Sunday, March 02, 2014

Week Eleven: M Is For Murder, Managerial Madness, Missing Episodes, Magic, Muzik, Moistness, Minimalism And Mean Motherfuggas

Mark Gatiss his very self will be visiting Brazil in March in a special publicity tour for BBC Worldwide to talk about British drama including his work on Doctor Who and Sherlock. It's aal reet for some, innit?! Marky, who is the co-creator and executive producer of Sherlock which has sold to over two hundred territories across the world, has been invited to speak at the prestigious Rio Content Market – an annual industry event for producers, TV content buyers and commissioners in Latin America. At the conference, he will be giving a presentation on his career in British drama with a focus on Sherlock and also An Adventure In Space And Time – the drama about the genesis of Doctor Who which he wrote and produced last year as part of the brand's fiftieth anniversary celebrations. He will also talk about his work writing for and acting in various episodes of the popular long-running family SF drama. The event will be hosted by TV journalist Liv Brandao and Brazilian stage director Claudio Botelho. As part of the tour, Gatiss will also be meeting fans at two events specially organised by BBC Worldwide. The first will be a screening of The Empty Hearse – the opening episode of the latest series of Sherlock, written by Gatiss and in which he stars alongside Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock's brother Mycroft Holmes. The screening will take place at Livraria Cultura (Cine Victoria) in Rio de Janeiro on Friday 14 March at 7pm. As part of the event, Mark will take part in a Q&A and signing session with fans. The second event will take place at Livraria Cultura in Sao Paulo at 7pm on Saturday 15 March. Fans will have the opportunity to ask questions about Mark's work on Doctor Who and Sherlock. He will also take part in a limited signing of Sherlock and Doctor Who merchandise. Commenting on the forthcoming tour Mark said: 'It's fantastic that British TV is being enjoyed all across the world and I'm really looking forward to meeting Brazilian Doctor Who and Sherlock fans!' Sherlock and Doctor Who have both seen notable growth in the Latin America market in the last year, with a huge number of fans engaging with both shows on social media. The official Sherlock Facebook page has seen an eighty per cent increase in the number of Brazilian fans in the last year and the Doctor Who page a fifty four per cent increase – the highest for any country in the world. Both series are broadcast on BBC Entertainment in Brazil which is a pay-TV channel wholly owned and operated by BBC Worldwide. They are also both available on Netflix in Latin America.

The other day, dear blog reader, when a picture of a very cold looking Peter Capaldi on location on the latest Doctor Who episode emerged, yer actual suggested that someone give the poor lad a hot water bottle. Someone, it seems, heard!
There now, isn't that better?

There's a terrific article on the ongoing Doctor Who missing episodes rumours at the Starburst website written by JR Southall which yer actual Keith Telly Topping encourages dear blog readers to cast an eye over.
In two of the least-surprising bits of telly recommissioning news ever, Call The Midwife and Death In Paradise have been renewed by BBC1. The Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson and BBC1 Controller Charlotte Moore confirmed that the two extremely popular series will both return for fourth series. Created by Heidi Thomas, Call The Midwife stars Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart, Jenny Agutter and Pam Ferris. Its current third series has consistently topped the Sunday night ratings, with the latest episode pulling in 8.8 million overnight viewers. Death In Paradise recently saw Kris Marshall replace the departing Ben Miller as its lead actor. Its third run has also topped the ratings - on Tuesday nights - premiering to more than seven million overnight viewers last month.

The Voice continued to top Saturday's overnight ratings, as 6.95 million punters tuned in to the first episode of Battle Rounds from 7pm. According to overnight data, just over thirty per cent of the total audience share watched the remaining contestants go head-to-head as the coaches were joined by guest mentors Katy B, Tinie Tempah, Dante Santiago, Leah McFall and Jake Shears. No, me neither. Any of them. In the same timeslot on ITV, 6.41 million tuned in to watch the latest episode of Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. When the two shows went head-to-head between 7pm and 8:20pm, The Voice had the slight edge with an average of 6.44 million viewers against ITV's 6.41 million. However, in The Voice's final fifty minutes, from 8:20 to 9:10 when it was up against The Cube, it's average increased to 7.78 million with a peak of 8.18 million shortly before the climax. It would appear that both BBC and ITV have - at long last - found decent Saturday night winter entertainment formats which can act as credible and enjoyable alternatives to each other. How long has that taken? That both channels achieved around six-and-a-half million punters for shows on at the same time is, frankly, long overdue. Also on BBC1, the medical drama Casualty was watched by 5.15 million at 9.20pm, while 4.14 million watched the football highlights on Match Of The Day at 10.30pm. That's - by a distance - the most watched episode of the year so far. It's peak came at around 10:45pm, just topping five million (5.02m) - one wonders why on Earth that happened. I mean, it's not as if anything controversial or newsworthy happened in yesterday's Premiership games, is it? BBC2's biggest ratings of the evening came from the classic sitcom Dad's Army, which attracted 1.95m at 7.15pm. New clip show series The Perfect Morcambe & Wise launched with 1.33m at 7.45pm, followed by Darcey Bussell's Ballerina Heroines which drew in 1.34m. Back to ITV, The Cube kicked off its eighth series with 3.75m at 8.20pm, as noted getting thoroughly twanked by The Voice, while The Jonathan Ross Show was watched by 2.13m with interviews from Dara O'Briain, Kristin Davis, Ice Cube and Claudia Schiffer at 9.20pm. Channel Four's most-watched programme of the night was weather documentary The Storms That Stole Christmas with eight hundred and fifty thousand at 8pm. US drama Hostages continued to struggle somewhat with six hundred and twenty thousand at 9pm, while a showing of the Matthew McConaughey vehicle The Lincoln Lawyer pulled in seven hundred and ninety thousand punters at 10pm. Channel Five brought in six hundred and six thousand for a feature-length episode of NCIS from 6.30pm, followed by Live International Boxing at 9.10pm, which was watched by seven hundred and fifty nine thousand. BBC4's Salamander once again topped the multichannel ratings. Eight hundred and fifty two thousand watched the evening's first episode at 9pm and seven hundred and ninety seven thousand tuning in to the second episode at 9.45pm. ITV3's repeat of the Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour attracted seven hundred and seventy three thousand at 9pm, while Doc Martin was seen by six hundred and ninety seven thousand earlier at 8pm. A showing of Alex Pettyfer's I Am Number Four brought in six hundred and thirty eight thousand at 9.10pm on BBC3.

