Monday, July 22, 2013

Two-Nil To The In-Ger-Lund

The Daleks their very selves are returning to Doctor Who for the show's fiftieth anniversary special, starring yer actual Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt. The episode - described as 'movie-length' by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) - will be broadcast on 23 November, exactly fifty years to the day after the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama's first episode - An Unearthly Child - in 1963. Billie Piper will return as Rose Tyler, while Jenna Coleman will continue in her role as The Doctor's current companion, Clara Oswald. That bloody annoying woman from Gavin & Stacey is in it as well but, hey, don't let that put you off. The episode will also bring back The Zygons who last appeared in the show in 1975, opposite Big Tom Baker. The Moffat, the programme's showrunner and executive producer (you knew that, right?), said: 'The Doctor once said that you can judge a man by the quality of his enemies, so it's fitting that for this very special episode, he should be facing the greatest enemies of all.' The show was filmed earlier this year in Cardiff, with further footage shot in London at notable locations including the Tower of London and Trafalgar Square, where Smith was photographed dangling from the TARDIS near Nelson's Column.

Meanwhile, speaking of yer actual Steven Moffat and people facing the greatest enemy of all ...
Steven, Mark, don't try to reason with it; those creatures simply can't be reasoned with. Just kill it.

As if them bloody Americans at San Diego's Comic Con weren't lucky enough with their exclusive peek at Sherlock series three, the lucky buggers have also been shown the first trailer for the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary special. Premiering - to deafening Beatlemania-style screams - the trailer focused heavily on the chemistry between yer actual Matt Smith and David Tennant's eleventh and tenth Doctors, with the pair comparing sonic screwdrivers, trading 'Allons-y,' and 'Geronimo!' catchphrases and Tennant paying homage to the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors by telling Smudger's Doctor that he doesn't like the new TARDIS interior. 'Oh, you've redecorated,' he says, echoing Patrick Troughton's similar observation to Jon Pertwee all the way back in 1972. 'I don't like it.' The clip also gave fans a glimpse of John Hurt in action, with the mysterious 'Doctor' standing amidst what looks like the carnage of The Time War between The Daleks and The Time Lords. 'Great men are forged in fire,' he laments, as flames and explosions erupt around him. In reference to Hurt's character, Smudger's Doctor is heard telling Clara: 'I've had many faces. Many lives. I don't admit to all of them. There's one life I've tried very hard to forget,' a nod, it would seem, to The Doctor's infamous act of genocide. Ironic, really, considering the number of times he's casually boasted about what went on during that period. (Example: 'Fear me, I've killed hundred of Time Lords.' 'Fear me, I've killed all of them.') Also featuring in the trailer is Billie Piper's Rose, who is seen telling Hurt's Doctor that 'the moment is coming,' some extremely angry-looking Zygons bursting out of a glass case (not surprising they're pissed-off if they've been stuck in there since Terror of the Zygons in 1975) and plenty of Daleks (see above). A title also confirms that: 'This fall, The Doctor will face his darkest day: Himself.' The trailer ends with someone 'looking for The Doctor,' before the camera swings around to reveal John, David and Matt. Tennant then says: 'Well, you've certainly come to the right place!' A BBC spokesman has told Radio Times that there is currently 'no confirmation' of when the trailer will be put online for British fans - you know, those annoying 'little people' whose licence fees actually pay for the programme to be made in the first place. Only kidding, dear blog reader! Yer actual Keith Telly Topping couldn't care less when it arrives here. We'll get it when we get it. The official Doctor Who Twitter account, however, does tell fans to keep their eyes peeled.

The Moffinator, meanwhile, has told Doctor Who fans that they shouldn't presume anything about the fiftieth anniversary episode, revealing that he has, in his own words, 'lied' continually about the upcoming special. During the Doctor Who panel event at San Diego, Moffat refused to comment on reports that John Barrowman wouldn't be involved in the anniversary episode, claiming that fans would have to wait and see which of their favourite characters would be in the episode and which would not. When asked by - some pushy American - why Captain Jack wasn't involved, instead of saying, as this blogger would have if he'd been in yer actual Moffat's place, 'Captain Jack was in thirteen episodes, why the Hell should he be in the fiftieth anniversary episode?', Moffat said: 'You can't put everybody in the fiftieth. How do you know what is and what is not? I have lied my arse off for months. You know nothing so don't make presumptions.' So that's you told, pushy American. Although, to be fair, the fact that John Barrowman his very self hasn't shut up whinging about his non-appearance in the fiftieth anniversary episode for the last few months is something of a give-away regarding his non-involvement in the episode in question. Unless he's been lying as well, of course. 'It's always story-driven,' Moffat continued. 'If we have a great idea for Captain Jack, he'll come back. If we don't, he won't.'

