Friday, August 02, 2013

See Me On A Toxic Screen

So, anyway dear blog reader, as this year's Doctor Who Christmas special moves to the brink of  entering production, speculation inevitably continues - as it, tediously, has done all summer - as to whom will replace Matt Smith as The Doctor at the end of the festive adventure. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was even interviewed down-the-phone on BBC Newcastle by the lovely and fulsome Jonny Miles on the very subject on Friday morning. Which you can hear, here for the next seven days. (Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is on about ten minutes into the show, immediately after the late alleged kiddie-fiddler Michael Jackson.) As mentioned in a previous blog update, this week saw a surge of interest in Peter Capaldi, with odds on the Scottish actor rapidly dropping to make him the new favourite to to be the next occupant of the TARDIS. Joe Crilly, a spokesman for betting company William Hill, said: 'Peter Capaldi was not even in our list a few days ago but he has been the subject of a lot of betting interest recently and this gamble would suggest that if he does not have the part already, he is almost certainly on the short-list.' To which, one can only add, have you ever met a poor bookmaker? Capaldi, a superb actor and a particular favourite of this blogger, is best known - certainly in the UK - as the acerbic, foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in the BBC's acclaimed political comedy The Thick Of It and its movie spin-off In The Loop. He has a fabulous CV going back thirty years - Local Hero, Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Selling Hitler, Chain, The Lair Of The White Worm, Dangerous Liaisons, Shooting FishGiving Tongue, Neverwhere, The Crow Road, In Deep, Fortysomething, Waking The Dead, The Devil's Whore, The Hour, The Cricklewood Greats, Getting On, The Field Of Blood and not forgetting his once-seen-never-forgotten performance as George Harrison in John and Yoko: A Love Story! And, of course, he has appeared in Doctor Who before, as the Roman merchant Lucius Caecilius in 2008's The Fires of Pompeii.. He was also properly superb as the Home Office Permanent Secretary John Frobisher in Torchwood: Children of Earth. The actor has previously revealed that he was (and, still is) a long-standing fan of Doctor Who. In 2008, he spoke to SFX magazine about his forthcoming appearance in Pompeii: 'When I was a kid, being a huge fan, I wrote numerous letters to the Doctor Who office largely inquiring about how the show was made. I was thrilled to have delivered to me a large package from the BBC containing two full studio scripts for the Jon Pertwee serial The Mutants, which they were making at the time. The package also contained set designs and studio floor plans for these episodes and a delightful letter from Barry Letts giving me an idea what all this stuff was. It was a fantastic exciting insight into both Doctor Who and television production generally. I had never seen a script in any form before then and was immediately fascinated by the documents. And of course, Barry’s kindness was a trigger to my ambition to work somehow (I didn't know how) in TV. The scripts are still sitting on my bookshelf downstairs.' In light of his sudden rumoured association with the role, the Radio Times also found an archive letter from a then fifteen-year old Peter Capaldi congratulating them on their Tenth Anniversary Doctor Who Special issue in late 1972. But, before we get too carried away with the idea that Peter's a shoe-in for The Doctor, despite the fact that he's already committed to playing Cardinal Richelieu in the BBC's forthcoming adaptation of The Three Musketeers, let us remember that we have been down this road before. Odds on the identity of the next Doctor were temporarily suspended on 9 June, with betting company Coral informing the Doctor Who News website: 'We've suspended betting on the next Doctor Who, following a rush of bets on Rory Kinnear in the last twenty four hours.' This came about after various Sunday newspapers - particularly the Torygraph - reported that the actor had been 'offered the role.' Where they got this information from, they didn't say but, seemingly, they didn't bother to ask Rory himself, who subsequently noted: 'I don’t know where it came from and how these things evolve - I haven’t been, and I am totally certain that I will not, be asked to be the next Doctor Who. If I was an actor who was really longing to play Doctor Who, then this would be torturous, but it's a programme I've never watched, so I don't even really know what it is.' Even if one didn't believe Rory's strenuous denial, any likelihood of this (excellent) actor's casting seems to have been thoroughly quashed once and for all earlier this week after the announcement of his lead role in ITV's Lucan, which films next month. June also saw another favourite emerge with Capaldi's co-star in The Thick of It, Chris Addison, causing William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams to gush: 'We have seen a good old fashioned gamble on Chris Addison today, with a number of three figure bets placed. Gambles such as these normally have some substance and I would think he is on the short-list.' On his BBC 5Live Saturday morning show, the normally in-the-know Danny Baker advised his listeners that they should put their house and all its contents on Chris being confirmed as the next Doctor. But, of course, that also turned out to be a load of old cobblers. It is believed that the flurry of interest in the actor was sparked after the singer - and well-known plank - Paloma Faith tweeted: 'A friend who works on Doctor Who says that Chris Addison is replacing Matt Smith - WOW.' Wow, indeed. And, as Kate Bush also noted in the same song, 'un-be-leave-able'! Which, as it happens, it was. Acknowledging the rumours, Chris appeared during the recording the next episode of the comedy news panel show Mock The Week, on which he's a regular, in suitable Tom Baker-style attire. Another suggestion via the media has been Green Wing actor Julian Rhind-Tutt, which the ever-reliable Sun reported was on 'the short-list' after missing out on the role last time around to Matt Smith. The same article also suggested that Torchwood actor Burn Gorman was 'another contender' for the role. Idris Elba ruled himself out of the running, with the Radio Times reporting that when asked at the preview he joked: 'I'd look silly in a bow tie!' Which, actually, is probably true! Meanwhile, on television David Harewood told Loose Women on 18 June: 'It would be really difficult to turn down, it would be very exciting if the phone rang - but I doubt it.' In short, the whole bloody thing has been indescribably tedious and annoying - with all manner of ludicrous suggestions from newspapers and know-nothing berks on the Internet and dozens of chancers throwing their own hat into the ring for lick at the big prize. It'll be a sheer blessing when Sunday comes around, they make the announcement and we can all go back to discussing which Doctor Who episodes they haven't found in Nigeria.

