrity Drowning's audience and share in its 8.50pm-9.40pm slot, after which 4.18m watched a Mrs Brown's Boys repeat. Around the same time, odious horrorshow (and drag) Take Me Out had a bafflingly decent audience of 4.44m for ITV. The Jonathan Ross Show drew the night to a close with 2.82m. Elsewhere, The Simpsons Movie was Channel Four's best-rated primetime broadcast with 1.25m, while Celebrity Big Brother topped Five's night with 1.57m. Overall, BBC1 maintained pole position with twenty one per cent of the audience share, ahead of ITV's 17.8 per cent.

Check out, meanwhile, the Gruniad Morning Star's excellent named Stuart Heritage's savage assessment of the current state of Saturday night TV here. I quote: 'Tomorrow, between the hours of 5:30pm and 8:30pm, all of television will become a wasteland. A terrifying post-apocalyptic wasteland with a total absence of light or happiness, like The Book of Eli or the modern British high street. And you can't escape. It's the middle of January. It's too cold to go outside, and Christmas has left you too poor to do anything else. You'll just have to sit there and take it. We all will. The best we can do is brace ourselves for the tidal wave of misery that is doomed to engulf us all. The main offender, of course, is ITV's Splash! – the celebrity diving show that has an exclamation mark where a giant sad-face emoticon should be. You already know everything that's wrong with Splash!, from its dated staging, to its one arbitrarily grumpy judge, to the way that every single sob story is essentially: "I don't really like the idea of jumping off things into stuff very much." When Splash! dies, nobody will mourn. And yet the biggest tragedy of all is that it's still probably the best show of the evening. Before Splash! comes You've Been Framed. Worse, an hour-long special edition of You've Been Framed about wedding mishaps. Sixty minutes of people falling into cakes, accompanied by 'The Fallen' by Franz Ferdinand on a loop and Harry Hill making laboured celebrity lookalike jokes with all the enthusiasm of a man with a gun to his head. Over on BBC1, things are even more harrowing. The channel's carnival of cack starts with Animal Antics, a dismal tundra of a show where one of The Goodies introduces decade-old animal clips as part of a zero-budget fake news bulletin alongside a man who has been dressed up as a dog, presumably as part of a cruel and unusual community service order. It is abysmal. After that, there's Richard Hammond mugging his way through a joyless hidden camera show and Britain's Brightest, an impenetrable game show that appears to exist exclusively to prove that Clare Balding isn't a national treasure after all. And don't think you can hide anywhere else, either. BBC2 is showing Dad's Army and snooker. Channel Four is showing Celebrity Come Dine With Me and that Simpsons Movie that you've seen twenty times before. Channel Five is showing ... oh, it doesn't matter what Channel Five is showing. You don't hate yourself that much. My point is that the entire evening, across all major channels, has no redeeming features whatever. By the time Take Me Out rolls around at 8:30pm, you'll fall upon it weeping and relieved. And that's Take Me Out, for crying out loud. At least we can console ourselves with the knowledge that this is as bad as it can ever get. It has to be. Saturday evening television has been bad before, back in the days of Hole in the Wall and Don't Scare the Hare. But at least those programmes were actively bad. To some extent, they revelled in their own stupidity. Tomorrow night's television is little more than the half-hearted shrug of the hopeless. We can't go on like this. There's only one thing for it – someone needs to recommission Total Wipeout, and fast.' The lad's got a point it has to be said.

Anyway, here's your actual next batch of Top Telly Tips:-

Friday 25 January
'I think they're both a bit uptight,' opines Paloma Faith as Deborah Meaden and Jason Manford air their grumbles on the latest episode of Room 101 - 8:30 BBC1. Has nobody told this ridiculous fraction of a woman (with her collection of Jubilee sick bags, no less) that 'being uptight' is a pre-requisite for this show? Here, uptightness is as essential as a plausible way with an anecdote on Would I Lie to You? or a skimpy swimsuit and a sob story on Z-List Celebrity Drowning. The fact that Meaden and Manford quake with fury when people at checkout queues don’t have their money ready to pay (something of a bug-bear for yer actual Keith Telly Topping too, as it happens) might be worrying in some quarters, but here it's the stuff of comedy. And Faith, it appears, has her own hang-ups: she hates 'Ugg boots' so much that she fires anyone who comes to work in them. Right. So, probably best not to wear them if you work for Paloma Faith, then. Or, maybe, just better not to work for Paloma Faith full stop. Their gripes also include people who use the phrase 'all due respect' (when they're, invariably, about to say something incredibly disrespectful), smart-casual dress, jobsworths, people in lifts and Fifty Shades of Grey.

