Saturday, March 16, 2013

We've Got Provisions And Lots Of Beer, The Keyword Is Survival On The New Frontier

Matt Smith has hinted at the future of Doctor Who on ITV's The Jonathan Ross Show. The actor gave Rossy a few (tiny) clues about the BBC's long-running popular SF drama's fiftieth anniversary special, in an episode to air on Saturday night. 'I've got to be diplomatic because if I give the whole game away I'll be screwed,' Smudger said. Not literally, one trusts. 'The thing is with Who, you'll understand this more when you've watched it.' He then added: 'Paintings. That's all I'm saying.' The thirty-year-old went on to say that he is 'very happy' on Doctor Who and confirmed that he will shoot a 2013 Christmas episode following the fiftieth anniversary special. 'I go and I do the anniversary special, then I go away for a bit and then I come back and do the Christmas special,' he explained. 'It's one of those jobs that you have to take year-by-year, it's ten months a year, it's all-consuming. So I don't think you can plan five or six years ahead, or even two years ahead. It's a year-by-year thing and at the moment it's 2013 and we'll see what 2014 holds.' Matt was also a guest on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Friday morning, talking about the return of Doctor Who on Easter Saturday (in which he also confirmed the title of the episode The Crimson Horror with Diana Rigg), working on the series in Cardiff, and the fiftieth anniversary - but wouldn't be drawn on whether any other Doctors would be involved. Earlier in the week, Smudger was the subject of Meet the Star, a regular event at London's Apple Store. He was interviewed by Boyd Hilton and spoke about the forthcoming run of episodes (confirming another episode title, The Hider in the House with Dougray Scott, in the process) and the fiftieth anniversary special (which, he said, he'd read the day before).

Meanwhile, yer actual Smudger his very self says that he is 'embarrassed' to be a fan of struggling Blackburn Vindaloos. The Lancashire club are languishing in the Championship following relegation from the Premier League last season. Matta told BBC Radio 5Live the side's FA Cup exit at the hands of Millwall in midweek was 'woeful.' He said: 'We're playing like a team without any verve or quality. Sort it out Shebby Singh, sort it out Venky's - we are not happy.' Smudger had been talking about his own teenage footballing career with Leicester City and Nottingham Forest before a back injury forced him to give up the game and take up acting instead when the subject strayed onto Blackburn. He said he was 'not impressed' with the way the club had been run since the takeover by the Rao family - owners of the Venky's brand - in November 2010. At the time, Blackburn were fourteenth in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone. The following month odious berk Sam Allardyce was - very amusingly - sacked as manager and the hapless Steve Kean placed in charge with the club five points off the relegation zone. The Vindaloos only avoided relegation on the final day of the season and dropped to the Championship the following year after a season marked by increasingly vocal protests against the club's management by increasingly stroppy fans. Well-regarded chief executive John Williams was one of the higher-profile departures from the club following the takeover and the more recent appointment of 'global adviser' Shebby Singh had led to talk of a power struggle at Ewood Park. Kean resigned in September 2012 and was replaced by former player Henning Berg but his reign lasted just fifty seven days before he got the boot. Michael Appleton was appointed boss in January and enjoyed three successive victories in his early weeks. However recent results have been poor, despite an FA Cup win over Arsenal. That victory will have seemed a long time ago for many of the eight thousand six hundred supporters who saw Blackburn dumped out of the cup while delivering what Appleton called 'a disappointing display.' For Smudger, it marked a low point in the recent history of the club: 'It's an absolute farce, a joke, it's being run by complete numpties. Great players, great team, great club and those berks have ruined it,' he told 5Live's Kicking Off show. 'They talk about getting rid of Allardyce because of the long ball - what the hell was that against Millwall? It was a woeful performance against Millwall. It's the first time I've been embarrassed at the way the team played.'

