Sunday, June 23, 2013

Week Twenty Seven: I Put My Faith In The People, But The People Let Me Down

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) is among those speaking at this year's TV Drama Writers' Festival. The event - from the BBC Writers Room - is being held at Leeds College of Music on June 26-27. It will be chaired by Emma Frost (scriptwriter of The White Queen) and Jack Thorne (whose credits include The Fades). Moffat will deliver this year's keynote address, in conversation with fellow Doctor Who writer and Being Human creator Toby Whithouse. Also in attendance for sessions will be another of the Doctor Who team and Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall, Utopia's Dennis Kelly, Skins writer Bryan Elsley, Last Tango in Halifax's Sally Wainwright and the BBC Controller of Drama Ben Stephenson. 'As curators of the 2013 TV Writers' Festival, Emma Frost and Jack Thorne, two of our most dynamic writers, have chosen the theme of conflict at the heart of drama and the art of being a writer,' said Kate Rowland, the BBC's Creative Director of New Writing and Head of Writers Room. 'With a keynote debate on sex and violence, the role of the Commissioner with Ben Stephenson and Anne Mensah, Chris Chibnall on Broadchurch and a Face-To-Face with the brilliant Steven Moffat, this year's Festival is bound to provoke, entertain and challenge in equal measure.'

ITV's Happy Families gained around half-a-million overnight punters for its second episode on Thursday night, but the reality documentary was still only seen by a mere 2.4 million viewers at 9pm. So, I guess we'll chalk that one down as one of the flops of the year. Not undeservedly, either. Earlier, showing what a thoroughly wretched night it was on TV all round, Paul O'Grady's For The Love of Dogs topped the night overall outside of soaps with but 4.52m at 8.30pm. If it was a bad night for ITV, it was also a piss-poor one for BBC1 with Life Savers interesting 2.93m at 8pm and Russell Brand's appearance on Question Time pulling in 2.68m at 10.35pm. Mostly Daily Scum Mail readers looking for something to tut at, no doubt. Hope you found something, guys. BBC2's Airport Live continued with 2.50m at 8pm. Documentary Flights & Fights: Inside the Low Cost Airlines probably exceeded BBC2#'s expectations with a more than decent 2.07m at 9pm. Mock The Week followed with 1.68m at 10pm. And, for the second week running was actually quite funny. That'll have to stop. Channel Four's line-up performed extremely poorly in comparison to its rivals, with Compare Your Life dropping to just three hundred and seventy six thousand viewers at 8pm. First Dates attracted seven hundred and ten thousand at 9pm, while Bi-Curious Me had an audience of five hundred and eighty six thousand viewers at 10pm. The Channel Five documentary The Girl with Seven Mums brought in 1.08m at 9pm beating everything shown on Channel Four during primetime. As, sadly, did Big Brother which continued with 1.24m at 10pm. BBC3's coverage of the Confederations Cup pants-down thrashing by Spain over Tahiti (10-0, just in case you missed it) scored 1.45m at 7.30pm, while the game between Nigeria and Uruguay grabbed seven hundred and sixty thousand at 10.30pm. Russell Howard's Good News rose to a new peak of 1.01m at 10pm.

The first live eviction of Big Brother: Secrets & Lies brought 1.73 million sad crushed victims of society to Channel Five on Friday, overnight data shows. The 9pm show, which saw the departure of both evictee Sallie Axl and 'People's Puppet' Michael Dylan, was up four hundred thousand punters on the previous night's show. However, it was down two hundred and sixty thousand on the series' launch episode. On BBC1, 3.28m tuned in to watch Miranda at 9pm and the latest Mrs Brown's Boys repeat was watched by 3.64m half-an-hour later. Earlier, Would I Lie To You grabbed 2.93m at 8.30pm, while The Graham Norton Show was seen by 3.21m at 10.45pm. On BBC2, Antiques Road Trip interested 1.02m from 7.15pm and Wild Shepherdess With Kate Humble pulled in 1.96m at 9pm. Ben Fogle's Harbour Lives continued with a just-about average 3.07m on ITV at 8pm. Britain's Secret Homes followed with a disappointing 2.46m at 9pm and movie The Deer Hunter attracted five hundred and thirty thousand viewers from 10.45pm. Meanwhile, Channel Four's The Million Pound Drop Live had 1.42m at 9pm and Phoneshop was watched by but three hundred and fifty thousand viewers an hour later. The, really rather good, documentary Fleetwood Mac: Don't Stop was the second most watched programme outside of the five major channels with six hundred and twenty one thousand viewers for BBC4 at 9pm.

