Saturday, August 30, 2014

Into The Dalek: Outside Looking In

'So, what do we do with the moral Dalek, then?' 'Get into its head.'
'You asked me if you were a good man. The answer is, I don't know. But I think you try to be. And I think that's, probably, the point.' Almost without exception in Doctor Who's history, each new Doctor had not had to wait very long before facing-off against his oldest and most persistent enemies. True, Mister Pertwee was two years into his tenure before he got a whiff of the pepperpots in The Day Of The Daleks - though that was more to do with certain contractual malarkey which existed at the time rather than any specific decision (or lack of it) on the part of the then production team. Similarly, Peter Davison also had two Dalek-less seasons before the unholy bloody carnage that was Resurrection Of The Daleks  - though, on that occasion, but for a BBC strike, that particular story would have been filmed a year earlier, in 1983, as part of season twenty. But, the third and fifth Doctors aside, every other new regeneration has managed to find The Daleks crowbarred into one of their first handful of adventures. Or, in Paul McGann's case, crowbarred into the opening scene of the 1996 TV movie for no obvious reason that made any sense to anyone. Some of these stories have been significantly better than others, it must be admitted - compare, for instance, the genuinely ground-breaking Genesis Of The Daleks, one of the highlights of the Sylvester McCoy's era Remembrance Of The Daleks or, indeed, the wonderfully thought-provoking 2005 Christopher Eccleston vehicle Dalek with the over-confusing, shoot 'em up mess of Resurrection or the sadly 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing' Victory Of The Daleks. Terry Nation's bug-eyed monsters have, for better or worse, been a unifying presence in Doctor Who since December 1963 and it's only right and proper that each, successive, lead actor gets his own chance to run up some stairs away from them. (Technically, not applicable since 1989, but still they try.)
'Welcome to the most dangerous place in the universe.' Into The Dalek - the second episode of the eighth series of Doctor Who - was written by Phil Ford and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, the second of a two-episode block directed by Ben Wheatley. It entered production at the end of January 2014 (it was mostly completed by the third week of February allowing Ford the opportunity to attend the annual Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles). Ford had written previously for the popular family SF drama, co-authoring with Russell Davies 2009's genuinely disturbing The Waters Of Mars. Luckily for Phil, he had a bit of guidance from co-writer Moffat in terms of what kind of chap the twelfth Doctor is: 'He's like a raging Billy Connolly.' With the exception of the announcement of the introduction of a recurring character Danny Pink, a Coal Hill School colleague of (and, potential boyfriend for) Clara played by Samual Anderson, most of the guest cast for the episode was not revealed until the early summer. Which was something of a pisser for yer actual Keith Telly Topping as, for once, this blogger had a genuine twenty four carat casting scoop dumped in his lap and for reasons of self-preservation to his knackers, he didn't dare to use it. The major guest roles in the episode were occupied by Zawe Ashton (from Fresh Meat, she also played Sally Donovan in Sherlock's unaired pilot) and two actors with whom Ben Wheatley had a long association, Michael Smiley and Ben Crompton. The former is one of the most in-demand character actors on UK television, a regular face on series as diverse as Spaced (as the memorably foul-mouthed raver Tyres O'Flaherty), Bleak House, Wire In The Blood, Luther, Good Cop, Ripper Street and The Life Of Rock With Brian Pern and in movies like Shaun of the Dead, The Other Boleyn Girl, Burke & Hare and The World's End along with Wheatley's Kill List and A Field In England. Crompton also worked with Wheatley on Kill List and on the much-lamented BBC3 sitcom Ideal, as well as appearing in Clocking Off, Housewife Forty Nine, Collision, Pramface, The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher and Game Of Thrones (as Dolorous Edd). As it happens he's also a really good mate of one of Keith Telly Topping's writing partners so this blogger knew Ben had been cast in the episode last October. Dutifully (and, completely terrified of any potential wrath from high a-top the thing from The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat should he spill the beans), this blogger kept totally schtum until the BBC themselves announced the cast.
'I don't trust him.' 'We're not supposed to trust him, we're supposed to keep an eye on him.' 'Quicker just to shoot him.' 'Always quicker. Never smarter.'

