Monday, September 02, 2013

And Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them

Be advised, dearest blog reader, that there is a potentially massive spoiler for the Doctor Who Christmas special coming up at the end of this blog update. So, as they used to say when they announced the football results on the Ten O'Clock News just before Match Of The Day started, 'if you don't want to know the score, look away now.'
The BBC has previewed its upcoming BBC1 dramas including the new series of Sherlock. The Great Train Robbery, written by Broadchurch's Chris Chibnall and David Tennant's The Escape Artist - written by [spooks] creator David Wolstencroft - also feature in the latest Original British Drama trailer. Other series showcased in the trailer include The Musketeers, Quirke, What Remains, the second series of Ripper Street and By Any Means. The Musketeers, a new ten-part series from Primeval co-creator Adrian Hodges, stars Skins actor Luke Pasqualino and Doctor Who's Peter Capaldi in 'a fresh and contemporary take' on Alexandre Dumas's classic swashbuckling novel. By Any Means stars Luther's Warren Brown as Jack Quinn, leader of an elite team of mavericks who bring criminals to justice for their naughty badness and ways.
The X Factor's tenth series kicked off with 8.78m overnight viewers from 8pm on ITV. The first auditions show, which saw the return of Sharon Osbourne to the judging panel, peaked with 9.08m punters at 9pm. The average figure of 8.78m is up approximately six hundred and eighty thousand punters on the overnight figure for ninth series launch show but still down two and a half million from the equivalent episode in 2011. Prior to The X Factor, ITV's shameless Strictly Come Dancing rip-off Stepping Out debuted with 3.54m punters at 6.30pm - a low figure given what it was the lead-in show for and one which rather restores ones faith in the viewing public not being as gullible and thick as pig's shite as some TV executives would, seemingly, believe. Having said that, Through the Keyhole with the Lemon then took 5.14m at 9.30pm - so, forget everything I just said, The movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall was watched by six hundred and forty thousand from 10.45pm. On BBC1, That Ruddy Puppet Fiasco fell eight hundred and ninety thousand viewers from last week to a thoroughly risible 1.01m at the earlier time of 5.15pm. After which the BBC's other great Saturday disaster I Love My Country appealed to 2.62m daft glakes at 7pm. It's to be hoped that whichever waste-of-space prats who commissioned those two disasters are currently clearing out their desks at the Beeb and with no hope whatsoever of a several hundred thousand smackers pay-off for their massive under-achievement like so many of their predecessors. Shame, eh? After those two wretched pieces of worthless and twattish flob had ended, things could only get better, in ratings terms - which they did, slowly. The National Lottery: Break The Safe was watched by 2.88m at 7.45pm, while Casualty had an audience of 3.80m at 8.45pm and Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow pulled in 2.31m at 9.30pm. Match Of The Day followed with 3.12m at 10.15pm. On BBC2, Proms Extra was shown from 7pm, with four hundred and seventy thousand tuning-in. Dad's Army had 1.20m at 7.45pm and Thatcher: The Downing Street Years interested five hundred and thirty thousand at 8.15pm. Terror in the Desert picked up six hundred and thirty thousand viewers from 9.15pm, after which Qi: XL had nine hundred thousand at 10.15pm. On Channel Four, 9/11: One Hundred And Two Minutes That Changed America and Terminator 2: Judgement Day took 1.24m and five hundred and ninety thousand respectively from 7.30pm. Elsewhere, two episodes of NCIS appealed to six hundred and eighty five and eight hundred and eighty seven thousand punters respectively from 8pm on Channel Five, while the latest episode of Celebrity Big Brother dragged in 1.22m at 10pm. Foyle's War was the highest-rated broadcast on the multichannels, picking up nine hundred and forty seven thousand on ITV3 at 7pm.

The X Factor climbed in the overnight ratings for its first Sunday show on ITV. The talent show's second episode of the series rose its audience by almost five hundred thousand viewers from the previous evening to 9.21 million at 8pm. Later, Brenda Blethyn's Vera also saw a rise, climbing by three hundred thousand to 4.89m at 9pm. On BBC1, Countryfile attracted 5.36m at 7pm, followed by Antiques Roadshow with 5.16m at 8pm. The second episode of What Remains dropped over seven hundred thousand punters from the previous week's opener to 3.73m at 9pm. BBC2's Dragons' Den dipped to 1.77m at 8pm. The documentary The Story of the Jews was seen by 2.19m at 9pm. On Channel Four, 9/11 documentary Rebuilding the World Trade Centre attracted eight hundred and ninety thousand punters at 7.45pm. Channel Five's Celebrity Big Brother continued with 1.75m at 9pm. Sky1's A Touch of Cloth had a small rise from last week to two hundred and eight thousand viewers at 9pm.