Inspector George Gently remained on top of the overnight ratings on Thursday outside of soaps, according to the latest figures. The BBC1 crime drama rose by nearly two hundred thousand punters to 5.6 million at 8.30pm. Earlier, Pound Shop Wars brought in 4.99m at 8pm, while Question Time was seen by 2.56m at 10.35pm. BBC2's Permission Impossible garnered 1.34m at 7pm, followed by The Hairy Bikers' Asian Adventure with 2.05m at 8pm. The documentary Jumbo: The Plane That Changed The World interested 1.34m at 9pm. A Mock The Week repeat amused 1.10m at 10pm. Make the most of it whilst you can, dear blog reader, because if Dara Ó Briain keeps making his mouth go in Danny Cohen's general direction then it might not be very long for this world. On ITV, the Europa League match featuring Stottingtot Hotshots' hard-fought victory over yer actual Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk scored, if you will, 3.2m at 7.45pm. Channel Four's Supersize vs Superskinny appealed to 1.38m gawping voyeurs at 8pm. The Storms That Stole Christmas attracted 1.90m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Henry & Anne: The Lovers Who Changed History had an audience of nine hundred and fourteen thousand at 8pm. The Hotel Inspector continued with 1.14m at 9pm. On E4, How I Met Your Mother attracted six hundred and seventy thousand at 8.30pm. Sky1's The Smoke was watched by three hundred and twenty four thousand at 9pm.

Jonathan Creek returned to BBC1 on Friday night with an overnight audience of 6.33m, over four million punters more than anything else in the 9pm slot. Now, that's what this blogger calls mullering the opposition, even though the episode seems to have had something of a mixed reception from those who have expressed an opinion about it, loudly, on the Internet. For what it's worth, this blogger rather enjoyed it, although it was hardly House of Cards. BBC1 kicked-off the evening with 4.36 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by 3.04m for A Question Of Sport immediately after. Room 101 was seen by 3.61m at 8.30pm, while The Graham Norton Show, which featured guests Ant and/or Dec, Naomi Campbell and Aaron Paul, had an audience of 3.77m at 10.35pm. For the second week running, Student Nurses: Bedpans and Bandages was ITV's highest-rated show outside of soaps, picking up an average of just 2.75m at 8pm. After the evening's second visit to Weatherfield at 8.30, the latest episode of Edge Of Heaven was viewed by 1.75m from 9pm. Don't hold your breath waiting for that one to get a second series. On BBC2, Permission Impossible attracted 1.26m at 7pm, Mastermind secured an evening high of 2.17 viewers at 8pm, Coming Home was seen by 1.30 million at 8.30pm, and The Pity Of War secured nine hundred and ninety thousand at 9pm. Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown was Channel Four's highest-rated overnight show with 1.86m at 9pm. It was preceded by Grand Designs with 1.22m at 8pm, and followed by The Last Leg with 1.06m at 10pm. On Channel Five, Ice Road Truckers was the evening's highest-rated show, narrowly beating Booze, Bust-Ups & Brothels: Soho Blues. The shows were watched by by 1.04 and one million viewers respectively. BBC3's evening movie, Little Fockers, was among the highest-rated multichannel programmes, seen by seven hundred and twenty one thousand at 9pm.

Bizarre telly fact number one (in a recurring series), dear blog reader: This week's Jonathan Creek episode (which, as noted, he rather enjoyed in an undemanding way) was directed by the legend that is David Sant (Cartoon Head off Ideal). If you knew that already, just smile and nod and pretend that you didn't.
And, speaking of Jonathan Creek, yer actual Alan Davies has said that it would be 'amazing' to star in the popular drama 'for another ten years.' Alan told the Digital Spy website that he will play the amateur detective for as long as creator David Renwick wants to continue the series. 'It's entirely up to David,' the actor and comic said. 'I would do more if he wanted to write them. I do enjoy doing it and the viewing figures are still amazing. I think if they dropped off, David would have to make the call.' The comedy-drama returned for its first full series in ten years on Friday. 'It just becomes more and more entrenched in people's minds, I think,' Alan said of the show's appeal. 'David is a master craftsman. He writes scripts that are so dense and complex that it is unimaginable for most writers to even attempt them.' Alan also promised a more mature Jonathan in the new series. 'The duffle coat is on the costume rail but it hasn't been brought out for any scenes,' he said. 'Who wears the same duffle coat for seventeen years?' Well, a couple of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's mates, as it happens. I've had words. Anyway, the new three-part Jonathan Creek series sees the amateur detective team up with his wife Polly (played by Sarah Alexander) to solve mysteries in the usual way. 'David wanted to write about a married couple - he wanted to write ongoing serious relationships,' Alan explained. Sarah added: 'First of all, Polly is not keen but she soon gets drawn into it all. Some of the mysteries are very personal to her - especially the first episode. There are people from her childhood [involved] so she is part of it, she is part of the puzzle.'

Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman has said that there is 'no end in sight' for the show. Which will, no doubt, cause explosive outbursts of extreme stroppiness and some throwing toys out of prams at the Gruniad Morning Star, the Daily Scum Mail and other opinionated newspapers. Good. Hope they bruise their feet whilst stamping them in a reet temper. Wilman told Broadcast magazine that 'talks' about future series will soon commence with hosts Jezza Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, whose current deals with the BBC expire in 2015. 'When we look stupid or when we think we are flogging a dead horse [we'll stop], but that hasn't happened this series,' the producer said. 'It's better than the last series, which was a bit ropey. There's clearly an appetite, it's still there. So, we'll start talking [about future series] soon.' The latest series of Top Gear opened with 5.34m overnight punters earlier this month, with the most recent episode pulling in 5.55m on Sunday 23 February.
Brooding, Byronesque ball of sexy maleness Aidan Turner is to star in a new adaptation of Poldark for BBC1. The Being Human star will play Ross Poldark in Debbie Horsfield's adaptation of Winston Graham's acclaimed saga. Set in Eighteenth Century Cornwall, Poldark is an eight-part hour-long series and will commence filming on location in Cornwall and Bristol from April. 'I'm very excited to play Ross for the BBC,' said Turner, who also stars in The Hobbit movies. 'It's obviously a huge challenge to honour the extraordinary character Winston Graham created and who Debbie Horsfield has brought new life to. But there's a terrific team coming together and the scripts are superb, so I can't wait to get started.' Poldark will follow the rebellious Ross as he returns from the American War of Independence to his family's ancestral home, only to find that his beloved county has dramatically changed during his absence. Ben Stephenson, the BBC Drama controller, said: 'We are really excited. [Aidan] is a brilliant actor, he is part of the BBC family, we are incredibly thrilled he is coming back from Hollywood from The Hobbit in order to lead Poldark for BBC1.' The BBC previously produced a - hugely successful - adaptation of Graham's Poldark novels in the 1970s, starring Robin Ellis as Ross and the late Angharad Rees as Demelza. The new series will air on BBC One in 2015. Further casting for the series is yet to be announced.

