Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Week Four: Ideal Holmes Exhibition

Sherlock continued its Sunday ratings domination with its dramatic final episode of series three, according to overnight ratings. The BBC1 drama concluded with 8.77 million overnight viewers for His Last Vow at 8.30pm, down slightly - around seventy thousand punters - from last week's overnight audience of 8.84m. Earlier, Celebrity Mastermind was watched by 4.59m at 7pm, followed by Antiques Roadshow with 6.17m at 7.30pm. On BBC2, Simon Reeves's Tea Trail interested 1.60m at 8.15pm, while Dan Snow's Operation Grand Canyon brought in a very respectable 2.34m at 9.15pm. ITV's Twatting About On Ice shed nearly four hundred thousand viewers from the previous week's opener, attracting 5.86m at 6.15pm. The Twatting About On Ice results show was seen by 5.32m at 8.30pm as Sherlock, metaphorically, flicked it in the face just like what Charles Magnussen did to John Watson. All-Star Family Fortunes had an audience of 5.02m at 7.45pm at 7.45pm, while All New It'll Be Alright On The Night pulled in but 3.62m at 9pm. Channel Four's Speed With Guy Martin attracted 1.81m at 8pm, followed by the action movie Fast Five with 1.74m at 9pm. On Channel Five, My Super Ex-Girlfriend appealed to 1.03m at 7pm. Celebrity Big Brother continued with 2.05m at 9pm. BBC3's repeat of Saturday's The Voice opener attracted six hundred and fifty thousand at 7pm.

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has described Sherlock as 'a phenomenon' following this year's ratings success. 'It isn't supposed to be like this,' said Moffat - Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He - in a statement. 'Sherlock began life as a surprise hit, and now in its third series, it's rating higher than ever.' The writer - who devised Sherlock alongside his old mucker, Mark Gatiss his very self - admitted that he initially thought of the detective series as 'a vanity project' when it launched in 2010. 'This show, which we all thought would be our vanity project destined for three million in the ratings and possibly an award from an obscure European festival, has become a barnstorming international phenomenon,' he said. 'If I live to be a very old man, I might be able to explain how any of that happened - drop me a line in about forty years, I'll do my best. Till then, on behalf of Mark and Sue and myself - who started all this, not so very long ago - thank you all for the very best of times.' A fourth and fifth series of Sherlock are currently in the planning stages.

The final episode Sherlock has been reviewed enthusiastically by most TV critics. The Gruniad Morning Star's Lucy Mangan called His Last Vow 'perfect', praising the series finale for its 'ceaseless flow of wit, invention and intelligence.' Calling it 'the best of the lot', the Daily Torygraph's Serena Davies singled out yer actual Steven Moffat for special praise. Davies applauded Moffoat for getting 'the wary dance between plot and character just right.' Her review also saluted the Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen for his disturbingly sinister performance as media mogul and master blackmailer Charles Magnussen. 'As Magnussen, he licked one of his appalled victims. And in one sequence, excellent in its understatement, he repeatedly flicked Watson in the eye as if his finger were the tongue of a snake,' she wrote. 'If he'd chopped him up with a saw it couldn't have been more horrid.' The Metro also paid tribute to the former star of The Killing, suggesting the storyline of a manipulative media boss tapped into public fears about phone-hacking and media intrusion into private lives. 'From his position as a media mogul, he acquires compromising evidence on people, which gives him the power and wealth to gain even more information and therefore influence. That's a notion which strikes a chord with modern-day concerns about surveillance and personal data.' 'After the bromantic lull of last week's wedding episode, in which the mystery plot was half-drowned in sentiment, there was reason to fear Sherlock had gone soft,' claimed the Independent's Ellen Jones. 'We should have had more faith.' Yes, you should. The latest episode was something of a family affair for the production team, featuring Marty Freeman's partner, Amanda Abbington, as Mary Watson and Benny Cumberbatch's parents - Wanda Ventham and Tim Carlton - as the mother and father of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. It also featured Moffat's son, Louis, playing the young Sherlock in several flashback sequences. In his review, the Daily Mirra's Josh Wilding said the programme had featured 'some amazing visual sequences, a number of clever twists, a truly detestable villain and a strong story.' Thanks to these, he continued, Sherlock 'continues to show why it is simply one of the greatest TV shows of all time.'

Of course, not everybody liked it, that would be strange. After all, there are always a few planks floating about like a big stiff turd in a netty that won't flush away and continues to bob up and spoil even the grooviest party. For example, some specious arsehole jackbooted bully thug louse of absolutely no importance at the Daily Scum Mail wrote a piece - without, of course, any thoroughly sick agenda smeared all over it an inch thick - claiming that 'Sherlock's new press baron foe [is] more evidence of Left-wing bias [at the BBC].' Yes, of course it is. You effing bell-end. 'Sherlock was seen reading a copy of the Guardian,' this waste of oxygen continued. Well, hang him by his coddlings from a nearby tree for such naughty badness. Still, you know what they always say, there's no such thing as bad publicity. To which a member of the Metropolitan police had the following comment.
So, Sherlock has ended but a - not particularly reliable - tabloid reports suggest that the BBC are already planning a Christmas special. An alleged 'source' allegedly told the Sun: 'The BBC is desperate for a Sherlock Christmas Day special this year. It wants its biggest guns ready.' Yes, that doesn't particularly sound like a 'source' to me, more somebody guessing. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has already said that they will begin work on series four once Benny Cumberbatch and Marty Freeman have finish work on various films that they're due to appear in. He said at a recent Q&A: 'We'll get them made as quickly as we can. Benedict and Martin are making some movies. If you say "Who cares about movies?" I agree with you but they are doing them so we've got to schedule around that.'

Meanwhile, Mark Gatiss and Katy Manning exchanged rather touching tweets earlier this week following last Sunday's episode of Sherlock after Katy spotted a reference to the final scene of the 1973 Doctor Who six-parter The Green Death. Sherlock Holmes's glumly downbeat departure from the Watsons' wedding reception echoing that of The Doctor's exit from the engagement party of Katy's character Jo Grant and Cliff Jones.
If you're coming to terms with the end of series three of Sherlock, the BBC shop is offering an official Sherlock 'I don't understand' T-shirt, priced at just sixteen pounds and ninety nine pence of your Earth money and based on the final scene in His Last Vow between John Watson and the terrible Charles Augustus Magnussen. When Magnussen is explaining his complex plans, to Sherlock and John, Watson says: 'I don't understand.' Magnussen replies: 'You should have that on a T-shirt.' Later, John adds: 'I still don't understand.' Magnussen notes: 'And, there's the back of the T-shirt.' And sure enough, there's the T-shirt its very self. Also available - for the same price - is an 'I don't shave for Sherlock Holmes' short, based on John's banter with Mary about his moustache in The Empty Hearse. Both are described as 'a must-have for any Sherlock fan.'
The fiftieth anniversary episode of Doctor Who was the most accessed programme on the BBC iPlayer for the whole of 2013. The Day Of The Doctor topped the chart with 3.2 million people accessing the episode at some point. The episode had 0.3 million more requests than the second placed programme, episode one of Bad Education. The Doctor Who Christmas episode, The Time Of The Doctor, which saw Matt Smith leave the series, was accessed 1.95 million times in the week following transmission, enough to make it the thirty second most requested programme of the year and the most requested programme for Christmas week. Mrs Brown's Boys, which came top of the Christmas broadcast ratings, had 1.36 million requests. Nearly a million people downloaded the iPlayer mobile and tablet apps over the Christmas period, meaning over twenty million now have the service on their mobile device. All ten episodes of Doctor Who, which premiered in 2013, made the top fifty programmes on iPlayer in 2013. The Bells of Saint John came in at number five on the chart, with 2.64 million requests during the two months it was available. The Rings of Akharten was fifteenth with 2.31 million requests. At twenty three was The Name Of The Doctor which had 2.06 million requests. Cold War was thirty third with 1.95 million requests, Hide was thirty fifth with 1.92 million requests, Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS was thirty ninth with 1.89 million requests, Nightmare In Silver was fortieth with 1.89 million requests and The Crimson Horror was forty third with 1.83 million requests. Overall the 2013 episodes were requested over nineteen million times during the year. The 2012 episodes were also available on iPlayer for part of the year and requested a total of 2.39 million times. The fourteen episodes from Doctor Who's sixth were requested 4.51 million times and series five 0.67 million times.

