Sunday, December 01, 2013

Week Fifty: You Said The Things You Did In The Past Were All Because You're Living Too Fast

Doctor Who's showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has described yer actual Peter Capaldi's take on the Time Lord as 'an old beast.' Steady. Yer man Capaldi his very self will 'give us a whole new kind of Doctor', the lead writer on the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama told Flicks and the City. 'We've got used to two brilliant iterations of the younger, more popular Doctor and they have both been superlative,' The Moff said. 'But now, it's time for the old beast to snarl at you for a bit! Sometimes you see that a bit in Matt Smith's Doctor - he will remind the people around him, "I'm not really like this" - but I think Peter's Doctor will make that even clearer.' Steven previously suggested 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 [but] he leaps around the place probably more than any other Doctor in that first scene.'
The Day Of The Doctor had a final, consolidated audience on BBC1 of 12.8 million viewers. The audience figure is the highest for a Doctor Who episode since the Christmas Day 2008 story The Next Doctor which was watched by 13.1 million, and is the largest ever time-shift recorded for the programme (2.6 million viewers over the initially reported overnight figure). The rating  makes Doctor Who the highest rated show for the week, overtaking Strictly Come Dancing which had initially beaten it in the overnight figures and it is currently the second most watched piece of television of the year. This figure does not include the number of people who watched The Day Of The Doctor around the world, simulcast in a record ninety four countries, or its cinema audience. Big screen showings of Doctor Who in 3D around the world which generated $10.2m in the box office in the first three days. The episode has also been accessed more than 2.9 million times on the BBC iPlayer, with over a million downloads on Sunday 24 November alone. There were a total of 1.27m requests to watch it on the iPlayer in the twenty four hours after its initial broadcast, beating the previous twenty four hour record of just over one million downloads set by BBC1's coverage of the acclaimed opening ceremony of the London Olympics. The episode is currently the third most accessed programme for the year on the strength of just seven days worth of figures. Other high-rated programmes on the iPlayer include Doctor Who: An Ultimate Guide, with six hundred and ninety thousand accessing, the, if you will, 'mini-sode' The Night Of The Doctor, with six hundred thousand, An Adventure In Space And Time with five hundred and forty thousand and The Five(ish) Doctors with six hundred and ten thousand. The Day Of The Doctor is currently the most watched drama of 2013, likely only to be challenged by Christmas episodes of BBC1's EastEnders and Call The Midwife, ITV's Downton Abbey and the festive edition of Doctor Who itself, which will give fans the first proper viewing of Smith's successor in the role, Peter Capaldi. The BBC's controller of drama Ben Stephenson said: 'The Doctor Who fiftieth was a hugely ambitious event on the BBC and it's only fitting that it has taken the top spot as the highest rating drama across all channels this year. It's a fantastic tribute to both Steven Moffat and the creativity of all those involved in the show throughout its history. Next stop the regeneration at Christmas.' The BBC said the seventy five-minute episode also set a record as the most tweeted-about drama, with a total of four hundred and forty two thousand six hundred and ninety two tweets, peaking with twelve thousand nine hundred and thirty nine tweets a minute during the show's opening moments. Although, why the hell those people were tweeting about the episode instead of, you know, watching it is a question perhaps best left for another day. Meanwhile, here a picture of The Moff and Smudger at a recent Doctor Who event looking well-delirious by this news.
And, here's the consolidated figures for the Top Twenty Two programmes, week-ending 24 November 2013:-
1 Doctor Who - Sat BBC1 - 12.80m
2 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) - Mon ITV - 11.77m
3 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 11.86m
4 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 9.55m
5 Coronation Street - Fri ITV - 9.41m
6 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.78m
7 Last Tango In Halifax - Tues BBC1 - 7.42m
8= Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.17m
8= Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.17m*
10 International Friendly: England Vs Germany - Tues ITV - 6.16m
11 Animal Odd Couples - Thurs BBC1 - 5.56m
12 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.56m
13 The Paradise - Sun BBC1 - 5.52m
14= Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.41m
14= Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.41m
16 The Graham North=on Show - Fri BBC1 - 5.20m
17 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.15m
18 Nigel & Adam's Farm Kitchen - Wed BBC1 - 4.88m
19 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.80m
20 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.79m
21 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 4.68m
22 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.64m
ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top-rated show of the week was MasterChef: The Professionals which, for the third week running, saw all four of its weekly episodes top the three million mark, the highest being Thursday's 3.77m. That was followed by University Challenge (3.24m) and An Adventure In Space And Time (2.71m). Homeland topped Channel Four's ratings (2.73m) and The Mentalist was Channel Five's highest performer (1.68m). Doctor Who Live: The Afterbirth was watched by 1.58m horrified people on BBC3. The Saturday night episode of The X Factor was watched by 8.47m on ITV and ITV HD. Strictly's Sunday results show audience was 10.61m.

Upon learning the news about the effing 'uge TV audience figure for The Day of The Doctor, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat told this blogger: 'We've also yet to hear from the rest of the world. Amazing, anyway. These are the memories I shall cling for momentary flashes of self-worth.' It's rather charming to know that Steven cares as much as we do about this malarkey, isn't it? Next ...

