Monday, May 06, 2013

Week Twenty: Procrastination? More Coming Up After The Break

Fresh from the news that the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary will not, after all, feature incarnations of the Time Lord earlier than former national heart-throb David Tennant's tenth Doctor, some potentially spoiler-type photos have emerged suggesting that all is not lost when it comes to honouring the family SF drama's origins. The photos, posted on Twitter by one Ryan Farr during filming in Cardiff this week, show two acknowledgements towards Doctor Who's very first ever adventure, 1963's An Unearthly Child. The first is of the opening scene's famous IM Foreman scrapyard, the location where original companions Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton first discovered the TARDIS. The second is a sign for the - entirely fictional - Coal Hill secondary school, which the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan, attended and where Barbara and Ian taught (it also appeared in 1988's twenty fifth anniversary four-parter Remembrance of the Daleks). According to the sign, yer actual Chesterton is now 'Chairman of the Governors.' Whether Ian, played by William Russell, is set to return to the popular long-running family SF drama for the first time since 1965 is, at this time unclear - and unlikely - although the actor has been confirmed to play a character called Harry in Mark Gatiss' Doctor Who drama An Adventure In Space And Time which will also be broadcast later this year.
He once conquered the pop charts as part of 1990s band D:Ream, explained the intricacies of gravity to a confused nation and even appeared in a magazine list of the sexiest men alive. Now yer actual Professor Brian Cox, one of the BBC's star turns, has laid claim to a new achievement: inspiring a generation of children to take up biology, chemistry and physics in school. In an interview in the Observer Magazine, Foxy Coxy – who has been a ubiquitous presence on the BBC in recent years – says he believes there can be 'little doubt' that science on television has been a factor in an upward trend in the number of children taking up the subjects at GCSE and A-level. Cox said he thought that the series of science programmes, including his own Wonders of the Solar System, aired during the BBC's 'year of science' in 2010, had a major impact. In 2012, there was a thirty six per cent increase in the number of students doing GCSE science exams, compared with the previous year. Biology and chemistry were two of the three A-level subjects, including ICT, where attainment rates at A (and A*) rose in 2012. Cox, who is currently filming a new show about man's growing understanding of the universe, said: 'It's kind of obvious when you think about it. A public service broadcaster in my view is part of the education system, as it does change behaviour. I think the year of science did that. There has been an upswing in the number of students applying to university to do scientific subjects. It's difficult to say why, as there are many factors. It's important to say that. But one of the factors is the popularity of science on television. I don't think anyone disputes that. You can dispute the percentages, but someone should do a thesis on it at some point.' The presenter and academic, a graduate of Manchester University who is regarded by many as the BBC's successor to Sir David Attenborough, said that the success of the programmes in 2010 had also made it easier than ever to pitch science to channel controllers. Wonders of the Solar System pulled in up to five million viewers when it was first broadcast, figures more often associated with dramas. 'I think in general the BBC had the year of science in 2010 to coincide with three hundred and fifty years of the Royal Society, and that was a tremendous success across a lot of the programmes,' he said. 'My first big show, Wonders of the Solar System, was in there and Bang Goes the Theory, and Iain Stewart's and Michael Mosley's programmes. After that, I think it's been a lot easier and I also think the BBC has realised that it has a responsibility in this area because it's been a goal of the government to make science more popular, to get more science students through GCSE and A-level and on to university. It's been seen as a national imperative. I think the BBC has realised it can do that, and the government has too.' After one of the BBC's most traumatic years, Cox is quick to applaud its work. He said the corporation had woken up to its responsibility to promote science and had done well in giving academics the chance to present – a skill Cox believes is underestimated. Cox said: 'I'm not saying it's difficult, it's something a lot of people could do, but you have to be given the chance to learn, to practise and to grow. One of the main things for me was to forget there's a camera there and just allow yourself to be as enthusiastic as you would be in a lecture or a public talk.'

