Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I Think Somebody Better Put Out The Big Light

Joanna Page - best known for that tripe sitcom she was in - has described her Doctor Who experience as 'fun, scary and intimidating.' A bit like a night out with a tiger, I reckon. The actress will appear in the BBC's long running popular family SF drama's fiftieth anniversary special, alongside both yer actual Matt Smith and David Tennant is very self. 'It was so much fun getting to act with the different Doctors but it was quite scary and intimidating at first,' Page told the Radio Times. She added: 'I've wanted to be in Doctor Who for ages. They just phoned and said, "Will you be in it?" and I said, "Oh my God, yes, definitely."' Page refused to divulge any plot details from the anniversary instalment, describing Doctor Who's level of secrecy scary. 'Your script arrives and on every single page it says "Joanna Page" over it, so you know that if you leave it on the Tube or if you've forwarded it to someone, you are in the shit,' she added.

Meanwhile the 'shitloads of missing 1960s Doctor Who episodes have been found' rumours alluded to previously on this blog which have been circulating, big-style(e), on yer actual Internet over the last couple of weeks - with increasingly embiggened claims being made - reached something approaching fever-pitch this week. There's a very useful (and, seemingly, wholly sincere) summation of the whole story at the Bleeding Cool website, which has been a leading player in circulating variations of the rumour, here. Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston had previously reported: 'Of the one hundred and six missing episodes, they comprise ninety of them. The only ones not included are nine episodes of The Dalek Master Plan, plus Mission To The Unknown, two episodes of The Invasion, two episodes of The Ice Warriors and two episodes of The Wheel In Space. So that's not quite The Full Hartnell, but pretty close. And that's an awful lot more Troughton than I was expecting. The BBC have been negotiating their safe return. Steven Moffat, Russell T Davies, Mark Gatiss, Caroline Skinner, all the main players, the Cardiff production office, Doctor Who Magazine are aware of what's happening. But this is bigger than Doctor Who. This is eight thousand recovered films including the likes of missing Dad's Army, Out Of The Unknown, Morecambe & Wise, The Sky At Night and more. Including ninety missing Doctor Who films and potentially better quality prints of already recovered shows. Such as three separate sets of Doctor Who: Marco Polo – one poor quality, two in excellent nick.' It's all jolly intriguing. It could be the scoop of the century (and I really do mean that, seriously). Or, it could be a right load of old effing toot. And, I mean that seriously, too. Jury's still out. Sadly, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's carefully considered view remains (and will do until a BBC press release lands on his desk with a muffled thud confirming all this) that it's probably a fairy story. That said, if even half of the claims made here, and elsewhere, turn out to be accurate then this blogger will - of course - be joining the rest of fandom in running around his front room excitedly with his underkeks on his head shrieking 'HOLYMOTHERO'GOD! They found The Evil of the Daleks in Nigeria!' Et cetera. I'd love it to be true, dear blog reader, honest I would. Time will tell, I guess. It usually does. Stay tuned, as a previous producer of the show in question once said. Frequently. Still, at least all this malarkey has - temporarily - stopped the endless ridiculous and annoying procession of speculation about who the next Doctor will be. Oh, no, hang on ... Knew it was too good to be true.

Meanwhile, this is for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's good mate Dan who was recently complaining about losing the will to live when reading a post on Gallifrey Base in which the contributor has included a chart to prove his or her point. Charts, dear blog reader, can sometimes be really instructive.
Yer actual Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are to visit the set of Doctor Who. The royal visit will be part of the couple's annual involvement in 'Wales Week', an event held to promote the country, its charities and projects. Charles and Camilla will travel to BBC Cymru Wales's Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff, where a large proportion of Doctor Who is filmed, to mark the family SF drama's fiftieth anniversary. Doctor Who uses many locations in Wales, with all studio filming taking place at Roath Lock. The interior of the TARDIS has been located there since the Snowmen Christmas special. Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman will meet the royal couple, along with several other co-stars and will, probably, be required to be grovelling and tug their forelocks and abase themselves before the royal parasites. A Clarence House spokesman said: 'The Prince and The Duchess always enjoy their annual visit to Wales and this year they are looking forward to a varied programme of engagements including everything from Dylan Thomas's Boat House to Doctor Who's TARDIS. Their Royal Highnesses are also keen to highlight the vital work being done across Wales by some of the charities they are involved with.'

