Sunday, March 30, 2014

Week Fifteen: Y Is For Yesterday And Today

The University of Chichester's Department of Media will be celebrating the BBC Radiophonic Workshop with a day of interviews, lectures, talks and panels, culminating in a rare opportunity to see the Workshop perform a number of proper slammin' tunes live. Original team members Dick Mills, Paddy Kingsland, Peter Howell and Roger Limb, as well as archivist Mark Ayres, will be extensively interviewed about their work at the event which takes place on Friday 11 April. The day session will be followed by a visual show in surround sound, featuring new material to be played only at this event. There will also be an after-show party, hosted by Brighton electronica night Synthesize Me, and a special performance by rising synth-pop duo The Vile Electrodes. Tickets, costing sixty five smackers,are available from the official website.

Once upon a time they were teaming up on-screen on a weekly basis but nowadays a public appearance by Matt Smith and Karen Gillan is a rare thing. The pair - who are both busy forging movie careers for themselves since departing Doctor Who - appeared together at the Wizard World convention in Louisville, Kentucky (where the cowshit lies thick) over the weekend and one audacious fan took full advantage of the occasion, getting down on one knee and asking his girlfriend to marry him just as they were about to get their photo taken with Smudger and Kazza. What, you may wonder, did she say, dear blog reader? Well, yes, of course. And who better to celebrate the happy moment with than The Doctor and Amy Pond their very selves. Aw, bless.
The TARDIS-type police box specially made for Bournemouth is to be opened on Tuesday 8 April, Dorset Police has announced. The steel box is to be installed at the western end of Boscombe precinct in Christchurch Road, with the official opening ceremony taking place at 11.30am in front of local dignitaries plus businessmen and women as well as the community. Sergeant Chris Amey, Boscombe's Partnership and Regeneration officer, said: 'The steel construction has been completed, the box has been galvanised and is currently being powder-coated at a secret location. When it returns it will undergo its internal fit, which will include security locks, CCTV, telephone and the installation of some exciting bespoke technology.' The opening will be followed by 'a family fun day' between midday and 4pm, to be held at the precinct marquee and led by Creative Kids, with free activities and entertainment organised, including a bouncy castle, face painting, music and games. And, jocular arrests for anybody looking at an officer 'in a funny way' followed by a comedy 'falling down the stairs at the local nick' event. Probably. It has not been announced who will perform the opening honours, although Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and John Barrowman are usually available and desperate for any Doctor Who-related work on offer.

Next Wednesday yer actual Keith Telly Topping's old mucker the Doctor Who scriptwriter and author Rob Shearman is doing an event at the University of Chichester, talking about writing and, obviously, Doctor Who. It's a free event, but ticketed - if you're in the vague Chichester area, the event starts at 5:30pm and is being held in Cloisters Chamber at the institution's Bishop Otter campus. It is part of a series of talks involving prominent people in the media and will be led by senior lecturer Dr Adam Locks and Man Booker Prize-nominee Professor Alison McLeod. Tickets for the event are free but spaces are, obviously, limited so anyone interested in attending should booked in advance - details for doing so can be found at this link.
And, finally on the Doctor Who front, so you think you've seen the single most ridiculous, arse-dribblingly stupid piece of heed-the-baal nonsense critique concerning the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama, dear blog reader? Well, you might want to think again after you've had a gander at this twenty four carat gem. To sum up, according to this quite astounding example of ignorant and lazy journalism - written by one Rosie Narasaki (no, me neither) - yer actual Steven Moffat is 'a sexist writer' because he creates 'strong female characters.' Rosie, whose own television writing credentials are, at this time, unknown ends the article by chiding Moffat with the line 'will you never learn?' How gauche. All of this, incidentally, is evidenced by ... well, seemingly, one publicity photo of the actress Keeley Hawes playing a character that Steven Moffat didn't create, who is due to appear in an episode that Steven Moffat didn't write and one which hasn't been shown on TV yet (and won't be for another five months at least). If one didn't know better one might almost suspect that this entire article had been written with some considerable prejudicial (and sick) agenda smeared all over it like a thin coating of diarrhoea. But, of course, that would be very unlikely concerning something which appeared on the Interweb, wouldn't it? Anyway, Keith Telly Topping reckons this is certainly a contender for the British, European and Commonwealth All-Comers Record for the most idiotic piece of rank thuggish numskull glakery he's read in good long while (and, trust Keith Telly Topping dear blog reader, he's read some corkers over the years). Although, as we all know, in The Land of the Crassly Opinionated, one doesn't actually need to watch an episode of a television series to review it negatively and spit upon it with righteous fury. Heaven forbid. What this blogger particularly enjoyed, though, was Rosie's comment: 'But the fans' hearts collectively sunk upon perusal of her promo images.' Oh, rilly, Rosie? And, you asked all of them, did you? Cos this blogger seemingly didn't get that memo and, if nothing else, he considers himself as a fully paid-up fan of Doctor Who and has been since 1968. Probably before you were born, I'd wager. And, not for nothing but the past tense of the verb to sink in this context is sank, not sunk. Where did you go to school, young lady? Will you never learn? Yer man Moffat his very self seemed to find the article quite funny when pointed towards its existence ('a first, even for me'). Sadly, he didn't take the opportunity to tell Rosie to, you know, 'grow the fuck up, you daft plank.' He didn't do that because, of course, Steven Moffat is far too nice and polite a person to say any such thing. But, I'm not, dear blog reader. God save us all from armchair critics. Including - perhaps, especially - Keith Telly Topping, when he's got a right chimney over over such risible nonsense as this.
MasterChef stayed on top of the overnight ratings outside of soaps for its second episode on Thursday evening. The BBC1 cookery competition gained over one hundred thousand viewers from Wednesday's opening episode, bringing in 4.48 million at 9pm. Earlier, Room 101 returned for a new series with 3.64m at 8pm, while Question Time was watched by 2.49m at 10.35pm. BBC2's Lambing Live continued with 1.99m at 8pm, followed by the finale of The Worricker Trilogy, Salting The Battlefield with 1.56m at 9pm. ITV's wretched, worthless Ade At Sea appealed to 2.10m at 8.30pm which is still 2.10 million too many frankly, while the only programme featuring dogs on ITV that isn't presented by Paul O'Grady, Dangerous Dogs brought in 2.22m at 9pm. On Channel Four, The Hoarder Next Door gathered 1.21m at 8pm, followed by Mayday: The Passenger Who Landed A Plane with 1.46m at 9pm. Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown had an audience of nine hundred and eighty one thousand viewers at 10pm. Channel Five's It Takes A Thief To Catch A Thief interested eight hundred and thirty four thousand at 8pm, while The Hotel Inspector was seen by 1.13m at 9pm. Person Of Interest returned with six hundred and ninety four thousand at 10pm.

Coronation Street topped Friday's overnight ratings. 7.36m punters tuned-in at 7.30pm on ITV as Gary broke into Phelan's house to steal the evidence that Phelan has been blackmailing him. An audience of 6.45m returned at 8.30pm for the night's second episode as Owen stepped in to stop Gary from making a big mistake. EastEnders beat the second Corrie, bringing in 6.6m at 8pm on BBC1 as Mick was attacked by an unknown figure when visiting his father's home. Emmerdale attracted 5.87m at 7pm on ITV. Outside of soaps, BBC1 had a steady, if unspectacular Friday night with The ONE Show attracting 3.86m, A Question Of Sport drawing 2.71m, the latest episode of MasterChef being watched by 3.39m as annoyingly squeaky-voiced Holly got the push and Robert and Dani went through to the semi-finals. At 9pm a repeat of New Tricks was watched by 3.43m while odd-couple offering Joanna Lumley meets will.i.am had an audience of by 2.38m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Lambing Live's last episode of the series delivered 2.22m at 8pm, while Gardeners' World had 2.5m (12.3%) at 9pm, making them the two highest-rated shows on the channel. ITV's Student Nurses: Bedpans And Bandages dipped from last week's 3.12m to 2.57m at 8pm, while Edge Of Heaven was finally put out of its misery with but 1.26m at 9pm. The latest episode of Marvell's Agents of SHIELD dropped slightly to eight hundred and ninety thousand at 8pm on Channel Four, while Gogglebox had a big rise to 2.48m at 9pm. Alan Carr: Chatty Man's first show of the series had 1.73m at 10pm. Ice Road Truckers on Channel Five at 8pm pulled in seven hundred and eighty three thousand, while Mysteries Of The Bermuda Triangle pulled in eight hundred and fifty thousand punters at 9pm, the highest-rated show on the channel. NCIS: Los Angeles subsequently attracted five hundred and forty two thousand at 10pm.

