Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Times Like These I Feel Like An Animal

The BBC have revealed details about Matt Smith's final episode of Doctor Who. The popular long-running family SF drama's forthcoming Christmas episode, written by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, will be entitled The Time Of The Doctor. The BBC has confirmed the special's traditional broadcast-date of Christmas Day and revealed an 'iconic image' for the episode, which shows Smudger's Doctor stalked by Silents and clutching a Cyberman's detached head. An official synopsis for The Time Of The Doctor has also been released, which says: 'Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe's deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars. And amongst them, The Doctor. Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe.' The Time Of The Doctor will be Smudger's final performance as The Doctor after exactly almost four years in the role. Yer actual Peter Capaldi will succeed Matt at the end of the episode, before starring in his own first full series in 2014.
The Doctor Who announcement came as the Beeb unveiled its programming highlights for the Christmas period. The return of Sherlock, as well as Smudger's farewell to Doctor Who and the arrival of Danny Dyer in EastEnders are among the most notable pieces of festive scheduling on BBC1. The BBC's Director of Television, yer actual Danny Cohen said: 'Brilliant Christmas telly across drama, factual, comedy, entertainment and religion is something licence-fee payers rightly expect from the BBC, and this year's holiday schedule delivers that. We have massive events such as the Doctor Who regeneration and the incredible return of Sherlock, as well as festive specials from hit shows including Strictly Come Dancing, Mrs Brown's Boys, Call The Midwife, Bad Education and The Great British Bake Off. And of course there are brand new treats such as David Walliams' Gangsta Granny and we'll be showing a wide range of religious programming, including a live broadcast of The First Eucharist of Christmas from Westminster Abbey.' Drama coming to BBC1 over the festive period includes the latest episode of the record breaking ratings hit Call The Midwife, the massively popular Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi comedy drama Last Tango In Halifax and the PD James adaptation Death Comes To Pemberley, which stars yer actual Jenna Coleman, Anna Maxwell Martin, Matthew Rhys and Matthew Goode his very self. Former President Martin Sheen, Jonas Armstrong and Paul Kaye star in The Whale, a one-off drama about the events which inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. The comedy highlights include new Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas and New Year specials, festive editions of Citizen Khan, The Matt Lucas Awards and Not Going Out. Sir David Jason will return to play Granville for the first time in thirty odd years in Still Open All Hours, while Catherine Tate will also make a headline return to BBC1 in the comedy Nan, based around her popular sketch show character. The entertainment highlights include a special edition of Celebrity Mastermind, the annual Christmas and New Year editions of Top Of The Pops and the festive Strictly Come Dancing special on Christmas Day. The factual line-up is headlined by Dolphins - Spy In The Pod, the sequel to the popular penguin doc Spy In The Huddle earlier this year. National heartthrob David Tennant will narrate the show.

BBC2's Christmas highlights include a special edition of The Great British Bake Off - the last episode before it transfers to BBC1 next year - and the return of Rab C Nesbitt. The schedule will include the finale of The Choir: Sing While You Work, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood's Christmas masterclass in a festive Bake Off and a one-off edition of The Great British Sewing Bee, which will feature the series one semi-finalists making everything from Christmas table linen to unique gifts and exquisite tree decorations. Sherlock and Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss - much in demand at the moment after his potentially BAFTA winning script for An Adventure In Space And Time - brings some chilling ghost stories to BBC2, adapting MR James's The Tractate Middoth. Mark is also hosting a documentary about the enigmatic writer, medieval scholar and provost of Eton. Meanwhile, Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave star in the drama Thirteenth Tale. Top Gear's Jezza Clarkson hosts another of his fine the documentaries about the second world war, PQ 17: An Arctic Convoy Disaster, concerning members of the Merchant and Royal Navy. Jezza's oppo James May will front another episode of his Toy Stories series, this time focusing on building a motorbike and sidecar out of Meccano. The Christmas comedy specials include a return for Rab C Nesbitt and new episodes of Hebburn, Christmas Buzzcocks hosted by yer actual Johnny Vegas, The Sarah Millican Show, Qi and Mock The Week. Other special programming includes Alexander Armstrong and Giles Coren's Twelve Drinks of Christmas, a Mel Smith tribute show and Charlie Brooker's 2013 Wipe.

