Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Just Act Surprised, All Right?

The BBC announced at midnight on Tuesday of this week a raft of programmes to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who. Yes, I know that some plank at BBC News had, accidentally (perhaps), revealed it about eight hours earlier and numerous media outlets, including the Radio Times, the Metro and, indeed, this blog its very self, had already announced all of this but, hey, just pretend and act surprised, okay? Meanwhile, one imagines, the individual responsible for the early leaking of this announcement is, currently, having his Jacob's Cream Crackers thrashed with a wet plimsoll by his boss. Or, if it's a ladygirl, something equally nasty. Anyway, here it is, kids - this big announcement (just smile and nod and avoid saying 'I already knew that').
A seventy five-minute extended episode called The Day Of The Doctor will star yer actual Matt Smith (in his second-to-last episode), David Tennant his very self and John Hurt. And other people. Smudger said: 'Hope you all enjoy. There's lots more coming your way.'
Other highlights include a BBC2 lecture by long-time fan Professor Brian Cox on the science behind the BBC's long-running popular family SF series. Foxy Coxy will 'take an audience of celebrity guests and members of the public on a journey into the wonderful universe of The Doctor,' from the lecture hall of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Drawing on the latest quantum theories, as well as two hundred years of scientific discoveries and the genius of Einstein, Brian will try to answer the classic questions raised by the show: Can you really travel in time? Does extra-terrestrial life exist in our galaxy? And how do you build something as fantastical as the TARDIS? There's also the, much-anticipated, bio-pic drama An Adventure In Space and Time, written by Mark Gatiss. The one-off programme about the creation and early years of Doctor Who stars David Bradley As William Hartnell, who played the first Doctor from 1963 to 1966. Brian Cox (no, the other one)), Jessica Raine and Sacha Dhawan also appear (as Sydney Newman, Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein, respectively). BBC4 will introduce new audiences to Hartnell's Doctor, with a re-run of the first ever story, An Unearthly Child. The four episodes are being shown in a restored format, not previously broadcast in the UK. BBC2's flagship arts programme, The Culture Show is to present Me, You and Doctor Who, presented by another life-long-fan-turned-broadcaster, the excellent Matthew Sweet, who will explore 'the cultural significance' of the BBC's longest running TV drama. Sounds terrific. A ninety-minute documentary on Radio 2 will ask Who Is The Doctor? - using newly-recorded interviews and exclusive archive material to find an answer. Errr ... well, it's Matt Smith at the minute but it's soon going to be Peter Capaldi. You don't need ninety minutes for that, surely? In The Blagger's Guide To Doctor Who, David Quantick will give the iconic Doctor the Blagger's treatment. He will be finding out the answers to questions such as, 'why do Americans think Tom Baker is still The Doctor'? How many Doctors have there really been? And, were The Daleks really named after an encyclopaedia? (The answers to which are, 'they don't', 'pick a number between twelve and sixteen and you'll probably be right according to someone' and 'no', respectively. Meanwhile, Radio 4 Extra travels back to 1963 with a three-hour special programme, Who Made Who?, to look at the world that inspired the television series. Doctor Who may have come from other times, but his roots were very much in the present of 1960s Britain. This distinctive programme combines audio from the archive, new interviews and extracts from audio versions of Doctor Who. For those 'not wes' - ie. 'normal people' - less familiar with the show, BBC3's Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide will provide a handy primer. Danny Cohen, the BBC's director of television, said: 'It's an astonishing achievement for a drama to reach its fiftieth anniversary. I'd like to thank every person - on both sides of the camera - who has been involved with its creative journey over so many years.'
For younger viewers, there will also be programmes across CBBC with Twelve Again bringing together CBBC's alleged 'super-fan' Chris Johnson, impressionist Jon Culshaw, Tommy Knight, Warwick Davis, Neve McIntosh, Dan Starkey, Louise Jameson and former Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, to share their memories of 'watching TV's top Time Lord when they were young.' Was Sylvester ever young? Blue Peter will launch 'an exciting new competition' giving viewers aged between six and fourteen the opportunity to design a new gadget that will become part of the iconic science fiction series. So, that's yer actual Keith telly Topping out of the running, dear blog reader. Two live Blue Peter specials will see presenters Barney, Lindsey and Radzi joined by aliens and monsters, with viewers challenging Smudger his very self to answer their Doctor Who questions. (A tip, Matt, if any of them are to do with how, exactly, you reverse the polarity of the neutron flow, just run away.) BBC3 will be home to 'several exciting entertainment commissions.' Audiences will be encouraged to get involved and vote in Doctor Who: Monsters And Villains Weekend, as a countdown to the top Doctor Who monster (so, that's going to be The Daleks, basically). However, it should be noted that not everyone is happy about all this. At least two former Doctors have staged a protest outside the BBC. Well, unemployment among Gallifreyans, it's a serious issue.
Miwk Publishing have announced that they will be publishing an updated version of former Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel's book Script Doctor; it is due to be release, fairly obviously, in November to tie in with the anniversary. Highly recommended, dear blog reader. Lovely chap, Andrew. Close personal friend of yer actual Keith Telly Topping! (We share a mutual admiration of The Avengers, apart from anything else.)