As well as talking about what to expect in series three, Sherlock co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss also gave a glimpse into what could possibly appear in series four and beyond at Comic Con. Asked by a member of the audience what Arthur Conan Doyle stories they would like to tackle, Gatiss replied that he'd enjoy trying his hand at The Red-Headed League, an 1891 short story centred around a criminal duo who fool a ginger chap into allowing them to - elaborately - break into a bank. Moffat went on to cite The Speckled Band: a story where a venomous snake is used as the murder weapon. 'If you haven't read The Speckled Band, go read The Speckled Band,' he told the audience. 'It makes no sense at all, but there's something exciting on every page. I read it when I was very young, and I thought, "It doesn't get better than that."' However, yer actual Moffat also admitted that most of Conan Doyle's short stories would only give them around twenty minutes of screen-time, so they're more interested in constructing their stories around 'moments' from the source material. He cited the moment in Doyle’s story The Engineer's Thumb – in which a man has his thumb severed by a meat cleaver – as an example. 'We just sort of take the bits from [Doyle] that we like, rather than adapting full stories,' Gatiss added. 'We're always thinking about big storylines and movie-sized stories. We try to think of stories with the sort of scale that deserve that sort of length.' On the subject of Conan Doyle's work generally, the duo were also asked what they would say to the Sherlock Holmes author if they could talk to him now. 'We owe everything to Conan Doyle,' Gatiss answered. 'He's a genius writer, possibly the greatest writer of short stories that's ever been and everything thing we do we owe unto him. So I'd like to say, "Thank you but, by the way, spiritualism isn't true."' Moffat added: 'He sort of affected to believe throughout his life that he didn't really matter, that his stories weren't very good. But his stories are simply the best storytelling of its kind, and you are sort of inventing television, which hadn't been invented yet. The idea of different adventures for the same characters on a weekly basis is his idea.' Moffat's missus, the show's producer Sue Vertue, revealed that Gatiss and Moffat, when having trouble with scripts, often refer back to their source material for inspiration. 'I was just trying to write a good entrance for Sherlock in episode three, which we're about to film,' Moffat said. 'And I went back to [Doyle's] stories and found a good entrance for him.'

What with yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self 'off somewhere' being movie stars, or something, neither could attend Comic Con's much anticipated Sherlock panel; but they did send their regards with specially filmed video messages. 'Make sure you ask them lots of belligerent badgering questions. They like that,' Freeman suggested - concerning Moffat, Gatiss and Vertue - from outside his trailer. 'They like it as well when you try and tear their clothes and hair as they leave the auditorium.' As Martin professed his enjoyment on working on the new series, it was the turn of his fictional partner in solving crime to share his own enthusiasm: 'I'm really sorry I'm not there to talk to you about the role of Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness,' Benny apologised earnestly, before listing a repertoire of his career achievements. 'Sherlock? But that's television,' he sneered as he was faux-corrected off-camera. In a revelatory moment, however, Benny also confessed to being 'sick' of the closely guarded secrecy surrounding the denouement to series two finale and so spilled the beans ... with the help of a stuffed monkey.

England's cricket team strolled to a crushing three hundred and forty seven-run victory over Australia at Lord's to take a two-nil lead in the test series and tighten their grip on the Ashes. In doing so they, effectively, got the Australians down on the floor, rubbed their collective faces in the dirt and made them their bitch. It was that emphatic. Ridden like a beast of burden, so the hapless Aussies were. Now they know how we felt just about every series between the late 1980s and 2005. It was a proper rotten day for the visitors, so it was: Clarke was in the dark, Haddin was havin' a bad 'un, Shane was in pain, Hughes had the blues, Siddle needed a widdle and as for Usman Khawaja, well, he just didn't have a clue what the hell was goin' on. The hosts extremely bowled Australia out for two hundred and thirty five late on the fourth day, having set them a - thoroughly notional - five hundred and eighty three runs to win after declaring earlier in the day on three hundred and forty nine for seven when Joe Root was dismissed for a hundred and eighty. The tourists' last-wicket pair frustrated England for sixty two minutes and threatened to take the match into a final day. But with just four balls remaining before a delayed close, Graeme Swann trapped James Pattinson LBW for a - admittedly rather good - thirty five to send England's players into delighted celebrations. Maybe the Aussies should think about opening with Pattison and Ryan Harris next time around. Let's face it they can't do any worse than Shane Watson. The England spinner finished with four for seventy eight and nine wickets in the match, while Tim Bresnan, James Anderson and - man of the Match - Joe Root took two wickets apiece. Once again, the day featured controversies over the Decision Review System - Steven Smith and Ashton Agar fell to, at best, marginal calls - but there was no masking the truly cavernous gulf in quality between the sport's two oldest rivals. At times it was almost embarrassing. Almost, but not quite. The resounding victory, England second-biggest in terms of runs against Australia, puts Alastair Cook's team in a commanding position from which to win their third Ashes series in a row and their fourth in the last five series encounters. (England's biggest win, incidentally, came at Brisbane during the 1928-29 series, by a whopping six hundred and seventy five runs.) Don Bradman's 1936-37 Australians are the only team in the one hundred and thirty six-year history of test cricket to come from back from two-nil to win a five-match series. And, they were a fair bit better than the current mob. Should Australia fight back to draw the series two-two - which looks about as likely as Kerry Katona being elected the next Pope, frankly - then England would still, as holders, retain the Ashes. Despite an overnight lead of five hundred and sixty six, England chose to continue batting in an effort to get Root to his double-hundred and further wear down the pitch and the tired Australian bowlers. But, after Jonny Bairstow had been caught behind cutting at Ryan Harris, Root attempted a ramp shot and scooped to Smith at third man, providing the cue for Cook to declare and set about dismantling the Australian batting order for the fourth time in the series. Shane Watson's innings followed a familiar trajectory, a trio of classy spanked fours followed by an LBW dismissal as Anderson nipped one back. (At least this time, Watson chose not to waste one of Australia's two decision reviews in a pointless effort to stay in.) Swann removed left-handers Chris Rogers and Phil Hughes in quick succession on a pitch tailor-made for his spin-bowling artistry. After two sharply turning balls had fizzed past the outside edge, Rogers played no stroke to a delivery which went on with the arm and knocked over off stump. A similar delivery accounted for Hughes, who played for spin that was not there and was trapped LBW. For the second time in the match Hughes used up one of Australia's precious reviews, which established the ball would have hit leg stump. On thirty six for three at lunch - and with Swann turning the ball considerably - Australia were in danger of crumbling like so much wet cardboard to a lower total even than their first-innings one hundred and twenty eight, but Michael Clarke and Usman Khawaja battled hard in a stand of ninety eight. Clarke was struck three times by Stuart Broad, with one ball thudding into the badge on his helmet and shown good footwork to the spinners before he glanced Root to leg slip to depart for fifty one. The part-time off-spinner, generating some alarming turn from the rough outside the left-hander's off stump, also accounted for Khawaja for fifty four in the next over, when a thick edge was caught by Jimmy Anderson at second slip. When Tim Bresnan removed Smith and Agar either side of tea - both to thin edges which were given out by the third umpire despite no obvious Hotspot marks on the bat - the game was as good as up. Swann collected his third wicket when Brad Haddin padded up and was given out LBW. With no Australia reviews remaining, Haddin was powerless to overturn what turned out to be a (marginally) incorrect call. Anderson castled Peter Siddle all over the shop to break a partnership of thirty with Pattinson and move England to within one wicket of glory. The resistance of Pattinson and Harris, however, frustrated England and forced them into taking an extra half-hour's play. Seven more overs came and went, with plenty of near misses, until Swann got a ball to fizz past Pattinson's outside edge and clatter into his back leg to deliver the final act of a compelling drama. Given the vast margin of victory, it is easy to forget that England were reduced to twenty eight for three on the opening morning of the match after winning the toss under cloudless skies. A classy one hundred and nine from Ian Bell helped them recover to three hundred and sixty one before Australia were blown away in an abject, and at times comical, display of suicidal and risible batting. England stuttered again at the start of their second innings, but such was the margin of their lead that it only needed one innings of substance to all but ensure a home win. Root (with help from Bresnan and, again, Bell) was the man to oblige, with a masterful century that ground Australia into the Lord's turf and crapped on their head from a great height. That set the stage for England's bowlers to bring home the match. The third test begins a week on Thursday at Old Trafford.