Just two weeks after the twelve cover issue of Radio Times celebrating fifty years of Doctor Who, the Time Lord once more graces the front of the magazine's latest issue, this time promoting the forthcoming Christmas episode, The Time Of The Doctor and the end of yer actual Matt Smith's tenure as The Doctor. 'It's mere weeks until Matt Smith bids a fond farewell to Doctor Who but we couldn't let him go without one final hurrah – and a Radio Times cover, of course,' the magazine notes. 'This week's magazine marks Matt's thirteenth appearance on the cover as The Doctor, matching the record held by his predecessor, David Tennant. And just in time for the arrival of the thirteenth Doctor. Neat, eh? And, there are plenty more Doctor Who treats in store this week. For those of you who enjoyed our exclusive message from Matt Smith to celebrate The Doctor's fiftieth birthday, we've got another from the doors of the TARDIS plus a sneak peek behind the scenes on our cover shoot. Download the Blippar app and point your phone at the magazine to unlock all the exclusive content, including a gallery of all thirteen of Matt Smith's Radio Times Doctor Who covers and a complete episode guide to all the eleventh Doctor's adventures. As if that wasn't enough, we've got Matt Smith's final interview reflecting on his last days as the Time Lord and revealing his Hollywood hipster ambitions. One man who predicts a long and successful career for Smith is Steven Moffat who praises his lead Doctor Who actor – along with his Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch – for their wise career choices.'

Dazzling Derren Brown noted on Twitter this week: 'Just heard I got a mention on the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary episode - very flattered, presuming it was a good thing.' So, presumably, the flowers haven't arrived yet?

The best bit of this week's Have I Got News For You was, obviously, guest host Robert Lindsay begging Steven Moffat for the role of the next Doctor. And then failing to get his sonic screwdriver to work!
The BBC1 Controller, Charlotte Moore, has said that she is 'very excited' by Peter Capaldi's first scenes on Doctor Who. Speaking on Monday at a BAFTA session, Charlotte promised that The Thick Of It star is 'going to be a really fantastic Doctor. He's an extraordinary actor with amazing ability and just watching the first scenes come through. I'm very excited,' she said. Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) had previously addressed rumours that the new Doctor could be female, arguing that gender 'should not dictate' who plays the show's main role. 'It was about finding the right person, rather than what gender they might be,' Charlotte - herself, a lady person, you may have noticed - agreed. 'We didn't go in with any agenda, but when you know you've found the right Doctor, you all stick on the right Doctor. I'm delighted that Peter said yes.' In a wide-ranging speech, Charlotte also said that social media should 'never dictate' programming decisions. Moore argued that sites like Twitter should 'never [be] the only reason to decide whether you're going to commission or not commission. "t would be mad to think that you're going to make any creative judgements based on that,' she said. 'That's just one element of feedback [and] it's a very small part of our audience.' It's nice to know that somebody in television has realised just what a complete lack of correlation there is between something 'trending' on Twitter versus the number of 'normal' people that actually watch the damn thing. The Only Way Is Essex being the prime example. Charlotte added that working in the media can cause people to become 'overly obsessed' with Twitter. She was talking about various wastes-of-space at the Gruniad Morning Star there, obviously. 'If you work for the media, you feel [social media] must be the biggest market, but I simply don't think that's true,' she continued. Well, it isn't, clearly. 'It's very easy to get overly obsessed by it. You've got to take it within context. It's that balance between keeping up with your younger audiences who really are interested in social media and Twitter but not at the expense of the majority of the country who are not involved in that.' Despite the rise of on-demand viewing and the decline of overnight viewing figures as more and more people watch on time-shifted devices such as the BBC's iPlayer and their digital video recorder, Charlotte said she wanted BBC1 to have programmes which people had to watch live. 'BBC1 is a channel for the big moments, it has the ability to be the nation's conversation,' she said, highlighting the recent anniversary episode of Doctor Who and the imminent return of Sherlock. She said she wanted people to feel that 'you've got to watch it this week, you've got to watch it tonight because everyone will be talking about it tomorrow and if you don't you will feel you have missed out. That ability to harness the nation in conversation, that is really important,' she said. Charlotte also announced a raft of new commissions, including a sitcom Grey Mates starring Russ Abbott, the documentary series Inside KFC and a full series of Lacey Turner's well-regarded one-off drama Our Girl. The broadcaster has also ordered additional series of Big School (why? Why for the love of God, why?)and Citizen Khan. Charlotte - whom this blogger likes more and more the more he hears what she has to say (recommissioning Big School aside, obviously) also promised that The Great British Bake-Off won't change when it moves to BBC1 next year. Moore explained that she 'doesn't have any plans' to alter the original recipe of the series. 'When a show peaks at nine million [viewers], I'm not feeling a huge need to change it, I have to say,' she noted. 'It's a show that I commissioned on BBC2 and I've been there from the very beginning and I absolutely love Bake-Off. I don't think moving it to BBC1 is about changing the integrity of the show or the authenticity of the experience. It's done so fantastically well on BBC2 - it's become this national talking point - so it would be very strange not to put it at the very front of your shop window.'