'You'll probably feel a bit sick. Please don't be.' The plot synopsis was publicly revealed in early August though it didn't tell fans anything that they wouldn't have known from the trailer: 'A Dalek fleet surrounds a lone rebel ship and only the Doctor can help them now ... with The Doctor facing his greatest enemy, he needs Clara by his side. Confronted with a decision that could change The Daleks forever, he is forced to examine his conscience. Will he find the answer to the question, "am I a good man?"' Of course, by the time the synopsis emerged, like four other episodes from early in the season both Into The Dalek's script and, indeed, a rough cut of the episode itself had been leaked to various dark corners of the Interweb by very naughty people.
It can, perhaps, seem to be something of unwanted necessity to have a Dalek episode cropping up most years in Doctor Who, given that - as Steven Moffat has previously pointed out - they're so regularly, and easily, beaten by The Doctor. Yes, they are very popular and iconic and all that but for all their universe conquering intentions, The Daleks tend be the very definition of an alien race with jolly big ideas but, metaphorically, very small dicks. Which, you know, might explain the sink plunger. All talk, not a lot of action. To be blunt, they're a bit crap a lot of time. Yes, technically, they can blow up your entire world but, more often than not, they don't and instead fall victim to some convenient plot device. It's a valid question to wonder how you can keep on finding fresh angles on a monster which has featured on the show since its very beginnings fifty years ago? Plus, of course, there's the knotty fact that they're post-apocalyptically shit-scared of The Doctor his very self, even having their own secret name for their tormentor, The Oncoming Storm. Not, exactly, what you'd except from the most fearsome race in the cosmos. So, has Into The Dalek anything to add to the legend? Not 'af. After their last appearance in Asylum Of The Daleks effectively rewrote The Doctor and The Daleks' perceptions of each other, here was have the most intriguing of ideas, taking elements from Rob Shearman's Dalek to give the audience another curve-ball about the nature of what lies inside those knobbly metal casings. Literally, as The Doctor, Clara and a galactic resistance squad are miniaturised and venture into a 'defective', moral Dalek. In Remembrance Of The Daleks, The Doctor is asked by Group Captain Gilmore: 'What am I dealing with? Little green men?' No, he replies: 'Little green blobs in bonded-polycarbite armour.' But there is, and always has been, so much more to The Daleks than simply that. Between them, Phil and Steven have come up with a clever and a properly fresh perspective on The Daleks. Into The Dalek is about more than simply knowing your enemy. It's about recognising that their greatest strength might, just, be your own greatest weakness.
'Dalek mutants are born hating. This is what stokes the fire. Extinguishes even the tiniest glimmer of kindness or compassion. Imagine the worst possible thing in the universe and then don't bother - because you're looking at it right now. Evil refined as engineering.' Capaldi's take on The Doctor in this episode is, in places, surprisingly alien and - more than once - harshly indifferent to how that looks to others. Working more on ice cold logic than with the heat of emotion as most of his predecessors did, it would be accurate to say that whilst Deep Breath gave us a Doctor in embryo, here we have the true birth of the twelfth-that's-really-fourteenth Doctor. In effect, the episode isn't so much about The Daleks and their vast, over-complicated schemes to enslave the universe, it's more of a psychological exploration of one specific Dalek and of The Doctor, both of them physically and mentally wounded by the universe(s) they inhabit. Early in the episode Capaldi asks Clara 'Am I a good man?' It's a scene which you'll probably be familiar to viewers with from the various series trailers and it becomes the central theme for the episode as it progresses. As in Dalek, there is the question of what, conceptually, separates The Doctor from a Dalek? Remember when Chris Eccleston's Doctor was told, chillingly: 'You would make a good Dalek'? The difference might not be as pronounced as you'd think and as The Doctor would hope. Seemingly, The Doctor wasn't lying when he spoke in the last episode about making some changes after two thousand years. Capaldi continues to shape his Doctor's performance in broad strokes. Any thoughts that he might mellow after fetching the coffee at the conclusion of last week's episode is quickly shoved to one side. It could still happen of course. But, not yet. Arguably, he is more cold and clinical here than in the opener, his unsympathetic attitude often crassly conflicting with Clara's more empathic world-view. It leads to some witty exchanges and even her giving him a long-overdue slap across the chops. There's also one particular 'did he just do what I think he just did?'moment from The Doctor seemingly at odds with his established central morality which is already under question after the death of The Half-Face Man last week. Or, more charitably, pushing at the very boundaries of what is acceptable in the 'ends justify the means' column in the universe where things like Daleks exist. 'Daleks don't turn good - it was just radiation, affecting its brain chemistry, nothing more than that. No miracle.' Clara's life outside the TARDIS is glimpsed and the episode introduces the new recurring character of Danny Pink. A former soldier Danny, like Clara, is a teacher at Coal Hill School. He only gets a couple of scenes bookending the story so it's different to know exactly what to make of him as yet, other than, you know, the surface impression of 'Mickey-lite'. But, his scenes with Clara are flirty and quite fun, even if they feel,  tonally, out of place with the rest of the episode.
Continuity: Visually, and conceptually, there are strong links to Dalek, Let's Kill Hitler, Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS, The Girl In The Fireplace, Bad Wolf and Earthshock. There are references to The Snowmen ('it's smaller on the outside' and: 'It's a bit narrow, isn't it?' 'Any remarks about my hips will not be appreciated'), The Invisible Enemy ('Do you shrink the surgeons so they can climb inside the patients? Fantastic idea for a movie. Terrible idea for a proctologist'), Deep Breath ('Did they tell about the "holding your breath" thing?'), The Beast Below ('Behold, the belly of the beast'), Remembrance Of The Daleks ('how are Daleks pure?'), Castrovalva and Rose ('follow me. And run!'), Asylum Of The Daleks (the 'harvesting' of victims; the Daleks having a concept of beauty), Revelation Of The Daleks ('Mortuaries and larders - always the easiest to break out of. Oh, I've lived a life!'), Time Of The Doctor ('In the silence and the cold. I saw worlds burning'), The Tenth Planet ('resistance is futile!'), The Daleks Invasion of Earth (Dalekanium), The Age Of Steel (Gretchen's self-sacrifice to save the future), Death To The Daleks and The Daleks ('All those years ago, when I began, I was just running. I called myself The Doctor, but it was just a name. And then I went to Skaro and I met you lot. And I understood who I was. Who I had to be. I was not you.')