The Voice suffered a series overnight low but still won the Saturday overnight ratings battle ahead of Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. The live semi-final, which saw the contestants perform with their coaches, averaged 5.94m from 7pm to 9.10pm on BBC1, dropping below six million for the first time this series. ITV's Saturday Night Takeaway edged The Voice head-to-head live in the 7pm hour but was second best overall, managing 5.84m. Afterwards, The Cube appealed to 3.65m, while 9.25pm's Law & Order: UK repeat took but 1.24m. The latest episode of BBC1's Casualty drew 4.99m from 9.20pm and Match Of The Day had 3.78m. On BBC2, Dad's Army and The Perfect Morecambe & Wise attracted 1.76m and 1.39m respectively, before a repeat of the second episode of The Plantagenets was watched by 1.02m from 8.30pm. Channel Four's Hostages was watched by four hundred and eighty three thousand from 8pm. It was followed by a broadcast ofthe Jason Statham movie The Mechanic, which was watched by eight hundred and weighty one thousand. On Channel Five, Longmire gathered five hundred and forty two thousand before an NCIS repeat at 8.10pm took five hundred and two thousand punters. Overall, BBC1 won primetime with twenty eight per cent of the audience share, ahead of ITV's seventeen per cent. On the multichannels, Doc Martin scored seven hundred and fifty four thousand on ITV3 from 8.25pm.

Bloody hell, but that Benedict Cumberbatch isn't 'alf a right lucky sod! He gets all the best gigs, that kiddie. Not only is he Sherlock Holmes but, this weekend, he got to hang out in Malaysia at the Grand Prix (getting interviewed by the divine Goddess that is Suzi Perry into the bargain). Bad choice of hat, mind, Ben.
He was, however, in theory at least working for his freebie, getting the job of interviewing Lewis Hamilton on the podium after young Lewis won the race by driving his motor really very fast indeed, and that.
Sherlock and Doctor Who will battle it out at Freesat's 2014 Free TV Awards. The popular BBC1 dramas are nominated for Best TV Programme or Series, alongside Strictly Come Dancing, Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and Lord Snooty's Downton Abbey. Sherlock is also up for Best TV Drama, up against Line Of Duty, The Fall, Lucan and Black Mirror. Mrs Brown's Boys is nominated for Best TV Sitcom, along with Inside Number Nine, The Wrong Mans, Birds Of A Feather and Toast Of London. Celebrity Big Brother is recognised in the Best Live TV Programme category, and is up against Strictly Come Dancing, This Morning, Saturday Night Takeaway and the BBC's Winter Olympics coverage. In its sixth year, the Freesat Free TV Awards recognise programmes that are free-to-watch in the UK. Winners will be selected by an expert panel of broadcasting industry executives and television commentators. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on Tuesday 17 June.

Broadchurch has won three awards, including best drama series, at the Broadcasting Press Guild awards. Olivia Colman was named best actress for her role as Ellie Miller, whilst creator Chris Chibnall won the BPG writer award. Twelve Years A Slave's Chiwetel Ejiofor won best actor for his role in BBC2 drama Dancing On The Edge. Jamie Dornan won the breakthrough award for his role in The Fall. Dornan will next be seen playing the lead role of Christian Grey in the much-anticipated Movie adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey. The annual awards, now in their fortieth year, are voted for by journalists who specialise in TV, radio and the media. BBC2 picked up a third award for best single drama - for The Wipers Times, co-written by Ian Hislop and starring Michael Palin alongside Ben Chaplin and Julian Rhind-Tutt. BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing - now entering its tenth year - was named best entertainment programme. The award was collected by Sir Bruce Forsyth at a ceremony at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Channel Four won all three awards for factual television. Syria: Across The Lines was voted best single documentary, Educating Yorkshire won the award for best documentary series and the BPG award for best factual entertainment went to Gogglebox. Sky Television won best multichannel programme for its drama series The Tunnel, based on the Scandinavian hit The Bridge. The broadcaster also won the innovation award, 'for twenty five years of constant innovation that has changed the face of broadcasting.' LBC's Nick Ferrari was voted radio broadcaster of the year. Radio 4's Tweet Of The Day, which explores the calls of British birds, was voted radio programme of the year. As previously announced, Pride And Prejudice screenwriter Andrew Davies was awarded the Harvey Lee award for his outstanding contribution to broadcasting. The seventy seven-year-old dramatist has been behind enduring hits such as House Of Cards, A Very Peculiar Practice and Bleak House, and - more recently - Mr Selfridge. Collecting his lifetime achievement prize, the writer laid into the current vogue for grisly drama. 'Why is it always genre now? Didn't there used to be a section called drama? Does it all have to be serial killers?' he asked. Adding that 'there is a corpse in every episode' of many dramas he joked: 'I don't think people should be allowed to write serial killer drama until they have killed at least three people themselves!' John Humphrys was the last recipient of the award, named in honour of the former Daily Torygraph media correspondent and Broadcasting Press Guild chairman, who died in 1991.

TV comedy line of the week came from a very unusual source, the BBC's The Sunday Politics. 'Whatever happened to the BNP?' asked the presenter, Andrew Neil. 'They could be headed for electoral oblivion.' I dunno about you, dear blog reader, but this blogger finds that line absolutely hilarious. Yer actual isn't, usually, a big fan of yer man Neil but, hey, credit where it's due.
So, anyway, it was another beautiful spring morning at Stately Telly Topping Manor, with the Saharan sand fog lingering, like a wet blanket, over the estate ...
Which brings us to the latest batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 5 April
After seven weeks of blind auditions, two battle shows, two knock-out rounds and two live programmes, the final of The Voice is here - 7:00 BBC1 - with just four contestants remaining, all eager to be crowned winner and pick up a recording contract. Emma Willis and Marvin Humes present as the hopefuls perform a song of their own choice and then duet with their coaches, after which the singer with the fewest votes leaves the competition. The remaining three then get their final chance to prove they deserve the title with one more number, and while the public votes, the coaches perform together one last time. There will also be appearances from Paloma Faith and Aloe Blacc.

The divine Goddess that is Suzi Perry introduces more Formula 1 action from the qualifying sessions in the third round of the season at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir - 9:00 BBC2. Nico Rosberg qualified on pole here last year and the Mercedes driver - along with team mate Lewis Hamilton the winner in the last race in Malaysia - are both expected to be among the leading contenders for maximum points here after the Mercs made a promising start to the campaign. Whether Jenson, Fernando and Ze Cherman Whom No One likes will be up there with them, you'll have to tune in to find out. With commentary by Ben Edwards and David Coulthard.
In the penultimate episode of True Detective - 9:00 Sky Atlantic - after convincing Marty Hart that he owes a moral debt to Dora Lange, Rust Cohle persuades his former partner to help him reinvestigate the case and shows him evidence he has collated in his independent search for the truth. They interview a relative of Reggie and Dewall Ledoux, as well as a former housekeeper to Sam Tuttle, and they both mention the scarred man who keeps cropping up in their inquiries. If you're not currently watching this, frankly you're a lost cause!
Drama's ongoing repeat run of Waking The Dead reaches the start of series six tonight - 9:00 - with another classic two-parter, Wren Boys. Tara FitzGerald joins the regular cast as forensic scientist Eve, delving into the death of a teenage boy found encased in concrete on a building site. Evidence is found linking the body to a youngster dumped at a hospital one night after clearly being involved in an illegal boxing match and, as the plot thickens, Peter Boyd and his Cold Case team find themselves investigating pagan rituals, stigmata and the world of Irish travellers (and their mean dogs). Trevor Eve and Sue Johnston star with a guest cast that includes Sharpe's Daragh O'Malley, Tony Scannell from The Bill and a very young Carey Mulligan.

