Sunday, May 04, 2014

Week Twenty: I Don't Belong Here

Paramount Pictures has announced that yer actual Matt Smith is to star opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the reboot of the Terminator franchise. Smudger will play 'a new character with a strong connection to John Connor' according to reports. Others in the cast announced this week include Game Of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke and Zero Dark Thirty actor Jason Clarke. The film, which is due to be released in July 2015, is to be directed by Thor filmmaker Alan Taylor. Smudger, who has recently been succeeded as The Doctor by Peter Capaldi in the BBC's long-running family SF drama Doctor Who will next be seen on the big screen in the film Lost River (filmed under the working title How To Catch A Monster), directed by Ryan Gosling. He was seen earlier this year on stage in London in the musical stage adaptation of American Psycho. The Terminator franchise was launched in 1984 with Schwarzenegger as the title character, a cyborg sent back through time to kill the mother of the unborn leader of human resistance in the war against machines in the future. Come on, you knew that, you've seen The Terminator, surely? The film, directed by James Cameron, has since spawned three subsequent films - one of which was very good and the other two ... weren't. They have, between them, earned more than one billion dollars at the worldwide box office.

Meanwhile, Smudger and his former co-star Karen Gillan were 'spotted'- by some nosy Parker, obviously - having lunch in Los Angeles earlier this week. And, of course, within seconds, hurriedly snapped photographs of them were plastered all over the Interweb. So, because From The North doesn't want to feel left out ...
Radio Times has been short-listed for Cover Of The Year in the 2014 PPA Awards. The Professional Publishers Association Awards are considered the most coveted in the UK magazine and business publishing industry. Radio Times has been nominated for the edition marking Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary, where the magazine produced twelve different editions, each with the face of a different Doctor. Voting is now open and can be made via the PPA website. Other magazines nominated include Cosmopolitan, Country Life, Esquire, Harper's Bazaar, Metal Hammer, Student Farmer, Stylist, The Big Issue and BBC Top Gear. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane on 10 July.
MasterChef dropped in the overnight ratings but was still the highest rated programme outside of soaps on Wednesday. BBC1's cooking series dipped by around five hundred thousand viewers week-on-week to 4.6 million at 8pm. Panorama's special about care home scandals was seen by 2.9m at 9pm. On BBC2, the World Snooker Championship continued to provide insomnia relief to 1.1m at 7pm, followed by Under Offer with 1.6m at 8pm and The Birth Of Empire: The East India Company with 1.9m at 9pm. ITV's Big Star's Little Star continued to be wretched and risible with an audience of 3.4m at 8pm, while a rescheduled repeat of Law & Order: UK brought in 3.5m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Secret Eaters was watched by eight hundred and sixty nine thousand viewers at 8pm, followed by How To Get A Council House with 1.4m at 9pm. Derek had an audience of 1.1 million at 10pm. And, it still wasn't very funny. Channel Five's Killing Spree attracted six hundred and ninety thousand punters at 8pm, followed by the latest NCIS with 1.1 million at 9pm. Castle was seen by six hundred and forty three thousand at 10pm. On BBC3, Orphan Black returned with two hundred and thirteen thousand viewers at 10pm.
Good Morning Britain attracted just six hundred thousand viewers on Wednesday, as the ITV show's audience slumped to the roughly same level as its ill-fated predecessor just three days after its launch. The Susanna Reid-fronted breakfast show launched with eight hundred thousand punters on Monday but has since shed a quarter of that audience in just three days, putting it on a par with the average audience that watched the notorious flop Daybreak before it was extremely axed. Which had led to articles with headlines like Susanna Reid Accused Wearing Increasingly High Hemlines To Attract Viewers. All of which caused Charlie Brooker to observe on Have I Got News For You on Friday: 'They paid a lot of money for Susanna Reid to front [it] and people have moaned that she was sitting behind a desk and they couldn't see her legs. Viewers were saying "it's like buying a Ferrari and keeping it in the garage." Who are these people who can't sit through television for ten minutes without trying to break into a wank? What's wrong with them?' Do you really want to know, Chas? Good Morning Britain was watched by one million fewer people than its rival BBC Breakfast, which pulled in 1.6 million viewers on Wednesday. The show, which is broadcast between 6am and 8.30am on ITV, had a sixteen per cent audience share on Wednesday, compared with almost thirty nine per cent share of the available audience for BBC Breakfast. The BBC show appears to have benefited from its rival's losses, with viewing up from 1.5 million to 1.6 million over the course of this week.

MasterChef was still on top of the ratings outside of soaps on Thursday, according to overnight data. BBC1's cookery competition dipped by around three hundred thousand from the previous Thursday night's episode to 4.4 million at 8pm. Parking Mad gathered 3.9m at 9pm, while Question Time had an audience of 2.4m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, the semi-finals of the World Snooker Championships scored - or, possibly, snored - 1.5m at 7pm. Protecting Our Parents was seen by nine hundred and seventy thousand viewers at 9pm, followed by a Qi repeat with 1.2m at 10pm. ITV's repeat of Paul O'Grady's For the Love Of Dogs appealed to 2.8m at 8.30pm. Wanted: A Family Of My Own was seen by 2.2m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Posh Pawn interested 1.5m at 8pm. Heston Blumenthal's new series of Great British Food brought in a million viewers at 9pm. Channel Five's Beware Cowboy Builders attracted seven hundred and forty seven viewers at 8pm, followed by Family Massacre: The Jersey Slayer with one million punters at 9pm. Person Of Interest has an audience of seven hundred and thirty two thousand at 10pm. The opening episode of BBC4's excellent new Lucy Worsley vehicle The First Georgians: German Kings Who Made Britain was watched by a very impressive 1.2m at 9pm. On E4, The Big Bang Theory also had 1.2m at 8pm, followed by How I Met Your Mother with six hundred and thirty six thousand at 8.30pm.

Have I Got News For You once again topped Friday's primetime overnight ratings, attracting an average audience of 4.42 million at 9pm on BBC1. Hosted by Jack Dee, this week's episode peaked with 4.47 million viewers, making it Friday's highest-rated programme outside of soaps. The evening's entertainment began with 3.45 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by 2.57 million for A Question Of Sport at 7.30pm. An average of 4.05 million viewers tuned in to Masterchef at 8.30pm, while an Outnumbered repeat was seen by 2.79 million at 9.30pm. Approximately 3.22 million viewers watched Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender appear on The Graham Norton Show at 10.35pm. Nine hundred and thirty thousand watched Bad Education immediately after. A repeat of Lewis was ITV's highest-rated show outside soaps, attracting 2.86 million viewers at 9pm. It edged out this week's episode of Weekend Escapes With Warwick Davis, which was watched by an average of but 2.65 million viewers at 8pm. Regular programming was replaced by The Live World Snooker Championships on BBC2. Broadcast from 7pm to 9pm it was slept through by an average audience of 1.65 million. The evening continued with Natural World and The Trip To Italy, which attracted 1.83m and eight hundred and eighty thousand viewers respectively. Gogglebox once again proved a ratings success for Channel Four, entertaining 2.46 million at 9pm, followed by 1.49m for Alan Carr: Chatty Man at 10pm. Elsewhere, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD played to a slightly reduced audience of nine hundred and eighty thousand at 8pm. Channel Five's highest-rated show was NCIS with nine hundred and fifty four thousand at 9pm. It was preceded by seven hundred and thirty five thousand for Ice Road Trucker at 8pm.

Comedy line of the week, as usual, came from Have I Got News For You. It was during the discussion oft Good Morning Britain mentioned previously, and followed Jack Dee describing the regular Wheel of Cash appearance by 'TV legend' Andy Peters. Who, Charlie Brooker noted, used to host In The Broom Cupboard with Ed The Duck. 'Not a good place to be at the BBC in the 1980s' said Paul Merton, without missing a beat.
Britain's Got Toilets continued to dominate Saturday nights, averaging more than 8.8m according to overnight data. The ITV talent show attracted 8.83m from 7.15pm. Also on ITV, and slightly more reassuringly Amazing Greys managed just 2.55m from 8.30pm before a repeat of Prey took nine hundred and fifty eight thousand. On BBC1, The National Lottery: In It to Win It attracted 3.02m from 7.40pm before Casualty and The Guess List were watched by 4.68m and 3.29m respectively. BBC2 aired live snooker for most of primetime, averaging 1.88m from 7pm. On Channel Four, repeats of For The Love Of Cars and Grand Designs drew in three hundred and forty five thousand and six hundred and sixty four thousand respectively, and a showing of the movie Green Zone took six hundred and seven thousand. Channel Five showed two repeat episodes of NCIS, drawing in five hundred and thirty eight thousand and seven hundred and seventeen thousand respectively from 8pm.

Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch has denied reports that he is moving to America. The actor, who has a large following in the US following the success of Sherlock, said that his home will always be in the UK. Asked by Polish magazine W Cztery Oczy if he was considering such a move, Benny replied: 'Not at all. I admire James McAvoy,' he continued. 'He's such a brilliant actor, that work comes to him, not the other way round. He goes to the States only when he needs to, but he doesn't want to move there and analyse his script choices while waiting for new scripts by the pool.' Benny added that he never wanted to stay in Hollywood, preferring instead to return to London where his friends and family are. 'Every time I have a break, my friends and family know about it immediately. They know how much I need those meetings in the kitchen and long conversations with a glass of wine.' It sounds lovely around Chez Cumberbatch, doesn't it? Any time you want to extend the invite, Ben, you know where this blogger is and how he can be contacted. It was recently announced that Benny will be playing the title role in an upcoming BBC adaptation of Richard III.

The cast and crew of ITV's Prey have 'hit back' - that's tabloidese for 'criticised' only with less syllables - at the Radio 4 critic Philip Hensher after he made various controversial - and, seemingly, stoutist - comments about the drama. Hensher described the character played by the actress Rosie Cavaliero as 'the fat lady detective' when discussing Prey on-air, and made other critical comments about the opening episode of the drama. Prey's director Nick Murphy didn't like that. Oooo, pure dead vexed, so he was. Murphy said that Hensher's comments were 'pitiful', tweeting: 'Describing female character as "fat woman detective", Saturday Review meets Heat magazine.' John Simm, who leads the cast of the new series - and who has something of a reputation for not suffering fools gladly - added, in relation to Hensher: 'He's a Prick. Delighted he didn't like it.' So, that's you told, Phil. Meanwhile, Red Production Company, who are behind the series, posted: 'You can guess what we at Red think. Appalled that Rosie's break-out performance reduced to "fat lady detective" in recent radio review.'

As previously noted on From The North, dear blog reader, on 13 March it was announced that CSI: Crime Scene Investigation would return for a fifteenth season in the autumn. Paul Guilfoyle who has played Jim Brass since episode one will leave the series at the end of the current series. On 18 February CBS had already announced plans to launch a new spin-off of the CSI franchise, tentatively titled CSI: Cyber, with a backdoor pilot episode, entitled Kitty, which was broadcast in the US this week. And, rather good it was too. Inspired by producer Mary Aiken's work as a cyber-psychologist, the new series will revolve around Special Agent Avery Ryan, played by Patricia Arquette, who is in charge of the FBI's Cyber Crime Division at Quantico. It appears that the fourth Who song to be used as a theme tune by the CSI franchise will be 1967's shimmering masterpiece 'I Can See For Miles'. This blogger still they're missing a trick. Surely 'The Real Me' is just crying out for use somewhere?

Bryan Fuller has discussed a steamy upcoming sequence in Hannibal's second season. Asked about the increasingly homoerotic relationship between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, Fuller revealed that their intimacy becomes 'clearer and clearer' as the season progresses. 'We do get into an episode later on in the season, that ultimately is Will and Hannibal in bed together with Alana Bloom,' Fuller told the Digital Spy website. 'So the barriers of that friendship get thinner and thinner.' The episode in question - Naka-Choko - was actually broadcast in the US this week. 'Looking at the sexuality in the show, I'm always reminded of [David Cronenberg's] Dead Ringers, where you have two Jeremy Irons characters flanking Geneviève Bujold in a very sexy, yet psychologically disturbing way,' said Fuller. 'I think that's where we go with the romance, or the bromance, between Hannibal and Will, and the woman that is between them.' Fuller revealed in the same interview that he is confident Hannibal will be renewed for a third season.
Which brings us to the latest batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 10 May
Graham Norton commentates on the fifty ninth Eurovision Song Contest from Copenhagen. Denmark won last year with Emmelie de Forest's 'Only Teardrops'. All eyes will be on Molly (no, me neither), who is aiming to become the first UK winner since 1997 with her self-penned dirge 'Children Of The Universe.' Nul points, one imagines. Just accept the fact, guys, the rest of Europe really hates us. And it's our own fault for 'Puppet On A String', to be fair. Anyway, back to this year's competition, there's also Ireland's Can-Linn featuring Kasey Smith - assuming they make it through Thursday's semi-final. They are likely to face stiff competition from the other twenty four countries, including the host nation's Basim with his Bruno Mars-style 'Cliché Love Song', the German trio Elaiza, who use traditional instruments to produce a modern sound (it says here) and France's Twin Twin with their irritating dance song 'Moustache'. Fans of The X Factor may recognise the Spanish act Ruth Lorenzo, who came fifth in the 2008 contest. Though they probably won't because most fans of The X Factor have the memory span of the average goldfish. Axel Hirsoux is said to be 'Belgium's answer to Paul Potts' (the mind boggles) with his ballad 'Mother' and Austria's entry is a man posing as a bearded lady. It really does take all sorts. No news yet on whether Moldova will have blokes with silly hats and a girl on a unicycle playing the trumpet as they did a few years ago. But, if they do, they've got my vote. Always. Red button viewers will be able to access lyrics to all songs and send comments. Like 'why am I watching this crap?' for instance.

The pop art movement of the 1950s and 1960s is generally seen as the preserve of a ground-breaking group of men including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton and Tom Wesselman. However, the scene was full of female artists, tussling with sexuality, violence and consumer culture every bit as much as their male counterparts, but their work has been consigned to the margins of history. In a, rather fine looking Culture Show documentary - 8:30 BBC2 - Alastair Sooke tracks down artists including Pauline Boty, Marisol, Rosalyn Drexler, Idelle Weber, Letty Lou Eisenhauer and Jann Haworth to hear their side of the story.

In another classic Waking The Dead episode, Mask Of Sanity - 9:00 Drama - Peter Boyd's cold case team reinvestigates the work of the convicted serial killer James Jenson when the wallets of his victims surface on the day that he is released from a secure psychiatric unit. However, after turning the spotlight on a second potential suspect, Doctor Bruno Rivelli and the children's home that he previously ran, Boyd and his colleagues find themselves with another murder case on their hands. One of the darkest and most disturbing stories in a series which specialised in dark and disturbing. Trevor Eve, Sue Johnston, Wil Johnson and Felicite Du Jeu star along with Nicholas Beveney, James Fox, Jemma Redgrave, Paul Ritter, Richard Dillane and Helen Batch.
Couples Who Kill - 10:00 Quest - details how Michael and Suzan Bear Carson were brought to justice. The sick drug-dealing hippie scum travelled the US and Europe preaching a noxious brand of Bible-bashing religion and, taking the sixth commandment not even remotely literally, killing anyone who stood in their way. Ah well, that's hippies for you. The Carsons claimed to have been pacifists and vegetarian yoga practitioners who converted to a violent form of Islam and described themselves as 'vegetarian Moslem [sic] warriors.' Their sick and sordid crimes emerged from a shared mission: to exterminate individuals they believed to be 'witches.' The press dubbed them 'the San Francisco Witch Killers' and, when caught, they both got seventy five years to life in The Pen.

Sunday 11 May
The body of a man killed by a single gunshot wound is discovered on the moors and a burnt-out truck containing the remains of a deer is found a mile away in the latest episode of Vera - 8:00 ITV. Joe Ashworth is convinced that the case is part of a poaching war gone wrong, but for Vera Stanhope, the truth is never that straightforward. Delving into the victim's back story, the detective unearths a sad childhood in the country and a troubled life in the city, scraping by as a novelist. Sounds like yer actual Keith Telly Topping's entire life adapted as fiction, dear blog reader. Anyway, following the recent death of his grandfather, the victim recently returned to Northumberland after a fifteen-year absence to sell his inheritance to a wealthy couple - but then he pulled out of the deal at the last minute. Could his death be linked to a dispute over land? Detective drama series based on the characters created by Ann Cleeves. Brenda Blethyn and David Leon star in the latest murder mystery.

