Friday, September 20, 2013

Cold As Ice Cream But Still As Sweet

In the latest issue of yer actual Doctor Who Magazine, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) may have dropped some 'intriguing hints' on what we can expect from Matt Smith's final episode this Christmas. Or, it might just be people - including yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self - reading far too much into a few stray throwaway comments. Your guess is, as usual, as good as mine, dear blog reader. Asked about how the TARDIS had exploded back in series five, yer man Moffat says: 'Oh, never mind the TARDIS blowing up, what about the endless, bitter war Kovarian was on about? And what's Trenzalore? And the oldest question in the universe? And what exactly do they mean, silence will fall? Anyway, I'm off to a read-through ...' The read-through in question, of course, being the Christmas episode which is currently filming. Might be summat, might be nowt. As ever, the trick will be to tune-in on Christmas Day.
Now, here's something you may not know, dear blog reader. It was on Thursday the very 19 September, exactly fifty years ago this week, that the first ever filming for a scene in an episode of Doctor Who took place. In those days before video editing, complicated sequences, or items which required a lot of setting up, would always be pre-recorded on to film. Film was a much more flexible format than video tape, primarily because it could be easily edited. Film was also used for sequences that needed a large set, one that would not be practical in the confines of a television studio. It was used for sequences which would not be allowed in an electronic studio, such as those involving fire or water. The downside of film production was the - relatively high - cost. It was much more expensive than video recording and took far longer to produce. Camera set-ups and lighting took time and sequences had to be repeated many times to get the required shots. Film then had to be developed and edited before it was transmittable. Any film sequences needed to be complete before the studio session took place in the electronic studio, as film insets needed to be played through the studio, in real time, to become part of the complete recording. For the first episode of Doctor Who - An Unearthly Child - just one film sequence was required: the shot at the very end of the episode when the TARDIS is seen having landed on prehistoric Earth, being overlooked by the shadow of a prehistoric human. One actor was required for this, and Leslie Bates provided the shadow of the caveman, thus becoming the first actor to have his image recorded for Doctor Who, albeit only as a shadow - and uncredited on-screen.
The following day (exactly fifty years ago today), the four principal cast members - William Hartnell, William Russell, Jacqueline Hill and Carole Ann Ford - met at BBC Television Centre at 3pm to take part in a photo-call for Radio Times. A small mock-up of the junkyard set and the classroom had been rigged, and it was hoped by the production team that the series would be awarded the cover of the relevant Radio Times, but this was not confirmed (and, subsequently of course, they lost out to the popular radio personality Kenneth Horne). It was the first time the four cast members had actually met each other. The next day, Saturday 21 September 1963, the cast assembled in a West London hall, where they would begin the first rehearsals for An Unearthly Child. The location was the Drill Hall at 117 Walmer Road. The part of the road where the local Territorial Army base once stood no longer exists. The street was split in half during the late-1960s to allow a new housing project to be built, and the location where those first tentative rehearsals took place - and where Doctor Who was brought to life - now lies under Kingsdown Close, the site occupied by a block of flats sandwiched between the Hammersmith and City underground railway  line and The Westway. While the cast were establishing their characters, decisions were being taken on the running order of the series. By mutual consent, script editor David Whitaker and writer Anthony Coburn agreed that Coburn's story The Robots should swap places in the series running order with the Terry Nation written The Daleks, originally planned to be fifth in the series run. The main reason was that the scripts for The Robots were still not finished - and, indeed, never would be - while Nation's scripts were ready.

By that stage the existence of Doctor Who was, already, a matter of public record, the first mention of it having taken place on 13 September 1963 in an article in The Times of forthcoming BBC attractions. In this, the series was described as 'a new family series ... which borders of science fiction.' Fifty years (and a week) later that still remains as good as description as any.
Now, here's something quite properly remarkable, dear blog reader. It's a 1966 interview with yer actual Sydney Newman, the creator of Doctor Who. The CBC program Umbrella interviewed the Canadian (and former CBC executive) about his work as the BBC's Head of Drama. What a find.