Sunday 6 April
Viewers always seem to love a good period drama, with the likes of Call The Midwife, Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge proving hugely popular. The BBC continues its Midwife trend but goes further back in time with The Crimson Field, - 9:00 BBc1 - a much-trailed medical drama that follows the brave doctors, nurses and volunteer women working in First World War France, patching up soldiers wounded in the trenches. The great Suranne Jones stars as new arrival, Sister Joan Livesey, a suffragist whose modern approach to the tented hospital does not go down too well with the old guard, while Oona Chaplin as volunteer Kitty Trevelyan, soon realises no amount of training could have prepared her for the reality of working near the frontline. Also starring Hermione Norris, Kerry Fox and Kevin Doyle.
As England and Argentina kick-off in the World Cup quarter-final at Wembley, Oxford's streets are all but deserted. Obviously. Everybody's in the pub watching Sir Alf stopping George Cohen from swapping his shirt with some hapless South American winger and calling the Argies a bunch of 'animals'. Ah, the good old days of casual racism how they're missed. Well if you're a member of UKiP, anyway. Yes, Endeavour - 8:00 ITV - has reached 1966 and all that, dear blog reader. Get out your copy of Herman's Hermits Greatest Hits and pop down the old discothèque for some groovy action, baby. (Applicable, only to anybody living within a ten mile radius of Central London on the salary of a pop star. Most normal people are existing on a council estate on about eight quid a week.) Meanwhile, at an almost empty museum, a septet of bore looking schoolgirls - and their sexy young teacher - saunter through the exhibits. But in a closed-off enclave, a blade slashes, blood sprays in a crimson mosaic and a man falls to his grizzly, gore-splattered death. Adrian Weiss, a specialist in heraldry and genealogy, is found slain with a ceremonial dagger that has links to Nineteenth-Century India. Were the Argentine football team responsible for that as well? Sounds like the sort of thing they'd do. An entry in the visitors' book leads Constable Morse to the Blythe Mount School for Sexually Repressed Teenage Girls; an establishment isolated in the summer months save for a skeleton staff and a handful of pupils (well, he's only human after all), where a note reading 'Save Me' is mysteriously slipped into his coat pocket. That's got to be a reference to the Argentine football team, no? The school is housed in a creepy country house where one hundred years earlier, almost to the day, the Blaze-Hamilton family was wiped out by a croquet mallet-wielding murderer in one of the great unsolved crimes of the century. Yes, this episode is a bit mental, dear blog reader! Good, though. A straight cross between Picnic At Hanging Rock, The Legend Of Hell House, Heavenly Creatures and The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher. Such combinations are always enjoyable. Digging into the building's troubled history, Morse finds a connection between Weiss's untimely fate and the mallet murders. 'I can see how this tickles your fancy,' Fred Thursday tells young Morse. 'It's something out of the ordinary… or downright peculiar if you ask me.' He's not kidding, either. Then, one of the schoolgirls goes missing. Blimey. Blame Antonio Rattin. That baldy German referee certainly did. Starring Shaun Evans, with the excellent Roger Allam, Anton Lesser, Sean Rigby, James Bradshaw, Sara Vickers and Abigail Thaw. The guest cast includes Susy Kane, Kate Lamb, Nell Tiger Free, Anya Taylor-Joy, Imogen Gurney, Eve Perry, Maya Gerber, Lucy Boynton and Emily Warren.
Doris Day: Virgin Territory - 9:00 BBC4 - is a profile of the American singer, actress and animal rights activist, featuring contributions by James Garner, Richard Carpenter, Terence Davies and Don Pippin. The programme delves into Doris's troubled private life and career highs and lows of the star of such films as Pillow Talk, Calamity Jane, The Man Who Knew Too Much, That Touch of Mink, The Thrill of It All and Caprice. Narrated by Michael Brandon.
Or, if you don't fancy any of that there's an all night Would I Lie To You? marathon on Dave starting at 8pm. Tasty.

Monday 7 April
In The Treasure Hunters - 9:00 BBC1 - Dallas Campbell and Ellie Harrison present the first of two programmes in which they embark on 'the ultimate treasure hunt', it says here, searching the globe to uncover its extraordinary riches, from natural gems to precious metals - 'and more besides.' What that more could possibly be in the wide wide world of sport, we just don't know. Nor, indeed, do we really care. Anyway, Dallas begins his search Down Under, free-diving for lustrous pearls in the waters around north-west Australia and seeking out diamonds from the bottom of the ocean. He also learns about opal mining in one of the most hostile places on Earth and, together with Ellie, reveals how ambergris, a substance that starts life in a sperm whale's stomach, can prove an expensive ingredient in perfume. Plus, how one of the largest and most unusual treasures has helped solve a sixty seven-million-year-old puzzle.

Yer man Jezza Paxman asks the questions as University Challenge reaches its climax - 8:00 BBC2 - with four students from Trinity College, Cambridge, battling it out against the winning team from the second semi-final. That'll be either Somerville College Oxford or the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. The victorious side will be lifting the trophy designed by Manchester sculptor Adrian Moakes.

Jane Phillips was just a young child when she witnessed her mother's murder and the traumatic incident has haunted her ever since as we discover in the first of the two-part Undeniable - 9:00 ITV. Twenty-three years later, Jane comes face-to-face with the man she believes is the killer - eminent oncologist Andrew Rawlins - and sets out to bring him to justice. However, having wrongly identified others in the past, is she about to destroy an innocent person's life? As inquiries proceed, inconsistencies emerge in both their testimonies and the suspect reluctantly submits to a blood test, which the original investigating officer believes will prove his guilt. Suspense drama starring leading actors from two of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite dramas of the last decade, Waking The Dead's Claire Goose and Peter Firth from [spooks], with Felix Scott, Christine Bottomley, Pippa Haywood and Robert Pugh.

In Rule Britannia! Music, Mischief And Morals In The Eighteenth Century - 9:00 BBC4 - sexy Suzy Klein explores the extent to which classical music played a significant role in shaping British identity and patriotism in the Eighteenth Century. In the first edition, the presenter considers the power music gave the new German-originated royal family as it dealt with several Jacobite risings in the Eighteenth Century, and discovers why Italian opera was so popular in the era. She also reveals the significance of Handel's arrival in London, and revisits the origins of The Beggar's Opera. Featuring works such as Rule Britannia, God Save The King and Handel's Water Music. Part of the BBC's Georgian Season, you've probably seen the - rather amusing - trailers featuring sexy Suzy and Doctor Lucy. Looks well worth a punt, this.
Tuesday 8 April
The first episode of the final two-part story of Shetland - 9:00 BBC1 - starts when a scientist is found dead in the bird observatory on Fair Isle, Perez's childhood home. So, he takes Tosh and makes his way across to the island, where he is greeted by his father - just before flights are grounded by incoming storms. Working alone and without a forensic team, the detectives talk to the victim's friends, family and colleagues - and as tensions run high, the storm forces Perez and the suspects to remain together under a single roof. Douglas Henshall and Alison O'Donnell star, with John Lynch and Bill Paterson.
On 17 January 1983, the BBC launched Breakfast Time, British television's first national breakfast television programme, prompting ITV to bring its rival show TV-am to air four months ahead of schedule. The Battle For Britain's Breakfast - 9:00 BBC2 - is a documentary examining the events surrounding the birth of early-morning TV, revealing a tale of skulduggery, malarkey, shenanigans and dirty rotten tricks from scoundrels and bad buggers. Narrated by Peter Snow and featuring contributions from Anne Diamond, Greg Dyke, Frank Bough, Gyles Brandreth, Nick Ross, Jonathan Aitken, John Stapleton, Russell Grant and Nick Owen.