Dara Ó Briain has 'clarified' his recent comments concerning the BBC's ban on all-male panel shows. As this blogger thought he might need to after, seemingly, coming very close to offering Danny Cohen out for fight. Which, admittedly, would've made for rivetting telly. The Irish comedian, who 'faced a backlash' - on Twitter if not, actually, anywhere that matters - after criticising the announcement said that he is 'all in favour of the policy' to include more women on panel shows like Mock The Week. Speaking on The Jonathan Ross Show, he said: 'The headline gave the impression that I'd said I was against this particular ruling. I'm not against this particular ruling, I've had meetings in the BBC in which I've said, "Do you know what this has been a stick to beat Mock The Week for a while, and it shouldn't be and we should make sure that there are, but my view is that we shouldn't announce that as a policy."' Dara maintained that the decision to announce the ban will make future female guests appear like 'token women.' He noted: 'I love the women we bring onto Mock The Week but when I do that bit at the start in front of the audience before the cameras are on, I do my own warm-up and I bring everyone out, I'm bringing out six different acts, some of whom are new, some of whom they're not familiar with, I have to make the audience go "well we're in safe hands" when this person speaks, be they male or female. I don't want this policy hanging over [me] every time I bring out a female guest. I'm all in favour of the policy, I was against the announcement.' However, he added that it will be 'difficult' to have female guests on Mock The Week, given the fact that there are far fewer female stand-up comedians. 'The problem with Mock The Week is they have to be stand-ups. Stand-up unfortunately, for whatever reason, is ninety-ten male-female.'

Agatha Christie's most successful novel and two of her lesser-known sleuths are to be brought to the screen as part of a series of BBC programmes marking the one hundred and twenty fifth anniversary of the author's birth. And Then There Were None, Christie's most-read book, is to be adapted by Sarah Phelps into a three-part drama. David Walliams, meanwhile, will play one half of the married detective duo Tommy and Tuppence in six-part series Partners In Crime. A series of documentaries about the British crime writer are also planned. Ben Stephenson said he was 'delighted that the great British institution that is the BBC' was entering 'a long-term relationship' with such a 'brilliantly British' author. Born in 1890, Christie is best known as the creator of Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple and the author of the long-running West End play The Mousetrap. The new dramas follow the conclusion of ITV's long-running Poirot series, which saw David Suchet portray the legendary Belgian detective. Whether they are continuing with their Marple series is not, at this time, known. Though less well known, the husband-and-wife duo Tommy and Tuppence Beresford also appeared on ITV in feature-length 1983 drama The Secret Adversary. Francesca Annis and James Warwick played the couple on that occasion, going on to reprise their roles in Partners In Crime the following year. They also appear in one of Christie's best later novels, By The Pricking of My Thumbs (1968). Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's late mother was an avid and knowledgeable Christie reader. The cover of the 1973 imprint of By The Pricking Of My Thumbs with its depiction of a sinister looking doll with a cracked face (see left) used to scare the effing bejesus out of the young Keith Telly Topping, so it did. Christie's Tommy and Tuppence novels spawned a trio of French films, starring Andre Dussollier and Catherine Frot, which renamed the characters Belisaire and Prudence. An adaptation of By the Pricking Of My Thumbs also appeared in 2006 as an episode of the Granada television series Marple even though Christie did not write Jane Marple into the original story. In that version, Tommy and Tuppence were played by Anthony Andrews and Greta Scacchi although, unlike in the book, Miss Marple and Tuppence play the detective roles while Tommy is away on intelligence business. It is not yet known who will play Tuppence to Walliams's Tommy in the latest adaptation of their crime-solving adventures. 'In bringing these thrilling stories to the screen, it is our ambition for Tommy and Tuppence to finally take their rightful place alongside Poirot and Marple as iconic Agatha Christie characters,' said the forty two-year-old. 'I was first drawn to the delicious notion of a married couple solving crimes together, and the more I read of the Tommy and Tuppence novels and short stories I realised they are among Christie's very best work.' In their early appearances, the couple were portrayed as rather atypical upper-middle class 'bright young things' of the 1920s,and the stories and settings have a more pronounced period-specific flavour than the stories featuring the better known Christie characters. And Then There Were None was the US title for a 1939 mystery that was originally published in the UK under a different title - there's no other way to say this, I'm afraid, Ten Little Niggers. (The BBC News website, in announcing the commissioning of this, managed not to use the awful 'N' word, merely noting that the original title had been 'derived from a traditional nursery rhyme.' The original name of the mystery has long been abandoned as offensive. It was changed when that word became socially unacceptable in the 1960s - although, arguably, it should have been socially unacceptable long before then.) The novel - which is a genuine, twenty four carat masterpiece and a huge influence on the entire genre of crime fiction ever since - concerns ten strangers marooned on an island who are killed off one by one. It was Christie's most popular novel, selling more than one hundred million copies worldwide. Phelps is known for her work on BBC soap EastEnders and her TV adaptations of the Charles Dickens novels Oliver Twist and Great Expectations. Walliams was recently seen in BBC1 comedy Big School - which was really poor - and on the West End stage in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Mathew Prichard, Christie's grandson, said it was 'fantastic' to have the author 'welcomed with such enthusiasm in her all-important one hundred and twenty fifth anniversary year.'

And so to the latest batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips and that:-

Saturday 8 March
With the continental powers pushed to the brink of war, Sir Edward Grey seems unsure as to whether Britain should keep out of the impending conflict in the final episode of Thirty Seven Days - 9:15 BBC2. Desperate negotiations, resignations and a battle of wills in the Cabinet reach a climax with Germany's ultimatum to Belgium demanding the right of free passage across the country for its troops. Political thriller, starring Ian McDiarmid.

If you missed it first time around, Keith Telly Topping highly recommends the particularly fine episode of Endeavour shown tonight on ITV3 - 9:00. In Fugue, young Constable Morse meets his intellectual match when a serial killer haunting the streets of Oxford keeps himself one step ahead of the law and leaves cryptic messages to goad the police. At first glance, it seems to be the work of a deranged lunatic, but the elaborate staging of the crimes suggests method in the madness - and a macabre sharing of the sleuth's passion for opera. As Morse's world-weary boss, Roger Allam is wonderful, forever in danger of stealing the show. The double act develops nicely in this episode, with Fred Thursday equally good as benign father figure or as a despairing boss. As Morse offers another insight into the criminal mind, Thursday drawls at him 'You'd find something suspicious in a saint's sock drawer.' Their challenge is a case right up Morse's alley – musical, cryptic and gruesome. It leads the viewer step-by-step from a woman strangled in a train yard through various operatic twists. It never goes too far, but entices us with a trail of crumbs through a mystery that gets better and better as it goes on, testing Morse's character as well as his intellect. Starring Shaun Evans, with Anton Lesser, Sean Rigby and James Bradshaw.

The detectives locate the revival ministry which they believe Dora Lange attended and after questioning the church's volunteers they learn she was once seen leaving with a tall man whose face was scarred in episode three of the superb True Detective - 9:00 Sky Atlantic. Cohle scours previous homicides that could be linked to the case and gets another lead that takes them on a state-wide trail, questioning everyone from fishermen to school janitors. Meanwhile, Hart's jealousy gets the better of him when he spots Lisa on a date with another man. The best thing Woody Harrelson has been in for twenty years. The best thing Matthew McConaughey has been in ever. This is a gloriously grim and nasty, Gothic trawl through the dark underbelly of Americana. 'You are like the Michael Jordan of being a son-of-a-bitch!' If you haven't caught up with this one yet, dear blog reader, don't wait any longer, find some and dive in, feet first. It's not always easy, and not just in terms of the subject matter (the thick Louisiana accents are particularly impenetrable at times) but the acting and the dialogue are truly outstanding and the soundtrack (put together by T Bone Burnett and featuring a theme tune by The Handsome Family) is the cherry on the cake.

