Sunday, October 27, 2013

Week Forty Five: Fifty Shades Of Black & White

On 31 October, dear blog reader, the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff will come to life - quite literally - and visitors should be prepared for some 'spooky surprises' (it says here), as not everything will be as it seems. Few things in life are, of course. Especially in relation to spooky surprises. Throughout the Halloween half-term week get yourselves ready for 'a whole host of spine-tingling activities for all ages' amongst the largest collection of Doctor Who monsters and props ever assembled. Children – and, also, their parents, who are of course paying for the trip - will be able to enjoy monster modelling classes, freaky face painting and pumpkin carving. The Doctor Who Experience - not to be confused with The Jimi Hendrix Experience who were a popular and 'with it' beat-combo of the 1960s, m'lud - will be transformed into a haunted wonderland making it the scariest place to be this half-term. Apart from school, obviously.
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has described how yer actual John Hurt could steal the scene from his The Day Of The Doctor co-stars David Tennant and Matt Smith with just a look. 'It was great fun,' said Moffat. 'You'd have David and Matt, they’d be leaping around the set and doing every form of physical comedy with each other – and, you know, slightly competing about who could be slightly more insane than the other – and then John Hurt would come along and do this [tiny movement] with his eyes and you go "That's it – he's got the scene now hasn't he?"' The Moffinator his very self (Thou Shalt Worship No other Gods Before He) added, 'John was delightful – delightfully grumpy in every single way. During our last meal [while filming] he got grumpy about the fact that he liked the wine! He's not actually grumpy, he's actually a really, really lovely man.'
Broadchurch was originally planned as a trilogy, the chief executive of Kudos has revealed. The award-winning series starring yer actual David Tennant and Olivia Colman her very self explored the effect of a shocking murder on a small seaside community. Speaking at the Broadcast Production & Post Forum at the British Film Institute on Friday, series executive producer Jane Featherstone said that she and Chris Chibnall had 'always planned' for three series of the show if it were successful and Kudos could, potentially, back this. 'Chris said, if it was a success, it would be a trilogy,' Jane explained. She added that the astonishing success of the drama was down to more than simply the murder mystery at its heart: 'It had an incredible unity of elements from the lighting to everything else that made you feel something. I think that's why it was a success and why people wanted to watch. The whodunit [element] just gave you the language to hook into the show.' Director of Photography, Matt Gray, who also appeared at the event, added that he approached the drama as if it were a documentary. Jane would not reveal any information about the second series of Broadchurch, due to go into production next year. However, she did confirm that it was 'not likely' to be another murder mystery and would instead replicate 'the tone' of the first series. So, grim as fuck but totally gripping, in other words.
The Mirra's odious wretched smug arsehole Kevin O’Sullivan gave a brief preview of the new David Tennant drama The Escape Artist on Channel Five's The Wright Stuff on Friday. Full-of-his-own-importance horrorshow (and drag) O'Sullivan, a particularly loathsome creature well known to dear blog readers for talking utter shite, frequently, gave the new three-part drama a glowing review. 'It starts of as what looks like a run of the mill legal drama, then it take a sudden twist and becomes incredibly dramatic. Then this amazing stuff happens,' he said. 'I don't want to spoil it for people but I do recommend you tune in because you're going to have a shock ride. Very shocking, very good television and highly recommended.'
Friday saw a fine - musical - episode of the always reliable Qi, with Bill Bailey and Tim Minchen, in particular, on good form. If you missed it, dear blog reader, catch up on iPlayer or check out the XL edition on Sunday at 10:30.
On the other hand, Have I Got News For You's little mini-slump, which has gone on for the last couple of weeks, continued on Friday's episode. Merton and Hislop were both fine, as you'd expect (this blogger especially enjoyed Ian's little look upward, supposedly to the BBC's lawyers over his use of the word 'cartel' to describe the large energy companies, and Paul's pithy reply 'why do they make him live up there?')
But guest host Jo Brand seemed to be phoning it in this week. Not only that, but the - usually very funny - Giles Brandreth talked far too much (although, his little rant about the Royal Godparents was surreal and witty) and the - also usually funny - John Prescott didn't talk anywhere near enough. Despite having plenty of material to work with, the best laugh of the night was the bit of the contrast between the Daily Scum Mail's coverage of the Royal christening (fifteen pages) and the Independent's coverage of the same story as a tiny ('cut-out-and-keep') footnote 'on the bottom of page twenty six'.
BBC1 dominated Friday night's primetime TV ratings, with Have I Got News For You and The Graham Norton Show taking more than twenty per cent of the available audience. HIGNFY pulled in 4.57 million overnight viewers at 9pm. Citizen Khan had an audience of 2.85m straight afterwards. The sitcom, attracted has almost three hundred thousand extra viewers week-on-week during its second run. This week's The Graham Norton Show pulled in 3.6m at 10.45pm, as Hollywood giants Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer joined Jennifer Saunders and Cher on the couch. On ITV, odious, oily slime Piers Morgan's Life Stories, featuring odious oily slime Pete Waterman, drew 3.46m in the 9pm slot. However, the Friday night movie Basic Instinct, starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone, failed to break a million viewers, with only five hundred and eighty four thousand punters tuning in. Channel Four continued to see moderate success with Marvel's Agents of SHIELD at 8.15pm, as 1.56m tuned in, up two hundred thousand from last week. The channel's Friday night comedy line-up saw a slight dip in viewers, as 1.21m watched Eight Out Of Ten Cats. New comedy Man Down, starring Greg Davies, shed three hundred thousand viewers at 1.07m. Alan Carr: Chatty Man provided a boost at 10pm, with 1.19m. BBC2 saw a strong audience for Gardeners' World at 8.30pm, with 2.35m watching the veteran horticultural programme. Qi also performed well with 1.94m viewers - a ten per cent audience share. TV's Fifty Greatest Magic Tricks on Channel Five attracted an audience of nine hundred and forty nine thousand. On BBC3, the first of an Orphan Black double bill was watched by two hundred and forty five thousand viewers, with the second episode seeing two hundred and nine thousand punters tune in. The most successful multi-channel performance came from a repeat of The Bourne Supremacy on ITV2 at 9pm (five hundred thousand).