In Massachusetts, Ned is dispatched to England by his father John Hawkins, and asks him to give Hope a letter in return in the second episode of New Worlds - 9:00 Channel Four. However, John destroys it and insists Hope marry recent widower Henry Cresswell. Back in Oxfordshire, Abe and Beth blow up the clay pits where landowner George Hardwick is forcing men, women and children to work in terrible conditions, and Abe later attempts to assassinate the king. Meanwhile, Judge Jeffreys puts pressure on Will Blood to produce evidence against Angelica and her husband John Francis. Historical drama featuring Joe Layton, James McArdle, Freya Mavor, Eve Best, Patrick Malahide, Jamie Dornan, Michael Maloney, Pip Carter, Emma Noakes, Gemma Tucker, Amy Marston, Miranda Stewart, Holli Dempsey, Jeremy Northam and Andrew Woodall, among others.
Wednesday 9 April
John Torode and Gregg Wallace present the third heat of this year's MasterChef - 8:00 BBC1. The six hopefuls begin by dishing up their Calling Card recipe, a single plate of food that represents who they are, followed by the Invention Test, in which they prepare a dish in one hour from a choice of two sets of surprise ingredients. After two cooks are sent home, things 'get serious', with the rest preparing dinner for 2006 MasterChef winner Peter Bayless, 2012 finalist Andrew Kojima and 2011 semi-finalist crazy veggie  drama queen horrorshow (and drag) Jackie Kearney. It's then down to the judges to decide who will advance to Friday's quarter-final. Continues tomorrow at 8pm.
In Ian Hislop's Olden Days: The Power of the Past in Britain - 9:00 BBC2 - the satirist explores the nation's obsession with the past to reveal how and why the British have continually plundered 'the olden days' to make sense of and shape the present. He begins by examining the various spins put on the lives of King Arthur and Alfred the Great through the ages. He finds out how Arthur has been variously depicted as a wild Celtic warlord, a chivalric hero and a piously questing king, while Alfred's character was manipulated to suit the purposes of tricky medieval lawyers, a Tudor archbishop and a Georgian Prince of Wales.
Britain's Crime Capitals: Crime Map - 9:00 Channel Five - takes a look at the nation's cities, towns and streets which are most affected by burglary, criminal damage, anti-social behaviour, violent attacks and murder. So, if you fancy scaring the flaming bejesus out of yourself by finding at your gaff is ground Zero for criminals, this is definitely the show for you. Using a nationwide map which builds throughout the hour, the programme ranks the locations most affected by different types of crime, revealing the most notorious areas and providing an up-to-the-minute picture of illegal activity across Britain.

The Sixty Thousand Pound Puppy: Cloning Man's Best Friend - 10:00 Channel Four - is a documentary following a 'unique' competition in which one 'lucky' British dog owner will win the chance to have his or her beloved hound cloned - yes, cloned - by South Korean research facility Sooam Biotech. Quite apart from the whole ethical thing about whether cloning is a scientific breakthrough or something which is against all laws of God and man, given the alleged fate of many Korean canines, hopefully the dog in question won't end up eaten. Anyway, an array of hopefuls, who cannot bear to think of life without their wonderful one, two, three four-legged friends, invite the scientists into their homes to show why they deserve the opportunity to have a genetic replica of their particular pet.
Thursday 10 April
Peter Powell presents an edition pf Top Of The Pops - 7:30 BBC4 - first broadcast on 12 April 1979. The episode includes performances by Kate Bush, yer actual Showaddywaddy, Neil Diamond, Racey, Supertramp, Sham 69, Kandidate, Sister Sledge and Light Of The World. Plus, dance sequences by Legs & Co.
Locked in police station vaults across the UK are hundreds of hours of audio recordings of interviews with some of Britain's most notorious killers. Channel Five - a TV network run, let's remember, by a soft-core pornographer, think that you - yes, you dear blog reader - should hear them. Hence, The Unseen Fred West Confessions - 9:00. This, perfectly sick-sounding, documentary uses those tapes in dramatic reconstructions of some of detectives' sessions with serial killer Fred West, in which they questioned him about his crimes. Nice family entertainment for a Thursday evening, there.

In Porn: What's the Harm? - 9:00 BBC3 - presenter Jameela Jamil investigates whether children are being exposed to increasing amounts of pornography, and meets teenagers across the country to discover what impact it has had on their attitudes and behaviour. She visits a family whose eight-year-old son was unexpectedly exposed to explicit material, and questions whether youngsters should be taught about its potential dangers.

Friday 11 April Another guest host rules the roost on the latest episode of Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1 - as regular team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton take satirical pot-shots at the week's silliest news stories, with the help of their panellists in the BBC's popular long-running topical news quiz. Come on, you know the score by now, it's been going for forty seven series!
Britpop At The BBC - 10:00 BBC4 - is a look back into the BBC's archives at the vibrant form of indie music known as Britpop, which twenty years ago today stamped its presence onto the UK's cultural scene and led to the (mostly media-created) notion of 'Cool Britannia', as a new wave of guitar-based bands re-evaluated what it meant to be British. At least, that was what it said in The Brochure, it was a bit different than that at the time, to be honest - there were some great bands (Oasis, Pulp) and, a lot of rubbish, just like most media-created 'scenes'. The 'movement', such as it was, was dominated by the battle between its two biggest-selling exponents - middle-class art students Blur and those cheeky bruisers from the council estates of Manchester, Oasis - who in August 1995 did battle in a memorable bid for the number one spot. The programme also features bands like Pulp, Elastica, Sleeper, Suede and ... Menswe@r. Yeah, see what I mean about a load of rubbish? Of course, some loud-mouthed shits at the Gruniad Morning Star gurned into their muesli over the whole deal, sneering at the very idea. But, thankfully, nobody actually gives a steaming turd what Middle-Class hippy Communist scum the likes of them think, about pretty much anything. Where were you while we were getting high?
Red has his hands full with another international man of mystery when a hi-tech cyber defence gadget is stolen, with blame falling on a Russian terrorist known only as Ivan in The Blacklist - 9:00 Sky Living. Meanwhile, new evidence surrounding saucy minx Jolene's disappearance threatens to expose Mark's many lies, but Lizzy is still blissfully unaware of her husband's naughty duplicity and general badness. The daft plank. Wake up, woman, you married a bad'un, everybody knows that. Superior US thriller with the great James Spader alongside Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff, Harry Lennix, Parminder Nagra, Ryan Eggold, Rachel Brosnahan and, this episode, guest starring Mark Ivanir.

And, so to the news and we start with a truly world-shattering revelation. Fern Britton has admitted she doesn't miss being on This Morning. Well, thank God for that. Because, like, we were all so worried.

The Voice is returning for another two series, the BBC has confirmed. The channel has renewed the singing competition for two more years after receiving average viewing figures of 8.9 million per episode for the current run. Charlotte Moore, the controller of BBC1, said: 'It's been fantastic to see The Voice return in top form to kick start BBC1's brilliant year so far, the new line-up has really connected with audiences and I look forward to it returning to the channel next year.' The Controller of Entertainment Commissioning Mark Linsey added: 'The Voice has really cemented itself as hugely popular on BBC1 Saturday nights and I am delighted that we will be dusting down the iconic red chairs for another airing next year.' Hosts and coaches for the next two series will be confirmed at a later date.