There were many triumphs of the sporting summer but one of the less trumpeted was Channel Four's late-night Paralympic chat show The Last Leg which returned for a new series tonight - 9:30 Channel Four. Free-wheeling and sparky, it felt like a new, relaxed angle on the comedy 'gang show,' with Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker backing up suave and very funny Australian host, the excellent Adam Hills. Their reward is a series of non-Paralympic, Friday-night slots in which to 'celebrate all that is best about Britain.' And of course they’ll still be asking their fateful, PC-skirting question, 'Is it Okat to ask...?' Adam, Josh and Alex return to provide a comic review of the significant moments of the past seven days. There will also be live studio challenges and recorded segments each week, including Alex's quest to participate in the Rio Paralympics in 2016. In something.

After three weeks of nominations, tasks and evictions, the nail-biting moment (it says here) has arrived for the remaining contestants as Brian Dowling whittles them down one by one until this year's winner of Celebrity Big Brother is known - 9:00 Channel Five. As if anybody whose brains aren't leaking out of their ears actually gives a frigging stuff about nonsense bollocks the like of this. Just an opinion, you understand. Plus, highlights of the housemates' last full day in the house. Celebrity Big Brother is, of course, always troubling and unpleasant, but steady viewing figures of two million or so (mostly sad, lonely, crushed victims of society, admittedly) will doubtless convince soft-corn pornographer Richard Desmond that it's still a winner. (For perspective, both University Challenge and Mastermind get more viewers on most weeks. Just in case you were thinking about giving up on the human race as a lost cause.) So whether you watch with utter and withering disdain or you're an obsessive (or, hopefully, you ignore this fiasco altogether and watch something on the other side), this is the night we discover which z-list former celebrity will inherit Julian Clary's helmet. Steady.
Saturday 26 January
Statsminister Birgitte Nyborg’s diplomatic skills are tested to the full when she offers to negotiate a peace agreement between two sides embroiled in a bloody African civil war in the first of tonight's two episodes of Borgen - 9:00 BBC4. It's a big leap for Birgitte, but she's stung by her spin doctor Kasper's implied criticism of her government's lame-duck inactivity. It sounds a deadly premise for a two-part story (there's a 'To Be Continued' at the end of the first hour, so try to stay awake if you're watching in real time). But it ends up being thrilling as most episode's of this fine drama usually are. And, you can give your eyes a bit of a rest from peering at subtitles because Birgitte speaks English a lot as she tries to hammer out a deal between two intractable leaders. As always, dogging her footsteps are journalists Katrine and Hanne. This week, they unearth A Big Story. Opinion polls indicate that Birgitte is likely to lose the next election, and she becomes desperate to find a popular cause. After hearing about a referendum on secession in the Central African country of Kharun (no, me neither. it's probably near Qumar if that's any help) which threatens to send the country into a civil war, she sees a chance to broker peace in the conflict and gain popularity for herself at home and on the international stage. Then, after discovering a Chinese cargo ship full of arms is heading for Kharun, Birgitte meets with China's ambassador to try to halt the vessel. However, she begins to realise that Denmark is only a very small piece in a major international power game. At home, the prime minister's daughter Laura has another violent panic attack. Drama, starring Sidse Babett Knudsen, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Pilou Asbæk.
In Howard Goodall's Story of Music - 9:30 BBC2 - the composer examines the history and development of music, beginning by looking back at the first faltering steps humanity took toward creating it. He considers archaeological evidence showing that music was as important in the late Stone Age as it is now and charts how Gregorian chant started with a handful of monks singing the same tune in unison. Over the course of several centuries, medieval musicians painstakingly put together the basics of what has become termed harmony and then added rhythm - the building blocks of the music the world enjoys today.

Jordan is overcome with grief as the day of Yvonne's funeral dawns, so the last thing he needs is a message from the young offender institution asking him to visit Nylon, the teenager awaiting trial for her attack in the latest episode of Casualty - 8:50 BBC1. But can he ignore the chance to come face-to-face with the person he blames for his partner's death? Meanwhile, Yvonne's real assailant, Mehmet, and his wife Yasmin begin to crack under the pressure of their guilty bad secret, while the ED team must work out the identity of a mystery man and locate his missing son. Yvonne may be dead and buried but Nick Jordan is not being allowed to forget her in a hurry. Everywhere he turns, he sees someone who was involved in her death. His first reminder is when the shopkeeper who, unknown to Nick, accidentally stabbed her, is brought in with chest pains along with his pregnant wife who suddenly goes into labour. Then a stroppy lad just released from the young offenders unit where Nylon Johns is serving time for the killing deliberately gets himself into a fight so he can be taken to hospital and give a message to Nick. Meanwhile, a man wearing only underpants is found lying unconscious in a country lane. Sounds like a regular Saturday night round these parts, frankly. Michael French and Reece Douglas star.

