Monday, October 21, 2013

Make It Snappy

There is, as you'd probably expect, much for eagle-eyed Doctor Who fans to pick over in that trailer for the fiftieth anniversary special, The Day Of The Doctor, which was first shown on BBC1 on Saturday between Strictly Come Dancing and Atlantis. Among them are Daleks, Cybermen, various companions, K9 and, of course, the Time Lord(s) their very selves, all the way from William Hartnell to Matt Smith. Yes, even the crap one (briefly). Tom Baker - not the crap one - is pictured floating in space, surrounded by debris including his favourite snack – jelly babies – and enveloped by his trademark scarf. The Sun reports that the scarf is a special twenty four foot version which was knitted specially for the trailer and took two weeks to make. If fans are keen to get their hands on a scarf of their own, an official version, made of authentic 1970s acrylic, is available for just £49.99 online – but sadly only in a mere thirteen feet length. 'Nicely made,' writes one reviewer on the site selling the scarf, 'and a fine replica of my all time favorite [sic] Doctor's ultimate cosplay [sic] item.'
I think it was the great laconic comedian Jack Dee who once did a very funny routine about middle-age arriving for most men over the course of a few weekends during their mid-forties when they suddenly start deciding to build a bonfire in the garden or buy a new cardigan. Well, yer actual Keith Telly Topping had managed to reach the final couple of weeks of his forty ninth year on this planet, dear blog reader, before something really very odd happened on Sunday evening. At around 7pm yer actual Keith Telly Topping had the following - entirely serious - thought. 'I think I'll finish off that chicken fried rice with a nice glass of white and watch Lewis on ITV3.' Yes, dear blog reader, at exactly 7pm on Sunday 21 October 2013, yer actual Keith Telly Topping, officially, succumbed to middle-age. It's all downhill from here, they reckon.
Strictly Come Dancing rose by one million overnight viewers from last week's results show to top the Sunday night ratings. The departure of Julien Macdonald (no, me neither) from the BBC1 show attracted a whopping 9.42m punters and a thirty eight per cent audience share at 7.15pm. On ITV, The X Factor's second live results show of the series dropped around six hundred thousand viewers from last week to 8.60m at 8 giving Strictly its first overnight Saturday and Sunday double over TXF of the year. Downton Abbey also dipped, albeit only slightly by around forty thousand punters, from last week to 8.86m at 9pm. Earlier, Surprise, Surprise failed to entertain 3.87m at 7pm. Because, as usual, it was shit. Later on BBC1, The Paradise returned for its second series with 5.17m at 8pm. This is over four hundred thousand viewers higher than the first series finale of the period drama in November 2012. By Any Means rose by over one hundred thousand viewers to 3.22m at 9pm. On BBC2, Dive WWII: Our Secret History interested 1.71m at 8pm, followed by The Ottomans with 1.01m at 9pm. Channel Four's The Bigfoot Files appealed to 1.68m at 8pm. Homeland also attracted 1.68m at 9pm. On Channel Five, the movie The Rock was watched by 1.15m at 9pm.

Here are the final, consolidated figures for the Top Thirty programmes, week-ending 13 October 2013:-
1 Downton Abbey - Sun ITV - 11.21m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 10.90m
3 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 10.07m
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.86m
5 Doc Martin - Mon ITV - 8.78m
6 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.82m
7 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 7.68m
8 The Great British Bake-Off - Tues BBC2 - 7.41m
9 World Cup Qualifier: England Versus Montenegro - Fri ITV - 6.97m
10 Countryfile - Sat BBC1 - 6.78m
11 Atlantis - Sat BBC1 - 6.24m
12 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.53m
13 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.03m
14 The Pride Of Britain Awards 2013 - Tues ITV - 4.69m*
15 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.63m
16 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.61m
17 Watchdog - Wed BBC1 - 4.58m
18 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.52m
19 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.44m
20 DIY SOS: The Big Build - Tues BBC1 - 4.33m
21 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.29m
22 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.21m
23 By Any Means - Sun BBC1 - 4.20m
24 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.13m
25 Breathless - Thurs ITV - 4.03m*
26 The Graham Norton Show - Sat BBC1 - 3.78m
27 Match of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 3.77m
28 Whitechapel - Wed BBC1 - 3.75*m
29 Educating Yorkshire - Thurs BBC1 - 3.69m
30 The Jonathan Ross Show - Sat ITV - 3.66m*
ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top-rated programmes of the week, aside from The Great British Bake-Off, was Trust Me, I'm A Doctor (3.64m), followed by the thoroughly wretched The Wrong Mans (3.23m) University Challenge (3.19m), Gardeners' World (2.32m), and Qi (2.24m). Educating Yorkshire topped Channel Four's list, followed by Grand Designs (2.98m) and Homeland (2.83m). Under The Dome and the movie Angels & Demons jointly topped Channel Five's week (1.99m). The Sunday episode of The X Factor was watched by 9.02m. Strictly's Sunday audience was 8.95m.