Once again, the dialogue is cracking: 'I materialised a time capsule exactly round you and saved your life one second before your ship exploded but do, please, keep crying.' And: 'I wish I could have done more.' 'Then you should have.' And: 'The security on this base is absolute, so we're still going to kill you.' 'Oh, it's a rollercoaster with you, isn't it?!' And: 'Is the wooden sound you or the desk?' And: 'You didn't realise there was a living creature inside?' 'Not until it started screaming.' And: 'This is gun girl. She's got a gun and she's a girl. And this is a sort of boss one ... I think he's probably her uncle but I may have made that up to pass the time while they were talking.' And: 'We're here to shoot you dead, if you turn out to be a Dalek spy.' 'Well, that's a relief. I hate baby-sitters.' And: 'He'll get us out of here. The difficult part is not killing him before he can.' And: 'There never was a good Dalek. There was a broken Dalek and we repaired it'. And: 'How do I look?' 'Sort of short and roundish, but with a good personality, which is the main thing.' The script offers moments of sharp, sarky wit: 'Don't like soldiers much, do you?' 'You don't need to be liked. You have all the guns.' And: 'We're going to die in here and there's a tiny piece of you that's pleased!' There are moments of profundity: 'There's a bit more to modern soldiering than just shooting people. I like to think there's a moral dimension.' 'What, you shoot people and cry about it afterwards?' And: 'I thought you were saving him.' 'He was dead already - I was saving us!' And: 'Life returns. Life prevails. Resistance is futile.' Moments of passion: 'You're not my boss, you're one of my hobbies!' And: 'Who makes you smile? Or is no-one up to the job?' 'My brother, but he burned to death a couple of hours ago, so he's really letting me down today.' And: 'You saw a star born and you learned something? Oh, Dalek, do not be lying to me!' Of grace: 'Where are we going?' 'Into Darkness.' The Doctor and Clara 's back-and-forths are getting better all the time: 'Where the hell have you been?' 'You sent me for coffee.' 'Three weeks ago. In Glasgow.' 'Three weeks - that's a long time.' 'In Glasgow - that's dead in a ditch.' 'It's not my fault, I got distracted.' And: 'I'm his carer.' 'Yeah, my carer. She cares so I don't have to.' And: 'How do you get into a Dalek's head?' 'That wasn't a metaphor.' And: 'Ever microwaved a lasagne without pricking the film on top?' 'It explodes.' 'Don't be lasagne!' The script sparkles with cunning uses of pithy syntax ('An anti-climax once in a while, is good for my hearts') and humour ('Clara Oswald, do I really not pay you?' 'You couldn't afford me!') And when it reaches a peak like 'Is he mad or is he right?' 'Hand on my heart? Most days he's both!' you want to run around the living room and kiss the goldfish. 'If there's a pack of spare bulbs, break it to me gently.' And, very once in a while, there were moments of magnificence: 'Daleks do not have souls.' 'Oh no? Well imagine if you did.'
'You looked inside me and you saw hatred. That's not a victory. Victory would've been a good Dalek.' 'I am not a good Dalek. You are a good Dalek.' A smashing script, then; not, possibly, the most original of ideas but splendidly directly by Ben Wheatley - particularly The Doctor and co's splendidly trippy entry into the Dalek - and with a quality cast, Into The Dalek manages to make The Daleks (or, one Dalek, at least), intriguing again. That, in and of itself, is worthy of considerable praise. 'Endless divine perfection'? Not quite, but a damned good effort although The Doctor's new-found wariness around soldiers is jolly curious given that one of his best friends - The Brigadier - was one. And, Captain Jack was another. Also, as one of this blogger's friends pointed out Into The Dalek was good, as was Deep Breath, but one of the things that yer actual Keith Telly Topping loves most, and has always loved most, about Doctor Who is that it is not a butch, shouty, gun-heavy-SF drama with rock hard Aliens-style Space Marines and big fek-off explosions every week. In fact it only ever has been those things a handful of times across fifty years. It was gratifying to see many online fans celebrating, loudly, Capaldi's brilliant in these opening two episodes but it was also noticeable that some of these comments chose to focus on the new Doctor's supposed 'darkness' as contrasted with his immediate predecessors (something Peter himself has been trying to play down in several recent interviews, notably his pre-series appearance on The ONE Show). In a way, it's also slightly worrying that there are people who seem to wish the series was butch and shouty and gun-heavy every week, because they want a 'grim and gritty' Doctor Who which, they believe, gives the show added gravitas. It looks as if next week's Robin Hood-themed episode, written by Mark Gatiss, is more cheeky and irreverent and eccentric - and, with Ben Miller playing The Sheriff Of Nottingham, hopefully, funny too. Which is what you'd want from a show that once had Pat Troughton and Tom Baker as its lead. One does, rather wonder if the gravitas-wishers will be out in force on Gallifrey Base and Twitter whinging like a Radiohead song about the lack of darkness. Time will tell. It usually does. I'm still not sure about the new music, though. And is anyone else utterly horrified that Clara is, seemingly, a Gruniad Morning Star reader? Talk about the ultimate evil.
And so, to the news: The - allegedly - controversial 'lesbian-lizard kiss' in last Saturday's Doctor Who episode will not be investigated by the media regulator, which said it 'did not discriminate between scenes involving opposite sex and same-sex couples.' Or, in other words, it is not Ofcom's job to promote homophobia. Which is jolly ice to know. Six homophobic louse-scumbags had complained to Ofcom after Peter Capaldi's first episode, Deep Breath, in which The Doctor's Silurian friend Madame Vastra kissed her human wife, Jenny. On the mouth. Hard. The pair, played by Neve McIntosh and Catrin Stewart, shared a kiss as they were forced to hold their breath as they hid from killer 'droids, prompting complaints from 'some viewers' (for which read six homophobic louse-scumbags) that it was 'gratuitous' and 'unnecessary'. A, frankly rather appalled-sounding, spokesperson for Ofcom said: 'Ofcom can confirm it received six complaints [from six homophobic louse-scumbags] about a kiss broadcast in an episode of Doctor Who on Saturday 23 August. Having assessed the complaints, we can confirm that they do not raise issues warranting further investigation. Our rules do not discriminate between scenes involving opposite sex and same-sex couples.' 'Discriminate.' What a very appropriate word. Sadly, Ofcom did not chose to publicly name and shame the six homophobic louse-scumbags in question although it is to be hoped that, in private, their names have been passed to the Metropolitan Police's hate crimes unit for further investigation.
For those interested in such things, Deep Breath after five days had already timeshfited approximately two million punters over its initial 'live' audience on Saturday. As of first thing on Friday morning, the consolidated audience figure for the episode was 8.89m. At the current rate it should just about get to nine million by Saturday for the final 'plus seven' figure (which would be a total timeshift of approximately 2.2 million viewers and would make it the second most-watched programme of the week after The Great British Bake Off). Those final numbers will be released by BARB early next week. No news yet on the iPlayer figures although the episode was, by a distance, the most downloaded programme of Saturday and Sunday.