Top Gear's return date has been confirmed by the BBC. The motoring show's new series will begin on BBC2 on Sunday 30 June at 8pm. Which will, of course, piss off plenty of exactly the kind of people who, frankly, deserve a good healthy dose of pissing off. Marvellous. Yer actual Jezza Clarkson and James May his very self will kick off the latest series in New Zealand, as they race a car against a boat in a journey up the coastline to the tip of the North Island. The boat in question is a top-range America's Cup yacht, while the car is described as 'a familiar vehicle' that has never been featured on the show before. Richard Hammond, meanwhile, remains back in Britain, as he aims to find a new hatchback favourite from three new cars - the Renaultsport Clio 200, the Peugeot 208 GTI and the Ford Fiesta ST. Game of Thrones actor Charles Dance, Warwick Davis and soul singer Joss Stone will be among the stars in a brand new 'Reasonably Priced Car' this series.

Frankie climbed back in the overnight ratings for the second week in a row for its finale episode on Tuesday. Eve Myles's BBC1 medical drama achieved its best figures since its premiere, rising to 4.24 million viewers at 9pm. Earlier, The ONE Show was watched by 3.86m at 7pm. On BBC2, Airport Live was seen by 2.51m at 8pm, followed by new six-part documentary Route Masters: Running London's Roads with 2.32m at 9pm. ITV's new series Nature's Newborns brought in 2.44m at 7.30pm. Animal Heroes finished its first - and, probably, only - series with a genuinely dreadful 1.88m at 8pm, while Royal Windsor's Big Week attracted 1.52m sad crushed victims of society at 9pm on another truly dreadful night for the commercial channel. On Channel Four, Something for Nothing debuted with 1.21m at 8pm. Child Genius continued with 1.49m at 9pm. Dates' latest episode held steady at nine hundred and seventy nine thousand punters at 10pm and Dawn Porter's new show How to Find Love Online interested six hundred and nineteen thousand viewers at 10.30pm. Channel Five's Gibraltar: Britain in the Sun continued with 1.07m at 8pm. The latest episode of CSI was watched by 1.57m at 9.15pm. Big Brother was marginally down from the previous episode at 1.33m at 10pm. On BBC3, The Call Centre was, again, the highest-rated multichannel show of the day with nine hundred thousand at 9pm. I know. I resigned from the human race in protest but I don't think it did much good. Still, there was some good news, the wretched Sweat the Small Stuff pulling in a mere four hundred and forty five thousand punters at 10pm. Sky1's Mad Dogs dipped to three hundred and eighty thousand viewers at 9pm.

