Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sometime I Feel Like A Motherless Child

Attention Doctor Who fans - or, as The Master says in The Mark of The Rani, 'Hold hard!' which this blogger has always thought was a really dirty bit of dialogue to go out at six o'clock on a Saturday night. Anyway ... prepare yourselves for 'a fan-fuelled rip-roaring telecaster of a ride' this Saturday night. Apparently. Yer actual Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS provides many a thrill and more than a few spills as The Doctor (Matt Smith, as if you didn't know) and Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) delve deep into the depths of the space/time machine that looks a bit like Suranne Jones. On a good day. What terrors lurk in the bowels of the TARDIS? Who will survive the odyssey into the heart of the ship? And what unspeakable truth is The Doctor keeping from Clara? You'll have to watch to find out. Unless you prefer Britain's Got Toilets on the other side. Many people do, they reckon. Their loss, frankly.
Skill. Jimmy Hill, in fact.

Meanwhile, Doctor Who director Nick Hurran is to be the chap behind the camera on the Sherlock third series finale. Hurran's online CV with the talent agency Curtis Brown has revealed that he will direct the third and final ninety minute episode in Sherlock's next series, which is due to be shot in about two month's time. The film and television director is probably best known to dear blog readers for his Doctor Who episodes - 2011's The Girl Who Waited and The God Complex and 2012's Asylum of the Daleks and The Angels Take Manhattan. Nick recently returned to Doctor Who for a fifth time and is currently shooting the long-running popular BBC family SF drama's fiftieth anniversary special. The third series of Sherlock will again be comprised of three ninety-minute TV-movies; the opening instalment The Empty Hearse has been penned by yer actual Mark Gatiss, while filming on the second episode, The Sign of Three, commenced this week. Few details have yet been released regarding the finale, which will be written by the show's co-creator Th Lord Thy God Steven Moffat.
The third series of Sherlock, starring, you know, 'him out of Star Trek' and, 'him out of The Hobbit' will be broadcast during the winter of 2013-14 (probably January, although that's still to be confirmed).

So, the acclaimed murder mystery Broadchurch finished on a series high of nearly nine million overnight viewers as ITV confirmed the series would return for a second run. 'When I first talked to Peter Fincham and Laura Mackie, ITV's Director of Drama about Broadchurch, I mentioned that if people liked it, there was another very different story we could tell afterwards,' said the series creator and writer Chris Chibnall. 'I'm really thrilled we're going to tell that story too.' Starring a superb ensemble cast lead by David Tennant and Olivia Colman, Broadchurch follows a police investigation into the murder of an eleven year old boy, Danny Latimer, in a small picturesque Dorset town. From its launch on 4 March, the eight-part Monday night series, which also featured Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Vicky McClure, Arthur Darvill, Pauline Quirke and David Bradley among others has fair gripped a portions of the nation and attracted consolidated audiences over nine million per episode. The drama ended its run with 8.7 million overnight viewers, a thirty three per cent share of the audience, between 9pm and 10pm. Aided by a creative series of short 'Closure' trailers broadcast throughout ITV's weekend schedules, it was its highest overnight audience for the show to date, eclipsing the 7.6 million who tuned into episode three. The finale's consolidated figure is likely to top ten million (the previous highest consolidated audience was also episode three, with 9.6 million). Written and created by Chris Chibnall, a second series will go into production next year, although it remains to be seen whether its biggest names will return. With the identity of Danny's killer revealed, both Tennant and Colman's characters appeared to be leaving the town of Broadchurch at the end of the series, and both to very uncertain futures. ITV said that details on the casting and story for series two would be "kept tightly under wraps". Production will start in 2014. Chibnall said: 'The whole Broadchurch team has been delighted and properly gobsmacked by the response from ITV viewers. ' Broadchurch, produced by Kudos Film and Television and Imaginary Friends Productions, launched with an overnight audience of 6.8 million on 4 March and averaged 7.1 million overnight viewers across the course of its eight-week run. Last night, it predictably had the better of BBC1 documentary The Prisoners, watched by 2.8 million punters. With a double helping of Coronation Street watched by 8.7 million and 8.4 million at 7.30pm and 8.30pm respectively, ITV had a 27.7 per cent share of the peaktime audience between 6pm and 10.30pm, comfortably ahead of BBC1's 19.1 per cent. Paul Hollywood's Bread came to the end of its six-part run on BBC2 with two million viewers. Oh, and just in case you didn't watch Broadchurch live but have got it recorded to watch later, Ellie's husband Joe did it.