TV comedy line of the week came from yer actual Jezza Calrkson on Top Gear on the subject of the programme's tame racing driver, The Stig: 'Some say that he, also, has a button that makes him hum. And that if he played football for Manchester United, he be loyal. Because, he's not a potato-headed oaf!'
Big Brother's latest eviction episode was watched by 1.56m glakes on Channel Five on Friday evening, according to overnight data. Jackie Travers's departure from the house was seen by eight per cent of the available audience, a statistic which probably says much of the state of British society in 2013, dear blog reader. The ratings were up eighty thousand on the previous week's 1.48 million audience. On BBC1, Nigel Slater's Dish of the Day appealed to but 1.69m at 7.30pm and a repeat of Sherlock gathered 2.01m at 9pm. On BBC2, Celebrity Mastermind interested 1.09m at 8pm, after which Gardeners' World and Natural World were watched by 1.48m and 1.57m respectively. On ITV, Ben Fogle's Harbour Lives was seen by 2.74m at 8pm, while a repeat of Doc Martin was, once again, the most-watched show outside of soaps and news with a mere 2.96m at 9pm. September can't come quick enough, quite frankly. Channel Four's Four Rooms secured five hundred and eighty thousand viewers at 8pm, followed by The Million Pound Drop Live with 1.15m at 9pm. The Angelina Jolie movie Salt was the highest-rated offering on the multichannels, scoring seven hundred and eighty five thousand punters at 9pm on Film4.

The BBC2 drama Top of the Lake continued with 1.28m overnight viewers from 9.15pm on Saturday. The second episode of the six-part series, starring Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss as a detective who returns to New Zealand to investigate the disappearance of a twelve-year-old pregnant girl, was down six hundred and fifty thousand viewers on the previous week's début episode. Meanwhile, in some properly splendid news, risible, odious horrorshow (and drag) Your Face Sounds Familiar failed to interest a miserable audience of 2.79m on ITV at 7.30pm. Which is excellent news. All Star Family Fortunes was watched by 2.3m at 8.45pm. The latest episode of The Americans was seen by nine hundred and ten thousand punters an hour later. On BBC1, a twenty fifth showing of Raiders of the Lost Ark attracted 2.93m from 6.30pm - higher than anything ITV could manage in the entirety of the day - after which The National Lottery: In It to Win It scored 3.74m at 8.15pm. Casualty was watched by 4.2m at 9.15pm and Mrs Brown's Boys pulled in 3.94m at 10pm. Dad's Army aired from 7.45pm on BBC2, with 1.31m tuning-in. David Starkey's Music and Monarchy had a million viewers at 8.15pm and a repeat of Qi XL attracted seven hundred and fifty thousand at 10.15pm. Channel Four showed Grand Designs to six hundred and sixty thousand punters at 7.30pm. The Million Pound Drop Live attracted 1.02m at 8.15pm, after which the 2010 movie The American took nine hundred thousand viewers at 10pm. Elsewhere, 1.07m caught the Ashes cricket highlights between 7pm and 8pm on Channel Five, while a double bill of NCIS episodes both pulled in slightly more than eight hundred thousand viewers from 8pm. Big Brother interested 1.02m at 10pm. Lewis was the highest rated show on the multichannels, picking up nine hundred and fifty nine thousand viewers on ITV3 at 9pm.