New Zealand's Prime television channel has posted a statement on Facebook regarding the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary special. 'Doctor Who fans! Fear not, we will be playing the fiftieth anniversary special. Phew. However, we are still awaiting details from the BBC which will determine when we can transmit. As soon as we have any more information, we'll be sure to pass it along.' BBC Worldwide issued a statement last week in which they announced an intention to simultaneously broadcast the anniversary special internationally. What this means for New Zealand viewers is that if - hypothetically - the special screens in the UK on Saturday 23 November at 7pm, the episode would be seen on Prime on Sunday 24 November at 8am. It remains unclear whether the episode will in fact screen at the same time in New Zealand. Prime has addressed this in a follow-up statement: 'We haven't had any confirmation that simulcast is the BBC's plan - they have not confirmed that with us. If that is an option, we need to know the time and the content because if it comes in early morning, it needs to have a G-rating, when usually Doctor Who has a stronger rating. As we said, we'll pass any new info on as it's confirmed.' In New Zealand, new series episodes of Doctor Who invariably receive a Parental Guidance Recommended rating, which would make them unsuitable for an early morning timeslot.

The BBC has promised a special Sherlock surprise on Friday night. The drama's second series finale The Reichenbach Fall is being broadcast at 8.30pm on BBC1. In a statement, a BBC spokesperson said: 'Don't miss the repeat of The Reichenbach Fall' tonight. Our advice - keep watching to the very end!' For this. Marvellous. Not sure about Martin's moustache, though. It looks like a hamster's crawled onto his lip, and died. Sherlock's third series finale His Final Vow - written by series co-creator Steven Moffat - is currently shooting in London and Cardiff. The Killing and Borgen's Lars Mikkelsen will appear in the detective drama's new run as 'Sherlock's new nemesis', Charles Augustus Magnussen. Sherlock is expected to return to BBC1 in either late 2013 or early 2014.

Celebrity MasterChef topped a quiet evening outside of soaps on Thursday, overnight data reveals. The cooking competition dropped a million viewers from its premiere the previous evening to 3.77m at 8pm on BBC1 but was still the most watched programme of the night, soaps aside. Earlier, the documentary Urban Jungle was seen by 3.03m at 7pm, while DIY SOS interested 2.91m at 9pm. On BBC2, Dara O Briain's Science Club appealed to 1.06m at 8pm, while Hebrides: Islands on the Edge brought in 1.75m at 9pm. If it was a not particularly special night for BBC1, it was a total horroshow (and drag) for ITV where Married to the Job attracted 2.5m at 8.30pm, and a Tonight special also gathered 2.5m at 7.30pm. Channel Four's new documentary series The Dealership opened with nine hundred thousand punters at 8pm. How To Get A Council House was seen by 1.74m at 9pm. On Channel Five, The Hotel Inspector Returns was watched by 1.04m at 9pm, followed by the latest Big Brother with 1.43m at 10pm. The most-watched broadcast on the multichannels was Film4's showing of the Bruce Willis movie RED at 9pm with 1.58m.

Mel C - remember her? - has become the latest desperate has-been (or, in several cases, never-was) to 'express an interest' in joining The Voice as a coach. I'd say it was career suicide, Mel my love but, to be honest, what career?

BBC Director of Television Danny Cohen has announced that Janice Hadlow will be taking over editorial leadership of BBC4. This follows the departure of BBC4 Controller Richard Klein earlier in the year. Hadlow is already the controller of BBC2 and will be taking on the new role as an addition to her current responsibilities. She had temporarily been taking control of both channels after Klein departed in May. A new role will now be created of 'BBC4 Channel Editor' to work alongside Hadlow, ensuring the channel retains its distinctive content and tone. Cohen said: 'I'm keen for BBC2 and BBC4 to collaborate more across their programmes, scheduling, marketing and digital innovation. Janice has made real progress in these areas and I want to build on these foundations. The new role of BBC4 Channel Editor, reporting to Janice, will help ensure that the channel continues to grow its own distinctive tone, character and output, as well as providing day-to-day management of the channel and its commissioning.'