Strictly Come Dancing continued its Saturday night ratings dominance with 9.69m viewers. The dance competition had a forty four per cent audience share from 6.30pm, holding steady on its win over The X Factor last week. X Factor's audience was up slightly to 7.73 (thirty three per cent share) from 8pm. On BBC1, Atlantis, which was just renewed for a second series, pulled in 4.39m, while Casualty had 3.8 million. The Jonathan Ross Show attracted 3.16m viewers following The X Factor on ITV, while The Chase Celebrity Special brought in 3.01m earlier in the evening at 7pm. It was a quiet evening for Channel Four, with a showing of Die Hard 2 bringing in its best ratings of the night with one million from 9pm. Channel Five had four hundred and twenty two thousand for Stephen King's Bag of Bones in the same timeslot.

In the latest From The North's Examples of things that are, like, totally geet cush, and make the world a better place by their very existence, and, in this particular case, give chaps of a certain age high blood pressure, number thirteen: Gabrielle Drake in UFO. Nice.
Then, of course, it's on to our other recurring series, Great Daft Moments From TV History. Today, number eleven: 'The hippie dinner party in The Green Death episode four.' In yer actual Keith Telly Topping's mind, dear blog reader, the early seventies were like this everywhere. That's why punk happened, obviously.
And now, the second in our new recurring feature, Benedict Cumberbatch, the early press years.
On a - somewhat - related theme, isn't it, really, about high time that someone dug out The Lotus Eaters from the BBC archives for a DVD release just to remind everybody what a genuinely wonderful actress Benny's mum actually was.
Or, Image of the Fendahl, for that matter.
Speaking of young Ben, devoted Cumberbatch fans - I understand some of them describe themselves 'Cumberbitches', apparently. Nice work if you can get it - will know what's it's like to have the Sherlock star's rich, sonorous voice echoing around their brains. So, like as not they'll empathise with Martin Freeman who admits he 'had Ben's voice in my head' while he was filming scenes for The Hobbit sequel The Desolation of Smaug. Freeman's Bilbo Baggins shares several scenes with Cumberbatch's animated character, the dragon Smaug, but with Benny's performance restricted to the sound studio and the green screen, the two were never in the same room at the same time. Freeman had the dragon's lines delivered by a dialect coach but always had his co-star in mind. 'I'm familiar with Ben's voice and Peter [Jackson] had played me his read. So I had Ben's voice in my head while I'm getting the dialogue from Leith,' said Marty. 'So at least we were able to do something live. [Benedict] had recorded his stuff before I got there for this last block. And I had Leith, our dialect coach, reading in this sort of amplified mic. It was all done with her voice, very, very loud, and me reacting to it,' reports Yahoo! Movies. And it seems Marty is doing rather a good job of trusting the voices in his head, with producers ensuring the filming schedule fits around his Sherlock commitments. 'I don't know how self-effacing I can be and it not sound like absolute bullshit. Yes, they love me. I can't help it. It's an amazing compliment and one that I still find quite hard to fathom. It was like my agent was playing a joke on me when he said, "They're going to put it into different sections so you can do Sherlock." Very weird.'

Incidentally, still on the subject of Sherlock, complete congratulations to the Mirra's Claire Hodgson who, hilariously, managed to screw up a report on Martin Freeman's missus, Amanda Abbington's casting in series three of the BBC's popular modern adaptation of the detective stories by claiming that Amanda has already appeared in series two and was 'returning'. You obviously watched different version of those three episodes to everyone else, Claire. Next time, try sticking to your usual breath-taking 'exclusives' on reality toss like Geordie Shore. Or, better yet, take up journalism. You never know you might be quite good at it if you tried. (I wouldn't count on it, though.)
The Fifth Estate may have had a hard time at the US box office over the weekend - as anybody with half-a-brain could, probably, have predicted - but that does not appear to be stopping major studios from banking on Benedict Cumberbatch in the future. As Deadline reports, Benny is the current front-runner to land the role of George Mallory in a new Hollywood version of the legendary mountaineer's doomed 1924 attempt to scale Mount Everest. The film, slated for release in late 2014, is to be directed by Doug Liman and is an adaptation of Jeffrey Archer's 2009 novel, Paths Of Glory. So, that's a subject you really want to be involved with, then. Tom Hardy was reportedly the first name to be attached to the project but scheduling clashes have, seemingly, ended his involvement. The Sherlock star is not the only name being touted around LA as his replacement, as a host of other British names – such as Tom Hiddleston, James McAvoy, Dan Stevens and Henry Cavill – are also said to be 'under consideration.' Benny's screen presence and performances in both The Fifth Estate and Star Trek Into Darkness appear to be counting in his favour, as none of his competition is yet an established Hollywood star (although McAvoy, thanks to The Last King Of Scotland among others, is pretty close). The fact that Ben has a similar physical profile to Mallory and, at thirty seven, is roughly the same age as the climber when he met his death, can't hurt either. As is often the case in Hollywood, Everest is not the only film being made about a doomed attempt to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain. The other movie, which even has the same working title, is being produced by Universal and will feature a heavyweight line-up of American talent, including Josh Brolin, John Hawkes and Jake Gyllenhaal. The other Everest movie will tell the story of a 1996 US expedition, where eight climbers died. Although, being Hollywood, and involving Americans, they'll probably change the end and have them saved at the last minute. By a cute dog. Or something. It will be directed by the Oscar-nominated Icelandic director and regular Mark Wahlberg collaborator, Baltasar Kormákur, whose most recent film, Two Guns, has performed well at the box office.