Martin Freeman his very self has revealed that he found out about his EMMY win while he was in bed. With his wife, presumably. So, Amanda would have found out about it at the same time. Which is nice. The actor won the award for Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries for his role of John Watson in Sherlock, but was unable to attend the ceremony on Monday due to his appearance in Richard III in the West End. Sherlock also won the prize for Outstanding Writing, while yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch won the award for Best Lead Actor. Martin told BBC Radio Wales: 'I got a text from my American agent and she said, "You've just won" and I thought, "Ah, very, very nice." And then I went to sleep. I woke up to find that Ben had won and that Steven had won and that Fargo had also done really well, both shows that I was in that had been nominated did really well so I was very pleased about that.' He added: 'I'm delighted. Really pleased. Whenever you're nominated for an award you know you've got a chance but I certainly wasn't banking on it, put it that way.'
So, Monday was a night of outstanding success for Sherlock - and, by extension, for British television in general, something that no one could argue with, right? Err ... well, enter, stage right, Daily Scum Mail who somehow managed to manufacture a BBC-bashing piece out of Sherlock's EMMY triumph: This is a golden age for TV: Shame the best shows are American and the BBC’s struggling to keep pace, claims the Scum Mail's television critic. While Christopher Stevens' thesis that most of the best TV in this widely-hailed golden age is coming out of the States may have some merit too it, using Monday's EMMYs to back up his argument is properly perverse, to say the least. 'Once, Britannia ruled the airwaves, with dramas that were the envy of the world's broadcasters,' Stevens dribbles. 'But that’s ancient history and this week the EMMY awards in Los Angeles delivered fresh humiliation. American television shows swept the board.' These being, of course, the same awards at which Sherlock won a total of seven EMMYs, when the four from the Creative Arts awards earlier this month are included, topping the six that Downton Abbey's first series picked up in 2011 (although Downton did get four of the more prestigious Primetime awards to Sherlock's three). This level of success at the Primetime EMMYs is pretty much unprecedented for British shows in the event's sixty five-year history. 'American television shows swept the board,' claims Stevens. Which, Sherlock aside is true. But, they've always swept the board until Downton and Sherlock. It is, after all, an American TV awards event – British shows such as Downton and Sherlock only qualify in the first place because they're co-productions with American broadcasters. Just as British shows tend to sweep the boards at the BAFTAs. Because they're BritishDownton won eleven EMMYs across its first three series, before missing out this year as Sherlock picked up the baton. Both are massive ratings hits for public service broadcaster PBS, which also airs Call The Midwife while shows including Doctor Who, Broadchurch and Luther, broadcast on cable channel BBC America, are critically lauded and commercial hits relative to the size of the broadcaster. So, well done the Scum Mail for yet another agenda-soaked piece of rancid phlegm so inaccurate and badly written it's almost funny. Almost, dear blog reader, but not quite.
In The Club remained on top of Tuesday's ratings outside soaps, according to overnight data. The BBC1 drama brought in a more than 4.45 million viewers on average, slightly down from last week's 4.49m. On BBC2, Young Vets was seen by 1.29m at 7pm, followed by Russia's Lost Princesses with 1.51m at 8pm and Super Senses with 1.37m at 9pm. ITV's repeat of Ade At Sea appealed to but 2.41m at 7.30pm, while a Midsomer Murders repeat was seen by 2.55m at 8pm. On Channel Four, Dogs: Their Secret Lives attracted 1.63m at 8pm. The Worst Place To Be A Pilot interested 1.17m at 9pm and Gordon Ramsay's Hotel Hell gathered seven hundred and seventy one thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Cowboy Builders interested seven hundred and eighty three thousand at 8pm, followed by the latest episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation with 1.13m at 9pm and Celebrity Big Brother with 1.58m at 10pm.