Italy's former PM Silvio Berlusconi has broadcast an angry video message after his prison sentence for tax fraud was upheld by the country's highest court on Thursday. Berlusconi said that he was 'the innocent victim' of 'an incredible series of accusations and trials that had nothing to do with reality.' The court also ordered a further judicial review on whether he should be banned from holding public office. Berlusconi, however, is unlikely to go to jail because of his age. Which is a pity, but, there you go. It's The Law. While he is expected to serve out his sentence as house arrest, he has the option of asking to do community service instead, with the deadline for the application not expected to fall until mid-October. The ruling by Rome's Court of Cassation, against which he cannot appeal, came after a three-day hearing. Berlusconi was not in court to her the verdict. In an emotional nine-minute video, Berlusconi denounced the decision as 'based on nothing, and which deprives me of my freedom and political rights. No-one can understand the onslaught of real violence that has been directed against me following an incredible series of accusations and trials that don't have any foundation in reality,' he said. He described the more that fifty court cases he has faced as 'genuine judicial harassment that is unmatched in the civilised world. In exchange for the commitments I have made over almost twenty years in favour of my country and coming almost at the end of my public life, I have been rewarded with accusations and a verdict that is founded on absolutely nothing, that takes away my personal freedom and my political rights.' He criticised the country's judicial record, saying: 'Is this the Italy that we want? Is this the Italy that we love? Absolutely not.' It is the billionaire businessman's first definitive conviction after decades of attempted criminal prosecutions against him. The case concerns deals that his firm, Mediaset, made to purchase TV rights to US films. The former prime minister was sentenced to four years in prison at the conclusion of the trial in October last year, though this was automatically reduced to a year under a 2006 pardon law. The court at the time heard that he and other executives had bought TV rights at inflated prices to avoid paying taxes. He was labelled the 'author of a whole system of tax fraud.' The review of the lower court's five-year ban on holding public office means Berlusconi can remain as a senator and as leader of his centre-right People of Freedom Party for the time being. Berlusconi's political grouping forms part of Italy's coalition government. Prime Minister Enrico Letta needs both the PDL and his own centre-left Democratic Party to govern. In a statement after the court ruling, Letta urged 'a climate of serenity' for 'the good of the country.' Italian President Giorgio Napolitano also urged the country to 'stay calm. The country needs to rediscover serenity and cohesion on vitally important institutional matters which have for too long seen it divided and unable to enact reforms,' he said. A former minister and ally of Berlusconi, Nitto Palma, told Reuters on leaving a PDL meeting that there was 'a lot of bitterness' about the verdict. Berlusconi's legal team said there were 'solid reasons' why Berlusconi should have been acquitted, and it would 'evaluate and pursue any useful initiative, also in Europe, to make sure that this unjust sentence is radically reformed.' Anti-establishment politician Beppe Grillo welcomed the court ruling, comparing the sentence to the fall of the Berlin Wall. In a statement on his blog, Grillo said Berlusconi had 'polluted, corrupted and paralysed Italian politics for twenty one years.' The three-time prime minister and senator, once memorably described by Mad Frankie Boyle as 'the sort of bloke who, if you told him to go fuck himself, he'd give it a go' has faced a string of trials since leaving office in November 2011. Appeals are pending in other cases in which he was convicted of having paid for sex with an under-age prostitute at one of his notorious bungua-bunga parties, and arranging for a police wiretap to be leaked and published in a newspaper. And if you don't know what bunga-bunga parties are, dear blog reader, use your imagination. Two other alleged tax evasion cases, one of them involving British lawyer David Mills, expired under the statute of limitations.

BT Sport went on air on Thursday, but it was Sky Sports News which really went into the air as the broadcaster sought to trump the much heralded launch of its new rival channel. In a stunt which raised eyebrows more than it did heart rates, roving reporter Jim White, the shouty dour Scotsman of deadline day, along with various colleagues up and down the country, visited the grounds of every professional football club in England and Wales, in one day. In a helicopter. The Independent reports that viewers were 'treated' to the groundsman at Derby County painting lines on the pitch, Millwall's manager playing table football and ground-breaking footage of the Mansfield Town chairman's pet dog. Jake Humphrey and co have got their work cut out to better that.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is indebted to his good friend Deborah Wiliams for providing him with the comedy line of the week: 'Was browsing the Gruniad and cannot stop laughing at this sentence: "One production of The Vagina Monologues had to rename it The Hoohaa Monologues after a woman said that she was 'offended' when her niece asked her what a vagina was."'

Which brings us to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day and a righteous bit of The Jesus and Mary Chain. Marvel at Bobby Gillespie looking all of twelve!

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