Doctor Who is to have its own special display at an exhibition marking the ninetieth anniversary of the Radio Times. Cover Story: Radio Times At Ninety, to be held at the Museum of London from Friday 2 August to Sunday 3 November, will celebrate the history of the publication and reflect the story of broadcasting in Britain, showcasing some of its iconic covers from various programmes over the past nine decades. It will be divided into sections covering various time frames, but as a nod to the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who. And, to the fact that the programme has had such a lengthy relationship with the magazine - it was granted its first cover in February 1964 to publicise the start of the seven-part story Marco Polo - there will be a separate section for it that will feature covers as well as photographs from the Radio Times archive. In addition, visitors can become cover stars themselves, posing alongside a life-size Dalek against a backdrop of Westminster Bridge to re-create the 2005 Vote Dalek! Radio Times cover, which promoted the episode Dalek (and, the general election which was also happening that week). It was subsequently voted most iconic cover of all time in the 'Great Cover Debate' run by the Periodical Publishers Association in 2008. That particular cover is also currently in the running to be named 'Cover of the Century', with public voting open until Monday 30 September via the PPA website.
Yer actual Huge Laurie would 'absolutely' like to perform again with his former comedy partner Stephen Fry his very self, but worries that the pair are 'too old' for political satire. Speaking on Sunday on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, the actor and singer who once rowed for Cambridge in the boat race told Kirsty Young that a stage revue is more possible. 'We talk about it often,' Laurie explained, before selecting a tune in tribute to his long friendship with Fry which now stretches back over thirty years. A new stage show 'with a couple of wing chairs and a rug,' which Fry first alluded to last year, is 'still at the planning stage' according to Huge. 'M'colleague will recount amusing stories and I will sit at the piano and play ditties,' he said. The pair met at Cambridge University in 1980 and, subsequently, made four series of their classic BBC sketch show A Bit of Fry and Laurie. Huge, who also appeared with Stephen in Alfresco, Saturday Live, Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster, suggested something similar to the 1950s and 1960s musical comedy double-act Flanders and Swann. 'A sort of Flanders and Swann-type stage revue with a couple of wing chairs and a rug and a decanter of Madeira. M'colleague will recount amusing stories and I will sit at the piano and play ditties,' he said. 'I know no more than that - we have not advanced with this idea but that would be my pick of the way to go. Probably sketching is a young man's game because, by and large, it's about mocking people much older than you. We are not only the age of cabinet ministers, we are probably older than half the cabinet,' he added. Huge, an international star after his recent title role in the US medical drama House, watched by eighty million viewers worldwide, told Young that fame has changed his life. He could not learn to surf in California, he said, because the famous 'are not allowed that sort of tentative first experience of anything. So you can't do it, unless you surf in the dark, which I believe is not recommended.' Huge said he has a different level of fame in the UK as House was not as big as it was in other countries. 'I became a very big cheese in France, Italy and Germany,' he joked. Huge claimed that his media image as a depressive is exaggerated, saying: 'I am a fairly sunny individual.' Things have changed since an earlier appearance he made on the fictional desert island at the age of thirty six, when he was best known as Stephen's sidekick. 'I get uncomfortable with happiness, with everything,' Huge told Sue Lawley back then. This time he puts his occasional gloominess down to his mother, who he said was 'funny but prone to dark moods.'

Yer actual Rob Brydon is to front a new BBC1 entertainment format – but his chat show has been axed. The corporation said that it was planning to make a pilot episode of the new show later this year, but did not reveal any further details. But a spokesman also confirmed that Brydon's BBC2 chat show was not returning. Because it was shit and no one was watching it, basically. Ratings had slipped over the three series, from 2.6 million when it launched in September 2010, to 1.3 million last year. Brydon will continue to host the BBC1 panel show Would I Lie To You, and is currently making a second series of The Trip with Steve Coogan in Italy.

Downton Abbey creator and writer Lord Snooty has revealed that he had 'no choice' but to kill off Matthew Crawley. Because, he was common. Probably.

Here's the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 29 June
Ash's teenage daughter, Ella, is trouble in tonight's Casualty - 8:40 BBC1. Well, not in trouble, per se, more she is trouble. Last week she was shoplifting make-up then accusing the shopkeeper of assaulting her. This week, she's persuading her boyfriend to buy booze for her – at the same corner shop. The results are, as you might expect, disastrous, including the kind of gory cheek-wound-with-broken-glass-in that Casualty's make-up team are incredibly good at re-creating. Meanwhile, the relationship between Sam and Tom is sailing towards the rocks like a wobbly catamaran. Meanwhile, a young boy is clipped by a car and rushed to emergency, while a woman is brought in after falling down the stairs of a busy shopping centre. Eventually, the medics realise the patients are mother and son - but why did she leave him wandering the streets by himself?