The gap in overnight ratings between Britain's Got Toilets and The Voice narrowed yet again on Saturday. BGT's overnight audience was 9.52m (peaking at 10.59m) whilst The Voice was watched by an average of 7.99m (with an audience peak of 9.82m). That's the fifth consecutive week that The Voice's overnight audience has risen and the third that Britain's Got Toilets has fallen (albeit, not by  very much). Of course, the big test for The Voice will come next week when they move into the so-called 'battle rounds'; last year, that was the point where the show , which had started like a train began to lose momentum. Still, for the moment at least - and despite all of the silly shenanigans with regard to ITV deliberately placing BGT in the slot in an effort to crush The Voice's pulling power - both channels will be happy enough with the results. Doctor Who's latest episode, The Crimson Horror, had an overnight of 4.61m, although the audience share (twenty five per cent) was more or less consistent with previous results over the last few weeks. Once again, expect that figure to rise by around two million or thereabouts once consolidated timeshift viewers are taken into account.

Did you spot all of the Get Carter references in Sunday night's episode of Endeavour, dear blog reader? Specifically Thursday's old nemesis, Vic Kasper, having recently relocated to Oxford from The Smoke after becoming 'persona non grata' with a couple of London's top boys, the legendary 'Sid and Gerald Fletcher'. Oi, copyright! Someone'll be pushing 'legitimate Northern businessman' Cliff Brumby (he's a big lad, but he's out of shape) off the top of a multi-story car park next, mark my words.
Broadchurch's Jonathan Bailey has claimed the show ruined his social life because he was so worried about giving away the secret of who the killer was. The twenty five-year-old actor played reporter Olly Stevens, the nephew of the police detective played by Olivia Colman in the hit ITV crime drama, and revealed that he did not find out who the murderer was until halfway through filming the final episode. Jonathan confessed: 'I found it really hard to keep the secret. And it brought about mild social anxiety, especially when it was on TV. Because if you've had a little drink after a night out, that's when the friends start trying to throw it into conversation. But I've learned to be strong and not give anything away.' The actor is excited the drama has been recommissioned for a second series, and is hoping his character is still around. He said: 'I hope he is going to be in the next series. I would love to see him on Fleet Street, although he's very loyal to Maggie Radcliffe, his boss played by Carolyn Pickles, so I'm sure there's going to be a lot more with that team. So I think you'll see him in Broadchurch again.' Jonathan admitted the overnight success of the show, which also starred David Tennant, had taken him by surprise. He said: 'It's mad. It's fantastic that people have really taken it, and even though we all knew the scripts were top quality, but to see people to be waiting every Monday for the next instalment has been fantastic.'

And so to yer next Top Telly Tips, dear blog reader:-

Saturday 11 May
It's the FA Cup Final between Sheikh Yer Man City and Wigan Not Very Athletic (kick-off 5.15pm). Of course, as ITV have the coverage rights, odious greed bucket (and drag) Adrian Chiles will be presenting (badly) all the action from the showpiece match at Wembley Stadium. Dirty Wigan and their particularly odious chairman are aiming to produce a major upset against the 2011 winners. The Latics have reached this stage for the first time in their history, but Everton were the only top-flight side they faced en route, though they were highly impressive 3-0 victors in that sixth-round clash. The Citizens will be looking to make up for the disappointment of relinquishing their Premier League crown to neighbours The Scum, and have demonstrated their quality with a fourth-round away win against Stoke City in a repeat of the final two years ago, and overcame the cup holders, Moscow Chelski FC, in their semi-final. With - crap - commentary from Clive Tyldesley and waste-of-space nobody Andy Townsend, and a complete lack of anything approaching decent analysis from Roy Keane, Lee Dixon and the most boringly voiced man on the planet, Gareth Southgate. Subsequent programmes are subject to change if it goes to extra time and/or penalties.