The Great British Bake Off climbed to new heights for its latest episode on Wednesday. The BBC1 series - which featured a particularly controversial moment (see below) - rose to an overnight audience of 8.10 million viewers at 8pm, rising by around seven hundred thousand viewers from the previous week. Later, Last Chance Academy interested 2.45m at 9pm, while A Question Of Sport was watched by two million viewers at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Young Vets appealed to 1.16m at 7pm, followed by Hotel India with 2.03m at 8pm. Horizon gathered 1.55m at 9pm. ITV's Secret Life Of Cats attracted 1.87m at 8pm, followed by Secrets From The Asylum with 1.82m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Double Your House For Half The Money was seen by eight hundred and eighty three thousand at 8pm, while Star Paws brought in nine hundred and sixty three thousand at 9pm. Channel Five's Emergency Bikers continued with six hundred and thirteen thousand at 8pm, followed by the latest Celebrity Big Brother with 1.74m at 9pm. Suspects had an audience of six hundred and thirty thousand at 10pm. BBC3 topped the multichannels with yet another showing of Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull with 1.19m at 9pm.

The Great British Bake Off contestant blamed by 'some people' (that's a euphemism for Twitterers, incidentally) for another contestant's exit has claimed to have been 'stitched up' by the way the programme was edited. Diana Beard said that she had been made 'a scapegoat' after being shown to play a part in Iain Watters' elimination. Watters exited the show after throwing his melted Baked Alaska in the bin. Yet some viewers (who, seemingly, didn't have anything better to do with their time) have since called for his reinstatement - regardless of the fact that the show was filmed three months ago - suggesting that Beard 'engineered' his dismissal by taking his ice cream out of the freezer. This has become known as 'bin-gate.' Apparently. Honest, dear blog reader, I'm not making this up. I know, I know, 'the crap that some people chose to care about' and all that. Speaking on BBC Radio Shropshire, Beard - the oldest contestant to have appeared on the BBC ratings winner - criticised how Wednesday's episode was edited. 'I'm disappointed with the way it's been portrayed,' she said. 'I've been stitched up, haven't I? We were twelve amateur bakers, [there's] no prize money involved. Why would I sabotage Iain's Baked Alaska? This has made it look like some cut-throat competition,' she continued. 'I think someone's culpable for the editing, really.' Beard claimed that Watters' ice cream had been out of the freezer for 'no more than forty seconds' - a claim which Watters' later cast doubt upon in an appearance on Newsnight - and that her 'conscience was intact.' Celebrities involved in the show immediately leaped to her defence after Wednesday's broadcast prompted 'a furore' on social media. Co-host Sue Perkins insisted that there had been 'no sabotage' and that the situation was 'getting a little inflamed for my liking. This is a show about cakes,' the comedienne and broadcaster continued on Twitter. 'Please, let's save the ire for real stuff.' 'Real stuff'? On Twitter? Are you taking the piss, Sue? A BBC spokesperson said: 'As shown in the episode, Iain became the fourth baker to leave the tent because he didn't present Mary and Paul with anything to judge in the showstopper challenge and both judges were very clear about the reasoning behind the decision. Due to the extreme temperature in the tent that day, many of the bakers struggled to get their ice cream to set as seen in the episode. Diana removing Iain's ice cream from the freezer for less than a minute was in no way responsible for Iain's departure.' Subsequently it was announced that Beard had left the show. The BBC said that her exit was due to illness and nothing to do with 'Bin-gate'.

Meanwhile, communications watchdog Ofcom will not be investigating The Great British Bake Off's 'Bin-gate' row - because, they got better things to do with their time, obviously - despite complaints about the alleged sabotage. Thirteen viewers, who seem not to have anything better to do with their time, whinged to Ofcom, twelve of them concerned at the apparent 'sabotage' of Watters' dessert. Eight hundred and eleven numskulls have also complained directly to the BBC. After receiving the whinges, Ofcom has decided the incident does not appear to have breached its broadcasting code. An Ofcom spokesman said: 'Having assessed viewers' complaints received to date, they do not raise issues warranting further investigation under Ofcom's rules.' Watters was voted off the show after presenting judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood with a bin when they asked to see his dessert and his departure sparked a Twitter campaign calling for him to make a return. Despite, once again, the fact that the series has already been filmed to its conclusion months ago. Speaking on BBC2's Newsnight, Watters said that he had spoken to Beard since and had 'no hard feelings.' He said: 'I knew it was going to be quite a big thing as it was a big thing that happened on the show. The reaction has been crazy, there were a lot of comments on Twitter. It's been really nice support and really built up overnight. I was more frustrated and it was just the heat of the moment. In the last half-hour of the show it got very tense. I've spoken to [Diana] and she's fine.' On Thursday, Paul Hollywood responded to the Twitter storm by saying: 'Ice cream being left out of fridge last night for forty seconds did not destroy Iain's chances in the bake off, what did was his decision [to] bin.' Beard revealed that she had left the show just before filming began on episode five after a fall severed her olfactory nerve, robbing her of her sense of smell. After she complained that the show had been edited to make it look as though she sabotaged her rival's chances, the BBC then announced that Beard would not be appearing in episode five, explaining that she 'fell ill' ahead of filming. But, she has since clarified that she 'fainted' and banged her head during supper with the other contestants just before production of the episode was due to start. Beard, who lives near Whitchurch in Shropshire, said: 'I fainted – which I have never done – and bashed my head, severing my olfactory nerve. So I have now lost my sense of smell and most of my taste.' She added that she has some sensation of foods which are very salty or vinegary, but has been told by a specialist that nothing medically can be done to repair the damage and she may never fully recover her senses. 'It could have been worse and I am counting my blessings,' said Beard, who used to run an upholstery business. She said that the announcement that she would not be returning for episode five had been brought forward by the BBC following the furore in which some members of the public branded her 'evil'. 'At least people will know I haven't wimped out,' she said. 'It's a relief, as people now know the truth.'
Brendan O'Carroll's appearance on Who Do You Think You Are? topped the overnight ratings on Thursday. The Mrs Brown's Boys star's episode of the BBC1 ancestry series brought in 5.30 million viewers 9pm. Earlier, DIY SOS: The Big Build returned with 4.48m at 8pm, while Motorway Cops brought in 2.34m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, live athletics coverage interested 1.32m at 7pm, followed by Natural World with 1.28m at 9pm. ITV's Tonight: The Food We Eat attracted 2.51m at 7.30pm, while Harbour Lives appealed to 2.16m at 8.30pm. Prom Crazy drew 1.51m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Location, Location, Location continued with 1.12m at 8pm, followed by Stammer School with eight hundred and twenty four thousand at 9pm and First Time Farmers with five hundred and twenty five thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Burned Alive: Anatomy Of A Murder intrigued six hundred and sixty three thousand at 8pm, followed by the latest Celebrity Big Brother with 1.70m at 9pm. Suspects concluded with six hundred and ninety seven thousand at 10pm. On BBC3, Cuckoo was watched by five hundred and thirty two thousand at 10pm.

BBC1's Boomers was Friday's highest-rated overnight show outside of soaps, attracting 3.01 million at 9pm. It was sandwiched between 2.45 million for Scrappers at 8.30pm and a very satisfying 2.85 million for the rubbish that is Big School at 9.30pm. The ONE Show and A Question Of Sport kicked things off with viewing figures of 3.33 million and 2.48 million. On ITV, Harbour Lives entertained 2.68 million at 8pm, while a Doc Martin repeat was seen by 2.5 million at 9pm. Young Vets started the night for BBC2 with 1.12 million at 7pm. It was followed by 1.76 million for Mastermind and 1.55 million for Sweets Made Simple. BBC2's evening peaked with 2.52 million for The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice, while Gardener's World attracted 1.9 million immediately after. Micky Flanagan: Back In The Game was Channel Four's highest-rated show with 1.18 million at 9pm, narrowly beating The Last Leg which had 1.12 million at 10pm. The latest episode of Million Pound Drop picked up seven hundred and sixty thousand at 8pm. Celebrity Big Brother's latest live eviction was seen by 1.81 million on Channel Five.