Okay, let's get this one out of the way as quickly as possible. Alesha Dixon and Paddy McGuinness host a live entertainment show Your Face Sounds Familiar - 7:30 ITV - in which six desperate b-list celebrities - Alexander Armstrong, Bobby Davro, Cheryl Fergison, Denise Lewis, Matt Johnson and Natalie Anderson - transform themselves into different music icons each week. Actually, since the list includes Bobby Davro and Cheryl Fergison, make that z-list. They then perform to impress a panel of judges including Emma Bunton and Julian Clary, as well as viewers at home. I'm really not making this up, dear blog reader. I wish I was, but I'm not. So, essentially, it's Pro-Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes. Hateful. The contestants are ranked on a leader board and whoever has the most points at the end of each show will receive money for charridddeeee, with a further grand prize pot for the series champion. However, the decision of which superstars they are going to be each week isn't down to them - these are randomly selected, meaning they could end up as someone of the opposite sex. Thigh-slapping. The first episode has guest judge Donny Osmond on board. Now, given that oafish plank McGuinness is about as funny as a nasty rash on ones bell-end and that odious greed-bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Dixon has all of the warmth, personality and broadcasting skills of a cup of cold sick, this has all of the making of a major hit for ITV with the sort of people who think Britain's Got Toilets isn't banal, exploitative rubbish. I hope it flops massively.

Tonight also sees further coverage of the Glastonbury music festival held at Worthy Farm in Somerset across a variety of BBC channels. Yer actual The Rolling Stones headline. Tasty. Mind you, if it rains and they play 'Gimme Shelter', expect at least some of the crowd not to see the funny side.
Meanwhile, speaking of yer actual Glastonbury, is this the greatest newspaper headline ever, dear blog reader? I certainly reckon it's in the top two.

Sunday 30 June
The world's best motoring magazine show, Top Gear returns - 8:00 BBc2. Except lots of lippy Communist tossers at the Gruniad Morning Star to tune in and try and find something to whinge about. Which, let's face it, is always good for a laugh. Jezza Clarkson and James May head to New Zealand to take part in a race along the coastline to the tip of the North Island - with one behind the wheel of a car and the other in an America's Cup yacht. Back in dear old blighty, Richard Hammond tries out three hot hatches as he puts the Renaultsport Clio 200, Peugeot 208 GTi and Ford Fiesta ST through their paces, and a host of stars including Warwick Davis, Charles Dance and Joss Stone assemble at the test track to welcome a new - fourth - Reasonably Priced Car.
So, you thought Time Team was finished, dear blog reader? Well, not quite - they're still doing the odd special for Channel Four and one of them is scheduled tonight - 8:00. As part of a nineteen million smackers refurbishment of Lincoln Castle, a preparatory archaeological dig is revealing new secrets about the horrors of its early jails. With help from Phil Harding and Alex Langlands, newly knighted Sir Anthony Robinson of Trench One his very self traces the story of punishment over the course of a millennium and discovers that, behind the castle's walls, the Victorians launched an experiment in prison justice that pushed human beings to their limits.
Margaret Beaufort is desperate to further her son's claim to the throne, so she joins Warwick's rebellion against Edward in The White Queen - 9:00 BBC1. But, when the uprising fails, the traitors are forced to run for their lives. Jasper Tudor escapes into exile, while Warwick and George sail for France. Elizabeth and Jacquetta turn to witchcraft to stop them - but Isabel is the one who gets punished. After last week’s bloody events, Queen Elizabeth is boiling with rage and demanding revenge on the vulpine Warwick and his duplicitous henchmen. But events move quickly during The Wars Of The Roses and maybe she isn't even queen any more, not now Edward has been deposed to make way for another and Elizabeth is shut up in the Tower of London. Bummer. Epic historical drama, starring Rebecca Ferguson, James Frain, Max Irons, Amanda Hale, Janet McTeer and Eleanor Tomlinson.