Thankfully, on the other side, there's Doctor Who, this week starting at the later time of 7:00 BBC1 (and, presumably, hoping that the football finishes on time). It's the penultimate episode of the series, Nightmare In Silver - The Doctor takes Clara and her young charges, Angie and Artie, to Hedgewick’s World, billed as the biggest amusement park in the universe. But, it's now in ruins. Is it worth noting at this juncture that the last time the TARDIS had a crew of four, one of them died, very horribly, at the hands of The Cybermen? Probably not. Anyway, they befriend the impresario, Mister Webley (a suitably sinister turn by Jason Watkins) and his henchman, Porridge (Warwick Davis) in a waxworks where the main distraction is a chess-playing Cyberman. So far, so bizarre in Neil Gaiman's typically quirky script. However, there is an even bigger surprise in store for the Time Lord with the re-emergence of one of his oldest foes; The Cybermen are back, and they're deadlier than ever. Tamzin Outhwaite also guests.

Tonight also sees the conclusion of the two-part adaptation of Arne Dahl's Swedish crime novel To The Top Of The Mountain - 9:00 BBC4. The A-Unit continues its investigations into a family's car exploding on a road trip in the Netherlands, and looks further into the affairs of the suspect, David Billinger - with life-threatening consequences. After the fiery denouement to last week's episode, the team of crack Swedish detectives is getting back on its feet. But, you'll notice, there seldom seems to be much urgency among this lot. All of that bantering over snacks and coffee in their office, all the cracks about each other's private lives. Don't these people realise there are crimes to be solved? Really nasty ones in this particular case. The gang is, notionally at least, on the tail of a wealthy restaurateur who is seemingly involved in drug-smuggling. He's also being pursued by some very unpleasant Dutchmen. None of it is remotely credible, of course, and Arne Dahl unforgivably uses one of the oldest shock-tactics in the TV crime book this week which is so hokey you may well turn violent when you see it. Starring Irene Lindh.

Jeffrey Jacob Abrams is one of the biggest players in US television and movies, with a seemingly unstoppable ability to turn old material into box-office gold. The hits keep coming, from Felicity via Alias and Lost to Person of Interest, and from Mission: Impossible III via two Star Trek blockbusters to the next Star Wars film. As Star Trek: Into Darkness opens (the early reviews are mostly favourable although one or two dissenting voices are starting to emerge on the darker corners of the Interweb), big quiffed Marky Kermode travels to California for a Culture Show special - 7:35 BBC2. Which is, frankly, stupidly placed to begin ten minutes before the end of Doctor Who for which, one presumes, it'll have much the same audience. What moron thought that was a good idea? This includes a personal tour of Bad Robot, Abrams's production company and talks to the writer/producer/director about his influences – he professes himself to be a fanboy – and his ambitions.

Sunday 12 May
Break out the bow ties, unfurl the red carpet and open a fresh bottle of brass polish for those masks. It's British television's big night of the year, and we're all invited to The BAFTA Television Awards. Not to the actual do itself on London's South Bank, oh no, that's only for The Special People, but, at least, to the suitably trimmed BBC1 version – 8:00 - which is, frankly, a better deal all round. Viewers at home can enjoy the close-to-the-bone gags of Graham Norton and our favourite stars dressed to the nines without the marathon of heartfelt speeches. Norton hosts the annual ceremony celebrating the best of British TV, held at London's Royal Festival Hall. Actors and actresses hoping for a gong tonight include Steve Coogan, Sienna Miller, Miranda Hart, Sheridan Smith, Olivia Colman and Hugh Bonneville, while the entertainment performance category sees Graham himself competing against Ant and/or Dec, Sarah Millican and Alan Carr. Among the programmes up for a prize are Homeland, Twenty Twelve, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want), Parade's End, Mrs Biggs, Accused, Scott & Bailey, Ripper Street, Last Tango in Halifax, the BBC's coverage of London 2012 and Channel Four's of the Paralympics. One person sure of a award, however, is a member of the Olympics presenting team, who is being given a special recognition acknowledgement.