Joan is charged with aiding the enemy, a crime for which she could face a lifetime in prison, and in her desperation to protect Anton, she tries to deflect Colonel Purbright's questions in the last episode of The Crimson Field - 9:00 BBC1. As news of her back and wicked treachery spreads through the hospital, Roland is accused of letting the rules slide, while Kitty is racked with guilt that she did nothing to stop Joan from doing what she did. Peter is reunited with his brother Jimmy, only to discover his sibling is frightened of war, and Rosalie feels conflicted after finding out about Kitty's divorce.

In the latest episode of The Sky At Night - 10:30 BBC4 - Chris Lintott and Maggie Aderin-Pocock consider the role of gravity in shaping the universe, asking why the night's sky is filled with spheres, and what Saturn's new moon suggests about the formation of the planets billions of years ago. Plus, how the shape of a galaxy can offer a window into its past, and a guide to capturing decent images of the world above without using a telescope.

Or, if you prefer, there's John Barrowman: Live at the Royal Albert Hall - 9:00 Sky Arts 2. The horror.

Monday 12 May
Brazil now boasts more billionaires than Great Britain and Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Palace Hotel - nice gaff - is a magnet for Brazil's new wealthy elite, having played host over the past ninety years to everyone from Orson Welles to Justin Bieber. Although, not at the same time. Obviously. And certainly not in the same room. Oh no, very hot water. Anyway, the This World documentary Copacaban Palace - 9:00 BBC2 - follows the lives of the staff and guests over the course of three months, revealing how the hotel's story in many ways reflects the fortunes of the entire nation - which is increasingly a country of quite extraordinary - and sometimes disturbing - extremes. David Morrissey narrates.

And, speaking of Brazil, in The Road To Rio - 7:00 Dave - Mark Watson and Henning Wehn continue their road trip across South America in preparation for this summer's World Cup. In this episode, the two comedians - well, no, the one comedian ... and Mark Watson - visit Argentina. There, they meet former Argentine captain Antonio Rattin - infamously sent-off at Wembley in the 1966 Quarter Final against England - and try to beat one-time goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea on penalties.

Tom Mathias is convinced there is a link between Herbert Rees of the Guild and the events on the mountain in the latest episode of the apocalyptic Hinterland - 9:00 BBC4. However, he remains unsure as to what drove Enid Rees to try to drown herself in the sea and what answers lie behind the veil of secrecy. Dark and noirish Welsh detective drama which has, so far, had a very impressive start to its four episode run. With Richard Harrington, Mali Harries, Alex Harries, Hannah Daniel, Aneirin Hughes and Steffan Rhodri.
Stannis and Davos set sail from Dragonstone with a new strategy, while Daenerys meets with supplicants in Games Of Thrones - 9:00 Sky Atlantic. In King's Landing, Tyrion has a showdown with his father Tywin in the throne room. Fantasy drama, starring Stephen Dillane, Peter Dinklage and Charles Dance.
The weight of the investigation becomes too much for Devlin, and the hunt for Farrow reaches a dramatic climax when Reinhardt closes in on her quarry in Prey - 9:00 ITV. Just as time starts to run out, the fugitive finally finds some answers - but are they enough to clear his name? Cat-and-mouse thriller, starring John Simm, with Rosie Cavaliero, Craig Parkinson, Anastasia Hille and Adrian Edmondson. Last in the series.

Tuesday 13 May
From the confines of his cell, Will Graham devises a plan to prove his innocence by using Hannibal's mind tricks, while Lecter plays the part of FBI consultant on the mystery of the resin-coated bodies - and secretly pursues the killer independently in the latest episode of Hannibal - 10:00 Sky Living. Which, when you think about it is a really odd channel to feature a show which deals in death as much as this one. Back at the FBI behavioural unit, meanwhile, Jack Crawford struggles with his guilt about his part in Will's incarceration and sceptically enrols in therapy, but could a fresh perspective help loosen the hold Hannibal has over him? Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas, Hettienne Park, Scott Thompson, Aaron Abrams, Lara Jean Chorostecki, Gillian Anderson and Cynthia Nixon star.
The last of the Comedy Playhouse sitcom pilots, Monks - 10:40 BBC1 - follows the misadventures of a small brotherhood of monks and the unemployed slacker who has recently joined their order to avoid criminal prosecution, after ten years of defrauding the dole office. Gary thought that becoming a monk was preferable to being banged up at Her Majesty's pleasure, assuming it was just the same as prison but with extra praying - but he soon realises it's far from the easy option. As the new recruit causes an expensive accident, highly-strung Brother Francis takes measures to control his anger. This one has, reportedly, been in 'Development Hell' for several years with at least one previous pilot episode made but never transmitted. The fact that one featured odious unfunny James Corden suggests we all had a jolly lucky escape. Occasionally funny but, mostly, just weird Seann Walsh stars in the latest version, with James Fleet, Mark Heap from Spaced, Justin Edwards and Fergus Craig as his brothers and Angus Deayton as the Cardinal. This blooger is, genuinely, hoping for the best from this one although the trailer didn't really fill me with much anticipation.

The search for kidnapped woman Ann Gallagher takes an unexpected turn when Kirsten pulls a van over for speeding, only to hear muffled sounds coming from the back in Happy Valley - 9:00 BBC1. However, when she asks the driver to open the door, things turn nasty and she is forced to radio for help. Catherine can't shake the feeling that Tommy is near and returns to the deserted house. Against police protocol she breaks in - and instantly realises something sinister has happened. Sarah Lancashire stars in the crime drama written by Sally Wainwright.

Joan Watson tries to deal with the repercussions of Sherlock and Mycroft's team effort to solve a case in Elementary - 9:00 Sky Living. Brotherly spats are nothing new in the Holmes household, of course, but rarely do they involve life-or-death consequences. Drama, starring Jonny Lee Miller, Rhys Ifans, and Lucy Liu, who also directs this episode.

Everything you could possibly need to know about The Charlotte Crosby Experience - 9:00 TLC - is contained in the opening ten seconds of the trailer for this vacuous exercise in celebrity-by-non-entity, dear blog reader. Crosby, from Houghton-Le-Spring, is a Geordie Shore-type person who also won Celebrity Big Brother and is, as far as this blogger can work out, famous for ... well, nothing really. Now, she has her own reality series where 'she will spend time in different extreme cultures and to live with some of the world's unique communities.' And, being crassly ignorant about all of them, one supposes. In the trailer, upon being told that she is going to being travelling to Japan for one episode, Crosby excitedly shouts 'what will I see there? The Great Wall of China?' No, you dim wazzcock, you see The Great Wall of China if you go to China. Hence the name. In this episode, Charlotte travels to the Arctic circle where she swaps takeaways for raw walrus meat and instead of fighting off amorous guys she is dodging Polar bears. Insert your own punchline here.
Wednesday 14 May
A reminder of a personal tragedy puts Chloe off her game, while Kate defies orders to continue her hunt for Jack - roping in a reluctant Erik to help in episode three of 24: Live Another Day - 9:00 Sky1. President Heller, meanwhile, tries to heal international relations in his address to the British parliament and Margot proves she is willing to make any sacrifice if it furthers her mission.
In the opening of the third series of Episodes - 10:00 BBC2 - Matt continues to fight for custody of his children as he tries to persuade his ex-wife to forgive him for sleeping with his stalker. Meanwhile, Sean and Beverly are back together, but soon discover it's not so easy to heal old wounds, especially when additional secrets are revealed about their time apart. Over at the network, Carol's ambitions are dealt a cruel blow. The return of the usually well decent comedy about a British husband-and-wife comedy writing team who go to Hollywood and have all their clever ideas ruined, starring Matt LeBlanc, Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig.
The natural history programme Coast - 9:10 BBC2 - heads Down Under for its biggest expedition yet, with historian and archaeologist Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) back in place leading a local team of presenters to explore Australia's spectacular coastline, its people, their history and the many natural wonders. The first episode focuses on the Kimberley region of Western Australia, with Tim Flannery walking in primeval tracks along the so-called 'Dinosaur Coast'. Scottish Neil (and his lovely hair) finds out about the delicate science of pearl cultivation and Xanthe Mallett visits a unique maritime war grave. Brendan Moar learns the art of indigenous raft-making and Emma Johnston investigates the lush, protected habitat of migratory shorebirds.
After seven weeks of tough competition, the four remaining hopefuls in MasterChef enter the last week - 9:00 BBC1 - three consecutive nights of culinary challenges after which one of them will be crowned MasterChef Champion. To begin, the finalists are sent to the Holborn Dining Room, where they are tasked to prepare one course each of a three-course meal, designed by Tom Kerridge, and judged by five chefs with nine Michelin stars between them - Ashley Palmer-Watts, Michael Caines, Nathan Outlaw, Simon Rogan and Tom Kitchin. This is the amateurs' chance to show the best of the best that they have what it takes to one day join their ranks. And the professionals are given a nice meal for free on the licence fee payers. So, everybody wins. Except the person that gets sent home. Back in the studio, the amateur chefs face an invention test based around the humble chicken, and with one cook leaving at the end of the episode, all four will be desperate to impress. And that's the point when somebody usually does something silly. Which is always great telly.