Law & Order: UK was one of the most-watched shows on Sunday, according to overnight figures. The ITV crime drama lost over three hundred thousand viewers from last week's premiere to finish with 4.28 million viewers at 9pm. Earlier, Tipping Point was watched by 3.23m at 7pm and All-Star Mr & Mrs had an audience of 3.38m at 8pm. BBC1's Countryfile was, as usual these days, the top show of Sunday night with 4.52m at 8pm. The White Queen's latest episode was seen by 3.51m at 9pm. On BBC2, Top Gear enjoyed a small overnight audience rise from last week to 4.15m at 8pm. Wild Cameramen At Work interested 1.26m at 7.30pm, while The Secret Life of Uri Geller was watched by 1.41m at 9pm. The Channel Four documentary The Plane That Saved Britain appealed to 1.02m at 8pm, followed by the latest episode of The Returned with nine hundred and thirty two thousand at 9pm. On Channel Five, Once Upon A Time continued with seven hundred and thirty nine thousand at 8pm.

And, finally in the latest ratings news, here are the final and consolidated figures for the Top Twenty Three programmes in Britain for week-ending 14 July 2013:-
1 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.64m
2 The Apprentice - Wed BBc1 - 8.24m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.22m
4 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.12m
5 Luther - Tues BBC1 - 5.95m
6 Law & Order: UK - Sun ITV - 5.32m*
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.23m
8 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.00m
9 Nick & Margaret: We Pay Your Benefits - Thurs BBC1 - 4.90m
10 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.87m
11 Top Gear - Sun BBC2 - 4.83m
12 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.79m
13 Long Lost Family - Mon ITV - 4.75m*
14 Mrs Brown's Boys - Sat BBC1 - 4.65m
15 The White Queen - Sun BBC1 - 4.56m
16 Andy Murray: The Man Behind The Racquet - Mon BBC1 - 4.41m
17 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.27m
18= The National Lottery: In It To Win It - Sat BBC1 - 4.07m
18= The Zoo - Wed ITV - 4.07m*
20 Great British Budget Menu - Thurs BBC1 - 3.92m
21 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 3.80m
22 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 3.62m
23 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 3.47m
Programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures.

The very truth was certainly, as it were, 'out there' at Comic Con as the makers of The X Files celebrated the cult SF drama's twentieth anniversary by reuniting the divine Goddess that is Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny his very self, as well as show-writer Vince Gilligan and creator Chris Carter. After nine seasons and two movies, the panel was greeted to huge applause as they discussed past filming exploits, cameos that never were and the potential for a third movie ever coming to light. So long as it's better than the second one, this blogger wouldn't say no. The group also marvelled at the show's timelessness after two decades, all agreeing if the series was conceived today, the same creation would probably struggle. 'The show is very dark by design,' Carter explained. 'The technology has changed and that would affect some things. But what we did is what we’d do now.' The panel did, however, have some regrets. Gilligan confessed that Drew Barrymore was due to make an appearance on the show and Carter added that he practically begged Tom Waits to appear. However, one name that did turn up would end up changing both his and Gilligan’s later career. 'That was fruitful for me, personally,' Gilligan admitted on meeting Bryan Cranston on series six, before going on to confess that The X Files was the show that inspired his own projects. 'There would be no Breaking Bad without The X Files. I was just as lucky as hell I got to be a part of it.' But with Breaking Bad now wrapped up, Gilligan was also confronted by the notion that there could be room for a third X Files movies 'We can get to it later,' Carter asserted quickly, with Anderson promptly slapping away rumours of a new series- well, she's a bit busy what with The Fall and Hannibal after all. But, despite the swift rejection of igniting X Files' future, Anderson and Duchovny were still rife with admiration for their characters, looking back at favourite moments together, with Duchovny declaring the series would always be special. Gillian also looked at the strength of her character as a feminist role model, with Carter agreeing she was the 'fantasy woman. Scully had quite a huge impact on people from aspects of her personality and her personal strength and things she stood up for. But she was also a decent human being. People listened to her and she got to boss people around.'

Jonathan Ross has signed a new deal with ITV to extend his chat show on the channel until the end of next year. In addition to the ten-part Saturday night series already scheduled for this autumn, the fifty two-year-old will host two more series in 2014. Ross joined ITV in 2010. He originally signed a two-series deal, which was extended for a further three series the following year. Ross's fourth series, which ran for twenty episodes from January to May, attracted an average two-and-a-half million to three million viewers each week. Sir David Attenborough, Danny Boyle, Zachary Quinto, Sir Ian McKellen, Justin Timberlake, Jamie Foxx and Gemma Arterton were among those who recently appeared as guests on the show. 'Jonathan Ross is a firm part of Saturday nights on ITV,' ITV's commissioning editor for comedy entertainment Claire Zolkwer said. 'We're delighted that he will be returning again in 2014, with more great guests, live music, and one-on-one interviews.'