The US broadcast of Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary episode The Day Of The Doctor was watched by an overnight average of 2.4 million, a record for BBC America. Despite having a Saturday afternoon slot in the US, the show achieved BBC America's best ever ratings, with a peak time repeat upping the total to 3.6m. The BBC1's broadcast of the episode, as noted in the last blog, won Doctor Who its highest overnight ratings since 2010 - 10.2 million. The Day Of The Doctor was shown simultaneously in seventy five countries, with US cinema screenings of the 3D episode selling out in eleven cities. It starred Smudger, David Tennant and John Hurt as three different regenerations of The Doctor, with cameos from former Doctor Tom Baker and future lead Peter Capaldi. The show has been showing on BBC America since 2008. According to Variety, it previously drew its largest audience with the seventh season premiere, Asylum Of The Daleks, in September 2012. That episode was watched by 1.55m viewers, which rose to 2.47m later that week when on-demand viewings were included in the figures. BBC America used the hype surrounding Saturday's anniversary episode as a platform to launch new BBC drama Atlantis on the channel. It also broke a record by attracting an average audience of eight hundred and thirty eight thousand viewers - the best ratings for a series launch on the network. The Day Of The Doctor was also watched by 1.1 million viewers in Canada during its live broadcast at 2:50pm on Saturday, securing the largest audience ever on its broadcaster, Space. It was the most-watched entertainment programme on Canadian television on Saturday and among the key demographics it was second only to ice hockey. Combined with its encore broadcast at 8pm the same evening, the seventy five minute special reached nearly 1.7 million viewers overall. The episode is now available online for Canadian viewers at Space.ca.
The Day Of The Doctor has also proved to be a box office hit at UK cinemas and elsewhere. The episode, which saw Matt Smith and David Tennant unite for a worldwide 3D simulcast across more then fifteen hundred theatres on Saturday, earned more than 1.7 million quid from its four hundred and fifty locations on the day. The Day Of The Doctor also earned just two two hundred thousand dollars from US screenings and also performed well in Germany - with around two hundred thousand smackers in cinema takings. The Doctor Who special falls under the 'Event Cinema' category for media measurement firm Rentrak, comprised of live opera, sports, concerts and other alternative broadcasts which don't play in cinemas seven days a week. 'Event Cinema' accounts for twenty million knicker a year in box office receipts, according to Rentrak. Australia's figures show that The Day Of The Doctor was a huge hit in cinemas there, too. The episode took 1.54 million Australian dollars at the weekend. Webwombat reported: 'Showing on just one hundred and seven screens, the sci-fi [sic] celebration average an astounding $14,399 per screen (pretty much means every session was sold out) for a final take of over $1.5M.' Meanwhile, in New Zealand, Flicks reports the episode took one hundred and eighty seven thousand (New Zealand) dollars at the box office.
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has given a few hints about Peter Capaldi's first full scene as The Doctor. The showrunner (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) told press at the official Doctor Who Celebration at London's ExCel on Saturday that yer man Capaldi 'leaps around the place' in 'post-regeneration madness.' Sounds like a laugh. 'We've only seen the tiniest moment - it's just the beginning of a process,' Moffat explained. 'But of course, he's brilliant and he's an extraordinarily vital and physical performer.' Doctor Who's head writer went on to insist that fifty five-year-old Capaldi's portrayal of The Doctor is 'not at all elderly in style. People keep talking about this "elderly" Doctor that we've cast. He leaps around the place probably more than any other Doctor in that first scene,' Moffat revealed. 'But that's not how he's going to play it - that's just him in the post-regeneration madness. It's something we're still working on.' Capaldi - or, at least, his hand and eyes - made the briefest of cameos in Saturday night's fiftieth anniversary episode, but will make his official debut in the forthcoming Christmas special. 'It is a proper finale to Matt Smith,' Moffat said of the festive episode. 'It's the story that we've been telling since he first put the bow tie on - that's what we're going to resolve. A lot of stuff we've left hanging we tie up there. And it's Trenzalore!'