When Broadchurch came to an end on Monday night, it confirmed its status as the channel's biggest new drama since Downton Abbey and the most popular midweek drama hit for nearly a decade. The hunt for the killer of Danny Latimer, engaged viewers in a style redolent of 'Who shot JR?' The TV landscape has, of course, changed massively since more than twenty million viewers tuned in to discover the identity of JR Ewing's assailant in Dallas, but with an average consolidated weekly audience of nearly ten million, Broadchurch catapulted itself into ITV's top tier next to Coronation Street and Britain's Got Talent. Such was the secrecy around its denouement that only twenty nine people – the cast and crew, plus a handful of ITV executives – knew the identity of the culprit before Monday's eighth and final episode. Peter Fincham, ITV's director of television, said: 'In a world of box sets where we can watch three or four episodes of our favourite programme in one night, Broadchurch reminded us of the pleasure of deferred pleasures. We don't have previews at the end of each episode giving away half of the next week's plot. We commission a lot of very good drama at ITV but sometimes something comes along which is a little bit out of the ordinary. You could point to the first series of Downton Abbey as another example of something where everything comes together.' Critics have heaped praise on Broadchurch. Although, somewhat typically, the Radio Times reviewer still found something to whinge about in a piece entitled Five reasons why the finale was an anti-climax. This blogger disagrees with at least four of those. The final episode, certainly, made some brave dramatic choices - in what was, essentially, a 'whodunnit?' revealing the identity of the killer at the first advert break and then having the entire second act as a 'fifty nine days earlier' flashback, being two of the bravest. There were a few minor niggles, of course - do police officers routinely allow the father of a murdered child to rage at his killer through a cell door before he's even been charged, for one? But some of the circular dramatic devices used (the wonderful scene in which Beth demands of Ellie 'how could you not know?' exactly the same question that Ellie herself ask Pauline Quirke's character about her paedophile husband in a previous episode, for instance) ere touched with magnificence. Sure to feature prominently at awards time, Broadchurch has also been profitable: it is estimated to have generated around fifteen million quid for ITV in advertising revenue alone. Suspicion immediately alighted on the dead boy's father, played by Andrew Buchan, in the early episodes but then encompassed virtually every character in the town, including the husband of one of the investigating detectives (Matthew Gravelle), an allegedly 'psychic' telephone engineer (Will Mellor) and a recovering alcoholic vicar (one of the best performances in a drama full of outstanding turns, by Arthur Darvill). Its focus on the community and the grief of a bereaved family brought comparisons with the acclaimed Scandinavian drama The Killing. Chris Chibnall, whose previous scripts include Life on Mars, Doctor Who and its spin-off Torchwood, said that his influences stretch back to the 1990s US dramas like Murder One and David Lynch's Twin Peaks. Chibnall first pitched the idea for the show ten years ago, but ended up writing episodes of Life on Mars for the BBC instead. He returned to Broadchurch after an unhappy period in the US working on the drama Camelot. His idea was for a project which would be 'very cinematic, very image driven, in which it wouldn't just be about the dialogue.' Chibnall also wanted to make the landscape of his home county, Dorset, integral to the drama. 'I wanted to make the landscape a real character which is frankly just nicked from Thomas Hardy,' said Chibnall. Tennant's character is called Alex Hardy. Another character, the tragic newsagent Jack (played by David Bradley) was seen reading Jude the Obscure. Gub Neal, former Channel Four director of drama and now creative director of producer and distributor Artists Studio, said: 'It's refreshing to see something so intelligent and so layered on a mainstream network. It doesn't conform to the traditional expectation that crime is a Rubik's cube, plot-driven thing in which the purpose of watching the drama is to see who did it. Although solving the case remains an engine, it becomes about more than that.' With broadcasters increasingly turning to drama to define their channels, the importance of a hit such as Broadchurch cannot be overestimated. It is the most popular new drama since Downton Abbey in 2010 and the biggest midweek hit since Doc Martin, the Cornish medical series starring Martin Clunes, in 2004.