Thursday 15 May
Doctor Lucy Worsley investigates how George II's family fought the French, the Jacobites and one another at the same time in the third episode of The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain - 9:00 BBC4. She examines his troubles with his son Frederick, Prince of Wales, and the way he led from the front on the battlefield, becoming the last British monarch to do so, and helped turn the country into a global superpower. Last in the series.
Matt Allwright, Chris Hollins and new team member Gaby Roslin lift the lid on Britain's food in The Food Inspectors - 8:00 BBC1. But, do you really want the lid lifted on what you've just bought from the local chipoil on yer way in from the rubba tonight, dear blog reader? Yer actual Keith Telly Topping certainly doesn't. Allwright - an unbearably smug and full-of-his-own-importance tosser at the best of times - investigates how clean supermarkets really are by sending an undercover team into ten London stores to test for levels of bacteria. Gaby and Chris find out what's in ice-cream, as they uncover the difference between soft scoop and dairy, learn how to make both and then offer them to schoolchildren for a taste-test. Plus, cameras go on the frontline with food inspectors, who find everything from undercooked burgers in a gastro pub to rat droppings and a leaking toilet in a fried-chicken takeaway.

Alicia tries to make sense of Will's death in the aftermath of the courthouse shooting in The Good Wife - 9:00 More4. Meanwhile, Diane delivers the news to the shocked partners at Lockhart & Gardner, and they try to decide how to move forward with their plans for the firm's future. Legal drama, starring Julianna Margulies.
Friday 16 May
Professor Amanda Vickery - a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping - explores the hidden journey of female creativity in Western art in The Story Of Women And Art - 9:00 BBC4. From the cloistered world of Renaissance Italy and Catholic Spain, through an era of revolution and enlightenment in Britain and France, to the harsh desert landscape of New Mexico of the early Twentieth Century, Amanda (whose 2010 BBC4 series At Home With The Georgians was such a joy) will uncover the incredible stories of talented and tenacious women who throughout history have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to fulfil their artistic ambitions. She does so with a view to challenging the idea that the constraints put on female self expression have kept them in the back seat. While only a small percentage of work in the world’s most illustrious galleries and museums is by women, the female imagination has never ceased to break through and to challenge and re-define our idea of what art can be. Amanda will look at how particular women tackled the world of male dominated art head on and, in so doing, drove it in new directions. Along the way, she will explore why the achievements of so many female practitioners has remained unrecognised and unsung. Spanning five hundred years, the series will reveal a dazzling array of artistry - much of which has been too easily forgotten. But through the stories of some of the key artists of the period, Amanda will show the myriad ways creative women have made a vital and significant contribution to our art history. In this first episode, Amanda takes us on a journey from Renaissance Italy, to the glittering Spanish Court, ending in the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic, and discovers a hidden world of female creativity.

The popular news quiz Have I Got News For You continues at the slightly later time of 9:30 on BBC1. With regular team captains Paul Merton and Ian Hislop, guest host Jo Brand (who is usually good for a laugh) and guest panellists the comedian Kevin Bridges and the, frankly weird, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg. Who, nevertheless, on his last appearance managed to be far funnier than Josie Long.

It's the MasterChef final - 8:30 BBc1. After a formidable eight-week competition, tonight the annual search for the country's best amateur cook reaches its climax. The finalists have to push themselves to the limit for one last time before judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace will crown one of the three highly talented amateur cooks the champion. This is their chance to pull out all the stops, show everything they have learned, and in three hours demonstrate what sort of cook each has become. They must produce three exceptional courses and are on a mission to push culinary boundaries and give the judges an awe-inspiring tasting like never before. One of these three exceptional cooks will lift the trophy as John and Gregg crown them. I mean, not literally, there's no actual crown. Just a trophy. And then, a series of invited-backs in future years to rip the next series of contestants efforts to shreds.

It's the series finale of The Blacklist - 9:00 Sky Living - the second of a two-part story. Will we find out exactly what Red's relationship with Liz is all about? Will Tom ever show up again and explain his naughty and duplicitous ways before being shot in the gut and left to die like the dirty dog he is? Will Liz and Ressler finally get it on, big-style(e), and that? Will Harry Lennix - a great actor - be given anything more to do this week than growl menacingly at James Spader a couple of times per episode and then slink off like a proud but wounded wolf? The answer to all of these questions (except, possibly, the last one) is likely to be 'no' since this - genuinely gripping - espionage action thriller has already be recommissioned for a second series. So, you know, they have to hold something back. With the crashing of the mysterious prisoner transport plane, the city is on lock down as the authorities are on the hunt for the escapees. Meanwhile, with Red in CIA custody, Liz is prepared to use her power to get him out since he is the FBI's best chance at finding all the suspects. But Alan Alda beats her to it. Don't you just hate it when that happens.
Carol Jordan is promoted to Detective Chief Inspector but has no time to celebrate as another baffling murder case demands her attention in a repeat of one of the most memorable episodes of Wire In The Blood, Right To Silence - 10:00 ITV3. The killing bears all the hallmarks of the notoriously rotten Bradfield gangster Bad Gavin Cochran - but he's already languishing in stir for his many and terrible crimes. Working on the theory that Cochran could be passing orders to his underlings on the outside, Carol attempts to arrest the villain's brother - a confrontation which ends in tragedy and leaves her career prospects - and, those of Tony Hill - hanging by a thread. Thriller, starring Wor Geet Canny Robson Green, Hermione Norris, Emma Handy and Tom Chadbon.
To the news, and yer man Jezza Paxman is quitting BBC2's Newsnight after twenty five years at the helm. The BBC said that Paxo had made his decision last summer but 'generously agreed' to stay until June to help the show through 'a difficult period.' That came after Newsnight chose not to run an item linking to dirty old scallywag and rotten rotter Jimmy Savile with child abuse. Paxo said that it was 'time to move on' and he 'should rather like to go to bed at much the same time as most people.' Director General Tony Hall said Paxman was 'a rare and dazzling talent. He has a unique ability to create moments of real discomfort for politicians and memorable delight for audiences,' Lord Hall said. 'For that cussed brilliance and much more besides, the BBC and our audiences will always be in his debt.' Paxman will, however, continue to present University Challenge, which he has fronted since 1994. The BBC's head of news, James Harding, said Paxman had become 'the great lion of BBC journalism' who 'never failed to ask the difficult questions.' Associate editor of the Daily Mirra Kevin Maguire tweeted: 'Jeremy Paxman quitting Newsnight is like the ravens flying the Tower of London or the Barbary apes leaving Gibraltar.' And the Daily Torygraph's Dan Hodges wrote that the 'great lion sleeps tonight', adding that 'the place people now go at 10.30pm to get their current affairs fix isn't the TV, but Twitter.' Well, that's the place that some middle-class broadsheet readers who live in some of the leafier suburbs of North London go for their news. Most normal - and I use that word quite wrongly - people who use Twitter go there for gossip about The Only Way Is Essex, if we're honest about this. Jezza, who previously worked on programmes including Panorama and BBC's Breakfast Time, is best known for his confrontational interview style. Among his most famous grillings was that of Michael Howard in 1997, when he asked the Conservative politician the same question twelve times. The former Home Secretary Howard had held a meeting with Derek Lewis, the head of Her Majesty's Prison Service about the possible dismissal of the head of Parkhurst Prison. Howard was asked repeatedly by Paxman about the meeting: 'Did you threaten to overrule him?' - to which the MP repeatedly said that he 'did not overrule him', but ignored the 'threaten' aspect of the question. In a statement on Wednesday, Paxman said: 'I have decided it is time to move on from Newsnight. After twenty five years, I should rather like to go to bed at much the same time as most people. This was a decision I reached - and informed the BBC of - last July. I shall work out the remainder of my contract and will not seek another. It's been fun. I have had the pleasure of working with lots of clever, creative and amusing people. I think I've been lucky and wish the programme well.' The BBC said in a statement that despite deciding to leave last year, 'with the appointment of a new editor and following a difficult period for Newsnight, Jeremy generously agreed to stay to help the new team bed down.' Paxman started work for the BBC on Radio Brighton. He then moved to Northern Ireland where he covered The Troubles for three years. He has also worked for BBC1's Tonight programme and the Six O'Clock News.