Channel Four's Benefits Street climbed to top the Monday night ratings outside of soaps, overnight data has revealed. The allegedly 'controversial' documentary series jumped by around seven hundred thousand viewers to 4.3 million punters at 9pm. Just goes to show that lots of people whinging about a TV show is, usually, one very good way of getting more people to watch it as a consequence to find out what they're all whinging about. The show has attracted much media-generated controversy for its depiction of the people featured on the show, with some claiming in advance of broadcast that they had been lied to and tricked over the nature and content of the show. Although quite what they thought a programme called Benefits Street was going to be about in the first place is probably a question best left for another day. On the very day that four million odd punters were sitting down to watch it protesters 'amassed' outside the London offices of Benefits Street creators Love Productions and an online petition for Channel Four to stop showing it gathered several thousand signatures. But, one imagines, the four million viewers will have impressed the channel far more. After part one of the series was broadcast last week, West Midlands police said that it was 'assessing' whether the content could assist it in new inquiries or open up new cases. Ofcom also reportedly received over one hundred complaints, covering criminal activity and bad language on the show, and also the allegedly 'offensive, unfair and misleading' portrayals of benefits claimants. Head of Factual at Channel Four, Ralph Lee, defended the series from claims that it was 'poverty porn', adding that the crew was 'very clear and transparent about the nature of the show' to participants. The channel's Head of Documentaries Nick Mirsky claimed that the attention sparked by the programme was 'proof' that it had 'touched a nerve' and that it was 'essential' they made it. Earlier, Dogs: Their Secret Lives was seen by 1.43m at 8pm, while Dave: Loan Ranger interested 1.34m at 10pm on what was a bumper night for the network. On ITV, The Bletchley Circle dipped by just over one hundred thousand viewers from the previous episode to 3.97m at 9pm. A Great Welsh Adventure brought in 3.44m at 8pm. On BBC1, Fake Britain appealed to 3.13m at 8.30pm, while the Panorama special I Want My Baby Back attracted 2.17m at 9pm. BBC2's University Challenge - featuring a superb quarter final tie between Trinity College Cambridge and Manchester University and Jezza paxman describing one team as a bunch of smartarses (no kidding!) was watched by 3.09m at 8pm. The Great Sport Relief Bake Off entertained 3.71m at 8.30pm, followed by Sacred Wonders Of Britain with 1.53m at 9.30pm. On Channel Five, Celebrity Big Brother continued with 1.92m at 9pm, while Baby Face Brides was seen by nine hundred and twenty thousand at 10pm.

Death In Paradise returned to BBC1 in Tuesday evening with its best series launch to date. The opening episode of the third series of the popular Caribbean crime drama averaged 7.13m overnight punters. This, despite killing off the single best reason to watch the damn thing - the terrific Ben Miller - just three minutes into the episode. To be fair, his replacement, Kris Marshall, wasn't quite as catastrophically dreadful as this blogger had feared. But, he's got a very hard act to follow if the show is to maintain its broad popularity. And, as if there weren't already enough reasons to intensely dislike silly little Helen Baxendale, the fact that her character was the one what murdered Richard Poole is just one more to add to the list.
For the rest of Tuesday's overnights, on BBC2, The Great Sport Relief Bake Off appealed to 4.39m at 8pm, followed by Wild Brazil with 1.93m at 9pm. Vic and Bob's new sitcom House Of Fools had an opening night audience of 1.27m at 10pm. ITV's Weight Loss Ward brought in a risible 2.19m at 8pm, while Paul O'Grady's Animal Orphans was seen by a not-much-better 3.05m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Location, Location, Location appealed to 1.85m at 8pm. Nigella's Lawson's cookery competition The Taste lost nearly half its initial audience between its first and second outings. The Taste tumbled by around eight hundred thousand punters from last week to eight hundred and sixty one thousand at 9pm, while Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA attracted nine hundred and twenty six thousand at 10pm. The Taste, which sees Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Anthony Bourdain judging dishes based only on blind tasting a single spoonful, was watched by 1.6 million for last week's series opener. Channel Five's Gibraltar: Britain in the Sun had a fraction under one million viewers at 8pm, followed by Celebrity Big Brother with 2.28m at 9pm and Autopsy: Whitney Houston's Final Hours with 1.72m at 10pm.

Speaking of Death In Paradise, dear blog reader, the great Keith Watson, the reviewer at the Metro, has written one of his, usual, superb reviews of the episode which you can check out here: 'As it turns out, Marshall does a pretty good line in uptight Englishman himself. That's the calling card of Death In Paradise, sticking an apparently clueless Brit in the Caribbean, pairing him with an attractive sidekick (Sara Martins) having the locals roll their eyes at his incompetence – and then see them taken aback at his crime-cracking capacity ... I rather warmed to this garrulous misfit, a man who can fill any silence with his babble. What more can I say? I know the type.' Not only that, but Keith also cast an impressed eye over the opening episode of Vic and Bob's gloriously daft new sitcom, House of Fools: 'I didn't know I'd forgotten how good Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer could be until House Of Fools came up and slapped me round the kippers with its sheer intoxicating daftness. The best thing is that, while middle-aged men pratting about like students and cracking gags involving body parts could easily come across as tragic, it just seems appropriately Vic and Bob, like the past twenty years never happened. Just when I was about to send my pointy stick off for recycling, Reeves and Mortimer got good again.'
Death In Paradise also got a good review in the Torygraph. Hardly surprising, really, given the daily newspaper which, it would seem, the Kris Marshall character reads. One wonders is some arsehole thug louse of no importance at the Daily Scum Mail will be whinging about the BBC displaying 'right-wing bias'? I doubt it, personally.

Meanwhile, here's the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty programmes for week-ending Sunday 5 January:-
1 Sherlock - Wed BBC1 - 12.72m
2 Mrs Brown's Boys - Mon BBC1 - 11.27m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.77m
4 Birds Of A Feather - Thurs ITV - 9.20m
5 EastEnders - Thurs BBC1 - 8.61m
6 Gary Barlow's Big Ben Bollocks - Tues BBC1 - 8.32m
7 Silent Witness - Thurs BBC1 - 7.92m
8 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 7.83m
9 Benidorm - Thurs ITV - 7.17m
10 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 6.64m
11 Six O'Clock News - Fri BBC1 - 6.43m
12 Twatting About On Ice - Sun ITV - 6.19m*
13 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 6.08m
14 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 6.05m
15 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.64m
16 Film: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows - Wed ITV - 5.61m
17 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.44m
18 Ten O'Clock News - Fri BBC1 - 5.37m
19 Celebrity Mastermind - Fri BBC1 - 5.34m
20 Dolphins: Spy In The Pod - Thurs BBC1 - 5.29m
ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. The audience for Sherlock's opening episode - as previously announced - included a timeshifted increase on the overnight figure (9.2 million) of just over three and a half million viewers, a record which broke that set by an episode of Downton Abbey in 2012. The second episode of Sherlock - The Sign Of Three - had a consolidated audience of 11.38 million, itself an increase on the overnight figure of just over two and a half million viewers. BBC2's top-rated show of the week was Dave Allen: The Immaculate Selection (3.22m), followed by Operation Grand Canyon With Dan Snow (2.96m), Dave Allen: God's Own Comedian (2.95m), Christmas University Challenge (2.94m), The Thirteenth Tale (2.84m), Nature's Weirdest Events (2.85m) and PQ17: An Arctic Convoy Disaster (2.76m). Channel Four's highest-rated show for the week was David Blaine: Real Or Magic with 2.74m. The opening episode of Celebrity Big Brother was Channel Five's highest performer with 3.45m. The opening two episodes of BBC4's The Bridge attracted audiences of 1.51m and 1.35m respectively.

And, so to the next batch of Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 18 January
In the second episode of Hostages - 9:00 Channel Four - when Ellen disobeys Duncan's orders, he threatens to kill a member of her family and the surgeon realises she can't trust anyone - not even those employed to protect the president. The FBI agent tells the Sanders family to go about their normal lives for two weeks - until the premier's next operation - but warns them that his team will be monitoring their every move. American imported thriller, starring Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott, with Hilarie Burton.
The investigation grows, offering up new leads in The Bridge - 9:00 BBC4. Meanwhile, four people wearing animal masks carry out a new attack, before posting footage of the assault online. Saga and Martin try to track down the perpetrators before they cause more harm, but they are already busy planning their next move. Then, Saga visits Martin and his ailing son at the hospital and notices something is not quite right about the place. Meanwhile, the investigation intensifies as another poisoning is connected to the duo's case, and a motorboat containing skeletal remains is recovered from the bottom of the sea. Scandinavian crime drama, in Danish and Swedish, starring Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia.
Qi XL - 10:30 BBC2 - is an extended edition of the comedy quiz on which actress and presenter Liza Tarbuck, comedienne Susan Calman and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig join regular panellist Alan Davies. Host Stephen Fry asks a range of questions on a Kaleidoscope of topics beginning with 'k', with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct ones. Last in the current series. However, see Friday.
Sunday 19 January
The nuns and midwives move into their new premises following the explosion that wrecked the old Nonnatus House, and are joined by fresh arrival Sister Winifred - a kindly-but-naive young woman in the opening episode of the latest series of Call The Midwife - 8:00 BBC1. Jenny becomes concerned about new mother Merle's mental state and the welfare of her baby, who isn't feeding properly. Doctor Turner believes it could be something more serious - although the mystery is eventually solved by the last person anyone would have expected. Chummy is struggling to adjust to her new role as a housewife and mother, and organises an open day at the community centre. Jessica Raine, Stephen McGann and Miranda Hart star.
Tonight sees the return of the police drama Hawaii Five-0 - 9:00 Sky1. McGarrett and Wo Fat narrowly escape from prison, but the NLM gunmen aren't far behind, while terrorists pin down the location of Kono and Adam's safehouse, storm the Five-0 headquarters and take everyone hostage. Elsewhere, light is shed on Doris's relationship and a new SWAT Captain arrives in town. Crime drama, with Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park and Chi McBride, guest starring Lost's Henry Ian Cusick.
The Musketeers - 9:00 BBc1 - as you probably know by now is a drama set in Seventeenth-Century Paris, following the adventures of the soldiers assigned to protect king and country. Young swordsman d'Artagnan arrives in the French capital seeking out the man responsible for killing his father - a quest which brings him into conflict with one of the king's guards. But as he quickly discovers, when you take on one Musketeer, you take on them all. It's soon back to business when the swashbuckling heroes are ordered to find a missing soldier who was carrying important letters on behalf of King Louis, while the dastardly Cardinal Richelieu - and his evil facial hair - plots to increase his political power. Luke Pasqualino, Tom Burke, Howard Charles and Santiago Cabrera star as d'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis, with Peter Capaldi as Richelieu. Based on the characters created by Alexandre Dumas.