Sunday 27 January
In a heartening - and even, in places, life-affirming - episode off Time Team - 4:25 Channel Four - the team join members of the charity Operation Nightingale at a dig on Salisbury Plain. Soldiers from The Rifles injured in Iraq and Afghanistan are working on Barrow Clump, an Anglo-Saxon burial ground rich in skeletons. It's an effective rehabilitating way of helping the men – some of whom have lost limbs, or suffered from depression and post traumatic stress – to overcome their injuries, both mental and physical. Says one of his dig experience, 'I've definitely found myself again.' In fact, it's so successful that one volunteer is about to go to university to study archaeology. Tony Robinson and his team head to an army training ground on Salisbury Plain to discover what lies beneath the Barrow Clump, a huge mound of earth built by bronze age people to bury their dead. More than two thousand five hundred years later, the Anglo-Saxons re-used the location as a burial site, leaving behind some fascinating artefacts.

There was, of course, no Top Gear Christmas special this year. So we've had to wait longer than usual for the planet's most popular car show to return to its proper parking space on Sunday nights on BBC2 at 8:00. Thankfully here it is - if for no other reason than it's return will, greatly, piss off a lot of mouthy scum who really deserve a bit of pissing off. And, it's back with a typically eclectic line-up. Yer actual Jeremy Clarkson attempts to build a car which is even smaller than the notoriously tiny Peel P50 and then tests it out on the streets of London before pitching his concept in the Dragons' Den. James May his very self puts the Bentley Continental GT Speed through its paces by taking it on a rally stage, while Richard Hammond (in the time that he isn't spending weeping silently to himself about what an absolute dog of a show Secret Service has turned out to be) drives the new Pagani Huayra hypercar before handing it over to The Stig. Golden Globe-winning Homeland star Damian Lewis goes for a spin in the Reasonably Priced Car.
Having travelled around the solar system and the universe, Professor Brian Cox comes somewhat closer to home for his new series and simply travels around the world. He does this to investigate whether the emergence of life was an inevitable consequence of the physical laws that govern the universe in the opening episode of his third series Wonders of Life - 9:00 BBC2. On the edge of Taal Volcano lake in the Philippines, Foxy Coxy demonstrates how the first spark of life may have arisen from the chemical changes caused when heat from the inner Earth forced its way to the surface. The award-winning physicist, broadcaster and D-Reamer also swims with millions of golden jellyfish, which have algae embedded in their structures that draw energy from the sun and nourish the creatures.

A string of brilliantly masterminded robberies keeps Reid and his team busy and leads to a blast from the past for Drake when he is confronted by his former army colonel, who has arrived in London seeking redress for the unjust treatment of the Empire's soldiers in Ripper Street - 9:00 BBC1. As the net closes in on the robbers, the sergeant finds his loyalties put to the ultimate test. The excellent Iain Glen guest stars in the Victorian crime drama, with Jerome Flynn, Matthew Macfadyen and Adam Rothenberg.

Monday 28 January
Midwinter Mondays have been brightened up considerably for the past six weeks, but make the most of Miranda Hart's aghast looks to camera, because tonight's is the last in the present series of Miranda - 9:00 BBC1. Our protagonist is a bit down after last week's spat with Gary (Tom Ellis) and her inability to resolve her feelings for Mike (Bo Poraj), so she's bought six kittens to cheer herself up. The prospect of her parents renewing their vows and Tilly's surprise boyfriend (an old face from the show) do little to lift Miranda's spirits, however, so it's time for a big life decision. This third series, which has turned procrastination into an art form, was given a real boost by the channel switch from BBC2: around seven million now watch it as opposed to three million for the first series. The US-style audience involvement really shouldn't work but, somehow, does. And the high laugh count over half an hour is, as Tilly would say, 'totes amazeballs.'

The detective is convinced Liam has information relating to the death of Doctor Whitby and the cremation, and while on a dinner date with Hobson, he stumbles upon the narrow boat occupied by the student's girlfriend Ruth - and ends up rescuing her from a fire in the second of a two-part Lewis - 9:00 ITV. Meanwhile, Hathaway investigates the Faulkners' farmhouse in Croatia and discovers it is being used as a meth factory. Suddenly the mystery of the bodies, the funeral parlour and the murder victims takes on a whole new dimension. Guest starring Lucy Speed and yer actual Peter Davison his very self, with Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox.

Every year in the winter months millions of Britons come down with colds, flu and stomach problems caused by viruses, with normally routine illnesses having the potential to turn lethal. Even yer actual Keith Telly Topping had a bit of it this winter. I went to the doctors. He asked 'flu?' I replied: 'No, I came on the bus.' He said that he couldn't find find anything wrong with me, continued that 'it must be the drink.' I said: 'Oh, okay, I'll come back when you're sober.'In Winter Viruses And How To Beat Them - 9:00 BBC2 - the queen of punk medicine Professor Alice Roberts and Doctor Michael Mosley report on the latest outbreaks around the nation and, with the help of leading virologists, find out what viruses do to our bodies, examine how they spread and offer advice on what people can do to stay fit and healthy for the rest of the winter.