Luther is to return to BBC1 early next month. The dark cop drama's third series will begin on Tuesday 2 July at 9pm. Idris Elba will star in four new sixty-minute episodes, alongside Warren Brown and Ruth Wilson. The first episode of series three will feature John Luther tackling a 'twisted fetishist', who appears to be a copycat killer of an unsolved case from the 1980s. However, the detective's priorities will be torn between that case and another, which involves a 'malicious Internet tormentor' found dead in his home. The first episode will also see the introduction of Sienna Guillory as Mary Day, a new love interest for Luther. The new series will also be screened on BBC America, stripped across the week 3 to 6 September.
UK telecoms regulator Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - is to launch an investigation into BSkyB over the supply of its sports channels to rival broadcasters. It comes after a complaint by BT, which is challenging Sky's dominance of the sports pay-TV market. The probe will look at the terms on which Sky has offered its sports channels, Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2, for BT to then offer via YouView. BT says the terms are an abuse of Sky's market dominance. It says Sky is making the supply of its two sports channels conditional on BT in turn making its own sports channels available to Sky. 'We are pleased Ofcom has decided to open an investigation as we believe Sky has behaved in an unreasonable and discriminatory manner,' said BT. 'This is because they have refused to provide Sky Sports 1 and 2 to BT on YouView on fair terms whilst providing them to other pay-TV retailers such as TalkTalk.' BT has asked for Ofcom to consider bringing in interim measures, and has asked for a decision by the end of July as the Premier League season kicks off on 17 August. BT has been signing up live sports rights, including thirty eight Premier League matches a season, for showing on its three sport channels: BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN. Its channels will also show sixty nine live Aviva Premiership rugby matches per season, plus live football from leagues in Germany, France, Italy and Brazil. BT's move into the sports pay-TV market comes after Sky's expansion into BT's territory by offering broadband and telephone services in recent years. Sky said it considered BT's complaint to Ofcom to 'be entirely without merit. We look forward to engaging constructively with Ofcom,' Sky said in a statement. The BT complaint comes a week after Sky complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about BT's adverts for its new sports service. Sky's complaint centres around BT's claim that it will provide 'free' Premier League football coverage to its broadband customers, with Sky arguing that there are other costs involved. The ASA said the complaint was still being assessed.

Sharp has released what it says is the biggest LED TV ever to go on sale in Europe. The Aquos LC-90LE757 features a ninety inch screen, trumping an eighty four inch display from LG. Sharp has offered the size in the US since June 2012 - the world's biggest market for jumbo-TVs - but said it now believed there was demand in the UK and rest of Europe for such a set. One analyst said the local market was indeed growing, but remained 'niche.' Effing big niche, mind. Fifty inch-and-larger TVs represent six per cent of units currently sold in Britain, according to research firm GfK. However, it adds that the sector accounts for sixteen per cent of the sector's value due to the premium prices they command. The trend is even more advanced in the US. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, eight per cent of all TVs sold in the country feature screens sixty inch or larger. 'In the States people have bigger houses and bigger rooms, so large TVs represent a larger proportion of the marketplace,' GfK's Nigel Catlow told the BBC. 'But as the TVs get thinner, more rooms are able to take a big TV set, and screen size is the biggest driver for making people want to buy a new product.' Sharp posted a five hundred and forty five billion yen net loss in its last financial year. It has since said that it is pursuing high shares of relatively small markets as part of its turnaround strategy. Sharp's new display is based on LED (light-emitting diode) technology, weighs sixty four kilograms, and is less than twelve centimetres deep. It supports 3D broadcasts, has three tuners - allowing several channels to be watched at once - and also offers a 'wallpaper mode', which can display a static picture at a low brightness level when it is not otherwise in use. The firm says owners need to sit at least three and a half metres away to enjoy its picture. Or, be blinded. 'The biggest challenge we had was to try to hide the framework that is encasing the screen's pixels,' explained Sharp's UK product manager, Tommaso Monetto. 'We used a technology called Fred [frame rate enhanced driving] to minimise the structure holding the pixels together so that you hardly see the lines between them, and it becomes a seamless panel when you look at it from the front.' In the past, Sharp and other firms' 3D TVs created a different image for each viewer's eye by sending two signal lines from the device's motherboard to the display. The firm's proprietary Fred technology uses a single signal line driven at a higher speed to provide the necessary information, minimising the amount of wiring and electrical components needed. 'The plan is definitely to go bigger,' Monetto added. But, as my mum always used to say, it's not size that's important. 'The long-term view is that eventually you will have entire walls that are made out of LCDs, and you can allocate different spaces for different usage. Part will be used for TV signals, part for surfing the Internet and part to show pictures.' Panasonic does sell even bigger displays, offering one hundred and three inch and one hundred and fifty two inch screens. However, they are based on plasma technology making them thicker and heavier than Sharp's LED model. They are also several times the price and Panasonic pitches them at the professional market rather than at consumers.