Psychobitches is returning to Sky Arts for a second series. The six-part run will begin in the autumn, with Rebecca Front starring as a psychiatrist who takes therapy sessions with history's most iconic women. These will be played by comedy names including lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall (so, that episode will be worth avoiding, then), Katy Brand and Meera Syal. Also featuring in the episodes will be Sam Spiro, Sharon Horgan, Morgana Robinson, Michelle Gomez, Doon MacKichan, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Cardinal Burns, Sheila Reid, Selina Griffiths, Zawe Ashton and Frances Barber. The League Of Gentlemen's Jeremy Dyson has co-written and directed the new series. Ben Cavey, executive producer, commented: 'It's fantastic to bring the team back together for series two of Psychobitches. We have a whole new line-up of women from history getting a dose of modern-day therapy and the results promise to be just as clever, insightful and downright silly.' Saskia Schuster, commissioning editor for Sky Comedy, added: 'We are really proud to be bringing Psychobitches back for a second series. We can look forward to lots of new characters, as well as re-visiting some of our favourites from series one. Since we launched the one-off in 2012, the series has become a key part of Sky Arts' comedy offering to our customers.'

Nigella Lawson - she has her knockers - has denied that she broke down in tears and blubbed like a big girl while appearing on The Michael McIntyre Chat Show. Lawson appeared to be photographed crying - though, obviously not fishing for sympathy. Oh no, very hot water - while discussing highly-publicised 'troubles' on the wretched and, if you believe the Daily Lies, soon to be cancelled, chat show. But, according to Twitter, she never. Lawson claimed that she had merely been suffering from 'contact lens issues.' And, of course, we believe her.
ITV has released a first-look trailer for its new three-part thriller Prey. John Simm stars in the upcoming drama as cop-turned-fugitive Marcus Farrow. Looks rather good.
Charley, the cartoon cat who fronted the Charley Says public information films in the 1970s, is soon to be back on screen. Alleged comedian David Walliams provides the voices for the latest series of films, which mix original footage with new scenes focusing on electrical safety. 'We've all had a go at mimicking Charley the cat's meow,' said Walliams. 'I hope my version is up to scratch.' The short films have been created by the charity Electrical Safety First to highlight safety in the home. Kenny Everett provided the voice for the original safety messages, which were created by the government's Central Office for Information and warned children about everyday safety issues such as not going off with strangers or playing with matches. 'We are thrilled to be working with David to bring Charley Says back to life and hope that anyone who remembers the films from their childhood will want to watch and share our new videos,' said Emma Apter, from Electrical Safety First. The first of the new films - released on Friday - sees Charley stepping in to warn his companion about the dangers of an overloaded plug. Apter said the Electrical Safety First team 'worked closely with animators to re-master footage and add in new scenes.' Every year three hundred and fifty thousand people are injured by the everyday use of electricity.

Coronation Street actress Barbara Knox was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving, it has emerged. Knox, eighty, who plays Rita Tanner in the ITV soap, was held at a police station in Knutsford on 10 March. She had gone there after her daughter, Maxine Ashcroft, was earlier arrested for the same offence. Her daughter has since been charged with 'driving when the alcohol level was above the limit.' A spokeswoman for Cheshire Police said: 'Police stopped a car in Hollow Lane, Knutsford, and a fifty six-year-old woman from Gloucestershire was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving. An eighty-year-old woman from Knutsford arrived at Knutsford police station and was also arrested on suspicion of drink-driving. She was bailed pending further inquiries.' A Coronation Street spokeswoman said the arrest was 'a personal matter.'