Tuesday 29 January
In the latest Death In Paradise - 9:00 BBC1 - treasure hunters arrive on the island to track down the loot of a legendary rough-tough scallywag of a pirate, a search which comes to an abrupt halt when the party's geologist is shot dead in leader Daniel Morgan's tent. As the murder weapon was a three hundred-year-old duelling pistol, Richard Poole decides every member of the team is a potential suspect - but the investigation takes a strange turn when Daniel falls victim to a series of unfortunate and coincidental accidents. Has a mythical pirate's curse become a reality or is someone from the Twenty First Century simply trying to bump him off for profit? Ben Miller and Sara Martins star, with Michael Brandon and Hustle's Kelly Adams.

Tonight also sees the return of Dallas - 9:00 Channel Five - the drama about the glamorous lives and vicious feuds of a Texas oil dynasty. Christopher seeks to gain the upper hand in his divorce from Rebecca Sutter, but a revelation turns everything on its head, causing the entire family to put their differences aside and rally together - except for John Ross. Meanwhile, Harris Ryland blackmails Ann, forcing her and Bobby to confront a shocking secret from her past. Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe star.

Grant and the gang feel the full force of The Network's sinister power when he's framed for a shocking crime in Utopia - 10:00 Channel Four. With nowhere else to turn, they are forced to make a new ally - but can she really be trusted? Thriller, starring Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Alexandra Roach, Adeel Akhtar, Paul Higgins and Geraldine James.
Wednesday 30 January
When dairy worker Debbie Moffett (played by Martine McCutcheon) is crushed to death by a giant round of cheese at the home of the world-famous Midsomer Blue, Barnaby and Jones are soon on the case in the latest, somewhat more cheesy than usual, episode of Midsmoer Murders - 8:00 ITV - which was postponed from 16 January. Pathologist Kate Wilding discovers the victim's daughter was being expelled from the local prep school and it emerges that Debbie died just hours after an argument at a parents' council meeting. Her phone leads the detectives to Oliver Ordish, with whom she was having an affair. The storyline is, as so often with Midsomer, the village with the murder rate higher than Baltimore, mad as cheese-on-toast. But, could all the drama at the dairy be leading the detectives away from the childhood rivalries, jealousy and mistrust which persist in the country village where everyone knows each other's business and there are no black people and very little dog shit either? The creamery crimes come thick and fast, setting a lively pace as well as offering several tongue-in-cheek acknowledgements of just how cheesy Midsomer Murders has become.

Tonight sees the return of NCIS - 9:00 Channel Five - the drama based on the work of the agency dedicated to naval crimes. Tony tries to piece together the events that led to him lying wounded in a hospital bed, having been shot in the chest through his bulletproof vest. Under the guidance of therapist Doctor Rachel Cranston, his memory begins to return and suspicion falls on his ex-lover, EJ Barrett. Starring Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly and Sarah Jane Morris.

In January 1961, the game of bingo turned into a multimillion-pound business almost overnight, a story told in Eyes Down! The Story of Bingo - 9:00 BBC4. This documentary explores how what started out as an occasional seaside flutter became the favoured pastime of nearly a quarter of the population, leading to moral panic about the dangers of easy prize-money. Narrated by Sarah Lancashire.

David Attenborough explores the wildlife eking out an existence in and around the scorching wilderness of the Sahara Desert, where only the toughest survive in Africa - 9:00 BBC1. It's a constant battle against dehydration, as zebra battle over dwindling rivers, camels search for water and tiny barn swallows navigate thousands of square miles of barren sand to find a life-saving oasis. The naked mole rat avoids the heat by living a subterranean existence, while the silver ant is able to take on the midday sun - but needs a `spacesuit' to do it.

Thursday 31 January
Yer actual sensational Tony Blackburn presents vintage hits from 2 February 1978 in Top of the Pops - 7:30 BBC4. But not Jimmy Savile. Oh, no, very hot water. The dirty old albino has now been, effectively, air-brushed from history in a not even remotely Stalinist way and can now never be mentioned, alluded to, thought about, and definitely not parodied in a kids TV show made a decade before his crime came to light just in case the Daily Scum Mail get a chimney on about this sick filth. And, of course, that's entirely right and proper. Anyway, back to 1978, and this episode which features music by Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley (if they had words), The Brotherhood of Man (with their third shit chart topper), Smokie, Darts (aw, yeah!), The Sweet, Rose Royce, Rod Stewart and yer actual Althea & Donna, and 'ting. Plus, the usual dance routines from Legs and Co.