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) once again topped the overnight ratings on Friday. Around 8.63 million punters tuned-in to watch Olympic flop Rebecca Adlington successfully complete her first Bushtucker Trial at 9pm. Have I Got News For You was the highest-rated show outside of soaps for BBC1, attracting 3.73m at 9pm. A repeat of last year's Miranda series opener - It Was Panning - drew 2.97m at 8.30pm, while an audience of 3.19m watched guests including Sharon Osbourne, Jezza Calrkson and Colin Farrell appear on The Graham Norton Show at 10.45pm. On BBC2, 1.97m viewers watched Mastermind at 8pm, followed by 1.62m for Kangaroo Dundee and 1.91m for Wild Burma: Nature's Lost Kingdom. A further two hundred and eighty thousand watched a Lady Gaga Culture Show special at 11.05pm. Marvel's Agents of SHIELD was the highest rated show on Channel Four with 1.11m viewers. Eight Out Of Ten Cats picked up eight hundred and twenty thousand viewers at 9pm, with a further six hundred and eighty thousand watched Louis Walsh appear on Alan Carr: Chatty Man at 10pm. An audience of 1.07m tuned in to watch Stobart: Trucks, Trains & Planes on Channel Five at 8pm, while Friday night movie Troy secured four hundred and thirty six thousand viewers at 9pm.

On Saturday, Strictly Come Dancing once again spanked The X Factor's bottom purple on overnight ratings figures. The popular BBC1 dance competition's latest episode attracted 10.25 million punters (a forty two per cent audience share) from 7:05pm. The X Factor's audience on ITV was 7.65 million. This was two hundred and thirty thousand viewers up on last week - when it was up against Doctor Who - but five hundred and eighty thousand punters down on the equivalent episode a fortnight ago. It was the talent contest's worst quarter final overnight audience figure ever - the previous lowest occurring during the show's first series, in 2004, at 7.7 million. 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) topped ITV's primetime ratings with 7.77m at 9.45pm, while but 2.6m watched The Jonathan Ross Show at 10.50pm, with guests including Joanna Lumley and Chris Tarrant. On BBC1, Atlantis continued with 4.09m at 8.15pm, after which long-running drama Casualty brought in 3.58m at 9pm. Pointless Celebrities was watched by 5.2m, whilst Match of the Day's audience was 3.2m. BBC2's Dad's Army pulled in 1.38m at 8pm and Victoria Coren-Mitchell's rather charming Culture Show special The Secret Life Of Mary Poppins was watched by 1.2m. Earlier at 7pm former Rugby Union star Jonathan Davies's documentary Trimsaran Boy attracted eight hundred and fifty thousand. On Channel Four, Walking Through History continued with slightly better ratings than last week, 1.01m tuning in for its second episode on the Lake District at 8pm. Eight hundred and sixty thousand punters watched Charlie Brooker's How Videogames Changed The World at 9pm. Channel Five's new series The Bible opened with 'In the beginning was The Word'. And 1.1m viewers at 9pm. The film A Carol Christmas attracted six hundred and twenty four thousand punters at 7.20pm. Foyle's War performed well for ITV3, pulling in 1.05m at 8pm, whilst the double-bill of BBC4's Borgen attracted six hundred and thirty eight thousand and four hundred and fifty seven thousand at 9pm and 10pm respectively.

Strictly rose in the ratings to come out on top overall on Sunday, according to overnight data. Mark Benton's elimination from the competition upped itself by around two hundred thousand viewers from the equivalent episode last week to 10.28 million at 7.20pm. On ITV, The X Factor continues to struggle, dropping by over a million punters from last Sunday's overnights to 7.68m at 8pm. However, some ITV viewers reportedly experienced blackouts during the show, so the final figures may have been affected by this. Although, that could be ITV clutching at straws. 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) was also down by almost a million from last week's Sunday episode to 9.40m. Earlier, Surprise, Surprise failed - unsurprisingly - to entertain 3.61m at 7pm. On BBC1, The Paradise dipped by over three hundred thousand viewers to 4.45m at 8pm. David Dimbleby's Britain And The Sea interested 2.88m at 9pm. On BBC2, Simon Reeves's Cuba brought in 1.38m at 7pm, followed by Great Continental Railway Journeys with 2.59m at 8pm. Morecambe & Wise: The Whole Story continued with 2.31m at 9pm. Channel Four's Time Team special gathered 1.60m at 8.15pm. Homeland was watched by 1.85m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Spider-Man III was seen by 1.25m at 6.30pm.

ITV has, grovellingly, apologised after some viewers lost their signal during Sunday night's X Factor. A tweet from the channel's official account said that ITV and ITV2 were 'affected' because of 'technical problems.' No shit/ One imagines most of those watching had, sort of, gathered that, mate. It said: 'Sorry to everyone who had their viewing disrupted by tonight's technical issues, and we are working to fix the ongoing problems.' Which is, presumably, ITV shorthand for, 'finding the moron responsible and kicking them, hard, in the goolies.'