Comic Relief's Funny for Money featured a hybrid of Call the Midwife, One Born Every Minute and Doctor Who on Friday night. The sketch involved the Midwife cast intruding on a current-day birth and struggling to cope with their mysterious modern ways. Miranda Hart and Jessica Raine were shown assisting the baffled expectant mother, amid talk of a 'roaring coal fire' and 'tea made by a kindly neighbour.' The exasperated father of the baby later demands a doctor, with yer actual Matt Smith then appearing in his TARDIS and making a terrible Jedward-related prophecy about the mother's unborn twins. Trust me, dear blog reader, it was every bit as bad as that description makes it sound, good cause or otherwise.

Celebrities and the public have helped this year's Comic Relief charity telethon raise a record seventy five million smackers so far. Former comedian Lenny Henry, a founder of the Red Nose Day fundraiser which is now in its twenty fifth year, kicked-off the live show on BBC1 with his usual act that was last funny, briefly, in about 1983. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads, singer Jessie J, alleged comedian Peter Kay and boy band One Direction all made appearances. Hopefully, like yer actual Keith Telly Topping, you were out on Friday night and missed all this. if you weren't, dear blog reader, I can only sympathise. There were also reinterpretations of hit TV shows The Vicar of Dibley and Call The Midwife. And Ricky Gervais resurrected his David Brent character in a mini-episode of The Office. David Walliams featured in a sketch alongside the likes of supermodel Kate Moss, footballer Frank Lampard, Gwyneth Paltrow and Hugh Grant and veteran comedian Ronnie Corbett. Meanwhile, across the country people dressed stupidly during the day to help raise money for good causes in both the UK and Africa. The television broadcast began at 19:00, with Henry revealing a special gold Red Nose suit. Oh, thigh-slapping, so it was. He said it had been 'twenty five years of truly incredible fundraising, truly incredible comedy and truly incredible suits.' Shortly after 01:30 on Friday morning, Russell Brand announced that the money raised at that point stood at seventy five million one hundred and seven thousand eight hundred and fifty one smackers - passing 2011's total of £74.3m. Hosts on stage included Dermot O'Dreary, Claudia Winkleman, Jonathan Ross, former national heart-throb David Tennant and footballer David Beckham were among those to appeal to the public to make donations. The BBC's coverage between 7pm and 10pm had an average audience of just under ten million (9.87m to be specific) with a fifteen minute peak of 12.4m. Friday's all-day audience share for BBC1 was 30.9 per cent and forty one per cent of the audience share for BBC TV overall. Both of these figures are about ten points ahead of the previous Friday.

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer are to reunite for a new BBC sitcom. Vic and Bob's House of Fools is to shoot a not-for-broadcast pilot on Friday 22 March. The comic duo will play versions of themselves in the comedy, which will see them living together in Mortimer's flat along with his estranged son Erik (played by Daniel Simonsen). Morgana Robinson will also appear in House of Fools as their 'eccentric landlady' Julie, while The IT Crowd's Matt Berry will play 'lady-obsessed lothario' Beef - a regular visitor to the flat. Dan Skinner - better known as his comic creation Angelos Epithemiou - will also team up with his Shooting Stars cohorts, starring as a Geordie ex-con who wants to move in with Bob. Amidst the chaos, Mortimer will be seen struggling to get his love life in order and organise his first date in six months. House of Fools is described as 'half-an-hour of unadulterated Reeves and Mortimer - anarchic japes, unimaginable props and impossible situations with a stellar cast.'
Former Daily Mirra editor Richard Wallace has been interviewed under caution by detectives investigating phone hacking at Mirra Group Newspapers. The Metropolitan police confirmed on Friday that a fifty one-year-old man had been questioned as part of the Operation Weeting investigation into an alleged phone-hacking conspiracy at the newspaper group. Wallace attended a South London police station at approximately 1pm and was later released. He was deputy editor of the Sunday Mirra between 2003 and 2004, before becoming editor of the Daily Mirra until 2012. Wallace now works as a PR adviser to Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads in the US. He is believed to be flying back to America on Saturday. The police interview comes a day after Scotland Yard arrested four current or former senior Mirra Group editorial staff, including ex-Sunday Mirra editor Tina Weaver and current Sunday People editor James Scott, over what it suspected was 'a separate conspiracy' to the Scum of the World phone-hacking malarkey, mainly involving the Sunday Mirra between 2003 and 2004. Scotland Yard said in a statement: 'A fifty one-year-old man attended a South London police station at approximately 13:00 hours today. He was interviewed under caution (not arrested) in connection with the suspected conspiracy to intercept telephone voicemails at Mirror Group Newspapers, which is being investigated by Operation Weeting.'