The TV biopic starring Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter as Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor will be a bittersweet affair for BBC4 when it broadcasts on Monday evening. Burton & Taylor will be the last of BBC4's homegrown dramas, as it absorbs its share of the seven hundred million smackers of cuts being made across the corporation. The digital channel, which celebrated its tenth birthday last year, has won a string of awards and some of its biggest audiences for biopics about the likes of Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques, Kenny Everett, Fanny Craddock and Hughie Green. Burton & Taylor is likely to be no exception with West and Bonham Carter impeccable portraying the Twentieth Century's most famous celebrity couple during their ill-fated 1983 revival of the Noel Coward play Private Lives. 'We were aware that the last BBC4 film was due and we wanted to make a splash with it,' said the programme's executive producer, Jessica Pope. 'They were such ultimately glamorous people but there's a flaw in each of them that you respond to so well. They were magnetic people. The charisma, even now when you go back and watch their old movies, is astonishing. You literally can't take your eyes off them.' BBC4 was praised by the BBC Trust in last week's annual report, which said the channel had a 'very successful year' off the back of arts programmes tied to the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The Trust said that BBC4's programmes were regarded as 'fresh and new' with 'much higher reach and a growing reputation' among viewers. It's probably the channel which this blogger watches more than any other, BBC1 aside. But the channel will have to further that reputation without home-grown drama, which has been axed, with big cuts to its history, entertainment, documentary and science programming as part of the BBC's - disastrous - delivering quality first savings, enforced after the licence fee was frozen in 2010. Instead the channel will focus on music, arts and culture as it looks to make its line-up more distinctive from BBC2, home to acclaimed dramas such as The Fall and Top of the Lake. BBC4 will still, however, hang on to the Scandinavian crime dramas it pioneered – generating an appetite for subtitled shows among UK viewers – with new series of The Bridge and political thriller Borgen to come later this year. Bonham Carter, speaking last week at a preview of Burton and Taylor, said her that mother had told her not to touch the project with a barge pole. 'It's a movie icon. Are you stupid, or what?' But the actress said that the script, by William Ivory, which was filmed in eighteen days, had won her over. 'It was very moving and touching and it was a love story. And it was almost to me incidental that it was about these two most famous people and most famous lovers.' West, star of another BBC period drama, The Hour, said in portraying Burton he 'was always in danger of trying to be too Welsh.' He added: 'I sort of worked out that there's Welsh and then it was over-layered with mainly Fifties Oxford University. And then I've suddenly realised he's Olivier's Richard III a lot of the time.'

There's a very good interview by Andrew Collins with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright to publicise The World's End in the Radio Times: 'Shaun had a budget of six million dollars and grossed thirty million worldwide. Hot Fuzz cost twelve million dollars and returned eighty million. I ask what the damage was on The World's End and Pegg tots it up: "It's four million dollars million shy of double what Hot Fuzz cost." "It's about being more ambitious,' explains Wright. "It required more digital effects. If you did the special effects in World's End on the Shaun budget, they'd be extremely rough and ready. We tried to do something that looks really good." Frost adds, "It cost us a million to rebuild Britain's first roundabout!"' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping, as a huge fan of the trio's last two movies, is hoping to get alone to the flicks as see The World's End for himself sometime later this week, dear blog reader.
Musicians and comedians including Eddie Izzard, Kraftwerk and Bloc Party performed at Latitude festival over the weekend. A thirty five thousand capacity crowd enjoyed warm weather - benefitting from a lapse in the intense heatwave which has roasted much of the country for most of July - and a wide array of acts. Mercury Prize winners Alt-J were also present, performing for an energetic younger crowd, whilst Kraftwerk brought their greatest hits show to the main stage, replete with thousands of festival-goers wearing 3D glasses to enjoy the huge backdrop of space age visuals. Bobby Womack, Rudimental and Foals wrapped up the popular event on Sunday with crowd-pleasing sets. Beyond the music stages an impressive range of comedians, topped by Eddie Izzard and Dylan Moran ensured punters were treated to some unrivalled entertainment. Eddie, when not joking about chickens and jam, also reconfirmed his ambition to enter politics as an MP or Mayor of London, declaring 'I don't like the right-wing.'

Chris Froome has won the one hundredth edition of the Tour De France. Froome crossed the line linking arms with his team-mates as he took the title by more than four minutes. It is the second time in two years that a Briton has won the race after Froome's Team Sky team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner of the annual race in 2012. Marcel Kittel claimed the final stage in Paris, with Mark Cavendish third in a hotly contested sprint along the Champs Elysees. Cavendish was attempting a twenty sixth tour stage win - and a fifth on the trot in Paris - which would have put him third on the all-time list behind five-time Tour winners Eddy Merckx and Bernhard Hinault. But, he was edged out by a wheel length by Germany's Kittel and Andre Greipel in the fading light in the French capital, with more than three hundred and fifty thousand spectators lining the streets. Froome had finished runner-up last year but with Wiggins electing not to defend his title after injury problems, the twenty eight-year-old was favourite to win the race and brought home the yellow jersey in emphatic style, ahead of Colombian Nairo Quintana and Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain. Froome had first put on the yellow jersey when he won stage eight of the twenty one-stage race in a summit finish at Ax 3 Domaines in the Pyrenees. And Froome, who was born and raised in Kenya, claimed a further two stages as he won a maiden Tour De France title. He told ITV4: 'Crossing the line with guys brought tears to my eyes. I expected it to be big but this is something else. Dave [Brailsford] has been talking about the future of cycling - the youngsters coming through and the way the sport is moving. I look at last decade and the way sport is going - we've got something to be proud of.' But in the first Tour since disgraced and disgraceful Lance Armstrong admitted to doping in his seven Tour De France wins, which have since been removed from the official records, Froome found himself constantly having to answer questions about drugs in the sport. He added: 'I'm glad I've had to face those questions - after all the revelations of the last year. I'm glad that's been channelled towards me. I've been able to deal with it. Cycling has changed - the peloton is standing together.' The final stage traditionally starts as a procession and it started in Versailles with Rodriguez celebrating his third place overall by handing out cigars to his fellow podium finishers. Froome was also handed a glass of celebratory champagne as he rode alongside a Team Sky car with its branding coloured in yellow, while he was surrounded by team-mates in special yellow-tinged sunglasses. The sun was beginning to set as arrived in the centre of Paris and Froome made sure his trusty wingman Richie Porte led the Sky train over the finish line of the Champs Elysees on the first of ten circuits. A few riders attempted breakaways, included Britain's David Millar, but they were swallowed up by the peloton and it was left to the sprinters to contest the final straight.