Meanwhile, pictures continue to emerge from this week's filming for the subsequent Doctor Who Christmas episode, the last to feature yer actual Matt Smith. Including this one as a sudden gust of wind carries off Jenna's party hat. Don't you just hate it when that happens?
Most Doctor Who fans are quite happy to accept that the Time Lord can drop in on the Middle Ages without probing the matter too much further. But most Doctor Who fans aren't Professor Brian Cox. Whizzing forward a few thousand years in time would be a breeze, the physicist and television presenter suggests, but finding your way back again could be more of a problem. Whilst Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity could, in principle, allow The Doctor 'almost total freedom of movement' into the future, he would need to find a wormhole - a short cut through space and time - in order to return to the past, Coxy explains. Brian, who once had a cameo appearance in Doctor Who (in the episode The Power of Three), will, as noted, give a lecture to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama in London next week. Speaking on Tuesday at the British Science Festival in Birmingham, Brian said that the idea of building a TARDIS is not quite as absurd as it might initially sound. According to Einstein, time slows down the closer you get to the speed of light. Someone flying from London to New York, for example, will experience time passing a fraction slower than someone who remains on the ground. Brian explained: 'The central question is, can you build a time machine? The answer is yes, you can go into the future. You've got almost total freedom of movement in the future. If you go fast your clock runs slow relative to people who are still. As you approach the speed of light your clock runs so slow that you could come back ten thousand years in the future.' Going back in time, or returning to the present, would be slightly trickier, however. Although the theory of General Relativity permits such a movement, it would require The Doctor to find a wormhole or some other shortcut in the fabric of space and time. 'Most physicist doubt it,' Brian said. '[Stephen] Hawking came up with the "chronology protection conjecture" - physics we don't yet understand.'

A couple of week's ago, the Daily Torygraph's gossip column, Mandrake, claimed that Smudger and his successor, Peter Capaldi, had been 'spotted' - by some nosy twat, no doubt - having lunch together at 'the fashionable Wolseley Restaurant' in London. 'It looked like quite a jolly lunch,' an, alleged - anonymous, and, therefore, quite likely fictitious - 'fellow diner' is alleged to have 'whispered'. 'Peter was laughing a lot,' continued this chancer - if, indeed, he exists - seemingly unaware that other people's business are none of their business. Of course, it should be remembered that Mandrake already has a reputation for true and accurate reportage slightly lower than a rattlesnake's belly after having made complete fools of themselves back in June when claiming an 'exclusive' that Rory Kinnear was to be the next Doctor. As this blog noted at the time, 'about as reliable as a thin streak of stinking rancid piss snaking its way across the road into oncoming traffic.'

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has said that Matt Smith is 'heartbreakingly good' in his final episode of Doctor Who. 'It's hard to let go - [I was] watching him on set and he's so heartbreakingly good,' Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) told EntertainmentWise. 'You get all excited about the new Doctor and then you go back and you see Matt on his first day back on set, and you think, "Oh my God, that's what we're losing."' Moffat added that Smudger is 'at the height of his powers' in his final Doctor Who appearance. 'He's so funny, so clever [and] so inventive,' the writer and executive producer continued. Peter Capaldi will, of course, replace Smudger as Doctor Who's lead actor, with Moffat calling his new star 'a genius-level actor. [Peter's] very excited and thrilled,' he said. 'He's a brilliant actor and he wanted the part, so that was it.'
Radio 1 DJ Greg James and comedian Russell Kane (very popular with students) are to co-host a new BBC3 chat show. So, that'll be worth watching. Staying In With Greg and Russell will, according to the - really exciting - publicity blurb, 'play off' of the duo's 'unique' chemistry, with James and Kane inviting 'two celebrity guests' into their 'man den' each week. Yep, definitely sounds like a winner.

