Sunday, March 31, 2013

We Are Entranced

Doctor Who returned on Easter Saturday with a slot-winning overnight audience of 6.18m (and a peak audience of 6.68m) for The Bells of Saint John. Expect that figure to increase by around two million once consolidated timeshift viewers are taken into account in about a week's time. Doctor Who easily won the time slot with You've Been Framed! on ITV getting 3.6 million viewers. It was a decent (if unspectacular) night for both of the main channels, actually with The Voice's second series beginning with 6.24m (a peak of 8.15m). The most watched show of the day remained Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway which was watched by 6.7m on ITV from 7pm.
Incidentally, did you know dear blog reader, that the café scenes in The Bells of Saint John were shot on the roof terrace of the Grange St Paul's Hotel. These was originally scripted to be in Covent Garden, but the production team found a location with a better sight line of The Shard.
Oh, and as for 'Imagine that, human souls trapped like flies in the World Wide Web. Stuck forever. Crying out for help.' 'Isn't that basically Twitter?' Well, it's about time somebody said it!
Doctor Who has received three nominations at this year's Hugo Awards. The nominations for this year's ceremony were unveiled on Saturday. The BBC's popular long-running family SF drama series secured nominations in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category. These were secured for the Steven Moffat episodes Asylum of the Daleks, The Angels Take Manhattan and The Snowmen. The show, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year - you might have noticed - has triumphed on six previous occasions, as a trio of Moffat written stories, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, The Girl in the Fireplace and Blink won in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The Waters of Mars, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang and The Doctor's Wife also won in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively. Doctor Who takes three of the five nominations in the category this year. Other nominees are Fringe for Letters of Transit and Game of Thrones for Blackwater. The 2013 Hugo Awards take place between August 29 and September 2.

And, finally on the subject of Doctor Who, just in case you've been living in a cave since Friday, to confirm once again, the BBC have announced that former national hearth-throb David Tennant and yer actual Billie Piper will return to the show for its fiftieth anniversary special in November. They will be joined by the actor John Hurt in an episode described by Matt Smith his very self as 'spellbinding.' Which is jolly nice. And, it'll be in 3D an'all. For those that actually have 3D.
And, speaking of yer actual Ten his very self, now firmly established on ITV, Tennant commented to the Belfast Telegraph on how the Broadchurch story unfolded where the actors didn't know how it would develop: 'When you're playing those initial interviews with characters and you genuinely don't know what the truth is, you can't load those scenes with "actorly" tricks. You have to play it for what it is, which can only make it more real. You can be as exasperated about the mystery of the characters as the audience will be. It's great to be part of something where all the characters have powerful stories to tell. There's the whodunit aspect but there are other stories going on and such wonderful people portraying those parts.' Co-star Arthur Darvill also explained how he became involved with Broadchurch: 'Chris Chibnall came up to me while I was filming one of his [Doctor Who] episodes in Cardiff and said, "I've written you a part in a new TV series, will you do it?" I thought, "I can't say no to that, that's amazing!" We chatted about it, we discussed where the character would go, and I just found what he was trying to do really interesting, so I jumped at the chance. That's the first time somebody's ever written anything for me; it was very humbling. It's quite an honour,' Arty added.
BBC1's biggest primetime show on Thursday evening was the latest edition of the popular MasterChef, which was watched by 4.20 million at 8pm. The second episode of returning drama Prisoners' Wives' could only muster a rather disappointing 3.79 million at 9pm. Great British Menu continued to impress for BBC2, picking up two million punters at 7pm. It seems that cookery shows are popular right across the board at the moment. Except for Food Glorious Good. Because it's shite, basically. Also on BBC2 1.54 million watched James May's Man Lab at 8pm and Horizon had an audience of 1.59 million at 9pm. The BBC2 ratings don't include HD viewers. On ITV, The Martin Lewis Money Show had 3.17 million at 8.30pm, whilst the documentary Kids With Tourettes was watched by but 1.93 million at 9pm. The supposedly controversial Channel Four documentary Forty Year Old Virgins had an audience of 1.3 million at 9pm, while the latest episode of Gogglebox had nine hundred and forty thousand punters at 10pm. Channel Five's The Yorkshire Ripper: Crimes That Shook The World pulled an quietly impressive 1.05 million at 10pm. Earlier, Killers Behind Bars had an audience of eight hundred and eighty thousand at 9pm. On BBC4, a repeat of the excellent Ian Hislop's Goes Off The Rails was watched by seven hundred and ninety two thousand viewers at 9pm, while the latest edition of More4's US import Nashville managed two hundred and twenty seven thousand at 10pm.