And speaking of cycling, well after a fashion, anyway, here's Day Four of Keith and Gillian's Exciting Two-Wheel Adventures: In which yer actual Keith Telly Topping didn't get out on his new, lovely, bike on Saturday, dear blog reader. Because, he wasn't feeling over well, basically. But, on Sunday he was up bright and early with the larks (6:30am!) for a quick trip round the block on Gillian her very self and he did the same on Monday at a slightly earlier time. He still hasn't ventured much further than a square half-mile or so of Stately Telly Topping Manor but it is, undeniably, getting slightly easier day-by-day (particularly the uphill bits). So, give yer actual Keith Telly Topping a couple of weeks and he might even be making it as far as the bottom of our street and back. Anything's possible. He has to say, though, that the most exercise he's getting from all this malarkey isn't, necessarily, the cycling itself. Rather, it's dragging Gillian upstairs to park after each ride. That's bloody exhausting!

Back to cricket, now, and former Australia coach Mickey Arthur has suggested there is 'a deliberate campaign' against him as he pursues legal action against the Australian cricket authorities over his recent dismissal. The forty five-year-old was sacked by Cricket Australia in June, just sixteen days before the start of the Ashes series. 'I am told that David Warner's conduct was the last straw,' said Arthur. 'I received no hearing at all over that issue, and no-one was doing more to improve discipline in this young Australian cricket team than I was.' The South African added in a statement: 'In spite of what has been a deliberate campaign against me in the past days, I am still willing to resolve this dispute on a fair and just basis.' Cricket Australia said that it disputes 'a number' of Arthur's claims. A statement read: 'We will not be articulating these disputes publicly, except to say that we are confident in our legal position, are comfortable with the level of support provided to Mickey, and look forward to resolving this matter in an appropriate manner.' Opening batsman Warner was suspended until the first Ashes test and fined seven thousand smackers for punching England's Joe Root in the mush in a bar following Australia's defeat by England in the Champions Trophy. Arthur took over as Australia coach in November 2011, but the latter stages of his tenure were affected by numerous problems both on and off the field. In March 2013, four players - vice-captain Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja - were dropped for the third test of the tour to India for failing to submit presentations on team strategy. Or, in slightly less flowery language, 'not doing their homework.' All-rounder Watson returned to captain the side for the fourth test in place of the injured Michael Clarke, but defeat in Delhi saw Australia lose the series four-nil. In May, Warner, who is currently touring Zimbabwe with Australia A, was fined over five thousand Australian dollars for posting abusive comments to journalists on his Twitter account just weeks before his late-night altercation with Root. Arthur said that he was 'shocked' by his dismissal as coach and revealed his 'disappointment' about the fact that court documents - which suggested a rift between Clarke and Watson - had been leaked. 'I was truly shocked and devastated by my dismissal,' he said. 'I had received a positive appraisal on all my key performance indicators just prior to departing for the Champions Trophy. It's very unfortunate that my private dispute with Cricket Australia was made public by others. Due to the sensitive matters involved, I have taken extensive steps in co-operation with the Fair Workers Commission to keep my case entirely confidential. Selective leaks by others have ruined my attempts to protect the Australian cricket team and everyone involved.' Arthur is seeking £2.4m compensation from Cricket Australia or reinstatement as national coach. 'The damage to my reputation and career has been immense, which means the chances of me getting a senior job are that much less,' he added. 'To conclude, I just want to wish the Australian cricket team the best of luck and hope they can bounce back after a disappointing day [on Saturday] and still bring the Ashes home.'