The final twist in the Broadchurch finale was the confirmation that the ITV drama will have a second series. Broadchurch producer Richard Stokes hinted to fans of the show that there would be 'a major twist' at the end of the episode - and his comments referred to the written text 'Broadchurch will return', which appeared on screen after the end credits. The murder case in the eight-part drama, which centred on the murder of schoolboy Danny Latimer, was all resolved by the end of the episode. The detectives in the case Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) and Alex Hardy (David Tennant) both appeared to be preparing to retire from policework and move away from Broadchurch, so it's not clear which actors will be involved in the second run. Chris Chibnall said on Twitter after the finale had concluded: 'I'll shut up in a second, but final thanks to the amazing cast, crew, production company & network who all kept our secrets. Now it's time for a big drink. Just, thank you.'
ITV have also released an extra scene from the final episode online, which is well worth a watch.

The success of Broadchurch has had the knock-on effect of helping generate a tourism boom in Dorset. Chris Chibnall's murder mystery series featured numerous sweeping shots of the region and the writer has described the show as a 'love letter to the scenery of the Jurassic Coast' in interviews. The location shots have inspired TV viewers to visit the area, and the visit-dorset website has had three times the amount of traffic it had this time last year. West Dorset District Council leisure and tourism manager Nick Thornley told the Bournemouth Echo: 'Broadchurch has firmly put West Dorset on the map and it's just the boost that tourism businesses need at this time. The series has showcased the fabulous Jurassic Coast, and West Bay in particular, to millions of potential visitors and the district council's tourism team have been working hard to make the most of the benefits that a major TV series such as this can bring to the area.' So, if you want to go an see where a little boy got murdered by his best friend's dad, West Dorset's the very place for you, clearly!

On to other subjects now. John and Gregg appear on the cover of the latest issue of Radio Times (in the shops now) promoting the final of the latest series of MasterChef. This blogger's money is on Larkin, personally. Or, possibly Saira.
And, speaking of cooking double-acts the Hairy Bikers - yer actual Wor Si King and Davie Myers his very self - have reportedly filmed a new documentary series for BBC2 about industrial Britain. Three-part series The Hairy Bikers: Rebuilding Industrial Britain will cover the themes of agriculture, transport and industry. King and Myers will tour the UK and meet people with a passion for keeping the skills of their ancestors alive and restoring machines that kept industrial Britain moving. Si King said: 'The British Isles was and is the home of engineering pioneers who have designed and built amazing machines that change people's lives. Uncovering their stories will be an unforgettable adventure and it means a lot to us as both our families have strong ties to industry.' Myers added: 'Si's grandfather worked in the pits as a winchman and my family were ship workers in Barrow-in-Furness, or the "Chicago of the North" as it was known. My mum kept links to the shipyards working as a crane driver and rediscovering more about my family's past will be an emotional journey as I'll get a glimpse of what their lives were really like.' The new series is produced by Arrow Media and will be broadcast in the autumn of 2013.
John Barrowman his very self has revealed that he is 'really upset' about not being included in the Doctor Who anniversary special. Quite why Barrowman feels he has a sense of entitlement over taking part in an episode of a series in which he had previously appeared in only nine episodes is another matter entirely. '[The producers] don't want to put Jack in it. And I know fans are really upset about it, as was I,' he whinged. And, as with Sylvester McCoy's whinge a couple of weeks back on the same subject, the question has to be asked, you've asked them all, have you John? Because this 'fan' certainly didn't get that memo allowing you to speak on my behalf.