Downing Street has admitted that Nick Clegg has a veto over David Cameron's plan to establish a royal charter on press regulation because he is president of the body which would have to approve the measure. The prime minister is due to publish his plan for the royal charter, though No 10 admitted that it 'cannot come into force' without the agreement of the deputy prime minister who is Lord President of the Council and holder of the silver stick of destiny and the hat of joy. Or something. Clegg is the cabinet minister who leads on the privy council which would establish the royal charter. Cameron's proposal was due to be published on Friday afternoon and came after all-party talks on implementing The Leveson Report into press regulation collapsed on Thursday. The prime minister is to table amendments to the crime and courts bill in the Commons on Monday which would allow 'exemplary costs and damages' to be imposed on media organisations that do not sign up to a press regulation body established by the royal charter. Ed Milimolimandi, the Labour leader, and Clegg, who support exemplary damages, will table their own amendments to guarantee the independence of the new body. They would also like the royal charter to be underpinned in statute. The prime minister's spokesman dismissed this. 'The prime minister's view is that the royal charter does not require it,' he said. Downing Street said that the prime minister will publish his own, rather than government, proposals for the royal charter because he does not yet have the agreement of Clegg. The spokesman admitted this means that no royal charter could come into force without the agreement of Clegg. 'Yes, a royal charter would need that agreement [of the lord president of the council],' the spokesman said. 'What the prime minster wants to do is go and secure support for his approach which means the two amendments – on exemplary costs and damages – and then making the case for the royal charter.' Downing Street indicated that the prime minister 'would expect' Clegg to sign up to the royal charter on his terms if the Labour and Liberal Democrat amendments are rejected by MPs. 'Royal charters progress on an agreed basis,' the spokesman said. 'The prime minister has a workable solution. He is putting that forward. If that is successful he will press for the adoption of the royal charter. Those who might disagree would have to explain why they didn't want a workable system of press regulation.' But No 10 that said Cameron 'would respect the will of parliament' if the Labour and Lib Dem amendments were passed. Big of him. 'Parliament is sovereign,' the spokesman said. This raises the possibility that Cameron will be forced to accept a royal charter on Labour and Lib Dem terms if he loses the vote. There are three hundred and four Tory MPs and a total of three hundred and fourteen Labour and Lib Dem MPs.
Sky News correspondent Mark Stone was detained by Chinese police while filming in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Stone and his cameraman, Andy Portch, were filming live on-air when they were approached by a police officer on Friday morning who asked them to stop filming in the square. The pair broadcast live from the back of the police van as they were driven to a nearby station - a proper Chinese takeaway, if you will. No? Fair comment. It was not clear whether they had been formally arrested. Stone told Sky News viewers on his way to