Sunday, July 07, 2013

Week Twenty Nine: Roasting & Steaming!

Britain is a curious place at the best of times, dear blog reader, but we've reached that strange and curious point you, occasionally, get in the British year where there's no news. Except that there is no news and that it's hot and it'll be getting much, much hotter by the time The Ashes start on Wednesday. After a bunch of summers which barely justified the name, we've all been given a timely reminder of what July is supposed to be like in the Northern hemisphere. Bloody hot. And, the silly season stories fill the media in place of real news. Much of it is ridiculous. I mean, someone was even trying to convince this blogger on Sunday that a British man had won Wimbledon. Yeah, right. Sure. Pull the other one, matey, it's got bells on it. Anyway, as Britain collectively stews in the sizzle of its own juices occasioned by our first - proper - heatwave in at least five years (or does it just seem like that?), much of the country who aren't out, you know, getting baked like a beetroot at the seaside, or a sporting event or a barbecue in their back garden are currently sitting in a darkened front room - in their underpants - watching the cricket, or the tennis, or the F1 with as many electric fans as they can lay their hands on, blasting away like Jim-buggery and making life, momentarily, tolerable. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping has two, dear blog reader (fans, that is, not pairs on underpants). And, he couldn't live without them. (Fans, that is, not pairs of underpants.)

Right, let's get on with the ratings news; and it's good ratings news, dear blog reader. ITV's latest wretched, risible, odious Saturday night horrorshow (and drag) Your Face Sounds Familiar continued its sorry inflicting of itself upon the unsuspecting viewing public with but 3.02m overnight viewers from 7.30pm. The ludicrous, piss-stinking disgrace of a conceit - presented by nasty, full-of-herself greed-bucket (and drag) Alesha Dixon and unfunny oafish professional Northern buffoon Paddy McGuinness - which sees various worthless z-list celebrities trying to impersonate musical legends (and all for charrriddeee), was down eight hundred thousand punters on last week's premiere. Good. I'm glad. At that rate of audience discharge and seepage by the end of its six week run wretched, risible, odious horrorshow (and drag) Your Face Sounds Familiar should have a viewership of but six. Which would, let's face it, be damned funny. Far funnier, in fact, than anything oafish buffoon Paddy McGuinness has ever said or done in his entire life. Bar none. The channel had earlier broadcast You've Been Framed at 7pm, picking up an equally dreadful 2.45m. All Star Family Fortunes earned them but 3.01m at 8.45pm, while The Americans was seen by 1.03m at 9.45pm. So, a pretty crappy and depressing night all round for ITV although, to be fair, over on BBC1 it wasn't all that much better; TV's most aptly-named show, Pointless, attracted 3.12m from 7.30pm, The National Lottery: In It To Win It had 3.56m and Casualty was watched by 4.13m at 9.15pm. Mrs Brown's Boys pulled in 3.99m at 10pm. Earlier, 3.06m viewers watched Marion Bartoli beat Sabine Lisicki in the Wimbledon women's singles final between 1.30pm and 6pm, the audience peaking at 4.95m around 3.15pm. BBC2's coverage of Today At Wimbledon from 8pm, had nine hundred and fifty thousand punters tuning in to watch highlights of the day's play. The latest repeat of Qi XL had 1.11m at 8.45pm and The Late Great Eric Sykes was seen by 1.36m at 9.30pm. The Thick Of It spin-off movie In The Loop took five hundred and ten thousand at 10.30pm. Channel Four showed Grand Designs to six hundred thousand hot and disinterested viewers at 7.30pm. The Million Pound Drop Live attracted eight hundred and seventy thousand punters at 8.30pm, after which the movie Scott Pilgrim Vs The World took six hundred and ten thousand at 10pm. Elsewhere, CSI: Miami and NCIS both attracted audiences around the seven hundred thousand mark from 7.15pm on Channel Five and the latest episode of Big Brother interested 1.2m crushed (but sweaty) victims of society at 10pm. The British and Irish Lions Tour - Live was the highest rated programme on the multichannels, picking up nine hundred and eighty six thousand punters on Sky Sports 1 at 10pm to watch the Lions giving Australia's rugby fifteen a damned good shellacking.

The BBC's coverage of Wimbledon between 6.30pm and 9.45pm scored the highest ratings of the day on Friday, overnight data shows. An audience of 9.68m watched Andy Murray beat Jerzy Janowicz to secure his second Wimbledon final appearance. The Graham Norton Show was later seen by 2.81m at 10.45pm. On Channel Five, Gina and Dexter's fake eviction on Big Brother was watched by 1.34m from 9.15pm. On BBC2, with BBC1's scheduled in chaos because of Murraymania, The ONE Show attracted 1.03m at 7pm and Wild Shepherdess with Kate Humble had 1.20m at 9pm. Qi took 1.66m from 10pm. Ben Fogle's Harbour Lives continued with a laughably poor 2.4m on ITV at 8pm. Britain's Secret Homes - possibly the biggest primetime ratings disaster in the commercial channel's history - was watched by but 1.7m at 9pm and the movie Notting Hill had an audience of just over nine hundred thousand punters from 10.45pm. Meanwhile, Channel Four's Four Rooms and The Million Pound Drop Live had five hundred and twenty thousand and nine hundred and seventy thousand respectively from 8pm and as funny a kick in the stones Phoneshop followed with three hundred and seventy thousand at 10.30pm. Channel Five's Paul Merton in India interested two hundred and sixty five thousand at 7pm. Lewis was the highest rated broadcast across the digital channels, earning a million viewers for ITV3 at 9pm.