The Challenger - 8:30 BBC2 - is a fact-based docudrama about the American physicist Richard Feynman's determination to reveal the truth behind the Challenger space shuttle disaster. When the craft exploded seventy three seconds after lift-off on 28 January 1986, leading to the deaths of all seven crew members, it was the most shocking event in the history of US spaceflight, and a presidential commission was immediately convened to investigate what went wrong. Towards the end of his life, sick with cancer, Richard Feynman was invited to join the presidential inquiry into the disaster. The space shuttle has exploded shortly after launch throwing the space programme into doubt: no one knew what went wrong. Feynman had to turn detective: he was wary of politics and hated the cant of Washington (after Reagan's infamous eulogy he muttered, 'I personally doubt they're touching the face of God'), but he was well placed to cut through the vested interests and get to the truth. William Hurt in the lead role takes what could be a dry, technical story and makes it an inspiring drama about the place of science in a world of spin and greed. Also starring Bruce Greenwood, Brian Dennehy, Kevin McNally and Joanne Whalley.

When Richard Feynman was ten he had his own science laboratory at home. He went on to shape modern quantum physics, win the Nobel Prize and tell the world why the space shuttle Challenger blew up shortly after take-off; his real-life story is told in The Fantastic Mr Feynman - 9:30 BBC2, immediately after The Challenger. This inspiring film, embellished by Feynman's writings and drawings, tells of a full and amazing life, even though it was cut short by cancer in 1988. And one which embraced both joy (his love of science shines through in interviews) and pain (his first wife dying from TB at twenty five and the anguish from helping to develop the A-bomb).

After a successful 2011 adaptation of Kate Summerscale's bestseller The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, ITV has hung on to its central character for a second outing. But, while the book was based on a true story, The Murder in Angel Lane is entirely fiction, written by Neil McKay (who also wrote Appropriate Adult). Paddy Considine returns as the pioneering Nineteenth Century inspector in this one-off feature-length drama. Having left the Metropolitan Police under something of a cloud, Whicher's days as a detective are behind him. However, when he saves a respectable country lady (Broadchurch's Olivia Colman, a regular collaborator with Considine from Hot Fuzz to Tyrannosaur) from a violent robbery in a dangerous part of London, she hires him to investigate the savage murder of her sixteen-year-old niece. The subsequent investigation pits Whicher against wealthy and powerful figures, as well his former colleagues in the Met, and leads to a psychiatric institution where he must confront his own demons. Co-starring Shaun Dingwall and Mark Bazeley.

Monday 13 May
When a murder in Belfast remains unsolved, Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson is brought in from to help catch the culprit in The Fall - 9:00 BBC2. She finds similarities to a case from eighteen months previously and becomes convinced that there is a serial killer on the loose, but her superiors are unwilling to make the same connection. Gillian Anderson is great as a detective in the Met who arrives in Belfast to review the investigation into the murder of a young woman. Running parallel is the story of a killer, possibly the killer (Jamie Dornan, playing against his heart-throb status). He's a quiet obsessive, a man who stalks, who watches and who waits. He is also a man with many secrets from many people, and he is surprising, not just a blank-eyed, strangle-happy deviant. The Fall, like its two protagonists, is tightly controlled and very deliberate. Proper scary, too.

Ash is fretting over what he should do with his life, so Freddie suggests he pursue an acting career and teaches him the tricks of the trade in Vicious - 9:00 ITV. However, with an important audition of his own coming up, he's thrown into a state of depression when Ash quickly secures a role - leaving Stuart with the task of rebuilding his partner's self-confidence. Meanwhile, Violet seeks advice about her tumultuous relationship with her Hungarian boyfriend. The histrionics are in full flow when Freddie goes for an audition on Downton Abbey, although his only line of dialogue involves potatoes. The notion of Ian McKellen being up for such a small role is, in and of itself , hilariously funny, and the scene where Freddie sits gauche young Ash (Iwan Rheon) down for his first acting lesson is priceless. Freddie and Stuart live up to the promise of the title in this episode. They're in a particularly waspish mood, not just to each other and Ash but also to Violet — Frances de la Tour getting many of the best lines. 'A lot of acting is just good hair,' she claims, while seeking solace for a failed affair with Christoph: 'He'd fly me to Hungary once a month to do unspeakable things.'