Monday 20 January
Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games present Winterwatch - 8:00 BBC2 - from their new base at Mar Lodge Estate in the Cairngorms National Park, where they'll be following the fortunes of golden eagles, red squirrels, otters and red deer as they cope with this most challenging season. There is also a report on Brighton's urban foxes and an investigation into the ingenious ways British wildlife overcomes the hardships of winter.
When Millie is kidnapped and taken to a hotel by Soho gangster types, Alice suspects the incident could be connected to her recent dealings on the black market in the latest The Bletchley Circle - 9:00 ITV. Wanting to avoid involvement from the police, she contacts the other women, and their investigation takes them to Jasper, Millie's business associate. Meanwhile, during her ordeal in captivity, Millie tries to get an Eastern European girl to help her, but it soon becomes clear she is in no position to do so. Guest-starring Rob Jarvis.

In Helix - 10:00 Channel Five - a team from America's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention travels to a high-tech research facility in the Arctic Circle to investigate a possible virus outbreak. As the company's dangerous experiments come to light, the scientists find themselves pulled into a terrifying life-and-death struggle that could hold the key to mankind's salvation or total annihilation. Opening episode of the SF thriller, starring Billy Campbell and Jordan Hayes.
Tuesday 21 January
In Death In Paradise - 9:00 BBC1 - a zombie movie being filmed on the island ends in real-life horror when a stand-in is poisoned - and new detective inspector Humphrey soon deduces that the unfortunate victim was not the killer's intended target. He believes the culprit was after lead actress Lexi Cunningham, but the murder plot went wrong. The Caribbean cops focus their attention on three suspects - film director Carl Collins, screenwriter Arnold Finch and production assistant Susie Jenkins. But why would any of them want the star dead? Michelle Ryan, Peter Davison and Hannah Tointon guest star.
Julie entrusts Vic and Bob with the safety of her prize pork pie, which she plans to offer to Bruce Willis to persuade him to star in a film based on her best-selling novel in House Of Fools - 10:30 BBC2. However, the housemates give in to temptation and eat it, so they set about stealing another from Ben Gunn's Pork Emporium. Comedy written by and starring Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, with Morgana Robinson.
Rococo: Travel, Pleasure, Madness - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary exploring the art movement, presented by Waldemar Januszczak, who argues that the style is not as frivolous as its reputation suggests. In the first programme, he argues that through the frame of travel society can witness the impact of the movement on the Eighteenth-Century cultural landscape, shown in the Bavarian pilgrimage architecture, Canaletto's Venice, and the advancement of exotic designs throughout Europe.

Wednesday 22 January
The National Television Awards 2014 - 7:30 ITV - sees the biggest names on the small screen gather at the O2 in London for the annual ceremony celebrating the best of British TV over the past twelve months, as voted for by viewers. This year, Olivia Colman and David Tennant, Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, Bradley Walsh and Suranne Jones battle it out in the new TV Detective category, and ratings hit The Great British Bake Off faces tough competition from Paul O'Grady: For the Love of Dogs, Top Gear and An Idiot Abroad to scoop the Factual Entertainment trophy. David Neilson and Julie Hesmondhalgh are nominated for Serial Drama Performance for their poignant scenes as Roy and Hayley in Coronation Street, while Ant and/or Dec will be hoping to pick up their thirteenth consecutive Entertainment Presenter award, beating rivals Alan Carr and Graham Norton, as well as the evening's host Dermot O'Dreary. There's also a spectacular opening number paying tribute to one of the year's most talked-about shows.

In Hens Behaving Badly - 10:30 Channel Five - Leeds bride-to-be Gemma invites her long-lost sister, Sasha, and future mother-in-law, Linda, to an 'emotionally charged' (for which read 'alcohol-fuelled') celebration in Manchester, while Julie goes on a weekend in yer actual bonny Newcastle with her friends before she emigrates to Australia. The programme also shows how the UK's door staff deal with drunken revellers - tenderly, and with care, of course - and male strippers reveal 'the tricks they use' to ensure the audience always 'sees their best side' during their routines. This, dear blog reader, is Channel Five's idea of quality infotainment. Last in the series.

Thursday 23 January
A homeless man opens an abandoned suitcase in a park, only to find the body of a teenage girl inside in the latest Silent Witness - 9:00 BBC1. Jack and Nikki attend the scene with DS Sally Kirchner and are shocked to discover the victim's baby has been cut from her womb. From the placenta they are able to identify the father - but the married man in question denies any knowledge of the deceased. Emilia Fox, David Caves and Richard Lintern star in the forensic crime drama, with guest appearances by Morven Christie and Sean Gallagher. Concludes tomorrow.
The writer and broadcaster offers a satirical look at the latest news from politics, the media and the Internet, casting a critical eye over trends in TV, cinema, computer games and social media in Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe - 10:00 BBC2. Featuring contributions by Doug Stanhope, Brian Limond and Jake Yapp.

Friday 24 January
Having said the last episode of Qi was the series finale, well, that's technically true. However, tonight we have the first of two compilations of highlights from the eleventh series of the quiz - 10:00 BBC2 - hosted by yer actual Stephen Fry. Guests including Susan Calman, Sarah Millican, Reginald D Hunter, odious lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall, unfunny bore Victoria Wood and bloody weirdo Noel Fielding joined regular panellist Alan Davies to answer questions based on subjects beginning with the letter K.

In one of the most memorable episodes of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet - 9:00 Drama - the brickies arrive in sleepy Derbyshire to convert Thornley Manor into timeshare holiday homes for dodgy property dealer Ally Fraser. However, an eagle-eyed local lady becomes suspicious of the gang and decides to investigate further. Watch out for the scene at the start where they're in a motorway service cafe deciding which one of the Magnificent Seven they are, it's proper genius (Oz pinching a sausage from someone's plate whilst declaring: 'James Coburn, that's me. Cos he was cool and laconic, wasn't he?!')
To the news, now: Ofcom says that it is 'assessing hundreds' of complaints made against Celebrity Big Brother. A total of three hundred and forty two complaints have been made about the latest series of the Channel Five show since it launched. Former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield caused anger when he claimed that being gay 'ain't normal.' Other complaints were made following Monday night's episode, in which housemates were given the task of producing certificate eighteen footage. Ofcom says it has not yet decided whether to look into the complaints. Whether any of these complaints were about the continued existence of Jim Davidson is not known at this time.

ITV has launched a thoroughly mendacious, spiteful, agenda-soaked and whinging attack on the BBC, criticising the 'distinctiveness' of the corporation's programming output, its - allegedly - 'aggressive' pursuit of ratings and its plans to launch a BBC1+1 service. ITV's submission to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's inquiry on the future of the BBC reads like a submission from the school sneak starting with a claim of support for the corporation, but then spending several pages whinging that the BBC's 'content strategy' is 'treading on commercial toes.' Or, in other words, the BBC are making programmes that people want to watch and ITV are struggling to do the same outside of their handful of already successful brands - and even several of those aren't as successful as they were a few years ago. And ITV don't like that. Such attacks have been rare since ITV chief executive Adam Crozier took office in 2010, suggesting a build-up of frustration with the BBC's alleged 'behaviour in a market' in which advertising revenues remain volatile. The UK's largest free-to-air advertising-funded broadcaster claimed that the BBC Trust had not delivered 'a meaningful framework or plan' for ensuring the distinctiveness of the BBC's TV output. ITV claimed that audience research by the Trust showed nearly seventy per cent of BBC1 viewers believed its programmes 'feel fresh and new' in 2011, but that proportion had not increased since then. 'This should not be acceptable for a publicly funded TV channel,' ITV argued. All of whose programmes are, of course, completely 'fresh and new.' Hypocritical bastards. The commercial broadcaster alleged that the removal of BBC1's afternoon children's content last year was 'an opportunity' to take creative risks that the latter failed to take. Because, again, ITV also take creative risks all the time, do they not? Instead, ITV whinged, the channel has bid to 'increase audience share' by ordering more of already established brands, including Flog It! and Escape To The Country. 'The BBC's pursuit of audience share regardless of distinctiveness or innovation has been evident where the BBC has rushed to commission or produce almost identical programmes to those by ITV,' the company whinged in its nine-page submission to the CMSC. ITV complained this alleged 'problem' was further exacerbated by 'aggressive BBC scheduling strategies', which it claimed on one occasion had forced ITV to move a high-profile show to 'avoid serious commercial damage.' Yes, because heaven forbid that the BBC should dare to show anything up against The X Factor, for example. Blog readers should note that this submission arrived on the desk of the Culture committee one day after ITV's opposition to the final episode of Sherlock was Twatting About On Ice and the latest It'll be Alright On The Night. Creative risks? You morons wouldn't know a creative risk if one gave you a haircut. ITV was also annoyed by the BBC1's decision to commission The Voice, arguing it can see 'no obvious justification' for the broadcaster 'turning to existing formats.' And, you sense, that - and that alone - is what this is really all about. They don't like the competition. ITV claimed, unconvincingly: 'We welcome competition, but what we find difficult are situations where the BBC seems to merely copy the commercial strategies of competitors purely to gain audience share whilst at the same time enjoying the certainty of a guaranteed licence fee income.' The commercial broadcaster has also taken issue with plans to launch a time-adjusted +1 service for BBC1, which was announced in Director General Tony Hall's vision for the BBC last year. It said the proposal was 'particularly surprising' because the BBC has previously maintained that this bolt on service would 'not deliver public value.' ITV said there was 'little evidence' for the corporation's suggestion that BBC1+1 would reach younger audiences. 'We think this is an unnecessary and overtly commercial proposal by the BBC that should be challenged thoroughly by the BBC Trust in terms of public value and market impact,' ITV said. The company added that the BBC’s new ten-year charter 'should encompass at least six commitments on delivering distinctive programming.' These include broadcasting a minimum number of new shows every year, 'explicit obligations' to invest in on-screen and production talent and 'stretching' targets on less commercially attractive genres, including children’s and religion. A spokesman for the BBC defended its strategy. He said: 'Research shows that not only is there strong public support for the BBC showing a wide range of content and funded by the licence fee, but also that in countries where public service broadcasting is strong, commercial broadcasting is also strong.'