Lord Hall, the BBC's incoming director general, will outline his vision for the future of the corporation when he takes up his new role next week in an attempt to draw a line under the Savile fiasco, which saw off his predecessor after just fifty four days in charge. Taking up his post on Tuesday on next week, Hall is planning 'a blitz' of broadcast interviews, part of a concerted response to accusations that the previous regime was 'not responsive enough' to the media. Mainly by elements of the media with a sick anti-BBC agenda. Hall's predecessor, the hapless George Entwistle, was reluctant to appear on camera – and in particular repeatedly declined to appear on ITV, Channel Four or Sky News. The arts broadcaster Lord Bragg said that Hall, who returns to the BBC after running the Royal Opera House, had 'no option' but to 'cut a swath' through BBC middle management in the wake of the 'damning conclusions' of The Pollard Report into the Savile fiasco. 'The Savile crisis has exposed a dire structure and I think he should go in with a cleansing sword. It's not just individuals – it's the system. He has shown he can do it – he was very good at the Royal Opera House. Savile exposed the problems with the middle management at the BBC, which clogs everything up. I speak as a great admirer of the BBC [but] it is amazing that they can get any programmes done at all,' said Bragg at a launch of his latest Sky Arts series last week. Hall will hold his first meeting with the BBC's management board on Tuesday morning at New Broadcasting House, with key executives including creative director Alan Yentob, BBC Worldwide chief executive Tim Davie and the newly recruited strategy and digital director, former lack of culture secretary and Labour MP James Purnell. He then plans to hold an informal staff meeting later in the day, and will follow that up with a Reithian style tour of the organisation's 'inform, educate, and entertain' operations by visiting BBC1's Panorama, its science department, Radio 1 and the 'tech ops' team which has kept the BBC's various services on air despite the recent bad weather. At the executive meeting, Hall is expected to outline his future strategy for the BBC and where he wants it to be in a decade from now in terms of programme-making, technology and culture. He will not look to undo any of the seven hundred million quid's worth of cost-cutting measures contained in Mark Thompson's wretched Delivering Quality First initiative, but will outline 'key areas' that he wants his management team to prioritise. At least, this is all according to the Gruniad Morning Star, a maggot-ridden shit-stirring scum organ which has done the BBC no favours in its coverage of the corporation for years. Meanwhile, although the initial impact of the Savile fiasco has subsided, more than eight hundred and fifty members of staff have, alleged 'raised concerns' with a review into alleged sexual harassment and alleged bullying at the corporation. Again, according to the Gruniad if not, actually, anybody that matters. The BBC's difficulties over the handling of the Savile fiasco, as exposed in Nick Pollard's report, also appeared to reveal a 'culture of mistrust' amongst executives and between executives and journalists, divisions which meant BBC executives were reluctant to believe Newsnight reporters who thought they could expose sexual abuse perpetrated by the late presenter. The new leader's most immediate task will be to restore faith in BBC News in the wake of Savile and Newsnight's calamitous report which led to the erroneously linking by some people on the Internet if the former Tory party chairman Lord McAlpine to child abuse. But, the subject is familiar to Hall, as he ran BBC News and Current Affairs between 1989 and 2001, largely during the ascendancy of John Birt at the corporation. Hall has to begin with the appointment of a new director of news after the incumbent, Helen Boaden, criticised in The Pollard Report, was moved to fill the vacant director of radio role. Some alleged - though entirely nameless - 'senior insiders' allegedly believe that the job could go to James Harding, the former editor of The Times. Again, according to the Gruniad so, as ever, take that with a vat of salt and a healthy dose of disbelief. Because, frankly, if one of those fekkers told this blogger that black was a darker shade than white he'd want a second opinion. 