The next season of Homeland will focus on a bombing plot, it has been announced. Showtime's entertainment president David Nevins confirmed the details of the terrorist drama's third season to Deadline with a timing that might almost have been described as 'explosive'. If that wasn't, you know, really tasteless this week of all weeks. The new episodes 'will deal with the aftermath of a major bombing event and will touch on many things you watch on CNN and Twitter,' Nevins said. Homeland actors Diego Klattenhoff and David Marciano will not return to the show next season as series regulars. Damien Lewis has also revealed to the Digital Spy website that he does not expect his character Brody and Claire Danes's Carrie to reunite as lovers.
Stephen Tompkinson is to star in new BB1 drama Truckers. The actor will play the lead Malachi Davies in the five-part series from Made In Dagenham writer William Ivory. Each episode of the show will follow a different worker at a haulage company who undergoes a life-changing journey. 'Occasionally in my career, I've been able to say an immediate yes to a project without seeing a script, simply because of the writer's name,' said Tompkinson. 'Truckers is certainly up there with William Ivory's other celebrated works and it is indeed an honour to be a part of it and a genuine thrill to be bringing it to BBC1.'

Ben Elton's latest sitcom has been savaged by critics before it has even started. The Wright Way, the comic's first (alleged) sitcom since 2005, starts on BBC1 this week – but early reviews have not been kind. Or, indeed, anything even remotely like it. Radio Times writer David Butcher describes the show as 'creaky and laboured' and 'irrelevant' and asks: 'Who would believe this is [by] the same comic whose stand-up routines sandblasted away the pebbledash of 1970s tit-gags and racism?' In the Gruniad Morning Star - whose hippy Communist readership makes up the vast majority of Elt's fanbase - Stuart Heritage wrote the series off, saying: 'The whole thing is irredeemably dreadful. The characters shout all of their lines in exactly the same way, regardless of the situation.' The Independent suggested that the comedy is 'occasionally so groan-inducing that you want to gather a mob with torches and pitchforks.' Meanwhile, the Daily Torygraph commented: 'If, on a progressive scriptwriting course somewhere, a tutor were to set an exercise demanding that students produce a sitcom script devoid of any trace of originality - or indeed any trace of genuine comedy - this would pass with flying colours.' And, believe it or not, those were some of the nicer comments. The Scotsman's Andrea Mullaney called it 'a stinker' with jokes 'left over from a Seventies sitcom.' Before adding 'Hoots mon, it's oor oil, y'ken?' Or something. The show stars David Haig as a health and safety officer called Gerald Wright enforcing petty diktats in a local council. oh, the hilarity. When the show was commissioned Elton claimed: 'I'm as excited today as I was when The Young Ones was commissioned thirty years ago.' However Elton, who was last even remotely funny in 1989 when Blackadder Goes Forth ended, has little recent form when it comes to writing things that make people laugh. Well, except for the Queen musical, of course. That's thigh-slapping. His last sitcom was also panned. Blessed ran for just one series on BBC1 in 2005 and starred Ardal O'Hanlon and Mel Giedroyc as new parents. it was then cancelled. because it was shit and no one was watching it. He tried to make a comeback on Australian TV in 2011 but that simply ended in humiliation. His much-hyped live sketch show Live From Planet Earth was axed just three episodes amid plummeting ratings and a critical mauling, when it was dubbed 'a screaming, embarrassing failure.' The BBC will be desperately hoping that The Wright Way repeats the success of Mrs Brown's Boys, which has become a huge hit despite facing constant, similar criticisms. I wouldn't put money on it, however.
