Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's Not Natural, Normal Or Kind

The Ice Warriors are to make a - long-rumoured - return to Doctor Who, it has been confirmed. The Martian reptilians first battled Patrick Troughton's Doctor in 1967's six-parter The Ice Warriors and they were a regular feature on the BBC's popular family SF drama during the next few years. However, they haven't been seen in the show since 1974 (although they were briefly alluded to during 2009's episode The Waters of Mars). Executive producer Caroline Skinner told SFX: 'We've got the most fantastic episode by Mark Gatiss where we are bringing back The Ice Warriors on a submarine. We wanted to bring them back because they're wonderful. In the mix of stories that we were planning for this year it felt as if doing something very bold with a monster that hadn't been seen for a while would be really cool. Mark is an enormous fan of The Ice Warrior stories and came up with the idea. The sense of a monster of that scale and that size trapped in a really small, contained environment such as a submarine was a really brilliant story to be able to tell. They were such a beautiful original design, and are genuinely really scary in terms of what they look like as they're coming towards you in that armour.' The Ice Warriors will appear in the third episode when series seven returns on 30 March.

The new edition of the Radio Times will come with a selection of postcards featuring notable Doctor Who front covers to launch the magazine's fiftieth anniversary celebrations for the series. Each issue comes with one of two sets of four of the distinctive designs: The magazine also looks ahead to plans for the fiftieth anniversary, and towards the new series at Easter.
The magazines notes: 'November 2013 marks fifty years of Doctor Who on TV, and RT will bring you all the news as it unfolds – starting with some of the treats coming up. The most hugely anticipated event is surely the anniversary special on BBC1. All details are firmly under wraps – and it doesn't even start filming until spring, but fans worldwide are praying for a multi-Doctor escapade, perhaps with a few former best friends and best enemies thrown in. Could it actually happen? And would all the surviving actors be available – and willing – to appear in such a celebration? Tom Baker famously declined to participate in The Five Doctors in 1983, and the first three actors to play the Doctor are now long dead. But if William Hartnell can be recast (in The Five Doctors and now in An Adventure In Space And Time) is it conceivable that other actors might convince in Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee's shadows? This might all be pure fantasy, but what is known is that showrunner Steven Moffat has been toiling with the script. He tells Radio Times: "I'm mostly excited, a little bit nervous, and aware of trying not to let people down." Filming began on 3 February at BBC Television Centre, on what is likely to be the last drama made on the site before it’s redeveloped. Executive producer Caroline Skinner tells RT: "As the BBC moves out of TV Centre, we are moving the cast and crew for An Adventure in Space and Time in! It’s a fantastic opportunity to film this momentous story in the actual location – a little bit of television history."' The new edition will also carry an exclusive shot of David Bradley as William Hartnell, taken on the second day of filming.
And so to this week's really big news. No, not The Pope, that's nothing. Fans will be able to visit the TARDIS in 3D in the fiftieth anniversary episode of Doctor Who later this year. The special was announced as part of the BBC's latest round of drama commissions, which will also see Call The Midwife and Death In Paradise return in 2014 (see below). Atlantis, a new thirteen-part drama, will also take the Saturday night slot previously held by Merlin. Controller of drama, Ben Stephenson, said that he wanted to make the BBC 'more British than ever. It is about applying the Danny Boyle vision to our work - a bold, adventurous, authorial approach that exports because of its Britishness not despite it.' Doctor Who celebrates its fiftieth birthday in November. Stevan Moffat, the show's lead writer and producer said the latest 3D escapade would bring a 'whole new dimension of adventure for The Doctor to explore.' Quite literally. Moffat is still working on the script for the episode which will be filmed, like most of the series, in South Wales, and will follow the eight-part series seven (b) run of Doctor Who due to begin in late March. Stephenson said: 'There will be lots of aliens and Daleks and things like that – or maybe there won't.' Oh, you little tease! Trickster, trickster, shot in the dark! Anyway, 'there are many different things to take into account and we will also have a Christmas special after that and it all connects. Or maybe it doesn't.' There he goes again with his 'or maybe it won't' agenda. You realise, Benjamin, that somewhere on an Internet forum somewhere vaguely near Gallifrey these words are being studied for loopholes until someone's head explodes, don't you? 'There's lots to work out,' Stephenson continued. 'It's that thing of, how do you make individual programmes more than the sum of their parts? The Doctor Who fiftieth is a bit like when we did EastEnders' twenty fifth; it is more than just a programme, we have all had a relationship to it. Ninety per cent of the British public know about Doctor Who and have a personal connection to it. Most people have their own Doctor Who. It's drawing on that nostalgia to say something bigger about the BBC and its values.' The BBC will also mark the event with a BBC2 drama about the beginnings of the show, An Adventure In Space And Time, scripted by Mark Gattis and featuring David Bradley as the late William Hartnell. Atlantis, penned by Misfits and Merlin creator Howard Overman, has been billed as 'an action-packed series' to begin in the Autumn. It centres on the titular city - 'a mysterious, ancient place; a world of bull leaping, of snake haired goddesses and of palaces so vast it was said they were built by giants.' The series will begin shooting in Wales and Morocco in April. Other new commissions include Death Comes To Pemberley, a three-part hour-long drama, adapted from PD James' best-selling novel. Set six years after Pride and Prejudice ends, the book features Jane Austen's best-known characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, and combines 'classic period drama' with a suspenseful mystery plot. BBC4 will pair The Wire's Dominic West with Helena Bonham Carter for a ninety-minute one-off drama, Burton and Taylor. They will play the glamorous, volatile ex-lovers in a story of their ill-fated 1983 revival of Noel Coward's stage play, Private Lives. BBC1 will also screen a three-part adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's Jamaica Inn and Remember Me, a ghost story by Gwyneth Hughes (author of Five Days and The Girl). David Hare returns to BBC2 with the second and third parts of his spy drama trilogy which began with Page Eight in 2011. The two new instalments, Turks and Caicos and Salting the Battlefield, will both star Bill Nighy, who will reprise his role from Page Eight.