And finally on the subject of ratings, dear blog reader, here be the final and consolidated figures for the Top Twenty programmes for week-ending 25 August 2013:-
1 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.03m
2 New Tricks - Tues BBC1 - 7.83m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.61m
4 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.03m
5 The Great British Bake-Off - Tues BBC2 - 6.60m
6 What Remains - Sun BBC1 - 6.13m
7 Vera - Sun ITV - 5.77m
8 Who Do You Think You Are? - Wed BBC1 - 5.37m
9 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.20m
10 Celebrity MasterChef - Tues BBC1 - 5.14m
11 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 5.10m
12 Big School - Fri BBC1 - 4.50m
13 The National Lottery: Break The Safe - Sat BBC1 - 4.47m
14 Countryfile - Sat BBC1 - 4.38m
15 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.30m
16 Antiques Roadshow - Sat BBC1 - 4.27m
17 Paul O'Grady's Working Britain - Thurs BBC1 - 4.24
18 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.22m
19 Film: Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Thing - Sat ITV - 4.19*
20 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.17m
Programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top-rated programmes of the week, aside from The Great British Bake-Off were Dragons' Den and University Challenge (both 2.65m). Twenty Four Hours In A&E topped Channel Four's list (2.51m). Celebrity Big Brother, inevitably, topped Channel Five's week (2.98m glakes).

There's an excellent piece on the late David Frost by Michael Grade in the Gruniad which yer actual Keith Telly Topping urges all dear blog readers to check out: 'David Frost was a huge figure in the history of British broadcasting. He was the first real superstar of the screen who was purely and simply a product of television. Secondly, he had an amazing business skill. He was a performer, a journalist, an impresario and an entrepreneur. That's given to very, very few people. He gave the Two Ronnies [and] John Cleese, their first opportunity on television – he had a great eye for talent. He loved performing himself, that's what he loved doing the most, but also had a fantastic business mind. He won two separate ITV franchises, London Weekend and TV-am. He was an international television superstar. The whole world has heard of David, and the whole world would recognise his voice, his distinctive, much impersonated voice. He was kind of a television renaissance man. He could put his hand to anything. He could turn over Richard Nixon or he could win the comedy prize at the Montreux Golden Rose festival. It was just extraordinary. He was one of the first independent producers in this country, which people forget, with Paradine Productions. He was way ahead of the game with that. He loved television and everything to do with it, and was very, very good at it. He was partly opportunistic, partly visionary, and partly, "Oh, this looks like a good idea – let's do it."' Terrific.
On the other hand, odious, risible Sky News waste-of-space Kay Burley took to Twitter to recall the advice Frosty once gave her following news of the veteran interviewer's death. 'Sir David Frost told me the best three interview questions to ask,' tweeted Burley. Unfortunately, the odious risible Burley neglected to mention what they were. Dozy buffoon.