Meanwhile, according to the Gruniad Morning Star Paxo was recently reprimanded by the BBC's director of news over negative comments he made about the corporation before the announcement of his departure from Newsnight. Last month, Paxman said in an interview that the corporation was 'smug' - which, for all of his many positive points, coming from Jeremy Paxman is a bit rich, frankly - and complained about how Radio 1Xtra being played in the lifts at the BBC was 'hell.' According to alleged - and anonymous - 'sources', quoted by the Gruniad the incident prompted James Harding to send a note reprimanding Paxman for his public criticism of the corporation. Alleged - and equally anonymous - 'insiders' claim that Harding said Paxman's comments were 'disloyal' and that Paxman replied, refuting the accusation and pointing out his long service at the corporation. Harding has not been the only executive to rebuke Paxman in recent weeks. Last month an e-mail was sent to the outgoing Newsnight wolfhound by Ben Cooper, the controller of Radio 1Xtra, in which he told Paxman to 'take the stairs' if he did not like the station's music being played in the BBC lifts. BBC executives have been keen to hit back at a number of recent attacks by some of its biggest - and best paid - talent after Danny Cohen, the director of television, said in December that the 'daily chorus of BBC-bashing' was starting to get really dreary and was damaging the corporation and 'driving staff mad.' A BBC spokesman said the corporation never commented on internal issues. Paxo told Richard Bacon in a 5LIve interview in October that he would stay with Newsnight 'as long as someone asks me.' The BBC has said it is open to working with Paxman on other programmes in the future, and for him to continue to host the long-running quiz University Challenge. Given his formidable reputation, it is no surprise that some rival broadcasters, including Channel Four, have 'privately expressed interest' in working with yer man Jezza. There has also been speculation that he may follow in the footsteps of other broadcasting grandees such as Sir David Attenborough, Lord Bragg and Sir Michael Parkinson and make programmes for Sky, although - more anonymous - Sky 'sources' said that nothing was planned. Paxman, who is about to turn sixty four, was long thought to be the best-paid presenter in news, earning a reported eight hundred grand a year for his work on Newsnight and University Challenge. Newsnight's ratings have dropped to six hundred thousand viewers a night from eight hundred thousand in 2010. Paxman, though, has long been the programme's most popular presenter. It is not known who will replace him as the programme's anchor on his departure in June, but among the names that have been touted to join Newsnight are the presenter of Radio 4's PM.

Miranda Richardson and Anna Chancellor are to star in an upcoming BBC1 comedy drama. They will lead the cast of Steve Pemberton's adaptation of EF Benson's Mapp and Lucia. Mark Gatiss will also reunite with Pemberton on the project, playing Raj Army veteran Major Benjy, while Pemberton himself will play Lucia's chief courtier Georgie Pillson. Chancellor said: 'I am thrilled to be playing the glorious Lucia. I hope I can do justice to EF Benson's wonderful creations.' Richardson added: 'I am so looking forward to a summer of hard work and I hope, great fun, working with the ensemble on Steve's masterly adaptation of EF Benson's delicious confection. I cannot wait to get my teeth into Mapp and of course, Lucia!' Gatiss said of his role: 'EF Benson's tales of life in Tilling are some of the most sly, funny and waspishly brilliant stories in the language. It's an absolute treat to be joining my old friend Steve and such a glorious cast to bring them to life. Quai hai!' Finally, Pemberton said of the project: 'It's a dream come true to be playing the delightful Georgie Pillson in Rye this summer, and I'm doubly excited to be joined by Miranda Richardson and Anna Chancellor. Both have proved themselves to be equally brilliant comic and dramatic actresses, and the thought of them going into battle as Mapp and Lucia is mouthwatering. The Channel Four adaptation from the 1980s is what brought me to the books and I very much hope this new version will have a similar effect, turning a whole new readership on to EF Benson's bitingly funny novels.' Felicity Montagu will play Godiva Plaistow, Gemma Whelan will play Quaint Irene Coles the Disgrace of Tilling and Paul Ritter will star as Reverend Kenneth Bartlett. Katy Brand will appear as Hermione Pillson, while the cast is completed by Poppy Miller, Nick Woodeson, Pippa Haywood and Frances Barber. The BBC series will run for three hour-long episodes. Mapp and Lucia is set in the summer of 1930, when Emmeline Lucas decides to take a holiday in the small English town of Tilling.

ITV has commissioned a new four-part drama from Foyle's War producers Eleventh Hour Films. Safe House will be an atmospheric thriller set in the Lake District and is the first to come from Jill Green's independent production company since it expanded its senior creative team. The drama follows a married couple who turn their remote guest house into a safe house. It is inspired by a true story and it is planned to form part of an ongoing event drama. The series was created and written by Michael Crompton who also wrote the screenplays for Kidnap & Ransom and Carrie's War. Jill Green said of the drama: 'Safe House is a quality drama with intelligently crafted characters delivering a complex and engaging story that will keep the viewer gripped. We have a slate of exciting projects, all equally ambitious and which set the bar for the kind of content we will continue to create.' Eleventh Hour Films is currently producing a ninth series of ITV's Foyle's War.

The BBC sitcom Hebburn - a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping - may be about to be remade for American TV, with the help of Adam Sandler. The Hollywood actor’s production company Happy Maddison Productions has brought the rights to the series, which it is now developing for the ABC network. Scriptwriter Tom Hertz – the creator of Spin City and Rules Of Engagement – has been brought in to write the episodes, based on stand-up comedian Jason Cook’s originals. A pilot script has been developed, and news of whether it will be filmed is expected soon. The news of this potential retooling of a popular North East show saw yer actual Keith Telly Topping do his second Top Telly-related interview down the line for BBC Newcastle of the day on Thursday. This blogger should charge, really, shouldn't he?! This one was with the very lovely Jon Harle on Jon & Anne's Drive-Time show. The discussion - about four minutes in total - took in British comedy shows which have worked when retooled for the US (so, that was The Office and Till Death Us Do Part, essentially), how true the ideas behind Episodes are (very if you believe The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat on his experiences with Coupling, which this blogger certainly does) and Robson Green's wonderful story about being rung up by Bruce Willis who wanted to do a remake of Touching Evil for the US and only being able to stammer 'I thought you were great in Die Hard, Bruce!' The interview will be available on iPlayer for the next seven days (Keith Telly Topping turns up one hour and seventeen minutes into the show). This comes a month after the BBC decided not to renew Hebburn for a third series. Cook told the Chortle website: 'It's very exciting. Tom Hertz is heading up the writing so I'm not worried, he's been doing big shows for years, much longer than me. The draft I've read is great, although it took me a few goes to read it in an American accent rather than a Geordie one. If it gets the green light I'll be popping over to LA, but I've not bought my sunscreen yet.' The sitcom was based on Cook’' own experiences growing up in the South Tyneside town of the title. There is no news yet on any casting for the US version. The original starred Chris Ramsey as the lead Jack Pearson, Kimberley Nixon, as his wife and Vic Reeves and Gina McKee as his parents. The cast also include two marras of yer actual, Steff Peddie and Alfie Joey, along with Ideal creator Brian Duff.

And, speaking of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's some-time writing partner Alfie Joey, and radio appearances in general, Thursday morning saw Keith Telly Topping his very self appearing down the lines on Alfie & Charlie's Breakfast Show on BBC Newcastle talking about advertising. Because they asked me, basically. Again, if you want to check it out, dear blog reader, you need to go here; Keith Telly Topping turns up around the two hours and forty two minutes mark in the show. It can be heard on iPlayer until Thursday 8 May. It is, one should note, probably the first time that the BBC's classic 1990 series on the history of advertising Washes Whiter has been mentioned on radio in years. And as for the Shake n Vac advert. Don't sing the song, dear blog reader, please.