Call The Midwife screenwriter Heidi Thomas has run out of the original memoirs on which the series is based, but that has not stopped the show from being commissioned for a third series and a second Christmas special. The hit BBC1 show, starring Jessica Raine and Miranda Hart, is the channel's biggest new drama for more than a decade, watched by around nine to ten million weekly punters in its Sunday night slot. Thomas adapted the series from the three collections of memoirs written by Jennifer Worth, the retired nurse who died in 2011 before the first show was broadcast. By the time the second run of the maternity drama set in London's East End comes to an end next month, Thomas will have exhausted the original source material. But she told the new issue of Radio Times: 'Don't worry. It doesn't mean the show will end. The characters will be developed by then and Jennifer was happy for us to continue.' The hit show, which was BBC1's biggest new drama series in over a decade, will return for a Christmas special in 2013 and a third series in 2014. It was the hit, of course, that almost never happened, having initially been turned down by former BBC1 controller the clueless Jay Hunt, now the chief creative officer at Channel Four. But Hunt's successor at BBC1, Danny Cohen, thought differently. The second series is currently on-air and averaging consolidated viewers of 10.6 million per week. Death In Paradise has also been officially recommissioned for a third series. Eight new episodes of the popular Caribbean crime drama, which is currently averaging eight million viewers per episode in its second season, will be filmed on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Death In Paradise, written by Robert Thorogood and others and starring the very excellent Ben Miller, will return to BBC1 next year. It will be executive produced by Tony Jordan and Belinda Campbell for Red Planet Pictures and Polly Hill for the BBC. Ben Stephenson said: 'Drama and the BBC are inseparable - it is written through the BBC like a stick of rock. No other broadcaster in the world has drama so firmly in its DNA. I want to make BBC drama a cultural institution - a touchstone for quality and modernity with all the excitement and glamour of a curtain going up.'

For the several people who've asked, this blogger has no idea why Sunday's episode of Top Gear suddenly disappeared from the BBC iPlayer for several hours on Monday evening and early Tuesday morning. It now appears to be online again. Presumably it was because some whinging numskull had complained about some aspect of it (although it's hard to see what, exactly). No doubt some hippie Communist louse of no bloody importance whatsoever at the Gruniad Morning Star is currently 'investigating' and will report back, gleefully, with the reason sooner rather than later. In one of those shite-stirring, trouble-making pieces they seem to enjoy writing so much.
Some proper excellent news, now. John Bishop felt the full force of a Robbie Fowler shot in a charity penalty kick event at Anfield on Monday night. The cheeky-chappie gap-toothed Scouse funster took to the pitch with the former England legend during the half-time interval in the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws versus West Bromwich Albinos game to take blindfolded penalties in front of the crowd. However, Bishop's attempts to block Fowler from scoring proved rather painful, as he got hit by the ball square in the mush from point-blank range. Which was very funny. Far funnier than anything that A League Of Their Own has managed since, well, ever basically. This blogger laughed. And he laughed. And he laughed, until he stopped. And then he laughed some more. Robbie Rocketpants managed to score his follow-up penalty, while Bishop also got the ball in the net - even though his initial attempt resulted in a fresh air shot. The pair were joined by blind England footballer David Clarke for the penalties, which were held to raise awareness of Seeing Is Believing - an initiative set up to help tackle avoidable blindness.

A member of a gymnastic group was rushed to hospital after falling during a performance to wow the Britain's Got Toilets judges at the Birmingham auditions. The Sun reports that Air Gravity, who are from Northampton, were auditioning in front of the judges - including Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads - when one member of the troupe fell and dislocated their shoulder. Which made Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads laugh. A lot. Medics were on stand-by at the show but as a precaution the injured man was taken to hospital.
Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr will be awarded with the Godlike Genius accolade at this year's NME Awards. The event takes place on 27 February at The Troxy in East London. After recording with Modest Mouse and The Cribs, Marr releases his début solo record, The Messenger, two days before the music magazine's annual ceremony. Marr said he was 'honoured' to be the next recipient of a gong that The Clash, Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher have won in recent years. 'It is a very nice thing to be getting this award,' he said. 'The NME seems to be good at giving this award to people I like, so I'm in good company. I guess it means that some things are all right with the world.' Marr left The Smiths in 1987 and later worked with the likes of The Pretenders, The The and Electronic. He lead his own band Johnny Marr And The Healers and has contributed to recordings by former Red Hot Chili Peppers member John Frusciante, The Talking Heads and Beck. In 2010, Johnny played guitar on film composer Hans Zimmer's soundtrack for the blockbuster movie, Inception. He parted ways with The Cribs after four years in 2011 to focus on his solo material after early recording sessions for what would be the Jarman brothers' fifth studio CD, In the Belly of the Brazen Bull. NME editor Mike Williams said: 'Never has anyone been so utterly deserving of the title. Not content with rewriting the history of music with one of the world's greatest ever bands, The Smiths, he's continued to push boundaries and evolve throughout his career, working with some of the best and most exciting artists on the planet.' Quite right.

And so, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's one of Johnny's finest moments, recorded live by the BBC at Oxford in 1985. Every note played with a plectrum plucked from heaven itself.

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