DirecTV has dropped the Weather Channel, which means that twenty million US homes are without the nation's most widely broadcast forecaster. The channel, known to many for its largely failed attempt to introduce naming conventions to all significant weather systems, has been dumped in a dispute over cost. DirecTV has replaced the Weather Channel with the smaller, lesser known Weather Nation, which, according to the Gruniad Moaning Star is 'in meteorological terms is like replacing with a loud, gusty, look-at-me force-nine wind with a warm, gentle breeze that goes unnoticed until somebody mentions the weather.'

Peter Capaldi has been in Cardiff filming the first scenes of the new series of Doctor Who, apparently wearing a nightgown. The opening episode of series eight features scenes where Capaldi rides through fog-shrouded streets on a (mechanical) horse – but there's a snag. The Sun reports that Peter was none too keen on the steed he had to ride during shooting. 'I'm afraid of that horse, and the horse knows it,' Capaldi said. Just wait till he meets the Daleks.
A 'creative' decision - as opposed to a contractual one - was behind Peter Capaldi keeping his native Scottish accent as The Doctor, the BBC has been quoted as saying. According to an unnamed - and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious - 'insider', Capaldi was 'delighted when he found out he could play the part with his own voice. It gives his character a stronger identity as well.' The article, in the Daily Mirra, takes pains to point out that fellow Scot David Tennant used an English accent because then showrunner Russell Davies didn't want the Doctor 'touring the regions.' It neglects to mention that the Highlands-set episode Tooth and Claw did see Tennant talking with a Scottish accent. Sylvester McCoy, of course, kept his Scottish accent as The Doctor.)
An accountant from Somerset who admitted to swindling eighty thousand smackers from the programme budgets of Doctor Who and Casualty has been extremely jailed for two years. Oliver Ager pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court to seventeen fraud offences, which were uncovered when he was based at the Roath Lock studios. He was sacked in October 2012 by BBC Finance. The thirty five-year-old, of Rock Avenue, Nailsea, who was a production accountant for twenty episodes of Doctor Who in 2007 and 2008, has repaid thirty grand tothe BBC from his pension fund. The court made no order relating to the rest of the money. Ager, who was also credited on The Sarah Jane Adventures pilot episode Invasion of the Bane, will serve one year of his prison term before being released on licence. In a statement after sentencing, the BBC said that it had 'reviewed its cash processes' and 'tightened procedures' since the offences were committed 'to prevent a crime like this from happening again.'

The co-creator of Life On Mars is developing a TV drama series, partly inspired by the success 'jukebox musicals' such as Mamma Mia!, featuring the music of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved Motown and hits such as 'Dancing In The Street' and 'Uptight'. Tony Jordan, the former EastEnders lead writer with credits including Life On Mars, Hustle, Death In Paradise and By Any Means, is working on scripts for a ten-part series, called Stop! In the Name of Love, after securing the rights to forty Motown songs from EMI Music Publishing. He is developing scripts which weave Motown classics such as 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' and 'What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?' into a narrative about a group of four 'smart thirtysomethings and their search for love and friendship.' The tale will be told through the characters singing Motown songs, a device successfully used in West End jukebox musicals such as Mamma Mia! and Rock of Ages. 'No one has ever done this kind of thing on TV, full stop,' said Jordan. Well, I dunno, Peter Bowker did something very similar with Blackpool, Tone. 'I'm talking about one hundred women in burqas doing 'Baby Love', that's a big deal. I always wanted to do a big, sexy, amazing musical for TV, something we've not seen since those old MGM musicals.' Securing the rights to songs from Berry Gordy's hit-factory Motown Records was something of a coup, taking a year of negotiations with owner EMI Music Publishing, handled by music consultant and former Universal Music UK chairman John Kennedy. EMI Music Publishing is now owned by a consortium led by Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Jordan is developing the series through his production company Red Planet Pictures, as a joint venture with Kennedy film producer Duncan Kenworthy and former NBC Universal International president and Cineflix Studios chief executive Peter Smith. Jordan and Kenworthy will executive produce. Red Planet and Smith are leading negotiations with potential broadcast partners for the series in the UK and internationally. Jordan said the music is 'an essential element' of the series, which aims to be reflect the UK's multicultural society. 'Motown was the first music that really went across the social divide, it came out of Detroit and it was the first music that brought black and white together for the first time in popular music,' he said. 'The Motown catalogue was important because we live in a more multicultural society than we ever have before, it feels the perfect time to do the show.' Jordan added that he has long harboured an ambition to bring his take on the musical to TV, and that the successful adaptation of West End hits such as Mamma Mia! and Sunshine On Leith into films proved it can be done successfully. 'I've always wanted to do a musical, look at the success of Mamma Mia! at bringing drama and music together,' said Jordan. 'I was gutted when Pete Bowker did Blackpool.' See, I told you! 'And when Glee came along I thought "gutted, now someone's done it", but they didn't do what was in my head. In my head was Busby Berkeley, not just two people singing in a kitchen.' Jordan added that using music as part of the main plot, not just the background, allowed him to pull the heart strings much quicker than the slow-burn build-up of writing for a traditional TV show. 'It could take me forty pages as a writer to get the audience to an emotional trigger to cry, I can do that in one page with music,' he said. 'I'm talking about a shortcut to an emotional trigger that only music can deliver.' Kenworthy's credits include Notting Hill, Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Sex and the City, Bridesmaids, Bridget Jones's Diary and others have a universal theme of everyone looking for that extra piece of the jigsaw to make life complete,' said Jordan. 'Stop! captures that theme of love, that piece missing.'

John Simm is to star in Intruders, an eight-part series for BBC America, it has been announced. Based on the 2007 novel by Michael Marshall, it has been described as 'a chilling, paranormal drama set in the moody Pacific Northwest.' Simm will play Jack Whelan, a Los Angeles police officer turned writer who is forced to confront his dark, violent past when his wife goes missing. The actor said he 'couldn't pass up the chance to play this complex character.' One of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, John his very self was most recently seen in the 2013 BBC drama The Village as Derbyshire farmer John Middleton. He is also well known for his starring roles in Sky1's Mad Dogs, as Sam Tyler in the classic Life On Mars, the investigative journalist Cal McCaffery in State of Play and for playing a completely mental version of The Master opposite David Tennant in Doctor Who. Glen Morgan, the series' executive producer and writer, said he was 'thrilled' to be working with 'one of the UK's most exciting talents' on the programme. 'The BBC has always broken new ground in this genre and I look forward to playing a part in that tradition.' Eduardo Sanchez, co-director of The Blair Witch Project and The Last Exorcism's Daniel Stamm will share directing duties, with production due to begin next month.

24: Live Another Day is to be shown on Sky1 in the UK. The broadcaster has acquired the UK rights to the new twelve-part series, which sees Kiefer Sutherland reprise his role as armour-plated killing machine Jack Bauer and is set in London. Sutherland said: '24 has always had such a global sensibility. But to be able to tell this intense 24-style story with the beauty of Europe's history and architecture as the backdrop is going to be fascinating. Hopefully, by the time you're finished watching an episode, you'll feel like you've been there. On the edge of your seat.' Live Another Day is the first season of 24 since the show's original run ended in 2010. The new run will see Sutherland's former government agent Bauer hunted by a CIA agent, played by Chuck's Yvonne Strahovski. Series veterans Mary Lynn Rajskub, William Devane and Kim Raver will all return to the show. Sarah Wright, Controller of Acquisitions at Sky, said: 'We're thrilled to be bringing 24: Live Another Day to Sky1 HD. We remain passionate about bringing the best of the US to Sky customers and the return of the iconic 24 is a hugely exciting TV event.' Sky1 will broadcast 24: Live Another Day from May. The series will launch with a double-bill on FOX in the US on Monday 5 May.