Sherlock's Andrew Scott has revealed that the cast of the BBC show have been 'banned' from sharing plot details for the forthcoming third series ... even with their family and friends under pain of getting a good hard kick in Jacob's Cream Crackers off The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat and yer actual Mark Gatiss his very self. They're pure dead hard, dear blog reader, and they're not to be cattle-trucked with, according to the word on the street. Scott, who plays the consulting detective's arch-enemy Jim Moriarty (as if you didn't know) explained that producers are taking 'extra precautions' to keep forthcoming storylines a surprise for fans. Like issuing 'you're gonna get your effing heads kicked in' warnings to any potentially gossipy cast members, it would seem. 'If I told you what happens they would kill me,' he said. And I, for one, believe him. 'I ­never guessed how the last episode would end. It even surprised me,' Scott told the Sunday Mirra. 'It has been fantastic filming the new series but we have all been banned from telling our families or friends what is in the scripts. We are not allowed to speak to anyone.' He added: 'I don't think everyone thought it would be so successful. I can see it still on TV in twenty years as we all started working on it very young.'

As previously reported, a further TARDIS set will be installed in The Doctor Who Experience for the summer. The new console exhibit was made for this Autumn's fiftieth anniversary drama An Adventure in Space and Time, and is on display this weekend at Comic-Con France. The arrival of the 'original' TARDIS brings the total on display in Cardiff to four, joining the fifth and ninth Doctors' console rooms in the exhibition and the original eleventh Doctor version which visitors can engage with within The Experience itself. If that wasn't enough, The Experience have also announced that during the summer there will also be a special tour available to see a fifth TARDIS interior - in the form of the current TARDIS studio set at the nearby BBC Roath Lock Studios. Further activities at The Experience this summer include a guided tour at weekends, taking in a number of recognisable locations that have featured in Doctor Who and Torchwood near to the exhibition.

Writer Kay Mellor has offered to return a Lifetime Achievement Award to the Royal Television Society after losing out at its regional awards party. Leeds-born Mellor was nominated for three awards at the event on 25 June, including best drama for The Syndicate. She said that she was 'disappointed' to win nothing for the second year running and would not attend the event again. The RTS told the Yorkshire Post that it held Mellor 'in the highest esteem.' Although not, seemingly, as high esteem as Mellor holds herself, it would seem. Mellor wrote for soap operas Coronation Street and Brookside before creating several highly-acclaimed dramas including ITV's Band of Gold and Fat Friends. In 2009 she was made an OBE for services to drama. The second series of The Syndicate, about a lottery-winning group of hospital workers in Bradford, was broadcast on BBC1 in March. Mellor told the BBC she did not feel 'a sense of entitlement' to win an award - although, it appears, from her comments and stroppy taking her ball and going home, that's exactly what she feels - but was 'disappointed' that she received recognition abroad but not from Yorkshire. Aye well, they're like that up there, chuck. They've probably never forgiven you for crossing the Pennies and writing for Corrie. Mellor's comments followed an interview in the Yorkshire Post in which she said: 'I won't be going to the RTS again or putting any of my team through it. We are Yorkshire-based, we shoot in Yorkshire, edit in Yorkshire and put it out and glorify Yorkshire, and when Steven Spielberg saw The Syndicate he asked where it was shot; he said it was amazing. "It has such a sense of place and geography" he told me.' Mind, he didn't say it was any good, necessarily. 'Of the six categories in which I've been nominated over the two years it would have been nice to have got just one. There is no other way but to take it personally.' Ooo, get her. Mike Best, chairman of the RTS Yorkshire branch, told the newspaper that he hoped Mellor would keep her award. He said: 'It's an acknowledgement and reward for individual skills and certainly in Kay's case to acknowledge the passion, enthusiasm and commitment that she has always brought to the region. Although I can sympathise with her disappointment I hope she decides to keep it because it is one she deserves.'

Which brings us, inevitably, to yer next bunch of Top Telly Tips, and that:-

Saturday 13 July
We all remember the sheer horribleness of what happened the last time the very Queen attended a celebration of music and Britishness. Scourge of the bullies Fearne Cotton interviewing Paloma Faith about her collection of jubilee sick-bags. Shudder at the very thought of it, dear blog reader and pray - pray to the baby Jeebus his very self - that it is never, ever, allowed to happen again. Her Maj, thankfully, is not expected to have a parachute under her seat for this evening Coronation Festival Gala yer actual at Buck House - 7:00 BBC1. Part of four days of celebrations and dancing and that, as befits an occasion which must stretch to accommodate all tastes, the range on offer is wide, including squealing Kiwi ear-ache producer Kiri Te Kanawa, a dance performance celebrating sixty years of British music, film and TV, and Russell Watson. Actually, all of a sudden, scoure of the bullies Fearne Cotton and Paloma Faith's sick-bags don't sound anywhere near so bad. Yer actual Sophie Raworth and Gareth Malone introduce highlights of the concert from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, staged to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Queen's very coronation. The Fanfare Trumpeters from the Household Division will open the show, followed by Kanawa squealing the National Anthem, before other performers representing the UK and Commonwealth take to the stage. Katherine Jenkins, Katie Melua, The Feeling and the English National Ballet are among those celebrating music, dance and entertainment from throughout the Queen's reign.