The BBC has defended its decision to schedule the Strictly Come Dancing launch show directly against an episode of The X Factor. It was confirmed this week that the BBC1 dance competition will kick off its new series on September 7 at 8pm, the same time that the fourth episode of Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads' series will be shown on ITV. The BBC has now explained that it made the scheduling decision when a double episode of ITV soap Coronation Street was moved to Sunday night, due to football the following night. 'We always try to avoid direct clashes but it's important that Strictly launches in primetime and with the extra episode of Coronation Street coming in, it's unfortunately left us with very little room to move on this occasion,' a BBC spokesperson said. The Strictly Come Dancing launch show will see the fifteen celebrities introduced to their professional partners.

Of course, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, was pure-dead vexed by all this malarkey and immediately accused the BBC of trying to 'sabotage' the return The X Factor by daring to, you know, scheduled anything against it and not having two hours of the Test Card and sombre music on opposite instead. This week, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads - who really needs to grow the fek up, frankly - returns to The X Factor for the first time in four years in a bid to reverse the show's falling ratings. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads is part of a new look judging line-up featuring The Heaton Horror Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, who has, reportedly 'buried the hatchet' with Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads after she was ignominiously dumped from the US version of the show. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads criticised the corporation and claimed the BBC wanted to 'damage' his show and 'should be grown up about it and admit it. I always think that when people do that the people they are pissing off are the viewers,' Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads ranted at the programme's launch this week. Could somebody lend him a fiver so he can buy a box of hankies? Anyone? 'And they say this isn't a ratings battle, it is, that's why they did it. They didn't have to put it on at the same time as us, they did and it means that people then have to make the choice where before I think it was more of a gentleman's type agreement. It just shows the producers of the show for what they are. They don't want this show to do well, they don't want people to watch it, and our job is to do the best job we can so people prefer X Factor to them. They are two of the most popular shows of the year, it doesn't make sense to make viewers choose.' The X Factor's ratings have been in decline ever since Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads last appeared as a judge in 2010 and it has lost out in the ratings wars to its BBC1 rival for the last two years. The US edition fared even worse and has since been axed. Although sadly, not with an actual axe. Despite the decline last year's final, won by Sam Bailey, had an overnight audience of just fewer than ten million viewers, making it one of ITV's biggest shows of the year. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, who signed a one hundred and fifty million smackers deal with ITV last year, admitted that he had been 'arrogant' about the show in the past and said he would be 'disappointed' if this year's series did not do better and beat Strictly Come Dancing. 'The expectations on us are huge,' he admitted. 'I think that when we have been arrogant in the past, when we were winning, you kind of get complacent, that's when we lost out,' he added. 'When we were on the back foot and had to really concentrate on the show, that's when we did better. I feel we are in that position at the moment. We are not necessarily expecting to win although we would like to; we are going all out to make a better show.'
The complete line-up for this year's Strictly Come Dancing series has been revealed ahead of the BBC1 talent show's launch night on 6 September. And, whilst it's not - quite - as desperately z-list as earlier suggested, it's still hard to muster a great deal of enthusiasm for the 'talent' involved. MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace, Bargain Hunt's Tim Wonnacott and Mrs Brown's Boys actress Jennifer Gibney - who, at least, most viewers will have heard of - join twelve other alleged 'celebrities.' These include pop stars Pixie Lott and Frankie Bridge (no, me neither), BBC DJ Scott Mills and Judy Murray, the mother of tennis player Andy. So, she's a 'celebrity' how, exactly? Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will co-host the ballroom competition. The pair were confirmed as the show's new full-time hosts following Sir Bruce Forsyth's decision to step down as presenter. Naturalist Steve Backshall, EastEnders actor Jake Wood, reality TV type person Mark Wright, ex-rugby player Thom Evans and Blue's Simon Webbe round out this year's male contingent. They will be joined by Casualty actress Sunetra Sarker, Big Brother contestant 'turned broadcaster' Alison Hammond and TV presenter Caroline Flack. Gibney, who plays Mrs Brown's daughter in the popular sitcom and is the wife of Brendan O'Carroll said she was 'excited' to be taking part in the show. Yer man Wallace said he 'could not wait' to 'live in a Strictly bubble', while former auctioneer Wonnacott said that he had signed on so he could take his wife dancing on their thirtieth wedding anniversary.
Paddy Considine has said that he doesn't understand why some actors prefer to stay away from TV. The actor and director - who will soon to return to ITV's The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher - told the Digital Spy website that he has learned not to be too picky when choosing roles. He said: 'For some reason there's a really strange thing around some actors about mainstream television. Look at the great actors that have come through television in this current generation, Benedict Cumberbatch [for example], what's the big fear with everybody? You're an actor, a job's a job. Believe me, years ago, I had this thing where I'd just done In America and I was at that period where I was like, "Right, I'm not doing anything unless I'm in love with it. I'm waiting for the right project to come along." I didn't work for nearly two years. I had to do some music videos because, guess what, the right project didn't come along. What was I even looking for in the first place? And it taught me I'd love to hop from one movie to the next, with one great director to the next, like some of my friends can do, but that's not my path, it hasn't happened, and it's fine, but I'll just look at the circumstances around me, and I'll take what comes.' Paddy also explained that he would rather star in a leading television role than a short appearance in a Hollywood film. 'I was asked earlier, "Why haven't you gone and pursued Hollywood films?" Well I've been in a couple, and I could do Hollywood films, I could be in one in the next few weeks because I got offered it, but I'm in it for, like, five minutes. Do you want to be in that for five minutes or in Whicher for the whole thing and you're the lead in it? It comes to a point where you go, "What does it mean to do those things?" I don't give a shit if people have seen my face or not, quite frankly. I don't have a career path, I just do what I do. And in the past year I've been fortunate enough to have a diverse load of things, and you can't really be any more grateful than that.' The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher will return for two new two-hour films titled Beyond The Pale and The Ties That Bind. The first will be broadcast on Sunday 7 September on ITV. The new specials, which follow two earlier acclaimed TV movies will see Jack Whicher working as a private inquiry agent in Victorian England.