And, speaking of armour-plated killing machines, yer actual John Barrowman is to present new Channel Four daytime series Superstar Dogs. Insert your own punchline here.
Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks asked for her office to be swept for bugs a day before police launched their hacking investigation in January 2011, the Old Bailey has heard. The e-mail from the then-chief executive of News International read: 'Can we have my phones and office swept, thanks. Discreetly.' It was copied to co-defendant, head of security Mark Hanna. Brooks and Hanna deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by concealing computers from the police. In a subsequent e-mail, Hanna said Brooks's Chelsea flat and her car would also be checked for bugs. The court heard the News International offices were 'routinely searched' for listening devices to avoid rival journalists snatching scoops and eavesdropping on any discussions about parent company, News Corporation's planned BSkyB takeover bid. Jane Viner, News International's group director for property and facilities, also said Brooks had been sent 'threatening' post as the hacking allegations emerged. Most were intercepted in the post room and the rest were usually spotted by personal assistants, she added. During 2011, security around the company's executives was stepped up, the court heard. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was given the codename 'Blackhawk' and assigned bodyguards and twenty four-hour security at her homes, jurors were told. The Metropolitan Police launched Operation Weeting on 26 January 2011 to investigate evidence of phone-hacking at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, the court has previously heard. Hanna, a former soldier, was described by his lawyer in court as 'entirely honest [and] trustworthy.' Jane Viner, his then-boss, said that she had had 'concerns' about his welfare at the time because of his intense workload. After Brooks resigned as CEO in July 2011, Hanna spent the whole weekend in the Oxfordshire village of Enstone, where Brooks was holding a series of meetings. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks had been due to appear before a parliamentary select committee on the following Tuesday but, instead, was arrested on the Sunday. That same day, Hanna returned to London in a Range Rover belonging to Brooks' husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie, the jury was told. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, of Churchill in Oxfordshire, denies further charges of hacking and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. Brooks edited the Scum of the World for three years from 2000, then the Sun for six years. In 2009, she became News International's chief executive.

Meanwhile, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks, also on trial, denies conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. CCTV footage of well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks's husband allegedly 'hiding evidence' from the police investigating phone-hacking has been shown to the jury. Millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks was recorded coming down the lift from their apartment in Chelsea Harbour and entering the car park carrying a jiffy bag and a laptop. Moments later he is clearly seen returning to the entrance of the lift empty-handed. The CCTV footage, seized by Scotland Yard, was timed at twelve minutes after well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks was arrested at Lewisham police station on Sunday 17 July 2011. This was two days after well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks resigned as chief executive of News International in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal that led to closure of the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks is accused of conspiring - with her husband and News International's head of security - to conceal 'documents and computers' from the investigating detectives. All three have denied the charges. The jury heard that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah and millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks and two of their security team - Paul Edwards and Daryl Jorsling - returned to London on Sunday morning and went straight the office of Kingsley Napley, her solicitors. She was then driven to Lewisham police station by Edwards where she was expected for a pre-arranged interview. She was arrested at 12.02pm. At 11.52am, CCTV footage recorded millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks and his solicitor Angus McBride entering the reception area at Chelsea Harbour. At 12.14pm, separate cameras in an underground car park show Brooks carrying a jiffy bag and the laptop, coming out of a lift door, looking briefly to his right and then walking to his left and disappearing out of view of the camera. Moments later he returns having deposited the jiffy bag and laptop somewhere off camera and goes back upstairs. His wife, the former News International chief executive, had resigned on Friday 15 July, and was subjected to a heightened security risk, William Clegg, counsel for Hanna had told the court. The jury was then shown footage, recorded later in the afternoon, of police officers leaving the car park, having searched the Brooks' flat. Seven officers carrying several large boxes were seen. Footage then showed News International security contractor Daryl Jorsling arriving at the car park. He was seen taking a large black bag out of the boot of his car and returning without it. The excerpt then showed him handing over two pizza boxes to another man. It was after this that the jury heard - for the second time in this trial - that Jorsling then texted a colleague saying: 'Broadsword calling Danny Boy, pizza delivered and the chicken is in the pot,' a reference to the call sign used in the 1969 movie Where Eagles Dare. The court was then told of the sequence the following day, 18 July 2011, when a cleaner at the car park found the black bag behind the bins. The footage showed him pick it up and load it into an industrial-sized green bin being pulled behind his mini tractor. The jury was told that the cleaner will be giving evidence for the prosecution at the trial. In the final instalment of excerpts from the CCTV recordings, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and her husband are seen arriving at the car park and millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks and his driver discover that the bag has disappeared. The court heard that a brown bag and a black laptop bag were subsequently handed over to the police by staff at the Chelsea residence. The trial extremely continues

There was a strong sense that the Golden Globes were righting previous wrongs this year, as Vince Gilligan's highly acclaimed drama Breaking Bad posthumously won two of the night's biggest accolades. It took Bryan Cranston four nominations to finally get the best actor award for his role as the teacher-turned-druglord Walter White; upon collecting his award, Cranston dryly suggested that the exposure would bring the show's 'mirth and merriment' to the world. Later, creator Gilligan reunited the cast to pick up the best drama series prize, handing the mic to Aaron Paul to deliver the inevitable 'Yeah, bitch' acceptance speech. However Paul failed to complete the trilogy, losing out on best supporting actor to Jon Voight, who won for Ray Donovan. The BBC also had a successful night, with two of its productions coming good on multiple nominations. Jacqueline Bisset gave a bizarre speech riddled with pauses as she won best supporting actress for her role as Lady Lavinia Cremone in Stephen Poliakoff's period jazz series Dancing On The Edge, which this blogger had in his list of one of the fifteen worst TV shows on 2013. Shows how much I know. Meanwhile, Elisabeth Moss won best actress in a mini-series for her outstanding turn as troubled detective Robin Griffin in Jane Campion's harrowing drama Top Of The Lake, a co-production between the BBC and the Sundance Channel. HBO's TV movie Behind The Candelabra beat both Dancing On The Edge and Top Of The Lake to be named best movie or mini-series. Michael Douglas also picked up the best actor in a mini-series for his portrayal of Liberace. If it was an evening of relatively predictable choices, there was some minor surprise, as the newcomer Brooklyn Nine Nine also pulled off a double. Lead Andy Samberg won best actor in a comedy, beating heavyweights like Michael J Fox, Jason Bateman, Jim Parsons and Don Cheadle; the show also bagged best comedy or musical series award, beating the highly-rated Girls, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation and The Big Bang Theory. Despite much discussion of its alleged position at the forefront of television's alleged new golden age, Netflix (they're not alleged, they definitely exist) did not manage to translate its nominations into multiple awards. Its only success was for Robin Wright, who took home best actress for her role as politician's wife Claire Underwood in House Of Cards, the streaming site's, if you will, 'reimagining' of the BBC's 1990 political series. However, the most watchable win of the ceremony surely belongs to host Amy Poehler, who took time out from cracking jokes about the assembled crowd to offer sincere thank yous as she won best actress in a comedy for Parks and Recreation – but not before covering Mr Bonio out of The U2 Group, upon whose knee she was sitting, in lots of smoochy kisses and that. 'There's a special place in hell for you,' said co-host Tina Fey shortly afterwards, referring to Taylor Swift's criticisms of the pair's digs at last year's ceremony. Although, she might have just been telling Mr Bonio out of The U2 Group what many of us have long suspected.

US basketball player Dennis Rodman has been heavily criticised in his homeland for his recent visit to North Korea. But it appears that the next high-profile visitors to the authoritarian state might be sanctioned by the UK government, with the Teletubbies in the front line. The Sunday Times reported that the UK is hoping to 'soften North Korea's hardline stance' by offering TV shows to the the state-run television channel. An alleged 'source' at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - anonymous and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious - allegedly told the paper that BBC Worldwide was 'in talks' on a deal: 'I have always believed that what brought down the Berlin Wall was not highbrow diplomacy but Dallas and Dynasty,' the alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'Programmes sent to North Korea would have to be something that isn't offensive, like Mr Bean, EastEnders, Miss Marple or Poirot. You couldn't send Dad's Army as it is about war.' Interesting that the official government stance, it would seem, is that EastEnders is considered 'inoffensive', though, isn't it? Remember that, dear blog reader, the next time some gobshite rent-a-quote MP desperate to get themselves in the newspapers has a pop at the goings on in Albert Square as an example of everything that they consider to be bad about broken Britain. 'But Teletubbies could be an option, or The Good Life, with a bit of gardening and squabbling in the kitchen,' the alleged 'source' allegedly continued. Foreign secretary William Hague said: 'In the long term this is a good way to improve understanding about the outside world within such a closed society.' Fellow Tory MP Sir Richard Ottaway (no, me neither) added: 'This is a good use of British soft power.' The Daily Scum Mail's reporting of the story also includes the claim that Doctor Who could be part of the deal and that 'BBC Worldwide's other top selling shows include Africa, Top Gear and Parade's End.' Oh, they'll love Clarkson in Pyongyang, mark my words! But what will Kim Jong-un make of The Doctor, Tinky Winky (and his handbag), Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po?