Sunday 9 March
Jenny is assigned to first-time mother Jeanette in tonight's series finale for Call The Midwife - 8:00 BBC1. Jeanette requires frequent visits during a protracted labour, and when she meets her patient's cousin, Philip, a new friendship begins to grow for the midwife. Meanwhile, Chummy worries about her mother's illness when she discovers Lady Browne has discharged herself from hospital. Jessica Raine and Miranda Hart star.
Tonight's Top Gear - 8:00 BBC2 - is the first of a two-part programme in which Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are challenged to build a bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand. In order to do that, however, they have to drive across Burma, a country which has been largely closed to Westerners for more than forty years. And, they must make the perilous cross-country trip in three lorries, each bought - sight unseen - from the Internet on a limited budget. What follows is an epic journey of beautiful scenery, regular adversity, ongoing malfunction and the constant bickering of the three men.
Phillip Schofield and The Curiously Orange Christine Bleakley present the last-ever final of Twatting About On Ice - 7:00 ITV - before it gets the long-overdue chop. Good riddance to bad rubbish, frankly. Don't let the door hit your arse on the way out.

Tonight's - allegedly - 'big' movie on BBC3 at 7:30 is Batman & Robin (1997), considered by many movie-goers to be one of the worst films ever made by anyone. Ever. Personally, this blogger's always had something of a soft spot for it. I mean, Alicia Silverstone in a schoolgirl outfit, what's not to love?
Monday 10 March
The quarter-finals of University Challenge continue - 7:30 BBC2 - with two teams of four students battling it out to make it to the next stage of the competition as they try to win two matches and progress to the semi-finals. Jeremy Paxman asks the questions and provides the withering sarcasm.

When eighteen-year-old Charlie became pregnant, her boyfriend Ricky was made to promise her father he would stand by her as we find out in the latest episode of One Born Every Minute - 9:00 Channel Four. He's determined to prove he can be a good dad, but as the baby's arrival draws nearer, the atmosphere is tense in the delivery room. Meanwhile, vicar's wife Sheona has reservations about becoming a mother for the second time, and young couple Chloe and Adam hope for a simple labour after their first child was rushed to intensive care at birth.

On a desperate search for his abducted daughter, Banks puts pressure on Al to lead him to Jaff, without success in the final episode of the current series of DCI Banks - 9:00 ITV. However, Al later offers to help - at a price - and the detective contemplates breaking every rule in the book to meet his demands. Meanwhile, the result of Cabbot's internal investigation has led to Morton's immediate suspension. With her career seemingly in the balance, Tracy in danger and Banks's relationship with Annie close to breaking point, how far will he go to keep his family together? Crime drama, starring Stephen Tompkinson, Andrea Lowe and Caroline Catz.
Tuesday 11 March
The Scotland-based crime drama Shetland returns - 9:00 BBC1 - for the first of three two-part stories. Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez and his team investigate the murder of a teenage girl whose body was found on a secluded beach, and time and again the same name crops up - that of local recluse Magnus Bain, whose home overlooks the crime scene and who had forged an unlikely friendship with the victim. But then the public prosecutor draws attention to the unsolved disappearance of a girl 19 years previously - a case that shares several similarities with this one. Douglas Henshall and Julie Graham star, with a guest appearance by Brian Cox. No, the other one.

Sherlock and Joan delve into New York's criminal underworld when the son of a mob boss is discovered decapitated in an oil drum twenty one years after his disappearance in Elementary - 9:00 Sky Living. While unravelling a web of corruption in the city, Watson shares surprising information from her childhood, before bad blood between Holmes and Bell threatens to trigger a brawl. Guest starring Paul Sorvino from Goodfellas.

In Fossil Wonderland: Nature's Hidden Treasures - 9:00 BBC4 - Professor Richard Fortey travels to fossil sites around the world to learn more about the distant past. In the first episode, he visits the Rocky Mountains to explore a five hundred and twenty-million-year-old fossilised seabed containing bizarre and experimental lifeforms that have revolutionised our understanding about the beginnings of complex life. Among the finds are marine creatures with five eyes, worm-like scavengers covered in spikes, and a metre-long predator resembling a giant shrimp. Sadly, you can't get one of those stir-fried with curry and boiled rice at your local takeaway. Although, it would be excellent if you could.

Wednesday 12 March
Denton fights for her life as disturbing details emerge of a conspiracy involving corrupt officers and Arnott uncovers startling new details about the detective's personal life which appear to support her claim that she is being framed in the latest episode of the properly superb Line Of Duty - 9:00 BBC2. Meanwhile, Hastings puts his career on the line to pursue a high-level target. Crime thriller, starring Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar and Keeley Hawes.
Tonight sees the return of Law & Order: UK - 9:00 ITV - the detective drama starring Bradley Walsh. Ronnie and new partner Joe lead the investigation into the death of jeweller Harry Bernstein, who has been found with his hands and teeth missing. His wife, her lover and a former business associate are all possible suspects, but the case takes a surprising turn when the victim's sister receives a gruesome delivery. She's on the jury for the trial of a drug dealer and murderer who Ronnie has been trying to nail for years, and the threat to her points to jury tampering, so Jake and Kate have to take a dramatic approach to win the case. The problem is, they're up against a formidable defence barrister. Co-starring Peter Davison, Ben Bailey Smith, Dominic Rowan and Georgia Taylor. With guests silly little Helen Baxendale and Christopher Fulford. Old Bradley, as usual, puts in a rather attractive, nuanced and world-weary performance that belies his sometimes perceived reputation as something of a one-trick pony. His really very good in this.

The documentary Astronauts: Living In Space - 9:00 Channel Four - is the first of three programmes in the Live from Space season made in collaboration with NASA, explores what it is like to live and work outside Earth's atmosphere for months at a time. Astronauts Rick Mastracchio, Koichi Wakata and Mike Hopkins talk to their wives back home, reveal the effects of microgravity on their bodies and demonstrate how their environment affects the way they approach day-to-day tasks such as eating, sleeping and washing.

Thursday 13 March
Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Chris Lintott explore how sound can reveal extraordinary secrets about the universe, from orchestral tunes rippling on the surface of the sun to the crackle of Jupiter's atmosphere in the latest The Sky At Night - 7:30 BBC4.

