Sunday, March 09, 2014

Week Twelve: O Is For Out Of Order

Steve Thompson has been confirmed as one of the writers on Doctor Who's forthcoming eighth series. The Sherlock scriptwriter's third episode for the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama will be broadcast in late 2014. Thompson will write series eight's fifth episode, with Douglas Mackinnon directing, according to the official Doctor Who Magazine. 2011's The Curse Of The Black Spot (which yer actual Keith Telly Topping really enjoyed although he seems to be in a minority of one) and 2013's Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS (which was, broadly, well received) were Thompson's two previous contributions to the show. He has also written three episodes of Sherlock - 2010's The Blind Banker, 2012's The Reichenbach Fall and, along with co-creators The Lord thy God Steve Moffat and Mark Gatiss his very self 2014's The Sign Of Three. The Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) has already been confirmed as writing the first and fourth episodes of Doctor Who's next series with Phil Ford scripting episode two. The writer of episode three is as yet unconfirmed.

Meanwhile, yer actual Mark Gatiss has promised an 'exciting and disturbing' debut for Peter Capaldi on Doctor Who. Speaking to the Digital Spy website at the London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard Fortieth Anniversary Gala this week, Mark spoke at length about writing for Doctor Who. 'Peter has a very different energy to Matt Smith and to David Tennant,' he said. 'He's older which changes everything - it's amazing what a change does. Matt was sublime and I was very sorry to see him go, but it's also great to have a change - as it has always been with The Doctor.' Gatiss added that Peter's new Doctor brings with him 'a whole new set of rules. The Doctor's always The Doctor - but you can have a lot of fun playing with people's expectations,' he continued. 'Everyone knows how the previous Doctor would react in any given situation - and now you just don't know.'

Mark also described Benedict Cumberbatch as 'irreplaceable.' The actor, who created the show alongside Steven Moffat, reiterated that the programme is 'hard to film' due to the leads' hectic schedules. 'If Benedict went under a bus tomorrow it would be the end of the show,' Mark told the Mirra. 'Benedict and Martin [Freeman] are our stars. We do three episodes a year and although people want more that's all we can do. They are both so famous now it's increasingly difficult to get them.' He added: 'Sherlock made Benedict a star and I know he is eternally grateful to the show - he wants to do more. Martin is similar too as he is in The Hobbit and he's doing a new show in Canada with Billy Bob Thornton. They are both major stars but they both want to carry on. We just have to try and make the days work, that's all.' Gatiss also spoke about fans' reaction to the news that another series may be a while off. He said: 'There was suddenly a kind of outraged response that it might not be back until 2016 but that's precisely how long it always is. It's always two years! But we'd like to return soon, of course.'

It would seem, dear blog reader, that yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self is becoming something of an international hit. The very excellent TV Writer Blog recently gave From The North the kind of write up that most bloggers spend their lives dreaming of getting, but never rechieve. Thanks, guys. Yer actual always tries his very best to be entertaining but factual for the masses!

Meanwhile, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is totally indebted to dear blog reader and close personal chum Peter Nolan for the following. Today, of all days, should be a day for celebration and joy throughout the land.
BBC1 drama is to receive a - very welcome - thirty million smackers boost from the, sad but necessary, closure of BBC3 as a TV channel, the Director General Tony Hall has announced. The Gruniad Morning Star was, of course, quickly on the case noting: 'The BBC insists the decision to axe a channel for the first time in nearly eighty years of television broadcasting came down to a difficult choice between continuing to fully fund BBC3, or cutting the money available for BBC1 dramas such as Sherlock and Doctor Who.' Just in case any Gruniad readers didn't happen to know the sorts of drama the BBC make, obviously. No contest, then. Predictably, more than a few of the Gruniad's standard middle-class hippy Communist readers had plenty to say on the subject, one particular chebend smear opining: 'How about cutting the salaries of the fat cats on the board ... and Jeremy Clarkson.' Ah yes, Jezza - the comfortable hate figure for middle-class hippy Communist Gruniad readers everywhere. This, of course, ignores the annoying little fact that if one single product from BBC3's output had brought into the BBC's coffers, via merchandising and overseas sales, even half of the coin that Top Gear annually generates, then BBC3's future as a TV channel wouldn't be threatened in the first place. But, this is some frigging numskull of a Gruniad reader we're talking about and, as a consequence, why bother to use logic when moronic rhetoric can be used instead? BBC3, which will be moved to the iPlayer from the autumn of 2015 and will see its overall cost reduced from eighty five million knicker to twenty five million. Lord Hall said that moving BBC3 was 'the right thing to do' and also 'financially necessary.' The proposal will create space for a BBC1+1 service and a one-hour evening extension of CBBC to 20:00. Every long-form programme currently broadcast on BBC3 will switch to either BBC1 or BBC2 (more likely, the latter), said Hall, playing out in a late night slot at 10.35pm or later. 'I want younger and less affluent audiences to be better served by the BBC. Younger audiences are increasingly moving online and on-demand. The challenge is to take the brilliance of BBC3 into that world,' he said. The Director General admitted that 'tough decisions' needed to be made to face up to the fiscal challenges of the BBC, but said that the plan to cut BBC3 was 'strategically right and financially right too.' Hall said that he was 'not prepared to compromise on the quality of what I think is at the heart of the BBC, and that is drama', adding that he had noticed BBC1's drama budget was 'in need of a boost.' The proposals will have been endorsed by the corporation's executive board, but the BBC Trust, which represents the interests of licence fee payers, will carry out a full consultation before giving its stamp of approval. A Trust spokesman said: 'In this case, we expect to conduct a public value test, including a public consultation, so licence fee payers will have the opportunity to have their say in the process.' BBC3's branding will remain on its offerings on the iPlayer, Lord Hall added, while some shows which debut online will, eventually, be shown on BBC1 or BBC2 as well. The budget of the new-look service will be about thirty million knicker – similar to that of BBC4 – down from nearly ninety million quid in 2012-13, although that figure was inflated by the London Olympics and has since been scaled back as part of the Delivering Quality First cuts, believed to be between eighty and eighty five million notes. In making it clear this was the first time in the BBC's history the demise of a TV channel was being proposed, Lord Hall also said: 'I can't rule out it being the last change to our programmes or services.' The BBC's media correspondent David Sillito added: 'The detail is yet to be worked out. They're going to hang onto the brand, but it won't be a channel. You won't be tuning-in online and it'll be just as it was before. It's going to be a much, much smaller output than people are used to.' The BBC is also thought to have struck a deal with TV ratings body BARB that will allow online viewing on the iPlayer to be included in official audience figures for the first time, a move the corporation expects will protect the measurement of audience figures for key demographics such as the youth market.