A top police officer is trying to force Channel Fout to hand over documents about the whistleblower who revealed that undercover officers had spied on relatives of Stephen Lawrence and their supporters according to the ever-reliable Gruniad Morning Star. Mick Creedon, the chief constable of Derbyshire, who is heading a team investigating the alleged misconduct of the secret undercover unit, has demanded the broadcaster provide documents and unshown footage about disclosures by the former undercover officer Peter Francis. The police say that they need the material as they are investigating whether a breach of the Official Secrets Act and other offences have taken place – months after the high-profile claims by Francis were aired on Channel Four's Dispatches and published in the Gruniad. The police say they are concerned he may have compromised other 'undercover spies' and put the safety of their families at risk. Last week, lawyers for Creedon confirmed that they intended to pursue a court order to compel Channel Four to hand over 'all written and electronic correspondence with Mr Francis together with any notes and all unedited video footage', reinforcing a demand made in a letter sent in October. Francis has been a key source in recent years behind a series of revelations about the covert unit that sent long-term spies to infiltrate and disrupt political groups for forty years. He told the Gruniad: 'The threat of prosecution is designed not only to keep me quiet but also all the other hundred or so former undercover officers from ever speaking out. It saddens me but does not surprise me that the police don't like their dirty undercover secret being revealed to the public. They should investigate the allegations properly.' His disclosures have come under investigation by a team of police officers, led by the chief constable, that was set up to examine a broad range of alleged wrongdoing by the undercover Scotland Yard unit. The team, headed by Creedon at the request of the Metropolitan police, has demanded that Channel Four hand over documents and footage about 'a large amount of information' they believe has been disclosed by Francis, including: He and other undercover officers were asked to find information to undermine the campaign by the family and supporters of Stephen Lawrence, the teenager murdered by a racist gang, to bring his killers to justice; the 'undercover spies' routinely formed sexual relationships with the campaigners they had been sent to spy upon; a safe house that the undercover unit stopped using years ago. The legal demand has emerged after the police team had told Francis at one point that they were treating him as a 'witness' to their investigation, and hoped he was 'prepared to assist the inquiry.' The team has yet to arrest anyone since it was set up in 2011, nor has anyone been prosecuted. Channel Four, according to the Gruniad, 'intends to resist the demand by Creedon's lawyers.' Over the past four years, Francis has detailed how his superiors in the covert unit, the Special Demonstration Squad, instructed him to infiltrate anti-racist campaigns between 1993 and 1997. He has also shed light, for example, on how the 'spies' used their fake cover names in court cases and stole the identities of dead children. These are among the allegations under investigation by Creedon's team. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner, has apologised for the 'shock and offence' that the theft of the dead children's identities caused. Francis's claims forced the police to admit publicly that Scotland Yard had used undercover officers to collect information on groups who were campaigning for a proper investigation into the Lawrence murder. In October, lawyers for Creedon sent a letter to Channel Four, saying: 'In the Dispatches episode The Police's Dirty Secret, an individual by the name of Peter Francis is believed to have provided a large amount of information to the production team. It is of concern to the senior investigating officer, Chief Constable Mick Creedon, that Mr Francis may have revealed the names of fellow operatives, both past and present. In many cases, just the revelation of their true/pseudonym identities could put their lives and well-being of their families at risk. Similarly, in the broadcast, Peter Francis revealed a meeting location for SDS colleagues. It is of grave concern that he may have revealed further covert police premises and methodology practised during his deployment with the unit.' The SDS, which was disbanded in 2008, stopped using the meeting place in Balcombe Street more than a decade ago, the Gruniad allege. Creedon's lawyers cited Francis's disclosures about 'the acceptance of sexual relationships between officers and activists as well as the smearing of high-profile campaigns.' They said his team was investigating 'possible offences of breaches of the Official Secrets Act, misconduct in a public office, perverting the course of justice, and allegations of sexual offences.' Last August, Francis offered to speak to Creedon's inquiry, known as Operation Herne, if police chiefs withdrew their threat to investigate him over the Official Secrets Act. He has said that on several occasions since he left the Metropolitan police in 2001, the force has threatened to prosecute him under the act if he revealed anything about his former unit. After Creedon's team said they could not give him immunity from an Official Secrets Act prosecution, Francis said he was 'not happy' to speak to their inquiry. However, Francis is due to give evidence this week to an associated official inquiry that has been asked by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to examine the undercover infiltration of the Stephen Lawrence campaign and other allegations. He is doing so as Mark Ellison, the barrister heading this inquiry, secured from the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, a 'limited' immunity to enable him to speak to his inquiry.

Adam Boulton, British television's longest serving political editor, is to step down from his role at Sky News after twenty five years. Boulton, who turns fifty five next month, is to become anchor of a new evening show based at Sky News' Westminster studio. He joined Sky News as political editor when the channel launched in 1989, setting up the fledgling operation's lobby reporting team, and has covered five general elections and interviewed five prime ministers. He also chaired Sky's Leaders Debate in April 2010. Sky News said that Boulton's as-yet-unnamed new show will feature 'hard hitting interviews, insightful analysis and interactive elements.' The broadcaster said the new show will debut later this year. 'I relish the challenge of presenting a new evening show for Sky News,' said Boulton. 'In my career, I have been extremely lucky to have presented flagship breakfast, Sunday, and most recently on Boulton & Co, lunchtime shows. The opportunity to take on an evening programme was an offer I couldn't duck.' As well as hosting the evening programme, Boulton will take on the additional role of editor-at-large and will also present key set piece political events. 'I am enormously proud of the part I have played in building up Sky News' political operation and I am delighted I will remain a part of that in my new role,' he added. John Ryley, the head of Sky News, called Boulton a 'giant in political journalism' and said that a new political editor will be appointed later this year. 'He was the first television journalist to treat politics as a live, dynamic, ever -changing story,' he said. 'The arrival of Adam challenged the status quo, starting the Sky News Westminster operation from scratch and building it into the powerhouse that it is today.' Covering the aftermath of the 2010 General Erection, Boulton infamously lost his cool with Alastair Campbell, the former Downing Street spin doctor, defending his impartiality on-air by shouting 'Don't tell me what I think.' Since 2011, he has presented Boulton & Co, which broadcasts for an hour from 1pm weekdays. Prior to working at Sky, Boulton was political editor at TV-am, the ITV breakfast segment that was replaced by GMTV at the end of 1992. As well as TV presenting, Boulton contributes to a range of newspapers and magazines and has published books, including Tony's Ten years: Memories Of The Blair Administration, and Hung Together, about the days after the inconclusive 2010 General Erection from which the coalition government emerged. The departure of Boulton will be followed by another Sky News presenter, Jeff Randall, who revealed last summer that he is quitting his business show. Randall, who has fronted Jeff Randall Live on Sky News since late 2007, is to finish this Easter to pursue business interests. BSkyB is currently interviewing for Randall's replacement.
The trial of former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis on a series of sex offence charges began today. According to BBC News, the sixty eight-year-old, whose real name is David Patrick Griffin, is accused of thirteen counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault, all of which he strenuously denies. The trial, at Southwark Crown Court, is expected to last up to six weeks. Travis is accused of carrying out the offences between 1976 and 2008. The allegations relate to eleven female complainants, aged between fifteen and twenty nine at the time that the alleged offences took place. Travis was described by the prosecution as 'an opportunist' sex offender who 'targeted [the] vulnerable.' The court heard that the alleged offences took place in 'work settings', including pantomimes, event openings and prize-givings. One young woman, aged nineteen, had been 'assaulted live on Top Of The Pops' in 1978 as Travis introduced The Smurfs, prosecutor Miranda Moore QC said. The jury was shown a short clip from the episode in question. The nineteen-year-old alleged victim had travelled to the show with a friend and claims that Travis put his hand up her skirt to 'touch her bum', the court heard. 'The offences vary in gravity,' Moore told the court. 'All are sexual in nature involving unwanted contact by this defendant on much younger women, both over clothing and under clothing.' One woman, who was an eighteen-year-old BBC clerk, alleges an assault in a BBC radio studio. She went to the Daily Scum Mail in 2012 after she felt nothing was being done by the BBC, the court heard. The youngest alleged victim, who was fifteen, claims that she was attending a Showaddywaddy concert in 1978 at a farm in Gloucestershire, where the defendant invited her in to his trailer for a drink. After discussing music, Travis then, allegedly, commented on the girl's breasts, before lifting her top over her head and pulling down her bra to expose her breasts, Moore claimed. 'He said "I love big boobs" and flicked her nipples,' Moore told the jury. The woman alleges that she was then pinned to her seat. 'In her words, she thought he was going to rape her,' Moore added. Another alleged victims was a carnival princess in 1973. Moore said that when the woman, then aged twenty, was left alone with Travis, he first put his hand around her waist, before putting it inside her 'split skirt on her thigh near her knickers.' He then, jurors heard, 'grabbed her boobs' at which point she pushed him away feeling 'very embarrassed he felt he could do that to her.' Earlier they were told the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been informed before the event that he was 'a big name' and that 'what Dave wanted Dave got.' The jury also heard that Travis behaved inappropriately 'on a regular basis' while he worked for a regional radio station in the South-East. The prosecutor said that, according to one of his alleged victims who also worked there: 'From the moment he started she recalls he would sexually assault her, she says, on a regular basis.' In one incident he is said to have 'slipped his thumb' into a woman's knickers while she was sitting on a desk talking to a colleague. Moore said the woman 'went ballistic' and shouted so the whole office could hear: 'Don't touch me, you are a pervert.' According to the prosecutor, another woman, who claims she was assaulted by Travis on two separate occasions while they danced at British Airways functions, described the presenter as 'a dirty old man.' Travis was arrested as part of Scotland Yard's Operation Yewtree, which was set up after abuse allegations against the late entertainer and very naughty old scallywag and rotter, Jimmy Savile, the court heard. Police received referrals from 'all over the country' about Travis, Moore said. The court was told that Travis denies the assaults, and claims that the alleged victims are all 'motivated by greed for compensation and media attention.' In one incident, alleged to have happened between 1976 and 1977, Travis invited an eighteen-year-old into a 'continuity suite' to choose a song, the jury was told. Travis asked if she wanted to dance and pressed his groin against her, Moore said. 'She told him to stop and he grabbed her and put the red light [signalling a live broadcast] on. He appeared to her to be getting angry,' Moore said, before he 'put his hand up her skirt.' During an appearance on Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4 in the early 1980s, Travis is alleged to have grabbed one woman's breast which he 'moved up and down', Moore said. In another incident, he allegedly assaulted a woman while he was appearing as 'the evil wizard Abanazar' in the pantomime Aladdin which he co-starred alongside The Chuckle Brothers. Travis allegedly pressed against the woman and indecently assaulted her, while holding the door shut in a room at the theatre, in Crawley. He only stopped when he heard someone walk past, added Moore. The alleged victim reported the incident, which happened between November 1990 and January 1991, to a stage manager but it was decided that she would not go to the police because Travis was 'a star.' On another occasion he allegedly assaulted a female student after asking her to guard his camper van at Nottingham Polytechnic, where he was appearing as a DJ. When Travis came out of the van he grabbed her left breast, before saying 'securi-titty', the prosecutor claimed. He later kissed the student before she ran away, after which she 'felt stupid and humiliated.' Another two females were inside the van and appeared 'intoxicated' during the incident between January 1983 and March 1984, Moore said. Travis, who hosted the Radio 1 Breakfast Show from 1978 to 1980 and was a regular host of Top Of The Pops in the 1970s and 80s, is accused of carrying out the offences between 1976 and 2008. Judge Anthony Leonard told the jury that they should try the case only on evidence heard during the trial. He warned the jury of four men and eight women that there should be 'no sleuthing' on the Internet and warned that they could be jailed for contempt of court if they broke the rules.