Bad news everyone, Futurama has been cancelled for a second time. The animated comedy will not be renewed by Comedy Central when it reaches the end of its current seventh season, Entertainment Weekly reports. Devised by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, SF comedy Futurama was originally broadcast on FOX for four series between 1999 and 2003. Following a number of successful direct-to-DVD episodes, Comedy Central brought the show back to television, ordering two twenty six-episode seasons. Futurama will now conclude with the second half of season seven - the new run will begin on 19 June in the US. Comedy Central executive Dave Bernath claimed that the series has reached 'its natural end' following 'a helluva run.' Matt Groening added: 'I'm thankful and feel a sense of gratitude toward the whole process - and that we found a way to keep going for fifty two more episodes - than I really am even thinking about the ending. It's a blessing that it came back and lasted so long. Groening said that he will continue to look for a third home for Futurama, noting: 'We would love to continue. We have many more stories to tell.' The show's last episode - which will focus on the wedding of on/off lovers Fry and Leela - will be shown on 4 September. 'It's a really satisfying ending,' said Groening. 'It's an epic ending, if indeed it's the ending.' Asked for a comment, bender merely added; 'You can bite my shiny metal ass!'
BBC1 controller Danny Cohen is to be promoted to the new director of television, BBC director general Tony Hall has said. The appointment completes Hall's senior team which recently saw James Harding become director of news. Dan The Man, whose commissions have included massive hit Call The Midwife and lesser hit The Voice, will take over from the acting director of BBC TV Roger Mosey. Lord Hall praised Cohen's 'ability to provide viewers with a mixture of high quality programmes.' Danny, who became controller of BBC1 in 2010, said he was 'honoured' to take up the role. 'I've had a wonderful time at BBC1 and am grateful for the work of all the talented people who have made the channel the most popular in the UK in recent years,' he said. The channel had record viewing figures in 2012, led by the success of the Olympic closing ceremony with an average of 24.5 million viewers. According Broadcasters' Audience Research Board, BBC1 broadcast nine out of the top ten most watched programmes of the year. It will mark a rapid rise to the top for Cohen, still yet to turn forty. His BBC3 commissions included the cult drama Being Human and acclaimed Afghanistan documentary series Our War. He previously worked at Channel Four, where he was head of factual entertainment and in charge of E4, commissioning Skins, The Inbetweeners and Supernanny. He began his career in TV production, working at independent programme maker, Diverse. His future commissions for BBC1 include an adaptation of JK Rowling's book A Casual Vacancy, a sitcom written by David Walliams, a comedy series starring Matt Lucas plus new dramas The White Queen, Atlantis and an adaptation of the book Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Yer actual Jeremy Clarkson has taken to three wheels at the Tedworth House recovery centre in Wiltshire. The Top Gear presenter tried out a handbike to launch Hero Ride, a new fundraising campaign from Help for Heroes in aid of wounded service personnel. He met triple amputee Corporal Josh Boggi and double amputee Staff Sgereant Steve Arnold, who are taking part in the charity event on 2 June. Organisers hope the mass bike ride will raise more than two million quid. Jezza, who is patron of Help for Heroes, said: 'It has been a very moving day today, visiting our heroes who have suffered life-changing injuries.' And, because this was all in a good cause, much to their distress some lice on no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star and the Daily Scum Mail didn't have anything to whinge about. What a shame. How will they cope? Boggi, of Nine Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers, lost both his legs and his right arm stepping on an improvised explosive device on New Year's Eve 2010 in Afghanistan. '[Help for Heroes] first supported me with significant funding for my housing adaptations and now, through their Band of Brothers support network, I have taken up handcycling,' he said. 'Help for Heroes have supported me once again with a fully fitted and adapted handbike which I will be using to tackle three hundred and fifty miles through France as part of Hero Ride. I cannot express how much this support means to me and my family. I know that no matter what, Help for Heroes will always be there for me.' Arnold, of the Royal Engineers, lost both his legs when an IED exploded in Afghanistan in 2011. A year later he completed the three thousand mile Race Across America with seven other wounded servicemen.