The BBC has also released a synopsis for Sherlock's long-awaited third series. The detective drama - starring yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self - will return to screens over the Christmas and New Year period. This blogger is still betting on either New Year's Eve (a Sunday) or New Year's Day as the most likely transmission date. 'The question on everyone's lips will finally be answered when Sherlock returns,' reads the synopsis. 'How did he do it? And, how will John take the news that his best friend faked his own death?' So, that doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know. Freeman's wife, Amanda Abbington, will also star in the latest three episodes as John Watson's love interest, Mary Morstan. 'What will Sherlock think when he finds out John has fallen in love with Mary Morstan?' the teaser continues. 'She's sensible, quick-witted and not at all taken in by Sherlock's posturing.' Sherlock's third series will be comprised of Mark Gatiss's season opener The Empty Hearse, Stephen Thompson's The Sign Of Three and Steven Moffat's finale His Last Vow. The Killing's Lars Mikkelsen will make his debut as Sherlock Holmes's latest nemesis, Charles Augustus Magnussen.
For the latest Examples of things that are, like, totally geet cush, and make the world a better place by their very existence, because yer actual Keith Telly Topping picked up the DVD on Monday, number thirty: The World's End's Marmalade Sandwich girls. Oh, sweet mother ...
And now for a new, semi-regular. From The North series which will run - occasionally - up to Christmas Day. Great Moments In Doctor Who which contribute to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's belief that it is the greatest TV show ever made. Bar none. Numbers one to five, The Hartnell Years . Starting with (1) An Unearthly Child. Ian and Barbara enter the TARDIS for the first time.
(2) The Dead Planet. And still, a few weeks shy of fifty years later, one of the finest episode cliffhangers they've ever done - the first appearance of a Dalek.
(3) The Warriors Of Death. The 'how shall a man know his Gods?' scene. Doctor Who often works best when it's actually pretending to be something other than a family science fiction drama and John Lucarotti's The Aztecs, which desperately wants to be a Shakespearean historical tragedy, is a classic example.
(4) Flashpoint. The Doctor's final words to his departing granddaughter, Susan. Not a dry eye in the country.
(5) The Tenth Planet (part 4). The first regeneration.
I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) continued pulling in millions of sad, crushed victims of society on Monday night, according to overnight figures. ITV's reality Victorian freak show was down almost eight hundred thousand viewers from Sunday's episode, but was still, easily, the highest rated show overall with 9.52 million at 9pm. Earlier, Wor Geet Canny Robson Green's Tales From Northumberland attracted 3.32m at 8pm. On BBC1, an Amazon-themed Panorama intrigued 3.62m at 8.30pm. The latest Ripper Street dropped by around three hundred thousand viewers to 3.06m at 9pm. BBC2's Celebrity Antiques Road Trip gathered 1.93m at 8pm, followed by University Challenge with 3.26m at 8pm. MasterChef: The Professionals was seen by 2.73m at 8.30pm, while The Choir continued with 2.29m at 9pm. Never Mind The Buzzcocks was watched by 1.35m at 10pm. On Channel Four, Health Freaks interested eight hundred and two thousand at 8.30pm. New series CCTV Traffic Wardens: Caught On Camera brought in 1.28m at 9pm. Channel Five's The Gadget Show had an audience of seven hundred and thirty one thousand at 8pm. Monty Halls And The Kaiser's Gold was seen by eight hundred and twenty three thousand at 9pm. BBC4's Only Connect attracted eight hundred and eighty three thousand at 8.30pm.