Research for a forthcoming biography of the late Kit Pedler have turned up an intriguing curio: a draft script of William Hartnell's final episode which doesn't end with The Doctor regenerating. Hartnell's Doctor bowed out in October 1966 with the four-part adventure The Tenth Planet, the story which not only introduced the concept that The Doctor could change his appearance, but also saw the first appearance of The Cybermen. Now author Michael Seely, who is working on a biography of the story's co-author, Doctor Kit Pedler, has unearthed a draft script of the final episode which pre-dates the decision to write Hartnell out of the series. 'I found this script and two more from The Moonbase (known then as The Return Of The Cybermen) among a very large collection of Kit's papers which one of his children had kept in their attic,' explained Seely. 'As I looked through it, I realised it was the first draft [script editor and co-writer] Gerry Davis prepared when Kit fell ill in June 1966. The structure is more or less the same, though a lot of the dialogue is different. Some things were cut, especially involving The Cybermen. For example, The Cybermen planned to convert [companion] Polly and The Doctor into Cybermen towards the end of the story, and kept them prisoner in what they described as a waiting room. The most eye-catching difference is what didn't happen at the end of the episode.' The fact that this script was written in June 1966 and rehearsals for the story began on 14 September only underlines that the actor's departure was decided upon rather late in the day (Hartnell's wife's diary records that he told her he was leaving the BBC's popular family SF drama on 16 July 1966). 'Gerry Davis and [producer] Innes Lloyd were always very diplomatic and tactful in their interviews,' added Seely. 'Both died in 1991, long before "warts and all" interviews became the norm. We know that William Hartnell was being persuaded to give up the role he loved over the summer of 1966, and that they were sounding out replacements. He only decided to leave in the middle of July, the month after this draft was written.' The cache of Pedler's papers also includes five original storylines for Doomwatch, the 1970s eco-thriller series he co-created with Davis – including several which were never made – as well as proposals for further TV shows, a couple of never-recorded radio plays and various unfinished books and short stories. 'Doomwatch fans will be interested to learn that over five original story lines were among Kit's papers, including several that did not get made. One of these was responsible for the BBC removing Kit's influence over the programme he and Gerry created as a warning over unchecked science and technology. There were a couple of radio plays too, which had been known about but remained a bit of a mystery since they were not made. Environmentalists, though Kit did not consider himself to be one, and students of the 1970s environmental movement, will be pleased to learn that a lot of his writings, lectures and scripts for TV and radio, also exist within this collection.' Pedler's role in the Doctor Who production team was also clarified: 'He was not a scientific advisor,' said Seely. 'Kit wasn't there to throw in the science, or vet scripts for their accuracy. He was there to give plausible science fiction ideas, which Lloyd and Davis had no clue about. He argued that we were conditioned to accept whatever science had to offer us as automatically a good thing, and not to enquire deeper. He used to describe himself as a "defrocked scientist." His words are still true today.' The Quest For Pedler by Michael Seely is due for release early in 2014.

You know, dear blog reader, some questions which are asked require a very short simple answer. In the negative. Like, this one for instance. Yeah, I've said that's a big 'no'.

Sir Bruce Forsyth his very self has blamed 'D-list celebrities' for pulling Strictly Come Dancing's ratings down in the past. Speaking to Metro, the host claimed that the ballroom show would get a new studio when it returns on Saturday to rival The X Factor. 'If you haven't got good celebrities as we did have for a couple of years we did go down and it showed,' Forsyth admitted. 'The last couple of years that has been revived and we do get interesting people and in the last [series] we got six couples that were worthy of winning.' The eighty five-year-old revealed that the show's shake-up needs a bigger studio to cater for a larger audience that can 'make it more exciting. We are going to a new studio. We've always been in a studio that is far too slow and small for the entertainment that we need to get over,' Forsyth added. 'It should never be in a place that holds less than three thousand people. That's excitement and that comes over to the people watching. So I hope we get a bigger studio.'

Coronation Street's William Roache has pleaded not guilty to rape and indecent assault charges. Roache, eighty one, from Wilmslow, denied two counts of raping a fifteen-year-old girl in East Lancashire in 1967. He also denied five counts of indecent assault involving four young girls in Manchester in the mid- to late-1960s. The actor, who plays Ken Barlow in the long-running soap, will now face a trial at Preston Crown Court in January. An ITV spokesman previously confirmed that Roache would not be appearing in Corrie until all legal proceedings had concluded. Roache was arrested at his home in May and charged with two counts of raping a fifteen-year-old girl in Haslingden in 1967. He was later additionally charged with five additional indecent assaults involving four girls aged between eleven or twelve and sixteen, allegedly committed in the Manchester area between 1965 and 1968. Roache entered the dock at Preston Crown Court and confirmed his name to the clerk. The list of charges was then read out to him and on each allegation he responded with an answer of 'not guilty.' He remains on bail with various conditions including that he must have no direct unsupervised contact with anyone under sixteen and must not approach any named witnesses. When he was initially charged, Roache claimed that he was 'astounded and deeply horrified' by the accusations and vowed to 'strenuously deny' the allegations.

Meanwhile, another Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell told his alleged rape victim that it was their 'little secret' and that she would 'die' if she told anyone, a court has heard. Le Vell, forty eight, who appeared under his real name Michael Turner, is facing twelve charges, including five of rape. The counts relate to one girl, who cannot be named, who was abused from the age of six, Manchester Crown Court heard. Le Vell, of Hale in Trafford, has denied all the charges. He also faces three counts of indecent assault, two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity and two of sexual activity with a child. The offences are said to have happened between 2001 and 2010. Opening the case for the prosecution, Eleanor Laws QC told the jury that 'once the abuse began, it continued regularly' and that Le Vell had held a teddy bear over her mouth when he first raped her. She said that he had told the girl, who was 'too frightened' to do anything, that he was 'making the evil stop once and for all.' She added that the victim had talked to no-one but her toys about what happened after Le Vell had said it was 'our little secret [and] no-one needs to know otherwise you'll be taken, you'll die and the evil will come over you.' The girl had suffered years of nightmares because of the abuse and had wet the bed until she was twelve, Laws claimed. She added that when the girl had complained of soreness in her genital area, it had been dismissed by her doctor as the result of 'drinking too much orange juice.' Laws stressed to jury members that they should not confuse Le Vell with his on-screen role of Kevin Webster, which he has played for thirty years. 'The man on trial is Michael Turner, not the character he plays,' she said. She added that he was 'a heavy drinker and went out drinking most nights.' The case continues.