Alleged 'friends' of Gwyneth Paltrow have been quoted as claiming that Chris Martin was the only thing that made her 'bearable', squarely blaming the insufferably smug couple's split on her alleged 'increasingly eccentric behaviour.' With 'friends' like that, dear blog reader, who needs enemies? According to the Sun - so, of course, all of this risible tittle-tattler must be true - 'friends close to the couple', who announced they were 'consciously uncoupling' earlier this week, claim that Paltrow was the one responsible for the breakdown in her marriage. A neighbour - so, in that case, less a 'friend' more 'someone who happens to live close to them' - in Brentwood, Los Angeles, snitched to the tabloid like a dirty stinking filthy Copper's Nark: 'Everyone around here loves Chris. He was the one who would take the kids to school or walk the dogs and stop to chat. But she is less approachable. We have to talk to her through a middle-man, one of her staff called Nigel. The only time she has ever smiled at me was when she was selling her Goop-recipe lemonade on the street corner. It will be awful if he is not around any more. He is the only thing that made her bearable.' Tragedy. Of course, you could always, you know, move. Just a suggestion. Meanwhile, other alleged UK-based friends of the couple - whom, as the comedian Katy Brand once noted, appear to be made entirely of hummus - seem to share the same low opinion of Paltrow, branding her alleged 'rants about food, religion and politics' as 'embarrassing.' Another alleged - and, of course, unnamed - 'pal' allegedly told the Sun: 'It's all hugely embarrassing. She talks about what people should eat when his friends come over and goes on about the Kabbalah faith and politics. A lot of his friends call her Marie Antoinette. A lot of them have just stopped calling. Chris finds a lot of what she says and does very crass, like going to the pub dressed up in some ridiculous designer dress.' Seriously, does anybody other than tabloid newspapers whose readership struggle to understand words with more than one syllable use the word 'pal' in anything other than an ironic sense these days? 'He misses her rolling up in jeans and ordering a glass of wine. That's the girl he fell in love with,' the alleged 'pal' allegedly added. Though, he or she probably didn't as he or she are almost certainly fictitious.
Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks was 'so paranoid' about being arrested in the months running up to the closure of the Scum of the World that she woke one night and 'whacked' her husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks because she thought the police were about to raid their home, the Old Bailey has heard. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks also, allegedly, 'kept' from her husband the fact she was getting almost daily advice from Tony Blair in the days around the closure of the Scum of the World in shame and ignominy at the height of the phone-hacking crisis in 2011. Giving evidence at the phone-hacking trial for the first time on Friday, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks told how the couple had re-arranged flights home from the Caribbean in April 2011 to avoid a potentially 'career ending' photograph being taken of well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks being arrested at Heathrow airport and carted off to pokey in chains. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, the former chief executive of the Scum of the World publisher News International, was eventually arrested in July 2011 following reports in the Gruniad Morning Star that the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked by the paper. However, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks made abrupt changes to her holiday plans in April of that year when she was told that a reporter on the Scum of the World had been arrested and his desk cleared by company lawyers. Millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks told how the couple spent two days in their hotel bedroom on 14 and 15 April 2011 on conference calls back to London and how his wife had been advised that it was 'highly likely' she would be arrested as soon as they landed back in the UK. 'We changed our arrangements because Rebekah's big paranoia was the killer photo,' claimed millionaire Old Etonian Brooks. Asked what this meant, he added: 'The career-ending photo is being led away from your home or Heathrow, handcuffed, surrounded by police. You are never going to get another job.' Millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks has denied one charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice by concealing computers and other material from police investigating phone-hacking after his wife's arrest on 17 July 2011, three months after their Caribbean holiday. Millionaire Old Etonian Brooks told how well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks had spent the intervening period so 'paranoid' about a dawn raid that one night she woke up and 'whacked' him, hard, telling him to get dressed because the police were outside on a dawn raid. It transpired, he said, that it was actually the dustbin man. The jury heard that the night following the Gruniad's report that Dowler's phone had been hacked, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was so convinced she was going to be arrested that they decided they could get some respite by spending the night in the Wyndham Hotel, near their home in Chelsea Harbour. 'We weren't staying in a hotel to do a midnight flit to Venezuela, it was just to get a good night's sleep,' claimed millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks. 'Since coming back from holiday in April, we had been pretty much living under the threat of a dawn raid.' Millionaire Old Etonian Brooks told jurors that he and his wife and James Murdoch the small, the then News International chairman, spent the night of the 4 July 2011, when the Gruniad's Dowler hacking story was published, wondering whether they had been the subject of 'a political hit' involving the police and the Labour party. Earlier millionaire Old Etonian Brooks had been asked by his defence counsel, Neil Saunders, if there had been 'any history' between well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and the Labour MP Tom Watson ('power to the people!'), who was at the vanguard of the accusations concerning News International. 'Yes, Mr Watson hates my wife,' millionaire Old Etonian Brooks alleged. 'James, Rebekah and I and James Murdoch's wife spent all evening wondering what was going on, whether it was true, whether it was a political hit. The conversation from James ranged from "this was too awful to be true, to this couldn't have happened." However there was too much accuracy in what had been said for it to be just a political hit. They weren't stupid enough to think this is our enemies trying to derail the BSkyB bid.' Millionaire Old Etonian Brooks said the reaction that night over dinner 'oscillated between appalled and disgusted.' He added: 'Were Milly Dowler's voicemails really deleted? What are we going to do, how are we going to react? How can any of our employees do that? This is disgusting.' Earlier millionaire Old Etonian Brooks told how he believed an attack by the Labour MP Chris Bryant on News International in the Commons was 'pretty aggressive' and unfair. There had been a series of leaks to the Gruniad Morning Star and, he claimed, it seemed that News International was the last to know what was going on. 'By the end of 4 July, my understanding was that this was another leak, it looked as if it went from the police to the Guardian and from the Guardian to Tom Watson and to Mark Lewis [The Dowler family's lawyer] to beef it up,' he alleged. He and his wife went home that evening and continued to discuss the issue. Later that day millionaire Old Etonian Brooks e-mailed well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks to remind her of the conversation the previous night, telling her the 'belt and braces' approach was important. If she was going to put out a statement she needed to include 'two great important points' they had discussed – that the police had been 'sitting on' the information that Dowler's phone had been hacked for nine years and that her voicemails had been deleted. He sent a second e-mail that day advising his wife to 'think swan baby.' Asked by his counsel to explain what he meant by this, he said he thought 'you may be thrashing round underwater' but you could be 'serene' above, like a swan. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was 'under the cosh, the wolves were out to get her' millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks claimed and he added that he felt this was 'pretty supportive advice.' Millionaire Old Etonian Brooks was asked about the text exchanges between his wife and Tony Blair, which were revealed to jurors previously in the trial. In one text, she told Blair how supportive billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch the small had been and that she felt it was Gordon Brown's supporters, 'out to get' News International. Was he aware of the Blair texts, millionaire Old Etonian Brooks was asked. 'No, I wasn't,' he replied. Did his wife mention it? 'No, she didn't.' Millionaire Old Etonian Brooks told the jurors that billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch was 'determined' that his wife would not resign over the Dowler allegations. 'Mr Murdoch senior had spoken to me on the phone after the Milly Dowler allegations and he knew Rebekah was very upset,' millionaire Old Etonina Brooks claimed. 'Rebekah was saying post-Milly Dowler allegations she wanted to resign and Mr Murdoch didn't want her to resign and he explicitly told me that if she was showing any signs that she was going to resign I was to ring him personally in America and stop her resigning.' Earlier this week the trial has heard that billionaire tyrant Murdoch also phoned well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, to make sure that she also stopped well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks from resigning. On 6 July, two days after the Dowler story was published, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was getting 'a battering' in the papers. She was on the front pages of every paper in the country and millionaire Old Etonian Brooks said that he felt that even in hard times 'there was no harm in having a bit of humour.' He 'fired off' a text to her saying: 'Coverage not too bad in the Racing Post.' Millionaire Old Etonian Brooks told the jurors that he and his wife did not want security but they were told they needed it. He said it was a 'double-edged sword. It was nice to know you wouldn't be attacked but we did not know these people,' he told the jury. They were 'as likely as anyone' to tip off other newspapers' photographers regarding their whereabouts. 'We did not need to tell them where we were going, they would follow us anyway.' On 10 July, security were not told that the Brooks's were going from their home in Oxfordshire to James Murdoch the small's house twenty five minutes away or onward to London to meet billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch, millionaire Old Etonian Brooks said. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, described by her husband as 'emotionally shredded', finally departed from News International after a phone call on 14 July 2011 from James Murdoch the small to millionaire Old Etonian Brooks, telling him that billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's position 'had changed' and it was now his view that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks should resign. 'I did what James Murdoch told me, which was to ring Rebekah and tell her that things had changed and tell her that she should resign,' millionaire Old Etonian Brooks claimed. 'It was an ironic call really. Rebekah said "thank God for that, I have been telling the [company] since 5 July that I should resign." I think Rebekah was relieved.' Earlier the trial heard that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks had not told her husband about her contact with Blair, including the hour long conversation she had with him on 11 July, the day after the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World closed. She had been sent home by James Murdoch the small to 'get some rest' after the tumultuous events of the previous week but had not switched off her phone. Asked what she was doing when she received an e-mail from James Murdoch the small saying 'what are you doing on e-mail?', her husband replied: 'I imagine lying on her bed fiendishly working on her Blackberry and not resting at all.' When James Murdoch the small called later that week to tell millionaire Old Etonian Brooks that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks should resign, he said it was 'easier' than phoning her directly. 'Rebekah was in a pretty emotionally shredded state, it would just have been enough to run it by me,' claimed millionaire Old Etonian Brooks. Asked if he knew about the conversation with Blair, millionaire Old Etonian Brooks said: 'I didn't know she had been on the phone to Tony Blair for an hour. I didn't listen to her conversations but I could see that she wasn't doing what she was supposed to be doing, which was resting.' The trial extremely continues.
Former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis is to be charged with a further offence of indecent assault, the Crown Prosecution Service has said. Travis already faces a retrial on charges of indecent and sexual assault after a jury was unable to agree verdicts on the two counts last month. The CPS said that it had authorised police to charge Travis with the extra offence. The sixty eight-year-old said of the new charge: 'The nightmare is continuing.' Last month, Travis was cleared of twelve counts of indecent assault but the jury could not reach a decision on the two outstanding charges. They relate to an allegation of indecent assault against a woman in the early 1990s along with an alleged sexual assault on a journalist in 2008. Details of the fresh indecent assault charge have not been released. Speaking outside London's Southwark Crown Court, where he was appearing for a legal hearing, Travis said: ;It's been a bit of a nightmare. And the only thing I want to say is this: The nightmare is continuing.'