the station: 'This is just a little insight really into the way reporting works in China. Most of the time things are fine and for most of the day no problems at all, but then every now and then this happens. The police have been entirely civil with us, but they are detaining us nonetheless.' Stone and Portch were released shortly before 1pm British time after over three hours in police custody. According to a Sky News spokeswoman, police told the pair that they were detained because they were 'not properly displaying' their press accreditation badges. The journalists have returned to the Beijing bureau where they are preparing a film on the incident to run on the Sky News bulletin at 5pm. A report on the Sky News website said the pair had received permission to film in the square, where they were reporting on China's leadership transition.
The latest BBC promotional campaign celebrates the corporation's ninety years of innovation, from the dawn of radio broadcasting to the multi-screen age. A sixty-second film will premiere on BBC networks over the weekend, illustrating how the BBC has been a 'world-class innovator' since its foundation. It includes the tagline: 'We've been bringing you the future since 1922. Makes you wonder ... where next?' Using archive footage and computer graphics, the film starts with the birth of BBC Radio in October 1922 and shifts through the first television broadcasts in 1936 and then the début of colour television in 1967. It also covers the BBC's first forays into the digital world with the launch of television news and information service Ceefax in 1974, and the introduction of BBC Micro computers in the 1980s. Onwards into the modern era, the film marks the launch of BBC iPlayer in 2007 and the London 2012 Olympics, heralded as 'the first digital games' with hours of coverage available across multiple screens and devices. The clip ends with the open question of what innovation will come next from the BBC. BBC director marketing and audiences, Philip Almond, said that the BBC has been a 'world-class innovator' throughout its history. 'We wanted to bring the BBC's achievements to life for our audiences, and show them the impact we've made in pushing the boundaries of broadcast technology. The BBC is innovating for everyone and we hope this powerful untold story will capture the imagination of audiences and make them wonder "where next?"' Unique music accompanying the film was produced by the creative director of the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop, using a variety of non-instrumental sounds, such as finger-tapping, heavy-breathing and footsteps. The promotional campaign launched on Friday online but will premiere on-air during the weekend. It will run throughout the year. BBC Future Media director Ralph Rivera said: 'The BBC has a long history of broadcasting innovation that benefits our audiences and the wider industry. More recently, the BBC brought audiences the first truly digital Olympics in 2012, setting a new digital standard for large event coverage and broadcast online. Innovation is part of the BBC's DNA and we want to celebrate the huge technological contribution we've made throughout the history of broadcasting, and get people excited about where we're headed next.' Creative agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe Y&R developed the campaign with the BBC, and the sixty-second launch film was produced by Red Bee Media.