The archbishop of York, John Sentamu, held Andrew Marr's left hand – still weak after the stroke earlier this year that kept him off the air for months – and prayed for his full healing as the broadcaster returned for the first time to his Sunday morning BBC programme. Marr opened the show standing, leaning on a stick held in his good hand, his voice firm and steady. 'Well, here we are again. I have to start this morning with a few thank-yous to all my excellent colleagues who've been keeping the show on the road,' he said. 'Thank you also to all the many viewers who have sent so many kind and wise messages, and thanks last but not least to all of you who were frankly pleased to see the back of me but never quite got round to writing to say so.' Sentamu, who has recently been treated for prostate cancer, appeared following the Sunday papers review and an interview with the shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander. After Sentamu had spoken about Syria, Zimbabwe and gay marriage, Marr thanked him, saying: 'You have also been ill, so it is wonderful to see you back as well.' Sentamu replied: 'I would say the same and I just want to tell you what happened to me when I had this terrible illness. Friends prayed for me and friends encouraged me and I just hope the same happened to you.' He quoted the gospel story of the healing of a man with a withered arm. Marr reached his arm across and Sentamu clasped his hand and said: 'In Luke chapter six, there is a man with a hand like yours, Jesus raises it up and I'm going to ask that your hand begins to work, nice to see you.' Marr suffered a serious stroke in his sleep in January and has undergone months of intensive physiotherapy to regain movement and strength. He plans to return to his Radio 4 Start the Week show towards the end of the year. The presenter returned in July for a one-off interview with David Milimolimandi about the former Labour frontbencher's departure from the House of Commons for a new career in New York. Sentamu has been a guest several times on the programme, and six years ago chopped up his dog collar live on television in protest at the continuing reign of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. This time, Sentamu appeared in a purple shirt but still without his collar, which in view of Mugabe's recent election victory, he is unlikely to be wearing again soon. Tweets celebrating Marr's return poured in, including one from the comedian and impressionist Jon Culshaw who wrote 'Very warm welcome back to Andrew Marr.'

John Mullin, the former Independent on Sunday editor, is to head the BBC's coverage of the Scottish independence referendum. Mullin, who takes up his job as referendum editor next Monday, will be based in the Glasgow newsroom. He will lead the reporting and analysing of referendum matters across all the BBC's outlets in Britain.

England have announced the itinerary for India's tour next summer, with test matches at Trent Bridge, Lord's, Southampton, Old Trafford and The Oval. It will be the first time that India have played a five-Test series in England since 1959. After the tests, there will be five one-day internationals and one Twenty/20 international, finishing in September. Sri Lanka are due to tour in May and June, with the exact dates expected to be announced later this week. Venues were allocated for the 2014 internationals several years ago. The test at Southampton - the second to be staged at The Ageas Bowl, which is currently undergoing redevelopment, with a hotel being built at the northern end - is 'subject to confirmation following a final facility inspection.' The ODIs against India will be held at Bristol, Cardiff, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston (which will also host the T20 international) and Headingley. India will also play three-day warm-up games against Leicestershire and Derbyshire and a fifty-over match with Middlesex. England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive David Collier said: 'The length of the series reflects the iconic status which contests between these two great cricketing nations now enjoy. We thank the BCCI for their support and also our international venues who between them helped bring a record number of spectators - more than eight hundred and fifty thousand - to international cricket over the course of the season when India last toured here in 2011.' England won the test series four-nil that year on the way to becoming the number one-ranked side in the world, and took the ODI series three-nil. Last year, new captain Alastair Cook led England to a two-one test series win in India, although India won the ODIs three-two in January, and then beat England in the ICC Champions Trophy final at Edgbaston in June.