Hidden Histories: WW1's Forgotten Photographs - 9:00 BBC4 - tells its story through the use of soldiers' photography during the First World War. Some British and German troops marched into battle with secret vest pocket cameras in the hope of recording what they believed would be a great adventure, however few were prepared for the horrors they would witness. The photos, many of which have never been seen in public before, provide an account of their lives in the trenches and their rapid loss of innocence, and the programme follows their relatives as they search for the secrets hidden in their ancestors' images.
Tonight's repeat of Lewis - 8:00 ITV3 - is one of the series' best episodes, Counter Culture Blues. The detective discovers that his favourite 1970s rock and/or roll band are on the verge of a comeback - along with their singer, Esme Ford, who has made a shocking reappearance, seemingly from beyond the grave, having faked her own death thirty five years earlier. But when an orphan is found dead on the other side of town, a forensic link leads Robbie Lewis and James Hathaway to suspect the aged rockers are somehow involved. The climax and the denouement stretch credulity almost to breaking point but it's great fun to see, in particular, Joanna Lumley (as Esme) and Simon Callow (as the band's shifty manager) camping it up in such style. David Hayman and silly little Helen Baxendale also guest star alongside Kevin Whately, Laurence Fox Rebecca Front and Clare Holman.
Friday 14 March
Just when it seemed the Creeks couldn't be any happier, a cloud suddenly appears on the horizon in the shape of a glamorous weather forecaster who leads Polly to believe she and her husband share a rather unusual and intimate secret in the third and last episode of Jonathan Creek - 9:00 BBC1. And, as if their lives weren't complicated enough, the couple's cleaning lady embarks on an evening with a hunky male escort that ends with an act of teleportation, which leaves even Jonathan lost for words. Then, the morning mail brings a photograph designed to send a shiver down Polly's spine - but who took it? Alan Davies and Sarah Alexander star, with Josie Lawrence, June Whitfield and John Bird.

Back, after its mid-season break, The Blacklist continues - 9:00 Sky Living - with another excellently paced and plotted episode. Red gives Liz Keene the low down on an illegal adoption organisation responsible for a spate of baby abductions. The case hits close to home with the agent, considering her own plans to become a mother, which makes her all the more determined to catch the criminal running the agency. James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff, Harry Lennix and Parminder Nagra star.
The Byrd Who Flew Alone - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary about the enigmatic former Byrds frontman the late Gene Clark, drawing on interviews with his family, friends and fellow musicians. Since the Missouri-born songwriter's death in 1991 at the age of just forty six, his songs have been covered by artists ranging from Robert Plant to Yo La Tengo, and he has been hailed as a key influence by generations of musicians - and yet arguably failed to enjoy the success his work deserved and which his band-mates Roger McGuinn, David Crosby and Chris Hillman received.

To the news, now: BBC1 has announced new drama commissions from Lenny Henry and Steve Pemberton. Danny And The Human Zoo is a one-off ninety-minute drama written by Henry - who was last funny, briefly, in around 1983. The script is described as 'a fictionalised memoir' of the former comic's life as a working-class teenager in 1970s Dudley. 'I've crammed the first two years of a very long career into ninety minutes - it's gonna rock,' Henry claimed. This blogger, in advance, bears to differ. Mapp And Lucia, meanwhile, is an adaptation of EF Benson's novels, penned by Inside Number Nine co-creator Pemberton. The comic drama is comprised of three hour-long episodes and set in the summer of 1930, when Mrs Emmeline Lucas - known to her friends as Lucia - decides to take a holiday in the small English town of Tilling. BBC1 has also ordered five-part drama called Doctor Foster from award-winning playwright Mike Bartlett, who previously scripted the ITV drama The Town. The series will follow Doctor Jenny Foster - a popular and trusted GP - who discovers that her husband is having an affair. As more secrets start to spill out, Foster learns that her life will never be the same again.

The BBC and BSkyB have resolved their long-running row over retransmission fees with the corporation no longer having to pay to put its channels on the pay-TV platform, saving four and a half million smackers a year in licence fee money. They have also agreed a new long-term carriage deal for BBC services and the iPlayer on-demand service on Sky's satellite platform. The BBC had threatened to start charging Sky for its content if it did not drop the annual fee, which also applied to the three other public service broadcasters, ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five. ITV will also benefit, saving around two million knicker a year after reaching an agreement with Sky last month to drop the fee as part of carriage negotiations for its pay-TV drama channel ITV Encore. In a joint statement, the two broadcasters said: 'Sky and the BBC have reached an agreement which reduces the BBC's payments for platform services to zero. Alongside this, both parties have reached an agreement that secures the long-term availability of BBC channels and BBC iPlayer on the Sky platform. We will also continue to discuss opportunities that offer Sky customers new and innovative ways to discover and consume BBC content.' The BBC had previously paid four and a half million quid a year in retransmission fees with the three other public service broadcasters, ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five, footing a combined bill of around ten million notes. The issue was made a priority by the BBC's director of strategy and digital, James Purnell, and BBC Director General, Tony Hall. The BBC raised the stakes last year, threatening to charge Sky for its content, following a call by the lack of culture minister the vile and odious rascal Vaizey for the satellite broadcaster to scrap the charges earlier in 2013. The BBC has previously argued that its content underpinned Sky's profits and the charge should be dropped. Sky had argued that the BBC was benefiting directly from its billions of pounds of investment and technical services supporting its forty nine radio and TV channels on the platform. The BBC's retransmission bill was ten million quid a year until it was reduced three years ago.

Sheridan Smith is to star in new BBC1 drama The C Word. The ninety-minute one-off piece is based on Lisa Lynch's candid book and has been adapted by Nicole Taylor. Smith will play Lisa in the drama, described as 'a defiant, ballsy account' of one woman's experience of cancer. Lisa chronicled her experiences in a blog, which served as the basis for her book and had a profound effect on many people across the world. Lynch - who died in 2013, aged thirty three - gave her full support to the project, working with writer Taylor and assisting in the casting of Smith. 'Her zest for life was infectious,' said Smith. 'I was moved and inspired by her courage and bravery. I couldn't help but love her. That's why I want to tell her story. I'm so sad that Lisa won't get to see the finished drama, having been so involved in the development of it. I'm honoured and humbled that she wanted me to play her on screen, and I hope that I will make her proud.' The C Word will start filming in May.
Stellan Skarsgård is to front another new BBC1 drama, River. The Thor star will play a police detective in the six-part thriller from The Hour creator Abi Morgan. Skarsgård's character, John River, is 'a brilliant but troubled officer' whose fractured mind is the key to his crime-solving genius yadda, yadda. So, it's Luther with a Scandinavian, basically. The sixty two-year-old Swedish actor is best known for his film work, including roles in 2011's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the Pirates Of The Caribbean sequels and the recent Nymphomaniac. 'River is full of intriguing twists and turns and I was truly gripped when the script came in,' said Charlotte Moore, the Controller of BBC1. 'Abi's one of Britain's most distinctive and original storytellers, and her ability to push the boundaries of the genre in surprising ways makes River her perfect debut on BBC1.' River will be filmed this year and will broadcast on BBC1 in 2015.

Ripper Street's Jerome Flynn has thanked fans for helping to bring the show back. Although, whether those who whinged about its cancellation will be quite so prepared to pay to watch new episodes is, as yet, untrested. The period thriller - axed by the BBC in December - will get a third series as part of a co-production deal with Amazon Prime Instant Video - formerly LoveFilm. In a post on his official Facebook page, Flynn - who plays Bennet Drake in the series - revealed that filming on the new episodes will start in May. 'It's wonderful news and I want to thank you all for being such a huge part in getting the show back,' the actor wrote. Flynn added that Ripper Street had suffered 'what felt like a premature death. I know everyone involved is keen to make [the new episodes] even better than the first two series and I really do believe we can do that,' he continued. The third series of Ripper Street will debut online and will then be shown on BBC1 at a later date. Amazon Prime Instant Video is yet to decide if it will release the new episodes in one batch or in instalments.