At least six past and present BBC executives will be asked - for which read, told - to appear together in front of a committee of MPs to fight it out over who was responsible for agreeing huge severance payments to staff. Former BBC director general Mark Thompson and the current chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, have been embroiled in a war of words – described by MPs as 'a soap opera' – with claim and counter-claim over who knew what about the excessive payments. In an interview, Margaret Hodge tells the Observer that she is 'determined' to get to bottom over who is at fault, and will call Patten and Thompson to appear together in front of the public accounts committee which she chairs. It is understood that other executives are expected to be 'invited' to appear at the same time as the two men, including Mark Byford, Thompson's former deputy, who received a redundancy package worth nearly a million quid in 2010, and former chairman of the BBC Trust Sir Michael Lyons. Others in the frame for a very public spanking off yer actual Hodge-y her very self are the former senior independent director and ex-Barclays boss Marcus Agius and Caroline Thomson, the former chief operating officer who left the corporation after failing to get the BBC director general job, taking a three hundred and thirty thousand smackers in redundancy payment and a further three hundred and thirty five thousand notes in lieu of notice, plus fourteen grand in 'legal costs.' The line-up of former and current executives will be unprecedented, if they all turn up. Hodge said: 'I don't want scalps. What I want is to get at the truth, and I'm fed up with them all blaming each other. I'm going to get them all in front of the committee together because I can't think of any other way of successfully finding out who was responsible for making those crass decisions. Then those responsible will have to think about their positions.' The BBC paid out a total of sixty million knicker, adjusted for inflation, to two-thirds of those senior staff who left between 2005 and March this year, in a policy which has been heavily criticised by the National Audit Office. Two weeks ago, former Tory minister Patten told Hodge's public accounts committee that the Trust had 'not been given details' of the massive payment to Byford. Asked whether he felt the BBC Trust should have been told the details of the deal, Patten said: 'Yes, and if you call in due course the previous director general of the BBC, I will be as interested as you are as to why we didn't know.' However, correspondence has emerged showing that Thompson, head of the BBC executive at the time, did inform the Trust that Byford and his colleague, Sharon Baylay, director of marketing, would be given 'maximum payments.' An e-mail from his office, dated 8 October 2010, stated that they would not be served formal notice of redundancy until 'calendar year 2011,' despite being informed of their departure months earlier. Hodge is understood to believe that forcing the various executives to thrash out the details in public may be the only way to resolve the latest in a long line of cases highlighting how poorly public money is being spent. She said: 'I've been in public service for forty years, and even I have been taken aback by the extent of it. People feel that they are spending other people's money, and they don't care for it the way they might care for their own.' Hodge also becomes the most high-profile MP to publicly say that she will take the pay rise being offered by the parliamentary authorities. She is critical of those, including Labour leader Ed Miliband, who have said they will not. 'It's completely inappropriate to give us a rise at this time,' she said. 'But equally, I'm not going to do a Dutch auction on pay increases. This is really dangerous. Someone in a marginal seat can just say: "I'll do the job for thirty thousand pounds", and then we're back to the politics of rotten boroughs in the Nineteenth Century. So I will stand by my colleagues, and I'm critical of the leaders who have said they won't take it. I think that's wrong, and a slippery road to starting to buy your seat.' In a sign of the times, Hodge becomes the latest MP to openly admit to smoking cannabis when she was at university, the naughty girl. She does this while talking about her close friendship with Tony Blair, a one-time neighbour, whom she admits to not seeing 'very much' these days, adding that he lives 'in a different world now.' Mars? That'll be the dope talking, Madge.
The Sun executive editor Fergus Shanahan is to fight charges that he conspired to commit misconduct in public office by, allegedly, authorising illegal payments to a public official for stories. He pleaded not guilty at a hearing the Old Bailey on Monday over charges linked to payments made by the Sun between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012. Shanahan is one of ten Sun journalists who have so far been charged in relation to alleged payments for stories to police and other public officials. Some twenty four Sun journalists have been arrested as part of the Scotland Yard's investigation into alleged corruption which was launched after billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch set up a Management Standards Committee which in turn handed the police three hundred million internal e-mails. Seven Sun journalists have been so far been arraigned in court and all have pleaded not guilty, including the paper's royal correspondent Duncan Larcombe and deputy editor Geoff Webster, who entered their pleas at the Old Bailey last week.

With headlines such as The Rory Horror Show greeting Rory McIlroy's efforts at the US Open, that ruddy Santander advert in which he and two other 'world-conquering sports stars' appear, is the outstanding current example of the curse of commercials. The golfer has not won a tournament this year. His fellow Santander 'ambassador', Jessica Ennis-Hill, has yet to return to competition since the Olympics due to an ankle injury. And as for yer actual Jenson Button, he currently occupies that all important tenth place in the Formula 1 drivers' standings. Serves them right, some UK customers might think, for buffing up the imperial-minded Spanish bank's tarnished image. And, one imagines, grabbing the mucho lovely wonga on offer into the bargain.
American TV drama Masters Of Sex, which stars Michael Sheen as a sex expert, has been snapped up by Channel Four before the first episode has even aired in the US. The series is based on the lives of Doctor William Masters and Virginia Johnson, whose pioneering research helped fuel the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Lizzy Caplan, who plays Johnson, says the show features 'explicit sex', while Sheen describes it as 'very intense.' Hence Channel Four's interest. Rumours that Channel Five were also getting The Horn over the series cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied. Channel Four will broadcast the show 'soon after its launch' in the US this September. Sheen, one of this blogger's favourite actors, has played several real-life roles during his career, including Tony Blair and David Frost. 'I simply want to answer the question, "what happens to the body during sex,"' says Sheen's character in a trailer for the series, released last week. His research faces opposition from university chancellor Barton Scully, played by Beau Bridges, who yells: 'It's not medicine.' The twelve-part drama has already won a Critics' Choice award for most promising new series, months before its TV premiere on 29 September. It marks the first major TV role for Welsh actor Sheen, who is better known for films such as Frost/Nixon, The Queen and The Damned United.Speaking to the movie website Collider last year, he said the story had the potential to play out 'over multiple seasons. I thought there was a lot of opportunity there to really explore something we find taboo, in some ways, and a bit embarrassing. I thought that was interesting.' Caplan, previously best known as Amy in vampire series True Blood, added that Johnson was 'the most challenging part I'll ever play. A huge part of her personality and who she was, was a woman who was completely comfortable with her own sexuality, at a time where that was almost unheard of,' she explained. 'It's why she was so helpful to Masters. She understood sexuality more than he did. He understood science, and she understood the human element of it. ' The series is being made for subscription TV channel Showtime, already home to edgy dramas such as Homeland and Dexter.