Big Brother's presenting team has been expanded to include Carol McGiffin and unfunny lanky full-of-his-own-importance glake Iain Lee, it has been announced. Just two more reasons not to watch the fekker, dear blog reader. Because it's a sack of shite. Next ...

Poirot may have recently bitten the dust but Agatha Christie's other celebrated sleuth, Jane Marple, is still going strong. Julia McKenzie returns to the role of the little old lady detective in a new version of Endless Night on ITV with Tom Hughes and Joanna Vanderham - brother and sister in Dancing On The Edge - cast as the young lovers of the piece. It recently received its debut in, of all places, Argentina. A British broadcast date is yet to be announced.
Eimear Cook, the ex-wife of golfing star Colin Montgomerie was accused of repeatedly lying under oath about a lunch with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks in which Cook claimed that the former News International chief excutive had told her how easy it was to hack telephones. In a tense and prolonged exchange at the Old Bailey on Monday, counsel for well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that Cook had 'fabricated' parts of her witness statement to the police, including an allegation that the former publishing boss and Scum of the World and the Sun editor had told Cook about an assault on Brooks's ex-husband, TV hard man Ross Kemp. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks' counsel Jonathan Laidlaw, QC, asked Cook if she had done this to 'increase the compensation' she received as part of a civil claim she made against News International for phone-hacking. 'Is that why you made things up?' he demanded. 'To get more money as a result in the settlement?' Cook 'categorically' denied that she had lied on oath. 'I have no reason to lie,' she said. Cook, who was married to the former European Ryder Cup team captain for fourteen years from 1990, met well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks at the suggestion of 'friends' after finding herself the subject of press intrusion following the break up of her marriage to Montgomerie, she said. Describing the lunch, which took place at the Knightsbridge home of mutual friends, Cook told the jury the four had 'enjoyed lighthearted conversation' about celebrities. 'We discussed a lot of public figures, people in the media in a gossipy fun way. I think I remember we were laughing because she had been in her own newspaper because she had a domestic row with her husband and that it had made her newspaper and we were laughing at the irony of it.' Cook added: 'The bit I remember most was the topic of how easy it was to listen to their voicemails as long as they had not changed their factory settings on their pin code. [Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, who was then Rebekah Wade] said that it was so "easy" to do and she couldn't believe that famous people who have all these advisers did not know they needed to change their pin code to make their voicemail secure.' Cook said well-known Cyrstal Tipps lookalike Brooks told her that Heather Mills and Sir Paul McCartney, who were engaged at the time, had had a row at a New York hotel and Mills had thrown her ring out of the window. 'It was in parentheses about the phone-hacking. I was under the impression she was talking about Paul McCartney's phone not having its pin code changed,' Cook said. Prosecutor, Andrew Edis QC, asked her: 'What was [well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brook's] attitude when she was talking about Paul McCartney and the ring?' 'Quite flippant,' replied Cook. She was asked what she meant by 'in parentheses.' She replied: 'She told me about how ludicrous it was people weren't aware of the simple way to protect their privacy on mobiles, then went on to tell me Heather Mills threw her ring out of the apartment window in New York. It was like in conjunction. It was like a follow on.' But, Laidlaw suggested this could not have happened because the assault on Kemp, reported in the papers at the time, did not happen until November 2005, two months after the lunch with Brooks. 'Mrs Cook, it's not just a suggestion that it never happened. It could not have happened, it's quite impossible for it to have happened.' Cook replied: 'I did not make it up. I have no grievance against Mrs Brooks personally at all.' After she was accused of lying in relation to three other conversations she claimed happened at the lunch, Cook said: 'I have not come under oath and lied. I have no reason to lie.' Under sustained questioning on the matter, Cook said: 'Perhaps there had been another domestic dispute before that.' Laidlaw said: 'You told Mrs Brooks that your ex-husband had been violent towards you in your marriage.' Cook replied: 'Yes I did.' He went on to suggest that Cook had told well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks there was 'some sort of record' of a violent incident at a hotel. 'You asked Mrs Brooks whether she could run with that story,' said Laidlaw. He alleged the conversation then turned on whether Cook was willing to go on the record about it as this was the only way the Sun could publish the allegation. Cook denied this repeatedly. 'No we did not have that conversation. I would never want publicity on our marriage in the newspaper.' At one point in his cross-examination Laidlaw paused and reminded Cook that she was under oath and had 'promised to tell the truth.' He told her: 'I am sorry to suggest this, but I'm not making any apology for that.' So, not that sorry, then. 'You have lied to the jury.' 'I categorically deny that,' Cook replied. 'I have no interest in that. I have nothing to gain [from that].' Laidlaw went on to accuse Cook of not only making up the story about well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks talking about the Kemp assault but claimed she added the 'embellishment' that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks had been 'laughing about the story.' Cook replied: 'There is nothing calculating about what I've done. I'm here because the police asked me to be here. I have no interest in manipulating.' Laidlaw put it to Cook that her claim that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks had discussed phone hacking with her was 'another lie.' Cook responded: 'This is not a lie.' He suggested it was 'unlikely' that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks would have said this at a lunch hosted by the Manoukian's, a wealthy couple, and also challenged Cook's assertion that the hosts were present because the lunch had not taken place in their main dining area. She conceded that she had got the date wrong for the lunch in her testimony, but was sure that it had happened before her divorce was finalised in January 2006. The trial continues.