Thankfully, it's not all utterly risible, odious arse-licking shite on telly tonight (although, there is quite a lot of that, if you're into that sort of thing. And, you know, I'm aware that some people are). Top Of The Lake - 9:10 BBC2 - is a, much-anticipated, eerie, desolate and puzzling Jane Campion creation which has been described as 'a languid treat for Saturday nights.' You might resist the absorbing drama at first, but you'll be forcibly pulled into the remote mountains of New Zealand's South Island, a glorious yet empty-feeling place where lives are lived differently from anywhere else in the world, and where a sense of curious 'otherness' hangs like a thundercloud above the blasted landscape. Mad Men and The West Wing's Elisabeth Moss plays Robin Griffin, a child protection specialist, who returns home to look after her dying mother. But, she soon becomes caught up in a case involving a twelve-year-old girl who has tried to drown herself. Meanwhile, a feminist camp sets up nearby, presided over by waspish shaman, GJ (an almost unrecognisable Holly Hunter). There's a feeling that this elemental country is oppressively very male and some may feel that Top of the Lake is anti-men. It's certainly something of a curiosity, but one that will, hopefully, weave a spell over many viewers.

Sunday 14 July
There may be some sad and pointless individuals out there who have never previously been tempted by Top Gear. Hippie middle-class Communist glakes, mostly. And odious waste-of-space readers of the Gruniad Morning Star and the Daily Scum Mail. Probably. Well, look out you lot, because tonight the series targets at least some of them with an unsuspected secret weapon: yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch. Benny his very self is the visiting Star in a Reasonably Priced Car in tonight's episode, interviewed by Jezza Clarkson and put through his paces around the test track in the Vauxhall Astra. Meanwhile, there's one of those gloriously shot sweeping travelogue films which the show does so well as Jezza, Hamster and yer actual Cap'n Slowly take three convertible supercars (a McLaren 12C, a Ferrari 458 and an Audi R8) on a tour of Spain, ending up on a street circuit in the deserted developments of Madrid. Some people don't like Top Gear, dear blog reader. They're wrong.

That's followed by Hunt Versus Lauda: F1's Greatest Racing Rivals - 9:00 BBC2. This is not the first documentary to relive the epic 1976 showdown between Niki Lauda and James Hunt but it's a story which is well worth retelling. As, indeed, Ron Howard has done. Hunt, if you don't remember, was a reckless playboy rebel - and a very entertaining one - on and off the track. Lauda was the machine-like genius who never made mistakes. That was until a life-threatening accident at the Nürburgring appeared to rule the Austrian out of the sport, only for him to make an astonishing comeback for the last four races of the season. It was the kind of operatic, hi-tech, life-and-death sporting drama only Formula 1 conjures up – or, at least, used to. Featuring rare archive footage and interviews with team managers, families, journalists and friends.

Lucy, the Lake Pub barmaid who was savagely attacked by a cannibalistic serial killer, has made a miraculous recovery from her terrible injuries in The Returned - 9:00 Channel Four. As this terrific, menacing, deliciously baffling supernatural French subtitled thriller continues, the audience learn that she is now a woman with some curious powers. By now, anyone who is caught up in the events of this dour, mist-shrouded Alpine town, with its boxy utilitarian houses and its functioning alive-dead inhabitants, probably won't want it to end. But after tonight's episode there are just two more left. So as the menace builds, and the sense of a fractured world grows, young Camille finds some kind of purpose in her 'life', while the truth about what's really going on in his town dawns on the local police chief. Gripping stuff. Meanwhile, Lena grows closer to Serge, but has to escape back to the town.

Monday 15 July
At a time when food prices are soaring along with temperatures, and people's tempers, MasterChef host Gregg Wallace and grocer Chris Bavin set out to get to the bottom of a key culinary debate - when should shoppers spend more and when should they spend less? In Eat Well for Less? - 7:00 BBC1 - the hosts take on a classic British dish, fish and chips, and while Gregg claims splashing out that little bit extra makes all the difference when it comes to taste, Chris argues that he can deliver the same meal much cheaper. Along the way, they explode popular myths and ask key questions about food production, and the programme ends with a feast where members of the public give their verdicts on the dishes in a blind-taste test. Who will come out on top?

In quiz-loving households up and down the land a special welcome is reserved for the early stages of a new run of yer actual University Challenge - 8:00 BBC2. A lack of familiarity with the teams and their quirks is more than made up for by easier questions in the opening matches and Jezza Paxman's scowling boat-race and any y'damn fool, boy answer. As the series progresses, all eyes will be on the new Manchester team, who have a lot to live up to after their predecessors retained the title earlier this year and gave Manchester its third win since 2006. In this opener, it's Scotland versus Northern Ireland as representatives of the University of Aberdeen's student body go up against Queen's University Belfast. Who will be first to be blooded with a dab of the notorious Paxman scorn?