The Planners - 8:00 BBC2 - is a documentary following the work of council planning officers, whose rulings can make homeowners' dreams come true or bring them crashing down around their ears. In the first episode, three national house-building companies propose to construct five hundred and forty new homes on a greenfield site outside Winsford in Cheshire, but some locals are not happy and will stop at nothing to derail the development. A Cheltenham couple erect a mock-up of their neighbour's extension to highlight their concerns to planners, while retirees in a conservation area in the heart of Chester submit an application to put up seventeen solar panels on their garage roof. Barbara Flynn narrates.

In Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe - 10:00 BBC2 - the writer and broadcaster offers a satirical look at the latest news from politics, the media and the Internet, casting a critical eye over trends in TV, cinema, computer games and social media. Charlie will be joined in the studio each week by guests and there will be regular contributions from American comedian Doug Stanhope.
Martin Clunes narrates The Secret Life of Dogs - 9:00 ITV - a documentary exploring how dogs see, smell and experience the world around them, revealing insights into the behaviour, loyalty and remarkable intuition of man's best friend. The programme follows the development of a Labrador puppy from birth through to her own pregnancy as she trains to be a guide dog for the blind and also hears personal accounts of canines that have saved lives, helped to rebuild marriages and detected diseases in their owners.

Friday 1 February
Leo finally finds someone to confirm his fears about a local health hazard, only for his informant to be murdered soon after. As he continues to dig, he begins to suspects Nikki's new lover, James, and his belligerent father Sir William in Silent Witness - 9:00 BBC1. William and James Embleton may, it turns out be embroiled in a fifty-year-old government cover-up, leaving him battling alone to expose the truth and save more lives. Crime drama, starring William Gaminara, Emilia Fox, David Caves and Ed Stoppard.

Ravi Shankar: Between Two Worlds - 10:00 BBC4 - is a profile of the sitar player, who died in 2012. Famous for teaching George Harrison to play the instrument, as well as his work with violinist Yehudi Menuhin, Shankar talks candidly about a childhood spent on the road with his brother's dance troupe and how he developed his unique brand of Indian classical music. He also describes his ambivalence toward the popularity that grew around him in the 1960s in the West, and how his brush with the hedonistic rock and roll world caused him to devote his time to teaching. First broadcast in 2002.

In The Review Show - 11:00 BBC2 - Kirsty Wark and a panel of guests give their verdicts on Rowan Atkinson's return to the stage in a production of Simon Gray's Quartermaine's Terms at London's Wyndham Theatre and Stephen Poliakoff's latest TV drama Dancing on the Edge.

The news, now: The government has confirmed it bought more than eight thousand six hundred tickets at a cost of nearly £1.2m for the London Olympics. About four thousand tickets, costing nine hundred and sixteen thousand smackers, were paid for by central government, with the rest - worth about three hundred grand - bought by staff or London councils. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that it wanted to 'maximise the economic boost' from the games. In November 2011 the department revealed it had bought just over eight thousand eight hundred tickets at a cost of nearly seven hundred and fifty thousand knicker. At the time the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was understood to have put in bids for the entire government with the allocation to be shared across departments. Latest figures show ministers used sixty tickets, the most expensive a seven hundred and twenty five quid seat at the athletics. While former Treasury minister Lord Sassoon used the costliest ticket, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt received the most tickets totalling six hundred and five quid and watched two cycling events, diving, football and gymnastics. Of the remaining tickets two thousand three hundred and eighty one were bought by staff who had worked long-term on the games or Ambassadors. A spokeswoman from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport told BBC News they would not go into details about why a particular minister was given tickets to a particular event or why the amount of money spent on tickets had gone up since November 2011. 'We were clear that we wanted to make the most of hosting the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics as a driver for growth, and decided that it was right to invest in order to maximise the economic benefits for the country,' she added. Although what the hell any of that actually meant, your guess is as good as mine. 'The government paid-for tickets were used to invite and accompany a number of international and domestic political and business leaders, as well as guests with a close connection to the Games and its legacy. All invitations were issued against the following criteria: encouraging growth, encouraging health and sports participation, encouraging community engagement and volunteering.' The National Audit Office said eleven million tickets were sold to the London 2012 Games. More than seven million people visited Olympic venues during the games with two and a half million people visiting the Olympic Park. Everybody else watched it on telly.

Andrew Marr has sent 'a huge thank you' to well-wishers, saying that he is 'on the mend' as he continues to recover from a stroke in hospital. The broadcaster said that the goodwill messages had been 'truly wonderful,' adding he was looking forward to returning to work in due course. He was speaking on the phone to The Andrew Marr Show's production team. The Sunday morning show, on BBc1, and Radio 4's Start The Week are being broadcast with guest presenters in his absence.