It involves a dashing Polish army lieutenant exiled in the US deep south as the civil war approaches and the question of who he really loves: the plantation owner's angry niece, Miss Regina, or the tall, blond, rugged officer who arrives suddenly – a handsome man called Eric MacClure. The television play is heady, emotional stuff tackling issues of race as well as sexuality and that it was broadcast by ITV on a winter's night fifty four years ago is nothing short of remarkable. The BFI now believes the newly rediscovered production - South - may well be the earliest known proudly 'out' gay TV drama. South, adapted by Gerald Savory from an original play by Julien Green and screened on 24 November 1959, 'is a milestone' in gay cultural history, said the BFI curator Simon McCallum. He added that its leading man, Peter Wyngarde, deserved particular praise. 'I think you have to give Wyngarde a massive pat on the back in terms of the bravery in taking this role. There were quite bad reactions from some of the press.' They included the following casually offensive review from the Daily Sketch's critic: 'I do NOT see anything attractive in the agonies and ecstasies of a pervert, especially in close-up in my living room. This is not prudishness. There are some indecencies in life that are best left covered up.' Oooo. Closet, do we reckon? To be scrupulously fair the homophobic prick in question, that was the prevailing attitude in much of Britain at the time with homosexual acts between men still illegal, although the Wolfenden report in 1957 had recommended decriminalisation, something which would not happen until 1967. Its discovery has taken curators aback because the - stunning - 1961 movie Victim, with Dirk Bogarde as a barrister taking on blackmailers, is normally held up as the milestone for gay representation on film and TV. South, made by Granada, was made two years earlier. The play will be seen for the first time in a generation at the BFI's twenty seventh London lesbian and gay film festival on Saturday and Sunday. 'For many years it just wasn't known that this film existed other than to a few specialist researchers,' said McCallum. 'We're so glad to be able to show it at the festival because it's part of all our heritage, really.' South holds up well to a contemporary viewer, exploring universal themes of alienation and otherness. 'The play is about north versus south, black versus white, straight versus gay,' said McCallum. There are some extremely moving scenes involving Wyngarde as Lieutenant Jan Wicziewsky, including one where he pours his heart out to the admittedly confused Jimmy, the young son of the plantation owner. 'You know, Jimmy, odd times, freedom of will is a crushing weight and it's not always possible to choose. I'm in love Jimmy, as no human being was ever in love before,' he says to the bewildered boy. 'It's better not to know what men are thinking, it's almost always sad or shameful. I'm not ashamed, but I am alone. Hopelessly alone.' The object of his love is MacClure, a handsome army officer played by Graydon Gould who has just arrived at the plantation. 'By today's standards it is all quite implicit, it is not explicit,' said McCallum. 'But it is pretty extraordinary – it all builds up in this pressure cooker atmosphere with war clouds looming in the background.' The discovery of South was made as part of the BFI's continuing research into the history of gay representation on screen. Researchers are not able to watch everything in the archive and are often alerted by listings in the Radio Times which will hint at something interesting, that there may be a subtext. In this case there was a hint that there was something 'not quite right' about the main character and the fact that he was played by Wyngarde also set bells ringing because, as we now know, Peter was gay himself and in a long-term relationship with the actor Alan Bates. None of that was known at the time, with Wyngarde going on to be a star and housewives' favourite from 1969 as playboy dandy crime-fighter and novelist Jason King in Department S and, later, its spin-off Jason King. With his handlebar moustache, enormous hair and largely unbuttoned shirt, King was the ultimate ladies' man and was one of the inspirations for Mike Myers's Austin Powers nearly thirty years later. Although it was well-known in the acting world that Wyngarde was gay – he had the nickname Petunia Winegum – it was a closely guarded secret to the general public. 'Watching it does remind you how brave he was at the time to take this role and the way the subject is dealt with is incredibly brave,' said McCallum. The discovery was 'very exciting' and South becomes the earliest known British gay TV play. Whether it is the very first is hard to say since so much of the television output from the 1950s and early 60s does not survive. Often live shows were not recorded or if they were, they were later wiped. 'We are incredibly lucky that this one survives.' Given that South was live, it is remarkably slick with only a few stumbles over lines and only one panicked stagehand trying desperately to get out of shot. After South there was very little gay representation on TV for most of the 1960s with a few notable exceptions. ITV's This Week screened a documentary, Homosexuals, in 1964, followed by Lesbians in 1965. The most significant drama was a classic borderline telefantasy BBC Wednesday Play called Horror of Darkness, written by John Hopkins and starring Nicol Williamson and Glenda Jackson, which was made in 1964 but not broadcast until 1965 because of concerns over its gay subtext. It was left to British new wave movies to try to break boundaries with films such as Victim, The Servant and The L-Shaped Room. After the festival screenings, South will become available to watch for nothing from next month at the BFI's mediatheques in Glasgow, Newcastle, Wrexham, Cambridge, Derby and London.