The conclusion of the enjoyable two-part Aussie bio-drama Howzat! Kerry Packer's War - 9:00 BBC4 - about how Packer's World Series changed cricket (forever and, not, necessarily, for the worse) is more upbeat than the previous week’s opener, as explosive entrepreneur Kerry Packer grinds traditionalists into the dirt with his force of personality (and, you know, his lawyers). Crowds for day/night WSC matches start to grow as white balls, helmets, coloured clothing and other innovations come in and catch the public imagination. (The fact that Mike Brearley's England side were currently giving the weakened Australian test side a damned good five-one walloping in The Ashes probably helped, too.) Lachy Hulme rounds it out with a superb turn as Packer his very self, whom you're never sure whether to love or hate. The sub-plot of his lieutenant Gavin Warner, slowly giving in to intimidation, is something of a chiller. Packer ultimately changed the way in which cricket was presented on television - and in time revolutionised the sport.

Ashley Clarkson trained as an army driver but ended up on foot patrols in Iraq, where among other things he saw an IED blow the legs off a young girl carrying a baby. 'He came back from Iraq a totally different man,' says his sister. 'He looked really lost. You could see it in his eyes.' A year after he left the army, Ashley hanged himself. Army medics had identified him as a suicide risk but didn't pass those medical notes on to his GP when he was discharged. 'It all could have been preventable,' says his mother, understandably. That's the gist of Broken By Battle - 9:00 BBC1 - a forensically and emotionally powerful Panorama special - that the mental health problems of army veterans are scandalously under-reported and, possibly even more scandalously, under-treated. It's a story we've heard for too long but the details about the full extent of military suicides are genuinely shocking: more soldiers and veterans took their own lives in 2012 than were killed by the Taliban. But the Ministry of Defence has behaved, says one veteran, 'like a cheap insurance company.' Everybody should watch this, even if it is uncomfortable viewing. Sadly, some odious light entertainment tripe on ITV at the same time will probably get three times the audience. This is the world we live in, dear blog reader.

Tuesday 16 July
Two bad-lad hoodies up to nefarious skulduggery and naughty shenanigans are shot in the street with a bloody big gun in what appears to be a gangland crime, until a third murder victim gives John Luther a vital clue - someone is killing people with criminal records in the first of a two-part Luther - 9:00 BBC1. Sure enough the culprit soon posts a video of himself online, calling for changes to the justice system. The race is on to find the vigilante before he strikes again - but with so many potential victims, that's, obviously, easier said than done. As ever, the DCI's personal life gets in the way of his investigation when a distraught Mary turns up after a visit from Stark and Gray - can he convince her to ever trust him again? Luther's personality-free girlfriend is visited by her boyfriend's gravel-voiced tormentor and his sidekick. The vacant Mary is shocked and weepy when she finds out nasty things about her beloved's personality. And, to think only last night they were snuggling in Luther's casually semi-derelict flat watching telly. But, there is work to be done on the scum-infested streets of London, work that only John Luther — that corner-cutting, angry beast of a man — can do. Violently. Very violently.

Wor geet canny Robson Green, who is to social history what Simon Schama is to .... well, extreme fishing, essentially takes us on the last leg of his sentimental journey through the North's industrial past in Robson Green: How The North Was Built - 9:00 ITV. Robson manages to do this without any mention of the revolution sparked by ironstone mining in the Cleveland Hills and the subsequent growth of the Middlesbrough from a tiny hamlet into Ironopolis, but never mind. This is, after all, Robson's personal history, so he takes us back to the empty offices of the Tyneside shipbuilders Swan Hunter, where he once worked as a draughtsman, and tells us of a relative who played an indirect part in the 1926 derailing of the Flying Scotsman during the General Strike. We end with the 1984 Miners' Strike with which, of course, Robson had family connections. So, expect the Daily Scum Mail to thoroughly hate this.

A paranormal investigator is found dead hanging from a hook in an abattoir after he and two colleagues enter the building to try to make contact with the ghost of Walter Sims, who murdered seven boys some years ago in the latest episode of CSI - 9:00 Channel Five. The post-mortem confirms that the culprit used the same methods as the serial killer, while further inquiries at the slaughterhouse reveal a secret shrine dedicated to the children who lost their lives.

Wednesday 17 July
After eleven weeks of challenges which have seen the teams brewing beer, building flat-pack furniture, selling caravans and trying to work out what an oud is, only two candidates remain - and here they battle it out to go into partnership with yer actual Alan Sugar-Sweetie in The Apprentice - 9:00 BBC1. Their final task is to launch their businesses, coming up with brands and devising campaigns before pitching them to an audience of industry experts. Former contenders are hired to help each finalist, but as the teams fight it out, there are surprises in store, while distractions prove problematic as the hopefuls put the finishing touches to their projects. Just as well, then, that this is one talent show with no public vote. It comes down to one full-of-his-own-importance ego-fuelled millionaire and the seat of his pants, and we know how tricky that patch of Lord Sugar-Sweetie's cloth is to predict – he'll keep us (and the candidates) guessing till the end. His task for the finalists is simple: launch their business idea. They must create a brand, make a promotional video and pitch to experts. But first, they recruit returning candidates to help them – so say hello again to Jason ('Of course I'll join you, my dear!'), Alex (vowing to be 'tasteful') and Zee. What follows involves a lot of high-fiving, a few tears, a bizarre dance routine and the frank admission, 'I like boring.' Then Lord Sugar-Sweetie has to jab that finger in someone's mush for the last time. Once the winner is announced it's over to The Apprentice - You're Hired studio, on BBC2, where Dara O Briain talks to the main players about this year's series, with the help of online entrepreneur Michael Acton Smith and presenter Lorraine Kelly.