And, finally in our mini-Doctor Who round-up, the latest edition of Doctor Who Magazine is, as noted above, out this week.
From Doctor Who, to Steven Moffat's other show. The BBC has released a series of new Sherlock behind-the-scenes pictures. Four shots from the hit detective drama's upcoming third series have been released online. Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self both feature in the images, as does co-creator Mark Gatiss.
Meanwhile, The Imitation Game has released a first look at yer actual Benny Cumberbatch on set. The actor will star in the Alan Turing biopic as the tragic mathematical genius. The pioneer of modern-day computing, Turing is credited with cracking the German Enigma Code during World War II when working at Bletchley Park. He was subsequently convicted for indecency as a homosexual and was chemically castrated, before committing suicide in 1954. Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance, Allen Leech and Matthew Beard will also feature in the film. Morten Tyldum is directing from Graham Moore's screenplay, which is based on Andrew Hodges's book Alan Turing: The Enigma.
Whitechapel held steady in the ratings on Wednesday night, according to overnight data. The ITV drama was seen by 3.02 million at 9pm. The thriller has had somewhat disappointing overnight figures this - fourth - series, particularly compared to those of previous years albeit, the final, consolidated figures so far have indicated a significant timeshift audience. Earlier, Stephen Mulhern's risible, nasty Big Star's Little Star rose to 3.52m at 8pm. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping resigned from the human race as a consequence, dear blog reader, but I don't think it did much good. On BBC1, Watchdog returned for a new series with four million punters at 8pm. Marianne Faithfull's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? brought in 3.80m at 9pm. New comedy Father Figure had an audience of 1.37m at 10.35pm. BBC2's The House that One Hundred Thousand Pounds Built gathered 2.41m at 8pm, while Brian Cox's latest series, the excellent Science Britannica interested 1.86m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Three Day Nanny appealed to nine hundred and eighty eight thousand punters at 8pm. Grand Designs was seen by 2.23m at 9pm. Channel Five's Celebrity Super Spa was watched by seven hundred and eighty five thousand sad crushed victims of society at 9pm, followed by Wentworth with eight hundred and forty four thousand viewers at 10pm.
Ricky Wilson has been confirmed as the fourth and final coach on The Voice. The Kaiser Chiefs frontman will join fellow new mentor Kylie Minogue and the returning Sir Tom Jones and on the panel.

Tom Ellis has suggested that Miranda will return to television. The hit BBC sitcom's third series was rumoured to be its last, though creator and star Miranda Hart has suggested that a fourth run could be in the works. 'I don't think it's the end of the journey, put it that way,' Ellis - who plays Miranda's on-off-on-off-again love interest Gary - said on ITV's Lorraine. 'I think there's certainly some more of the story to be told. I can't say when [another series is] going to happen, but I think it's not going to go away.' Ellis has recently been working in the US, with roles in Once Upon A Time and the ABC fantasy pilot Gothica.

Karl Pilkington has revealed that he plans to 'quit acting.' This, of course, is a considerable surprise to those of us who never realised that he'd started acting in the first place.