Claims that a film about actress Linda Lovelace bore 'striking similarities' to the 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat have been dismissed by a US judge. New York District Judge Thomas Griesa concluded that last year's biopic of Lovelace did not copy the core of the original film, in which she starred. He said that Deep Throat focused on one sex act but the 2013 film, Lovelace, did not feature any explicit material. The owners of the original movie's rights said that they would lodge an appeal. And, hold their breath and stamp their foot until they got their own way. Probably. Arrow Productions sued the makers of Lovelace last year in a bid to block its distribution, but their legal move was rejected by the judge and thrown out of court. They also claimed that the title Lovelace was used 'without licence or permission' and sought damages of 'at least' ten million dollars. In his decision, the judge described Deep Throat as 'a famous pornographic film replete with explicit sexual scenes and sophomoric humour', while Lovelace was a critical, biographical film documenting the life of the actress. He commented on the use of three scenes from the 1970s release in the later film, saying they added 'a new, critical perspective on the life of Linda Lovelace and the production of Deep Throat.' Under US copyright law, a certain amount of footage from Deep Throat could be, ahem, inserted under the auspices of 'fair usage.' Lovelace chronicled the porn star's abusive marriage to Chuck Traynor, played by Peter Sarsgaard, and how she came to work on Deep Throat. The lead role was played by actress Amanda Seyfried. It also explored her relationship with her mother, Dorothy, played by Sharon Stone. Deep Throat, the first porn movies to be widely seen in cinemas, made an estimated six hundred million bucks. The film drew middle class audiences to the cinema and helped lay the foundations of today's hardcore adult entertainment industry. Born Linda Boreman, Lovelace became an anti-pornography campaigner in later life. She died in a car accident in 2002 at the age of fifty three,

A man who claims that he was sexually abused by Bryan Singer has dropped his legal action against the film-maker. A judge in Honolulu granted Michael Egan's petition to have the case dismissed without prejudice, allowing him to refile at a later date. Singer's request to have the case dismissed with prejudice and to make Egan pay his legal costs was rejected. 'We're pleased that it's over,' said Singer's lawyer Marty Singer, who is not related to his client. 'Although we would have liked the case dismissed on merits, the fact that now it's dropped is satisfactory.' Egan, a former child model who is now thirty one, has accused the forty eight-year-old director of abusing him in Hawaii when Egan was seventeen. Egan previously filed three similar legal actions against other Hollywood figures, all of which were later dismissed. US district judge Susan Oki Mollway ruled that 'any alleged damage to [Singer's] reputation may well be ameliorated by plaintiff's voluntary dismissal of the action.'

The Australian actor Bill Kerr - 'the boy from Wagga Wagga' - who became one of Tony Hancock's radio sidekicks in the 1950s, has died in Perth aged ninety two. Born in Cape Town, South Africa in June 1922, Bill was raised in Australia and became a radio and vaudeville star before moving to the UK in 1947 to further his career. Appearances in Hancock's Half Hour, The Dam Busters and Doctor Who followed, as did a role in 1960s TV soap Compact. Returning to Australia in 1979, Bill had a key role in 1981 film Gallipoli. His voice is the first to be heard in Peter Weir's World War I epic, exhorting its young sprinter hero - Mel Gibson - to run 'as fast as a leopard.' Bill went on to be seen in another Weir movie, The Year Of Living Dangerously, the TV mini-series Anzacs, the horror film Razorback and the 2003 version of Peter Pan. According to family members, Bill was watching television at his home in Western Australia when he died. 'Mum said she could hear him laughing to Seinfeld,' his son Wilton told ABC News. 'That was one of his favourite shows.' He was 'the most generous, happy, loving man. Different to the gruff-voiced man you'll find in the roles that he would play,' Wilton added. 'Generous with his affection, just his life, general positivity, if I could be half the man he is, I'd be a very happy guy.' Known for his catchphrase 'I'm only here for four minutes', Bill was born into a theatrical family and made his stage debut in a touring production when he was still toddler. 'I was such a hit, I retired in 1922 and made a comeback at seven,' he later recalled. A 'Huckleberry Finn life' in New South Wales followed for a child star who was once described as 'the Jackie Coogan of Australian vaudeville.' He made his first film appearance in 1933's Harmony Row, in which he was billed as Willie Kerr. He saw service in the Australian army during the Second World War, and performed in theatrical shows at home and abroad and toured with his friend, the actor Peter Finch. Bill enjoyed his greatest success in the 1950s and 1960s, appearing alongside such comedy greats as Sid James, Spike Milligan, Kenneth Williams and Peter Sellers. His laconic Australian drawl saw him often cast as a slow-witted simpleton who could serve as the butt of his co-stars' jokes. His role as Giles Kent in the 1967 Doctor Who adventure The Enemy Of The World saw him sharing the screen with Patrick Troughton. Believed to be mostly missing for many years, a complete version of the six-part story was found last year at a TV station in Nigeria. Bill had much theatrical success in Britain, appearing in Spike Milligan and John Antrobus' satirical The Bed-Sitting Room, which was first produced in 1962, as well as in the 1963 film The Wrong Arm Of The Law alongside Peter Sellers and Bernard Cribbins. He was also a character actor of some distinction, giving memorable performances as a racketeer in My Death Is A Mockery (1952) and as a mentally disturbed crook in Port Of Escape (1956). His other films included Appointment In London (1952), You Know What Sailors Are (1954), The Night My Number Came Up (1955), A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1966), and in two of the 'Doctor' films, Doctor In Distress (1963) and Doctor In Clover (1966). He is survived by his third wife, Sandra, and four children.