Monday 1 July
Phil Couchman is an excellent name for the chief executive of a parcel delivery company to have. So why does he want to change it, you may well ask? He's the UK boss at DHL but in the opening episode of a new series of Undercover Boss - 9:00 Channel Four - Phil gets a new haircut and becomes 'Eddie', supposedly a newly arrived Australian trying out different menial roles at the courier. In a nutshell, he discovers that life for DHL's four thousand five hundred staff is very tough – and management decisions aren't making that any easier. The programme works well as a snapshot of business pitfalls ('They want you to deliver like Santa Claus and drive like Miss Daisy!' grumbles one courier, unaware of whom he's talking to), but it's also surprisingly emotional when the employees who have helped Eddie along discover who he really is – and get their rewards. By the end, it's really quite uplifting although you do wonder why it is that every time a new employee turns up at some gaff or other with a camera crew trailing him, nobody ever wonders, idly, whether something a bit fishy might be up.

Rick Stein arrives in Madurai, on the latest leg of Rick Stein's India - 9:00 BBC2 - his quest to find the world's finest curry. He arrives at the city's cavernous temple and heads to the kitchen, which feeds hundreds of queuing visitors every day at massive, sit-down, fundraising meals. It's a huge, bustling, unsurprisingly steamy place, full of wood fires and massive cooking pots. Stein joyfully reads a sign on the wall: 'Before you go in search of God, go in search of food.' In his lovely waterside kitchen he makes small, sweet ice-cream pots flavoured with cardamom seeds before visiting a chef who makes a fabled mutton curry that has to be simmered for four hours. Then he's back out in the sweaty hubbub tasting yet more street food from banana leaves and trying to get the hang of eating messy rice and sauces with his fingers (there's a technique). He ends up eating at a restaurant where he's confronted by prawns the size of guinea pigs. Now, that's may kind of restaurant.

Tuesday 2 July
2013 has been a fantastic year for yer actual dark crime dark so far - what with the likes of Broadchurch and The Fall pulling in massive audiences. Tonight, the very standard-bearer for the sub-genre, Luther, returns - 9:00 BBC1. Menacing, brooding, tense, angry. But, enough about Idris Elba his very self, what about the show I hear you ask, dear blog reader? Idris returns to walk London's mean streets as the maverick detective, out to find a twisted fetishist murdering women in a horrific echo of an unsolved case from the 1980s. He is keen that he and his team concentrate all of their resources into catching the copycat before he (or, indeed) she strikes again, only for his focus to be divided by a second case involving a malicious Internet tormentor who is found dead in his home. Pulled in every direction, the cop's notoriously thin patience begins to wear even thinner, so the last thing he needs is to deal with a road accident - until he sets eyes on one of the women involved in it. Is he finally on the verge of finding love? Tough, gritty crime thriller, co-starring Warren Brown, Sienna Guillory, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Dermot Crowley.

DB and the team are called in to investigate a triple murder and are shocked to find six-year-old Molly at the crime scene, as well as determining the girl's uncle is one of the victims and her mother Grace is missing in the latest episode of CSI - 9:00 Channel Five. One of the recurring devices in - the not even remotely missed  - CSI: Miami used to be that Horrible Horatio would form a deep bond with a child who’d been the victim of, or witnessed, a terrible crime. That, and he'd whip his shades off at a dramatically inappropriate moment about four times per episode. Thankfully, DB Russell (the very excellent Ted Danson) is cut from somewhat less clichéd cloth, although the writers do go for a somewhat similar vibe in tonight's episode, as Russell takes the little girl under his avuncular wing. Preliminary enquiries suggest a revenge killing of some sort and a crucial piece of evidence comes to light when they discover a book in Molly's possession has an incriminating recording inside it. It's an odd episode, veering from a ludicrous mole-poison storyline to the rather seedy end credit 'Promotional consideration furnished by Spearmint Rhino.'

A totem pole made out of dismembered human remains is found on a beach, and the victims range from decades old to the freshly killed in Hannibal - 10:00 Sky Living. You know, it's never really struck this blogger before but Sky Living is, surely, the most mis-named channel on the planet - it's got more bodies per square inch than even HBO manages. Anyway, meanwhile Jack and Alana's suspicions immediately fall on Abigail when Nick Boyle's body is discovered, and Freddie promises the teenager great wealth if she agrees to a tell-all book.
Wednesday 3 July
In Your Money, Their Tricks - 8:00 BBC1 - Nicky Campbell, Sian Williams and Rebecca Wilcox present consumer reports aimed at fighting back against companies and industries who have unjustly relieved people of their hard-earned cash. So, that's going to be helping send a few of Britain's small businesses to the wall. Jolly well done, you three, you're an inspiration to us all. They begin with a look at the entertainment industry, going undercover at one of Britain's biggest family attractions to expose how children could be cheated out of their money. They also reveal the surprising sales tactics used by those selling a film subscription service. Part of the Cost of Living season.