On a related note, the BBC's Director of Television has refused to guarantee that BBC4 will stay on-air beyond the next licence fee settlement following the BBC3 decision. A former controller of BBC3 himself, Danny Cohen admitted it was 'painful' to close down the eleven-year-old channel, after the BBC confirmed on Thursday that it would cease transmission in the autumn of 2015, becoming an on-demand service available via the iPlayer. However, Cohen said the BBC had 'no choice', largely because of the 2010 licence fee settlement with the government, which saw the corporation's funding locked and required the BBC take on extra funding responsibilities such as the World Service and S4C. Asked by Richard Bacon on Radio 5Live on Thursday afternoon if he could guarantee the future of BBC4, Cohen said: 'The honest answer is no, I can't. We don't know for certain what will happen with BBC4 in the future. The reason we made this change for BBC3 is because we face a series of financial cuts the like of which the BBC has not had to cope with before. In an ideal world we would not be taking BBC3 online in eighteen months time, we would probably do it in three or four years time. But taking on the World Service cost two hundred and forty five million pounds to licence fee payers, we took that in from the government in the last licence fee settlement along with another set of commitments totalling three hundred million pounds. It means we can't keep offering the same with less money. For BBC4, that means if future funding for the BBC comes under more threat then the likelihood is we would have to take more services along the same route [as BBC3].' Cohen added: 'By making the move we made today we know we can manage our funding through the licence fee period which ends in 2016-17. We will have to see what happens in the future with the licence fee whether we can keep BBC4.' Cohen's comments will be seen in the context of the charter renewal and licence renewal negotiations with the government, which will be completed by they end of 2016. They will be seen as a warning shot, across the bows of opinion makers and politicians, that further cuts to its funding in the next licence fee deal with result in the loss of more services including what appears to be the politicians' favourite, BBC4. Cohen said that the closure of the BBC3 TV channel was 'quite painful. I don't regret it because I don't think we have made the wrong decision. We are doing it now rather than in three or four years time because of financial reasons.' He said that the alternative to closing a channel was asking channel controllers and programme makers to make cuts of twenty to twenty five per cent of the budgets. 'The impact on the quality of shows people love would be very substantial,' he said. 'We had a choice whether to make one big bold move or cut budgets and affect quality across the board.' He admitted that older viewers were, perhaps, over-served by the BBC but said that the decision to move BBC3 rather than BBC4 online was taken because its audience was more likely to be able to adapt to such a change. 'It was a strategic decision,' he said.

Reggie Yates 'feels confident' that BBC3 will not get the axe in the corporation's cutbacks. The thirty-year-old DJ has presented and been a part of numerous shows for the channel including his latest documentary for BBC3, Extreme South Africa which has been hailed as 'outstanding' by Director General Tony Hall. Speaking to entertainment website Digital Spy, Yates said: 'I've done a lot with BBC3 [sic] and [it's] given me incredible opportunities, so I've got a lot of love for the channel. Honestly, I'd like to believe what happened with BBC Radio 6Music will happen with BBC3, where a lot of people put their foot down and say, "This isn't on. We can't get rid of this."' Where, exactly, the BBC will make the necessary one hundred million smackers worth of savings without taking BBC3 off-air Reggie, clearly one of the great minds of his generation, didn't say. Here's an idea; perhaps Reggie, along with all of the other self-interest individuals who've been very vocal in bemoaning the loss of BBC3 - Matt Lucas, Russell Kane, lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall, Heydon Prowse, et cetera - should all get together, go to the BBC and offer to not take a salary for the next, say, two or three years to help ease the financial burden on BBC3. If they really are solely motivated by the wish to protect a channel they claimed to care so much about, and its audience, rather than how much they, personally, will be hit in the pocket by its loss then this would seem to be a very elegant and worthwhile solution. I have no idea how much money Reggie Yates is currently on but I'd speculate it's hardly an inconsiderable amount. If all of those employed by BBC3 were to make a personal financial sacrifice then, perhaps, the BBC would manage to find enough cash to at least delay taking BBC3 online by another year or two. Over to you, Reggie, Russell, Matt et al.

And, on the same subject, the comedy producer Ash Atalla (no, me neither) has also been whinging, loudly, to anyone that will listen (and indeed, anyone that won't) about the BBC's decision to drop BBC3 as a broadcast channel: 'It feels,' opines yer man Ash, quoted by the Chortle website, 'like a sixty-year-old man in a golf jumper has walked into a really good nightclub and turned the music off so he can hear more Mozart next door.' Oh, grow up fer Christ's sake. So, the chances of Ash finding himself employed by the self-same sixty year old in a golf jumper at the BBC again? Your guess is as good as mine, dear blog reader.
Plans to decriminalise the non-payment of the TV licence fee are being considered by government departments in a move designed to ease pressure on the courts, but which could have - further - major repercussions for the BBC. A cross-party group of MPs is pushing for a change in the law to make non-payment of the licence fee a civil offence and the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Miller, has signalled that she is prepared to put the idea on the table during talks about reviewing the BBC's charter. 'She has made clear that the BBC needs to get its house in order, particularly when it comes to governance and transparency. Having decriminalisation on the table during the negotiations will focus the BBC's minds,' said a spokesperson for the vile and odious rascal Miller. Her office added that the vile and odious rascal Miller's view was shared by the justice secretary, notorious slapheed Grayling, who is quoted in the Daily Torygraph on Friday saying Whitehall officials are engaged in 'serious work' on the idea. Offenders at present face a one grand fine and a criminal record, as well as the prospect of jail if fines are not paid. More than one hundred and eighty thousand people appeared in court last year after being accused of not paying the £145.50 fee – accounting for over one in ten of all criminal prosecutions. Of those, one hundred and fifty five thousand were extremely convicted and fined. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who is spearheading Commons efforts to change the law, said that for some cash-strapped families the current law was 'criminalising them for being poor.' Which, coming from a Tory has to be the single most hilarious comment ever made by anyone. Ever. The BBC has warned that decriminalisation could, and almost certainly would, encourage more people not to pay, leading to further cuts to programming. A BBC spokesperson said: 'Legislation is a matter for the government, however changing the law could lead to higher evasion. Just a one per cent increase in evasion would lead to the loss of around thirty five million pounds, the equivalent of around ten BBC local radio stations.' In a statement released by her officer, the vile and odious rascal Miller said: 'This is an interesting idea but timing is crucial and decriminalisation of the licence fee should be on the table during charter review, not separate to the process.' Her spokesman added: 'We know that the justice secretary shares her view. Maria will put decriminalisation of the licence fee on the table during charter review discussions, but to do it before makes no sense.' Slapheed Grayling told the Torygraph: 'The culture secretary and I both agree that this is a really interesting idea – particularly given the pressure on our courts system. Our departments will be doing some serious work on the proposal.' A deal - hastily negotiated with the government in 2010 - saw the licence fee frozen at £145.50 until 2017 – a sixteen per cent cut of the BBC's budget in real terms. The fee brings in some £3.6bn for the BBC. Tony Hall, said recently that he wants the licence fee extended to include the estimated five hundred thousand UK homes where viewers do not have a TV set but rather watch corporation programmes on the iPlayer. Such move would enable the BBC to start charging the estimated two per cent of households in the UK which only consume on-demand TV content, rather than watching programmes live.

Agatha Christie's novels could be adapted into modernised TV shows, says the company who owns the rights to the stories. Acorn Productions has revealed plans to give the crime tales 'the Sherlock treatment', following the success of the BBC's contemporary adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's detective novels. Managing director Hilary Strong told Broadcast: 'We are looking contemporary. We're in discussions at the moment about how we can do that. We can absolutely see the opportunity for bringing the plotlines into the modern day.' Sherlock has enjoyed great success since it started in 2010, with last month's third series finale pulling in a final consolidated audience of over eleven million viewers for BBC1. The series - which is set in the modern day - has gathered a cult following around the world. BBC1 has recently announced a traditional adaptation of Christie's novel The Secret Adversary and N Or M. Another six-part series, Partners In Crime, will star David Walliams as one half of the detective duo Tommy and Tuppence. Walliams - who also wrote the adaptation - said: '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 Miss Marple as iconic Agatha Christie characters.'