There was no big celebration for Piers Morgan, no cake delivered to his desk on-air, no interviews with his favourite guests. On the final episode of CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, the former - sacked - tabloid editor exited mostly quietly, after three years of not particularly interesting interviews and exceptionally poor ratings. For fifty eight of his sixty minutes, Morgan talked exclusively about The Plane. Or, as CNN chyrons have branded the subject for what seem like hundreds or thousands of consecutive hours: The Mystery of Flight MH370. During that time, Morgan interviewed CNN contributor Richard Quest about the latest in the search for the Malaysia Airlines plane, the son of a passenger on board and a panel of four experts – CNN's 'safety analyst' and their 'aviation analyst' among them. 'Breaking news', Morgan said at the beginning of a mid-show segment. 'We're waiting for word.' The missing flight has provided a strange twist to the end of Morgan's brief CNN career: his ratings, like all of CNN's ratings, have been up this last week. The network's laser-like and frequently absurd focus on the all-things-MH370 has worked out. And as Morgan himself pointed out on Twitter on Friday, hours after announcing that his final show would be that evening, he scored CNN's highest ratings in the crucial twenty five to fifty four-year-old demographic the previous Thursday. But like they usually do, the 'breaking news' events on which CNN crests fizzled out and the network will soon be struggling again to grow a more organic primetime viewership. And, to be honest, it probably doesn't matter who CNN throws before the cameras during these events – the television-owning public, due to some strange vestigial instinct, still flips to CNN during moments of high, developing drama. Morgan made his decision to retire shortly before a disappeared airliner threw CNN this lifeline. 'It's been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings,' he whinged to the New York Times in February, while announcing his plans to vacate before he was pushed. In the same interview, he attributed his failure to connect with American audiences to his accent and the sense that Americans don't enjoy having a Brit explain their own culture to them. Morgan's excuse for poor ratings in the month since his being shown the door: 'If only I didn't care so passionately about guns, perhaps I wouldn't have chased away a grand American audience.' It's precisely this sort of self-serving narrative of martyrdom, however, that exhausted even those who would have been sympathetic to Morgan's repeated condemnations of America's lax guns laws. Morgan turned his vilification among gun-rights activists into a performance art piece whose sole purpose was winning himself more attention. When a jokey petition to the White House to deport Morgan back to Britain was signed by one hundred thousand people he could have ignored it for the farce it was (especially as there were several online petitions started in the UK demanding that America keeps him). Instead, he used it to fuel pity for himself, vowing to continue his 'brave' work in the face of such righteous resistance. When ludicrous and flamboyant conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones began raving maniacally about gun-control advocates, Morgan could have avoided that, too. But he went for the ratings and invited the moronic clown on his show, in the process making a mockery of the gun debate he supposedly cared so deeply about. His focus on the issue seemed, mostly, determined to promote himself and his show, not the cause of strengthening America's gun control laws. Not that this worked, either. Far from it. Perhaps the accent played a role, and it's no surprise that Morgan would want to develop a go-to excuse like 'I was just too honest' to explain his show's failure. But the main reason his show never picked up traction, apart from the deeply unappealing nature of the bloke himself, was beyond his control: it's hard to build a hit show, and it's even harder to build a hit show on CNN at 9pm. Even the fondly remembered Larry King, whom Morgan replaced in the slot, suffered miserable ratings towards the end of his tenure. Primetime cable news audiences are relatively small, and the few partisans who do watch this sort of thing already have Rachel Maddows and Megyn Kelly. So, farewell then Piers Morgan. And, just in case you didn't get the memo, we still don't want you back.

The original radio cast of the cult science fiction comedy The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy returned to the theatre where they created the show more than thirty years ago for a one-off performance over the weekend. Simon Jones, who played Arthur Dent in both the radio and TV versions of the space travel adventure, slipped on the dressing gown worn by his character during his adventures. The show, which started on Radio 4 in 1978, subsequently inspired a series of books, inspired a hit TV programme, a computer game and a film starring Martin Freeman as Dent. Also at the microphone were Mark Wing-Davey, who played the two-headed Zaphod Beeblebrox, Geoff McGivern, who was the undercover alien Ford Prefect, Stephen Moore, who returned as Marvin The Paranoid Android and Susan Sheridan as Trillian. Thousands of fans applied for tickets for the reunion and subsequent live performance, which is part of Radio 4's Character Invasion season. The great Douglas Adams, of course, died in 2001 – four years before his creation, which has been described as a 'trilogy in five parts', was made into the film starring Freeman, Sam Rockwell and Bill Nighy. In 2004, Radio 4's online serialisation of the final three books attracted a larger audience than either The Archers or the Today programme. The first book sold over quarter of a million copies in the first three months.
A question The Hitch-Hikers Guide attempted to answer was, of course, the meaning of 'life, the universe and everything.' (It was forty two just in case you missed the memo.) Well now, life's meaning and the secret to happiness has been 'revealed' - well, one version of it, anyway - through the eyes of Britain's best known intellectual (and a close friend of Adams), yer actual Stephen Fry. Stephen, who previously admitted to attempting suicide when he was depressed, is fronting a new campaign by the British Humanist Association. In this clip, he attempts to answer, the question 'How can I be happy?', looking at the importance of family, friends, career and balance in your life. As the campaign develops, a range of online adverts will be released on Facebook and Twitter, featuring other noted humanists. BHA's chief executive Andrew Copson said: 'Most non-religious people are happy and secure living ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. To them we are simply reaching out, letting them know that there is a word for what they believe and an organisation of people that shares their values.' He continued: 'We know from our experience that Humanism strikes a chord with many people when they hear of it – they suddenly realise that they have been humanists all their lives – and we hope that many thousands of new people will come to that realisation as a result of this new campaign.'
Tickets for Kate Bush's first live shows in thirty five years have sold out in less than fifteen minutes. Thankfully, many of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's Bush-lovin' chums - including Abie, Danny. Jonny and Paul among others - managed to get through and buy some before the Interweb crashed. Basically, lots of 'chaps of a certain age in Doctor Who fandom' sold out the gigs! Yeah, that was predictable. Tickets for the twenty two dates on Kate's tour of, well, Hammersmith, basically, went on sale at 09:30 on Friday morning. They were all gone well before ten o'clock. The singer said that she was 'completely overwhelmed by the response.' The Before The Dawn concerts, which take place this August and September, mark the singer's first return to the stage since the Tour Of Life in 1979. Demand was so high that the singer's own website, as well as some ticket-selling sites, crashed as people tried to log on. The BBC's Colin Paterson reported that tickets with a face value of one hundred and thirty five knicker were already being offered on sale on secondary ticketing sites for more than a grand. Katie was just twenty when she completed her one and only tour, a year after topping the charts with 'Wuthering Heights'. The six-week tour, which travelled around Britain and mainland Europe, ended at the Hammersmith Odeon - now the Hammersmith Apollo. Following the initial announcement of fifteen dates last week, seven more dates were added in response to 'massive pre-sale demand. Kate decided to add the extra shows in a bid to make sure as many people who wish to see a show can do so,' said the official statement. A spokesman for Ticketmaster UK described the demand for tickets as 'phenomenal. At our peak, the Ticketmaster website had over sixty five thousand fans looking for tickets,' said Simon Presswell. 'Despite playing twenty two dates, demand has significantly exceeded the number of tickets available so regrettably a number of fans will be left disappointed.' Kate, whose other hits include 'Running Up That Hill', 'Babooshka' and yer actual Keith Telly Topping's own particular favourite, 'Sat In Your Lap', last released a CD in 2011 - the Brit-nominated Fifty Words For Snow. The fifty five-year-old singer received a CBE for services to music last year.

Meanwhile, dear blog reader, speaking of Kate Bush and Doctor Who, this blogger has just noticed something wow-spooky. If you check out the Hammersmith Apollo seating plan here and then turn the image on its side ... and add a sink plunger - it's a Dalek. Further proof that Kate Bush wrote Kinda, obviously.
There's a very good piece on the BBC news website about the restoration of a huge number of previously lost home recorded (on eight-track!) episodes of Alistair Cooke's Letter From America from the 1960s and 1970s which you can check out here. 'It's a treasure trove of the 1970s,' said BBC producer Zillah Watson. 'The recordings weren't kept by the BBC and David and Roy have plugged the gaps. We've had to use cunning and technology to hear them again.'