Humans share ninety nine per cent of their DNA with chimpanzees. Mind you, they also share about seventy per cent of their DNA with a potato. So, you know, don't read too much into that statistic. And yet, from the moment of birth, humans lives and chimp lives (and potato lives, to be fair) are completely different. The BBC's resident tame anthropologist, Doctor Alice Roberts her very self, investigates the factors that separate mankind from its closest living relatives, exploring differences in physiology, genetic make-up and in the brain in the latest Horizon, What Makes Us Human? - 9:00 BBC2.
Thursday 4 July
People buy ninety per cent of their food from supermarkets, which have a huge influence on their customers' lives. So, in Supermarket Secrets - 9:00 BBC1 - yer actual Gregg Wallace from MasterChef spends a year with Britain's biggest food retailers to discover how they source, make and move the produce on their shelves, and gets the insider's guide to how much they know about consumers' tastes. He begins with summer favourites, discovering how there's more than meets the eye to a supermarket strawberry, what it takes to bring people the food for their barbecues, and how they stay one step ahead of the weather.
Host Dara O Briain and regulars Chris Addison, Hugh Dennis and Andy Parsons are joined by Milton Jones, Ed Byrne and Ava Vidal on Mock The Week - 10:00 BBC2 - topical comedy quiz, with the panellists giving their take on the week's major news stories.
Friday 5 July
It's repeat time, dear blog reader (well, hell, it is the middle of the summer after all) but, at least, tonight 's schedlue features something worth repeating. When Sherlock's first series started in 2010, many people within the industry assumed that it would be a hit. But maybe a middling hit, a cult hit, a critical hit (remember, it too débuted in the middle of July). Then this spiky, wordy, super-cerebral crime drama only went and, by the start of its second run, was getting nine million viewers plus. The fact that it struck such a chord with the general public was, largely, down to head writer Steven Moffat's ability to create pulsating capers which flatter our intelligence. There's no spoon-feeding here, dear blog reader. It's all razor-sharp dialogue and performances which crackle and hum. And, shockingly, the viewer actually has to use their brian a bit too. All of that is turned up to twelve in A Scandal in Belgravia - 8:30 BBC1 - which is arguably the best Sherlock mini-movies of the six made so far. It starts with a glorious gag to unhitch the cliffhanger from the first series ('Staying Alive'!), then briskly gallops into a plot about the curvaceous Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), a high society dominatrix who finds a curious emotional bondage with our hero (yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch his very self). The cast are all superb, not least Pulver as 'the Woman', and the narrative finds room for nudity at Buckingham Palace, a ghostly jumbo jet, death by boomerang and any number of neat little puzzles and twists. The game is, very definitely, afoot. Oh, and given the broadcast time, expect some pipsqueak fraction of human being of no importance at the Daily Scum Mail to whinge, again, about full frontal nudity before the watershed. Sherlock and John (the always superb Martin Freeman) investigate a case of blackmail threatening to topple the monarchy and uncover links with international terrorism, rogue CIA agents and a conspiracy at the heart of government. However, the consulting detective finds himself involved on a more personal level when he becomes locked in a devious battle of wits with Irene Adler, a woman who is as cold, as ruthless and as brilliant as he is. With Mark Gatiss, Rupert Graves and Una Stubbs.
And, so to the news: Andrea Begley won the final of this year's series of The Voice on BBC1 on Saturday. evening The partially-sighted twenty seven-year-old from Pomeroy in County Tyrone landed a 'lucrative' recording contract as part of the prize. She told supporters: 'I will try my best to put your vote to good use.' Her mentor, Danny O'Donoghue, described her as 'an inspiration.' Leah McFall had been the bookmakers' favourite, but failed to win enough votes with her renditions of 'Loving You' and and 'I Will Always Love You'. Now that the BBC's search for the newest singing sensation has ended, there will be more at stake than the fate of the show's winner. Audiences for the show have been dwarfed by Wee Shughie mcFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads' ITV rival, Britain's Got Toilets, amid signs that viewers are falling out love with The Voice's one great success, the swivel-chair novelty. The BBC has confirmed that the show will return for a third series but critics say it must be overhauled if it is to compete for Saturday night viewers. In early episodes, singers perform to the backs of chairs occupied by judges, Jessie J, Tom Jones and O'Donoghue his very self. If any of the judges thinks the singer's voice has potential, their chair swivels around and the singer is chosen. Later episodes follow a more familiar knock-out format. 'It's embarrassing for the BBC that they can't do anything to stop the ratings decline as soon as the spinning chairs go,' opined Boyd Hilton, TV and reviews editor for Heat magazine. The ratings gap with Britain's Got Toilets did narrow after Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads' show launched in April and an overnight audience of 7.2 million punters watched The Voice final, with a peak of just over eight million towards the climax. Not bad figures at all in this day and age but, clearly, not in the Wee Shughie McFee league. Mark Linsey, the BBC's entertainment controller, insists that he is happy with how The Voice has fared. He said: 'It's always tricky to land these shows on Saturday night and get the format right and they're ever-evolving, but I'm pleased.' Linsey is tipped to be named the new BBC1 controller after Danny Cohen, who paid twenty two million smackers for the first two series of The Voice, was promoted to director of television. Linsey believes The Voice can become a fixture of Saturday nights for years to come. He conceded that elements of the show will be 'reviewed' ahead of its return next year: 'We will have those conversations straight away – reviewing formats and looking at what works and what didn't work, and checking the availability of the coaches.'