Meanwhile, if any of that offends your sensibilities then a) you're a sick homophobe Daily Scum Mail reader and the world would, probably, be a good deal better off without you in it. And b), try this instead, it may be more to your tastes.
And, on that bombshell ...

Oscar-winning film director Ang Lee is branching out into television, after it was announced he will direct the pilot episode of new series, Tyrant. The drama marks Lee's first project since the 2012 film Life of Pi, which saw the Taiwanese filmmaker win his second Academy Award last month. Tyrant follows an ordinary American family caught up in the affairs of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation. Shooting for the show on US cable channel FX will begin this summer. The team behind the drama includes Homeland's Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff, who will act as executive producers. 'Ang Lee has demonstrated time and again an ability to present characters with such depth and specificity that they reveal the universal human condition,' said FX president John Landgraf in a statement. Lee, whose previous credits include the martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Jane Austen adaptation Sense and Sensibility and comic book blockbuster Hulk, saw his latest film win a total of four Oscars in February. Aside from best director, the 3D film - based on the Booker-winning novel about a shipwrecked boy and a Bengal tiger - won awards for cinematography, score and visual effects. The director, fifty eight, won his first best director Oscar in 2006, for cowboy romance Brokeback Mountain.

The first autobiographical documentary about Professor Stephen Hawking is to be screened on Channel Four after its release in UK and Ireland cinemas. Titled Hawking, the biopic is an 'intimate' look at the theoretical physicist's life, narrated by the man himself. It also includes interviews with the astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Hawking's sister, his ex-wife, his carers and various students. The film had its world premiere at the South By South West Festival this week. 'It's a story that most of us have been aware of over the years, and so one kind of forgets how extraordinary it is,' said David Glover, Channel Four's senior commissioning editor. 'In this film he tells us the story of his life - making it the definitive film about Hawking. He does it in a rather understated, modest, British way - which makes it all the more moving. I think it's a film that people will still be watching a hundred years from now.' Hawking, seventy one, is one of the world's most famous scientists and the film follows his journey from an underachieving schoolboy to a multi-million pound selling author. It will explain how he learned to adapt to life after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given just two years to live when he married his first wife, Jane, in 1964. Interviewees include Jane and Hawking's sister Mary, as well as colleagues including Sir Roger Penrose, actors Jim Carrey and yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Hawking in an acclaimed 2004 TV drama, and Sir Richard Branson. Commissioned by Channel Four, the film is a co-production between the UK broadcaster and US network PBS. Hawking's book, A Brief History of Time - a layman's guide to cosmology - became an unlikely best-seller when it was first published in 1988, selling more than ten million copies worldwide. In recent years he has written and presented several science documentaries for the Discovery Channel and appeared as himself in US sitcom The Big Bang Theory and voiced animated versions of himself in Futurama and The Simpsons. His last book, Grand Design, was published in 2010.

Friends of Lana Clarkson, the actress murdered by music producer Phil Spector, have been protesting at a screening of the film about his trial. The movie, starring Al Pacino, focuses on his relationship with his defence lawyer, played by Helen Mirren. But the group against the film say it is 'too sympathetic' to the murdering bastard with weird hair and his defence case. Clarkson's former publicist, Edward Lozzi, called the film 'a slap in the face.' He told the Hollywood Reporter the group initially hoped to stop the film from being made, but now wanted to ensure that it receives no Emmy award recognition. Spector was convicted of second-degree murder in 2009 for shooting Clarkson in his California home in 2003. He is currently serving a prison sentence of nineteen years to life. 'If this in any way makes Lana Clarkson look responsible for her own death, we are going to lobby the [television] Academy to prevent anyone from receiving an award,' Lozzi said to the New York Post. 'Seeing Al Pacino play a crazed murderer like Phil Spector, who wouldn't want to see that? But it is a bunch of lies,' he added. The film's director David Mamet told the Financial Times in 2011: 'I don't think he's guilty. I definitely think there is reasonable doubt.' At the New York premiere of the film, Spector's defence lawyer, Linda Kenney Baden, told CNN the film was 'about soul-searching. Do we convict people because of how they look, what they look like, whether they're freaky looking? Or do we convict people on the evidence?' she said. Producers say that the film 'is neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, nor to comment upon the outcome,' according to an on-screen disclaimer. Spector's wife Rachelle has also been speaking about the film which is due to be broadcast on HBO in the US on 24 March. She told Entertainment Tonight it 'brought tears' to her eyes but called it 'fictionalised and bogus.'