For the latest Great Daft Moments From TV History, we have number eight - the so-called 'anus ars' scene from Sherlock's The Great Game.
Meanwhile, in From The North's recurring segment, Examples of things that are, like, totally geet cush, and make the world a better place by their very existence, number ten. Anyone for tennis?
For the new BBC news head honcho, James Harding, switching Robert Peston to become economics editor looks like a canny move which makes it easier to ensure one of the BBC's elite on-air editors will remain female. ITV News's business editor Laura Kuenssberg – formerly a much-admired BBC political correspondent, and worth a decent bet as eventual successor to slaphead Nick Robinson – is a likely target, as is Channel Four News's business correspondent Siobhan Kennedy, who was on The Times during the Harding era. The early front-runner, Stephanie Flanders's understudy Huge Pym, may have to content himself with developing a (relatively) little and large, hyper and suave double act with yer actual Pesto. A bit like Armstrong and Miller. Or, more accurately, Armstrong and Osman.
When Channel Four's The Man with the Ten-Stone Testicles pulled nearly four million viewers in June, Channel Five's programming boss, Ben Frow, snootily got on his high horse and started shooting his mouth off. He claimed that he, personally, would never - not, never - have commissioned such a conceit, because it was 'downmarket' and epitomised the willingness of C4's Jay Hunt to 'cross a line we won't cross at Channel Five.' Channel Five, of course, being noted for their totally non-downmarket programming. Celebrity Big Brother and the like. But, what's this? On Wednesday, the newly high-minded network is due to broadcast Saving Britain's Seventy-Stone Man, kicking off a Supersize season also including programmes delighting in the titles Sixty Stone Wannabes and Too Fat To Fly. Oddly, some of these shows have been co-produced by GroupM, a division of Martin Sorrell's WPP company whose power Channel Five owner - and soft-core pornographer - Richard Desmond criticised in a recent speech in Cambridge. Just a hint of a plunge downmarket there, then. Though, admittedly, no sign of any knackers, gigantic or, indeed, otherwise.

Rhod Gilbert says that he's thinking of quitting stand-up comedy because he's getting so many offers of TV and radio work. The comic claims that he might bow out with a 'greatest hits' gig in Cardiff next Christmas. Gilbert has several TV projects currently in the pipeline. This week he is due to record a try-out of a new Internet-themed chat show Delete! Delete! Delete!, while a pilot of his long-planned sitcom set in the fictional town of Llanbobl is also in the offing. He also hosts a regular show on BBC Radio Wales and has been asked to make a fifth series of Work Experience, a show in which he takes on unusual jobs, for BBC2. The forty five-year-old told Wales Online: 'The stand-up is getting pushed further and further into the background, to the point where I've started to ask myself if I'll have time to go back to it at all. So instead I thought, "Why not give the duvet sketch, the lost luggage sketch and all that other stuff one last hurrah as a way of bowing out altogether?"' He said that fans often asked him to revive his best stand-up routines but he finds the idea 'a bit weird. It's different if you're in a band – it's almost taken for granted that you're going to perform your most popular songs – but I could never understand how that would translate to comedy. Why would anyone want to keep hearing an old joke when they already know the punchline.'

Carol Burnett has been honoured with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (or, 'humour' as the rest of the world spells it). Dame Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett and Tina Fey were among those who performed in Carol's honour at the Kennedy Center [sic] for Performing Arts on Sunday. Burnett's variety show began in the 1960s and ran for eleven years, averaging thirty million viewers a week in America. 'This is very encouraging it was a long time in coming,' Burnett said as she accepted the prize. She added: 'I understand because there are so many people funnier than I am, especially here in Washington. With any luck, they'll soon get voted out, and I'll still have the Mark Twain Prize.' Fey - creator and star of Thirty Rock - credited Burnett with opening doors for other female comedians. When Burnett first launched her own show, a TV executive told her that the genre was 'a man's game.' 'You mean so much to me,' Fey said. 'I love you in a way that is just shy of creepy.' Burnett got her first break when she was talent-spotted by bookers for The Ed Sullivan Show. She then landed a role on Broadway and began to appear on The Garry Moore Show. This led to Burnett signing a ten-year contract with CBS to do guest slots on sitcoms and perform in one TV special a year. She launched The Carol Burnett Show in 1967, with guest stars that included Lucille Ball, James Stewart and Ronald Reagan. It won twenty two EMMy awards. Burnett was best known for her 'Tarzan' yell and for ending each show by tugging her ear, which was a personal message to her grandmother. Tim Conway, one of Burnett's co-stars on her show, said that he now spends his time travelling around the US for Burnett to receive awards. 'Thank you for being such a friend, such a generous person, not with salary, but generous.'