A former S4C chief executive says that there is a 'grave danger' the Welsh language TV channel could become entirely reliant on the BBC licence fee. Which, given that the BBC never wanted S4C in the first place, some might regard as being, frankly, a bit sodding ungrateful of this chancer. Arwel Ellis Owen believes the government, in its spending review on Wednesday, could announce an end to its £6.7m funding from 2015. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said it will not comment on 'speculation.' So, that means it's definitely cutting S4C adrift, then. S4C Authority chair Huw Jones has already said it has 'huge concerns.' The TV channel received £6.7m from DCMS in 2013, down from one hundred and one million smackers in 2010. The BBC - upon whom S4C was foisted by with government, without them wanting it, in 2010 - will contribute £76.3m from the licence fee in 2013-14, falling to £74.5m by 2016-17. Although quite why the BBC should have to pay a single penny for a service which it doesn't own and that ninety five per cent of licence fee payers not only don't use but, couldn't even if they wanted to, is one of the great questions of our time. Owen said: 'I believe there is a grave danger that the government will take £6.7m away from S4C's budget on Wednesday, which will break the chain between money from the government and S4C, which will leave S4C completely reliant on the licence fee from 2015.' Earlier this year it was claimed that the independence of the broadcaster was safeguarded in an agreement outlining its relationship with the BBC. The new partnership was agreed following public consultation over plans to fund most of S4C's activities from the licence fee from April. It meant that S4C will remain independent, also receiving government funding and generating its own revenue. At the time the S4C Authority called it a 'historic development for Welsh broadcasting.' But Owen told BBC Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement programme that that being 'at the mercy of' [the BBC] was 'a very relevant issue in this whole debate.' He added: 'So that is why it's important, not only for the financial reasons, for S4C to have a continued funding from an alternative source, but also in terms of its independence it's very important as well.' Last week, Huw Jones, chairman of the S4C Authority, said DCMS had already confirmed an eight per cent cut in its budget with the Treasury. He said a meeting between him and the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Miller was recently cancelled and no other meeting had been arranged. 'This combination of circumstances and events causes huge concern to S4C about the government's intentions,' he said. The Welsh TV producers' trade body TAC has sent an open letter to the vile and odious rascal Miller (presumably, because they didn't have enough money to buy a stamp and, therefore, make it a closed letter) calling for a halt to cuts to S4C funding. Its open letter read: 'If every pound you invest in S4C generates nearly two pounds for the Welsh economy, it follows therefore that conversely, for every pound of S4C's budget that is cut, the Welsh economy will lose double this amount.'