Meanwhile, the veteran entertainer Rolf Harris has pleaded not guilty to twelve indecent assault charges. The eighty three-year-old of Bray is accused of assaulting four girls between 1968 and 1986. Harris was remanded on bail at London's Southwark Crown Court and his trial was set for 30 April. The Australian artist, musician and television presenter has yet to be arraigned on four counts of making an indecent image of a child. He arrived earlier for the hearing with his wife Alwen and daughter Bindi. Six of the indecent assault counts relate to a girl aged fifteen between April 1980 and April 1981, and one relates to the same alleged victim when she was aged 19 between January 1984 and January 1985. Three of the alleged indecent assaults relate to a fourteen-year-old girl in May 1986. The other two charges relate to the alleged indecent assault on a girl aged seven or eight between January 1968 and January 1970, and a girl aged fourteen between January 1975 and January 1976. Rolf was released on bail on the conditions that he does not contact prosecution witnesses, lives at his home address and does not spend time with anyone under the age of eighteen without being accompanied by someone over twenty one.

And, Coronation Street actor William Roache indecently assaulted a fourteen-year-old girl in the men's toilet at the Granada TV studios in Manchester and then sent her a signed photo, a court has heard. Sending the letter 'was a sort of grooming as we nowadays know it,' prosecutor Anne Whyte QC said. Roache, eighty one, from Wilmslow in Cheshire, denies two counts of raping a fifteen-year-old girl in East Lancashire in 1967. He also denies five counts of indecent assault involving four girls. Those alleged offences involve girls aged from eleven to sixteen in Manchester between 1965 and 1968, Preston Crown Court heard. The jury heard the alleged victim of the indecent assault in the toilet was now aged sixty three. She was fourteen when the actor approached her in 1965, the court heard. That summer she visited Granada Studios in central Manchester with a friend to take part in a talent show and afterwards she saw Roache in the building and recognised him, Whyte said. 'She and her friend ended up in a dressing room with the defendant and other actors,' the prosecutor said. Roache and the girl left the room and he led her by the arm to the men's toilet, where he allegedly made her commit a sex act on him. 'There was no conversation and they went back to the dressing room where her friend was still chatting to an actor. Then both men left the room and she and her friend made their way out of the building. She had been stunned by what had occurred and went home,' Whyte said. Afterwards, Roache sent her a letter and a signed photograph of himself. But this was not 'a benign personal touch' by 'a well-known young male actor', the court heard. Instead it was a deliberate act, Whyte said, 'designed to impress a young schoolgirl and to secure her unquestioning loyalty as a fan for a sexual purpose. A sort of grooming, as we would nowadays call it.' The girl felt 'flattered', even though she knew what had happened was wrong. 'This, the Crown say, demonstrates how easy it is for someone in the defendant's position to manipulate the trust and attention of star-struck teenagers,' she said. The victim reported the matter to police last May after hearing Roache had been charged with raping a fifteen-year-old girl. That complainant was the first person to come forward and contacted police last March, Whyte said. 'In the context of discussing other sex scandals involving the late Cyril Smith and Jimmy Savile, her son had expressed disbelief about how long it had taken for victims of sexual offences to come forward. His mother tried to explain, and in this case she knows. She eventually told her son about what had happened many years before with the defendant.' Her son told her to contact police which she eventually did, said Whyte. Roache was arrested on 1 May and, after being interviewed, was charged with two offences of rape. The jury was told the alleged attacks took place at two of his properties in Haslingden, Lancashire, in 1967. The publicity that followed led to other people coming forward. Two of the alleged victims were sisters, but there was nothing else to link any of the complainants the court heard. Whyte said the Crown argued that this should be a 'powerful factor' in the jury's assessment of the evidence. The sisters who allege they were indecently assaulted used to sit on the steps of the TV studios, the court heard. The younger sister said on one occasion she was with a friend in the hope of getting an autograph. Roache offered them a lift home in his silver Rolls-Royce and the complainant sat in the front. She described how she felt 'frozen and petrified' as he made her commit a sex act on him. Whyte said he stopped the car afterwards, gave her half-a-crown and told her to 'get the bus home.' The girl said that she 'felt intimidated because people feel he is some kind of super actor and they think he's lovely and always "William Roache what a good man he is."' When he was arrested Roache was 'absolutely surprised and amazed. He appeared visibly shocked', Whtye said. She said he told police he had 'taken the opportunity to sleep with many women but this had always been with their consent' adding 'he had never sought out girls under the age of 16 because such girls did not interest him sexually.' Earlier, during jury selection, the judge told a panel of potential jurors that the 'real person' William Roache is on trial, not his fictional Coronation Street character. Mr Justice Tim Holroyde QC said that any views of Ken Barlow must be 'put out of your mind' to ensure 'a fair and independent judgement' can be reached. The court heard Coronation Street actors Anne Kirkbride, Chris Gascoyne and Helen Worth are among the defence witnesses who will be called during the trial. The trial continues.

Freddie Starr has been re-arrested by police probing historical allegations of sexual abuse. Scotland Yard said the latest arrest relates to a further allegation made to detectives from Operation Yewtree. Starr who was first questioned in November 2012, has denied any wrongdoing. Police said that 'Yewtree two' was further arrested after attending a police station in Warwickshire by prior appointment, before being bailed. They did not identify the entertainer by name. Following his initial arrest, Starr was re-arrested in April last year over different allegations. He is next due to return to police in February in relation to all the claims against him. Operation Yewtree is the inquiry into allegations of historical sexual abuse linked to the entertainment industry. It was launched in 2012 after it emerged the late filthy old scallywag and rotten rotter Jimmy Savile had subjected hundreds of young people and children to sexual abuse over more than five decades. The operation has three strands. One concerns Savile's disgusting crimes exclusively, while a second relates to allegations made against Savile and others in cahoots. The third strand termed 'others' concentrates on accusations which emerged as a result of the publicity surrounding Savile but which are unconnected to him, directly. The Metropolitan Police said the new allegation against Starr falls under the 'others' strand. The claims that led to his April arrest were also unconnected to Savile. The allegations made when he was first arrested fall under the 'Savile and others' strand. Last June, Starr's lawyer said the entertainer hoped to soon be able to clear his name and, in October, questioned the length of the investigation. At the time, police said the delay was the result of 'the complex nature' of the inquiry.

The comic and presenter Frank Skinner has said he turned down the job of narrating Channel Four documentary series Benefits Street. Frank told the Birmingham Mail that it was because he did not want to be 'involved in something where I'm derogatory about people from Birmingham.' Frank said that producers had told him the series 'would be about "community spirit" in a street in the city.' Some viewers of Benefit Street are said to have been 'concerned' about the alleged 'negative portrayal' of benefits claimants and the depiction of criminal activity. One sequence showed two men removing alarm tags from clothing apparently stolen from a shop. Channel Four said makers acted in a 'purely observational capacity.' Skinner, who grew up in the West Midlands, told the newspaper: 'I can imagine there would be a lot of awkward moments in the recording studio when I said "I'm not going to say that." I really don't want to be on TV criticising Birmingham.' He added that although he had not yet seen the programme 'from what I've heard I think I made the right decision.' Last week Channel Four said, in response to viewer complaints: 'At no stage was criminal behaviour encouraged or condoned. All contributors were briefed that if they carried out criminal activity on camera, this could result in criminal investigations after broadcast.' It called Benefits Street 'a fair and balanced observational documentary.' The series is filmed in James Turner Street in the Winson Green area of Birmingham. The area has a very high rate of unemployment and the street has many residents who rely on benefits for their income. Some residents who feature in programme told the BBC last week that the makers have portrayed them negatively. One said he felt 'let down' by the television production company, Love Productions, which made the series. Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said it would assess the complaints after Benefits Street comes to an end next month, and then decide whether to launch an investigation. Birmingham police also said they have had inquiries from members of the public concerned with the criminal activity featured in the show, and that officers were assessing whether its content 'can assist us as part of any ongoing investigations, or indeed whether any new inquiries should be launched.' Some commentators have criticised Benefits Street for demonising the poorest people in society.