As if in celebration of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's golden anniversary, in the early hours of Saturday morning, whilst yer actual Keith Telly Topping was, soundly, snoring in his pit, From The North received its first ever visit from a dear blog reader in Kyrgyzstan, the two hundred and second territory to have at least one of their citizens access the blog since yer actual Keith Telly Topping started keeping records of such happening in August 2009. Still not had anyone from the Federated States of Micronesia, however. Come on you guys, I know you've got computers out there in Yap, check us out, we're very friendly. (I'm also still waiting visitors from Vanuatu and Palau from the same, South Pacific region but, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure if they've discovered fire yet, so it might be a long wait.) Anyway, it's a big hello to our new dear Kyrgyzstanian blog reader. Inevitably, perhaps, he (or she) stumbled across this blog whilst seemingly looking for porn. Specifically pictures of 'women's knickers'. You dirty beast, you!
Which brings us to yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 2 November
Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Derek Jacobi, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Benedict Cumberbatch (and, sadly, odious, unfunny buffoon James Corden) are among the stars of stage and screen celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the National Theatre in Live From The National Theatre: Fifty Years On Stage - 9:00 BBC2. Nicholas Hytner directs a cast of one hundred in a selection of the most memorable, ground-breaking, controversial and best-loved scenes from the company's productions over the past five decades, including excerpts from yer actual Hamlet, The History Boys, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Jerry Springer: The Opera, Guys and Dolls and War Horse.
Hercules visits a witch in an attempt to win Medusa's heart, but events take a dangerous turn when he releases a potent but toxic enchantment that threatens to turn his burgeoning hope into unbearable grief in Atlantis - 8:15 - BBC1. A deadly chain of events rapidly unfolds, leaving Jason to undo history before it's too late - but as the young hero retraces his friend's steps, he is unaware he is walking into a deadly trap. Mark Addy, Jack Donnelly and Lucy Cohu star.

There's also, of course, the usual Saturday night face-off between an on-form Strictly Come Dancing - 6:30 BBC1 - and a somewhat off-colour The X Factor - 8:00 ITV. In the former we're down to the final eleven - oh, the tension - whilst in the latter a bunch of chancers of limited talent are having a go at massacring various Nile Rodger' classics. Take yer actual Keith Telly Topping's advice, dear blog reader, either go out, or stick with the repeat of Foyle's War on ITV3 (7:55).

Sunday 3 November
Richard Hammond Builds A Planet - 8:00 BBC1 - sounds like a slightly bigger challenge than the regular 'ambitious, but rubbish' malarkey Richard and his mates usually attempt on Top Gear. In this, yer actual Hamster embarks on 'the ultimate engineering project', to explore the science behind the building of an entire Earth-like world, viewing his CGI planet from the top of a two-mile-high tower in the California desert. Along the way he embarks on various experiments, from floating in zero gravity at the edge of space to visiting the laboratory where they make a sun in a box, to reveal the processes involved in piecing together his planet. Next week, Hammond goes even bigger as he creates an entire universe. Hopefully, big enough to find a planet to hide all of the Top Gear-hating lice at the Gruniad Morning Star upon.
Broadcaster Danny Baker and stand-ups Jo Brand and Marcus Brigstocke join regular panellist Alan Davies on the comedy quiz Qi XL - 10:30 BBC2. Host Stephen Fry asks a range of fiendish questions on all things Kinetic, with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct ones.

A mysterious man enters the country at the US-Canadian border, while back in DC Carrie puts her mission on the line to complete a risky favour and Saul is forced to rub elbows with his adversary Senator Lockhart on a hunting trip in the latest Homeland - 9:00 Channel Four. Still on the run, Dana makes a shocking discovery that jeopardises her getaway. Thriller, starring Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin. And, sometimes, Damien Lewis.
Elsewhere, in terms of repeats, there's two more episodes of Qi XL - and three of Mock The Week - on Dave (starting at 8:00), the always watchable Lewis (7:00 ITV3) or three episodes of Father Ted on More4 (starting 10:00). All of which are far more worthwhile than Lord Snooty's usual snob-fest on Downton Abbey (ITV 9:00).

Monday 4 November
Good news, everybody! MasterChef: The Professionals is back - 8:30 BBC2. Gregg Wallace, Michel Roux Jr and sour-faced Monica Galetti return with the culinary challenge. In the opening episode, the first batch of eight chefs must make a dish using a selection of seven ingredients - including quinoa, artichokes, mushrooms, chocolate and mascarpone. They each have just one hour to hold their nerve and demonstrate their creativity to the judges.
A young woman is murdered just hours after giving birth at the London Hospital, and the only clue to her identity is a tail-like protrusion at the base of her spine in the latest episode of Ripper Street - 9:00 BBC1. The investigation takes the team into the shadowy world of circus freak shows - and then back to the hospital to seek help from its most famous resident, Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man. With Merrick's help, Reid comes to realise that his menacing Limehouse colleague Jedediah Shine is also involved in the case. Meanwhile, a new recruit arrives in the shape of ambitious DC Albert Flight, but with the death of Albert Hobbs still playing on his mind, Reid fears that the mean streets of the East End are no place for the callow youth.
Gareth Malone sets out once again to get staff in some of Britain's busiest workplaces to form singing groups before pitting them against one another in a new series of The Choir: Sing While You Work - 9:00 BBC2. The first of the five firms he visits is P&O Ferries, where he finds he has an extra logistical challenge to overcome, with choir members based at sea and on both sides of the English Channel.