Yer actual Kelsey Grammer has suggested that his Simpsons character - Sideshow Bob - will never be killed off. The Simpsons producers have announced that 'an iconic character' will be - fatally - written out of the popular long-running cartoon sitcom later this season, whilst Family Guy also recently killed off a popular character to fan bufuddlement. And, to slightly misquote an episode of Friends, yes, it was very sad when the man stopped drawing the dog. Anyway, Grammer – who has played the villainous Sideshow Bob off and on for twenty three years on The Simpsons – was recently asked by the TMZ website if his character was in danger of being killed off. 'Not to my knowledge,' Kelsey answered. The actor added: 'He'll [always] come back. They've already killed him twenty times! He comes back alive.' Sideshow Raheem, on the other hand, yeah, he's dead.
Yer actual Huge Laurie and yer man Danny Baker his very self appear to be having something of a righteous love-in on Twitter at the moment: 'A low bow to Danny Baker for his kind words. The man is a prince, my hero these thirty years past. May our followers mingle and inter-marry,' wrote Huge. Meanwhile, the guest on Danny's 5Live show on Saturday was David Suchet talking about his career and the sadness associated with leaving Poirot.
Yer actual Philip Glenister has signed up to host a show about British cars on Channel Four. The series, currently called Cars - staggeringly original albeit, completely accurate under the Trades Descriptions Act, seemingly - will see the Life On Mars actor - and noted petrolhead - examining the history of six iconic British cars. It will follow the fifty-year-old as he attempts to save the vehicles he believes are vital to telling the story of post-war Britain including the Ford Escort Mexico, MGTC, Mini Cooper MK1, Triumph Stag and the DeLorean. Restorer Ant Anstead will be given the task of rebuilding the cars, while the end of the series will see the vehicles being auctioned off to motor fanatics. Meanwhile, Glenister will meet past and present owners of the cars to find out why they are so important and what impact they had on Britain. So, not at all a format ripped off from something Top Gear was doing a decade ago, then? Oh no, very hot water. Glenister is also currently working on the BBC drama From There To Here, which follows two families caught in the aftermath of the 1996 IRA bomb attack on Manchester city centre. Plus, as mentioned, Big School's been recommissioned. Which is sad.

The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Lord Lucan is the subject of a much-anticipated ITV drama next week (see below). However, a relative of the Peer and the son of his alleged murder victim have already whinged their opposition to it happening. The son of Sandra Rivett – bludgeoned to death on the night of 7 November 1974, when Lord Lucan disappeared – has whinged that ITV is 'profiting' from his late mother's death. Neil Berriman adds that he has 'no intention' of watching the drama. Set to be shown on Wednesday, Lucan seeks to dramatise the events leading up to and including the fatal night when Berriman's birth mother, the Lucan family's nanny, was horribly murdered. It is thought that she was mistaken for Lady Lucan. Berriman said: 'They have invited me to watch the drama but I have got no intentions of going. The programme is not entertainment. I can understand interest in certain aspects of the case, but I think depicting the murder is appalling.' Berrriman, who only found out that he was the son of Sandra Rivett after his adoptive mother died nine years ago, says that he is 'in touch' with Lord Lucan’s daughter, the barrister Camilla Bingham. She 'agrees' that the events 'do not constitute a subject fit' for 'entertainment', telling Radio Times: 'To be clear, the collective Lucan family has never endorsed this drama and I don't believe that the Rivett family has either. "Declining to engage" with the producers is not the same as endorsing their adventure. In or around June of this year I was informed in general terms that the making of a drama was under way and told that I would receive further details nearer the time of broadcasting. I have received no such details. I am not aware that the drama will offer any new "insights" into the tragic events of 7 November 1974 which led to the death of lovely Sandra. If there were new "insights", the proper course would be for the relevant evidence to be submitted to the police, not titivated and presented to the public under the guise of "entertainment". It is hard to imagine that any reader will find that angle new or interesting. This drama will not inform or educate and no right-thinking person could regard it as entertainment.' Christ, don't those in the legal profession just love the sound of their own voice? Why used ten words when eighty three will do? ITV had already said in a statement on the drama: 'ITV has contacted everyone immediately connected with the story and given them a chance to engage and discuss any concerns. No one connected with this story had declared they were unhappy about us pursuing the drama. This includes the Lucan family and, in particular, the family of Sandra Rivett. The drama is not a re-hash of the story but rather seeks to provide a new insight into the events of 7 November 1974 and, crucially, attempts to answer the riddle of what became of Lord Lucan.' In the drama, Lucan is portrayed by Rory Kinnear who does not reveal what he thinks happened on the night Lucan disappeared. 'I don't like to judge the characters I play,' he told Radio Times. 'And you don't tell the audience what they're meant to be thinking. But when you tell real-life stories you remove the ability to dismiss it as you would a work of fiction. Something like this happened. If we can't judge, we can try to understand.'