The Sunday Times says that it is 'confident' of recouping the one million quid it paid out on a libel action taken by self-confessed drug cheat Lance Armstrong now that the disgraced Tour De France-winning cyclist has finally admitted taking banned substances in his Oprah Winfrey interview. But the paper's chief sports writer, David Walsh, who relentlessly pursued Armstrong over thirteen years and exposed him as a drugs cheat, said on Friday that he did not want an apology from the disgraced cyclist. 'It was my job, I'm not looking for any thanks from anybody. Any concern I have is for the sources who told the truth and were vilified for it,' he told BBC News. The News International paper is suing Armstrong to recover the three hundred grand it paid in an out-of-court settlement in 2006. It is also seeking to recover its legal costs and interest, which took the full amount paid out to one million notes. 'We watched Lance Armstrong's interview with interest and noted his numerous admissions regarding taking performance-enhancing drugs. The Sunday Times believes that our case for recovering the one million pounds plus he obtained from us by fraud is now even stronger. We will be pursuing that case vigorously,' the paper said in a statement. The seven-times Tour De France winner was stripped of all his cycling titles going back to August 1998 and banned from the sport for life last autumn after the US anti-doping agency, USADA, released a report detailing allegations of widespread doping by Armstrong and former colleagues in his cycling team. USADA's document resulted in fourteen years of Armstrong's career achievement being erased, including the Tour titles. It contained sworn statements from twenty six witnesses, including eleven former team-mates that Armstrong was a total bad'un. In the interview with Winfrey, Armstrong was asked if he had used drugs to win his Tour titles and replied: 'Yes.' Asked if they included steroids, and EPO, a blood dope that increases the generation of red blood cells, he said: 'Yes.' Armstrong said it would not have been possible to win the titles without cheating, such was the prevalence of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport at the time. However, Armstrong, forty one, denied being a mastermind who threatened other team-mates to dope, and rejected allegations that he bribed the International Cycling Union and a Swiss laboratory to cover up his cheating. He also denied taking drugs during his comeback in 2009 and 2010, and did not indicate – at least not in the first of a two-part broadcast – whether he would co-operate with USADA so that he can return to competitive sport, as has been reported. Armstrong's interview was his first public response to the one thousand-page USADA report that showed he was willing to go to any lengths to win the Tour De France, the sport's most gruelling race. The Sunday Times decided to sue last year and in a letter to Armstrong's lawyers it said: 'It is clear that the proceedings [in 2006] were baseless and fraudulent. Your representations that you had never taken performance-enhancing drugs were deliberately false. The Sunday Times is now demanding a return of the settlement payment plus interest, as well as its costs in defending the case,' it said. Armstrong brought the high court action against Walsh and Times Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that publishes The Sunday Times, in 2004 over an article which referred to a book, LA Confidential – The Secrets of Lance Armstrong. The book, published only in French, contains circumstantial evidence that the cyclist used banned substances to improve his performance. In an agreed statement in 2006, the paper said: 'The Sunday Times has confirmed to Mr Armstrong that it never intended to accuse him of being guilty of taking any performance-enhancing drugs and sincerely apologised for any such impression. Armstrong has always vigorously opposed drugs in sport and appreciates the Sunday Times' efforts to also address the problem.' Walsh first raised questions about Armstrong in 1999, when made a comeback after life-threatening testicular cancer and made an extraordinary break from the pack in a mountain stage during that year's Tour De France. The Sunday Times journalist said on Friday that Armstrong needed to 'name those who had helped him' and criticised Winfrey for not going far enough in her interview. He said it was 'reprehensible' that Armstrong had sued the paper in a bid to hide the truth. 'There is a legal issue in that The Sunday Times was sued by Lance Armstrong, in a sense he won even though there was an out-of-court settlement. The Times paid three hundred thousand pounds towards his costs. They had six hundred thousand pounds of their own costs. They are seeking to recoup that money and they have every entitlement,' Walsh told BBC News. 'Remember The Sunday Times was the only newspaper who consistently asked questions about a guy who was probably the biggest cheat sport has ever known. Now to be penalised for asking those questions is just reprehensible and hopefully The Sunday Times will get its money back. On a personal level I don't want any apology from Lance Armstrong or any kind of explanation, because I was a journalist being paid to do what I did. It was my job, I'm not looking for any thanks from anybody. Any concern I have is for the sources who told the truth and were vilified for it.' Walsh was heavily criticised by Armstrong over his years covering cycling. Once asked about Walsh in an interview by American writer Daniel Coyle, Armstrong said: 'I just hate the guy. Fucking Walsh. Fucking little troll.' In the interview with Doyle, Armstrong went on to say that he hoped he was someone that people in the US looked up to. But he said: 'You know what? They don't even know who David Walsh is. And they never will. And in twenty years, nobody is going to remember him. Nobody.' Walsh said he did not think Oprah went anywhere near far enough in her questioning of Armstrong. 'My feeling is that the interview was fine in as far as it went, but it did not go nearly far enough, and even in as far as it went, I was particularly disappointed that he didn't admit what might be called the hospital room admission from 1996,' Walsh told the BBC. The interview went out live in the US on Thursday night.