Soon to be departing BBC HR boss Lucy Adams has come in for a fair amount of flak following her part, alongside six other current and former corporation figures squabbling about responsibility for signing off controversial severance payments, in last week's 'grossly unedifying' Commons public affairs committee hearing. Including some from this blog. And, some might consider, not undeservedly so, given her bumbling performance before the committee. Now some of Adams' colleagues have written a letter saying that 'the recent character assassinations in the press [about Adams] are sexist, inaccurate and unfair.' In recent days coverage has included a piece in the Daily Scum Mail in which Adams was dubbed 'Lipgloss Lucy.' The letter, which has been sent to in-house BBC magazine Ariel from some of her colleagues claims that their 'experience of working with Lucy is that she is a leader of great integrity and honesty whose sole concern is to do what is right, (rather than what is easy), to secure the future of the BBC.' And, that in no way have they been forced to write this, oh no, very hot water. They also claim that they 'have been shocked and disturbed by the level of vitriol directed towards Lucy that is so out of kilter with our experience of working with her that we can't let it pass without comment.' There is no word yet on whether they are planning on sending a copy to PAC chair Margaret Spanker Hodge but, if they do, one might suggest that they change the title of the letter, which is Lay off Lucy. Unless they intended such an idea to be taken literally.
Former Happy Days star Henry Winkler's children's book series, Hank Zipzer: The Worlds' Greatest Underachiever, is being made into a new CBBC show. The adventures of twelve-year-old Hank are based on Winkler's own experiences growing up with dyslexia. The actor, famous for playing Fonzie in the 1970s sitcom Happy Days, will also star in the show when it is broadcast next year. He was appointed an honorary OBE in 2011 for his charity work with children who have dyslexia. Winkler was diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult and has since toured UK schools talking about the learning disorder. The Hank Zipzer books, written by Winkler with Lin Oliver, follow Henry Zipzer, a smart and resourceful boy with a unique perspective on the world. 'The stories are inspired by the true life experiences of Henry Winkler and how he felt growing up with dyslexia,' said executive producer Sue Nott. 'At CBBC, we try to reflect the lives of children back at them and Hank Zipzer shows that achievement comes in all shapes and sizes - and it's set to be very funny too.' The books are being turned into a thirteen-part series and will feature Winkler as a teacher called Mister Rock.

The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has put forward an defence ingenious enough for Sherlock Holmes himself in a US copyright case that could redraw the boundaries of copyright law to recognise 'complex literary characters.' The crux of the case lies in whether usage of the characters of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson is covered by copright law until the entire Holmes canon is out of copyright in the United States. At present, ten stories from the final collection, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, remain in copyright, with the stories due to enter the public domain in different years up to 2022. Sherlockian editor and Los Angeles entertainment lawyer Leslie Klinger filed a suit in February with the aim of establishing that the characters of Holmes and Watson are already in the public domain in the US, after he was asked to pay for a licence to use them in his planned book In The Company of Sherlock Holmes. Klinger previously co-edited A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon, which includes stories written by Lee Child, Neil Gaiman and Michael Connelly. In its defence, filed this week in Illinois district court, the Doyle estate argues that the characters remain protected until the copyrights in the final stories expire, because the subtleties and quirks of character that define the super-intelligent detective, his trusty right-hand man, and the duo's relationship, were developed throughout the entire body of works. 'The facts are that Sir Arthur continued creating the characters in the copyrighted ten stories, adding significant aspects of each character's background, creating new history about the dynamics of their own relationship, changing Holmes's outlook on the world, and giving him new skills. And Sir Arthur did this in a non-linear way,' the statement for the defence claims. It continues: 'The plaintiff suggests that Holmes and Watson can be dismantled into partial versions of themselves. But a complex literary personality can no more be unraveled without disintegration than a human personality.' Klinger has until 24 September to respond, according to his website Free Sherlock! The argument goes on to claim that Holmes and Watson are unlike the 'flat, simplistic entertainment characters' of television programmes like Elementary, saying that 'such characters genuinely are created in the first work in a series.' Conan Doyle wrote four novels and fifty six short stories featuring Holmes. The adventures began with the novel A Study in Scarlet in 1887, and ended with the story collection at the heart of the case, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, in 1927. In the US, all works published before 1923 are in the public domain, and those published afterwards are protected by copyright for a maximum of ninety five years after the death of the author. In the UK, copyright runs for the life of the author plus seventy years, meaning that all works written by Conan Doyle, who died in 1930, have been out of copyright for more than a decade.