NASA's Cassini probe is going to try to take a special picture of Planet Earth. The spacecraft will include Earth when it makes a giant mosaic of Saturn and its ring system. In the Friday 19 July portrait, Earth will be almost a billion miles in the distance - a mere pixel in size. Carolyn Porco, who leads Cassini's camera team, hopes the picture will be reminiscent of the famous 'Pale Blue Dot' image captured by the Voyager-1 probe in 1990. That was an image which she helped produce. A major difference on this occasion is that people will know in advance that they are being photographed from the outer Solar System. They could wave, said the researcher from the Space Science Institute in Boulder. 'People can celebrate it and join in. This will be like an interplanetary cosmic photo session,' she told BBC News. 'People can enjoy the fact that we have a robot out there, a billion miles away, taking our picture. How cool is that?' Yeah. That is pretty cool. Cassini has caught sight of Earth before as it has studied and photographed the ringed gas giant. But the set-up has never been ideal. This time Porco has searched through the upcoming mission plan for Cassini to find an occasion when she can properly frame the shot, using the most appropriate filters to capture Earth in natural colour. Using the probe to look back towards the inner Solar System needs great care and must only be done when the Sun is eclipsed by Saturn. To do otherwise risks the full glare of our star falling on the probe's instruments and damaging their sensitive detectors. In 2006, Cassini managed to do this in a mosaic that is routinely cited as the most popular picture ever taken by the satellite. It shows Saturn as a translucent orb surrounded by its rings, with Earth - a speck so small you could almost miss it - sitting in the upper-left of the frame. It is visible just inside the planet's faint G-ring. Porco believes that her Ciclops team can improve on the 2006 picture, especially if they use their high resolution camera to picture Earth during the 19 July opportunity. No science is being interrupted for the purpose of getting the new mosaic. Researchers who will be working through the eclipse to gather infrared data on Saturn have agreed to accommodate Porco in her quest to acquire what should be another spectacular vista. Opportunities like this are few and far between, particularly given that Cassini is moving towards the end of its mission. NASA has determined that it will crash the probe into Saturn's atmosphere in 2017, but may pull the plug even earlier if its budget becomes severely constrained in the fiscal squeeze now afflicting US federal agencies. Although Cassini has been at Saturn for nine years now, scientists say there is still much to learn. They plan to use the remaining time to make some manoeuvres that might have been regarded as too risky in the mission's early years. This includes diving between Saturn and the inner C-ring. 'That's kind of a wildly crazy thing to do, but it will give us very high resolution views of the rings,' said Porco. 'And we really want to measure how massive the rings are. We're puzzled by that, and it's important because it plays into how long they've been around.'