Only Connect, one of British TV's hidden gems is back for a seventh series - 8:30 BBC4 - with a University Challenge-style format where, for several weeks, nobody is knocked out and losers reappear until the semi-finals randomly arrive. You'd hope that would mean a lot more episodes, but in fact there are fewer this time around. BBC cutbacks, obviously. Tonight you need to know about politics, athletics, pubs and Les Mis. As for the contestants, one of them exclaims a suitably random 'Oh, my hat!' at a particularly elusive answer, while another becomes embroiled in a discussion about his testicles with remonikered host Victoria Coren Mitchell. He must then somehow refocus on the quiz.
Tuesday 14 May
Frankie - 9:00 BBC1 - is a drama about district nurse Frankie Maddox whose work always seems to take priority over her personal life. Frankie herself (Torchwood's Eve Myles) is in a happy if unremarkable relationship with policeman Ian, who she suspects is planning something special for her forthcoming thirty sixth birthday. However, elderly patient Mister Thomas becomes her number one concern when she realises his daughter is struggling to care for both him and her terminally ill husband. But frustratingly, it seems no one else wants to know. Adding to Frankie's workload is pregnant mum Heather, who is worried she will go into labour before her husband returns from Afghanistan. Writer Lucy Gannon pushes all the right buttons with some affecting storylines — many viewers will have a tear in their eye along the way — and an engagingly flawed heroine. This isn't Call the Midwife, but it's not Doc Martin, either, thank Christ. Dean Lennox Kelly, Derek Riddell and Jemma Redgrave co-star.

The CSIs investigate the murder of rising tennis star Claudia Weber and determine that she was killed with her own racquet, with suspects including her husband, her estranged brother and a mysterious assailant from her past in CSI - 9:00 Channel Five. Her best friend and rival, Tara Janssen, also comes into the picture and the team checks out her alibi - a dinner with tennis legend Chris Evert. Yes, your eyes aren't deceiving you, that really is Chris Evert (and Lindsay Davenport, for that matter) playing themselves at the start of this episode, which focuses on the murder of a tennis player. The writers include a slightly ridiculous scene where Finlay questions Evert while they play some practice shots, so we get to admire Elisabeth Shue's solid net play (the tennis-themed episode was her idea, apparently). But the entire case is slightly cast into shadow by the blinding announcement that David Hodges has got engaged — to a fiery Italian brunette, no less. This may surprise you as much as it does his workmates, but Morgan looks especially crestfallen.

Dinner parties are a rarity in Albert Square, as most of the locals prefer to nip down the chippie or into the Vic for pie and mash rather than entertain at home. So Sharon brings a touch of class to the neighbourhood by having a Mitchells-only dinner — 'with canapés, a tablecloth and everything!' as Alfie points out in EastEnders - 7:30 BBC1. Lola, however, uses the occasion to sneak about searching for Sharon's stash of painkillers, while Billy hops from one foot to the other because he's supposed to be having his dinner with Ava. So when there's a knock on her door, Ava expects it to be Billy not ... well, you'll have to tune in to find out. The unexpected caller, nevertheless, turns Ava's world upside down. Meanwhile, Kirsty becomes further entangled in her own web of lies when Max asks about her twelve-week baby scan. Bianca and AJ plot to give Carol and Masood some time alone, while Jean is thrilled to be offered a job cooking in Ian's restaurant - until she realises he expects her to undertake a culinary test.