Yer actual Stephen Fry his very self has been named as president of the Hay Literary Festival, it has been announced. Organisers have said the writer, comedian and presenter has 'lit up' Hay over the last twenty years. After hearing the news, Stephen said that he first thought director Peter Florence must have been joking. The Qi chair succeeds Eric Hobsbawm and Tom Bingham in the role for a three-year tenure. 'When Peter Florence asked me to become president of the Hay Festival my first thought was that he must be joking or on psychotropic medication. This is the honour of honours,' said yer man Fry. 'Hay-on-Wye is way on high. The Hay-on-Wye fortnight holds a very special place in the book-lover's calendar. Ask any author or reader. This is the one we wrestle our diary into submission for until it surrenders and allows us to attend.' He added:'"To say that I am proud to be president is criminally to understate.' Florence paid tribute to Fry, saying he is 'our man.' Florence added:'"He embodies the pleasures of conversation, he has an insatiable curiosity about the world, and he is committed to the cardinal virtues of fairness and kindness.'

The BBC's strategy director has apologised over whinges about inaudible dialogue in the BBC1 drama Jamaica Inn but said that sound on productions has become 'more complicated' with so many TV set-makers in the market. The 'mumbling on the moors' issue in the BBC's adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel led to almost two thousand two hundred complaints from people with, seemingly, nothing better to do with their time. James Purnell said it was 'a very interesting issue' as the sound on television productions has been made 'more complicated' with the 'proliferation of different types of television' that 'affects a whole range of the population.' He said that the corporation felt it had 'made real progress' on it over the past few years with Danny Cohen, director of television, having delivered a report about the subject to the BBC Trust and by changing production guidelines and 'changing the way sound is done in post production.' Speaking at the Voice of the Listener & Viewer annual conference in London, Purnell said that was why 'I think everybody found this particularly upsetting for the BBC to have got it wrong so we want to apologise for that and we want to make sure we learn the lessons from it.' Ben Stephenson, the BBC's controller, drama commissioning, apologised last week admitting: 'If no one can understand what they're saying, then there's a problem.' The corporation blamed 'a range of factors' for the inaudible dialogue. BBC chiefs apologised for what they described as 'sound issues' which affected the first episode. But despite attempts to rectify the fault many viewers still had claimed they had problems understanding some of the characters' broad West Country accents and the complaints continued to mount as the week went on, fed by a stream and shit-stirring, trouble-making press articles. Mostly in the Gruniad Morning Star. Meanwhile, Purnell said that Tony Hall met the new lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Javid this week for 'introductory meetings.' Speaking about the run up the review of the BBC's charter – which ends in 2016 – Purnell said that in light of the forthcoming general election next year, the timetable is for the government to set out but 'they want to take it out of the political cycle' and the BBC 'shares that goal.'
Patrick Stewart is to star in a new sitcom co-written by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. In Blunt Talk, the Star Trek: The Next Generation and X-Men actor will play British journalist Walter Blunt 'on a mission to conquer American cable news' by 'inflicting his unwanted wisdom on his "dysfunctional" staff.' So, clearly, not based on the odious Piers Morgan or anyone even remotely like him. The character also has 'numerous ex-wives and children, and an alcoholic manservant.' MacFarlane devised the show with Bored To Death creator Jonathan Ames. American premium cable network Starz has ordered twenty episodes over two series to air from next year. Stewart said: 'My career took an abrupt and radical left turn when Seth McFarlane created CIA Deputy Director Avery Bullock on American Dad. This new character, Walter Blunt, is not at all like Avery, thank God, because this is live action and I am a Knight of the Realm. Blunt is, however, much smarter than Avery and has his own TV show, which has to be better than being Deputy Director of the CIA.' Starz chief executive Chris Albrecht added: 'In the character of Walter Blunt, Seth, Jonathan and Patrick have found the alchemy that makes a borderline alcoholic, mad-genius-Brit the man you want fighting in America's corner. Seth and Jonathan have struck the right balance between biting wit and outright absurdity in building this world, and we cannot wait for Patrick to breathe life into Walter.' The series will be produced by Media Rights Capital, which made MacFarlane's Ted and Netflix's House Of Cards.

Channel Five has been purchased by Viacom for four hundred and fifty million smackers. Previous owner the soft-core pornographer Richard Desmond previously bought the channel for just over one hundred million quid in 2010 and had been seeking around six hundred and fifty million notes. Discovery and BSkyB had previously dropped out of the auction, with Discovery reportedly bidding three hundred and forty six million knickers. Viacom - led by Philippe Dauman - becomes the first US company to own a British free-to-air television channel. The company also owns cable networks MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, as well as the Paramount Pictures film studio. The new deal will expand Viacom's UK presence, while experts have tipped the company to use some of its Nickelodeon and reality TV content on the channel. Channel Five has increased its ratings since the 2010 takeover, with shows such as the Big Brother format and imported US crime dramas NCIS and CSI among its most popular shows. Viacom's price is said to be nine times more than Channel Five's pre-tax earnings last year. 'The transaction brings Viacom one of British television's biggest brands, and the only commercial public service broadcaster to consistently grow viewership share in recent years,' Viacom said in a statement. 'Channel Five's diverse programming slate is viewed by more than eighty per cent of the UK population each month, benefits from the programming grid prominence associated with its public service broadcaster status, and will complement Viacom's popular pay TV networks, which connect with focused and valuable audiences.' Dauman added: 'The acquisition of Channel Five accelerates Viacom's strategy in the UK, one of the world's most important and valuable media markets. Channel Five's momentum is indisputable, with impactful programming, increasing popularity and a growing digital platform.' So, a load of media-speak bollocks in other words. Seriously, who actually uses a word like 'impactful' in real life? 'Channel Five's management and employees have done an outstanding job building their brand and we are pleased to welcome them to our team,' he added. 'Viacom's global resources, technology and expertise will help Channel Five develop even more compelling programming and provide content to consumers in exciting new ways. In addition, we will introduce our popular content to new UK audiences and create a comprehensive offering for our commercial partners on-air and online.' Has he finished talking yet? he has? Oh good. Next ...

Was this blogger the only one to be rather stunned by the irony of the BBC Trust's review of the corporation's news and current affairs output released on Tuesday? The report suggested that Panorama 'can do more to increase the impact' of the flagship current affairs series on the very day that Tory MP Patrick Mercer resigned his Commons seat following Panorama's cash for questions exposé last year. It was also the day before a worker was sacked and several more suspended from one of England's largest care homes following yet another Panorama undercover investigation. Such was the 'impact' that both stories were followed widely in the press. There is some head-scratching at both the BBC and Channel Four about the review, which said: 'The majority of the audience (sixty four per cent) state that the BBC is best for current affairs on TV.' Yet the Trust for some bizarre reasons chose to highlight in its 'headline conclusions' that 'those audiences who consider the quality of investigative journalism as an important factor in differentiating providers rate Channel Four higher than the BBC.' Those audiences who consider the quality of investigative journalism as an important factor in differentiating providers being another phrase to describe middle-class hippy Communist Gruniad Morning Star readers, one suspects. Panorama's investigations have included the tricky task of looking at the BBC itself in a programme about the corporation's failings over the dirty old scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile, plus the look into Comic Relief and human rights abuse in Azerbaijan on the eve of the country hosting The Eurovision Song Contest. Not to mention investigating corruption claims within FIFA, just as international football's governing body was deciding if England would play host to the 2018 World Cup. All of this, against a background of cuts in staff and budgets. Channel Four must also rate Panorama highly. It has tried to raid the show for staff, including two years ago when it poached the programme's deputy editor Daniel Pearl to run Dispatches. Curiously, there was no mention of any of that in the Trust's review. With friends like them, who needs enemies?

On-screen subtitling lags too far behind speech on live TV programmes, the UK media watchdog Ofcom - a politically created quango, elected by no one - has said. The average delay between speech being heard and the corresponding subtitles appearing on screen is 5.6 seconds, according to an Ofcom report. That is almost double the recommended maximum of three seconds. But accuracy and the number of words per minute were good, according to the first of four planned Ofcom reports into the quality of subtitling. The regulator examined news bulletins, chat shows and entertainment programmes after receiving complaints from viewers. Viewers said 'poor latency' - or delays as normal people who don't speak media-bollocks call them - was 'one of the most frustrating aspects of live subtitling, often resulting in a disjointed viewing experience', according to the regulator. 'Ofcom will ask broadcasters to consider how latency can be reduced and whether, for example, they can take advantage of any small delays in the transmission of live programmes to improve latency,' it added. However it noted that broadcasters were 'strongly opposed' to broadcasting live programmes with a short delay, 'citing the risk to viewer trust, the need for complex technical solutions, and competition from other media, amongst other reasons.' Ofcom also 'raised concerns' that some pre-recorded programmes did not have subtitles added in advance, resulting in the same delays. 'Ofcom remains concerned that a significant number of pre-recorded programmes are provided to broadcasters too close to transmission to allow subtitles to be prepared in advance,' a statement said. 'This results in lower quality subtitles for viewers.' The regulator added that it was 'concerned that subtitling may not be treated in all cases as an integral part of the production process.' The three further reports will be published over the course of the next two years.