For anyone struggling to book a hotel room for the Labour party conference in Brighton, help is at hand. But you may need an umbrella and some warm clothing – and not mind complete strangers watching you sleep. The Sunday People will be parading a bed around town on a float as a PR stunt to promote its Say no to the bedroom tax campaign. The promotional initiative also includes poster adverts sticking it to David Cameron, one spoofing M&C Saatchi's infamous Tony Blair 'demon eyes' advertising for the Tories' - memorably disastrous - 1997 general election campaign. Jon Cruddas MP, journalist Owen Jones and a bedroom tax victim will be appearing at a Sunday People fringe event at the Labour shindig on Sunday evening, chaired by political editor Nigel Nelson. For those unable to attend on Sunday, the Daily Mirra website will be live blogging what occurs there.
A yellow-roofed warehouse in Swindon that featured in the worst James Bond film has been given Grade II-listed status. The Spectrum building, Renault's former distribution centre, was designed by Lord Norman Foster and opened in 1982. Featuring yellow steel 'umbrella masts' the futuristic single-storey glass-walled building was also used as a backdrop in A View To A Kill in 1984. Roger Bowdler, from English Heritage, said it was 'one of the very finest examples of a hi-tech building.' And, one of the worst examples of a James Bond movie. Famous for his steel and glass designs, Lord Foster created the Gherkin and Millennium Bridge in London, rebuilt Berlin's Reichstag and also Hong Kong Airport. The headquarters he designed for Renault cars in Swindon has now been given Grade II-listed status by English Heritage in a move to 'protect post-war architecture.' Bowdler said that normally buildings were only eligible for protected status once they were thirty years old. However, he added: 'On the face of it, a distribution centre in Swindon is not the most obvious candidate but it has high national interest.' The building saw the last of the car manufacturer's workers move out when Renault closed its operations there in 2001. Since then, the building has housed a car seat manufacturer, a soft indoor play centre and a firm which produces DVDs. It was also chosen by the Bond films production team to shoot several scenes with Roger Moore in his final outing in the role. English Heritage has also listed a civil defence bunker in Gravesend, Kent, an electricity substation in Moore Street, Sheffield, and Capel Manor House near Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

The prospect of a winter World Cup in 2022 took a huge step forward after Europe's football leaders agreed a summer event could not be played in Qatar. The nation won a controversial bidding process to stage the competition, where summer temperatures can reach fifty degrees. UEFA's fifty four member associations backed the move at a meeting in Croatia on Thursday. 'What has come out of this meeting is that the World Cup cannot be played in Qatar in the summer,' said Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce. 'Everyone was certainly in agreement about that.' Boyce added that the debate was now regarding whether it would be played in January 2022 or November and December of that year. The British associations want to ensure their festive fixtures are protected for their domestic league seasons, while UEFA favour January so that it would not impact on the Champions League. But Boyce, who is also a former president of the Irish Football Association, says the associations do not want FIFA to rush that decision. 'There is still nine years to go and people feel FIFA should sit down with all the major stakeholders and come up with a solution that would cause the minimum disruption to football. There is plenty of time to do that in my opinion, and hopefully football will be the winner.' The decision to move the World Cup to winter, ultimately, rests with the world governing body, but this backing sends a strong message from some of the most powerful bodies in international football. FIFA's executive committee is expected to agree in principle to move the World Cup to the winter at its meeting in Zurich which begins on 3 October. Football Association chairman Greg Dyke said that the tournament might have to move location if a suitable time to play in Qatar could not be agreed, while FIFA's own medical chief, Michel D'Hooghe, advised that the risks posed to supporters by extreme heat are too great. However, the head of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Hassan al-Thawadi, has rejected calls for the tournament to be awarded to another country, despite FIFA president Sepp Blatter admitting the governing body may have made a 'mistake' in awarding the competition to Qatar in the first place. No shit. Earlier this week, Australia's soccer chief Frank Lowy announced his country's Football Federation may seek compensation if the 2022 World Cup is switched to the winter after his country lost out to Qatar.