Jon Stewart has taken the guest's seat on Egypt's top satirical TV show, modelled after his own American programme, The Daily Show. Stewart was brought to the set wearing a black hood and introduced by host Bassem Youssef as 'a captured foreign spy', then unmasked by the Egyptian host, to a raucous welcome from the audience. 'Please sit down, I am a simple man who does not like to be fussed over,' he said in Arabic to much laughter. Youssef, host of the show Al-Bernameg and one of Egypt's most popular TV presenters, has previously been questioned by prosecutors on accusations of blasphemy and insulting the president. Stewart defended his counterpart and friend in one of his monologues after Youssef was interrogated earlier this year and Youssef has appeared as a guest on the popular New York-based show. Stewart, who is on a summer-long break from anchoring the Comedy Central show, is in the Middle East making his first movie. He expressed admiration for Youssef in Friday's episode, which was recorded earlier in the week during a visit to Cairo. 'Satire is a settled law. If your regime is not strong enough to handle a joke, then you have no regime,' Stewart said, adding that Youssef 'is showing that satire can be relevant.' True to form Youssef began the weekly show with a series of jokes about Islamist President Mohamed Morsi's appearance and address at a rally last weekend hosted by his hardline Islamist backers. The president, Egypt's first democratically elected leader, announced at the rally a complete break of diplomatic relations with the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Youssef, however, criticised Morsi for remaining silent and 'wearing a stone face' while one of the rally's organisers denounced as non-believers opposition protesters planning massive, anti-government demonstrations on 30 June, the anniversary of the start of the president's term. Stewart said that he was overwhelmed with the generosity of Egyptians but took a jab at Cairo's horrendous traffic. 'I flew in three days ago and I have just arrived to do the show,' he joked. Youssef – known as Egypt's Jon Stewart – was interrogated in April for allegedly insulting Islam and the country's leader. His questioning drew criticism from Washington and rights advocates. A trained heart surgeon, Youssef catapulted to fame when his videoblogs mocking politics received hundreds of thousands of hits shortly after the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time leader Hosni Mubarak. Unlike other local TV presenters Youssef uses satire to mock fiery comments made by ultra-conservative clerics and politicians, garnering him a legion of fans among the country's revolutionaries and liberals. He has 1.4 million fans on Facebook and nearly eight hundred and fifty thousand followers on Twitter. During his hiatus Stewart will be directing and producing Rosewater from his own script based on a memoir by Maziar Bahari. The Iranian journalist was falsely accused of being a spy and imprisoned by the Iranian government in 2009 while covering Iran's presidential election.

When Samuel L Jackson asks you to do something, you tend to do it. The Hollywood legend recently invited Stephen K Amos to perform at a fundraiser for his charity foundation on Sunday. And not only that, he had a special request: could Stephen do 'the Shaft joke.' Amos duly obliged – the gag being that when people shouted 'Shaft!' at him in the street, he always assumed it was a mildly racist reference to the movie private investigator – until he looked down and found that his private dick was, in fact, hanging out. And the reason for Jackson’s request? Yer actual Richard Roundtree, the original John Shaft his very self, was in the audience. And, he's a baaaad motha.
Michael McIntyre is developing a Saturday-night entertainment show for BBC1. The comic is said to be 'road-testing a format' which involves stand-up, celebrity guests, video sketches and studio games. Sounds somewhat missable. It is said that the show hopes to 'recapture the heyday of Noel's House Party – which won audiences of up to fifteen million viewers at its nineties peak. Correction. That sounds extremely missable. McIntyre is hosting early run-throughs of the show in London’s intimate RADA Studios next month to test out ideas. His last Comedy Roadshow was shown on BBC1 on Christmas Day 2011, after which he joined the Britain’s Got Toilets judging panel on ITV for one series.