A news anchor has got the old tin-tack after he was heard swearing live on-air during his first shift. AJ Clemente was co-hosting his first ever news programme with NBC North Dakota News colleague Van Tieu on Sunday at 5pm when the gaffe happened at the beginning of Evening Report Sunday. Unaware that his microphone was on, the news anchor from Bismarck, was seemingly overheard by viewers saying: 'Gay fucking shit.' Realising that he was on-air, Clemente, who studied at West Virginia University before joining the weekend team, struggled to regain composure as he read out the headlines. Viewers were reported to have 'reacted angrily' to the comments. Presumably, because they've got nothing more important to feel angry about. You know, the state of the economy, perhaps. The hapless Clemente subsequently confirmed that he had been dismissed on Twitter, posting: 'Unfortunately, KFYR-TV has decided to let me go. Thank you to them and everyone in ND for the opportunity and everyone for the support.' Poor chap. He had earlier tweeted: 'I just want to say that I did not say the word "gay". I was trying to pronounce the London Marathon winner's name Tsegaye Kebede.'

Billy Connolly his very self has told an audience that he is suffering 'terrifying' memory losses while on stage. Performing at Waterfront Hall in Belfast the week, the well known Scottish comedian acknowledged losing his train of thought between routines, reportedly declaring: 'This is fucking terrifying. I feel like I'm going out of my mind.' According to the Daily Record, 'each time his memory failed him, he either started a new story or said: 'This is fucking awful. I can't remember what I was saying. I get wee gaps and just stop.' Bill, who was openly referring to a set list, twice asked the audience to remind him what he was talking about, as he has often done in recent years. He also seemed to know when the memory losses were about to happen, saying: 'Here comes another one now.' Bill made light of the situation by sharing an anecdote about former US president Ronald Reagan's Alzheimer's, recalling how the pair had been at a charity function and the latter had paused mid-sentence for several seconds before resuming. 'He just carried on as if nothing had happened.' An audience member at the Belfast show, Peter Sullivan, was quoted as saying: 'He's a comedy hero and it was obvious from the audience on Saturday night that they’d forgive him just about anything and that includes his memory loss. It didn't do anything to affect the show. People seemed very sympathetic when he had those attacks on stage and the audience just wanted him to keep going. They sort of carried him to the next joke and punchline. It was brilliant.' In 2012, Connolly wrote on his blog: 'I always saw myself working till I was old. I thought that's what comedians did and I still feel they should. When people ask me why I'm still doing it, I say because it's my job; they don't say to painters, you must have a few bob now, why are you still doing it? The trouble is that you spend the money. I spend an awful lot of money living this funny lifestyle because it makes me very happy and it makes my family all jolly and happy. So I'll keep doing it until I die, or until people get fed up with me or something.' Bill's problems with memory loss have been attributed to his heavy drinking at the start of his career by his wife, Pamela Stephenson.

A former top figure in international football, the odious and risible Jack Warner, has resigned as Trinidad and Tobago's minister of security amid an inquiry into fraud. Investigators at the Caribbean, North and Central American international football body, CONCACAF, accuse Warner of naughty embezzlement. He stepped down as CONCACAF's president in 2011. Warner, a former vice-president of the international football federation FIFA, who once wielded huge power in the game and didn't let anyone forget it, denies any wrongdoing. As, indeed, he would. But he has been under pressure at home since the investigation's findings were revealed on Friday. Trinidad's Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said in a short statement on Sunday that Warner had 'offered to resign' from her cabinet and that she had accepted his decision. 'I wish to thank Mr Warner for his service to the government and people of Trinidad and Tobago,' she said. A CONCACAF ethics panel accused Warner and former secretary general Chuck Blazer of 'enriching themselves' through fraud during their time with the football body. They are accused of failing to disclose that a $25.9m centre of excellence was built on Warner's land and that Blazer received twenty million dollars from CONCACAF. Neither Warner nor Blazer co-operated with the investigation, which was based on documents and thirty eight interviews and Blazer has also denied any wrongdoing. Warner stood down from his role with FIFAa in 2011 after being accused of paying bribes to Caribbean associations. He had already been suspended by FIFA but his decision to resign meant that all investigations into him were closed.