A couple of weeks ago a man threw an egg at Tunisia's lack of culture minister and the assault was filmed by a TV cameraman. Two days later, after his broadcaster, Astrolabe TV, released the footage, the camera operator, Mourad Mehrezi, was arrested by the filth. A week later, on 23 August, he was dragged a'fore the beak and charged with conspiring with the egg-thrower - the film director Nasreddine Shili - to 'assault a public servant and harming public morals.' Mehrezi also faces a further seven charges in a trial due to start on Thursday. If convicted of all charges, he could spend up to seven years doing porridge. But, his TV bosses insist that they assigned him to film an event in Tunis to mark the fortieth anniversary of the death of a Tunisian artist. Astrolabe TV's director, Ahmed Amine Ben Saad, showed Human Rights Watch Mehrezi's written mission order. HRW's acting Middle East and North Africa director, Joe Stork, said: 'The lack of evidence of conspiracy means that Mehrezi is effectively detained for doing his job. His prosecution is a bad precedent for media freedom in Tunisia.' The public prosecutor's office said that Mehrezi and Shili have 'confessed' that they prepared the assault together and that Mehrezi knew of it in advance. But one of the lawyers on Mehrezi's and Shili's defence team told HRW that Mehrezi had refused to sign what he regards as a falsified police statement.
Yer actual Keith telly Topping his very self is delighted to report that, after seven weeks of trying, he has finally managed to pick up a proper, honest to God - and really sodding painful - sporting-related injury, dear blog reader. Miraculously, it wasn't falling off the bike, rather it was probably the swimming on Friday what did it. Keith Telly Topping, it seems, has pulled a muscle in my rib area (I believe it's called the intercostal) and, Christ, it knacks like jim-buggery so it does. So, that'll be yer actual Keith Telly Topping spending the next couple of days safely tucked up in bed with the laptop and the telly, dosed up to the eyeballs on ibuprofen! Which, hey, is a lifestyle choice of sorts.

A man has been caught trying to smuggle fish into New Zealand hidden in his trousers. At least, that was the excuse he gave and he's sticking to it. Airport officials found the fish in his pockets after noticing his trousers were dripping wet. He originally claimed he was carrying water from the plane because he was thirsty. The Vietnam resident had been travelling from Australia with seven cichlids hidden in plastic bags, which began to leak. Ministry of Primary Industries spokesman Craig Hughes said: 'This appears to be a deliberate attempt to smuggle fish into the country without any consideration of the biosecurity risk involved. That's something we take very seriously. The fish could have been carrying diseases or have the potential to displace native species.' The traveller later claimed that the fish belonged to 'a friend' but now faces a fine of up to fifty grand for breaching New Zealand's Biosecurity Act.

Commuters on New York's subway were delayed for two hours after two kittens were spotted on the tracks. Travellers in Brooklyn faced long delays after the cats were spotted at Church Avenue station on Thursday, the New York Post reports. MTA workers went down onto the tracks to try and rescue the kittens but they ran off in opposite directions. One conductor said: 'There is no service to Manhattan on the Q or B line because of cats and kittens on the tracks at Church Avenue.' The kittens were spotted again later in the day asleep under the tracks and another rescue attempt was made, with the animals being successfully recovered using a milk crate. There was a strong reaction from some commuters when the reason for the delay was announced. An unnamed male commuter was quoted as saying: 'Can you believe this? All for cats! I hate cats!' Bastard!
A swan in Egypt has been detained on suspicion of 'being a spy.' Honestly, I'm not making this up. An unnamed man is said to have 'become suspicious' of the bird when he noticed that it was wearing 'an odd electronic device', Metro reports. Thereafter, he lured to the bird, captured it and took it to a local police station in the Qena governorate, which is two hundred and eighty miles from the Egyptian capital, Cairo. And two thousand miles from sanity buy the sound of the gaff. Mohammed Kamal, Qena's head of security, confirmed that officials had 'examined' the bird and the device it was wearing. They discovered that it was a wildlife tracker and that it 'posed no threat to national security.'

A pilot badger cull - or, you know, murder-spree, as it's more commonly known - is 'proceeding to plan' and organisers are 'pleased with progress to date', Environment Secretary and Chief Badger Murderer Pursuivant Owen Paterson has claimed. So, that's good news for those who get a massive chimney-on over the thought of pointless bloodshed.
And so, dear blog reader, to that Doctor Who Christmas episode spoiler mentioned above. This appeared on Twitter a couple of days ago.
Yes, I'd've said that qualifies as a spoiler.

For today's Keith telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's the Goddamn Modfather, yer actual Paul Weller his very self. Skill.

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