Unlike their male counterparts, who have just spent the winter proving that a good team can become a bad team overnight, England's ladies took a big step towards retaining the Women's Ashes by winning the one-off test by sixty one runs. Australia began the final day on fifty seven for five, needing one hundred and eighty five to win. Ellyse Perry (thirty one) hit an early flurry of boundaries, but she fell to Anya Shrubsole (three for forty eight), who tore through the tail to wrap up the victory before lunch. The win in Perth earns England six points in the multi-format series, and they only need to win two of the six limited-overs games to keep the trophy which they won in the summer. It also restores some pride in English cricket after the men's team suffered an embarrassing, pants-down five-nil hiding by Australia in the Ashes and were thrashed in the first one-day international on Sunday. After she had taken four for fifty one in the first innings, it was something of a surprise that captain Charlotte Edwards waited until the eighth over of the morning to bring Shrubsole into the attack, by which time Perry and Sarah Elliott (twenty nine) had already taken the Australians to ninety six for five. But, Shrubsole's introduction proved to be Australia's undoing as she began with two maiden overs to Elliott, and with fellow seamer Jenny Gunn applying the brakes at the other end, Perry perished in Shrubsole's third over of the day as she chipped a catch to Gunn at square leg. The Somerset right-armer's next over brought another wicket as Erin Osborne got a leading edge and was caught at mid-off by substitute fielder Danielle Wyatt without scoring. Gunn trapped Sarah Coyte LBW with the fourth ball after a drinks break, and with Elliott trying to farm the strike, Shrubsole bowled Rene Farrell - who became the ninth player of the match to bag a duck. It had been an unhappy game for Shrubsole's new-ball partner, Katherine Brunt, who had been removed from the attack in the first innings for bowling high full tosses, and was hit for eleven by Perry in her opening over on the final day. But, Edwards's faith in the the big, strapping Yorkshire pace bowler was rewarded when Brunt returned with one wicket needed - and ended Elliott's long resistance with a superb inswinging yorker which clipped the leg stump and sealed the victory. 'The last four days have been a rollercoaster, but I'm really proud of the girls,' said Edwards. 'This is not the Ashes won - but we have to keep working hard and hopefully will take the Ashes home.' Perry's all-round performance - seventy one and thirty one with the bat, and match figures of eight for seventy nine - earned her the player of the match award.

The British Board of Film Classification is to 'more closely scrutinise' horror movies under new guidelines for certifying films. The BBFC said that it would 'pay attention' to the 'impact of gore and strong visuals' in its deliberations. But, after asking the public, there will be 'more flexibility' for strong language in films given a fifteen certificate. The BBFC consultation showed the sexualisation of young women in film and music videos to be 'a major concern.' The findings revealed the content of some music promos and ease of accessibility to online pornography are 'also a public worry.' Other amendments that are being made to the organisation's guidelines include tightening up of language in U certificate films, deemed suitable for all viewers. The BBFC has also said it will give 'greater weight' to the theme and tone of films which are issued with parental guidance (PG) and suitable for twelve-year-olds and over (12A) certificates. Changes to the guidelines will come into force on 24 February. The organisation admitted the 12A classification 'continues to confuse many viewers' and 'further work to improve understanding of the certification would be carried out this year. The BBFC's exercise involved some 10,000 members of the public, with teenagers' as well as their parents taking part for the first time. They were asked their opinions on how various issues in film and video, including sex and violence, should be handled. BBFC director David Cooke said the exercise 'ensures that we continue to be in step with what the public wants and expects in order to make sensible and informed viewing decisions.' But, he also conceded there was 'room for improvement', referring to the need to bring more clarity to the 'very important' 12A certificate. The BBFC also said that its respondents largely agreed with the 12A certificate for 2012's The Woman In Black, despite it being the most complained-about film of the past four years.

You'd think after battling Ming the Merciless and 'saving every one of us', the small matter of a bit of ski-jumping would be something of a doddle for the star of 1980 SF romp Flash Gordon. Alas, Sam Jones has had to drop out of Channel Four's new winter sports reality show, The Jump, after injuring his shoulder while celebrating a successful jump, reports the Sun. Apparently, the actor was 'so shocked' at landing correctly that 'shouted "Yeah!", raised my arms, fell over and hurt my arm.' And, he thought fighting inter-galactic villains was a risky business. Tara Palmer-Tomkinson has, reportedly, also quit The Jump. The socialite was due to take part in the winter sports-themed reality competition, but has decided to leave the show. Too much like hard work, one dares to speculate.

Alexandra Bastedo, best known for her role as Sharron Mccready in the 1960s adventure series The Champions, has died aged sixty seven following a long illness. Alexandra, who had cancer, also starred in The Aphrodite Inheritance (like The Champions, a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping) and appeared in episode of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), The Saint, Boon, EastEnders and The Agatha Christie Hour. She found fame and sex-symbol status playing the secret agent and scientist Sharron Macready in the 1960s television fantasy series, appearing with William Gaunt as Richard Barrett and Stuart Damon as Craig Stirling. The show was about three agents working for the Geneva-based law-enforcement organisation, Nemesis, who gain superhuman powers after being rescued from a plane crash in Tibet by a mysterious lost tribe. With computer-like intelligence and Olympian levels of strength and endurance, they can communicate by telepathy and are assigned to cases where world stability is under threat. It was one of the globally successful series made by the television mogul Lew Grade's international production and distribution company ITC. Bastedo described her arse-kicking character as 'a gutsy girl before her time.' In later life, as an active animal rights supporter, she set up the ABC Animal Sanctuary near Pulborough in West Sussex. The sanctuary announced her death on Monday, saying that the actress would be 'sadly missed' by all who knew her. Alexandra was married to the theatre producer and director Patrick Garland from 1980 until his death in April last year aged seventy eight. Alexandra was born in Hove in 1946. According to her official website, her mother was of French, German and Italian descent and her father was Canadian. She attended Brighton and Hove High School and Brighton School of Drama. At the age of sixteen, she beat four thousand girls to win a newspaper beauty competition titled Miss Teenage Diplomat. As a result, Columbia Pictures whisked her off to Hollywood to play Alex, an English teenager, in the Cold War spy chiller Thirteen Frightened Girls! (1963), set in a Swiss boarding school for diplomats' daughters and made by the horror director William Castle. 'There were a lot of people hanging from meat hooks and I did a lot of screaming,' recalled Alexandra, who was paid seven hundred quid for four weeks' work. She was offered a seven-year film contract, including an Alfred Hitchcock movie (probably Marnie, though sources differ), but her parents insisted she should continue her education. While studying for her A-levels, Alexandra undertook modelling assignments. On leaving school, she appeared in episodes of the television series The Flying Swan and R3 (both 1965) before small roles in The Liquidator (1965), Doctor In Clover (1966, as a nurse) and the under-rated Morecambe and Wise comedy That Riviera Touch (1966). Before landing her starring role in The Champions, Bastedo appeared alongside Peter Sellers and David Niven in Casino Royale, the 1967 James Bond spoof (and, she claimed, spurned the advances of Warren Beatty, who was visiting the set). She then made small-screen guest appearances in Department S, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) (both 1969) and Jason King (1971), and starred as Diana Dalzell, one of the spies in a government department using a university as their cover, in the thriller series Codename (1970). Her film career did not take her to Hollywood, but mainly to Spain, where she made a string of films – including the schlock cult classic The Blood Splattered Bride (1972) – during the 1970s and became known as 'La Bastedo.' She was also excellent in the British horror film The Ghoul (1975, alongside Peter Cushing). Although most familiar to viewers of 1960s TV, she was also known for her multilingual skills, speaking Italian, Spanish, French and German. This brought her to Downing Street to assist with translations and landed her the role of co-presenter of Miss World competitions with Peter Marshall for three years from 1987. More recently, she played Cynthia Marshall in EastEnders (2008) and a Gotham society dame in the film Batman Begins (2005). In the early 1990s, she appeared in an episode of Absolutely Fabulous playing a 1960s model associate of Edina and Patsy. In 1991, she appeared in a notable production of the psychological thriller Dangerous Obsession by NJ Crisp, opposite Marc Sinden and John Challis, at the Mill at Sonning. Alexandra wrote a memoir, Beware Dobermanns, Donkeys and Ducks, as well as several books on caring for cats and dogs. Her vegetarianism brought her into contact with Morrissey and she featured as the cover star on The Smiths' classic 1987 live LP, Rank. She was also a patron to a number of animal welfare organizations including: Compassion in World Farming, Wildlife Aid Foundation, National Animal Welfare Trust, Greyhounds in Need, and Naturewatch. Her younger brother, Lindsay, died following a long struggle with cancer.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, dear blog reader. No shit, Sherlock? You'd better believe it, fanboy. Tell 'em all about it, Arch Drude.

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