Former Doctor Who companion (well, for one episode, anyway) Kylie Minogue will replace Jessie J as a coach on The Voice, which is a bit like, I dunno, The Who replacing Kaiser Chiefs on a bill somewhere. Kylie, Kylie, sweet and smiley will join and Tom Jones for the third series, along with an, as yet unnamed, fourth coach. 'I'm very excited,' the Australian singer said. 'I love the concept of the show and have been an avid viewer of both series. Will I be competitive? Probably more than even I imagine! Watch this space!' The singer and actress, whose hits include the magnificent 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' has sold more than sixty million records worldwide. Her sister, Dannii (the less famous of the Minogue sisters), has been a judge on both the UK and Australian versions of The X Factor, and has previously enlisted Kylie's help in coaching and selecting contestants. 'In terms of pop royalty, it really doesn't get much better than Kylie,' said Moira Ross of The Voice's production company, Wall To Wall. 'With more than two decades of global success under her belt, I know she'll bring something truly special to the coaching line-up.' The second series of The Voice suffered falling ratings, despite several tweaks to make the show more appealing. Audiences dropped from an average of 9.21 million in 2012, to 7.65 million in 2013. Still decent, but hardly spectacular. The final of the second series, in which Andrea Begley was crowned victor, outperformed the 2012 equivalent, with 7.95 million tuning in. Coaches J and Danny O'Donoghue pulled out after the series ended. J said she wanted to concentrate on promoting her second CD. said: 'While I will miss Danny and Jessie, I'm excited to be returning for season three and to work with Kylie and Tom. Together we will mix it up and bring new energy and ideas to the show.' The search to replace O'Donoghue continues, the BBC said. Series three of The Voice begins in January 2014.

The US version of The Killing has been cancelled by the AMC network after three series. Because it was shit and no one was watching it, basically. That's usually why TV shows get cancelled. The news comes a year after the drama was axed following its second season - a decision which executives subsequently reversed.

The Great British Bake Off attracted over five million overnight punters on Tuesday night. The BBC2 series, however, dipped by half-a-million viewers week-on-week to 5.35m at 8pm. Later, The Midwives climbed by four hundred thousand to 2.15m at 9pm. On ITV, England's 0-0 draw with Ukraine in the World Cup Qualifiers scored 5.99m at 7.30pm. Most of whom would, like yer actual Keith Telly Topping, have been bored tit-less long before half-time. Important point, though. BBC1's New Tricks dropped over a million viewers when up against the football, falling to 6.18m at 9pm but still topped the night's ratings outside the soaps. On Channel Four, Double Your House For Half The Money gathered seven hundred and twenty nine thousand at 8pm. The finale of the drama Top Boy appealed to six hundred and ninety seven thousand at 9pm. Channel Five's latest episode of CSI: NY entertained 1.24m at 9pm. Celebrity Big Brother was watched by 1.81m sad, crushed victims of society at 10pm.