Rebecca Ferguson (no, me neither I'm afraid) collapsed during her performance on Loose Women on Thursday. If you missed it, don't worry, you weren't the only one. The singer was on the ITV lunchtime chat show to promote her new single 'All That I've Got'. Living up to the song's title, it would seem, Ferguson fell to the floor during the show's end credits just after she finished singing the song. Ferguson later assured her fans (all three of them) that she was fine, tweeting: 'I am feeling much better will rest today. So sorry to worry everybody, I fought through that song but at the end had nothing left.' So, it would appear, it truly was all that she had. Who'd have thought it?
Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks has told the phone-hacking trial that she approved payments to public officials - but only when there was 'an overwhelming public interest.' She claimed that she had agreed payments on 'a handful of occasions' between 1998 and 2009, when she held senior roles at both the Sun and the Scum of the World. Public officials had approached the papers asking for money in exchange for information, she alleged. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks denies four charges including conspiracy to hack phones. She told the jury she had 'sanctioned payments to a public official in the line of their work.' Her barrister, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, asked her: 'Were there occasions where there were approaches [by public officials] for money for the exchange of information.' She replied: 'Yes. My view at the time was that there had to be an overwhelming public interest to justify payment in those very narrow circumstances to a public official being paid for information directly in line with their job,' she said. Questioned about how many times this had happened, she replied: 'A handful of occasions - half a dozen.' Laidlaw asked: 'So there had to be an overwhelming public interest, and if there was not?' She replied: 'If there wasn't a public interest defence then it was not done because it was considered to be illegal.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was also questioned about claims that an Ministry of Defence press officer, Bettina Jordan-Barber, received payments of one hundred thousand big ones for information which she provided to the Sun. Asked if well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks knew the source of this information was a public official, she replied that she did not. Laidlaw took her through a series of stories in the newspaper which had followed payments to Jordan-Barber, along with an e-mail sent by a journalist from the Sun to Brooks in November 2006. The e-mail read: 'Morning boss, I wondered if you would please authorise the following payments for my number one military contact?' The court heard that the sum amounted to four and a half grand and that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks e-mailed back within a minute with the response: 'Of course.' She told jurors that she would not have had any 'reason to doubt' the reporter in question. 'I'm not reading this e-mail as we are now, looking for something wrong', she explained. The former editor said that there were 'never any complaints' from the Ministry of Defence about the stories or where the information was coming from. However, she said that the former prime minister Gordon Brown did complain to the Sun over stories on the treatment of troops. Earlier, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, giving evidence for a fifth day, telling the jury that she had made 'lots of mistakes' as editor of the Sun. In 2003 the paper published the headline Bonkers Bruno locked up after the boxer Frank Bruno was admitted for psychiatric treatment. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told the court that this was 'a terrible mistake', and said that she had a 'complete blind spot' when agreeing to the headline. 'He had not been well, and we talked to him about it and we did everything we could to make up about it,' she claimed. The headline had been spotted by her then partner, hard man actor Ross Kemp, and she claims that she phoned the newsroom to have it changed. In another example, she said it had been 'cruel' to label the Labour MP Clare Short 'fat and jealous' for campaigning to stop the paper printing images of topless women on page three. For 'cruel' read barely human. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said 'balance went right out the window' in attacks on the social worker Sharon Shoesmith after the death of Peter Connelly - known as Baby P. And, she told the court that the headline Ship ship hooray about the suicide of Harold Shipman, a doctor who murdered numerous patients, had been 'in bad taste.' You think? The jury was also shown some stories which well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that she was proud of. Earlier she told the court that, as editor of the Sun, she had regular meetings with senior politicians, police officers, defence chiefs and security services officials. She said that most of these guests came to the newspaper's offices, but she had to travel to meetings with the security services. Politicians often wanted to discuss the 'good things they were doing', she said, while she met armed forces chiefs to discuss the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks also declared her 'embarrassment' at not paying a public official for the MPs' expenses story when she was editor of the Sun. She has admitted sanctioning payment for a story about Saddam Hussein threatening to 'swamp Britain with anthrax poison' in 1998, refusing requests from both M15 and M16 not to run it. Largely because, as we now know, it was a load of bollocks. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told the jury that her 'failure' to buy the disk with unredacted details of MPs' expense claims was 'one of the greatest mistakes' of her career. 'In terms of errors of judgment, it's probably quite high on my list,' she told the court, adding that her procrastination had led to her being 'scooped' by the Daily Torygraph in May 2009 when she was editor of the Sun, shortly before being promoted to News International chief executive. 'My news team came to me to say they had heard the unredacted information to do with the MPs' expenses fraud could be available but it was going to cost quite a lot of money. It was something I had to consider carefully,' she said. 'I thought about [it] for too long. I drove my news team crazy with my indecision.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks added: 'I remember when the CPS did not go to prosecute because of the high level of public interest, it was quite embarrassing that we didn't get it [the story].' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks also told the jury on Thursday that there were half-a-dozen occasions that she could recall where she signed off on payments to public officials. On Friday the court heard of one example when, in 1998, someone who was 'clearly' a public official phoned the Sun to say 'the secret service were covering up a plot by Saddam Hussein to bring in anthrax to this country.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told how, in trying to corroborate the story, the security services were alerted to the Sun's investigation and she was summoned to Downing Street. 'I remember representatives from MI5, MI6, GCHQ, Downing Street and lawyers who may have been representing some of the parties,' she said. 'First of all by its very nature, [the meeting] confirmed what the public official was telling us was true.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, who was deputy editor of the Sun at the time, was in charge of the paper as the editor was away. She was asked not to proceed with the story but decided it was in the public interest and went ahead splashing with story Saddam anthrax in our duty frees. The alleged 'source' was allegedly identified after an internal inquiry as a chief petty officer and he was subsequently extremely prosecuted. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was being questioned by her defence counsel, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, in relation to a charge that she conspired to cause misconduct in public office by sanctioning payments of thirty eight grand to public officials between 2004 and 2012. The payments have been linked to one particular source, Bettina Jordan-Barber, a Ministry of Defence official, and did not relate to the Westminster MPs story or the Hussein story, which was published in 1998. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks denies knowing Jordan-Barber or knowing that she was a public official, but introduced examples in her career where she would have considered paying public officials as a way of explaining to the jury that if she had known the MoD official was the source, she would have to consider the public interest test for publication. She was charged after police found eleven e-mails from a Sun reporter requesting her approval for payment for stories from Jordan-Barber, who he described as his 'number one military contact' or his 'ace military contact.' On several occasions, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told jurors, she was 'not in the office' when stories based on information provided by Jordan-Barber were published. On one occasion Brooks was in Russia or Italy, where News Corp had 'a lot of business interests.' On another occasion, her diary showed the story in question appeared after the News International summer party on 17 June 2009. 'Charlie and I had got married the week before and we could not go on honeymoon because of the board meeting in town that week,' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said. The day after the News International party, she received an e-mail from a Sun reporter requesting her authorisation for payments to his 'top military contact.' 'Great "do" last night by the way, met lots of people,' he wrote before requesting approval for four grand payment for a story. The jury was also shown an e-mail discussing the alleged 'cover-up' of the killing of Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes in the wake of the 7/7 bombings in 2005. One e-mail showed that the Sun's police 'source' believed that the former Home Secretary Charles Clarke was the source of a leak to the Scum of the World about an alleged cover-up of the killing at Stockwell tube station. The jury saw an e-mail from a Sun reporter telling her that his alleged 'source' had allegedly said: 'Dick says the leak on Stockwell cover-up came from Charles Clarke.' The reporter explained that he had requested five hundred smackers 'for info on an exclusive we had last week about Kate Moss drug dealer [sic] being quizzed.' He also needed money 'to smooth along' another story. 'I'm not sure it's wise putting this kind of thing down on e-mail where this is a permanent record,' he added. Wisely, as it turned out. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was asked by Laidlaw what this could possibly have meant. She replied that it could be read as meaning that the reporter 'did not want to put information about his sources on e-mail' or, she said, 'if you want to see something more sinister in it you could have read he did not want this payment to be discussed on e-mail.' She added: 'It could be he should not be putting the name of the source of the Stockwell cover-up on an e-mail.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told jurors that the reporter was 'very senior' and that the tone of the last line in the e-mail was 'a bit chippy.' She said: 'It could have been that he did not want to be questioned on the cash for one of his many sources.' The jury was sent home at lunchtime on Friday after they were told by the judge that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks had found her six days in the witness box 'tiring.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks is one of seven defendants who deny all the charges against them. The trial extremely continues.