Tuesday 5 November
In the second episode of The Escape Artists - 9:00 BBC1 - Liam Foyle is back in the dock and Maggie is leading his defence, determined to prove that she is Will's equal by getting the serial killer acquitted for a second time. The prosecution barristers are less confident - with no physical evidence and key witness Will unable to get involved, they need all the help they can get. As the defendant continues to terrorise his loved ones, can the brilliant barrister find a way to assist without jeopardising the trial? Courtroom drama, starring David Tennant, Ashley Jensen, Sophie Okonedo and Toby Kebbell.
The work being carried out at Treetops School in Essex, the UK's only state school using Applied Behavioural Analysis, a controversial and intensive intervention to treat the disability is explored in Autism: Challenging Behaviour - 9:00 BBC4. Though the parents of three youngsters just starting at the school are hopeful that the approach will prove fruitful, critics argue that efforts to eliminate autistic behaviour are both dehumanising and counter-productive.

Sky Living's evening line-up of Elementary (9:00), The Blacklist (10:00) and Bones (11:00) for lovers of US import drama whilst ITV4's afternoon schedule caters of those who enjoy a good bit of classic TV from yesteryear - The Saint (1:45), yer actual Kojak (2:50), Magnum PI (3:50) and Minder (5:55) - they've recently finished a repeat run of The New Avengers as well.
Imagine if your boyfriend had slept with your mother. That's the terrifying prospect facing Lauren (the excellent Eve Myles) in this week's episode of You, Me & Them - 9:00 G.O.L.D - as an attempt to get her twice-her-age beau Ed (Tony Head) to bond with her parents (Susie Blake and Jeff Rawle) goes disastrously wrong. Steve Turner's dysfunctional sitcom limps on like an ageing Lothario trying to keep up with a faster, younger crowd. Lacking focus, its multiple storylines feel neither naturalistic nor fantastic – the silliest it gets is when Ed's brother is forced, thanks to Ed’s toxic ex-wife, to eat two dinners while on a date. Similarly the jokes sit rather heavily on the stomach. A properly impressive cast all seem to be phoning it in as an acknowledgement of what a genuinely desperate conceit this turkey is. Watch it, once, just to assure yourself it's as bad as the 'with hilarious consequences'-style plots suggest. And then forget it - don't worry, everyone else will, very quickly - pretend it never happened.
Wednesday 6 November
The world of benefits cheats, who effectively steal millions of pounds in taxpayers' money every year is the focus of Britain On The Fiddle - 9:00 BBC1. Reporter Richard Bilton goes on the frontline with investigators chasing a woman who won ninety five grand on a game show but carried on claiming. The scallywag.
In the latest Agatha Christie's Poirot - 8:00 ITV - the sleuth falls victim to depression after failing to prevent the murder of a society girl by notorious art thief Marrascaud. His confidence shattered, Poirot eventually returns to work when a lonely chauffeur begs him to find his missing soul-mate, the maid of a famous Russian dancer. The investigation takes him to the Swiss Alps, where, against all odds, he stumbles upon a hotel thought to be Marrascaud's hideout - leading to a very personal showdown. The penultimate episode of the long-running detective drama, starring David Suchet, with Simon Callow, Orla Brady, Patrick Ryecart, Nigel Lindsay, Morven Christie, Tom Austen and Rupert Evans.

Poet Simon Armitage examines the speeches that provoked radical change, surprised pundits or shocked listeners in Speeches That Shook the World - 9:00 BBC4. He gets the inside story behind some of the famous orations of the modern age and, looking at both contemporary and classic deliveries, he explores whether it is carefully wrought rhetoric, a well-argued stance, or a bombastic delivery that wins over an audience.

In 2003, yer actual Keith Telly Topping was developing a reputation for writing almost exclusively about US network TV and had got to the stage where any new British drama would fail to grab much of his attention. All that changed with one series. Thus, in the fifth episode of Paul Abbott's classic six-parter of political intrigue State Of Play - 9:00 Drama - a large oil company gets wind of the Herald's investigation into the conspiracy behind Sonia Baker's death. This prompts an under-pressure Cameron to engineer an explosive headlines - with potentially disastrous consequences for the staff working on the story. Cal extracts a confession from the increasingly paranoid Dominic Foy, but is disturbed to learn later that Anne is supportive of Stephen. And, Andrew goes into overdrive to mastermind a solution to the crisis. Drama, starring David Morrissey, John Simm, Marc Warren, Bill Nighy, Kelly McDonald et al. Seriously - if you're not watching this (or, only not watching it because you've already got it on DVD) then you need to be.
Thursday 7 November
In the final episode this week of MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:00 BBC2 - scowling Monica Galetti and lovely Michel Roux Jr oversee proceedings as six chefs battle it out in the quarter-final, preparing a dish of their own invention from a range of ingredients including pigeon, trout, pancetta, cherries, pears and dark chocolate. Only four contestants will make it to the next challenge, in which they have to cook two courses for food critics William Sitwell, Tracey MacLeod and Peter Griffin lookalike Charles Campion - with two going through to the semi-finals.

Bouncers - 10:00 Channel Four - provides an insight into the work of door staff at bars, clubs and takeaways across Essex. Queen Street is the hub of Colchester's late-night drinking and this edition follows several bouncers working along this strip. Head doorman Curtis and colleague Jamie have thirty years of experience between them, and keep their doors safe with a lot of know-how, Alex is new to the job and on a mission to change people's perceptions of his profession, and Sue brings a female perspective to the role.