Human beings have 'stopped evolving' and should be persuaded not to have large families, Sir David Attenborough has said. Sir Dave's obviously been to Byker on a Friday night. The TV naturalist said that he was 'not optimistic' about the future and 'things are going to get worse.' He said he did not believe humans would become extinct, but told the Radio Times: 'I think that we've stopped evolving. Because if natural selection, as proposed by Darwin, is the main mechanism of evolution - there may be other things, but it does look as though that's the case - then we've stopped natural selection. We stopped natural selection as soon as we started being able to rear ninety five to ninety nine per cent of our babies that are born. 'We are the only species to have put a halt to natural selection, of its own free will, as it were.' The broadcaster said of the future: 'I don't think we are going to become extinct. We're very clever and extremely resourceful - and we will find ways of preserving ourselves, of that I'm sure. But whether our lives will be as rich as they are now is another question.' Speaking about the one-child policy in China, Sir David said: 'It's the degree to which it has been enforced which is terrible, and there's no question it's produced all kinds of personal tragedies. There's no question about that. On the other hand, the Chinese themselves recognise that had they not done so there would be several million more mouths in the world today than there are now. If you were able to persuade people that it is irresponsible to have large families in this day and age, and if material wealth and material conditions are such that people value their materialistic life and don't suffer as a consequence, then that's all to the good.' The broadcaster, who is presenting Rise Of Animals, a two-part documentary on the ascent of man on BBC2, had a pacemaker fitted in June, but described the operation as 'no big deal. When you're in your eighties, your heart gives you a funny five minutes every now and again and they won't insure you unless you have a cardiologist to say that you can go on a long-haul flight. So I had to have the pacemaker,' he said. The naturalist and broadcasting legend, who previously had a knee replaced, said of the possibility of retiring: 'I don't think so. If you've got a motor car and its brakes fail, and you have the capacity to replace them, you replace them. And we have the capacity to replace knees, which is wonderful.' Sir David also revealed that the animal which most scares him is 'a drunk man.' Interviewed at the UKTV 2013-14 Showcase by yer actual Jarvis Cocker his very self on Tuesday, Attenborough was asked by a member of the audience at the event what creature has most scared him during his extensive TV career. he claimed that rather than an animal, it was a human that had most intimidated him. 'A man, who is drunk, who doesn't speak your language, who doesn't like the look of your face,' he explained. 'That's the scariest thing I've ever seen.' He obviously has been to Byker on a Friday night. He said that if he had to exclude humans, the King Cobra would be at the top of his scariest animals list. Attenborough was promoting his second series of Natural Curiosities at the event, a show which features the presenter discussing two different animals that have curious distinctive evolutionary quirks. The first series was Eden's highest ever rated programme. At the same event - and, bringing it back into the Doctor Who oeuvre, Dave also reopened the debate about the existence of the Abominable Snowman, revealing that he still strongly believes that a Yeti-type creature may have lived, and could even still live, in the Himalayas. 'I believe the Abominable Snowman may be real. I think there may be something in that,' he told the audience. Attenborough claimed that fossils found in the 1930s, which resembled a large ape, indicated that an animal of ten to twelve feet tall existed in the region. 'A fossil was found with these huge molars that were four or five times the size of human molars,' he said. 'They had to be the molars of a large ape, one that was huge, about ten or twelve feet tall. It was immense. And it is not impossible that it might exist. If you have walked the Himalayas there are these immense forests that go on for hundreds of square miles which could hold the Yeti. If there are some still alive and you walked near their habitat you can bet that these creatures may be aware of you, but you wouldn't be aware of them.'

And, speaking of near-extinct old fossils, Sir Bruce Forsyth was reportedly left 'furious' after hold-ups in the filming of Strictly Come Dancing were blamed on the veteran host being 'too old.' The eighty-minute opening show, which was broadcast on Saturday, took five hours to record, but alleged 'insiders' allegedly quoted by the Daily Mirra claim that Brucie his very self was only involved in around half of that. An alleged 'source' allegedly claimed that Brucie only had the same number of pick-ups – where the presenter is asked to repeat a line – as his co-host, Tess Daly. The alleged 'insider' allegedly said: 'He is both furious and upset. It is completely unfair to suggest that the time taken was down to Bruce. He only did a couple of pick-ups. These take a few minutes at most.' Bruce was reported by media websites to have 'struggled' to deliver lines from cue cards and been 'confused' over stage ­direction because he was 'clearly tired.' But on Monday, alleged - though anonymous, and therefore, almost certainly fictitious - 'sources' allegedly rubbished the claims, pointing out the show had 'a new studio.' Although what the hell that has to do with anything is another matter entirely. The alleged - anonymous, and therefore, probably fictitious - 'insider' allegedly said: 'This was our first time in Elstree Studios, so other factors to consider were sound issues and camera positions. Every other Strictly show is live and our presenters have no difficulty. Bruce had no more pick-ups than Tess did and the music performances were recorded twice. This was all done to make the best possible show for the audience.'
Former Radio 1 DJ Chris Denning has been re-arrested by detectives from the Operation Yewtree inquiry into allegations of historic sexual offences. The seventy two-year-old, who has not been named by police, was arrested in East London and bailed until October. He was originally arrested on 3 June on suspicion of sexual offences and later released on bail. Denning was one of the original Radio 1 team when the station was launched in 1967. He also worked as a music producer (many media outlets have claimed that he 'produced The Beatles' but, that's actually not true, though he did work, with Kenny Everett, on a couple of fan club spoken-word recordings they made in the late 1960s). He did help to launch the careers of The Bay City Rollers and Gary Glitter - so, hey, thanks for that, Chris - and ran his own music and video production business. The Metropolitan Police investigation, Operation Yewtree, was launched in the wake of wake of sexual offence allegations against ex-TV presenter, Radio 1 DJ and naughty old scallywag and rotter Jimmy Savile. The operation has a number of strands. One is looking specifically at the actions of Savile, and the second at allegations of sexual offences against 'Savile and others' in collaboration. Denning's arrest falls within a third strand, relating to allegations against suspects unconnected to the Savile investigation.