Do you want a single reason why Restoration Home - 8:00 BBC2 - is an hour's worth of TV which is worth your while avoiding like the sodding plague, dear blog reader? Well how about the opening line from Radio Times description of this episode. 'Caroline Quentin thinks Little Naish in North Somerset, a tumbledown, turreted Gothic delight, is somewhere she could envisage Rapunzel letting down her hair.' Yep, that ought to do it.

The two-part The Real White Queen & Her Rivals - 9:00 BBC2 - is an excellent short companion for anyone lost in the maze of The White Queen's dramatic twists and its cast of interconnected characters. With admirable clarity, the author Philippa Gregory, who wrote the Wars of the Roses novels on which The White Queen is based, carefully leads the viewer through the real lives of the three women at the heart of her books and the TV series, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville and Margaret Beaufort. With contributions from other authors and historians, Gregory describes the frequently savage dynastic politics of the era, as the great Houses of York and Lancaster fought bloodily for supremacy. Gregory examines the stories of Edward IV's queen consort Elizabeth and her rivals Margaret and Anne, who inspired her series of novels The Cousins' War. The three lived through the treason and bloodshed of the Wars of the Roses in the fifteenth century and Gregory reveals why the loyalties, rebellions, plots and betrayals of these women were decisive in shaping the history of England.

A repeat, but a genuinely terrific one if you missed it first time around is Chivalry and Betrayal: The Hundred Years War - 9:00 BBC4 - in which the properly entertaining Janina Ramirez explores the lengthy conflict between England and France in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Janina - engaging, smart, funny - begins by examining how Edward III led a crushing English victory at the Battle of Crecy in 1346, focusing on the role played by low-born England (actually, mainly Welsh) archers, before moving on to the Black Prince's subsequent campaign of terror. Janina (presenter of BBC4’s recent Illuminations) guides us through the saga of kings, knights, bloody battles and cultural triumphs in the first of three ravishingly shot films.

Thursday 18 July
On the evidence (and The Briefs - 9:00 ITV - is all about the evidence) of the opening episode, the clients of Manchester-based Tuckers are a right bunch of shady villains. Once again, ITV’s cameras have had impressive access to the busiest legal aid law firm in Britain, whose lawyers defend clients accused of all manner of offences. Some seventy per cent of their business is repeat, which means the firm has the air of a dysfunctional family. One staffer reminisces about how innocent a man accused of armed robbery looked when he first came to them as a little lad; he’s now on his thirty sixth case with Tuckers. No matter how many police documentaries you've seen, the angle here is different. There's something about the relaxed consultation between brief and accused, often discussing serious and violent crimes, which can be something of a shocker. 'If you brandish an axe in a public place,' one legal adviser coolly tells her client, 'that would contravene conditions of your ASBO.' Just a bit. Meanwhile, as legal adviser Katy Calderbank gets married, senior partner Franklin Sinclair is pleased to see his staff come together for a day of celebration. Peter Egan narrates.

In the latest Mock The Week - 10:00 BBC2 - host Dara O Briain and regulars Chris Addison, Hugh Dennis and Andy Parsons are joined by Rob Beckett, Ed Byrne and Chris Ramsey on the topical comedy quiz, with the panellists giving their take on the week's major news stories.

Former Boston thug Ray Donovan lives a sophisticated Hollywood life thanks to his work fixing the problems of Los Angeles' celebrities, superstar athletes and business moguls as we discover in the opening episode of the much-trailed Ray Donovan - 10:00 Sky Atlantic. However, his comfortable existence is thrown into turmoil when his father Mickey is released from prison five years earlier than expected and arrives in Los Angeles to settle some scores. The charismatic Liev Schreiber plays the Hollywood fixer who can get anyone out of trouble. But personal issues threaten to overwhelm his life in California. As well as a restless wife and two troubled brothers (including Eddie Marsan), Ray's newest problem is the return of his father Mick (a menacing turn from veteran Oscar-winner Jon Voight), fresh from jail and already on the run. A taut script is well served by an excellent cast in a cleverly structured drama from Southland creator Ann Biderman.

Friday 19 July
The Tower of London, Pentonville Prison and the Bank of England are all broken into on the same day - and yet nothing is stolen. Jim Moriarty emerges as the culprit, and goes to trial for his naughty crimes in Sherlock - 8:30 BBC1. However, the legal battle sets in motion a scheme through which the criminal mastermind plans to destroy his old foe Sherlock Holmes, whose loyalty and courage are tested to the limits as he fights for his reputation, his sanity and his life. Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self star in a repeat of the award-winning crime drama, with the great Andrew Scott and Katherine Parkinson. Last in the series. Until the much-anticipated next three episodes get shown. Whenever that'll be.

John Humphrys hosts Celebrity Mastermind - 8:00 BBC2 - as DJ Bobby Friction (no, me neither), Coast presenter and the Goddess of punk archaeology Alice Roberts, actor Ewen Macintosh and comedian Simon Evans answer questions on their specialist subjects the life and work of Prince, the Moomin novels of Tove Jansson, the TV series Twin Peaks and Shackleton's Endurance expedition.