'News and current affairs is absolutely at the core of the BBC's brand and trustworthiness and is the number one reason we have the licence fee,' one alleged senior industry 'source' allegedly told some louse of no importance at the Gruniad. 'Arguably in the Internet era of news and gossip you need the BBC more than you ever needed it before. It is tarnished post-Savile and the whole meltdown on Newsnight. He has got to make the whole thing trustworthy again.' Hall's office is next to the corporation's sprawling news department on the fourth floor of the newly refurbished Broadcasting House. The new director general is also expected to make an early appearance on the Today programme, located a floor below. It was the inquisition on Today by John Humphrys, on 10 November last year, that finally sealed the fate of his predecessor, with Entwistle resigning about twelve hours later. It remains to be seen, though, whether Humphrys will be given the job of interviewing his new boss.'
The quest by PBS to fill the Downton Abbey-sized gap in American TV viewers' hearts continues this weekend with a boost to its line-up of British period drama imports. Season two of Call The Midwife and the ITV drama Mr Selfridge, based on the eponymous American department store mogul, premiere Sunday. At The New York Times Center on Thursday, PBS executives offered the first official US previews of the shows, which will attempt to capitalise on Downton Abbey's success in the US. Season one of Call The Midwife, while well-reviewed in the US, didn't grab audiences in the same way as Downton Abbey. Set in 1950s east London, Call The Midwife has a distinctly different kind of British sensibility that is more gritty than the obnoxious class-based escapist nonsense of Lord Snooty's Downton. The comical images of midwives administering nitrous oxide to women in labour are something of a shock to American viewers schooled in images of a prim, Bronte-influenced British countryside. Call The Midwife also lacks a Maggie Smith figure – a British star known in the US. Jenny Agutter, who plays Sister Julienne, the matriarch of a nursing convent, may have achieved iconic national-treasure status in the UK but she is little known in the US except for Logan's Run. The slapstick comedy shenanigans of Miranda Hart, who plays junior midwife Camilla Cholmondeley-Browne, have likewise somehow evaded American sensibilities. But in common with most British period dramas in PBS' Masterpiece Theater strand, Call The Midwife manages to deliver the careful nuances necessary to produce the period-piece glow that US television has failed to master. American audiences can also indulge in an array of cockney accents and references to the National Health Service – the mention of the latter earned applause from The New York Times Center audience. Those not swung by Call The Midwife may seek solace in Mr Selfridge, which makes its stateside début on Sunday. Cast against the splendour of a business magnate's world and grounded in consumerism and sex, Mr Selfridge has the potential to win over American fans in a way Midwife has not yet managed to. The show's lead is a brash American pulverising his way through turn-of-the-century London, creating a culturally dominant shopping institution along the way. In an early scene from episode one, two men reflect on the lead: 'That Mister Selfridge seems to have a damn high opinion of himself.' 'He's American. That's what they're like.' Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of Masterpiece Theater, said the channel was always looking for a British programme with 'an American tint.' When pressed by New York Times television writer Bill Carter about whether any of the slew of recent British hits would air at the same time in the US and UK, to avoid spoilers for the passionate US audience, Eaton said: 'Never say never.'