Actress Anna Deavere Smith has been awarded the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for her innovative one-woman documentary stage shows. The sixty two-year-old, who played a National Security chief in The West Wing, picked up a three hundred thousand dollar cheque for 'opening eyes, ears and minds.' Smith's works include her take on the Rodney King case and a healthcare show entitled Let Me Down Easy. In a statement, the actress said: 'I am deeply honoured.' Smith added: 'I can't imagine a greater honour than having my name linked with the incomparable Dorothy and Lillian Gish.' The Gish sisters were huge silent movie stars, with Lillian going on to be nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1946 for Duel in the Sun. The award was set up after Lillian's death in 1993, following an entry in her will, which read: 'It is my desire, by establishing this prize, to give recipients of the prize the recognition they deserve, to bring attention to their contributions to society and encourage others to follow in their path.' It is awarded to 'a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind's enjoyment and understanding of life.' Previous recipients have included Bob Dylan, Arthur Miller, Chinua Achebe and Robert Redford. Darren Walker, of the Ford Foundation, who was on the selection committee for this year's award, said: 'Anna opens our eyes, ears and minds to some of the most challenging aspects of our lives, and in so doing helps give others the courage to do the same.' Television viewers will know Smith from her superb portrayal of the hawkish Nancy McNally, one of the president's chief advisers in The West Wing. She has also played hospital administrator Gloria Akalitus in the comedy Nurse Jackie, as well as film roles in Philadelphia and The American President.

The odious, diarrhoea-flecked ripples of ITV's Saturday night hit Z-List Celebrity Drowning appear to have spread far and wide. Even Britain's Got Talent has got in on the act, moving outside into the freezing cold to watch the efforts of eight high-divers in Cardiff. Judges Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, horrible Amanda Holden, greed bucket (and drag) Alesha Dixon and David Walliams donned their thermals to watch the efforts of the diving team known as La Quebrada High Diving Productions, which includes Tom Daley's team mate Peter Waterfield. It's not just any diving act though. On no, it culminated in a stunt in which one of the team members climbed a tower, set himself on fire and leaped into a water tank. Let's hope they made it through to the next round, for everybody's sake.

Clare Balding her very self has said that she wanted 'to have an impact' when she joined the BBC. The broadcaster became a trainee with the broadcaster in 1994 and is now one of its most well-known sports presenters. 'I wanted to change the way people think - to have an impact,' Balding told Reader's Digest. 'Then I met [BBC horse riding correspondent] Cornelius Lysaght and he said, "Would you like to come for a voice test for radio?" I'd done a lot of debating, but I hadn't thought of radio as a medium for me, and there weren't many women in sports broadcasting at the time. But I was very naïve. I'm not sure I even realised that I was doing something unusual.' She added: 'I freelanced for Cornelius for what was Radio 5 then. It became 5Live on 1 April 1994, and I started as a trainee that day. They were looking to make a new kind of sports reporter to suit 5Live, so they put me on the traineeship to try and achieve that; I don't know whether they succeeded!' Balding continued: 'They got me presenting football, rugby - everything. My first broadcast was from Highbury; Arsenal were parading in 1994 when they won the [Cup] Winners' Cup. I did vox pops in the street. It was a very alien environment for me; I didn't know much about football or Arsenal. But I loved people's passion for the club. I thought, "This really matters to people."'

In case you missed it, it's very much worth catching up with BBC2's Funny Business documentary about the business end of stand-up on iPlayer. If only for the marketing man from Foster's describing comedy as a 'content-driven engagement platform.' Or, for that matter, John Cleese complaining about how money has 'ruined' comedy ... from his luxury Monaco apartment.

BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, has won a precedent-setting appeal against the Top Gear and BBC Food YouTube channels falling under the scope of video on-demand regulation. In May 2011, UK regulator the Authority for Television On Demand determined that the two YouTube channels should be regulated as the content they were offering was comparable to television programmes. This would have meant that Top Gear and BBC Food on YouTube would have come under the Communications Act 2003, and Worldwide would also have had to pay an annual fee to ATVOD for both channels. But after Worldwide appealed the decision, Ofcom has backed the media firm in both cases. ATVOD had argued that Worldwide was offering 'TV-like' content on the channels, such as David Tennant Interview & Speed Lap on Top Gear, an eight-minute and fifty three-second programme featuring the former Doctor Who star, and national heart-throb being interviewed by yer actual Jeremy Clarkson his very self and then driving the reasonably priced car around the lap. It also pointed to How to Make Potato Cakes - Floyd on Britain and Ireland on BBC Food, a five-minute and twenty five-second cookery programme featuring the late celebrity chef, preceded by an advert. However, Ofcom backed Worldwide's position that whilst such content was 'similar' to television programme services, it was 'in the form of clips of programmes, not programmes in themselves.' Worldwide said that BBC iPlayer, which is regulated by ATVOD, offers full-length programmes, but the maximum clip length on the Top Gear and BBC Food YouTube channels is fifteen minutes. ATVOD chief executive Pete Johnson accepted the decision - which was big of him since, frankly, he couldn't do anything else - and said that the regulator will now 'consider its implications' for ranking video on-demand in the future. 'The question of whether video content is "comparable" to programmes normally included in television broadcasts is far from straightforward,' he said. 'We will now consider the appeal decisions carefully and analyse the implications for future decisions as to whether a particular service is, or is not, subject to regulations designed to protect consumers.'