Tonight sees a, long overdue, BBC1 repeat of the second series of the occasionally impressive Pramface - 11:05. Laura and Jamie cannot agree on a name for the baby and struggle to cope with the Christening arrangements. Mike is desperate to prove himself an ideal candidate for godfather while Keith, under pressure from Sandra, is forced to work at the toy shop to fund the event.
And so, to the news. What news? This news.
Scotland Yard detectives were on Friday attempting to track down a secret recording of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch appearing to admit to Sun journalists that payments to public officials were part of 'the culture of Fleet Street.' A police officer connected to the Operation Elveden investigation into illicit payments from journalists has made a formal request to Exaro News, the investigative journalism website which broke the story, to hand over the undercover tape. DCI Laurence Smith reportedly told Exaro News that the police would seek a production order compelling the website to disclose the recording if it did not do so voluntarily. It is understood the police have also approached Channel Four, which broadcast a small part of the recordings on Channel Four News. The development is, according to the Gruniad Morning Star, 'the clearest indication yet' that police in London are not sacred of billionaire tyrant Murdoch and are ready to examine Murdoch's private disclosures since the tapes emerged on Wednesday night. Billionaire tyrant Murdoch is heard on the recording saying that the culture of paying police officers for stories 'existed at every newspaper in Fleet Street.' Mark Watts, the editor-in-chief of Exaro News, said that he had not handed any material to Scotland Yard and that the force had not made clear 'what they want, or why exactly they want it.' He said: 'We are making public everything that we have, and I cannot see how else we can help. Like everyone else, they just need to keep logging on to Exaro. One thing is for certain, unlike News International, we will not – under any circumstances – betray confidential sources.' Although the eighty two-year-old media mogul and billionaire tyrant did not admit on the recording to knowing that any of his employees had specifically paid public officials for stories, he was recorded on two separate occasions as describing the practice of paying public officials and police officers as part of the culture of Fleet Street. On one clip published by Exaro News, an unidentified Sun journalist asks billionaire tyrant Murdoch: 'I'm pretty confident that the working practices that I've seen here are ones that I've inherited, rather than instigated. Would you recognise that all this predates many of our involvement here?' Billionaire tyrant Murdoch replies: 'We're talking about payments for news tips from cops. That's been going on a hundred years, absolutely. You didn't instigate it.' Earlier in the tape, Murdoch tells the assembled Sun journalists: 'I don't know of anybody, or anything, that did anything that wasn't being done across Fleet Street and wasn't the culture.' It's worth noting at this point that paying police officers for information to use in a story is, in fact, wholly illegal and has been since something like 1906. News UK, formerly known as News International, has maintained that Murdoch 'never knew of payments made by Sun staff to police before News Corporation disclosed that to UK authorities.' One or two people even believed them. Scotland Yard, meanwhile, said it would not give a 'running commentary' on the progress of Operation Elveden. The press law campaign group Hacked Off on Friday urged the Commons culture, media and sport select committee to recall Murdoch, and said he 'may have committed contempt of parliament.' Evan Harris, the associate director of the group, wrote to the cross-party committee's chairman, John Whittingdale MP, saying: 'There is a strong prima facie case that Mr Murdoch may have committed contempt of parliament by misleading your committee over his true response to the police investigations into phone hacking and bribery of public officials. As far as the victims of phone-hacking are concerned, the appropriate course of action is for the committee to recall him at the earliest available opportunity to explain the discrepancies between the expressions of remorse he made to you and the defiant and unrepentant tone of his private remarks earlier this year.' The leaked recordings revealed for the first time the level of bitterness harboured by many arrested Sun journalists towards News Corporation's Management and Standards Committee, which was tasked with handing over internal documents to the police. After the first arrests in early 2012, an alleged 'source' allegedly close to the MSC alleged described the operation as 'draining the swamp.' In an interview published on Friday, the Sun's crime editor, Mike Sullivan, said of that phrase: 'After twenty years on the paper, I admit I felt sick to my stomach at that. And I still do.' Sullivan himself was arrested under Operation Elveden in January 2012 and cleared in April 2013.