The US political drama Scandal will now be shown on Sky Living after it was dropped by More4 in the UK. The first two series of the show had been broadcast on the digital channel, owned by Channel Four, but earlier this week they announced they were cancelling it.

Angry Britain will be explored in a new Channel Five series. The six-part programme will focus on a different theme in each episode, with everything from road rage to nightmare neighbours being covered. Other episodes will feature anger on the streets, holiday nightmares and some of the 'most extreme and furious folk' in the country. The series will also include 'user-generated footage' (so, that's stuff filmed on camera-phones, basically) of 'angry members of the public', along with interviews with perpetrators and victims and 'expert analysis.' Who the hell is an 'expert' is anger? I'll tell you what makes yer actual Keith Telly Topping angry, dear blog reader - shit, smug, full-of-itself lowest common denominator tabloid telly such as this nonsense. That makes this blogger really vexed. Channel Five's commissioning editor for factual, news and current affairs described Angry Britain as 'the best of rubbernecking television.' Sounds extremely missable. 'We have all witnessed people losing it in public and this series will show those moments and unpack why Brits who traditionally kept a stiff upper lip are increasingly flying off the handle,' she added. Still, one imagines her mother is very proud of her.
The celebrity publicist and extremely convicted paedophile Max Clifford has been sentenced to eight years in jail for indecently assaulting four teenage girls. The wicked scoundrel Clifford is the first public figure to be very jailed under Scotland Yard's Operation Yewtree inquiry into sexual offences and other nefarious skulduggery stretching back over five decades. The sentence, of which the seventy one-year-old disgrace is expected to serve at least half, seals the - very public - downfall of a man who had been instrumental in some of the most high profile tabloid scoops of the last few decades. The convicted paedophile stood in shame and ignominy in the glass-fronted dock as his sentence was passed down by the judge, Anthony Leonard. When he finished speaking, the convicted paedophile Clifford removed his hearing loop and turned and smiled at his supporters in the public gallery, some of whom were in tears, before he was led to the court cells and into custody. By the time you read this, dear blog reader, he will have had his first taste of 'slopping out'. Which one hopes, he very much enjoyed. On Monday, following a six-week trial, Clifford was found very guilty of eight charges of indecent assault against women and girls as young as fifteen between 1977 and 1985. He was found not guilty of two other charges of indecent assault. The jury, which deliberated on its verdicts for thirty two hours, could not decide on one further count, which the crown announced on Friday would remain on the court file. The judge told Clifford that his offending was 'not trivial but of a very serious nature' and some would have been classified as rape under current laws. He said that the offences would carry a maximum term of ten years in pokey if they had taken place under modern legislation and that he must take that fact into account in sentencing. The judge accused the convicted paedophile Clifford of 'showing contempt' for the victims with his 'quite extraordinary' behaviour throughout the trial and that this was a further aggravating factor in him being given some severe bird. The severity of the sentence was a surprise to many in court, with Clifford's tearful supporters standing 'frozen in shock' - according to the Gruniad Morning Star. A number of victims and witnesses hugged each other and wept. The director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, said afterwards: 'The prosecution was built with evidence demonstrating a pattern of behaviour where unconnected victims told of strikingly similar experiences over a number of years. I would like to thank all the victims for coming forward and giving evidence in difficult circumstances. Research is clear that sexual offences are severely under-reported and I want to provide reassurance to any victim that the CPS will continue to make decisions based on the evidence and in accordance with the code for crown prosecutors.' The convicted paedophile Clifford will automatically go on the sex offender register for the rest of his life, which will mean that when he is released from porridge he will only be able to live at 'an approved address' and will have to notify authorities of his movements, including travel abroad. Other restrictions could include compulsory sex offender treatment, a ban on contacting his victims or anyone under eighteen, a night-time curfew, notifying the authorities of any new relationship and a ban on using the Interweb. Detective Chief Inspector Michael Orchard, the senior investigating officer in the case, said outside Southwark crown court: 'Following today's sentencing I would like to again thank all of the victims for their bravery in coming forward. Without their support we would not have secured these successful convictions and I commend them for their courage, strength and confidence in us that they would be listened to. I would also like to thank the NSPCC for their continued support to victims which has proved invaluable. My officers carried out a painstaking investigation to identify all historic and current evidential opportunities, to ensure this case was brought to trial. I hope this gives other victims the courage to come forward, knowing we will make every effort to investigate their allegations regardless of the passage of time.' The convicted paedophile Clifford's imprisonment leaves an uncertain future for his PR agency, Max Clifford Associates, which he founded in 1970 to represent a string of A-list clients in Fleet Street. The X Factor's Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, with whom Clifford shared a long professional and personal relationship, was the first of Clifford's former friends to desert the convicted paedophile within hours of the guilty verdicts being handed down, followed quickly by a string of other high-profile clients, including the Dragons' Den judge Theo Paphitis and Channel Four's Bank Of Dave lead, Dave Fishwick. All of whom couldn't move fast enough to distance themselves from the convicted paedophile Clifford and his filthy disgusting ways. On Friday morning, Clifford had sat silently in the dock listening through a hearing loop as the packed courtroom was told how the trial had been 'extremely terrifying' for his victims. In a victim impact statement read out by the prosecutor, Rosina Cottage QC, one woman said that her abuse at the hands of Clifford had ruined her relationship with her parents, who she felt she had deceived, and her husband. She said that seeing Clifford protest his innocence on television and strutting around like he owned the place brought back feelings of intimidation and fear. Cottage said: 'She was further upset and distressed to see Mr Clifford refusing to apologise to the victims after the guilty verdict on the court steps.' Another woman said that she did not sleep for three days after she was indecently assaulted by Clifford. The abuse had ruined her fledgling showbusiness career, Cottage read. 'She had amazing opportunities but couldn't work in the industry because she was terrified what she would be exposed to.' For a third woman, the abuse 'took away her trust in other men. It was a skeleton in her closet she felt she couldn't talk about.' Cottage said that the convicted paedophile Clifford had 'aggravated his offending' by abusing his power. Following his sentencing, police have revealed that more potential victims have come forward to make fresh allegations about the convicted paedophile Clifford. 'We have received further information and this is currently subject to review,' a spokesman said.