In case you hadn't spotted it, the Drama channel are currently re-running the legendary first series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet - 10:20. You've already missed the first four episode, but never mind. In tonight's, Bomber learns that his daughter has run away from home, and immediately flies back to Bristol to give his wife moral support - unaware that the young lady in question is going in the opposite direction and winging her way to Dusseldorf to be with him. Ground-breaking comedy drama from Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, starring Pat Roach, Tim Healy, Gary Holton, Tim Spall, Kevin Whateley, Chris Fairbanks and Jimmy Nail.
This month's The Sky At Night - 7:30 BBC4 - sees the team join astronomers in Blackheath, to watch a lunar eclipse in the hope of finding out more about the moon. The presenters list fascinating features that are visible on its surface and also learn the results of the Moore Moon Marathon, before discussing the new missions set to explore the natural satellite. Presented by Chris Lintott and Lucie Green, with guest Jon Culshaw.

Friday 8 November
As usual, it's comedy night on the BBC. Alexander Armstrong takes to the host's chair at Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1 - for a record-breaking twenty third time, with team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton joined by sacked UKiP MEP - and, to use Adam Hills' delicious description, 'cocksplash' - Godfrey Bloom and writer and presenter Victoria Coren Mitchell. That should be a meeting worth seeing. Because, one imagines, Victoria will have very little sympathy with some of the crassly sexist and racially inappropriate blather than Mister Godfrey has been responsible for spewing over the last few months which, ultimately, cost him a place in the party. That's followed on BBC2 at 10:00 by Qi in which Sarah Millican, Jason Manford and Bill Bailey join regular panellist Alan Davies on the comedy quiz. Stephen Fry asks a range of fiendish questions on on the topic of Keeps, with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct ones.
In The Blacklist - 9:00 Sky Living - Red keeps his wits about him while pursuing a terrorist who has a lethal combination of talents, while Tom confronts the issue of his fake passports and suggests Liz hands them in to the FBI for investigation as he's got nothing to hide. With James Spader and Megan Boone.

Elvis Costello: Mystery Dance - 9:00 BBC4 - is, as you'd expect from the title, a profile of one of Britain's most important and influential singer-songwriters, who began his career as part of London's pub rock scene in the early 1970s before becoming a - perhaps unwilling - associate with the new wave movement later that decade.
To the news, then: A revamped version of Charmed is reportedly going into production. According to The Wrap, CBS is currently working on a 're-imagining' of the hit series. The original show, which debuted in 1998 and ran for eight seasons, starred Shannen Doherty (for the first three years before she stormed off in a huff), Holly Marie Combs and Alyssa Milano as the three Halliwell sisters, who all had witchcraft skills. Doherty was replaced by Rose McGowan after season three (and the show got a lot better for it). Yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self even wrote a book about the series once upon a time which, by a very curious coincidence, has just been republished by Telos. It's quite good, even if I do say so myself. Currently, the reboot project consists merely of a script deal. However, no pilot or broadcast commitment has yet been made. Chris Keyser and Sydney Sidner have been listed as writers as well as executive producers for the project.
Atlantis has been renewed for a second series. The BBC fantasy adventure drama, based - very loosely - on Greek mythology, has so far performed quite strongly in the ratings. The show, which stars Jack Donnelly, Robert Emms and Mark Addy, became the biggest new Saturday night drama series launch across all channels since 2006 when it premiered this autumn. However, the number of episodes and a broadcast date for the second series have yet to be confirmed. Across the first three episodes, the show averaged a consolidated audience of 6.7 million. Charlotte Moore, the controller for BBC1, said: 'Atlantis delivers original British drama with the kind of scale and ambition that we've come to expect from the cinema. It feels very much at home on Saturday nights on BBC1, it's been wonderful to watch Howard [Overman] and the team create a whole new world, brilliantly inspired by Greek mythology which is proving a hit with all the family and a second series is richly deserved.' Meanwhile, series creators Johnny Capps, Julian Murphy and Overman said: 'We are all thrilled at Urban Myth Films that Atlantis has been re-commissioned and look forward to continuing the legend next year.'
Terrible old scallywag, rotter and scoundrel Jimmy Savile's former chauffeur Ray Teret has been charged with historic sex offences involving fifteen teenage girls, police have said. Teret was arrested by Greater Manchester Police earlier this week when he answered bail in relation to a separate set of allegations. Police had said the accusations were not linked to the national inquiry into abuse by the disgraced broadcaster Savile. The seventy two-year-old worked as a pirate radio DJ in the 1960s. He is charged with various offences including the rape and attempted rape of girls under sixteen and of possessing an indecent image of a child. They allegedly took place between 1962 and 1996, primarily in the Greater Manchester area, GMP said. 'This has been a complex investigation that was originally launched in October 2012 when an initial complaint was made to Greater Manchester Police,' DCI Graham Brock said. He added: 'It is now very important that we make no further comment and allow the correct legal process to take its course unimpeded and without prejudice. We will continue to support all those women who have come forward and offer them whatever welfare they need through the use of specially-trained officers.'

An imprisoned Chinese journalist whose newspaper has made front-page appeals for his release has confessed to alleged 'wrongdoing' on state TV. 'I'm willing to admit my guilt and to show repentance,' said reporter Chen Yongzhou - who was, obviously, not under any duress or threats of having his knackers cut off or his family oppressed if he didn't make a show of contrition. Oh no, very hot water. Chen was arrested over claims he 'defamed' a partly state-owned firm in articles exposing alleged corruption. State media said that Chen had admitted writing 'false stories for money.' Several high-profile suspects have made televised confessions recently. Public confessions have long been a part of China's criminal law. Experts suggest that confessions are 'still routinely coerced' out of suspects, despite an amendment to the Chinese criminal procedure law earlier this year forbidding the authorities from 'forcing' anyone to incriminate themselves. Chen wrote several articles for the Guangdong-based New Express newspaper alleging financial irregularities at a construction-equipment company called Zoomlion. State media claimed that he had confessed to taking bribes, but did not report who might have paid the bribes, or why. Chen's case attracted huge attention after the New Express twice used its front page to call for his release. Media monitoring group China Digital Times reported that the Communist Party's propaganda department had barred newspapers from reporting the story. An instruction from the department also warned papers to 'monitor reporters' individual social-media accounts.' But, many newspapers have continued to cover the story. The Southern Metropolis Daily published an editorial accusing officials in Zoomlion's home town of Changsha of 'abuse of power' over the case. According to the Hong Kong-based China Media Project, the paper had to pull an earlier editorial under 'pressure from censors.'