Durham clinched the County Championship title with an eight-wicket victory over Nottinghamshire at Chester-Le-Street. Opener Mark Stoneman scored the winning boundary to secure Durham's third title in six years following back-to-back triumphs in 2008 and 2009. The home side resumed on seven for nought, with sixty two runs needed, after rain prevented any play until 13:30. Harry Gurney picked up two wickets, but Stoneman saw them home in the seventeenth over to finish on thirty five not out. The win was Durham's fifth in a row and tenth of the season - four more than when they lifted the Championship trophy for the first time in 2008 and two more than when they retained the title twelve months later. Durham were in charge of their match since bowling out Notts for just seventy eight on the opening day, although they were in trouble at forty five for five in their own first innings before recovering to post a total of two hundred and fifty six. Captain Paul Collingwood (eighty eight not out) and Phil Mustard (seventy seven), Durham's two most experienced players, rescued the situation with a partnership of one hundred and twenty one and, although Notts showed greater resolve in their second innings, a score of two hundred and forty six left a target of only sixty nine for the home side.

Noted miserablist Roger Waters has claimed that he 'regrets' taking legal action against his former band mates in Pink Floyd in the 1980s. Which is probably the first time that Roger has admitted to be wrong about anything in his entire life. The singer and bass guitarist sued David Gilmour and Nick Mason in 1986, in an attempt to prevent them from using the name, claiming the group was 'a spent force creatively.' Though, some would argue it had been anyway since about 1975. Speaking to the BBC's HARDtalk programme, Waters conceded: 'I was wrong. Of course I was. Who cares?' Well, presumably, Mason and Gilmour do, like. That sort of thing tends to piss one off, somewhat. He also revealed that he was working on his first new CD since 2005. 'I've had a few breakthroughs recently which I won't talk about,' Waters told Stephen Sackur. 'But I am going to make another record. I've had a very, very strong idea and I shall pursue it. I will make at least one more record and I am really looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into it.' Waters left Pink Floyd in considerable acrimony in 1985 and told HARDtalk that he still believed it was the 'correct thing' to do, 'so I could express my ideas unfettered.' His subsequent court case against the remaining members lasted two years and was eventually settled out of court, in a Christmas Eve meeting on Gilmour's houseboat. 'It's one of the few times that the legal profession has taught me something,' Waters said of the matter. 'Because when I went to these chaps and said, "Listen we're broke, this isn't Pink Floyd any more," they went, "What do you mean? That's irrelevant, it is a label and it has commercial value. You can't say it's going to cease to exist. You obviously don't understand English jurisprudence."' The band mates have since resolved their differences - to a greater or lesser degree - and reunited for the Live Eight concert in 2005. Gilmour and Mason also made a one-off appearance at Waters' The Wall show in 2011. The tour, which reached Wembley Stadium last week, has faced criticism for its use of the Star Of David, which at one point is projected onto an inflatable pig, alongside the crucifix, the dollar sign, the hammer and sickle, and other political and religious symbols. Groups including The Anti Defamation League and The Simon Wiesenthal Center have criticised the sequence as anti-Semitic, noting that Rogers has previously condemned Israel for its treatment of Palestinians. But Waters defended the imagery as 'satire' and noted that the ADL had retracted its criticism after seeing the show. Asked if he had considered changing the imagery, Waters said: 'Of course, I think about it every day. You can't dismiss people's feelings.' However, he said, it would be wrong 'to pretend these problems in the Middle East don't exist.' Paraphrasing US writer Elie Wiesel, he added: 'The greatest sin of all is to stand by, silent and indifferent.'

This Friday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping will be attending Uncle Scunthorpe's latest Record Player event at Yon Tyneside, and that. 'But wait a minute, Keith Telly Topping,' I hear you all bellow, dear blog reader. 'The Record Player is on Thursday nights, every y'damn fool in his or her y'damn foolish-foolishness knows that.' Normally, of course, you would be entirely correct. But, not this week. Anyway, tonight's featured record is, also, by a not particularly curious, coincidence, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. because, it's a frikken little power pop masterpiece. I expect we shall all, as a consequence, fade away and radiate a'fore the night is out. Quite right too. Tell us where you are, Deborah.

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