Part-time judge Constance Briscoe has been jailed for sixteen months for lying to police in ex-cabinet minister Chris Huhne's speeding points case. Sentencing at the Old Bailey, the judge said that Briscoe, had 'considered respect for the law was for others.' Briscoe was very convicted of three counts of intending to pervert the course of justice, after Huhne had got his then wife to take his speeding points for him. Briscoe, a barrister, had denied the charges. Jurors were told that Briscoe helped Huhne's vengeful wife, Vicky Pryce, who was a friend and also her neighbour, to reveal information about Huhne's points-swapping to newspapers after the couple split up in 2010. The scandal led to Huhne's resignation from the cabinet and subsequent prosecution and jailing. If Huhne craved revenge, he certainly got it on Thursday with the conviction of his former neighbour. It was his legal team that ultimately forced the Scum Mail on Sunday to disclose material, including e-mails, showing that Briscoe as the 'anonymous source' of its stories about the speeding points scheme. Huhne had suspected Briscoe's hand in his downfall from the start, saying that she was 'batty enough to go on this sort of vendetta' and telling police that she was 'a publicity seeker of long standing' whose word, he claimed, could not be relied upon. The Crown Prosecution Service had abandoned its attempts to get the newspaper to hand over relevant material after a series of confusing communications between them and Associated Newspapers Limited. At first, Associated appeared to suggest that Briscoe was not their source. That, together with the denial from Briscoe herself, a barrister, judge and seemingly unimpeachable witness, led police and prosecutors to believe that it was 'pointless' to pursue a production order. Investigating officer Detective Inspector Martin Pasmore would later tell the judge Mr Justice Sweeney that at the time, he and his team believed 'hand-on-heart' that Briscoe was a witness of truth. There was 'an element of trust' because she was 'a professional person, a barrister, a recorder and an author', he said. At a series of hearings before the planned joint trial of Huhne and Pryce, there was an apparent change in position by Associated, who argued that they had never said Briscoe was not their source and that there were 'a number of sources.' These were later revealed to be Briscoe, Pryce herself and the freelance reporter Andrew Alderson, who had brought the speeding points story to the Scum Mail on Sunday's news editor, David Dillon. It was left to Huhne's team to force the paper to reveal its material, with Huhne's counsel, John Kelsey-Fry, describing as 'scandalous' the CPS's failure to obtain the Scum Mail On Sunday's records earlier. The apparent confusion over the number of sources the Scum Mail on Sunday had at one point led the prosecution to question whether 'ANL has misled the prosecution and the court.' In his ruling forcing the newspaper to hand over material on Briscoe, Sweeney noted his own 'continuing concerns as to the changes in account by ANL.' Gavin Millar QC, for Associated, argued that 'any suggestion of change' was 'misconceived', and that the first account was in response to tightly focused criteria, while the second was addressed to wider issues. In a last-ditch attempt to protect Briscoe, the newspaper had tried to prevent the e-mails, notes and taped phonecalls it had handed over from being used to arrest and charge her. It claimed that the material was 'for use in the Huhne and Pryce case only' and for the CPS to pass that material to police to use against Briscoe was 'contempt of court.' The court disagreed. Sweeney said this 'simply represented the police complying with the law.' He went on: 'Whilst I was concerned as to aspects of the conduct of ANL in response to various production order applications made by the police, it seemed to me that [on what I had seen] the CPS and police had acted in good faith throughout.' Dillon and Alderson declined to be witnesses in the Briscoe trial, as did Huhne, who had already pleaded very guilty to perverting the course of justice on the first day of his own trial last year. The CPS did not ask Pryce as, given her not guilty plea and eventual conviction, she herself could not be seen as a witness of truth. Pryce was convicted after a trial in which she had denied the offence. Huhne and Pryce, now divorced, have both served their prison sentences. Jailing Briscoe, judge Mr Justice Baker told her that if she and Pryce shared anything in common it was 'arrogance by educated individuals who considered respect for the law was for others.' The first charge against Briscoe alleged that, between 16 May 2011 and 6 October 2012, she provided police with two inaccurate statements and the second that on 6 October 2012 she produced an altered copy of a statement but claimed that it was the correct version. A third charge alleged that between 5 October 2012 and 8 October last year she deliberately got a document expert to view the wrong version of her witness statement.

The UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farago was hit by an egg wielded by a protester on Thursday. The incident happened as Farago arrived in Nottingham to rally support for his East Midlands candidates for the European elections. He returned to his car, which drove off leaving supporters behind. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is really torn by this story between thinking 'what a thorough waste of a good egg, you could've made a nice omelette with that' and, on the other hand, 'couldn't you have used anything harder? Or, with more custard in it?'

The American actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr, who starred in the long-running TV show The FBI, has died at the age of ninety five. Zimbalist played Inspector Lewis Erskine in the show, which ran from 1965 until 1974. Before that he became a household name in the US playing private investigator Stu Bailey in Seventy Seven Sunset Strip, which ran from 1958 to 1964. In later life he retired to his ranch in Solvang, California, where he died on Friday. His daughter Stephanie Zimbalist and son Efrem Zimbalist III said in a statement: 'We are heartbroken to announce the passing into peace of our beloved father, Efrem Zimbalist Jr, at his Solvang ranch. He actively enjoyed his life to the last day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf and visiting with close friends.' Efrem Zimbalist Jr was born in New York in 1918, the son of Jewish parents - the Russian-born violinist Efrem Zimbalist, Sr and the Romanian-born operatic soprano Alma Gluck. In addition to his leading TV roles, Zimbalist Jr made numerous stage and film appearances. His stage debut was opposite Spencer Tracy in The Rugged Path. His show The FBI was famous for posting real photos from the federal crime investigation agency's most-wanted list at the end of each programme. The FBI itself honoured Zimbalist by making him an honorary 'G-man' in 2009. 'We could not have asked for a better character, or a better man, to play his role,' then-FBI director Robert Mueller said. Zimbalist's other regular TV roles included a part in Maverick and as the voice behind the character of Alfred Pennyworth in Batman: The Animated Series and associated spin-offs. His films included Airport 1975 and Hot Shots! He served in the infantry in World War Two, receiving a Purple Heart for a leg wound received during the battle of Hürtgen Forest.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been swimming for the first time in nearly two months since the back injury flared up with the pain and the screaming and the pain, dear blog reader. This was on doctors' orders, I hasten to add. Well, I say 'swimming', it was actually mostly 'floating on my back and then spending half an hour in the steam room.' Which was nice, to be fair.

Cardiff City have been relegated from the Premier League after a single season, with defeat at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still, tragically, unsellable) Newcastle United sending the Welsh side back to the Championship. The Magpies, who had lost their previous six games, took the lead through Shola Ameobi's first-half header. A sizeable number of Magpies fans walked out after sixty nine minutes in protest at the running of the club and the general shite state of affairs that have gone on of late. hey missed a brief rally from Cardiff before late goals from Loic Remy and substitute Steven Taylor sealed The Bluebirds' sorry fate. Newcastle's rotten recent form was partly behind the open mutiny from their fans, but the supporters who stayed until the end were able to celebrate what turned out to be a comfortable victory. Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw his side win 2-1 at St James' Park in his first game in charge of The Bluebirds - an FA Cup tie in January - but his side never seriously looked capable of staging a repeat. Solskjaer's side has picked up just twelve points in his seventeen league matches in charge and his side's deficiencies at both ends of the pitch were clear to see. Fraizer Campbell missed a good early chance to put the visitors ahead, scuffing his shot wide after Tim Krul made a hash of Fabio's cross. But Newcastle were already looking far more dangerous, with Moussa Sissoko and Mathieu Debuchy facing little resistance as they staged repeated raids down the right. Remy saw one effort blocked from a Sissoko cross, before Debuchy advanced from right-back and flashed in a shot that David Marshall pushed away. From the resulting corner, Debuchy saw Marshall claw his header onto the bar but there was no stopping Ameobi's far-post header after more good work by Sissoko. The French midfielder made his side's first goal with a precise cross and twice almost extended their lead, seeing first a shot and then a cross deflected against the woodwork. Cardiff's best hope of a reply seemed to lie with Wilfried Zaha but the on-loan striker was denied by Krul's outstretched leg after a mazy run and faded after the break. In truth, there was little fight from Zaha's team-mates either and Cardiff looked like dropping out of the top-flight with a whimper until Kenwyne Jones came off the bench with seventeen minutes to go. By then, with their relegation rivals Blunderland leading The Scum at Old Trafford, The Bluebirds needed a win to keep their survival hopes alive until the final day. Jones had an immediate impact, forcing a point-blank stop from Krul, but Cardiff's frustration continued when Fabricio Coloccini somehow cleared Aron Gunnarsson's shot off the line with his keeper beaten. Many home fans had already departed by then, after another public display of rank displeasure against club owner, Mike Ashley and manager Alan Pardew. Ashley was not present but Pardew, back in the home dug-out for the first time since 1 March after a ban, was given something to smile about before the end. Remy was left alone to slot home from six yards with three minutes left and Taylor completed the scoring from even closer after Remy's header was saved. Elsewhere, The Mackems' win at Old Trafford also sealed the fate of Poor Bloody Fulham who were busy losing 4-1 at Dirty Stoke.

Congratulations are definitely very due to Doctor Who which, it would seem, has finally (ahem) penetrated the American public consciousness enough to warrant a porn parody being made of it. This may seem a bit tawdry, but rest assured dear blog reader, if people want to see your characters shagging each other, you know you've reached a major pop culture milestone. There are few details so far about Doctor Whore, other than the logo, and that it will be directed by Lee Roy Meyers (the auteur, if you will, behind Game Of Bones, Sailor Poon and countless other porn parodies).
Next, it's pure dead great the daft stuff you find on the Interweb, dear blog reader, is it not? I mean, if you look hard enough that is.
This blogger is going to be singing that all day, now. And finally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping wishes to share his fondest regards with his good friends Clay and Kim Eichelburger who recently celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary. Mind you, look at it this way, Kim, you'd've probably got less than that for murder.
Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is a beautiful song and I was going to play Radiohead's original. But then I figured there's already enough misery and depression in the word so, instead, here's Bill Bailey and The Bollywood Pandits' 'Hindi-Indie' version instead. (Incidentally, dear blog reader, if you fancy a really good laugh, check out some of the comments below. It would appear some Radiohead fans are po-faced knobends who don't understand humour. Who'd've thought it?)

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