Outnumbered came to an end with over four million overnight viewers watching the sitcom's final ever episode on Wednesday. Up against live football, the BBC1 comedy dipped slightly from the previous week's audience - attracting 4.31 million at 9pm. Later, a Mrs Brown's Boys repeat amused 3.93m at 9.30pm. A Question Of Sport was watched by 2.05m at 10.35pm. ITV's live coverage of England's narrow victory over Denmark in a friendly scored 5.52m at 7.30pm, topping the night overall. On BBC2, Permission Impossible gathered 1.10m at 7pm, followed by Restaurant Man with 1.26m at 8pm. Line Of Duty climbed slightly to 2.34m at 9pm, while Inside Number Nine had an audience of seven hundred and twenty thousand at 10pm. Channel Four's Restoration Man appealed to 1.24m at 8pm. Twenty Four Hours in A&E brought in 1.55m at 9pm, followed by First Dates with eight hundred and forty four thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, the documentary Left For Dead By The Yorkshire Ripper pulled in 1.13m at 8pm, followed by NCIS with 1.05m at 9pm. BBC3's Festivals, Sex & Suspicious Parents was seen by three hundred and eighty thousand at 9pm, while Ja'mie: Private School Girl was watched by four hundred and twenty one thousand at 10pm. BBC4's Bombay Railway brought in six hundred and forty one thousand at 8pm.

Birds Of A Feather's current series finale was, tragically, the most watched programme outside of soaps on Thursday evening, according to overnight figures. The righteously unfunny ITV sitcom dropped over half a million punters from its last episode, being watched by 4.81 million at 8.30pm. On BBC1, Holiday Hit Squad returned with 3.18m at 8pm, followed by DIY SOS with 4.26m at 9pm. Question Time interested 2.61m at 10.35pm. BBC2's Permission Impossible garnered 1.25m at 7pm, while The Hairy Bikers' Asian Adventure brought in an audience of with 2.10m at 8pm. New period drama Thirty Seven Days appealed to 2.21m at 9pm. On Channel Four, The Hoarder Next Door was watched by 1.22m at 8pm. The Floods That Foiled New Year brought in 1.71m at 9pm. Channel Five's It Takes A Thief To Catch A Thief intrigued 1.20m at 8pm. The Hotel Inspector was seen by 1.03m at 9pm and Seventy Stone And Almost Dead attracted nine hundred and seventy four thousand at 10pm. On BBC3, Junior Paramedics continued with three hundred and ninety seven thousand at 9pm, followed by Bluestone Four-Two with three hundred and fifty six thousand at 10pm. E4's How I Met Your Mother was watched by six hundred and seventy seven thousand at 8.30pm.

Meanwhile, wretched and unfunny floating lump of horseshit Birds Of A Feather is to return for a second series on ITV after proving to be a hit with viewers. Viewers with their brains leaking out of their ears, admittedly, but still ... Starring Pauline Quirke, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph, the revival picked up with the Essex girls and their neighbour, fifteen years after they last appeared on BBC1. Its first episode was watched by 9.5 million, giving ITV its most successful comedy launch in more than a decade although subsequent episodes shed viewers at a regular rated. The announcement came as the first series concluded on Thursday. Creators Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran will also writer the second, eight-episode series, which will be filmed later this year. 'We're delighted Birds Of A Feather was such a success on ITV and really pleased to be asked to write another series,' Gran said. 'We hope the further adventures of Sharon, Tracey and Dorien will continue to thrill audiences young and old.' Elaine Bedell, ITV's director of comedy and entertainment, said. 'The writers and producers have done a fantastic job in making the show feel funny, fresh and relevant.' Which it isn't, or anything even remotely like it.
Jonathan Creek's latest episode continued to attract high ratings for BBC1 on Friday night, being the highest-rated TV show of the night outside of soaps. The second of three episodes in the series - starring Alan Davies and Sarah Alexander - brought in 5.57 million viewers, down on last week's 6.33 overnight million return. BBC1 also entertained 2.04 million people at 10.45pm with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds's romantic comedy The Proposal. Meanwhile, ITV's new documentary series Student Nurses: Bedpans And Bandages was watched by 2.66 million viewers from 8pm, as first-year trainee Kelly dealt with the challenges of nursing. The channel maintained much of the audience at 9pm, as 2.19 million watched flop drama Edge Of Heaven. On BBC2, a repeat of Qi led its prime time schedule (1.54 million) with guests Josh Widdicombe, Phill Jupitus and Katherine Ryan. Documentary drama miniseries Thirty Seven Days starring Ian McDiarmid and Rainer Sellien also gave the channel 1.52 million viewers for its second episode. Elsewhere, Gogglebox returned to Channel Four for a third series, bringing in 2.29 million viewers. Earlier in the evening, Clare Balding presented highlights of the second day at Crufts 2014 to 1.28 million. Channel Five crept beyond the million mark too (1.01 million) for its latest episode of Ice Road Truckers. The show was followed by a repeat of Booze, Bust-Ups & Brothels: Soho Blues, which attracted seven hundred and fifty five thousand punters. On the multichannels, E4 was the best performer with a repeat of The Big Bang Theory episode The Romance Resonance at 6.30pm (six hundred and ten thousand). Five hundred and seven four thousand viewers watched Dynamo: Magician Impossible, in an episode new to Dave, featuring Kimberly Wyatt and Rio Ferdinand.

Mad, crazy Jimmy Nesbitt and Frances O'Connor are to star in new BBC1 drama The Missing. Tcheky Karyo will also appear in the eight-part thriller - a co-production with US cable network Starz. The Missing follows Tony (played by Nesbitt) as he searches for his missing child, Oliver, in Paris and charts the impact the hunt has on his relationship with his wife, Emily, played by O'Connor. Goldeneye actor Karyo will play Julien, a French detective leading the police investigation into Oliver's disappearance. Jason Flemyng, Ken Stott and Arsher Ali will also star in The Missing, set to be shown on BBC1 in the UK and Starz in the US in late 2014. 'We are pleased to announce such an exciting cast that brings together the best of British and French actors, led by James Nesbitt, Frances O'Connor and Tcheky Karyo, in this powerful new drama for BBC1,' said Polly Hill, the BBC's Head of Independent Drama. Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director of Starz, added: 'The Missing is a powerful and poignant story about a father's determination to find his missing child, and that is something any viewer can understand.'

ITV costume drama Mr Selfridge is returning for a third series, the broadcaster has announced. The show, which is inspired by the retail entrepreneur and stars Jeremy Piven in the title role, will begin filming next month. Selfridge's colourful life will 'begin to unravel' with the advent of a third series, the producers have said. The second series, which is currently being shown on Sunday evenings, has attracted an average 6.4 million viewers. ITV executive producer Kate Lewis said: 'We have some surprises in store for an audience in this third series. You only have to walk down Oxford Street today to know that Selfridges department store continued to be successful, but for its founder, Harry Selfridge, things were very different. His story was a rollercoaster ride that ended rather tragically. We pick up series three in 1919, the point at which his life really begins to unravel,' she added. Kate Brooke is returning to write the ten episodes of the new series, which also stars former Coronation Street actress Katherine Kelly as socialite Lady Mae.