The Home Office has asked more police forces to search through their records to see if surveillance was carried out on anti-racism campaigners involved in The Macpherson Inquiry in 1998. The West Midlands and Avon and Somerset forces have been asked to investigate. Hearings for the inquiry, following the murder of Stephen Lawrence, were held in several cities. Meanwhile, an ex-police officer claims that he authorised the secret taping of a meeting with Stephen's friend, Duwayne Brooks. Former Met deputy assistant commissioner John Grieve, who was in charge of the police inquiry into Stephen's murder, said that he had given permission for one meeting in May 2000 - between Brooks, his lawyers and detectives - to be recorded without Brooks's knowledge. Brooks's lawyer, Jane Deighton, who was at the meeting, said in a statement: 'Duwayne Brooks is going to take some time to absorb the enormity of the admission that former DAC Grieve deliberately deceived him in the guise of providing him with victim support.' The Macpherson Inquiry was set up in 1998 to look into the Metropolitan Police's investigation of the murder of eighteen-year-old Stephen in Eltham in April 1993. It uncovered systematic failings in the investigation of the crime and its one hundred thousand page report concluded that the force was 'institutionally racist.' At hearings across the country, local race relations organisations, victim support groups, probation services and police gave evidence on problems with race crime and how they were tackled. On Wednesday, it was revealed that the Independent Police Complaints Commission has been asked to investigate concerns that Sir Norman Bettison tried to influence the way that a key witness gave evidence to The Macpherson Inquiry in Bradford, when he was assistant chief constable of West Yorkshire Police. Greater Manchester Police has also referred itself to the IPCC after it was alleged its Special Branch sent a memo to officers asking for information on 'groups or individuals' due to attend the inquiry in Manchester. West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said: 'Following recent events across the country and subsequent correspondence from the Home Office, West Midlands Police are undertaking checks to see whether there is any material held that suggests intelligence or surveillance activity was ordered or carried out in respect of The Macpherson Inquiry or those connected to the inquiry.' A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said the force had already 'looked into any implications from the Stephen Lawrence case a couple of weeks ago but didn't find anything. However, in light of a letter from the home secretary we are now carrying out a separate review to make sure we didn't miss anything.' Meanwhile, Grieve has said that he authorised a secret recording of Duwayne Brooks because he wanted to 'keep an unassailable record' of police discussions with Brooks. Reports that the recording took place followed claims that police were ordered to 'find dirt' on the Lawrence family and friends in the years following Stephen's murder. The home secretary has ordered two existing inquiries to look at the allegations and the Lawrence family has demanded a public inquiry. Grieve said he feared that if he had asked the other participants for approval to tape the meeting overtly it would not have been given. He said that he 'deeply regretted' any 'distress, dismay or alarm that my decisions may have caused.' Grieve continued: 'Every decision made was based on the information available at the time and conducted within ethical, legal, necessary and proportionate frameworks.' Scotland Yard is investigating claims that police briefings attended by Brooks had been secretly recorded at the offices of Deighton Guedalla, in Islington, in 1999 or 2000. In a statement, the Met said that its Directorate of Professional Standards investigators had found 'documentation' authorising the recording of one meeting in May 2000. It said Grieve authorised the recording and at this stage it believed the 'relevant policy' had been followed.

Rory McGrath has been cautioned following his arrest in May over three assaults. The Three Men in a Boat presenter accepted the caution from police after being questioned over the incident in Pool, Cornwall. At the time, he was held on suspicion of common assault and actual bodily harm over an incident which left a man with a bloody nose.

Sir Michael Parkinson has revealed that he has prostate cancer. The veteran broadcaster and former chat show host said that he was having radiotherapy and was confident of returning to full health. 'It was a great shock, but I have been told to expect to make a full recovery,' he said. Parky was diagnosed with the disease in May after a routine health check last year. 'When you are told you have something like cancer, it is a shock. But the cancer specialist said: "I will assure you, you will not die of this." I am concerned about it, of course, but I am not frightened of it.' Parky said that he continues to live 'a normal life', aside from the 'distraction' of his five weekly sessions of radiotherapy. Describing his treatment as 'extraordinary', he said had not felt any pain or discomfort. 'If anything, it's boring,' he said. 'You have to lie there completely still, for six minutes. But I have had no side effects at all.' Sir Michael admitted that the diagnosis was something of a shock, but said that he was 'in wonder' at the 'marvellous' work of medical staff and was 'very grateful. When you get involved in this, you begin to understand the extraordinary work of those involved in treating cancer,' he added. The journalist and renowned interviewer urged men to pay more attention to their health and to take notice of any unusual symptoms. 'I don't want to trivialise it, but men know when there's a problem. I have been lucky, but men are silly about their health. Get it checked out - it might be something else.' Sir Michael, whose career spanned fifty years and saw him interview numerous high-profile guests, announced his retirement in 2007. He said that he had 'no intention' of letting cancer get in the way. 'I'm seventy eight and I have had a good life,' he said. 'I shall be around for a while yet, to the delight of my friends and the dismay of my enemies.'