Wednesday 15 May
The Apprentice hopefuls are summoned to the home of the Design Council - 9:00 BBC1 - where Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie sets them a design-based task - they have to come up with an inventive piece of flat-pack furniture, before producing prototypes and pitching their products to retailers. The candidates soon get creative, with one team bringing a folding chair to the table, while the others decide to manufacture a multifunctional cube - but it isn't long before problems begin, with mixed-up measurements and internal squabbles threatening the process. The girls' team has a problem, observes Karren Brady; they're all talkers and no listeners. And, as usual, she's right. Put the super-groomed furies of team Endeavour in a room with a task to do — such as this week's, designing an exciting new piece of flat-pack furniture — and it's like one of those City trading floors where everyone yells at once, but an octave higher. Yet the idea they come up with, a multi-functional, cube-shaped table, sounds as if it might have legs. Or, you know, casters anyway. 'It has to be, like, "Wow"' says their self-appointed design expert, as they try to bend the laws of physics to make their 'Tidy-Sidy'®™ idea work. Over on the boys' team, someone comes up with the idea of a chair with recycling bins built into the base. Every home needs one, frankly. Well, Stately Telly Topping Manor does, anyway. It's another beautifully machined challenge for denting massive egos and exposing critical flaws. None of it is reasonable or fair, of course, but as Sugar-Sweetie his very self points out, 'The only fair that goes on here is the cab fare home.'

Great Artists in Their Own Words - 9:00 BBC4 - features footage from the BBC's archive collections is unlocked to reveal the story of the birth of modern art, as told by those who created this cultural revolution. The second episode looks at the tortured images of Francis Bacon, born of the horror of the Second World War, the pop-art of Richard Hamilton, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol and the vibrant paintings of David Hockney. Featuring contributions by Joan Bakewell, Antony Gormley and Waldemar Januszczak.
The death of a former marine who was obsessed with the coming of the apocalypse leads the team to a survivalist group of self-styled doomsday preppers, to whom the deceased belonged in Bones - 9:00 Sky Atlantic. Meanwhile, Brennan dreads the thought of Sweets moving out.

Thursday 16 May
Tonight sees the concluding part of Murder of the Home Front - 9:00 ITV - the Second World War-set crime drama, starring Patrick Kennedy and Tamzin Merchant. Home Office pathologist Lennox Collins and his secretary Molly Cooper face a battle not only with their bosses but also with the police when they try to save a seemingly innocent man from the gallows. As more victims of 'The Nazi Strangler' turn up, they put their own lives at risk in a quest for the truth. With David Sturzaker and James Fleet.
Peter Powell presents an edition of Top of the Pops - 7:30 BBC4 - from 18 May 1978 with music by yer actual Plastic Bertrand his very self ('Allez Oop!'), Guy Marks, Brotherhood of Man, Elkie Brooks, Darts, Hi Tension (that's what they are, superstar, apparently), Boney M, Smokie, The Stranglers, X-Ray Spex, Ruby Winters and Raydio. Plus, a performance by dance troupe Legs & Co.

Movie of the week, by a considerable distance, is The Damned United - 9:00 BBC4. Director Tom Hooper gleefully re-creates the hairy, fag-smoking, pre-Premiership days of English club football in telling the story of manager Brian Clough's unhappy forty four-day tenure at Dirty Leeds United in 1974. Michael Sheen follows up Frost/Nixon with another pitch-perfect performance, showing how the arrogant, outspoken, grudge-fuelled Clough tried to take on the club, its players, fans and revered former manager Don Revie (a well-cast Colm Meaney) and, for just about the only time in his life, failed miserably. In adapting David Peace's stunning (and, with some, controversial) novel, Peter Morgan (The Queen) lightens the tone, avoids slandering Johnny Giles and keeps the footballing action to a minimum, focusing on what happens in the dugout, the boardroom and behind the weatherbeaten façade of Elland Road. This slice of recent British history might not rival the death of Princess Diana, but Morgan is a master at creating drama out of mundane detail and, with Timothy Spall providing welcome respite from the bombast as Cloughie's right-hand man, Peter Taylor, this is a stirring, tragicomic portrait of one of football's greatest characters. Clough's family, reportedly, hated it without having even bothering to see it. Their loss, frankly. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping hates whingers, dear blog reader. You might have noticed.
Friday 17 May
Warwick Davis, Paul Hollywood, Jason Manford and Joan Bakewell join team captains David Mitchell and Lee Mack for Would I Lie To You? - 8:30 BBC1 - the comedy panel show, trying to hoodwink their opponents with absurd facts and plausible lies about themselves. Rob Brydon hosts. And, then there's the comedy highlight of the week, Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1. Two - as yet unknown - celebrity guests join in the fun on the satirical current affairs quiz, as regular team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton take a sidelong glance at the events of the past week.