Charles Saatchi has accused his ex-wife, Nigella Lawson, and her daughter of being 'so off [their] heads' on drugs that she allowed staff to spend 'whatever they liked', a court has heard.Sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo are set to go on trial at Isleworth Crown Court in West London. They are accused of committing fraud while working as personal assistants to the couple. Judge Robin Johnson read out an e-mail sent from Saatchi to his former wife. 'Of course, now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you [and your daughter] were so off your heads on drugs that you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked and yes I believe every word they have said,' the e-mail read. It formed part of legal arguments ahead of the trial. TV chef Nigella - she has her knockers - is expected to give evidence during the trial of her Italian aides Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, which is expected to last at least two weeks. The sisters, both of Bayswater, deny using company credit cards to spend up to three hundred thousand smackers on luxuries, including designer clothes and first-class air travel between 2008 and 2012. The court heard Lawson had a 'tacit understanding' with the sisters that they could keep spending, as long as they didn't 'shop her' to Saatchi. Anthony Metzer, representing Elisabetta Grillo, said: 'The bad character application relates to Miss Lawson's alleged taking of Class A and Class B drugs and her unauthorised use of prescription drugs. This is a matter highly relative to the defence because, in a nut shell, we respectfully submit she had a guilty secret from her husband. She did not want him to know about her use particularly of cocaine. Because the defendants were fully aware of her illicit drug use she consented to their expenditure on the understanding there would be no disclosure to her husband of her drug usage. It would not have been verbalised, but it would be along the lines of "you do this for me I do that for you."' The allegations by Saatchi were some of the many communications since the 'unhappy events surrounding the witnesses' divorce this summer', Judge Johnson said. The pair broke up after pictures were published in a newspaper in June showing the millionaire art dealer holding his wife, warmly, by the throat. The incident, on the terrace of Scott's restaurant in Mayfair, was dismissed by Saatchi at the time as nothing more than 'a playful tiff' but he later accepted a police caution for assault against Lawson. Saatchi later told the Scum Mail on Sunday that the pictures gave a 'wholly different and incorrect implication.'

It's nearly twenty years since Lovejoy, the adventures of the roguish antiques dealer played by yer actual Ian McShane last troubled our screens, but could it be ripe for a comeback? 'Sky talked about it last year,' said McShane, now better known for the rather more post-watershed western, Deadwood. 'I said, "If you're serious about it, why not make it about Lovejoy's daughter this time?"' McShane told the new issue of Radio Times. 'And, maybe I could do guest appearances on an antique Zimmer frame. That'd be terrific.' Like any antique, a hit show (which in this case was broadcast on BBC1 between 1986 and 1994) can only get more valuable with age. McShane said that he'd kept in touch with his co-star, Phyllis Logan, who played Lady Jane Felsham and now stars in Downton Abbey. Except, don't ask him what he thinks of Lord Snooty's ITV snob-fest. 'It's not my kind of show, but she's such a marvellous actress,' he said. 'I don't think it's well written. Upstairs Downstairs was better.'

Once Russell Tovey has finished his current duties of Him & Her he'll be off to Sky Atlantic which had bought the hotly anticipated new HBO comedy Looking. Russell stars with Glee's Jonathan Groff and Quantum Leap star Scott Bakula in 'a wry look at the gay dating scene in San Francisco.'

John Barrowman has signed up to host a new Channel Four show about sick animals. John Barrowman's Pet Hospital will see the Torchwood actor visiting pet patients at Glasgow University's School of Veterinary Medicine. That sounds unmissable.
The line-up for the Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas special has been unveiled. Saturdays singer Rochelle Humes (no, me neither I'm afraid), DJ Sara Cox and Rufus Hound are among the celebrities confirmed for the festive edition. Former Bros-type person Matt Goss, EastEnders actor Ricky Norwood and Elaine Paige will also be testing out their ballroom skills. And you thought I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want)'s current crop was bad?

The French supernatural thriller series The Returned has won the International EMMYy Award for Best Drama Series. Producers Haut et Court TV and Canal+ beat off competition from three other contenders, including BBC1's misery-fest Accused, written by bitter old red Jimmy McGovern, at a ceremony held in New York on Monday. During its UK broadcast on Channel Four, The Returned attracted an average of 1.8 million viewers each week. The series was well-received in its home nation and achieved equal success in Sweden and Belgium. It recently premiered in the US on the Sundance Channel. The Returned beat other international series including Accused - which won in 2011 - as well as Maalaala Mo Kaya from The Philippines and Brazilian series Next In Line. However, actor Sean Bean picked the award for Best Performance By An Actor (as opposed to best Performance By A Plumber, presumably) for his role in Accused. 'I've never actually won anything,' Bean said. Much like his football team, Sheffield United, in fact. Other British successes include Sky comedy series Moone Boy, which lead actor Chris O'Dowd and co-writer Nick Vincent Murphy were on hand to collect. 'Even in the wildest imaginations of our imaginary friends we never imagined we'd win an International EMMY,' the duo said. Well, you know, one of them said it, unless they spoke simultaneously, in unison. Which is unlikely. The 2012 feature-length documentary Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender also won the award for Arts Programming. Elsewhere, Zachary Quinto presented the International EMMY Founders Award to film and television writer and director JJ Abrams.

A new Scottish Broadcasting Service funded by the Scottish share of BBC licence fee income will be established if the nation votes for independence in next year's referendum. The Scottish National party said that it would establish the SBS as a joint venture with the BBC, replacing BBC Scotland as the nation's licence fee funded public service broadcaster on TV, radio and online from the start of 2017. Popular BBC shows such as EastEnders, Doctor Who, Top Gear and Strictly Come Dancing would still be available in Scotland via the SBS/BBC joint venture, the SNP is proposing. Although, where the BBC would agree to that is still uncertain. The SNP pledged that after any potential independence Scottish viewers and listeners would continue to have access to all current TV channels – including ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five – and radio stations at no additional cost and it would respect existing charters and broadcast licences. The SNP is proposing that BBC1 and BBC2 would continue to be available in Scotland, with the SBS having the right to opt-out, as BBC Scotland already does. The SBS will initially be set up using BBC Scotland's staff and facilities, the SNP said in its six hundred and seventy-page white paper on independence, published on Tuesday. It will have an annual budget of about three hundred and forty five million smackers and will launch a new TV channel and radio station, as well as running existing services BBC Alba, Radio Scotland and Radio nan Gàidheal, the SNP is forecasting. The SBS would continue to supply the BBC with the same level of network programming, in return for access to the corporation's services in Scotland. Funding for the SBS will come from Scotland's share of licence fee income (three hundred and twenty million knicker a year) and BBC commercial arm BBC Worldwide's profits (thirteen million notes), plus twelve million quid annually provided by the Scottish government for Gaelic broadcasting. It will not have to raise money from advertising, the SNP said. 'The SBS will offer a wide range of programming and content on TV, radio and online,' the SNP independence white paper said. 'It will reflect the variety of our nation in terms of geography, ethnicity, language, belief, lifestyle and taste. The SBS will be independent of government, impartial in its editorial view and given creative freedom in production. An expert panel will devise the SBS charter and propose governance arrangements to ensure that the SBS focuses on quality, serves the interests of the people of Scotland, and works in partnership with staff. These principles will subsequently be enshrined in legislation.' BBC Scotland's annual budget is currently just over two hundred million smackers, but likely to fall to about one hundred and seventy five million quid by 2016 under the corporation's Delivering Quality First cost-cutting programme, according to the SNP, meaning Scottish independence would mean 'almost doubling the level of public spending on public service broadcasting and production in Scotland.' The SNP said it envisaged the SBS continuing to co-commission, co-produce and cooperate with the BBC on network programming, but better reflect Scotland's population proportionate to the UK as a whole in terms of share of hours and funding. BBC Scotland makes network shows including Question Time, Mrs Brown's Boys, Limmy's Show and Waterloo Road. Scotland's share of BBC network production was three per cent in 2007, nine per cent in 2011 and 7,6 per cent last year, according to the SNP. Scotland's population is about 5.3 million, or 8,4 per cent of the UK total, according to the 2011 census. 'These arrangements will shift commissioning power and resources from the BBC to Scotland, while providing continuity for the BBC, consistent with its recent moves to decentralise from London,' the SNP said in its independence white paper. 'The SBS will be encouraged to explore the opportunities with other broadcasters for co-production and co-commissioning, beyond the joint venture agreement with the BBC, to build on the strengths that the Scottish production sector has in comedy, drama, natural history and factual entertainment programming.' The SNP said it would also seek an agreement with Channel Four by the proposed start of independence for Scotland in 2016 to ensure the advertiser-funded public service broadcaster has 'appropriate minimum level of original production, in terms of both value and hours, that reflects Scotland's population size. One possible long-term model for Channel Four might be a company part-owned by a Channel Four Scotland which controls a shareholding proportion matching Scotland's population share, with the number of hours and proportion of spend also matching this level.' More generally, the SNP pledged to increase investment in Scottish film and TV production. 'We plan to continue the existing fiscal incentives for such production, and, within the first term of an independent Scottish parliament, we propose to look at ways to encourage further development in the sector, through incentives, infrastructural investment and support for development, skills and training.' The SNP is proposing that post-independence media regulator Ofcom's economic responsibilities be handed over to a combined economic regulator for Scotland, while 'appropriate measures' should be put in place recognising the 'cultural significance of broadcasting' within the country's new regulatory regime.