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has summoned the American ambassador for a damned good telling off over newspaper claims that the US spied on millions of phone calls in France. He also has something to say about Groundskeeper Willie's description of the French in The Simpsons. Probably. France has labelled such activity between supposed allies as 'unacceptable.' Le Monde claims the data, based on leaks from ex-intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, suggest the NSA agency monitored businesses and officials as well as terrorism suspects. The intercepts were apparently triggered by 'certain key words.' 'Bloody Americans', probably, being but two of them. The paper claims that the National Security Agency spied on seventy million phone calls in France in just thirty days between 10 December last year and 8 January 2013. The agency also, allegedly, 'captured' millions of text messages. It was unclear whether the content of the calls and messages was stored, or just the metadata - the details of who is speaking to whom and when. And the paper did not say whether the operation, apparently codenamed US-985D (snappy), was 'still in progress.' Fabius announced that he had summoned the US ambassador to discuss the claims 'immediately.' And, to give him a damned good thrashing for such disgraceful behaviour. Interior Minister Manuel Valls had earlier said that the allegations were 'shocking', adding: 'If an allied country spies on France, this is totally unacceptable.' Well, we were doing it for about four hundred years and that never caused much bother. Except The Hundred Years War. And The Peninsular War. And, a few other wars. The BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris suggested that the 'outrage' is largely for public consumption, because the French government has been accused of running its own snooping operation similar to the US. Le Monde reported in July that the French government stores vast quadrillions of snots of personal data of its citizens on a 'supercomputer' at the headquarters of the DGSE intelligence service. Connections inside France and between France and other countries were all monitored, Le Monde alleged. E-mails, text messages, telephone and Internet browsing records are stored for years, it said. The latest revelations follow claims in the German media that US agents hacked into the e-mail account of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Edward Snowden, a former NSA worker, went public with revelations about US spying operations in June. The information he leaked led to claims of systematic spying by the NSA and CIA on a global scale. Targets included rivals like China and Russia, as well as allies like the EU and Brazil. The NSA was also forced to admit it captured e-mail and phone data from millions of Americans. Snowden is currently in Russia, where he was granted a year-long visa after making an asylum application. The US wants him extradited to face trial on criminal charges. So that they can kick him, repeatedly, in the knackers for being such a stinking Copper's Nark, presumably.

A life-size bronze statue of Frank Sidebottom has been unveiled in his home town of Timperley in Greater Manchester. The character with a huge papier mache head was the alter-ego of the musician and comedian Chris Sievey, who died in 2010. Fans raised sixty thousand quid for the tribute which was made in a Czech foundry. Hundreds of people attended an unveiling ceremony, many in fancy dress for the occasion. Neil Taylor, who helped raise the donations for the statue, said that its installation would mean 'Frank will gaze on the Timperley sunset forever.' He added: 'You either got the humour or you didn't get the humour. Frank Sidebottom created a whole world, he was just magical. He just made a very modest living entertaining people and that's what he's enjoying doing.' Sievey set his character's life in the village, where he lived himself and, as Frank, hosted tours of the area for fans. He often referenced Timperley in his TV work and music. Although best known for Frank Sidebottom, Sievey also had success in the late 1970s with his post-punk band The Freshies, who had a hit with the classic 'I'm In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk'. His TV fame peaked in the early 1990s with his own series Frank Sidebottom's Fantastic Shed Show. Next year Michael Fassbender will play Sidebottom in Frank, a movie inspired by the character.

Patrice Evra of The Scum has been asked by the French Football Federation to explain comments he made about four television pundits in his home country. The Manchester United and France full-back called 1998 World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu and three other commentators 'tramps' on French telly. Evra accused them of deliberately trying to 'tarnish' his reputation. 'People have a good impression of me, it won't be these tramps who dirty my image,' Evra claimed. 'There are some pundits with whom I will soon settle my differences with. They want to sell a lie to the French people that Evra is disliked.' Oh, talking about yourself in the third person. That's a bad sign. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping knows that better than anyone. 'That is not the case at all,' Evra continued. 'I do not know what Lizarazu has against me. I was twice voted best left-back in the world, four times the best left-back in the Premier League. Him, I don't even know if he was ever voted best left-back in the world.' Well, he won a World Cup winner's medal, pal. Unlike, for instance, you. Lizarazu his very self responded to Evra's comments, saying: 'He blames us for dirtying his image but he is doing a great job of it himself.' Burn. The pundits had criticised an impromptu half-time talk Evra gave his international team-mates during the 2014 World Cup qualifier with Belarus in September, a game France ended up winning 4-2. Evra made his controversial 'tramps' comments after France's 3-0 win over Finland last week. A statement from the FFF said: 'Following the remarks made by Patrice Evra in an interview to Telefoot after France versus Finland, president Noel Le Graet and coach Didier Deschamps, while recognising that no attack was made against the FFF, the France team, the coach or the players, have decided to ask Patrice Evra to come to explain certain statements about the broadcasters.' Evra has been in trouble with the FFF several times before and was banned for five international games in 2010. It came after the French national side, of which he was captain, refused to train during that year's World Cup after striker Nicolas Anelka had been sent home for insulting then then coach Raymond Domenech.