Tonight also sees the start of a repeat run of Sherlock on BBC3 - 9:00. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's cunning, massively popular 'reimaginging' of the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has, of course, been a massive worldwide hit. Fans have to feast on crumbs at the moment, whilst we wait for the third series which is currently filming, so we'll just have to seize this chance to enjoy the very first episode again, with the arrival of yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch as a brilliant, edgy, Asperger's-like Holmes for the Twenty First Century. When one useless plod calls him a psychopath, he famously snaps back, 'I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath — do your research!' While Cumberbatch provides the fireworks, Martin Freeman as John Watson is the essential glue that holds the whole story together, taking a flat-share with Holmes and proving a quietly brilliant foil with a nice ability around a pithy one-liner. So, nayway, it's 2010 and, in London, a chance encounter brings the injured John Watson, fresh from military service in Afghanistan, into contact with Sherlock Holmes, a loner and genius who earns his living as a consulting detective. The duo's first case together sees them investigating the fourth in a series of apparent suicides, and it seems even Inspector Lestrade - the best that Scotland Yard has to offer - cannot compete with the sleuth. With Una Stubbs as Mrs Hudson, Rupert Graves, Mark Gatiss - dryly sinister as Sherlock's brother, Mycroft - and Phil Davis. If you haven't got it on DVD and watched it a million times already (and, let's face it, that should probably exclude most people reading this blog) then, BBC3's where you need to be tonight.

The news, now: Yer actual Bill Nighy is to star in two sequels to BBC2 film Page Eight. The sixty three-year-old will reprise his role as MI5 spy Johnny Worricker in Turks & Caicos and Salting The Battlefield both from writer/director David Hare. Mad Bad Christopher Walken, Winona Ryder, Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes will also star in Turks & Caicos, which will see Worricker forced to deal with an old girlfriend and the CIA. Salting The Battlefield will show Nighy appear opposite Saskia Reeves, Judy Davis and Ewen Bremner in a tale that sees Worricker in exile and on the run across Europe. 'We have assembled a most extraordinary cast for these two films,' said Hare. 'I think there may be two reasons - first and foremost, because so many actors want to appear alongside Bill Nighy, but secondly, because people responded so strongly to the feeling of Page Eight – all the fun of spy fiction, I hope but, for once, bang up to date and based in the real intelligence dilemmas of the last ten years.' Janice Hadlow, the Controller of BBC2, added: 'David Hare's outstanding films and incredible cast are testament to BBC2's commitment to original British drama and I am delighted to welcome him back to the channel.'