A former Surrey police officer has become the latest person to be charged under Operation Elveden. The Crown Prosecution Service has announced that Simon Quinn is to be charged over allegations that he took payments for stories over an eleven-year period between 2000 and 2011. A spokeswoman for Surrey police confirmed he was a former officer on the force. The CPS has not identified any newspapers involved. Since the Elveden investigation was launched by Scotland Yard almost three years ago, eighty four journalists and public officials have been extremely arrested and fifty two charged. Earlier this week three Sun journalists and one former Daily Mirra reporter were told they would face charges under Elveden along with four public officials. A CPS statement said Quinn would appear before Westminster magistrates' court on 10 March on the charge that he 'conspired together with journalists and other persons unknown to commit misconduct in a public office contrary to section one Criminal Law Act 1977.'

Lisa Kudrow must pay her former manager $1.6m, after a jury agreed that she owed him money from earnings she received from repeats. Scott Howard worked as Kudrow's manager for sixteen years, before she terminated their contract in 2007. Howard took legal action in 2008 claiming that he was owed five percent of Kudrow's earnings from continuing residuals of work negotiated previously by him. The actress has denied agreeing on the payments and is said to be planning to appeal. The fifty-year-old is best known for playing Phoebe Buffay in the hit sitcom Friends, which ran from 1994 to 2004. A jury in Los Angeles ruled in favour of Howard following testimony from expert witness Martin Bauer, a long-standing Hollywood agent and manager, whom the judge - who had initially ruled in Kudrow's favour - allowed on appeal. The witness said that he had never had a commission cut off because he had been fired. 'I would never make that deal,' Bauer told the jury. 'The only consequence of a termination is on future projects.' Bauer testified that it was 'common practice' in the industry to take a cut of earnings made from ongoing repeats. In the UK alone, Friends was on constant rotation on Channel Four and E4 for several decades - between the end of the show in 2004 and 2011. It is now shown on Comedy Central. And, probably will be for the rest of time. Kudrow claimed that she and Scott had an 'oral agreement' which stated that the actress would pay a cut only on the first round of repeats. In court, she claimed that Howard had, at first, refused her terms, but later relented. However since no terms were submitted in writing, the jury found in favour of Scott. 'The jury's verdict is merely one step in the legal process,' said Kudrow's lawyer, Gerard Sauer. 'This case ultimately will be resolved at the appellate level. Ms Kudrow has faith in the judicial system and she believes that the eventual outcome of this contractual dispute will be in her favour.' Speculation had suggested the actress could be ordered to pay as much as eight million dollars to her former manager. The manager earned eleven million bucks during their long working relationship, with Kudrow earning more than one million dollars an episode by the end of Friends' run in 2004.

A camera fault which gave the impression a TV reporter was sinking into the studio floor has been fixed, BBC Look North has said. A clip of Caroline Bilton's lunchtime report on Monday has been viewed more than seven hundred thousand times on YouTube. The reporter seemed to see the funny side of it, tweeting: 'Well I'm globally famous it would seem and for all the wrong reasons! The power of the web! Glad it's making people smile.'Good on ya, Cazza.
Though, it's still not as funny as this.