And, speaking of attempted state control of the media, the BBC could face a cut in the licence fee or even have to compete with other broadcasters for a share of the money unless it rebuilds public trust and becomes more transparent, a senior Conservative minister has suggested. Tory chairman - and smug fuck - Grant Shapps told the Sunday Torygraph that the BBC must 'tackle a culture of secrecy and waste' in the wake of the Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall fiascoes and - wholly un-related - rows over salaries and pay-offs to senior executives. And he claimed that there was a 'question of credibility' for the BBC over whether it applied 'fairness' to its reporting of politics. So, that appears to be a very blunt sledgehammer of a message - 'stop criticising us, or we'll castrate you.' If you were looking for any reason to vote for anyone but the Conservatives at the next election, dear blog reader, this would seem to be Exhibit A.
The film and TV director Antonia Bird has died at the age of fifty four, her agent has said. Antonia was known for movies including 1994's Priest, 1997's Face and 1999's Ravenous, all starring Robert Carlyle. Writing on Twitter, the actor said: 'Such a sad day today. RIP Antonia Bird. Farewell my beautiful friend.' A statement from her partner said that Bird, who had the rare anaplastic thyroid cancer, died peacefully in her sleep. She had an operation to remove a large tumour in April, the statement added. 'Despite a determined fight, she had come to terms with the inevitable in the last few weeks and died peacefully in her sleep,' it said. Bird's TV credits included [spooks], Cracker and, more recently, BBC1's The Village, starring John Simm. She began her career as a theatre director at London's Royal Court before making episodes of TV programmes including EastEnders and Casualty in the mid-1980s. She won best single drama TV BAFTAs for 1993's Safe - a story about homeless teenagers written for BBC2's Screenplay series - and Care, broadcast in 2000, which dealt with sexual abuse in a children's home. She also won a BAFTA children's award for 2009 BBC documentary Off By Heart, about a national poetry competition for schoolchildren. Other awards included best film at the Berlin International Film Festival and the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival - both for Priest. The film, written by bitter old Red Jimmy McGovern, tells the story of a Catholic priest's crisis of faith and received a cinematic release ahead of its transmission on TV as part of the BBC's Screen Two series. Her 1995 Hollywood film Mad Love starred Drew Barrymore and Chris O'Donnell as a teenage couple on the run. Bird's friend, the novellist Irvine Welsh, paid tribute on Twitter to 'top Bird' whom, he said, made 'amazing films.' Her production company 4Way Pictures was formed with Welsh, Carlyle and film-maker Mark Cousins. In a 1999 interview with the Gruniad Morning Star, Antonia said that she enjoyed working with British actors because they 'arrive on the set and they have an idea of what they want to do in the scene. They've thought about it, they come and offer you something as a director,' she added. 'And, generally, to get a good performance out of an actor you go with that offer, because that's going to be truthful.' She said that, by contrast, American actors 'arrive on set a blank book. That's fine, that's their tradition, but as a British director it's absolutely terrifying.'

The Simpsons' Marcia Wallace has died aged seventy. The EMMY-winning actress, who had loaned her voice to Bart's chain-smoking fourth grade teacher Enda Krabappel since 1990, died at home with her family on Friday night. Al Jean, the producer of the long-running cartoon sitcom has said: 'I was tremendously saddened to learn this morning of the passing of the brilliant and gracious Marcia Wallace. She was beloved by all at The Simpsons and we intend to retire her irreplaceable character,' he continued in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. After showrunners announced earlier this year that they were planning to end the life off an established Simpsons character, Edna was the bookies favourite to go. Jean has now confirmed that Edna was not the character they were planning to retire, saying: 'Earlier we had discussed a potential storyline in which a character passed away. This was not Marcia's Edna Krabappel. Marcia's passing is unrelated and again, a terrible loss for all who had the pleasure of knowing her.' As well as voicing Edna for twenty three years, Marcia played Carol Kester in the 1970s sitcom The Bob Newahart Show and Annie Wilkes in The Young and the Restless.
Quincy Jones is reported to be suing the estate of the late Michael Jackson for millions of dollars. He claims that the singer's estate and Sony Music Entertainment improperly re-edited songs to deprive him of royalties and production fees. Jones says they also broke an agreement giving him the right to remix master recordings for LPs released after Jackson's death in 2009. Quincy produced most of Jackson's top selling records including Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad. The Jackson estate said that it was 'saddened' by the lawsuit. 'To the best of its knowledge, Mr Jones has been appropriately compensated over approximately thirty five years for his work with Michael,' a statement said. Quincy Jones's lawsuit is seeking at least ten million dollars from the singer's estate and Sony. Earlier this month the family of Jackson lost a negligence case against concert promoters AEG Live over the death of the fifty-year-old. A jury concluded that the doctor looking after the singer ahead of his concert tour was not unfit for his job - and so AEG had not been negligent in hiring him.
A Republican activist who referred to 'lazy blacks' in an interview with The Daily Show has been asked to resign by North Carolina's Buncombe County GOP. Don Yelton, who - until Thursday - was a county precinct chairman, was interviewed by the Comedy Central show for a segment on restrictive voter ID laws. The footage broadcast on Wednesday featured Yelton making a series of crassly racist remarks. Asked by The Daily Show reporter, Aasif Mandvi, about the impact of the voter ID law introduced in North Carolina, Yelton responded: 'If it hurts the whites so be it. If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.' Later in the clip, Yelton recalled: 'When I was a young man, you didn't call a black a black, you called him a negro.' He then added: 'Now you have a black person using the term "nigger" this and "nigger" that and it's okay for them to do it.' The interview prompted widespread criticism and cost Yelton his job. Buncombe Republican chairman Henry Mitchell told North Carolina's the remarks were 'offensive, uninformed and unacceptable of any member within the Republican Party.' He said that Yelton had stood down on Thursday. 'Let me make it very clear, Mr Yelton's comments do not reflect the belief or feelings of Buncombe Republicans, nor do they mirror any core principle that our party is founded upon. This mentality will not be supported or propagated within our party.' Yelton remained defiant on Friday, however, telling the Ashville Citizen Times that he 'did not regret' his remarks. 'I don't know of anything I said that I would take back,' he said. 'But I would prefer to discuss it and explain it at length.' The Reverend Doctor William J Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP State Conference, said in a statement: 'I was disgusted, but not surprised, by Don Yelton's arrogant remarks about North Carolina's voter suppression law. This Republican executive committee member laid bare everything that we know politicians are trying to do through this legislation – which is to manipulate our voting laws, making it harder for certain communities to participate, in order to unfairly win elections. This shameful law is not about stopping voter fraud: it’s about stopping voting.'