So very sad news now, Derek Martinus, who directed some of Doctor Who's best known episodes between 1965 and 1970, featuring the first three Doctors, has died aged eighty two. His family told the BBC that Derek died on Thursday evening having suffered from Alzheimer's for many years, calling him 'an inspiration' and 'an amazing man.' Derek directed the introduction of The Cybermen in The Tenth Planet in 1966. The four episodes culminated in first Doctor, William Hartnell, regenerating into Patrick Troughton. Derek also directed the first ever Doctor Who episodes to be made in colour, the Spearhead From Space serial - which introduced the third Doctor Jon Pertwee - as well as the 1967 classic six-parter The Ice Warriors. His career took in several other long-running series such as United, Z-Cars (over fifty episodes between 1968 and 1978), Quick, Before They Catch Us, The Expert, The Doctors, Angels, Blake's 7 and Penmarric. 'He was a legend,' said his daughter, Charlotta Martinus. 'He taught me how to love, live and laugh, he was just such an amazing man.' She told the BBC that her father had been 'full of exciting stories' about filming shows such as Doctor Who while she and her sister were growing up. 'It was an amazing childhood to be living among the Doctor Who paraphernalia,' she recalled. 'We used to go down and watch Doctor Who being made and see The Daleks and even get inside The Daleks. Having those famous people walk through your door, Jon Pertwee would come for tea,' she added. Derek started his career in the theatre, where he continued to work after meeting his Swedish wife Eivor, to whom he was married for fifty years. They worked together on twelve productions and she translated many of the stage plays he directed. His theatre credits include Ben Jonson's Volpone, Caryl Churchill's Mad Forest, Harold Pinter's The Homecoming and Stephen Lowe's The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists for different theatres in Sweden. Derek also worked on several children's TV programmes including Ian Cullen's 1970s Tyne Tees drama series The Paper Lads and Dodger, Bonzo And The Rest, both of which won the Pye Award for best children's drama. He directed TV shows The Black Tulip, What Maisie Knew, A Legacy, House In Regent Place with Jenny Agutter and The Little Princess. In an interview for a Doctor Who fan website, Derek revealed that Hartnell, 'regarded me with great suspicion when I arrived. He knew I was the new boy and he wasn't slow to remind me how many hundreds of films he'd done and how many directors he'd advised on how to get the shots,' he said. 'One did have to tread very carefully with him, but he warmed to me and I to him.' He also shared the secrets of working with The Daleks (on the memorable 1967 seven-parter The Evil Of The Daleks), which had to be shot 'very carefully and from exactly the right angle. If you shoot them without care they do look rather tame and ordinary,' he explained. 'You had to build up a Dalek's entrance. I used to make them lurk in the shadows.' He added: 'It got a lot easier when Pat Troughton took over. He lent [Doctor Who] an air of respectability. At that time, the programme was beginning to make a big impact and star names were attracted. I do remember being quite nervous about approaching Marius Goring to appear in The Evil Of The Daleks, but he was attracted to the indulgence of the part. He liked to play these great Henry Irving-style eccentrics and we sold it to him on the basis that here was the chance to create a really rich, bizarre character. He seized on that and really went to town.' Derek was born in April 1931 and went to school in Essex, later studying acting and directing at Yale Drama School after some time in the RAF. After running out of money Derek returned to the UK and worked as an actor for The Library Theatre in Manchester and other repertory theatres. He played at The Royal Court and on tour with among others Sir Donald Wolfit. As an actor, he made his screen debut in a walk-on part in 1958's Carry On Sergeant. In 1959 he did a study tour of Scandinavian theatre and met his future wife, Eivor – who was sixteen at the time – in Gothenburg. He directed some twenty plays at The Pembroke Theatre-in-the-round from 1959 until the theatre closed. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and three grandchildren. His daughter Charlotta said that he was the inspiration for her own career in TV, spanning ten years at the BBC as a documentary film maker. 'Ten years after he left, everyone used to say to me, "Are you really his daughter?" He was really inspirational for me and my sister Pia who is a doctor. He was a leader of men and he inspired everyone.'

And, Sunday brought further bad news: Kate O'Mara has died at the age of seventy four, her agent said. The actress was perhaps best known to a wider audience for her role as the sister to Joan Collins' Alexis Colby in the glitzy US soap Dynasty. However, in the UK she also had a prominent career with roles in the 1970s soap The Brothers, the 1980s Thatcherite avarice drama Howards' Way, the notoriously awful North Sea ferry drama Triangle and in Doctor Who, playing the renegade Time Lady The Rani opposite Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, albeit in two of the very worst stories in the popular family SF drama's long history, The Mark Of The Rani and Time & The Rani. Christ, they were bad, dear blog reader. I mean, risible. Nevertheless, it was a role that Kate said she would love to return to. 'If you put a much older woman in Doctor Who, they can identify with it,' she told the Digital Spy website ahead of the fiftieth anniversary celebrations for the show, where she tweeted images of herself with former co-stars. 'I think it's quite an interesting concept and if you remember things like Grimm's Fairytales, the older woman is often the villainess, often the terrifying figure - why I do not know, but often she is. I think it's an idea to be exploited.' Her agent said that Kate died in a Sussex nursing home following a short illness. He praised her 'energy and vitality' and her 'love for theatre and acting. A shining star has gone out and Kate will be dearly missed by all who knew and have worked with her,' said agent Phil Belfield, who labelled the actress 'extraordinary.' On hearing the news of her death, Colin Baker tweeted: 'Kate O'Mara is no longer with us. Sad, sad news. A delightful, committed and talented lady and actress. We are the poorer.' A close personal friend of yer actual Keith Telly Topping worked with Kate on After They Were Famous - The Brothers few years ago: 'She was quite scary, but once past that she was very nice, and I was a little in awe of her,' he noted. 'She liked her tabs. She told me that it was very cold "sunbathing" on the ship on Triangle. Not her exact words you understand!' In the 1990s, Kate appeared in the BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous as Joanna Lumley's on-screen sister, Jackie, and in 2001, she made a string of appearances in ITV drama Bad Girls. More recently she had appeared in ITV soap Benidorm and a 2012 stage adaptation of Agatha Christie's Death On The Nile. One of her final public appearances saw her hosting An Evening With Kate O'Mara in London last October. The daughter of John Carroll, an RAF flying instructor and the actress Hazel Bainbridge, Kate was born in Leicester in 1939. After boarding school she attended art college and began a career as a speech therapist at a Sussex girls' school before becoming a full-time actress. Kate made her stage debut in a production of The Merchant of Venice in 1963. Her earliest television appearances included guest roles on No Hiding Place, Gaslight Theatre, Danger Man, Adam Adamant Lives!, The Saint, Z-Cars, Department S, The Troubleshooters, The Champions, The Main Chance, Jason King, and The Avengers in the 1960s. In 1970, she appeared in two notoriously sexy Hammer films; The Vampire Lovers and The Horror of Frankenstein in which viewers got to see plenty of her. The latter, in particular, is one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's great guilty pleasures. In 1975, she had a regular role in the BBC's cult Sunday night haulage drama series The Brothers as the vampish Jane Maxwell (again, opposite Colin Baker) in a role which was to pretty much typecast her to villainous roles for the majority of the rest of her career. Her CV also included appearances in the movies Corruption, Great Catherine, The Plank and The Tamarind Seed. On television she guested on The Morecambe & Wise Show, The Two Ronnies, The Persuaders!, The Dick Emery Show, Spy Trap, The Protectors, Dempsey & Makepeace, Cluedo, Family Affairs and Doctors. Kate was also a committed vegetarian and animal rights activist. She was married and divorced twice to the actors Richard Willis and Jeremy Young. With the latter, she had a son, Dickon Young (born in 1964), formerly a stage manager for the Royal Shakespeare Company before setting up his own company. Tragically, he was found dead at the family home in Long Marston on 31 December 2012. Kate herself was hospitalised with pneumonia at the time of her son's death and his body was, as a consequence, not discovered for some weeks. She published two autobiographical books, Vamp and Game Plan: A Woman's Survival Kit and two novels, When She Was Bad and Good Time Girl. She is survived by her sister, the actress Belinda Carroll.

And so, by logical extension we reach Keith Telly Topping's A To Z Of Groovy Tunes. Y, dear blog reader, is for The Yardbirds.

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