The disgraced broadcaster - and dirty rotten scoundrel - Stuart Hall is facing accusations that he recently transferred ownership of his home to his wife in a deliberate attempt to avoid paying compensation to his victims. Land Registry documents uncovered by the Gruniad Morning Star show that Hall's detached property in Wilmslow – said to be worth over one million smackers – was placed under sole proprietorship of Hazel Hall on 22 February of this year. The transfer occurred less than a fortnight after Hall mendaciously denied indecently assaulting thirteen young girls, calling allegations against him 'pernicious, callous, cruel and above all spurious.' He has since admitted all counts and been revealed as a dirty old scallywag and rotter. At least six of Hall's victims are set to sue as a result of the 'enormous suffering' inflicted on them by the former It's a Knockout presenter. The BBC is also said to be facing compensation claims for sexual abuse which may have occurred on the corporation's premises. Alan Collins, a partner at the law firm Pannone who is acting on behalf of Hall's victims, said he was 'alarmed' by claims that Hall had offloaded ownership of his property and would seek a court order to nullify any transfer. Collins said: 'I am very concerned about what is being said. If this is fact then it is very disturbing and I will want to ensure my clients' cases will not be compromised by it.' Land Registry documents show that until February, Hall and his wife had jointly owned the home since 1981. Hall told the Daily Torygraph he had transferred the deeds because he has 'an extreme heart condition and at any moment I'm likely to pop off.' Collins, who is also involved in compensation claims over the Jimmy Savile fiasco, said the BBC may also face civil claims over Hall. 'These people have got very good cases and they have suffered tremendously as a result of what Stuart Hall did to them,' he said. Several of Hall's former BBC colleagues sought to - hurriedly - distance themselves from him on Friday. The Gruniad claims that 'some' said he was 'a nuisance' with women, whom he would invite to an old medical room near where the BBC filmed Look North, later renamed BBC North West Tonight. 'It was common gossip that Stuart Hall used the room for assignations,' said Gyles Brandreth, the broadcaster and former Conservative MP. 'I described the atmosphere then as pretty sleazy, but I don't think anyone thought the girls were unwilling or under age.' Brandreth described in his 2009 diaries, Something Sensational To Read In The Train, how he visited the Manchester studios occasionally in the early 1970s, where his wife, Michèle Brown, was a continuity announcer and newsreader. Paul Jackson, the former entertainment director who worked at BBC Television Centre in the 70s, said: 'I think the fame and the fans it brings with it, coupled in those days with a suddenly sexualised society, led a lot of people to believe that anything goes. We [were] all swinging, in both senses, and there's nothing wrong with that, they thought then. I'm not really saying that some of these things were in any way justifiable. But equally it is hopeless to try and apply today's mores to a very different time.' The broadcaster Charlie Lambert worked alongside Hall at BBC North West Tonight in the late 1980s. Lambert said he was 'appalled and very very shocked' at Hall's admission and that there was no sign of his 'dark side' when the pair worked together. 'He had his dressing room but it wasn't closeted away, it wasn't as if he had a secret den in another part of the building. There was no attitude of laissez faire, it was quite a cheerful newsroom. He was always cheerful and jovial, looking on the light side of life. He was quite a big character but not in a sinister way.' Lambert added: 'I was never aware of any dark side. When Stuart made his statement on the steps of the court protesting his innocence I, like other people, thought it must be true. I was absolutely devastated by the announcement yesterday but also realised that what he had said was a complete lie.'

The author of To Kill A Mockingbird has sued a literary agent she says tricked her into assigning him the copyright on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book. Harper Lee claims that Samuel Pinkus took advantage of her failing hearing and eyesight to transfer the rights and has failed to respond to licence requests. To Kill A Mockingbird was first published in 1960 and is considered a classic - its one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite novels, something he did as a sixteen year old for O level. It has sold more than thirty million copies worldwide. Lee herself is rarely seen in public and declines almost all interview requests. The novel is the only published book by the author, who lives in Monroeville, Alabama. In the lawsuit, Lee alleges that when her long-time literary agent, Eugene Winick, became ill in 2002, his son-in-law, Pinkus, switched several of Winick's clients to his own company. Pinkus is alleged to have transferred the rights to secure himself 'irrevocable' interest in the income derived from Lee's book. He also sought to avoid paying legal obligations he owed to his father-in-law's company for royalties, according to the lawsuit. It is further alleged that Pinkus failed to respond to offers on e-book rights and a request for assistance related to the book's fiftieth anniversary. The lawsuit bids the court to assign any rights in the book owned by Pinkus to Lee and asks that she be returned any commission he took from 2007 onwards. Set in Depression-era, small-town Alabama, To Kill A Mockingbird tells the story of a lawyer who defends an innocent black man accused of raping a white woman and the parallel story of the lawyer's children and their fear of the mysterious man who lives next door. Seriously, if you've never read it, get yourself down to Waterstone's immediately. The film version's pretty good too.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, after Endeavour's Get Carter riffs on Sunday, here's another slice of yer actual classic seventies gangster times.

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