Fifteen, dear blog reader. The position in the UK charts that 'Down In The Tube Station At Midnight' reached in 1978. The age that William Miller is when he goes on tour with Stillwater in Almost Famous. The smallest natural number with seven letters in it. The first point in a game of tennis. The age of a quinceañera in Spanish culture. The square root of two hundred and twenty five (I think). The classification given by the BBFC to The Complete West Wing DVD box-set. The number of players in a rugby union team. The age in Britain at which a minor may be sent to jail to await trial for his or her naughty teenage crimes. The number of days in each of the twenty four cycles of the Chinese calendar. The number of function keys on most Mac keyboards. The number of minutes in a quarter of an hour. The number corresponding to The Devil in a Tarot deck. And, also, the number of lengths of the local swimming pool wot yer actual Keith Tekky Topping only went and done on Thursday morning before breakfast (and, repeated it on Saturday to boot). Well, I was impressed. Suit yerselves.

And, finally ...
... we end the latest From The North bloggerisationisms update with a couple of items related to yer actual Kate Bush's first gigs in thirty five years earlier this week. Now, as you probably know, dear blog reader, there is nothing - nothing in the world - that righteously pisses off this blogger big-style(e) than criminally lazy journalism and we had one of the classic examples of such nonsense in the Metro on Thursday. Whilst most of the media in this country actually bothered to send one of their reporters out at the Hammersmith Apollo to gauge a few opinions from the punters on whether the attendees had enjoyed themselves at Kate's first show - and the general consensus was that pretty much everyone hadMetro's 'showbiz editor', one Andrei Harmsworth, instead sat on his arse in the office and scanned social media for dissent. Until he found a couple of people (neither of whom state that they'd actually attended the shows in question) whinging about aspects of the set-list. Leading Harmsworth to claim that 'hit-starved fans are demanding refunds.'
Are they? 'Demanding' refunds? You got proof of that, have you mate? Actual people who've actually complained to the actual venue demanding an actual refund? Anyone? No, thought not. 'They waited thirty five years to hear her sing live,' Harmsworth writes, 'but Kate Bush fans were left demanding their money back after the eccentric star refused to perform her two most famous hits at her comeback gig.' And, again the proof of this? Well, naturally, it comes from Twitter. Which, as you know (or, as the Gruniad Morning Star always tell us), is The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things. 'British electronic duo Mint Royale led the complaints online,' continues Harmsworth. '"Hi BBC Watchdog, Kate Bush is not performing her hit single 'Wuthering Heights' on her current "tour". Am I entitled to a full refund?" the group tweeted.' I've no idea who Mint Royale are, incidentally, which probably makes this blogger desperately 'not with-it'. Or something. 'Bush left the stage at London's Hammersmith Apollo on Tuesday without singing 'Babooshka' or 'Wuthering Heights' or any tracks from her first four albums.' Okay, well, firstly they're called songs not tracks and they're LPs not albums. Only hateful, stinking, lice-ridden worthless old hippies call them the former. Just thought I'd mentioned it. Secondly, anybody who thinks that 'Babooshka' is one of Kate Bush's two 'most famous hits' obviously hasn't done any necessary research since 'Running Up That Hill' - which Katie is playing - outsold it massively and was her first big hit in America. And thirdly ... Again, I've just got to ask who the frig are Mint Royale when they're a home? 'The omissions from her three-hour, twenty nine-song set angered fans, some of whom had paid fifteen hundred pounds,' Harmsworth claims. 'Some fans' seemingly, being two blokes in Mint Royale. Whoever they are. Oh, and this numskull whom Harmsworth also found during his extensive trawl through the detritus of the Interweb: 'Why is no-one annoyed that Kate Bush didn't sing 'Wuthering Heights' or 'Babooshka'? I'd be fuming,' tweeted one Antony Bushfield. 'I'd be' rather than 'I was' suggesting that Antony his very self hadn't been at the gig either. And all of this is 'news', apparently. How, you might wonder dear blog reader, does this Harmsworth bloke - who has something of a history of writing  mind-numbingly trivial shock! horror! pictures! bollocks of exactly this kind - manage to hold down a job with a leading newspaper (well, with the Metro, anyway) whilst displaying such shockingly lazy tendencies, poor grasp of the concept of 'research' and wretched tabloidese prose? The fact that he's a member of the Harmsworth family which, of course, contained Viscount Rothermere (1868-1940) the Hitler-supporting owner of the Daily Scum Mail probably doesn't have anything whatsoever to do with it. Nepotism? In Associated Newspapers? Surely not? Total post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare and that.
Meanwhile, if you think that was a whinge over nowt, dear blog reader, that's nothing. No, this - printed in the Gruniad Morning Star on Friday - is a whinge.
That was Bill Hawkes of Canterbury there, dear blog reader. Possibly the most churlish, ungallant and just plain rude session musician in the world. He 'played viola on Kate Bush's last LP,' apparently. But not her next one, I'd wager. Check out, also, the excellent Andrew Collins's appalled blog posting on the same subject.

Which brings us nicely to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day. Featuring a song that Katie her very self is playing on her current series of live Shows.
And one that, tragically, she isn't. Though, it'd be pure dead funny if she did!

1 comment:

fatoldtart said...

Well said KT. You're getting quite good at this review stuff!