Richie Havens, the folk singer who opened the 1969 Woodstock festival, has died of a heart attack at seventy two. He died at his home in Jersey City his agent, Roots Agency, told Reuters. Born in Brooklyn, the musician was famous for his distinctive guitar and singing style. Recalling Woodstock, Havens once said: 'Everything in my life, and so many others, is attached to that train.' Having played a lengthy set with his trio, his encore - an improvised version of the gospel song 'Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child' which evolved into his own composition, 'Freedom' - became an anthem of the 1960s hippie generation. The Woodstock concert film captured his performance for posterity. More recently, the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino's award-winning slavery-era film Django Unchained featured Havens singing a new version of 'Freedom'. Tributes to the singer have come in, with his contemporary and fellow singer Stephen Stills saying Havens 'could never be replicated.' Richie underwent kidney surgery in 2010 and he never recovered enough to perform concerts. A superb interpreter of other people's songs, Havens released more than twenty five LPs during his lifetime. In 1993, Richie performed at US President Bill Clinton's inauguration. His family said that a public memorial would be announced later and asked for privacy in the meantime. 'Beyond his music, those who have met Havens will remember his gentle and compassionate nature, his light humour and his powerful presence,' it said in a statement. Roots Agency said Havens had been 'gifted with one of the most recognisable voices in popular music. His fiery, poignant, soulful singing style has remained unique and ageless,' it added. Havens moved to New York City's Greenwich Village at the age of twenty to perform poetry, imbibe folk music and learn how to play the guitar. Stills said he remembered hanging out with him in the Village. 'Richie Havens was one of the nicest, most generous and pure individuals I have ever met,' he said in a statement. 'When I was a young sprite in Greenwich Village, we used to have breakfast together at the diner on Sixth Avenue next to The Waverly Theatre. He was very wise in the ways of our calling. He always caught fire every time he played.' Havens' reputation as a solo performer soon spread beyond the Village folk circles. After cutting two records for Douglas Records in the mid 1960s, he signed on with Bob Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman and landed a record deal with Verve. Mixed Bag, his first major release in 1967, featured songs such as 'Handsome Johnny' (co-written by Havens and future Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr), 'Follow' and covers of Bob Dylan's 'Just Like a Woman' and The Beatles' 'Eleanor Rigby'. In 1969 Havens released Something Else Again which became his first to make the Billboard chart and led to his booking for Woodstock. A particular favourite of this blogger in 1970's laid-back Stonehenge, again featuring Richie's eclectic, but often brilliant, taste in covers (The Bee Gees 'I Started A Joke' and Dylan's 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue' being two stunning examples). Alarm Clock (also 1970) is also a fine work and included his first bona fide hit, a cover of George Harrison's 'Here Comes the Sun'. Woodstock proved the turning point in Havens' career, thanks in part to scheduling chaos at the festival. (The fact that there were five hundred thousand lice-ridden stinking hippies in a field at one time and nobody thought to launch a thermo-nuclear device in their general direction, notwithstanding.) Originally scheduled to go on fifth on the opening day, Richie got bumped up to the opening act because of travel delays (and, allegedly, the reluctance of several other performers to go out first in front of a crowd approaching half-a-million people). His performance continued for three hours because the next act had not shown up during which, as he later said, 'I played every song I knew and some I didn't!' After a series of encores, the made-up-on-the-spot 'Freedom' became one of the most memorable moments of the event. Havens branched out into acting during the 1970s. He was featured in the original 1972 stage presentation of The Who's Tommy and appeared as Othello in the 1974 film Catch My Soul. He also appeared in Greased Lightning alongside Richard Pryor in 1977. In 1987, he landed a role in the Bob Dylan vehicle Hearts of Fire. In 2000, Richie teamed with the electronic music duo Groove Armada for the retro 1970s-style song, 'Hands of Time'.

And so, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's Richie one more time.

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