A contestant on odious, risible Take Me Out has claimed that producers of the ITV show 'pressured' her into pairing up for a date. Naomi Hewston, who was selected by a student called Troy for a date in Isle of Fernandos, Tenerife last week, appeared on the Paddy McGuinness-presented show on Saturday. However, she told the Sun that she only kept her light on because she felt she would be axed by show bosses otherwise. 'I felt very bullied. They encourage you to make a complete idiot of yourself. It was very manipulative and I feel like they've taken advantage of me. I think it's very fixed,' Hewston claimed. And, we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for her? A top love - if you won't get screwed, don't go on the game. 'The producers kept asking if you were going to turn it off and you just felt pressured to please them. I was worried about being taken off the show if I didn't play by their rules. Nobody wants to be kicked off the show, as you'd worked so hard to get on there,' she whinged. The twenty five-year-old, who sings in a band with her twin sister, continued: 'Troy was nice but we had nothing in common. We filmed it in December and I've not spoken to him since.' Hewston also criticised the filming of Take Me Out: The Gossip for ITV2, saying that she was 'utterly humiliated. They edited things in, it is very scripted. They took my date away and told me to pretend I was upset,' she claimed. 'They told him to talk to other girls and filmed me looking dejected. Because I'd had so many free drinks I went along with it but I've seen what they've done with the editing and they've made me look an idiot.' A spokeswoman for Thames, which produces Take Me Out, told the newspaper: 'We strongly refute claims that we tell contestants how to act or respond. We don't encourage them to drink alcohol and turning a light off is up to individual choice.' The show was mired in controversy last year when contestant Aaron Withers was revealed as a former male escort with a conviction for assault. His date Wen-Jing Mo also admitted to being a two hundred pounds-an-hour prostitute. Despite this, the show was, shamefully, renewed for another two series in August.

A man put a gun to the head of the leader of Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish party during a televised conference. Ahmed Dogan, leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms was unharmed and the unidentified man was wrestled to the ground by security guards and hauled off to the salt mines. Probably. The incident happened on Saturday at a party congress in the capital Sofia. Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said the attacker tried to fire two shots but 'most likely the gun misfired.' He also said the assailant had a criminal record for drugs possession, robberies and hooliganism. Police arrested the attacker, a twenty five-year-old from the Black Sea town of Burgas, who was also carrying two knives. The liberal MRF party represents ethnic Turks and other Muslims, who make up about twelve per cent of Bulgaria's population of about seven million. Dogan, fifty eight, has lead the party for almost twenty five years. He returned to the party conference a few hours after the attack and was given a standing ovation. President Rosen Plevneliev said in a statement: 'Bulgarian society is traditionally known for its tolerance, mutual acceptance and respect between different ethnic groups and religions. Such an act is unacceptable in a democratic state.' Attacks on politicians are rare in Bulgaria, but in 1996, former Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov was found shot dead near his home in Sofia. And, as for what they used to do with umbrellas, it probably best not to ask.

The Batmobile used by actor Adam West in the original TV series of Batman has sold for $4.2m at a US auction. The car was bought by Rick Champagne, a 'logistics company owner' from Phoenix, Arizona. whatever the hell that means. The fifty six-year-old, who was just ten when the camp TV series began in 1966, said it 'was a dream come true.' The Batmobile design was based on a 1955 Lincoln Futura, a concept car built in Italy by the Ford Motor Company. It was the first time that car had come up for public sale since it was bought in 1965 by car-customiser George Barris, who transformed it in fifteen days, at the cost of fifteen thousand dollars, into the superhero's vehicle. It had a V-8 engine, arguably one of the first in-car phones, and parachutes, which were deployed to help Batman turn sharp corners. Barris told reporters at the auction: 'The car had to be a star on its own. And it became one.' Since the show was cancelled in 1968, he has toured the Batmobile and was eventually housed in a private showroom in California. The 1960s show was camp in its portrayal of Batman. More recent incarnations of billionaire Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego - such as British director Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy - have had a much darker tone like the comic series it's based upon. The newer Batmobiles have reflected the more brutal portrayal of Gotham City's saviour, such as the 'Tumbler' of 2005's Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale.
From that, of course, we go straight to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. Hey, I don't just throw these things together, you know. Zap!

No comments: