Sunday, November 17, 2013

Week Forty Eight: It Was Fifty Years Ago Today ...

The BBC's annual fundraising event Children In Need on Friday featured Doctor Who's annual attempt to encourage people to donate money that they haven't got to an - admittedly very good - cause with an exclusive clip from the forthcoming fiftieth anniversary episode, The Day Of The Doctor. The two minute sequence featured yer actual Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart, plus David Tennant his very self. 'Some day, you'll just walk past a fez.' 'Never gonna happen!'
Meanwhile, David Tennant his very self has picked up the accolade of 'the nation's favourite Doctor' in a survey to mark fifty years of the popular long-running family SF drama and that. The Scottish actor, who played the role between 2005 and 2010, gained fifty six per cent of the Radio Times vote, beating his closest rival, yer actual Matt Smith, into second place. Tom Baker was third, followed by Christopher Eccleston and Patrick Troughton. Colin Baker (the crap one), inevitably, came dead last. Billie Piper, who played Rose Tyler, won a parallel vote for the best companion. She captured twenty five per cent of the vote for her role, which saw Rose accompany both Tennant and Eccleston on their intergalactic travels before being stranded in a parallel universe with a human version of the tenth Doctor. Where, presumably, they remain to this day having lots of the sex - to the joy of erotic fan-fiction writers everywhere. She was followed by Sarah Jane Smith, played by the late Elisabeth Sladen. More than twenty thousand readers of Radio Times took part in the vote which, I guess, makes it slightly more newsworthy than these sort of plankish polls which are widely reported as 'news' usually are. Both Tennant and Piper will reprise their roles in The Day Of The Doctor. Smudger and Tennant will appear in the seventy five-minute episode alongside John Hurt, introduced as 'The Doctor' at the end of the most recent episode. Radio Times editor Tim Glandfield said: 'Not even parallel dimensions can keep The Doctor and Rose apart. It's clear from the results of our poll that they define a golden era of Doctor Who and helped introduce a whole new generation to the show - how fitting that they'll be reunited next week for the fiftieth anniversary special.' The next Doctor was unveiled in August as The Thick Of It actor Peter Capaldi who will make his first appearance in the show in Smith's last episode to be shown at Christmas.
The Doctor, JLS and the EastEnders cast were among the 'highlights' (it says here) of this year's BBC Children In Need, which has beaten last year's record money-raising total. Sir Terry Wogan presented the six-hour fund-raiser, with scourge of the bullies Fearne Cotton, Tess Daly, Zoe Ball and Nick Grimshaw. Olympic ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean went head-to-head in a special Strictly Come Dancing edition as the annual appeal got under way. The on-the-night total of over thirty one million notes raised surpassed last year's twenty six million smackers. Torvill and Dean were given high praise by Strictly judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Darcey Bussell. On winning, Jane Torvill said: 'I'm really thrilled but I have to say I want to share it with Chris. I'll have it six months and he can have it six months.' Alleged comedian Harry Hill 'starred' - if that's the right word - in a new version of A-ha's 'Take On Me' video, with a host of guest appearances including Davey and Si from The Hairy Bikers. JLS (they are a popular beat combo, m'lud) performed some of their greatest hits in Albert Square and there was, as noted, a 'world exclusive' preview of the fiftieth anniversary episode of Doctor Who. The figure at the end of the telethon - which has been running annually since 1980 - far exceeded last year's on-the-night total and donations are expected to continue in the coming days. Sir Terry said it was 'a remarkable tribute' to the generosity of the British people. 'It's been a staggering total, it's beyond our wildest dreams, over thirty one million pounds for this country's disadvantaged children. I want to thank you so much for your contributions.' In the same week, the British public have donated thirty million knicker to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for aid after the devastating typhoon in the Philippines. Fundraising efforts began in the build-up to the show. The ONE Show's Rickshaw Challenge kicked off in Northern Ireland on 8 November, with participants cycling day and night to reach London in time for Friday night's edition of the magazine programme. Host Alex Jones squawked annoyingly that it 'one of the toughest things I've ever done.' BBC Radio 4 is auctioning off several prizes, including the chance to read The Shipping Forecast and the opportunity to sit in on the Today programme's editorial meeting. BBC Radio 3 has recorded two charity singles with The BBC Philharmonic and The Halle Orchestra. A female ensemble, conducted by Sian Edwards, has covered Little Mix's single 'Wings' combining it with Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries'. Their male counterparts have mixed One Direction's 'What Makes You Beautiful' with Verdi's 'Anvil Chorus'. Meanwhile, celebrities including Michelle Dockery, Fiona Bruce, Denise Lewis and Kimberley Walsh joined the public in a 'no make-up' fundraising day last week. The money raised by Children In Need is used to help disadvantaged children and young people across the UK. Over the years, it has distributed more than six hundred and ninety million quid to charity projects around the country.

For what it's worth, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's own personal highlight of the Children In Need telethon - Doctor Who exclusives aside - was the sight of his former BBC Newcastle colleague Charlie Charlton getting 'gunged' in Hexham town square.
Dignity, Charlie, always dignity!

The Children In Need broadcast pulled in an overnight audience peak of 10.42 million viewers on Friday night. Terry Wogan fronted the event which achieved an average audience of 9.75m during the variety event's first slot between 7.30pm and 10pm. A forty per cent audience share helped the charity raise over thirty million smackers. An average of 5.47m stayed with BBC1 for the News At Ten, while 4.22m crossed over to BBC2 at that time for a continuation of the telethon. The conclusion to Children In Need on BBC1 averaged 3.1m (37.8%) between 10.35pm and the wee small hours. Meanwhile, ITV's - as usual, thoroughly wretched - coverage England's friendly against Chile peaked with 4.57m viewers at about 8.30pm, giving the channel its highest-rated primetime programme of the night outside of soaps. An average of 4.23m tuned in for the match between 7.30pm and 10.15pm. Elsewhere in the schedule, Channel Four's latest episode of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD took in an average of 1.2m viewers. The channel also picked up 1.07m later in the night on Alan Carr: Chatty Man. Channel Five's primetime schedule led with documentary On Benefits And Proud, missing the million mark at nine hundred and nine thousand punters.

BBC3, meanwhile, launched its Doctor Who: Greatest Monsters & Villains Weekend on Friday evening, a ten part series looking back at some of the greatest monsters of the series, hosted by the stand up comic Joel Dommett (no, me neither). The format features a three minute potted history of the featured villain, followed by the screening of an appropriate episode of Doctor Who. Episode one featured The Judoon and was followed by a screening of Smith and Jones. It achieved an overnight viewing figure of three hundred and seventy thousand punters. Episode two was dedicated to The Silurians and featured A Good Man Goes To War, which was watched by four hundred and twenty thousand. Episode three revolved around The Ood and was followed by the 2008 story Planet Of The Ood. It had four hundred thousand viewers. Finally for the evening, episode four looked at The Clockwork Droids and featured a screening of a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping, the Lord Thy God Steven Moffat's The Girl In The Fireplace. The episode had five hundred and fifty thousand viewers. BBC3 out-rated all the other digital channels for most of Friday evening, edging ahead of ITV2 and ITV3. Thursday's BBC2 showing of The Science Of Doctor Who had an Appreciation Index figure of eighty five. The repeat of Never Mind The Buzzcocks: The Doctor Who Special achieved an AI score of eighty two.

Strictly Come Dancing saw an increase in its overnight viewers on Saturday, while ratings for ITV's The X Factor were, once again, down on the previous week. The BBC dance show, which had its Blackpool special, brought in 10.44 million punters - a whopping forty four per cent share of the audience - when it was braodcast at 6.30pm. This was an increase of around one hundred thousand from last week's episode. However, ITV's talent contest dipped to 8.16 million at 8pm, losing about sixty thousand viewers from last Saturday. Meanwhile, Children In Need: The Best Bits highlights show brought in 4.11 million, and Atlantis held reasonably steady with 4.24 million on BBC1. On BBC2, 1.26 million rugby fans tuned in to watch England take on France in the Live Rugby League World Cup. Also at 8pm, a repeat of Channel Four's Grand Designs took eight hundred and ninety thousand, while at the same time on Channel Five, JFK's Secret Killer: The Evidence had a five per cent share of the audience with 1.19 million viewers. Channel Four's showing of the Black Swan network premiere drew in nine hundred and twenty thousand. The Jonathan Ross Show on ITV was watched by 4.1 million.

On Saturday 16 November 1963, exactly fifty years ago this week, the British public had their very first glimpse of Doctor Who, when a trailer for the new series was broadcast on BBC Television. The trailer was shown at 5.40pm, sandwiched between an episode of the cartoon series Deputy Dawg, in which the eponymous canine law-dog tries to sell his vintage fire engine, and an episode of The Telegoons, the puppet show version of the classic radio series. The Doctor Who trailer no longer exists, but the script of it survives in the BBC archives. As well as the television promo a radio version was also transmitted in the week before the series' debut. The BBC Publicity team was briefed about the show, with producer Verity Lambert putting out a rewritten memo based on the one issued by Donald Wilson back in July 1963. Reflecting the unease about the series in the higher echelons of the BBC, the memo no longer talked about a programme running for fifty two weeks, but just listed the titles of the first three stories, An Unearthly Child, The Daleks and The Edge Of Destruction. Lambert made a plea for the team to protect spoilers in the series. 'It is absolutely essential that the fact that the spaceship, from the exterior, looks like a police telephone box, should remain completely confidential.'

The highlight of Saturday night's telly was, of course, the return to BBC4 of probably the best TV drama in the world (... that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title), Borgen. Much has happened in the two and a half years which have elapsed between the climax of the last series, as Birgitte Nyborg called a snap general election and the start of series three's opening episode, A Child Of Denmark. Although, to be fair, much of it can be summed up in two words. She lost. 'Halfway through my journey I found myself in a dark wood.' The traditional Borgen opening quote for this particular episode came from Dante's Inferno though, as we reach the third - and final - series of the acclaimed, award-winning and cult political drama, everyone's favourite fictional Danish ex-PM finds herself in, of all places, Hong Kong. She's now on the board of a multinational pharmaceutical company and has a new, smooth – British – boyfriend (played by Alastair Mackenzie). But when her beloved Moderate party appears to be selling its own soul by moving into bed (and coalition) with the hatefully anti-immigration government, she decides to make her move back into politics. Her beloved Moderate party has been hijacked by the duplicitous and scheming chancer Jacob Kruse (Jens Jacob Tychsen) – last seen banished to a extremely minor post in Brussels in series two for his naughty ways - is supporting the so-called Liberals in their latest bill to deport immigrants who drop litter or urinate in public. Was this the proud Denmark that Birgitte ought for during her time as Statsminister? We learn that Birgitte lost the cliffhanger election and embarked on a, seemingly very lucrative, career as a multinational advisor and motivational speaker, jet-setting around the globe and into bed with architect - and Guardian reader - Jeremy. Even after the collapse of her marriage to Philip (Mikael Birkkjaer) and her daughter's mental breakdown, no one is being encouraged to believe for a second that Birgitte has learned any necessary lessons from these events. Except, possibly, that she should stick to what she's good act - inspiring people. This lurch out of Borgen's comfort-zone could have lost the drama the cutting edge for which it won such a devoted following both in Denmark and in the UK. Instead, it actually worked brilliantly as Birgitte, dismayed at the direction her old party is taking, rekindles her political fire and challenged Kruse for the leadership on its potentially racist stance on deportation. In typical Borgen fashion, the principles of the storyline found themselves wrapped around the personal travails of the characters we've come to admire (even if they, occasionally, disappoint us greatly). All the regular cast returned, including Birgitte Hjort Sorensen as star television reporter Katrine Fønsmark, while Pilou Asbaek has grown his hair and shaved his beard as troubled spin-doctor (and now, in demand television pundit) Kasper. In the newsroom, the Head of News Torben Friis (Soren Malling) is under pressure from Alex Hjort (Christian Tafdrup), a pushy executive parachuted into TV1 from Warner Brothers to increase the ratings who wears a fashion-victim's scarf, thinks there are too many bad news stories and fancies getting himself into Katrine's knickers double-quick. (He achieves his goal by the middle of episode two, if you're wondering.) 'Management are discussing your meta-narrative,' he tells poor put-upon Torben – that's media-speak for 'stop being so bloody miserable and give me Denmark's Got Talent.'
         Sidse Babett Knudsen is, of course, stunning as always and, in the second episode The Land Is Built On Law, after her comeback seems to have been stillborn - despite one of the great political speeches in living memory ('I've missed you') she decides to start her own party and change the face of Danish politics. As you do. It was actually possible to pinpoint to the single millisecond when any beating human heart would melt to slush at Birgitte and her determination to change the world for the better. It came when her mentor and conscience, Bent Serjø (the fabulous Lars Knutzon) asked her if she wanted to challenge for the party leadership. She got halfway through a denial before flashing a grin as wide as the Baltic. Wordlessly, the old friends beamed at each other. It was fantastic. Who could possibly resist such a complex mesh of ambition, charisma and, most importantly idealism which is sometimes challenged by pragmatism but never overwhelmed by it? Jesus, if this woman was real I'd vote for her, and I'm not even Danish. The Birgitte and Bent relationship, as in series two, has its problems - particularly when Birgitte left the party - but, at the climax of the second episode, it was back and as strong as ever. Thank God, Birgitte needs Bent like butter needs bread. If the first series of this stunning drama was about power corrupting and the second had as its central theme power diminishing and dehumanising until you're faced with the ultimate choice of giving it up or giving up caring about what you should be caring about, the third began as, hopefully, it will go on. In the best traditions of The West Wing it set out to prove that the politics idealism and the politics of necessity when mixed do not, automatically, produce the politics of compromise. Cleverly, Borgen's other regular preoccupation, the struggle for the modern woman to have a life and a career in Denmark's tragically imperfect Utopian society, has been passed from one female lead to the other in the shape of Katrine, who is now a single mum and has been given the opportunity to help Birgitte make the world a better place. How can she juggle the two? Birgitte, after all, struggled when she tried. It all made for a glorious two hours of telly, dear blog reader. Politics and human drama seamlessly melded together and a bright new dawn promised as Birgitte sets out to overthrow the established political order. If only she was real what a wonderful world this would be. 'During this financial crisis, let's not act like the two tourists who met a leopard. One put on a pair of running shoes. The other tourist says "you can't outrun a leopard." The first tourist says "I don't need to. I just need to run faster than you!"' Borgen is very back, dear blog reader. But, there's only eight episodes to go so, for Christ's sake, make the most of it while you still can.
And now, here's the latest Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 23 November
Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary celebrations reach a peak at 7:50 BBC1 fifty years and two and a half hours after An Unearthly Child burst onto five million TV screens across the nation as November spawned a monster, or several. Seven hundred and ninety eight episodes later (ninety seven of them missing, incidentally - at least, as far as we know because just this weekend there are rumours that Marco Polo has been recovered in Korea) The Day of The Doctor this promised to be an epic adventure that brings together yer actual Matt Smith's Time Lord and his predecessor David Tennant his very self.
And, it throws John Hurt into the mix as a third - previously unknown - 'War Doctor', who was first glimpsed at the end of the last series. The story begins with three separate plots, as something terrible 'orrible in London's National Gallery in 2013 causing UNIT some concern, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England and an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion somewhere out in the depths of time and space. As these strands draw together, all of reality is at stake - and The Doctor's own dangerous past comes back to haunt him. The cast also includes yer actual Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, alongside Jenna Coleman her very self as Clara, plus Jemma Redgrave, that annoying lass off Gavin & Stacey and Ingrid Oliver. You can watch it in 3D at a cinema a hundred miles away from you, dear blog reader, or you can watch it at home but, wherever you're watching it, make sure you're there for the TV event of the millennium so far.
Of course, some bastard in BBC scheduling decided that it was a good idea to put the episode of Qi XL which should have been shown two weeks go on opposite the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary episode. So, that'll have an audience of about three. Smart move, guys. Sarah Millican, Jason Manford and Bill Bailey join regular panellist Alan Davies on the episode - 8:25 BBC2. Stephen Fry asks a range of fiendish questions on the topic of Keeps, with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct ones, yadda, yadda.
Chaos and confusion is rife as many people have now attached themselves to the New Democrats in the vfirst of tonight's two episodes of Borgen - 9:00 BBC4. A television channel invites them to participate in a panel discussion on the integration of ethnic minorities, so they try to find a spokesperson - and also, slightly more importantly, funding for the new party. Then, in the following episode, the quality of nice juicy sizzling Danish bacon is called into question when Birgitte's new English architect boyfriend, Jeremy, falls ill after eating pork. Really? As a Coldplay-listening, Gruniad Morning Star-reading middle class revolutionary hippie Communist (as established in the first episode of this series), surely he must be a vegetarian? Bet he hates Top Gear too. Bastard. Hope he dies in screaming agony from salmonella. Meanwhile, at the same time, the current government are trying to relax the rules applying to pig farms. Birgitte appears on television (if you will, hogging the limelight), where she argues for protecting citizens and not the industry and for quality rather than quantity. Possibly the best TV drama in the world (.. that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title so, tonight of all nights, use your recording devices wisely, dear blog reader.)

Killing Kennedy - 9:00 Channel Four - is a fact-based drama marking the other fiftieth anniversary of this weekend, the assassination of John Kennedy. It's based on Bill O'Reilly's best-selling book Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot. The film combines rare historical insights and archives with storytelling to recount how the US president and his - alleged - lone killer Lee Oswald crossed paths on that November afternoon in Dallas in 1963. Starring Rob Lowe, Ginnifer Goodwin, Will Rothhaar and Michelle Trachtenberg.

Sunday 24 November
In Morecambe and Wise: The Whole Story - 9:00 BBC2 - Dean Lennox Kelly narrates a documentary charting the comedy duo's rise from obscurity to being the most popular entertainers in the country and genuine national treasures. Eric and Ernie started out on the variety circuit after the end of the Second World War and found success both there and on radio, but their first venture into TV - in 1954 - was a complete disaster.
New information comes to light that allows Carrie and Quinn to pursue a key suspect in the Langley bombing in the latest episode of Homeland - 9:00 Channel Four. Meanwhile, Saul deals with a political backlash, the strain of the job takes its toll on Fara, and the Brodys receive some startling news. CIA thriller, starring Claire Danes, Rupert Friend and Mandy Patinkin.

David Dimbleby - and his tattoo - continue his voyage around Britain, sailing his yacht Rocket along the south-east coast, the first point of attack for enemy forces and therefore essential to the nation's defence throughout history in the second episode of Britain And The Sea - BBC1 9:00. Along the way, Dimbles (and his tattoo) finds himself in the company of sailors as he takes a tour of HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship vessel from the Battle of Trafalgar, lovingly preserved in dry dock in Portsmouth. He also meets a carpenter who still makes wooden figureheads, discovers how a chamber pot acted as propaganda in the battle against Napoleon and reveals the way abstract art was used to deceive German submarine pilots.

Monday 25 November
The killing of a messenger boy lifts the lid on a vice racket run from the headquarters of the General Post Office - and in turn leads to the heart of one of London's leading banks in Ripper Street - 9:00 BBC1. As Reid and his men try to untangle the trail of financial corruption, economic disaster and blackmail, Jackson has monetary worries of his own as he seeks to rid himself and Long Susan of the suffocating debt they owe to moneylender Silas Duggan.
Eight more contenders enter the MasterChef: The Professionals kitchen - 8:30 BBC2. Where Monica 'Spanker' Galetti and Gregg Wallace challenge them to make a dish of their own invention using a selection of seven ingredients - including pork sausage, squash, Gorgonzola, walnuts and almonds. Bearing in mind that, at least once this series, Galetti has spat out something she was served, will the latest chancers get the same treatment? They each have just one hour to hold their nerve and demonstrate their creativity to the judges.
In the latest episode of Tales from Northumberland With Wor Geet Canny Robson Green, Like - 8:00 ITV - the actor (seen below posing like a tourist on the beach in front of Bamburgh Castle) learns more about Northumberland's customs and proud sense of regional identity wot aal us Northern folk have, and that. He goes fishing - hey, big surprise - for sea salmon in a coble boat, a design which dates back hundreds of years. And Robson who, as always, is enthusiastic and engaging in these programmes, visits the Rothbury Traditional Music Festival, where he meets a group of young poets who are keeping the local dialect alive. He also talks to Kathryn Tickell, who has taken the music of the Northumbrian smallpipes and fiddle to a global audience. And has a very funny name into the bargain. Bonus.
Tuesday 26 November
Alan and Celia have tied the knot at last in Last Tango In Halifax - 9:00 BBC1. But their first day as man and wife isn't exactly plain sailing. Caroline finds a way to buy John out of the house, only for her relationship to be threatened by Kate's desire for a baby, and a new arrival surprises everyone - especially Gillian. Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid star in Sally Wainwright's light-hearted drama, with Sarah Lancashire, Nicola Walker, Tony Gardner and Nina Sosanya.

Pauline is away on a training weekend, so Joe watches football in her sacred 'good room' while Dot invites some of her pensioner friends around for a party in Hebburn - 10:00 BBC2. Meanwhile, Vicki helps Gervaise with the photo shoot for his album cover and Jack and Sarah leave their antenatal class with more than they bargained for. The best sitcom on British telly by a Tyneside mile, featuring the best ensemble cast and the best scripts. A winner in every single department.
It's Hallow'een in 1883 New Orleans and primped, poisonous matriarch Delphine LaLaurie (the splendid Kathy Bates) organises the most revolting parlour game you have ever seen to scare off her daughter's suitor in the latest episode of American Horror Story - 10:00 FOX. It's a typically, gorily Gothic and overheated opening sequence which sets the tone for the madness that is to follow as the lawn in front of the witches' institute fills with zombies. And there are some genuinely unsettling, nightmarish scenes in a hospital as chief witch, the lubricious Fiona (Jessica Lange), keeps vigil by the bed of her injured daughter. But one of Fiona's weird sisters, Myrtle Snow (Six Feet Under's Frances Conroy), is out for revenge.
Wednesday 27 November
More than eight hundred thousand people were killed at Treblinka concentration camp in North-East Poland before it was dismantled by the Nazis in 1943 in an attempt to conceal what had happened there. The documentary Treblinka: Inside Hitler's Secret Death Camp - 9:00 Channel Five - follows British archaeologist Caroline Sturdy Colls and her team as they carry out the first forensic investigation on the site, putting together a comprehensive account of its structure, its capacity and where its victims were buried.

Dave's Crackanory - 10:00 - is proving to be something of guilty pleasure on the strength of its early episodes. Tonight, there's more twisted tales read by yer actual Harry Enfield and Sarah Solemani. An office worker takes on a high-street coffee chain and a downtrodden librarian gains access to a CIA military drone.
For more than fifty years, London's Royal Court Theatre has been a flagship for new British writing and a stronghold of provocative and ground-breaking work. Over the course of four months this summer, Clemency Burton-Hill was given behind-the-scenes access to Vicky Featherstone as she set about shaping her opening season as the company's artistic director as you can see in The Culture Show - 10:00 BBC2. Featuring contributions by director John Tiffany, playwright Abi Morgan, Matilda, The Musical co-writer Dennis Kelly and Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington.

Thursday 28 November
Britain in 1974 is in a right shite state of affairs - the country is in the middle of the Cold War and suffering economic hardships with the three-day week, petrol rationing and industrial strife. Against this turbulent backdrop, trainee MI6 agent Charles Thoroughgood is asked to revive an old friendship with Soviet diplomat Viktor Koslov to try to recruit him as an intelligence source in Legacy - 9:00 BBC2. The novice spy not only discovers a shocking truth about his own family, but also finds evidence of a KGB plot to mount an attack within the UK. Cold War spy thriller, starring Charlie Cox, Andrew Scott, Simon Russell Beale and Romola Garai.
An international team of experts assemble to investigate the discovery of a four thousand-year-old body found preserved in an Irish peat bog in Cashel, County Tipperary in Four Thousand-Year-Old Cold Case: The Body in the Bog - 9:00 BBC4. Led by Ned Kelly of the National Museum of Ireland, the archaeologists look at whether the find will help prove Ned's theory that these mummified corpses were once ancient kings, and what clues the cadavers found in the boglands of Northern Europe can offer to explain the history of ritual murder. However, new scientific research suggests these deaths may be explained by prehistoric climate change.

Friday 29 November
Comedy news quiz Have I Got News For You returns - 9:00 BBc1 - after its week off for Children In Need, with Ian Hislop, Paul Merton and their guests - including Labour MP Alan Johnson - taking a light-hearted look at the past seven days' stories.

Janet Street-Porter and Sandi Toksvig have a battle of which of them is the most annoying in this week's Qi - 10:00 BBC2. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping expects big-gobbed full-of-herself Street-Porter to win that particular race as Sandi is, actually, funny. Johnny Vegas also join regular panellist Alan Davies on the comedy quiz as Stephen Fry asks a range of fiendish questions on the topic of Kinky (steady).
News of Red's systematic manhunt prompts Anslo Garrick, a man whose name is on the blacklist, to try to infiltrate the FBI to capture the ex-con in the first of a two-part story in The Blacklist - 9:00 Sky Living. Meanwhile, Ressler is ordered to guard the informant when Liz goes missing. Crime drama, guest starring Ritchie Coster, with James Spader and Megan Boone.

There's also a choice a repeats tonight, if you don't fancy any of the above. Episodes of Sherlock (a twelfth repeat of A Scandal In Belgravia - 9:00 BBC3), Endeavour (9:00 ITV3) or The Ruby In The Smoke (9:00 Drama, featuring yer actual Billie Piper and a very young Matt Smith).
To the news, now: And, in one of the least surprising bits of TV news of the year, Whitechapel's Rupert Penry-Jones has revealed that ITV has cancelled the show. Which, considering the fact that its overnight audience had dropped as low as the mid-three millions for its latest series earlier this year should hardly be a shock top anyone. By and large, TV programmes which get cancelled do so for one of three reasons; either they're shit, or no one's watching them or they're shit and no one's watching them. In Whitechapel's case, it was always entertaining and mad-bonkers (so, that's reasons one and three out of the equation), but the series began with massive audience figures which, over four series simply melted away. The actor, who played Joe Chandler in the detective drama, broke the news to his followers on Twitter on Saturday. Jon East, who directed several episodes of the show's last two series, responded: 'We went out on a bang! Shame nevertheless, it was on a great roll, a terrific cast and crew firing on all cylinders.' Whitechapel, which also starred Phil Davis and Steve Pemberton, lasted four series following its debut in February 2009. Its last episode was broadcast in October.
A Sun journalist, Nick Parker, has pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with the alleged theft of an MP's mobile phone in 2010. Parker, of Twickenham, is accused of dishonestly receiving stolen goods, namely a mobile phone belonging to the Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, and of unauthorised access to computer material. McDonagh, who has represented Mitcham and Morden since 1997, allegedly had her mobile phone stolen from her car in Colliers Wood in on 17 October 2010. Parker is accused of receiving the mobile phone, from one Michael Ankers, and then looking at the contents. The alleged offences are said to have allegedly happened between 17 and 21 October 2010. They're not alleged, those dates definitely occurred. Parker stood in the dock at Westminster magistrates court on Friday and spoke only to confirm his name and address. He was released on unconditional bail, with his next court date a preliminary hearing at the Old Bailey on 22 November. Ankers did not enter a plea when he appeared at Westminster magistrates court charged with stealing a mobile phone of unknown value. The twenty nine-year-old spoke only to confirm his name and age, that he is of no fixed address and he 'did not wish to plead.' The case was sent for trial at the Old Bailey and a preliminary hearing on 22 November. Ankers was granted unconditional bail.

The naked performance artist who nailed his scrotum to the ground in Red Square as 'a political protest' (albeit, a very painful one) may face up to five years in pokey, the Russian media reports. A criminal investigation has begun into Pyotr Pavlensky's actions at the Kremlin wall on Sunday, the interior ministry told news agencies in Moscow. Pavlensky was arrested at the time but released - limping - the following day and placed under travel restrictions. However, the twenty nine-year-old is now said to be facing the charge of hooliganism.
Jewellery, an iPad and a phone were stolen from a dressing room being used by stars of Strictly Come Dancing in Blackpool. Lancashire Police confirmed they were investigating the theft on Saturday night from a dressing room at Blackpool's Tower Ballroom. The items were taken from a dressing room shared by female contestants and dancers on the BBC1 show. Police said they would not be giving details of who the items belonged to although it's believed that none of Bruce Forsyth's jokes were among the items stolen as their resale value is said to be next to nothing. Detectives are appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious in or around the building to contact them. A police spokeswoman said: 'We are investigating a theft that has occurred at the Tower Ballroom at Blackpool. It was reported to us at around 21:45 GMT that some items had been taken from a dressing room within the building - officers are investigating the theft and are making a number of enquiries to trace the person or people responsible.' Only one dressing room was entered, the spokeswoman added. It is not yet clear how the thieves got into the room and the force said officers were 'investigating how they have gained entry.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is still rather in a blown-away state following Thursday night's Record Player with Uncle Scunthorpe. Therefore, here's a bit more Jimi.

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