Meanwhile, isn't it just shocking some of the things they'll allow on TV these days? And, from that nice Mister Shearer as well. Shouldn't be allowed.
England's ODI cricket team powered into the final of the Champions Trophy with a seven-wicket victory over a South Africa side who once again choked in a major semi-final. Jimmy Anderson (two for fourteen) and James Tredwell (three for nineteen) starred with the ball as the Proteas collapsed to eighty for eight before a ninety five-run stand between David Miller and Rory Kleinveldt hauled them to one hundred and seventy five all out. Jonathan Trott scored a typically measured unbeaten eighty two as England passed their modest target in 37.3 overs to reach their first global fifty-over final since 2004. The hosts will play the winners of Thursday's second semi-final between India and Sri Lanka in Sunday's final at Edgbaston. It is some achievement for Alastair Cook's side, who have calmly shrugged off criticism of their cautious batting tactics in previous games, allegations of ball-tampering and injuries to Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann to reach the show piece finale. The question now is whether they can go one better than the 2004 Champions Trophy final, when they were beaten by West Indies at The Oval. For South Africa, this defeat will no doubt be added to their long list of so-called 'chokes' in fifty-over tournaments. The Proteas, who won the inaugural Champions Trophy (then known as the ICC Knock Out) in 1998, infamously threw away a winning position against Australia in the following year's World Cup semi-final and went out of the 2003 World Cup on home soil in the group stage after misinterpreting the Duckworth-Lewis rain rule. Which, to be fair, was really funny. They also suffered batting collapses in losing to Australia and New Zealand at the semi-final and quarter-final stages at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups. After being put in to bat on a humid, overcast morning, South Africa were blown away by a superb opening burst from Anderson and almost entirely derailed by Tredwell, who took three wickets in his first five overs. Colin Ingram was trapped LBW by Anderson with the fifth ball of the innings and Steven Finn followed up with the prize wicket of Hashim Amla in the next over. Amla, who scored an magnificent unbeaten three hundred and eleven against England in last year's Oval test, made a late decision to leave a ball outside off stump and gave Jos Buttler the first of six catches. Robin Peterson and Faf du Plessis's brief rebuilding act was curtailed as Anderson vindicated Cook's decision to extend his spell into a seventh over by removing Peterson LBW with a full, straight ball. South Africa's next five wickets added just thirty five runs, with the England-supporting contingent of the crowd revelling in the mayhem on the hottest day of the year so far. AB de Villiers, whose one-day average exceeds fifty, had a reckless swipe at Stuart Broad and was caught behind before JP Duminy played on to Tredwell. Du Plessis edged Tredwell behind and Ryan McLaren was expertly run out by Trott from slip after a sharply turning ball had deflected off the batsman's pad. Miller announced his intentions by crashing Finn over long-off for six as he led a spirited counter attack with Kleinveldt, who replaced the injured Dale Steyn. They struck twelve boundaries in an entertaining partnership as they dragged South Africa towards respectability. But Broad wrapped up the innings in the space of two balls by having Kleinveldt, for forty three, and Lonwabo Tsotsobe pouched by the excellent Buttler, leaving Miller unbeaten on fifty six. England had openers Cook and Ian Bell caught behind inside the first eleven overs to give South Africa a sniff at forty one for two. But Trott exuded calm authority as he put away anything over-pitched to keep England in the ascendancy. Joe Root struck seven fours and had moved to within two runs of a well-deserved fifty when he was bowled round his legs attempting a paddle sweep off Duminy. By that point, however, with only thirty needed for victory, the match was all but over. Fittingly, it was Trott who struck the winning runs through the covers to see England into the final.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia has denied claims from the Nine Network that the broadcaster will be 'able to influence' the national team's selection policy as part of the deal between the two parties. Jeffrey Browne, Nine Network's managing director, expressed concern over Australia's current rotation policy and said the tactic was 'a real worry. Last year that balance was skewed too much in favour of resting some players so from now on there will be a lot more discussion between [Cricket Australia] and the broadcaster about that,' the Australian newspaper quoted Browne as claiming He added that it was 'legitimate' to give players a break 'to give them longevity in their careers but they also understand we've got to have the best players on the paddock to rate.' Browne said that the strongest team should be picked as a matter of course: 'I understand why sports want to do that but people at home want to see the best players playing and we urge Cricket Australia to pick the best players every time.' However the Cricket Australia CEO, James Sutherland, issued a statement immediately rebutting Browne's claim. 'Cricket has a long-standing and successful relationship with the Nine Network but team selections and scheduling are matters for Cricket Australia,' said Sutherland. 'The National Selection Panel selects the Australian teams. With the volume of international cricket being played, it will continue to be necessary for us to manage player workloads appropriately. We'll continue to consult with our broadcasters on scheduling issues. It's something we have always done. We have a common goal with our broadcast partners to maximise the number of fans watching and enjoying cricket. We'll consider all ideas and then make the appropriate decisions.' Nine agreed a deal to broadcast Australian cricket for the next five years earlier this month. Cricket Australia is estimated to earn four hundred and fifty million dollars from the package.

On Thursday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping will be attending Uncle Scunthorpe's second-to-last Record Player of the current season at the Tyneside. This week, it's a conceptually-fascinating clash between a right couple of Stiffy's, Ian Dury's New Boots & Panties and Elvis Costello's My Aim is True. Spirit of '77 and a welcome return to some decent music after a couple of dreadful hippie-fests over the last two weeks. Thus, dear blog reader, there's a double bill for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. One featuring this.
And, indeed, this.

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