Rachael Stirling has revealed that she received her Doctor Who casting call while in the middle of a scene in a live theatre performance with Mark Gatiss. Stirling, the daughter of Dame Diana Rigg, was starring with writer/performer Gatiss in a production of George Farquhar's play The Recruiting Officer at the beginning of last year when they both had to appear on stage pretending to have a conversation in the background. But instead of saying 'rhubarb rhubarb', as is the supposed form on these occasions, Gatiss (who was playing villainous Captain Brazen) propositioned Stirling for the role in his upcoming Doctor Who episode The Crimson Horror, which was shown earlier this year. She told Radio Times: 'It was hilarious. We had to sit at the back and he had an enormous ginger wig and these painted Aunt Sally cheeks, as did I with this huge canary dress and I had a fan. But he said to me [putting on a posh voice] "Have you ever been in Doctor Who?" I said "No!" And he said "If I wrote one for you would you be interested?" I said I would and it started from there.' Stirling was eventually cast in the drama as the daughter of her real-life mother – the first time the pair had appeared together on screen.

And, on that bombshell, here's the Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 7 December
In the latest episode of Atlantis - 8:15 BBC1 - the trio are desperate for answers following Medusa's disappearance and pay a visit to the genius inventor Daedalus, hoping he may be able to help. However, Hercules is impatient and sets out in search of his lost love - a decision that leaves him and his companions running for their lives as the prey in a tribe's brutal blood sport. The great Robert Lindsay (see above) and Jason Watkins guest star in the fantasy drama, with Mark Addy, Jack Donnelly and Robert Emms.

The Prime Minister takes everyone by surprise by calling a general election, so TV1 and the political parties swing into action in the first of tonight's two episodes of Borgen - 9:00 BBC4. However, with Birgitte undergoing secret daily radiation treatment, she is already struggling to keep up with her work. How long can she keep her serious illness under wraps from her closest colleagues? Then, as election day nears, Birgitte decides to come clean to her party about her health condition. Meanwhile, unable to make their mark with the opposition's policies, The New Democrats try to highlight the differences between their party and The Moderates. But, when Jacob Kurse steals a key policy, a mole is suspected within the party. Superb Danish political drama, starring Sidse Babett Knudsen, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen and Pilou Asbaek.

Or, if you don't fancy that, then there's snooker just about all sodding night on BBC2. No, me neither. Assuming it doesn't go into extra time (or whatever), then at least there's Qi XL at 10:30. The divine Goddess that is Victoria Coren Mitchell, the equally almighty Sue Perkins and the - not divine but still extremely holy - Reverend Richard Coles join regular panellist Alan Davies on the long-running popular comedy intelligence quiz. Host Stephen Fry asks a range of fiendish questions on the topic of Knights and Knaves, with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct ones.
Sunday 8 December
Tonight sees the final of 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) - 9:00 ITV. Not interested, dear blog reader. Even if half the rest of the country will be. In fact, it's a bit of a right proper shite night all round with a choice of Strictly and The Paradise on BBC1 - watchable, but hardly cutting-edge - The X Factor on ITV or more bloody snooker. For Christ's sake it's 2013 who gives a buggering stuff about snooker these days? Instead, this blogger suggests you stick with a repeat of Lewis - 9:00 ITV - or a couple of episodes of Bones (starting 9:00) on Sky Living, or a Mock The Week marathon on Dave. Or, watch paint dry, that's still more entertaining than snooker.
In Homeland - 9:00 Channel Four - Brody embarks on a high-stakes mission, but his fragile condition threatens its success, while Quinn makes an uncomfortable discovery about Carrie and a sudden crisis forces Fara to rejoin the team. Once unmissable but now, frankly, a bit 'meh' CIA drama, starring Damian Lewis, Claire Danes, Rupert Friend, Nazanin Boniadi and Mandy Patinkin.

Monday 9 December
It's the first of a two-part finale to the current series of Ripper Street - 9:00 BBC1. A valuable uncut diamond arrives in London, having been freed from the grasp of an overseas monopoly by one Daniel Judge - none other than Jackson's reckless and untrustworthy elder brother. As the good Captain assesses the situation, while also coping with his deeply irritating sibling, Reid and Flight are drawn to the plight of a local craftsman who has fallen victim to fraud - a sophisticated deception that returns H Division to the malign influence of Detective Inspector Jedediah Shine. Meanwhile, Long Susan is powerless to resist the influence of the slimy money-lender Silas Duggan and wants to get in her knickers as a price for the debt she owes.

The remaining four chefs are asked to prove their creativity, as judges that nice Michel Roux Jr and that nasty Monica Galetti push them to the limits of their ability in MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:30 BBC2. The contestants have to prepare two dishes from left-overs including meat bones, chicken carcasses, fish trimmings, vegetable peelings, stale croissants and bread, and over-ripe fruit, with the judges sending one more chef home at the end.

Remember when The Royal Variety Performance - 7:30 ITV - was one of the TV highlights of the year, dear blog reader? No, me neither, I'm only fifty. Anyway, cheeky big-toothed Scouser John Bishop hosts the 'entertainment extravaganza' (it says here) from the London Palladium in the presence of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Who also has teeth like a horse. So, those two should get on like a house of fire. The star-studded line-up of performers includes Gary Barlow, Olly Murs, Jessie J, Mary J Blige (whose surname, interestingly, is an anagram of bilge ... I'm just sayin'), Bryn Terfel, Gareth Malone with Voices, Britain's Got Talent winners Attraction, and the casts of West End shows Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and Stephen Ward. Harry Hill - who used to be funny but now, isn't - introduces a preview of I Can't Sing! The X Factor Musical, and there's alleged comedy from Dame Edna Everage (oh, Christ, now there's an act that got really old, really fast), Jimmy Carr, Seann Walsh, Jason Byrne and Hal Cruttenden. Also on the bill are Rizzle Kicks (he is 'a rapper' m'lud), Only Men Aloud, Torvill and Dean, John Newman, Caro Emerald, Chas & Dave (no, really), and Flavia Cacace with the cast of Dance 'Til Dawn. Unmissable, dear blog reader. It says here.