Lou Reed, the massively influential singer, songwriter and guitarist who helped to shape nearly fifty years of rock music, died on Sunday. The cause of his death has not yet been released, but Lou had been ill for some time, having previously undergone a liver transplant in May of this year. With The Velvet Underground in the late 1960s, Lou fused street-level urgency and much taboo lyrical content with elements of European avant-garde music and proto garageband metal and funk, marrying beauty and noise in equal measure, while bringing a whole new - and brutal - honesty to rock and roll poetry through his words. As a restlessly inventive solo artist, from the 1970s onwards, he was chameleonic, thorny, unpredictable and sometimes wilfully anti-commercial, challenging his fans at each and every turn and now and again making gross errors of both judgement and taste. But, and this is really important, if there was one over-riding constant in Lou Reed's long career, it is that he was never boring. Glam rock, punk and indie would all be unthinkable in the form in which we know them without his revelatory example and direct influence with Reed's songs being covered by the likes of of REM, Bowie, Mott The HoopleNirvana, Patti Smith, Bryan Ferry, james, Edywn Collins, Joy Division, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Echo & The BunnymenThe Blue Aeroplanes and countless others (as well as Lou being specifically name-checked in songs by The Pixies and New Bad Things). Music producer Brian Eno - another Velvets devotee - once summed up their influence by noting: 'The first Velvet Underground album only sold ten thousand copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.' The group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. 'One chord is fine,' Lou is once said to have noted, alluding to his gloriously bare-bones thrashy rhythm guitar style. 'Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz!' Lewis Allan Reed was born in Brooklyn, in 1942. A fan of doo-wop and early rock and/or roll music (he would later write a famous Velvet Underground song about his childhood in which he claimed that his life had been 'saved by rock and roll'), his first musical experience was as a member of a teenage doo wop group called The Jades. (He would, movingly, induct Dion into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.) Lou received electroconvulsive therapy as a teenager, which was intended to 'cure' his latent bisexuality; he wrote about the experience in his 1974 song, 'Kill Your Sons'. In an interview, Lou said of the experience: 'They put the thing down your throat so you don't swallow your tongue, and they put electrodes on your head. That's what was recommended in Rockland County to discourage homosexual feelings. The effect is that you lose your memory and become a vegetable. You can't read a book because you get to page seventeen and have to go right back to page one again.' Lou began attending Syracuse University in 1960, studying journalism, film directing and creative writing. He also hosted a late-night radio programme on WAER called Excursions On A Wobbly Rail, named after a song by the pianist Cecil Taylor. Many of Lou's guitar techniques, such as his unique guitar-drum roll, were said to be inspired by jazz saxophonists, notably Ornette Coleman. Lou also took formative inspiration during his studies at Syracuse with the poet Delmore Schwartz (to whom he would dedicate on song on The Velvet Underground's first LP). Lou graduated from Syracuse with a BA in June 1964. After college, he worked a staff songwriter for the novelty record label Pickwick Records, in New York (where he had a minor hit in 1964 with a dance-song parody called 'The Ostrich'). In 1965, Lou befriended the Welsh musician John Cale, a classically trained violist who had performed with ground-breaking minimalist composer La Monte Young. Reed and Cale formed a band initially called The Primitives, then The Warlocks. After meeting the guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker, they became The Velvet Underground. With a stark, bleak sound and an ominous - if incredibly and effortlessly cool - look, the band caught the attention of the artist Andy Warhol, who incorporated The Velvets into his multimedia Exploding Plastic Inevitable events, which included music, film and live performance art. 'Andy would show his movies on us,' Reed said. 'We wore black so you could see the movie. But we were all wearing black anyway.' Allegedly 'produced' by Warhol himself (who did design the memorably striking 'banana' cover) and met with pretty much total commercial indifference when it was released in early 1967, VU's début, The Velvet Underground & Nico, stands as a landmark on par with the work of The Beatles' and Bob Dylan. It's that important. The dark side of the summer of love, Lou's matter-of-fact descriptions of New York's bohemian twilight demi monde, rife with allusions to drugs ('I'm Waiting For The Man', 'Heroin', 'The Black Angel's Death Song'), prostitution ('Femme Fatale', 'All Tomorrow's Parties') and sadomasochism ('Venus In Furs'), pushed beyond even The Rolling Stones' darker moments, while the heavy doses of distortion and noise for it's own sake revolutionised the rock guitar sound. The band's three subsequent LPs – 1968's even more audio verite and corrosive sounding White Light/White Heat (including the extraordinary seventeen minute freak-out 'Sister Ray'), 1969's fragile, folk-toned The Velvet Underground (which featured some of Lou's finest ever songs - 'Pale Blues Eyes', 'Jesus', 'Beginning To See The Light' and 'I'm Set Free') and 1970's Loaded, which despite all the amputations - being recorded while Lou was in the process of leaving the group - contained two twenty four carat Reed-standards 'Rock & Roll' and 'Sweet Jane', were