Which brings us to the latest Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 15 March
The fragments of art which survive from the Viking age portray a far more mysterious side to a culture that is more usually associated with raiding and raping and pillaging and that. From the Oseberg wood carvings to the abstract animal ornamentation adorning jewellery, its often weird and brilliant. In a, rather fine looking Culture Show special - 8:30 BBC2, the excellent arty Andrew Graham-Dixon explores the Vikings: Life and Legend exhibition at the British Museum, learning how the Norsemen created a network connecting cultures over four continents.
Paul accepts an invitation to dinner at the Wolfs', and a war-time photograph on display in the living room makes him realise he is edging closer to the truth about the break-in at the Jonkhere bank in the second-to-last episode of Salamander - 9:00 BBC4. Meanwhile, Gil finds himself unable to trust his daughter's new boyfriend, and asks Klaus to conduct a background check. Then, in the series finale, Paul Gerardi finds himself in grave danger after it appears his cover has been compromised and the exposure places the entire case in jeopardy. However, recent events leave Klaus feeling betrayed, and he takes matters into his own hands in a manner that could have catastrophic consequences. Belgian crime thriller, starring Filip Peeters, Mike Verdrengh and Koen De Bouw. In Flemish and French.
In 1995, Dora's ex-husband, the jailbird scum Charlie Lange gives Rust and Marty a new lead in their search for prime suspect, Reggie Ledoux. They discover that he is cooking Meth for a local biker gang, which Rust has connections with from a previous undercover operation in the latest episode of the outstanding True Detective - 9:00 Sky Atlantic. Meanwhile, an argument with crazy Lisa at the courthouse has devastating consequences for Marty Hart and his marriage. This is the episode which ends with a quite remarkable six minute one-take tracking shot following two character in and out of half-a-dozen houses, through back-yards, over fences and finally into a getaway car in the middle of a sodding great gunfight. It is one of the most thrilling, adrenalin-pumping bits of telly you'll see in years. If you haven't caught up with this series yet, dear blog reader for once trust yer actual Keith Telly Topping, you're are, simply, a loser, baby, and you need to get that shit sorted at once. Starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. This is, quite possibly the best TV show in the world right at this moment (at least, one which doesn't include the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title, anyway). It's possibly better than Borgen, it's marginally better than House Of Cards, it might, even (whisper it) be better than Sherlock. It's that good.
The appeal of a man convicted of a series of horrible murders and mutilations forces Grace to question the decision she made on the case thirty years ago in a classic feature length Waking The Dead - Straw Dog - at 9:00 on Drama. Someone who appears to be copying Tony Green's chilling tactics sends the team footage of a new victim having his finger cut off. At the same time, Grace receives anonymous threats and, after what appears to be an attempted mugging, a macabre package - a jar of pickled, severed fingers. Sue Johnston and Trevor Eve star. Watch out, also, for a rather chilling little turn by the great Paul Freeman and an utterly superb performance by Emma Lowndes as the young Grace in flashback sequences to the original case. Which, by the way, is so obviously based on The Yorkshire Ripper, you almost have to stand up and applaud the sheer cheek of it.
Sunday 16 March
In the second of the two-part (much delayed) Top Gear 'Christmas Special' - 8:00 BBC2 - having forded rivers, climbed mountains and endured a Burmese trucker stop, Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May must now venture into the Shan state. This is an area riven by civil war and normally closed to Western TV crews, as they take their lorries toward Thailand and their final challenge; to build a bridge over the River Kwai. Last in the current series.

From torn-out tongues to modern-day Internet trolls, the historian and broadcaster Professor Mary Beard shares her belief that women's voices have been silenced throughout history in Oh Do Shut Up Dear! Mary Beard on the Public Voice of Women - 8:00 BBc4. Using examples ranging from the writings of Henry James to Homer's Odyssey and threatening posts on social media the excellent Mary - a big favourite of us at From The North - makes her case. Recorded at the British Museum as part of the London Review of Books Winter Lecture series.
Having endured a scandal in the press and dealt with Henri's arrest, Harry is determined to get the store back on track and asks Delphine to organise a special event in the latest episode of Mr Selfridge - 9:00 ITV. But takes a risk by inviting notorious American journalist Winifred Bonfils Black. Meanwhile, as Miss Mardle experiences true happiness, Agnes doubts she has made the right choice, and Lady Mae and Frank unite to help Selfridge, but could there be more trouble on the horizon?

Monday 17 March
Martha takes on the might of the US government when she represents a young man fighting extradition to America on charges of terrorism in the newest Silk - 9:00 BBC1. But a difficult case is made even more tricky when her client seems unwilling to help himself. Is Rashid as innocent as she believes? To add to her worries, the arrival of a face from the past provides a shock for the talented QC. Meanwhile, Amy is struggling to cope and Caroline finds herself out of her depth in court. Maxine Peake, Rupert Penry-Jones, Neil Stuke, Miranda Raison and Frances Barber feature.
Professor Robert Bartlett tells the extraordinary story of England's longest-ruling royal dynasty in The Plantagenets - 9:00 BBC2. They reigned for more than three hundred years from Henry II's accession to the throne in 1154 until Richard III's death, sans horse, in 1485. The historian begins by examining how Henry II forged an empire encompassing England and much of France and reveals how his sons Richard and John turned on their father and each other, bringing their royal house to the edge of annihilation.

The Widower - 9:00 ITV - is a new factual drama based on the crimes of convicted murderer Malcolm Webster, co-written by BAFTA winner Jeff Pope. When apparently mild-mannered nurse Malcolm (played, rather appealingly, by Reece Shearsmith) is confronted by his new wife over his wild spending, he starts to drug her to keep her quiet. However, a medical check-up then threatens to expose him, so he decides to silence his spouse once and for all. Which he manages very nicely, thank you very much. Three years on, he has a new bride - and history appears to be repeating itself. With Sheridan Smith and Kate Fleetwood.
Tuesday 18 March
The first of three two-part stories of Shetland concludes - 9:00 BBC1. The discovery of seven-year-old Catriona's body after almost two decades prompts Jimmy Perez to take Magnus in for further questioning. But at the station, the recluse's distress ends in him in attacking the inspector, and he is sent for a psychological evaluation. Ploughing on, Perez re-examines the evidence, but it is only when Catriona's brother reveals she had a secret hiding place at their old home - the same house where Catherine also lived - that he finally sees a glimmer of hope. Crime drama, starring Douglas Henshall, Julie Graham and Brian Cox (no, the other one).
In Food Prices: The Shocking Truth - 9:00 Channel Four - Jimmy Doherty goes on a global journey exploring the rising cost of food. Focusing on weekly-shop essentials, he discovers that prices reflect some of the big challenges of the 21st century, from a growing population to volatile weather. In the first of two programmes, he reveals the world events that have affected how much people pay for British favourites such as rice, beef and bread - and finds out why chocolate bars are shrinking.
Evolutionary biologist Ben Garrod explores how vertebrates capture and devour their food, looking at adaptations in their skeletons that help them eat in Secrets Of Bones - 8:30 BBC4. The presenter examines the jaws of a sperm whale, finds out which animal has teeth that weigh five kilogrammes each, and reveals which creature uses its skull as a suction pump.
Wednesday 19 March
AC-Twelve's investigation exposes a vicious criminal gang run from within the police, and Dryden is charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in Line Of Duty - 9:00 BBC2. While Arnott now appears convinced of Lindsay Denton's innocence, Fleming remains determined to prove she had a role in the ambush. Crime thriller, starring Keeley Hawes, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar, Mark Bonner and Neil Morrissey. Last in the current series.