The British and Irish Lions took a major step towards a first series victory in sixteen years with a pulsating opening Test win over Australia in Brisbane. They also, seemingly, took heed of all those ruddy annoying 'butterflies turn into lions' adverts Sky have been running, ad nausea for the last few months. A dramatic conclusion to a compelling encounter saw Wallabies replacement Kurtley Beale miss a penalty with the last kick of the game which would have snatched victory. The Lions led thirteen-twelve at half-time via George North's stunning try and two Leigh Halfpenny penalties after a brace of tries for Australia wing débutant Israel Folau. Alex Cuthbert's try stretched the Lions' lead, but two penalties from Beale brought the hosts to within two points. He had two opportunities to steal victory, but sliced the first wide with five minutes left and then slipped as he connected with his last-minute effort amid unbearable tension. That meant fourteen points had gone begging in missed kicks for Australia, with James O'Connor also failing with two penalties and a conversion. The Lions' relief at their good fortune was palpable, but they will head to Melbourne for the next instalment mindful that the team which won the first Test in each of the last two series between the sides, in 1989 and 2001, ended up losing it. The match had barely started when Wallabies centre Christian Leali'ifano got his head in the wrong position trying to tackle Jonathan Davies and appeared to knock himself out. Halfpenny immediately alerted referee Chris Pollock and the centre was taken off on a cart only fifty two seconds into his début. A second player, full-back Berrick Barnes, departed in the same fashion two minutes before half-time after smashing into a retreating Folau. The ex-rugby league international and Aussie Rules footballer had already marked his own début in stunning style by then, however. After O'Connor had missed two early shots at goal as the Lions struggled to come to terms with Pollock's interpretation at the breakdown, Folau made an explosive entry to Test rugby in the thirteenth minute. The Lions had spent several minutes hammering away at the Wallabies defence before the hosts won a penalty on their own twenty two. The ever-dangerous Will Genia took a quick tap and raced away to halfway, waited for Halfpenny to commit himself before sending a delicate chip into the path of Folau, who picked up and sprinted over. This time O'Connor couldn't miss from in front of the posts. The momentum was all with the hosts, Cuthbert fumbling a Genia box-kick under no pressure, Genia sending prop Benn Robinson through a gap. But after strong charges from Jamie Heaslip and Mike Phillips, Wallabies captain James Horwill was pinged for coming in at the side and Halfpenny made it seven-three with a confident swing of his right boot. North then made his own explosive entrance to this series. Collecting a Barnes clearance ten metres inside his own half, the giant Welsh wing eluded Pat McCabe's initial attempted tackle and then scorched away in an arcing run to the left corner, leaving O'Connor in his wake in a manner reminiscent of the way his predecessor in the Lions number eleven shirt, Jason Robinson, undid Chris Latham twelve years ago. Halfpenny nailed the touchline conversion and minutes later North was over in at the left corner again, barging through Genia and Folau's tackles to dot down. But television match official Vinny Munro ruled that North's left elbow was fractionally in touch as he grounded the ball. But Pollock had already blown for offside in the build-up and Halfpenny stretched the Lions' lead. Australia hit back immediately when the athletic Folau was released into space, stepping inside Sexton and beating Halfpenny to score his second. But O'Connor's third miss of the night from the tee meant the Lions remained in front. Beale, on for the unfortunate Barnes, received an immediate welcome from Tom Croft on the charge - after a pick-up and break from the impressive Alex Corbisiero - as the Lions threatened again. Australia cynically went off their feet to concede a penalty rather than seven points, but this time Halfpenny's radar failed him for only the second time in twenty seven shots at goal on tour. When McCabe became the third Wallaby to be taken off on a stretcher within six minutes of the resumption, the hosts were forced to switch flanker Michael Hooper to centre, with Liam Gill taking over at open-side. Their problems deepened when Cuthbert, coming in off his right wing, hit a perfect angle onto Sexton's pass and powered his way over, Halfpenny's conversion taking the Lions eight points clear. O'Connor's penalty reduced the deficit, but the Lions might have added to their tally after a thrilling break-out, only for referee Pollock to adjudge O'Driscoll's delicate offload marginally forward. Instead Beale landed a long-range penalty to cut the Lions' lead to two, Halfpenny responded in kind, before Beale again made it a two-point game with twelve minutes remaining after his own thrilling counter-attack had forced the Lions to infringe in their own twenty two. The Lions wasted a golden opportunity when they lost a scrum on their own put-in five metres from the Australia line. But Beale, returning to action after receiving counselling for alcohol-related issues, could not make them pay.

The night sky has been illuminated by what appears to be a much bigger and brighter Moon. The so-called 'supermoon' occurs when the Moon reaches its closest point to Earth, known as a 'perigee full moon.' The effect makes the Moon seem fourteen per cent bigger and thirty per cent brighter than when it is furthest from the planet. Skywatchers who miss the phenomenon this weekend because of cloudy skies will have to wait until August 2014 for the next one. Space expert Heather Couper said 'supermoons' were the result of coincidence. 'The Moon goes round in an oval orbit so it can come very close to us, and if that coincides with a full moon, then it can look absolutely enormous,' she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. She explained that when the Moon was high in the sky, it looked normal. But as it got closer to the horizon, a 'kind of optical illusion' occurred where it looked bigger when compared with trees or houses, she said. She suggested it might be possible to dispel the illusion by turning away from the Moon, bending over and looking at the sky from between your legs. Writing in Sky and Telescope about the 'myth of the supermoon', Shari Balouchi said much of what we called the supermoon was just our eyes playing tricks on us. 'The supermoon might look bigger than normal if you see it in the evening when the Moon's just rising, but the real size difference isn't big enough to notice.' BBC Weather's Darren Bett said that he was confident most people in the UK would have been able to see the Moon at some point on Saturday night, even if only fleetingly. Sunday night should be better, he added, with people in South-West England and South Wales likely to have the clearest views. However Marek Kukula, public astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said people should not expect the supermoon to look that much bigger than normal. 'It won't fill the sky,' he said. 'It's at its most impressive when the Moon is close to the horizon, when it's rising or setting - people will need to check online for rising and setting times for their locality.' Scientists have dismissed the idea that the perigee moon can cause strange behaviour, like lycanthropy or natural disasters. Doctor Couper said the tides this weekend would be 'unaffected.'

That brings us nicely to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, from a rare moon to, as it were, a bit of yer actual Rare Earth. Funky.

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