The ONE Show presenter Alex Jones is to spend three days up a US mountain to raise funds for Sport Relief. And to give everyone back home a break from her shrill screeching. Jones will scale the vertical Moonlight Buttress in Utah's Zion National Park, which is twelve hundred feet high. Jones, who has no climbing experience 'except for the odd tree', said it was 'a daunting prospect.' Viewers of the BBC1 programme will be able to watch her progress from 17 to 20 March. They are being asked to sponsor Jones' effort to raise thousands of pounds for good causes. And, if they sponsor a lot, she might be persuaded to stay up there a bit longer. The Welsh presenter, who has spent three months 'intensively' training for the climb, said: 'I can't quite get my head round hauling my body weight up one of North America's tallest vertical rock faces. I'll also have to try and master suspended sleeping and the delicate issue of "toilet etiquette", but the thought of helping those in need will get me through.' One presumes that the toilet etiquette involved in rock climbing is you drop yer strides and shat on anything which happens to be below you. Which, let's face it, is one of the few actual pleasures in such an activity. Jones added that she was 'compelled to say "yes" to the challenge' despite her lack of experience. The effort of hauling herself up the vertical rock face and clinging on to its surface will lead Jones to burn around seven hundred calories an hour. Davina McCall recently completed a seven-day, five hundred mile endurance test which culminated with a marathon run. Her efforts have raised in excess of seven hundred thousand quid for Sport Relief.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United are in the headlines - yet again - for all the wrong reasons this Sunday morning. Manager Alan Pardew has apologised after, unbelievably, hoying-the-heed-in on Hull City's midfielder David Meyler during Saturday's Premier league clash. The daft pillock. Pardew was, rightly, dismissed to the stands after the incident during the second half of The Magpies' 4-1 victory at the KC Stadium. Which, not only soured an otherwise excellent day for The Toon but is likely to have serious repercussions for Pardew his very self and, possibly for the club as well. I mean, for pity's sake dear blog reader, you just can't do that if you're a player let alone a manager who is supposed, in theory, to be setting an example. Even if there was some provocation on the part of Meyler - which subsequent television pictures suggested was the case - it was and is completely out of order. Without wishing to prejudge what's likely to happen now, it is probable that the Football Association will want to throw the sodding book at Pardew - who has quite a bit of previous in relation to touchline incidents. In addition to a lengthy ban and a significant fine he could, potentially, also be facing investigation by The Law and, if Magpies owner, the odious disgrace Mike Ashley, is looking for an excuse to break Pardew's eight year contract, maybe even dismissal for gross misconduct. One presumes there is likely to be a provision in said contract which states that the manager probably shouldn't go around sticking the nut on opposition midfielders. So, once again, Newcastle are in the headlines for all the wrong reasons and none of the rights ones, on a day when Pardew's side, for once, actually played like they meant it, producing a classy counter-attacking display. Pardew said after the game: 'I did not mean any damage to the guy but I have moved my head forward. I tried to push him away with my head. I should not have done that. I apologise to everyone. I should not have got involved in it.' Well, yes, you shouldn't. But, it's a bit late for all that now, isn't it? Goals from Moussa Sissoko (seconds after Tim Krul had made a miraculous double save at the other end) and Loic Remy gave The Magpies a deserved half-time lead. Hull briefly threatened a revival when Curtis Davies headed in Tom Huddlestone's free kick shortly after the resumption. Sissoko then struck again to restore Newcastle's two goal advantage, pouncing when Hull keeper Allan McGregor could only parry Yoan Gouffran's fierce twenty yard drive following a swift, four-man break away. The impressive Vurnon Anita's first league strike for the club, deep into injury time - after good work from Dan Gosling and Paul Dummett - rounded off the victory to the delight of the visiting supporters from Tyneside. By then, however, assistant manager Johnny Carver was overseeing proceedings from the touchline, following Pardew's crass behaviour and dismissal. With The Magpies 3-1 up, Pardew was angered when Meyler angrily barged past him in an attempt to retrieve the ball to take a throw-in. The pair came together, with the former Reading and Southampton boss pushing his head into the face of the Hull player. Whilst not quite a full-blown 'Glasgow kiss', there was still clearly enough intent from Pardew to make any subsequent claims of self-defence unconvincing. And, to be fair to Pardew, at least he didn't try to claim that. There was, quite simply, no excuse for Pardew's over-reaction to what was, in the great scheme of things, a fairly innocuous incident at a point when the game seemed wrapped up in his side's favour. Whatever sanction the FA add to those already given by the club will be justified - not least because of his well-documented previous. A fracas involving players and staff from both sides followed (Yoan Gouffran managing to stop his manager from, seemingly, being intent on planting one on anything that moved in an orange and black shirt at one point). When the melee was dispersed, Meyler (hardly the innocent party that he's being presented as by some) was booked for his part in the ugly incident and Pardew was, rightly, sent from the touchline. The referee, Kevin Friend, actually handled the incident very well and got it pretty much spot on in terms of who was the blame for what. The Newcastle boss, who in 2012 was given a two-game ban for pushing an assistant referee, added: 'It was a situation where I should not have been there. I will sit down from now on and send John Carver out there.' You might have little or no choice but to sit down, matey, quite possibly at home given that a n out right Stadium ban for at least a couple of games seems likely. Pardew admitted that his behaviour had 'taken the gloss off a magnificent performance from my team.' Which it certainly did. It also let the players, the club and, most importantly, the supporters down. Although, as usual, it's not as if anyone involved in Newcastle United ever seems particularly bothered about letting the supporters down - they do it so well and so often. He added: 'The players were terrific; it was only myself who had a poor performance all-round. I am very, very pleased with the team but very upset with myself. Of course I apologise; I represent a big club.' Yes, you do. Although, for how much longer is another question entirely. That said, being the contrary sod he is, Ashley's next move was one of, qualified, support for his manager, and the assertion that Pardew's job was safe. This surprised many. The club's public reaction, in the form of a statement on its website late on Saturday evening, said that they were 'disappointed' with Pardew's 'unacceptable' behaviour but had taken his immediate apology and, seemingly sincere contrition, into consideration and issued him with a one hundred thousand smackers fine and a formal warning - as opposed to, what, an informal one? That could help to draw the line under the incident from the club's point of view, whatever caning Pardew is to receive from the FA notwithstanding. For anyone doubting the job security that Pardew currently enjoys, the events at Hull and the club's timely response confirms he remains, for the moment at least, in credit with the owner. Whether that remains so in the coming days and weeks, time will tell. It usually does. Shortly after full-time, but before Pardew had apologised live on national telly, a leading bookmaker suspended betting on the next Premier League manager to be sacked. Well, that was certainly helpful, I don't think - as, indeed, were comments by, seemingly, ever ex-player that Sky and the BBC could round up for an opinion. When once-in-a-generation minds like Jamie Redknapp and Robbie Savage (a player who spent his entire career provoking opponents) and failed previous Magpies manager Graeme Sourpuss are sticking their oar in and paddling furiously, you know it's probably time to take a step back and let the professionals get on with administering the necessary chastisement. Hull boss Steve Bruce, displaying his usual opportunistic glee at shoehorning himself into any Newcastle United story with a casual 'well, as a Geordie myself ...' line while simultaneously squirting salt tears into his eyes with a pipette, claimed that he 'sympathised' with his Newcastle counterpart because of the 'pressure' managers are under, and then praised Meyler for staying on his feet. Bruce told Radio 5Live: 'I'm sure Alan's absolutely regretting it and questioning himself, asking "how the hell have I done that?" The pressure on all Premier League managers is enormous. It's not like Alan, he's an established Premier League manager. I'm delighted with the reaction of David Meyler because other people would've been rolling round the floor. We've all done silly things in the heat of the moment.' Mind you, and without wishing in any way to minimise the seriousness of this incident, it must be noted that this blogger was watching Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday at the time the incident happened and the melodramatic way in which Jeff Stelling, Paul Merson and co were commenting on it, you'd have thought the Hindenburg had just crashed all over again. Oh, indeed, the humanity. And that. Pardew also received support, on Twitter, from Joey Barton. By Hell, things just get worse and worse for him, don't they? Anyway ... to the only good news to come out of all this: United's win keeps them in eighth place in the Premiership, two points behind The Scum and four ahead of Southampton on forty three points. Their next game will be against Fulham at Craven Cottage in a fortnight's time. Who will be in charge of the team when that takes place is, as noted, a question best left for another day.

The Aurora Borealis its very self has been giving rare and spectacular displays over parts of the UK, as far south as Essex on Thursday evening and Friday morning. The lights have been clearly visible off the East coast, in Northumberland, Humberside and Norfolk, as well as parts of the West coast and in South Wales. The Northern Lights appear as shimmering waves of light when atoms in the Earth's high-altitude atmosphere collide with energetic charged particles from the sun. The BBC's tame astronomer, Mark Thompson, said that seeing the Aurora Borealis in the UK was 'a rare treat.' Yer actual, his very self, has only ever seen them twice previously (and one of other was only last year).
And finally, dear blog reader, sometimes you find the most wonderful things on t'Internet.
For the latest Keith Telly Topping's A To Z Of Groovy Tunes, we reach M. M, dear blog reader is for ... well, M.

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