Sir Christopher Lee his very self said that it was 'a very emotional moment' when he received his British Institute Fellowship from his friend yer actual Johnny Depp. Christopher tearfully accepted the award at the London Film Festival, saying: 'I didn't know you were going to be here. I must try and pull myself together.' The prize for best film went to to Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida, about the German occupation of Poland and the Holocaust. Screenwriter Jonathan Asser won best British newcomer. He took the accolade for his debut feature Starred Up, about the practice of placing violent young offenders prematurely in adult prison. BFI fellow and film critic Philip French said of Ida that the jury was 'deeply moved by a courageous film that handles, with subtlety and insight, a painfully controversial historical situation.' Sir Christopher, ninety one, who described receiving his award as 'a great joy', is famed for his villainous portrayals of James Bond bad guy Scaramanga and evil wizard Saruman in The Lord Of The Rings as well as Dracula and Frankenstein's monster. He has amassed more than two hundred and fifty screen credits, including The Wicker Man, The Man With The Golden Gun and more recently, several Tim Burton films including Sleepy Hollow, which starred Depp. He also played Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels. Depp, who sneaked into the awards ceremony to surprise his friend, said that it was his 'great honour' to present the award to 'a very great man', adding that he had been 'fascinated and inspired' by Lee. 'He's been a wonderful individual and over the years I've had the pleasure of working with him and it has been a childhood dream come true,' Johnny said. 'But as great as it is to work with him, that pleasure doesn't compare with getting to know him and being able to count him as a true friend. A national treasure and a genuine artist. I love ya!' Sir Christopher responded by saying: 'I can't thank you enough,' in reference to Depp, who he had been told could not make the occasion as he was elsewhere. He went on: 'When I take a look back, and it's a long one, sixty seven years, at the characters I've played I get a truly strange feeling they were all played by somebody else, and not by me. And there are a few occasions when it has been the case I wish it had!' He said of Depp: 'He means an enormous amount to me. He is one of very few young actors on screen today who's truly a star. Everything he does has a meaning. He's a joy to work with, an actor's dream and certainly a director's dream. I could go on a long time but I'd probably embarrass him.' The festival presented the Sutherland Award, for the most original and imaginative film debut, to Anthony Chen, who directed Ilo Ilo, which explores the life and vulnerabilities of a modern affluent family in Singapore. The Grierson award for the best documentary went to Paul-Julien Robert's My Fathers, My Mother and Me, a portrayal of life in Friedrichshof, the largest commune in Europe, which was founded in the 1970s. The film reveals the devastating emotional effects of life there on its residents, and jury president Kate Ogborn said the 'disturbing film' raised 'larger questions of power, parental responsibility and abuse.' The film festival closed with the world premiere of Saving Mr Banks, a dramatisation of the making of 1964 movie Mary Poppins starring Emma Thompson as author PL Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. Hanks appeared at BAFTA's London headquarters on Saturday to give a Life in Pictures talk, during which he revealed some of the difficulties he faced playing 'Uncle Walt' on screen. 'Walt Disney died of lung cancer; he smoked three packs a day,' the two-time Oscar winner told host Francine Stock. 'But can we show him smoking in a major motion picture these days? No way in hell. It's this thing that has happened in movies - real people can't smoke. We literally had a negotiation over whether I could hold a lit cigarette in a scene.' In a wide-ranging discussion covering his thirty-year film career, Hanks claimed that his success was partly down to his not having 'a bigger-than-life persona. I'm charming as hell, but I don't strike fear and I don't have a huge amount of mystery,' he explained. 'You're not worried about me killing you, or stealing your daughter, or being some sort of criminal mastermind. I view myself as a guy that if I had been a good student, I could be a historian,' he continued. 'And if I had been good at science, I could be a doctor. I'm not good at any of those things so I'm an actor. These movies, these roles, they're always something that - if I was a little more accomplished - I could be that guy.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's a splash of yer actual Sir Elt his very self.

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