Tuesday 10 December
Jack's book isn't a secret any more when extracts of his pregnancy diary are published in a national newspaper in the latest Hebburn - 10:00 BBC2. Can he explain the situation to Sarah before she sees the article in question and gets her mad on? Pauline also faces a race against time when Swayze's places a huge order for cupcakes for a relaunch party. And, Vicki dumps poor Gervaise.
Having waited sixty years to finally get married, Alan and Celia decide to tie the knot yet again - giving all their family and friends a chance to attend the ceremony this time around in Last Tango In Halifax - 9:00 BBC1. Caroline whisks Kate away for the weekend, although what should be a romantic break turns out to be anything but when they end up falling out, threatening to end their relationship for good. Meanwhile, just as it seems Gillian and Robbie are back on friendlier terms, a revelation from Judith changes everything. Light-hearted drama, starring Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid, Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker.
Tonight also sees the first of two programmes in which the historian Suzannah Lipscomb lays bare the dangers of domestic life in the Nineteenth Century in Hidden Killers - 9:00 BBC4. Suzannah reveals some of the harrowing consequences which resulted from urban growth, fashionable items and mass consumerism. She begins by examining how Victorian ladies surrounded themselves with highly dangerous new products, from the food they ate to the clothes they wore.

Wednesday 11 December
The opening episode of the two-part Jeff Pope drama Lucan - 9:00 ITV - is based on the life of the flamboyant aristocrat, gambler and - alleged - murderer, Richard Bingham, the Seventh Earl of Lucan. In late 1974, with escalating gambling debts and his marriage crumbling, Lucan becomes obsessed with regaining the custody of his two young children. On one fateful night in November, the family's nanny Sandra Rivett is bludgeoned to death in the blood-soaked basement of the family home in Belgravia. In the hours that followed, Lucan his very self disappears and is never seen again. Starring Rory Kinnear, with Christopher Eccleston, Catherine McCormack, Michael Gambon, Paul Freeman, Rupert Evans, Gemma Jones and Leanne Best.
That aside, it's a rotten night. As evidenced by the fact that, probably, the only other thing even remotely worth watching is Stop! Police Interceptors - 8:00 Channel Five. This features another selection of highlights from the documentary series following the work of high-speed interception teams from Essex, South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Cumbria police forces. Featuring the most memorable moments of the officers' fight against crime, including chases of car thieves, people exceeding the speed limit and drunk drivers. With loads of shaky footage of geet rive-on and kids getting sparked and that. Not something this blogger would normally describe as must-see telly, but it's surprising entertaining with a curry and bottle of wine if you have a high embarrassment threshold. And, not self-respect.

Thursday 12 December
After six gruelling weeks, the MasterChef: The Professionals finalists' ultimate challenge is to prepare a three-course menu for Michel Roux Jr, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace, drawing on everything they have learned during the competition and over the course of their careers - 8:00 BBC2. The judges assess their efforts before deciding who will be crowned champion, succeeding last year's joint winners Keri Moss and Anton Piotrowski.
It's something of an overload of Big Baldy Gregg on telly tonight because, as soon as MasterChef is finished, he's also to be found fronting Supermarket Secrets - 9:00 BBC1. People buy ninety per cent of their food from supermarkets - or, in yer actual Keith telly Topping's case, one hundred per cent - giving the stores a huge influence on customers' lives. Gregg continues his occasional series with a look at how some of Britain's biggest retailers gear up for the Christmas period, when food sales increase by thirty six per cent and we all prepare to get our greed on. Big Baldy Gregg - very entertaining in this sort of thing, it must be noted - sees what it takes to deliver millions of turkeys, finds out about the science that goes into - allegedly - making Brussels sprouts tasty and discovers how the supermarkets make sure they have stocked enough of people's favourite drinks.
During the Cold War, there was a constant struggle to gain technological advantages over the enemy as we find out in the second part of The Silent War - 9:00 BBC2. The Soviets developed submarines that were ever more sophisticated - bigger, faster and more luxurious than any developed by the West. British, American and Soviet submariners reveal how the underwater arms race took ballistic missiles beneath the Arctic ice and recall how it nearly ended in nuclear disaster at sea.