BBC commentator John Inverdale says that he has written to Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli to apologise for saying she was 'never going to be a looker.' His comments on Radio 5Live as she prepared for Saturday's final provoked anger from some listeners. And, complete indifference from others who have far more important things to worry about in life that nonsense like that. Speaking on-air on Sunday, Inverdale said that was sorry 'if any offence was caused' by his 'ham-fisted comments.' A BBC spokesperson earlier said: 'We accept that this remark was insensitive and for that we apologise.' Asked about Inverdale's comments, Bartoli said: 'It doesn't matter, honestly. I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamed about having a model contract? No. I'm sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely.' Inverdale's comments came about an hour before the French player's match against Germany's Sabine Lisicki as he chatted to former Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport about Bartoli's technique as a player. He said: 'I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was twelve, thirteen, fourteen maybe, "Listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a Sharapova, you're never going to be five ft eleven, you're never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that. You are going to have to be the most dogged, determined fighter that anyone has ever seen on the tennis court if you are going to make it", and she kind of is.' Speaking at the start of 5Live's coverage of Sunday's men's final between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, Inverdale told listeners: 'Before we start, I probably ought to just briefly return to yesterday and a clumsy phrase that I used about Marion Bartoli which has understandably caused something of a furore. The point I was trying to make, in a rather ham-fisted kind of way, was that in a world where the public perception of tennis players is that they're all six feet tall Amazonian athletes, Marion - who is the Wimbledon champion - bucks that trend.' He continued that she was 'a fantastic example to all young people that it's attitude and will and determination together, obviously, with talent that, in the end, does get you to the top. So I have apologised to Marion by letter if any offence was caused and I do hope that we can leave the matter there now,' he added. I wouldn't bank on it, John. There are always professional whingers out there, usually with a thoroughly sick and nasty agenda who will be more than happy to use someone's - admittedly rather thoughtless - comments against them. Expect the Daily Scum Mail to start a Russell Brand-style 'ban this sick filth' campaign with you as their new poster boy for all that's bad about the BBC. Inverdale had earlier said that he had poked fun 'in a nice way at how she looks', adding: 'She is an incredible role model for people who aren't born with all the attributes of natural athletes.' Inverdale has presented TV and radio sports programmes for the BBC - including Grandstand and sports chat show On Side - since the 1980s.
Sebastian Vettel won the German Grand Prix after a battle with Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. The Red Bull driver held off Raikkonen, who made a late pit stop from the lead to benefit from the extra grip of fresh tyres in the closing laps. Raikkonen passed Grosjean under team orders with five laps to go, who held off Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to the flag. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton faded from pole to finish fifth, passing McLaren's Jenson Button on the last lap. Button finished sixth - his best result for some time. Vettel put himself in a position to control the race by passing Hamilton off the start line into the first corner. But a safety car in the middle of the race closed up the field and left Vettel holding off Grosjean and Raikkonen, with Alonso running fourth. The three front-runners ran nose-to-tail from the restart on lap thirty six until Grosjean made his final stop on lap forty, with Vettel following him in the next time around. Raikkonen and Alonso, though, stayed out for a further nine laps and fitted the faster but more fragile soft tyres. The Finn rejoined 2.3 seconds behind Grosjean, who was one and a half seconds behind Vettel, with Alonso a further 4.4 seconds further back. Raikkonen closed in on Grosjean, who was ordered to let the Finn by with five laps to go, and had five laps to close the 2.5-second lead to Vettel. He closed to within a second at the start of the final lap but although that put him in the range that allowed him to use the DRS overtaking aid, he was too far back when he entered the zone leading up to the final chicane and Vettel held on to win. 'That was a tough one,' Vettel said as he whooped in delight over the team radio on the slowing down lap. It was Vettel's first victory in his home race and the thirtieth of his career. 'Kimi was pushing very hard in the race, they tried to do something different with different compound tyres. I was pushing really hard throughout and very happy to finally win in Germany. I could feel him coming with more and more pressure. I had some laps when Romain was very close. We lost Kers in the middle of the race for a couple of laps as well. Very happy the race ended on lap sixty and not lap sixty one.' 'We had a think about whether we stay out to the end,' said Raikkonen. 'But we had a problem with the radio. They couldn't hear me but I could hear them. I'm wondering whether we could have [won if we had not pitted].' Alonso was just 0.7 seconds behind Grosjean heading into the final lap but slowed down as he approached the chequered flag, and was told by his team to pull off at turn one immediately after taking the flag. The result extends Vettel's lead in the championship to thirty four points over Alonso, who is seven ahead of Raikkonen, with Hamilton a further seventeen behind. The Mercedes driver struggled with heavy tyre wear but held on well and fought back from a final pit stop with fifteen laps to go to pass Button in a superb move around the outside of turn two on the final lap. The final points positions were taken by Red Bull's Mark Webber, who was running second to Vettel until a wheel came off as he accelerated away from his first pit stop. The Australian rejoined a lap behind, which he was able to make up as a result of safety car intervention, and he fought up well into the points, to beat McLaren's Sergio Perez, Mercedes Nico Rosberg and Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg. Webber's flying wheel hit a cameraman from the official F1 TV company FOM. Paul Allen remained conscious throughout and has been taken to Koblenz Hospital, where he is currently under observation. Formula 1 safety has been in the headlines since multiple tyre blow-outs at last weekend's British Grand Prix raised fears about drivers being hit by flying debris, and this latest incident will fuel concern about pit lane dangers. Webber came into the pits for a routine tyre change but his crew took longer than usual because of a problem with the rear right tyre. He was released without the wheel being secured properly. It broke free and bounced into Allen, knocking him flat on his back. As Allen was initially tended to, Webber's three-wheeled car was rescued and pushed back to the pit box by his mechanics, where he was finally sent on his way, albeit a lap behind everyone else. Former world champion Damon Hill said it was an 'accident waiting to happen. It was horrible,' Hill told Sky Sports. 'It was inevitable it [the wheel] was going to hit someone because we could see it bouncing down the road. It was like playing skittles. It is asking too much to expect everything to go well in the pit lane. It's a dangerous place. Mistakes will happen.' There was more drama on the twenty fourth lap when a small fire broke out at the back of Jules Bianchi's Marussia. The Frenchman was forced to jump out of the car quickly - so quick, in fact, that the car, minus Bianchi, then rolled backwards across the track before coming to a stop on the grass. Fortunately, it did so during a gap in traffic and didn't cross the path of any other cars.
And so to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader. What else could it be, frankly?
Let me know when I can turn the fans off, please.

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