Game of Thrones has signed up the members of the superb Icelandic indie band Sigur Rós for series four of the fantasy drama. The HBO programme has yet to confirm the details of their appearance. They follow in the footsteps of Coldplay drummer Will Champion and Gary Lightbody, lead singer of Snow Patrol, who both had cameos in the third series. Entertainment Weekly reports that the band will play musicians in the programme and that their cameo came about as showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are big fans of the Icelandic band and listened to their music while shooting previous series in Iceland. The fourth series of the cult drama is due to be broadcast on HBO in 2014. Jon Thor Birgisson, Georg Holm and Orri Pall Dyrason are currently shooting their role on the Game of Thrones set in Croatia. The series three finale of Game of Thrones, shown on Sky Atlantic in the UK, was reported at the time it was broadcast to have been the most popular illegally downloaded torrent ever. The programme is based on a series of books by George RR Martin. Past series have featured battles between powerful families in the fantasy continent of Westeros. Earlier this year Sigur Rós also made a guest appearance in The Simpsons. In an episode entitled The Saga Of Carl, the plot saw Homer, Moe and Lenny chase Carl to his home country of Iceland after he ran off with a winning lottery ticket the group bought together. It features new music by the band, as well as their take on the long-running cartoon comedy's theme song. Björk also made a cameo in her swan dress.

A new study has suggested that fathers with larger testicles are usually less caring than those with smaller ones. Which is some, minor, comfort, one imagines.
Post-match analysis of the squabbling BBC seven's 'grossly unedifying' performance before the Commons Public Affairs Committee focused on how the corporation, rather than the individuals involved, was - as predicted in this blog - likely to be the biggest loser. And so on Wednesday we hear the first rumble of Murdochian artillery, getting in a sighting shot for what will likely be the barrage to come over BBC royal charter renewal in the form of a Times leader headlined Less With Less. 'There is a simple solution to the culture of over-generous payouts to BBC executives and the corporation's empire-building, which is to cut the licence fee,' wrote some odious, risible, Murdoch arse-licking twat of no importance, reviving a familiar argument deployed by billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's media empire against the BBC about the need to 'clip its wings.' Charter renewal negotiations with the government are expected to begin in earnest next year and may not conclude until 2016 – but the accompanying debate is already under way. It's going to be a long war.
Meanwhile, one of the organs of the media that's done more than anyone else to poke the BBC at every given opportunity, the Gurniad Morning Star, is suddenly it would seem, the Beeb's besest friend in all the land. At least, if this article by former Labour minister Tessa Jowett is anything to go by. Nice sentiments albeit, a few years too late. With friends like these, dear blog reader, who needs enemies?

ITV is the latest broadcaster to be caught running alcohol advertisements during shows likely to appeal to children, after the UK watchdog uncovered instances in almost forty episodes of You've Been Framed. Because, let's face it, nobody with an intellect above that of a twelve year old could, possibly, find You've Been Framed funny. The Advertising Standards Authority found that thirty eight episodes of You've Been Framed broadcast on ITV2 broke strict rules on alcohol advertising. Under UK rules adverts are banned from appearing 'in or around programmes targeted at or likely to appeal to under-eighteens.' ITV claimed it had 'checked' the compliance of alcohol adverts in You've Been Framed against rules for long runs of a show, what is known as a 'series average test.' The broadcaster added that there was 'little clarity' in the rules over how many shows should be used to evaluate the proportion of under-eighteens in a long-running series such as You've Been Framed. However, the ASA was having none of it and said that using long runs of the show to test against the alcohol rules was 'not appropriate' because it could mean 'unreasonable delays when responding to audience changes unless the data was acted upon on a more regular basis.' The broadcaster pointed out that in March it decided to 'partially restrict' alcohol advertising in the show to after 8pm on weekends, Bank Holidays and over Easter. ITV said it took this decision because it was 'appropriate and in the spirit of the [advertising] code to go beyond a strict application of a series average approach for a set of programmes that appeared so frequently on ITV2.' The ASA, taking action based on research from an Ofcom investigation, said: 'We concluded that the failure to act immediately upon changes in audience indices in the series as a whole resulted in the scheduling of alcohol ads in breach of the [advertising] code.' The ASA said ITV2 had been very naughty and 'needed to make sure it reviews series data on a regular basis.' Other broadcasters including Channel Four, Discovery and Comedy Central have fallen foul of investigations run by the ASA, with alcohol adverts found in shows including The Big Bang Theory, Mythbusters and Friends.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a bit of the chiming guitars of The Byrds.

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