The crime drama Castle returns - 10:00 Channel Five - after a mid-series break. Terminally ill retired detective John Raglan arranges a rendezvous with Beckett, telling her he has evidence of foul play in the investigation into the murder of her mother Johanna, a leading civil rights attorney. She and Castle meet him in a coffee shop, but Raglan is killed by a shot fired from outside before he can reveal anything. Crime drama, starring Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion.
In Greggs: More Than Meats the Pie - Pick 9:00 - the company flies in an American director to shoot a million-pound advert to show off Greggs' products. However, the film-maker is used to sunnier climes and struggles to cope with the reliably grim British weather. The emergency services are called out to a flooded bakery HQ, where a constant stream of sausage rolls keeps spirits high, a homesick Geordie hits upon the idea of introducing Tyneside staples stottie cakes to Southerners (yeah, good luck with that, matey), and the Greggs chefs tackle the seemingly impossible task of concocting low-fat pastries. Can they crack the recipe?
Thursday 20 March
Turks & Caicos - 9:00 BBC2 - is the second part of David Hare's spy trilogy, set immediately after the events of 2011's Page Eight. Johnny Worricker (the fantastic Bill Nighy) is hiding out from MI5 in the West Indies, but an encounter with a CIA agent forces him into the company of some dubious American businessmen. Worricker soon learns the extent of their shady activities and he must act quickly to survive when links to British prime minister Alec Beasley come to light. Also starring scary Christopher Walken, Helena Bonham Carter, Winona Ryder and Ralph Fiennes.
Tonight's Arena is Whatever Happened To Spitting Image - 9:00 BBC4. The satirical show spanned Margaret Thatcher's government and lasted to the end of John Major's. The puppets themselves became almost as famous as the politicians they represented, and in 2000 were auctioned at Sotheby's. The programme traces where they now reside, and meets the caricaturists, mould-makers, writers, directors and the rest of the team who worked tirelessly to make the series a success. It also investigates what the show got right, what it got wrong, and whether its seventeen-year absence has left a hole in the modern broadcasting schedule. Includes contributions by Peter Fluck, Roger Law and John Lloyd.
Davina: Beyond Breaking Point - 9:00 BBC1 - is the inside story on the punishing seven-day challenge that Davina McCall undertook for Sport Relief last month. The presenter set out to run, swim and cycle more than 450 miles from Edinburgh to London, but ended up tackling not only the physical hardships of the endeavour but also some of the most severe weather Britain had seen in decades. On the first day alone she cycled through fifty mph wind and sleet, and her trek across Scafell Pike in the Lake District was made more difficult as she had to wade through snow. The programme also follows Davina to Kenya, where she was first inspired to take on the challenge, and features interviews with the family and friends who kept her going.
Peter Powell presents an edition of Top Of The Tops first broadcast on 15 March 1979. Includes performances by The Jam (that'll be 'Strange Town', presumably), Lene Lovich, The Cars, Thin Lizzy, Violinski, The Skids, Herbie Hancock and Black Lace. Plus, dance sequences by Legs & Co.
Friday 21 March
Leading lights in the worlds of sport, music and entertainment join forces for the biennial fundraiser Sports Relief - 7:00 till late BBC1. This is an evening of entertainment with one aim - to raise money for charriddeeee projects in Britain and other countries. Gary Lineker and David Walliams kick-off the evening's fun, which for the first time is being broadcast live from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Little Mix get the entertainment started with the Sport Relief single, 'Word Up'. There will also be the first event in Clash of the Titans, in which cheeky chappie big-toothed Scouse funnyman and Sport Relief hero John Bishop and Olympic medal-winner Sebastian Coe captain two teams of celebrities in a series of head-to-head sporting challenges. Those competing are Patrick Kielty, Freddie Flintoff, Olly Murs, Richard Bacon and Greg James. Clare Balding and Gabby Logan report on the action as the amateurs take on rhythmic gymnastics, synchronised swimming, a swimming relay and, first up, track cycling. Alex Jones is also in the studio to talk (or, rather, squeal) about her extraordinary rock-climbing challenge and Paralympians David Clarke, Hannah Cockroft, Nathan Stephens and Martine Wright swap their sports kits for sequins as they take to the floor in a Strictly Come Dancing special. Davina McCall later joins the presenting team and relives her arduous charity challenge (for the second time this week), Kylie Minogue (the more famous of the Minogue sisters) performs her 1988 duet 'Especially For You' with a surprise singing partner, and the next round of Clash of the Titans sees Patrick Kielty take on Greg James in the synchronised drowning - which should be good for a laugh. Speaking of which, David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst are reunited in an Only Fools and Horses sketch - more than ten years since the last new episode of the popular sitcom was broadcast - and Peckham has a very special visitor in the shape of yer actual David Beckham. Then there's music by Boyzone and, before the news, the Clash of the Titans all-star rhythmic gymnastics. Continues on BBC2, then returns to Beeb1 and will go on for most of the night. Give generously.

Sky Living have almost caught up with the US in terms of new episodes of The Blacklist - 9:00. In tonight's episode, which was only shown in America last week, Red reveals a shady femme fatale from his extremely shady past is the next target on his list and persuades Liz to pull off a covert heist at the Syrian Embassy, while Tom struggles to accept his wife's decision to call off the adoption. Guest starring Jennifer Ehle.
Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker are joined by guest Frank Skinner in The Last Leg - 10:00 Channel Four - for a comic review of the significant moments of the past seven days, including stories and highlights from the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics. They also follow Alex's quest to participate in the Rio Paralympics in 2016. Last in the current series.

To the news, now: The Great British Bake Off host Sue Perkins has revealed that she originally turned down the job of presenting the BBC cookery show. Speaking on The Jonathan Ross Show, Perkins confessed that she was the 'luckiest person alive' to have changed her mind. 'They said, "Would you do it?" and I said, "No, it's about cakes, don't be silly,"' she told Rossy. Sue also reveals some amusing secrets about life behind the scenes on the bakery show, which includes the team playing a game with a plastic baguette. 'Paul [Hollywood] in particular likes to take a running jump and thwack me so hard that my teeth knock together,' she claimed. 'I got him [back]. He bent over to receive a cob and I connected intensely with big John and the twins. So that's what we do. It's like a playground.' Perkins also snitched up some secrets about Mary Berry, telling Ross that the Queen of Cakes is 'a big fan of The Jeremy Kyle Show' - although it's not entirely clear if Berry is aware that the ITV daytime show features, allegedly, 'real' people. 'Mary loves Jeremy Kyle. We've got her into Jeremy Kyle,' said Perkins. 'Mary says, "This is extraordinary. Absolutely marvellous." Then after a while you go, "It is real." [She replies,] "Is it really?"'

The stars of Goodness Gracious Me are reuniting for a one-off episode to celebrate fifty years of BBC2. The sketch show, which featured Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Nina Wadia and Kulvinder Ghir, explored the collision of British and Indian cultures and was cult success when shown on BBC2 from 1998-2001, after starting life on Radio 4 two years earlier. The show's regular characters included Smeeta Smitten, the Competitive Mothers and Mister Everything Comes From India. An advertisement for people to feature in the audience of the London filming revealed that the original cast would be back for an episode of 'the ground-breaking British Asian sketch show, featuring new characters alongside some favourites from the original series in a wealth of brand new sketches.' Both Bhaskar and Syal went on to star in The Kumars At Number Forty Two. Wadia spent five years playing Zainab Masood in EastEnders, before leaving the soap last February. Mock The Week host Dara O Briain will front another of BBC2's anniversary celebrations, in the form of a quiz called All About Two. Also featuring Richard Osman from Pointless, the show is described as 'part quiz, part silliness, part discovery and all love.'

Russia’s foreign minister has been branded 'a gay lover' by Channel Four News after its automated subtitling system mistranslated his name. The Sun reports that Matt Frei was broadcasting live from Kiev on the meeting between Sergey Lavrov and US secretary of state John Kerry when the subtitles reported that the latter was 'talking directly to his Russian counterpart, So Gay Lover Of.' Vladimir Putin and his colleagues are likely to be less than delighted – does the name fall under Russia’s controversial law banning 'promotion of non-traditional relationships'?
Some very sad news now. The Belfast-born actor Jimmy Ellis, best known for his roles in Z-Cars and alongside the young Kenneth Branagh in BBC Northern Ireland's series of Billy plays, has died from a stroke in Lincoln Hospital early on Saturday. He was eighty two. His son, Toto, said it was extraordinarily hard to watch his father die. 'It was sad to watch him slip away. The last words he heard were that he was a hero, a legend and we all loved him,' he said. Speaking about the funeral arrangements, he said: 'We are taking him home to Belfast - Belfast meant the world to him. He blazed a trail for Northern Ireland actors, in that he was the first character not to change his accent. Dad was so proud of his roots and his beliefs.' Jimmy began his acting career in 1952 at Belfast's Group Theatre before moving to England in the early 1960s. His first break came when he was cast as Dandy Jordan in the BBC TV production of Stewart Love's Randy Dandy, which broadcast in 1961; an angry and violent play, it was deemed so controversial and sexually charged for the era that the BBC gave what, at the time, was a highly unusual pre-transmission warning that it may be 'unsuitable for people of a nervous disposition.' In a 2008 interview with the theatre historian Scott Boltwood, Jimmy remembered often being stopped in the streets for several years afterwards, by working-class men who said that they strongly identified with his character in the play. His success as Dandy made him a sought-after actor and led to subsequent roles with both the BBC and ITV, including as Philip in another of Love's TV plays, The Sugar Cube (also 1961) and, ultimately, his role as Bert Lynch in the BBC's ground-breaking police drama Z-Cars (1962–78). In this series, set in the fictional Merseyside suburb of Newtown, Bert's character rose from the rank of Police Constable to Inspector over the course of the series. Unlike his co-stars - including Brian Blessed, Jeremy Kemp, Joseph Brady, Colin Welland, Stratford Johns and Frank Windsor - Jimmy stayed with the show throughout its lengthy run, eventually appearance in over five hundred and sixty of the series eight hundred and three episodes. James Ellis was born in Belfast on 15 March 1931. He studied at the city's Methodist College and Queen's University, and then at the Bristol Old Vic. He soon graduated to leading man once he joined the Group Theatre. After starring in such plays as The Playboy Of The Western World, he was appointed director of productions at the theatre in 1959. However, he resigned shortly afterwards to direct and stage Sam Thompson's Over The Bridge, which the Group Theatre's board had deemed to be 'too controversial.' Aside from Z-Cars, he starred in some of the UK's best-known and much-loved programmes, including Doctor Who (in 1989's four-parter Battlefield), In Sickness And In Health, Ballykissangel and Only Fools And Horses. His CV also included roles in King Of The River, Barry Humphries' Scandals, Full House, No Country For Old Men, The Boys From The Blackstuff, The Chinese Detective, Hammer House Of Mystery & Suspense, One By One, the cult surreal comedy Nightingales, Crossing The Floor, Big Bad World, Playing The Field and Casualty. Amongst his movie parts was a superb performance as a blind ex-boxer in Alan Bleasdale's caustic No Surrender (1985). He last screen appearance came in Eternal Law in 2012. Jimmy returned the Northern Ireland in 1982 to star as the bullying father, Norman Martin, in Too Soon To Talk To Billy, the first of a trio of Graham Reid plays which exposed a national audience to the authentic voice of working-class Ulster Protestants for perhaps the first time. Sir Kenneth Branagh, who was then just out of drama school, played his son, the titular Billy, and the pair later reprised their partnership in A Matter Of Choice For Billy and A Coming To Terms For Billy. Sir Kenneth said: 'James Ellis was a great inspiration to me, and many other actors from the North of Ireland. I was blessed to begin my career working with him, and I will never forget his generosity to me. He was a highly intelligent, funny, and kind man, and a tremendous actor.' Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, tweeted: 'Very sorry to learn of the passing of Jimmy Ellis, one of our own, [a] great actor and opponent of censorship.' Northern Ireland Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: 'James was a man of great character and was never afraid to tackle difficult issues as we witnessed with his direction of the Sam Thompson play, Over The Bridge, in 1960, at a time when many believed that sectarianism, which the play addressed, was too controversial for a stage performance. I am deeply saddened by his passing and my thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.' Jimmy was awarded an honorary doctorate from Queen's University in 2008 for services to the performing arts. Away from the acting profession, he was also a writer of poems and prose and a noted translator; the BBC broadcast a selection of his adaptations from French in 2007. Although he had lived in England for many decades, his family said that, in line with his wishes, Jimmy will be buried in his home city. Jimmy's first marriage was to the actress Beth Ellis with whom he had three children - Amanda, Adam and Hugo. The couple divorced in the late 1960s. In 1976 Ellis married his second wife, Robina, by whom he had another son, Toto. Jimmy suffered personal tragedy in 1988 when his son Adam, then aged twenty eight, was murdered in West London. In a March 2012 interview with the Daily Express, the actor recalled: 'I went berserk. I wasn't in possession of my senses. I kicked open the doors of every pub in the street shouting "Who knows who murdered my son?"' Hugo followed his father into acting and directing. He died in January 2011.
Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks has denied 'cooking the books' at the Scum of the World to disguise the real activities of convicted phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire, the Old Bailey has heard. The former Scum of the World editor claimed that Muclaire's contract as a private investigator employed by the paper for ninety two thousand knicker a year 'never came to her attention' because the newsdesk paid him in weekly instalments. In her eleventh day in the witness box at the phone-hacking trial on Thursday, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was quizzed, in considerable detail, about how she authorised payments at the paper, which she edited between 2000 and 2003. Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC put it to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks that one of News International's most senior executives, Clive Milner, the managing director of News Group Newspapers, had objected to a pay increase for one of her reporters from fifty five to sixty thousand smackers. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that his objection was not that she was offering a five thousand quid increase to chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, but that it was not made at the beginning of the financial year. Edis put it to her that if someone was on ninety thousand thousand notes Milner 'would not be happy about that.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said that Milner worked 'on the commercial side' of the business and editorial costs would have been discussed with a different executive, Les Hinton, the executive chairman of News International. Edis asked if she ever explained to Milner that the reason Mulcaire was paid weekly was to hide his real work, which was illegal. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'No, I complete disagree with that.' She went on to say that she accepted it is now clear that between 2005 and 2006 Mulcaire was involved in 'something illegal and in serious breaches of privacy which I completely disagree with.' In a tense exchange, Edis put it to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks: 'It is now perfectly clear that effectively the books were cooked to prevent anybody investigating or finding out what Mr Muclaire was doing.' Dropping her voice, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'But I didn't cook any books.' Edis continued: 'But the books were cooked, weren't they?' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that she did not know what Edis meant by 'cooking the books.' Edis again put it to her that Mulcaire's payments were 'deliberately put through the editorial payment system' on a weekly basis in order to prevent them being 'flagged up' to executives who had limited her authorisation for spending to fifty grand. 'Yes, it is entirely correct that the contract because of its cumulative total should have been given to me,' claimed well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks. 'Because it was being paid out in relatively small weekly payments and because the newsdesk religiously kept within its weekly spending limits, it never came to my attention. I accept that it should have come to Mr [Stuart] Kuttner [the Scum of the World managing editor], Mr Milner and me.' Edis put it to her that Kuttner did approve weekly payments. He asked: 'Did [Kuttner] ever say "I'm paying seventeen hundred and sixty nine pounds to a company that I've never heard of and I don't know what they do. Is that all right boss?"' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks replied: 'No, he didn't ever say anything like that to me.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and Kuttner have both denied charges that they conspired with others to hack phones. Earlier the trial heard that Mulcaire used several aliases and several company names including Euro Research and Information Services and Nine Consultancy for payments from the Scum of the World. The trial also heard that Greg Miskiw, the head of the paper's investigations unit, tasked Mulcaire for his investigations. Earlier on Thursday well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks described Miskiw as 'a wise head.' She said that she was 'not close' to Miskew and that he had been 'a rival' of hers when she started working at the Scum of the World in the features department. He was 'old school', she claimed, and much older than her. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was also quizzed about what illegal activities she would and would not have sanctioned. She repeated her assertion from earlier in the trial that she 'might' have approved of a journalist hacking a phone if they had come to her with 'a strong enough public interest defence.' But, she claimed: 'I think it's an extreme breach' adding: 'I never asked anyone to intercept a voicemail.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that if she had discovered Miskiw had entered a contract behind her back that went over her weekly spending limits she would have 'asked questions.'
Max Clifford used his contacts with famous people 'to bully and manipulate' people into sexual acts with him, a court has heard. On the opening day of his trial the prosecution is making the case against Clifford who is charged with eleven counts of indecent assault. Clifford, from Hersham, faces charges relating to seven alleged victims, ranging in age from fourteen to nineteen, between 1966 and 1984. He denies all of the charges against him. Addressing Southwark Crown Court, prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC, said: 'The case concerns sexual assaults upon children and young women over a twenty year period. The defendant used his contact with famous people to bully and manipulate these young people into sexual acts with him.' She went on to tell the jury of six men and six women that Clifford's actions 'breached the trust' of parents, whom he had 'encouraged to trust him' and that of young women who were 'seeking jobs in the world in which he worked.' Earlier Clifford, wearing a grey jacket and white shirt, posed for pictures outside the London court. The trial, which is expected to last at least four weeks, involves the following charges: One offence of indecent assault relating to a girl, aged fourteen, in 1966; one offence of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged eighteen, in 1974-75; three offences of indecent assault relating to a girl, aged fifteen, in 1977-78; one offence of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged nineteen, in 1978; two offences of indecent assault relating to a girl, aged sixteen or seventeen, in 1981-82; one offence of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged nineteen, in 1980-81 and two offences of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged eighteen, in 1984. Clifford, who has previously said he is 'totally innocent' of the charges he faces, was first arrested in December 2012 as part of the Metropolitan Police's Operation Yewtree. The inquiry was set up following historical allegations of sex abuse against the late TV presenter and dirty old scallywag and rotten rotter Jimmy Savile. Clifford's arrest was unrelated to any allegations against Savile.

Ruby Wax might have taken part in Celebrity Shark Bait, but even the mouthy American comedienne, it would seem, has some standards. She revels that she turned down more than one hundred grand to go into the Celebrity Big Brother house. 'It was really, really hard to turn that amount of money down,' she confesses. 'But I would have ended up institutionalised if I’d gone in the Big Brother house. After twenty five years of doing really interesting TV, I don't think I can bend to this stuff. I couldn't live with myself.'

A Malaysian court has sentenced opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in jail after overturning his acquittal on charges of sodomy. Anwar led the opposition to its strongest ever performance in the May 2013 general elections. While homosexual acts are illegal in the Muslim-majority Malaysia, very few people are ever prosecuted. Anwar has always maintained that the charges against him were part of a political smear campaign. The court decision will affect Anwar's plans to compete in a key by-election in the state of Selangor this month. A victory for Anwar would mean that he could become Selangor's chief minister - widely seen as a powerful post. The court said Anwar could remain free on bail while he appeals against the verdict to the country's highest court, the Associated Press news agency reported. 'All over again, after fifteen years, they want to put me in the lock-up and that is why they are rushing,' Anwar said after his acquittal was overturned. In 2008, Anwar was accused of having sex with a male aide. A High Court cleared him of the charges in 2012, citing a lack of evidence. The government later appealed against his acquittal. 'It's truly a dark day for the Malaysia judiciary which has shown itself incapable of standing up straight when national political issues are in play in cases before them,' Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia head of the group Human Rights Watch said after the verdict. Correspondents say Anwar is seen as the key challenger to the ruling party, which has been in power since Malaysia's independence in 1957. The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition won one hundred and thirty three of the two hundred and twenty two seats in parliament in the 2013 elections - although it won the elections, it was the coalition's worst ever result. Thousands of Malaysian opposition supporters rallied against the result, alleging that the polls were fraudulent. Anwar was previously a member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, but fell out with top leaders and was sacked in 1998. He was then charged with sodomy and corruption and given a six-year jail term for abuse of power, which sparked huge street protests. In 2000 he was also found guilty of sodomy with his wife's driver and jailed for a further nine years. In late 2004 Malaysia's Supreme Court overturned the sodomy conviction, freeing him from jail. He then emerged as a leader in the opposition movement, leading it to increasingly strong performances in both the 2008 and 2013 elections.

Idris Elba will voice the character of the tiger Shere Khan in a film remake of The Jungle Book. The Disney project will be a take on the classic children's film using a mix of live action and special effects. The actor, who recently played the late Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, is in final negotiations to join the cast according to Deadline. It's thought the forty one-year-old actor will be the voice of the animal who stalks the main character, Mowgli. The film is being overseen by Oscar-winning visual effects designer, Rob Legato, who has worked on Avatar, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Hugo and Titanic.

Video footage of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on New York filmed from space is to be broadcast in full on British TV for the first time by Channel Four later this month. The footage, in which a huge plume of smoke is seen stretching from the site of the devastated World Trade Centre towers, was captured from the International Space Station by astronaut Frank Culbertson. Hours after the attack Culbertson went on to discover that his friend, Chic Burlingame, was one of the pilots killed during the 2001 attacks when his airliner was hijacked by terrorists. In the Channel Four film, part of a season of programmes about space which detail the realities of astronauts' lives, Culbertson is shown playing the Taps bugle call – which signals the end of the day for US military personnel – on a trumpet in tribute to his friend later that day. The channel's Live From Space season next week will feature documentaries about astronauts, building up to a two-and-a-half-hour live broadcast from the ISS and Mission Control in Houston, which will feature a full ninety-minute orbit of Earth. The live programme, Live From Space: Lap Of the Planet, will be screened on Sunday 16 March, presented by Dermot O'Dreary and veteran astronaut Mike Massimino, whose achievements have included fixing the Hubble telescope. Short clips from the film of the attacks on New York were released by NASA to mark the tenth anniversary in 2011, but the film has not been seen in full with Culbertson's commentary and his bugle call. The creative director of the Channel Four project, Tom Brisley, said: 'Not every frame has been seen before, so every frame that was shot on that day is in the show.' Executive producer Sally Dixon said: 'It's the first time we have had it in that form with Frank talking us through it. If that had been in a movie you'd have gone, "oh come on, that guy's got a trumpet?" But reality is stranger than fiction sometimes.' It will feature in the documentary Astronauts: Houston We Have A Problem for which programme-makers have been given access to NASA footage of some of the difficulties in space over the years. They include film of Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, who was close to drowning when his helmet filled with water during a space walk and he had to feel his way back to the airlock to decompress before he was able to remove the helmet, causing colleagues to fear for his life. During other filming for the documentary – to be screened on Thursday 13 March – there was an emergency on the station when a cooling system failed, forcing the crew to make two space walks to fix it. Dixon said: 'Suddenly a valve went on a coolant pump outside and they had to shut down power to half the station to power down a lot of equipment, so we were there filming our general stuff and they let us in on meetings of all these various teams. They work out how will they do the space walk, people are practising in the big pool with a model of the space station underwater because it's very like microgravity. It was just an amazing coincidence that we happened to be filming – no space walks were filmed for Rick (Mastracchio), Koichi (Wakata) and Mike's (Hopkins) mission. It was incredible to see the teamwork that went on to work out what needed to be done and how they would do it. Another film, Living In Space, to be shown on Wednesday, looks at the impact on the astronauts and their families and how they cope.
Neil Gaiman has said that he is 'seriously disappointed' at the way some science fiction fans reacted to the news that Jonathan Ross was – for a brief moment – to host the Hugos, an invitation which The Sandman author had passed on to his friend the chat show host. Broadcaster and author Ross withdrew from presenting the prestigious science fiction awards on Saturday, shortly after the World Science Fiction Convention announced that he would be hosting them. His decision followed a series of personal attacks on him from Twitter from fans concerned that – in one reader's words – he would mock 'women and other minorities.' In other words not for anything he had done, but something he might. Minority Report appears to have arrived, dear blog reader. 'If people genuinely believe I would upset them or those they care about then I'd rather not spoil their night,' tweeted Ross, with rather more dignity and patience than shown to him by his detractors. 'I agreed because I love SF. And because Neil Gaiman asked me.' Rossy's wife, the Hugo award-winning screenwriter Jane Goldman, has since cancelled her Twitter account, while his daughter has engaged with the SF author Seanan McGuire on Twitter over McGuire's comment that 'You know, I've really enjoyed knowing that, were I to be nominated for a Hugo, the host wouldn't see me and make fat jokes.' 'I'm Jonathan's overweight daughter and I assure you that there are few men more kind and sensitive towards women's body issues,' Honey Kinney tweeted to McGuire, who subsequently apologised for her comments. 'My concerns came from what I know of his humor [sic], and not what I know of him as a person.' 'Jane Goldman has deleted her Twitter account after husband Jonathan Ross was subjected to a hate campaign', wrote the Daily Scum Mail, seemingly jealous that their previous record of conducting a hate campaign against Jonathan Ross had been taken over by someone else. Gaiman, creator of The Sandman comics and author of the best-selling novels American Gods and Anansi Boys, has now spoken out about the issue. Gaiman said that he was 'seriously disappointed in the people, some of whom I know and respect, who stirred other people up to send invective, obscenities and hatred Jonathan's way over Twitter (and the moment you put someone's @name into a tweet, you are sending it to that person), much of it the kind of stuff that they seemed to be worried that he might possibly say at the Hugos, unaware of the ironies involved.' While he said that he 'understands' fans' concerns about Ross – 'I'd had it myself, twenty five years ago, when Jonathan and I had first met, and he asked me and Dave McKean to be on his chat show to talk about Violent Cases. I said "No, you make fun of people. This is comics. It matters to me. I don't want you making fun of it."' Gaiman wrote on his blog that Rossy is, actually, 'a huge SF and Comics fan: in many ways, one of the most fannish people I know.' The convention, which will be held in London this summer, should have warned Ross that some people were likely to 'have a problem' with him as presenter, said Gaiman, but 'as it was, he and his family didn't know what hit them. Twitterstorms are no fun when people are making up things about you or insulting you for things you didn't do or think or say. When scores of people from a group that you consider yourself a part of are shouting at you, it's incredibly upsetting, no matter who you are,' blogged Gaiman. 'I sympathise with anyone who felt that Jonathan wasn't going to make an appropriate Hugos host, and with anyone who spoke about it to the convention committee, but do not believe a campaign aimed at vilifying Jonathan personally was wise or kind.' The author, who has won several Hugo awards himself, went on to explain how the row has changed his relationship with the science fiction community. 'I have won Hugo awards, and I am incredibly proud of all of them; I've hosted the Hugo awards ceremony, and I was honoured to have been permitted to be part of that tradition; I know that SF is a family, and like all families, has disagreements, fallings out. I've been going to Worldcons since 1987. And I know that these things heal in time,' Gaiman blogged. 'But I've taken off the Hugo nominee pin that I've worn proudly on my lapel since my Doctor Who episode, The Doctor's Wife, won the Hugo in September 2012 and, for now, I've put it away.' The convention, meanwhile, issued a series of rather gorvelling apologies to Ross, his family, and to SF fans in general. 'We invited [Jonathan Ross] in good faith, as a creator and a fan, and a high-profile member of our community, to be Master of Ceremonies at the Hugo awards ceremony, and he graciously accepted, offering us his services as a volunteer,' organisers said. 'Having invited him to take the role, we failed to brief him about the recent debates in fandom and failed to help him deal with the controversy which ensued after we announced his participation. He and his family have had a horrible few days, and it was our fault for putting him in that situation.' The organisers said they also regretted 'any and all offence caused to those who disagreed with our choice of Jonathan Ross, those affected by the exchanges that followed on social media, and those who are disappointed that he has now withdrawn.'

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is not, normally, the world's biggest Peter Kay fan. I don't find him unfunny, per se, but there are times where this blogger, genuinely, struggles to see what everybody else seems to find so wee-in-yer-own-pants hi-effing-larious in his act. Having said that, this clip - from The Tour That Didn't Tour - recommended to yer actual KTT by his goodly bro, Colin Telly Topping, is really rather good. Personally, though, I still don't hear the Bobbie Gentry one.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's A to Z Of Groovy Tunes O is, of course, for Orbital. What else could it possibly be?

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