A shoplifter has been arrested after appearing on TV earlier on the same day as her naughty shoplifting ways. Jay Cole was caught stealing from a Sainsbury's store on 27 February when police officers played back CCTV footage and recognised her as the woman who had been interviewed on ITV's This Morning just hours earlier. Quite what the police officers in question were doing watching This Morning had not been revealed at this time. Cole took forty two smackers worth of goods from the supermarket including cakes, pastries, biscuits, sandwiches, champagne and soft drinks, reports the Mirra. Cole, who weighs twenty two stone, appeared on the programme to discuss her difficulty finding a job due to her weight issues. 'I am a victim of fattism,' Cole told hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby. 'If I go for an interview, people just roll their eyes when they see me walk in. I want to work but people won't hire me. Why should I change who I am? A job is about qualifications, not because you look a certain way.' The twenty four-year-old, who had also robbed from the same shop eight days earlier, was cautioned by police for two counts of theft. And one count of appearing of This Morning without due care and attention. Probably.

A man who claimed that Andy Dick hit him in the face with his genitals is dropping his lawsuit against the US stand up comedian. Robert Tucker alleged that Dick took out his genitals at a comedy club in Dallas, Texas in 2010, and 'planted them' on his face. He had sought unspecified damages, insisting that he was left 'degraded and humiliated' in front of the work colleagues who had come with him to the comedy show and who subsequently 'harassed and ridiculed' him over the incident. According to the initial lawsuit, the 'assault' happened when Tucker asked Dick for an autograph as the comic was dressed in drag. Instead, the initial papers claimed, Dick 'took control of Plaintiff's head with his left hand and pulled down his costume skirt with right hand, exposing the fact that he was not wearing underwear beneath the skirt.' Dick then, 'while still controlling Plaintiff's head with his hand,' allegedly 'forced his genitals against the left side of Plaintiff's face. The Plaintiff immediately pulled away.' Tucker has now dismissed his claims and will not re-file it.

The Turin Shroud - which is revered by many Christians as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ even though it's a rather crude Medieval fake - has made its début on modern media platforms. Italy's Rai TV broadcast for the first time images of the linen cloth bearing a faint brownish image of what appears to be a man's body. A smartphone app was also created to show digital images of the cloth. Pope Francis contributed a message to the broadcast, shortly before he was to celebrate his first Easter vigil. The pontiff, who was elected earlier this month, presided over a vigil at St Peter's Basilica on Saturday evening - ahead of the main Easter Sunday celebrations. Viewers were able to watch live images of the Turin Shroud in a ninety-minute programme from Turin Cathedral. The images were also streamed on various websites. In a video message ahead of the exhibition, Pope Francis said: 'It speaks to our heart.' The pontiff described the cloth as 'an icon' but was careful not to authenticate it as a genuine relic - which it isn't. The shroud has never been officially recognised as authentic by The Vatican and rigorous scientific testing seems to indicate that it was woven between seven and eight hundred years ago. The presence of the Turin Shroud in Lirey, France, is only undoubtedly attested from 1390 when Bishop Pierre d'Arcis wrote a memorandum to Antipope Clement VII, stating that the shroud was a forgery and that the artist had confessed to his naughty ways. The only previous - recorded - TV broadcast of the shroud was in 1973. It was last shown to the general public three years ago when Pope Benedict travelled to Turin to view it. The Shroud has been kept in the northern Italian city for more than four centuries. It was taken there by members of the former Italian and French royal house of Savoy who originally acquired it in France in the belief that it had been brought to Europe by returning Crusaders.

Police in Brazil have used tear gas and smoke grenades to break up clashes between fans who were trying to buy tickets for the inaugural match in a stadium built for the 2014 World Cup. The football fans had queued overnight at a ticket office in the North Eastern state of Bahia, but fighting broke out as soon as it opened. The Arena Fonte Nova stadium cost three hundred and thirty million dollars - about fifty million over budget. Meanwhile, a builder was killed in an accident at another World Cup venue. Raimundo Nonato Lima Costa, forty nine, a construction worker at the Amazon Arena in Manaus, reportedly fell from a height of about five metres. Nobody was arrested after the clashes at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, police said. The company in charge of the new stadium issued a statement saying it would 'improve on the shortcomings' which became apparent on Friday. Witnesses said there were no barriers to separate the ticket booth queues. Lately, a series of events have led to criticism of Brazil's planning for the world's biggest football event. The inauguration date of iconic Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, set to host the final next year, has been delayed repeatedly. Originally due reopening in December 2012, its first match is now scheduled for 27 April. Last week, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro added to the embarrassment by closing the stadium due to host the athletics events at the 2016 Olympics, which was being used to replace Maracana at major football matches.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's good mate Mick Snowden made his latest short film, Hoax, in response to a request from ARC in Stockton-on-Tees, as a prelude to their performance of Bandages, a play by Kirsty Housley. Based on an improvisation about emotions in an acting class, and developed in response to a poem of the same name that formed the inspiration for Kirsty's play, Hoax explores the tensions which are caused when relationships are built on lies. Bandages will be showing at ARC on Thursday 18 April at 7.30pm. For more information or to book tickets visit here with Hoax acting as a support feature.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of yer actual Keith Telly Topping pondering the inherently ludicrous nature of existence from inside the data cloud. Well, it fills ten minutes on a boring Easter Sunday after watching the Doctor Who repeat.
And so, dear blog reader, to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, today, features a moment of glory and brilliance from Siouxsie and all of her Banshees.

1 comment:

The Nth Doctor said...

Many thanks for the plug, Keith. A pleasant thing to see as I emerged bleary-eyed from the edit suite.