A Norwegian woman at the centre of a Dubai rape case has been pardoned and is free to leave Dubai. Interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv was on a business trip in Dubai when she claims that she was raped in March. She reported the attack to the police but, incredibly, was herself charged with perjury, having extramarital sex and drinking alcohol, eventually receiving a sixteen-month prison sentence. The case has angered rights groups and the Norwegian authorities. And, indeed, anyone with a sense of justice and morality. Marte has had her passport returned and was free to leave the country, a Norwegian official told the BBC website. She was not being deported and was expected to return to Norway in the next few days, they continued. The designer, who has been staying at the Norwegian Seamen's Centre in Dubai since she was sentenced last week, told the BBC she found out that she was to be freed on Monday during a meeting with public prosecutors. 'We came in and we sat down and they told us "You've been pardoned." It's from the ruler of Dubai. It's from him personally so it just feels unbelievable. It's a very, very good day.' Marte's travel documents had now been returned to her and she was preparing to leave Dubai as soon as possible, she said. In Norway, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide tweeted: 'Marte is released! Thanks to everyone who signed up to help.' The Norwegian government said that it had been in daily contact with the Dubai authorities through diplomatic and official channels since Marte was sentenced - arguing the jail term represented a human rights violation. And, indeed, a violation of every form of natural justice.

US fighter jets dropped inert bombs on the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's coast during a training exercise that went wrong, it has emerged. Cos you know, if there's one thing Americans enjoy more than bombing the shit out of their enemies it's bombing the shit out of people who are supposed to be, in theory, on their side. The two planes jettisoned four bombs in more than fifty metres of water, away from coral, to minimise damage to the World Heritage Site, the US navy said. Oh, so that's all right, then. The jets had intended to drop at a bombing range on a nearby island, but Tuesday's mission was aborted. The AV-8B Harriers were low on fuel and could not land loaded, the navy added. The 'emergency' happened during the training exercise Talisman Saber, involving US and Australian military personnel. The two jets had been instructed to target the bombing range on Townshend Island. However, the mission was aborted when 'hazards' were reported in the area. The planes then dropped the bombs in the marine park off the coast of Queensland. None of the devices exploded. Each bomb weighed five hundred pounds, according to the US TV network NBC. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral structure rich in marine life. It stretches for more than sixteen hundred miles along Australia's eastern coast.

A woman has been fined for taking her horse into a McDonald's restaurant in Greater Manchester where it, promptly, shat on the floor. Now, that's comedy. Police said that the woman, who has not been named, was 'in the saddle' when she was turned away from the drive-thru kiosk on at McDonald's Bury New Road. The woman then led the animal inside, where it 'ended up doing his business on the floor', a Greater Manchester Police spokesman added. Presumably, whilst the woman in question had a Happy Meal with fries. Whether the faeces was statement on the quality of McDonald's nosh or just an serendipitous accident, I'll leave up to you to decide, dear blog reader. McDonald's said that it was 'unable to serve customers on horseback.' A spokeswoman for the company said: 'On 20 July a woman allowed her pony to enter our restaurant in Whitefield after being refused service in the drive-thru lane. The incident caused distress to customers and disruption for the restaurant, and the police issued the woman with a fixed penalty notice.' To be fair, the incident probably caused more distress to the horse. Particularly as it recognised several of its cousins in the Big Mac that the customer in front of its owner was busy eating. The spokewoman added: 'The health and safety of our customers and staff is our top priority.' Although not, necessarily, the health and safety of cows, per se. 'For this reason we are unable to serve pedestrians, bicycle riders or customers on horseback through the drive-thru.' Greater Manchester Police said: 'The sight and smell of this [horse shit] caused obvious distress and upset to customers trying to eat, as well as staff members. Officers arrived at the location and the woman was issued [with] a fixed penalty notice for causing alarm and distress to other customers and staff.' When asked if it had any comment to make on the situation the horse replied: 'Neigh.' Fair enough.

A Russian woman reportedly got her head stuck in some railings while having sex with her boyfriend. The forty six-year-old, from Lipetsk, said that she wanted to 'spice things up' with her bloke. A neighbour called the police after finding the woman, 'naked, in some distress and unable to free herself' from the stairwell. When police officers arrived, the woman claimed that she had been having 'consensual' sex with her partner when she became stuck. Her boyfriend was, it would seem, 'not around' when the officers arrived. Having, seemingly, run away. Emergency worker Alexei Dotsenko told the Pronews48.ru website: 'In all my time working as a rescuer, I don't recall any incident like this one.' yeah, cos you're not likely to forget something like that, are you?

Every household in the UK is to have pornography blocked by their Internet provider unless they specifically choose to receive it, David Cameron has announced. This blogger thinks this is a great idea and is fully behind the prime minister in this endeavour. In fact, yer actual Keith Telly Topping would like to see such a conceit extended to many other aspects of what the general public gets give - assume we don't want it unless we explicitly say we do. Let's start with the government.
For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's one for the Australian cricket team. Cheer up, lads, it could be worse. I'm not sure how, exactly, but in theory it could be.

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