The comedian Norman Collier, best known for his faulty microphone act, has died at the age of eighty seven, his daughter confirmed. Collier, who had Parkinson's disease and was living in a nursing home near his hometown of Hull, died on Thursday. A contemporary of Little and Large, with whom he often worked, he rose to fame on the club circuit, getting his big break on The Royal Variety Performance. 'It's kept me in good health, making people laugh. And it's kept them in good health too,' he said in 2009. Danny Baker and Jon Culshaw were among those paying tribute on Twitter, with Culshaw describing Norman as a 'wonderfully funny man. People would be permanently laughing whenever they were around him.' The eldest of eight children, Collier was born in Hull on Christmas Day in 1925 and once joked there were 'five of us sleeping in one bed.' After serving as a gunner in World War II, he worked as a labourer but turned to comedy in 1950 after a one-off stint at his local Perth Street Social Club. He quickly drew a popular following on the Northern club circuit, but it was his début at the 1971 Royal Variety Performance that brought him to wider attention. 'Unknown comedian Norman Collier won a standing ovation for his act in the Royal Variety Show,' wrote the Daily Scum Express, of his critically acclaimed turn. 'Norman turned out to be one of the big successes of this year's Royal Knees-up,' added the Daily Mira. Collier went on to make regular appearances on television and at theatres across the UK in the 1970s and 80s, and is arguably best remembered for his act featuring an intermittently working microphone - and his chicken impression. He was also a frequent pantomime performer, notably playing Widow Twanky opposite Little and Large at Hull's New Theatre in Aladdin. He never moved to London - despite the lure of fame - preferring to stay on Humberside, surrounded by his family. He told the BBC in 2009 he had 'no regrets.' He leaves a wife, Lucy, to whom he was married for more than sixty years, three children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His friend and biographer Mike Ulyatt recalled a meeting between Collier and Eric Sykes, in which Sykes commented 'we are the last of the Vaudevillians in this country.' 'How I wished I had recorded their conversation over lunch that day. It took me over two years to complete Norman's life story, he would go off at such tangents at our numerous meetings,' added Ulyatt. 'He was a local lad who never wanted to move from East Yorkshire and a real family man. He often said to me "All I ever wanted to do was make people laugh." His good friend Bernie Clifton got him a copy of the 1971 Royal Command Performance and Norman could never remember what the Queen said to him afterwards but on the recording they talked like long lost friends! In Blackpool, he met up with Ringo Starr and George Harrison just before their fame began and said to what a funny name for a group The Beatles was!'

'This is the voice of the Mysterons' said a disembodied voice on the phone late on Friday afternoon at Stately Telly Topping Manor. 'Oh, hello Uncle Scunthorpe, were's it gonna be then, this Record Player?' replied yer actual Keith Telly Topping to such daft shenanigans. The cause of all this malarkey and, you know, doings was Friday night's Record Player special, subtitled Cocktail Hour '59 and featuring a spinning of one of the most genuinely and deliciously perfect records ever made, yer actual Miles Davis's Kind of Blue at 'a mystery location' in Central Newcastle. Great. We were told to meet at 6:20pm next to the Queen Victoria statue outside St Nicholas's Cathedral (which, immediately, made half of those attending assume we were gonna be sitting in The Castle, feeling very cold, rather than merely cool, whilst sipping our cocktails). In the event, the venue was rather more unusual (and, certainly much warmer), George Scott's barbers shop at the top of The Side. With it's splendidly retro fifties décor, it was a truly inspired choice by yer actual Uncle Scunthorpe his very self. There was booze. Plenty of booze. There were nibbles. There was tasty jazz stylings. It was, as Louis Balfour might well've noted, 'Crazy! But, niiiice'.
Here's a few selected snapshots of the evening.
So, that was The Record Player Goes Walkabout, that was. next week's it's back to the Tyneside on Thursday for Physical Graffiti. Well, let's face it, all this pop music at least gets yer actual Keith Telly Topping out of Stately Telly Topping Manor once a week (or, in this week's case, three times a week!) That, in and of itself, means that it's providing a useful public service to the nation.

Thus, still in a mood from last night, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, we've got yet more tasty jazz stylings. Here's yer actual Donald Fagen and a twenty four carat masterpiece.

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