Friday 13 December
Master of prestidigitation, trickery and mesmerism, Dazzling Derren Brown, says that his latest project will demonstrate how the public ignore the needs of older people. The Great Art Robbery - 9:00 Channel Four - sees Dezza recruit a group of pensioners to steal a one hundred thousand quid Jake and Dinos Chapman painting from trendy London art dealer Ivan Massow. Massow has been given advance warning of the name of the painting, the date and time of the theft and even a picture of the man who will attempt to steal it. Derren says that the tone of the special is deliberately lighter after his last programme, Apocalypse, in 2012 which managed to convince a man that he was one of the few survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. 'After you have ended the world for somebody what are you going to do from there?' said the illusionist. However, he added that The Great Art Robbery had also made him reflect on his own mortality as well as his attitudes to the elderly. 'A few years ago in Bristol I knew an elderly couple who lived on my street,' he said. 'She was very chatty and he was always sort of in the background but I remember talking to him after she died. He was telling me these stories and they were fascinating, how they met during the War, stories that none of us could tell. [The Great Art Robbery] made me think about what I should do now that means that when I am that age I am not lonely or regretful or bitter. If they do fail, it sort of doesn't matter. It's a safety net for us because that wasn't what the show was about.' Derren added that with his packed schedule of live performances he would now rather less TV specials than in the past. 'It ranges form year to year but I would prefer to do one or two a year,' he said.

In tonight's Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1 - Martin Clunes is the guest host with Jennifer Saunders and the great Bernard Cribbins joining yer actual Ian Hislop and Paul Merton his very self to, if you will, 'have a bit of a laugh' at the week's news. Later, tonight's episode of Qi - 10:00 BBC2 - features Jason Manford, Richard Osman and horribly unfunny and over-rated Victoria Wood in an episode on the theme of The Kitchen Sink.

To the news, now: A controversial BBC Panorama investigation into charities including Comic Relief is set to be broadcast in early December following interventions by the corporation's Director General and the director of news. The programme, which was at the centre of a row which drew in Tony Hall in October after the initial broadcast date for the programmes was postponed, is expected to be shown on Tuesday 10 December. Hall's personal pre-transmission intervention in the BBC1 current affairs documentary was prompted by unsubstantiated claims that a string of executives had ruled themselves out of taking decisions about the programme, as a result of the BBC's long-standing ties with Comic Relief. The Panorama charities documentary could have caused embarrassment for the BBC if it had aired in the run-up to the Children In Need night, which took place this year on 15 November, and could have had a negative impact on its fundraising activities. The documentary reportedly examines how Comic Relief allegedly invested one hundred and fifty million smackers of funds it had raised for up to eight years, before passing the money on to worthy causes. Some of the money is alleged to have been invested in tobacco firms and an arms company. According to the BBC, the Panorama documentary was never just about Comic Relief but about a number of charities, understood to include Save the Children and how they invest some of the funds they raise. It is understood that since the programme was postponed earlier this autumn it has been reviewed by a number of news executives, including James Harding, the director of BBC news and current affairs. Harding is understood to have asked the producers to go back and 'firm up' the investigation. Hall confirmed at the Voice of the Listener & Viewer autumn conference on Wednesday that the Panorama investigation would go ahead. There has been speculation that some elements of the programme have been changed during the review process. When asked about such claims, Hall told some trouble-making shite at the Gruniad Morning Star: 'It's James's [Harding's] programme. He wants to get it right. It's quite right the director of news has views about programmes – it'll [be] broadcast.' Alleged 'sources' allegedly close to one of the charities in the film said that they had received a letter from Matchlight, the independent production company behind the Panorama film, in the past week confirming that the show would go ahead. The letter allegedly confirms that the BBC are 'expecting to air' the programme on Tuesday 10 December. Comic Relief, the Red Nose Day and Sport Relief fundraiser, has enjoyed a close relationship with the BBC stretching back nearly thirty years. The BBC broadcasts the Red Nose Day and Sport Relief telethons. Danny Cohen, the BBC director of TV, and Tim Davie, the chief executive of commercial arm BBC Worldwide, are Comic Relief trustees and have had to recuse themselves from any senior management discussions about the Panorama documentary due to any accusations of a conflict of interest. The BBC said in a statement: 'BBC News and Current Affairs acts entirely independently of the wider BBC in commissioning and preparing programmes. It is simply wrong to suggest that the timing of the proposed Panorama investigation into the charity sector has in any way been influenced by the timing of Children In Need. The planned broadcast date of this investigation was delayed until we were satisfied that the programme met our robust editorial standards and we hope to schedule the programme to air in the near future.' Comic Relief said in a statement: 'Comic Relief takes the business of making grants and managing the money so generously donated by the public extremely seriously. We're satisfied that our approach is wholly appropriate and meets all regulatory and legal requirements. We have nothing to hide and publish a full explanation on our website.'