Entertainer Stan Stennett has died at the age of eighty eight, his family has confirmed. The veteran performer from Cardiff spent more than sixty years in showbusiness as a comedy musician, stage and television actor. He appeared in the soaps Crossroads and Coronation Street and shared a stage with many top US and UK stage stars. Stennett's son, Ceri, confirmed his father had died at the University Hospital of Wales during the night. He had had a stroke about three weeks ago and suffered complications. Ceri Stennett said: 'It's all very raw for the family now, but the wider public will say a prayer with us for a great life making people happy and doing a job he adored. My dad was a showman through and through. When the final curtain fell he would want people to remember him as someone who tried to spread as much happiness as he possibly could. He was one of those people who could spread happiness throughout the country - not just Wales but much further afield.' Stan Stennett's career began during World War Two, playing guitar in a jazz quintet which once supported comedian Bob Hope at a show for American troops based in South Wales. Stennett went on to appear as a comedian in BBC programmes such as Welsh Rarebit and The Black and White Minstrel Show. He also appeared in soap operas - as Hilda Ogden's brother in Coronation Street and as Sid Hooper in Crossroads. On stage, Stennett appeared on the same bill as legendary performers such as Danny Kaye, Johnny Ray, The Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Morecambe and Wise, Les Dawson and Petula Clark. He was manager of The Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire in May 1984 when his good friend Eric Morecambe collapsed and died of a heart attack just after walking off stage. Earlier, the two entertainers had staged a chat show for the audience. Stan's son added: 'There weren't many people who my dad hadn't worked with over the years and he could call most of them friends. But he never lost touch with his roots in Wales and Cardiff was home. He had a perfectly happy what you would call normal family life. He loved golf and in his earlier years football and he was as ordinary a person as you would want him to be. People always felt my dad was really approachable. He was always really happy to talk to people.' A former director of Cardiff City football club, Stennett continued performing into his eighties, most notably in pantomime. Fellow entertainer Wyn Calvin paid tribute, telling BBC Radio Wales: 'Stan had an amazing affection for the business, but the business had an affection for Stan. Stan's variety as a performer was very valuable, because he adjusted. We worked on pantomimes, we worked in summer shows, we worked on variety bills. Although he had a reputation around Britain, there was always a love of his home in Cardiff, and of his lovely wife Betty and his family. Stan did not want to divorce himself from South Wales, to become the international name that he might have been.'

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a bit (well, actually, a lot) of The Sisters of Mercy. And why not?

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