similarly ignored at the time of release. But they would be embraced by future generations, cementing The Velvet Underground's status as possibly the most influential American rock band of all time - certainly among the top two or three. Two subsequent posthumous live LPs - especially the double Live '69 which songwriter Edywn Collins once described as 'the first ever disco record' - and, a decade later, two LPs of out-takes and songs from an abandoned LP between The Velvet Underground and Loaded continued The Velvets' legend. After quitting the band in August 1970, Lou took a job at his father's tax accounting firm as a typist, by his own account earning forty dollars a week. In 1971, he signed a recording contract with RCA, travelled to England and, in characteristically paradoxical fashion, recorded a solo début backed by members of the progressive-rock band Yes. Lou Reed, contained smoothly produced, re-recorded versions of several unreleased VU songs ('I Can't Stand It', 'Lisa Says', 'Ride Into The Sun' and the sublime 'Ocean', for instance). But it was his next LP, 1972's Transformer, produced by devoted Reed-disciple David Bowie and arranged by Mick Ronson, that pushed Lou beyond mere cult status and into genuine rock stardom. 'Walk On the Wild Side', a loving yet unsentimental evocation of some of the weirder characters in Warhol's Factory, became a massive worldwide hit (despite its allusions to oral sex and transvestitism). The beautiful 'Satellite of Love' would covered by U2 among others whilst 'Perfect Day' - a song about heroin withdrawal - would become a love standard in the hands of others. Lou spent the Seventies defying expectations almost as a kind of spectator sport. Transformer's follow-up, 1973's Berlin, was brutal literary bombast while 1974's Sally Can’t Dance was overproduced and had soul horns and flashy funk guitars. His second million seller was the live Rock 'N' Roll Animal, containing mainly performances of VU songs - 'Sweet Jane, 'Rock & Roll', 'Heroin' and 'White Light/White Heat'. Then, in one of the most unexpected career moves that a major artist has ever attempted, in 1975 Lou released Metal Machine Music, a seething - almost unlistenable - white-noise experiment which his label marketed as a avant-garde classic music. Critics interpreted it as a gesture of contempt, an attempt to break his contract with the company or to alienate his less open-minded fans. Lou claimed that the double LP was a genuine artistic effort, even suggesting that quotations of classical music could be found buried in the four sides of howling feedback. Lester Bangs declared it 'genius', though also as profoundly psychologically disturbing. It, effectively, lost Lou about three quarters of his audience virtually overnight. 1978's banter-heavy live LP Take No Prisoners was a kind of comedy record in which Reed went on wild tangents and savaged several rock critics by name ('Lou sure is adept at figuring out new ways to shit on people,' Robert Christgau wrote at the time). Explaining his less-than-accommodating career trajectory, Lou told Bangs, 'my bullshit it worth more than other people's diamonds.' Reed's ambiguous sexual persona and excessive drug use throughout the Seventies was the stuff of underground rock myth. But in the Eighties, he began to mellow. He married Sylvia Morales and opened a window into his new domestic life on 1982's excellent The Blue Mask, his best sustained work since Transformer. New Sensations (1984) took a more commercial turn and 1989's acclaimed New York ended the decade with a set of funny, politically cutting songs which received almost universal critical praise and Lou's best sales since the early 1970s. In 1991, he collaborated with Cale on another critical and commercial success, Songs For Drella, a tribute record to the recently deceased Warhol. Three years later, The Velvet Underground reunited for a series of successful European gigs, including playing Glastonbury. Lou and Morales divorced in the early Nineties but within a few years, Lou began a relationship with the performance artist Laurie Anderson. The two became an inseparable New York fixture, collaborating and performing live together, while also engaging in civic and environmental activism. They were married in 2008. Lou continued to follow his own idiosyncratic artistic impulses throughout the 2000s. The once-decadent rocker became an avid student of T'ai Chi, even bringing his instructor on-stage during concerts in 2003. In 2005 he released a double-CD The Raven, based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe. In 2007, he made an ambient CD titled Hudson River Wind Meditations. Lou returned to mainstream rock with 2011's Lulu, a collaboration with another set of devoted admirers, Metallica. 'All through this, I've always thought that if you thought of all of it as a book then you have The Great American Novel, every record as a chapter,' he told Rolling Stone in 1987. 'They're all in chronological order. You take the whole thing, stack it and listen to it in order, there's my Great American Novel.' Lou is survived by his wife, Laurie.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping spent his birthday on Saturday evening with his beloved brother and sister-in-law eating and drinking lots of things that are probably, very bad for him. Bugger it. You're only fifty once.
(Two - very large - glasses of pinot grigio, a very nice chicken and king prawn chilli-and-ginger type-thing with basmati rice, some ice cream, chocolate cake, a - large - glass of Baileys. And, an episode of Hornblower on IV4. If anyone's taking notes.)
For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's something very appropriate given the winds which are reported to be heading in our direction.

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