For the latest Examples of things that are, like, totally geet cush, and make the world a better place by their very existence, number thirty two: Keira Knightley.
That's followed by our other semi-regular From The North series, Great Daft Moments From TV History. Number twenty four: The Armstrong & Miller Show and the 'Gay Bar' sketch.
Comedian and musician Tim Minchin will star in his first sitcom as 'a loudmouth cocktail pianist' in Eighty Eight Keys for the BBC. Minchin will co-star with Fonejacker's Kayvan Novak in the pilot written by Jon Brown, whose previous credits include Channel Four's Fresh Meat and Nick Frost's latest big screen outing, Cuban Fury. Novak will play a barman in the comedy starring Minchin as Charlie the cocktail pianist who has grand ambitions, alongside his work colleague at the Carlton Arms Hotel, 'walking failure' Amy. The pair of 'monstrous rampaging ego-morons' are brought together by a rare fruit which causes 'unseen complications.' Born in the UK but raised in Australia, Minchin is best known for his musical comedy and his role as composer and lyricist of the award-winning musical, Matilda, based on the Roald Dahl novel of the same name. Eighty Eight Keys – initially a non-broadcast pilot – is being made by independent producer Big Talk, whose recent credits include Him & Her and Friday Night Dinner, as well as two genuinely classic sitcoms Black Books and Spaced. Big Talk chief executive Kenton Allen said the show felt like the 'son of Black Books' because it reunited director Martin Dennis with his co-chief executive Nira Park, who produced the Channel Four sitcom - as well as Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's Cornetto Trilogy movies - and will take the same role on Eighty Eight Keys. 'Tim Minchin is without doubt one of the most multi-talented performers in the world and we are utterly delighted he's fallen in love with Jon Brown's rather brilliant script,' said Allen. 'Eighty Eight Keys is sort of the son-of-Black Books as it marks Nira Park's return to producing a multi-camera show and reunites her with director Martin Dennis and many of the dream team behind the success of Black Books. Fingers crossed, early days and all that, but we're all a bit excited about this one.' Sounds intriguing and certainly has some pedigree behind it.

A record player which Elvis Presley his very self gave to a German woman as a wedding present is expected to fetch up to two thousand smackers when it is auctioned. Ellen Marschhauser met the rock'n'roll icon when she attended a party at the Hotel Grunewald in Bad Nauheim in 1959. The record player was a gift for her wedding to Jim Jenkins, with whom she later moved to the UK. David Lay, the proprietor of the Penzance Auction House, said the sale was creating 'so much excitement.' Elvis gave the dansette to Marschhauser after she had helped his father, Vernon, with some translation work. The singer had been carrying out his National Service in Germany when he met Marschhauser, who died in 2010. The record player, a 'Perpetuum Ebner Musical 5v Luxus', remained in the Jenkins' loft in Cornwall until Mr Jenkins saw a similar model in a newspaper article. There has already been interest from Elvis fan clubs around the world. An estimate of two grand has been placed on the item. Lay said: 'I'm nervous to suggest it's going to make some huge figure. It is an unknown quantity. Nothing like it has come on the market before. Normally, it's costumes, or something signed by him, so I am being cautious. It is early days. I have never come across anything that has created so much excitement. It's a unique experience for me. We are getting a lot of interest from Germany.' The record players, which were manufactured from the mid-1950s onwards, had three record speeds and a built-in amplifier. Jenkins said: 'We used it at parties. It had a great sound. But the needle broke so I put it away in the loft, thinking I would fix it one day.' Mimi Lay, from the auction house, has carried out many hours of research into the record player's authenticity. She said: 'Elvis is such an iconic figure. He generates so much enthusiasm. There are still so many fans. I have no doubts about the veracity of this story. It's been lovely to meet Jim and his friends and family.' The record player will be auctioned at the Penzance Auction House on 12 December.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Magpies moved up to fifth in the Premier League table with victory over West Bromwich Albinos. Yoan Gouffran scored for a third successive match at St James' Park to make it four wins out of four for Alan Pardew's side. The Albinos' Chris Brunt equalised before Moussa Sissoko stole the headlines with one of the goals of the day. His thunderous twenty five yard drive, with the outside of his boot, gave Boaz Myhill in the visitors' goal no chance. Victory means the Magpies are now enjoying their best run for nineteen months, as Pardew prepares to celebrate three years in charge of the club. The only surprise was Loic Remy's failure to find the net after scoring eight goals in his previous eight games for Newcastle - though he had the only other chance of a rather flat first half, rising highest to head an effort off the shoulder of Billy Jones and out for a corner. The opening goal was gifted to the hosts by Myhill, who failed to properly clear a high hanging corner from Yohan Cabaye and pressure from Shola Ameobi and punched it straight to Gouffran, who headed into an empty net. Following an eleventh minute round of applause in memory of the late Gary Speed, the noise levels dipped somewhat as Newcastle struggled to contain and combat a lively Baggies side who had lost just once on their travels. The first half concluded controversially, with Cabaye putting Remy through on goal in added time, only for Jonas Olsson to grab a handful of the United striker's shirt. Unbelievably, referee Phil Dowd waved play-on, deeming that the defender hadn't earned a red card for a foul. Dowd also chose not to show Brunt a second yellow for a robust challenge on Cabaye after the break - a decision that soon proved costly for the home side. Myhill forced to save at the feet of Remy to keep the Baggies in the match and their equaliser came completely against the run of play, Brunt smashing home from a tight angle after Morgan Amalfitano's cross was flicked on by Shane Long. If Brunt's finish was impressive then what followed from Sissoko was superb - not only the strike but the clever low header from Remy to play him into space. West Bromwich Albinos tried in vain to find the equaliser, although the introduction of striker Saido Berahino gave them more purpose. The visitors swung cross after cross into the home side's penalty area but Newcastle, and centre-half Mike Williamson in particular, stood strong.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's some Buzzcocks.

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