Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mummy On The Orient Express: Get On The Groovy Train

'Start the clock!'
'There were many trains to take the name Orient Express. But, only one in space.' Written in 1933 and published early the following year, Agatha Christie's classic suspense novel Murder On The Orient Express has been the subject of both respectful adaptations and - occasionally clever and knowing, more often crass and not-very-good - parodies many times over the years since it first appeared. Obviously, there was the Oscar-winning 1974 movie version featuring every star in the firmament, a perennial favourite of TV schedulers at Christmas and Bank Holidays. But, that's merely the tip of the iceberg. The Goodies, for instance, did an Orient Express-styled episode in the 1970s (Daylight Robbery On The Orient Express in their 1976 series). So, too, have TV series as diverse as Moonlighting, Thirty Rock, Muppets Tonight, Sabrina, The Teenage Witch and, indeed, the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama Doctor Who. Specifically, the 2008 episode The Unicorn & The Wasp which not only featured a character based on Mrs Christie herself and included numerous references to her novels and short stories, but also featured a denouement in which all of the characters, as it were, dunnit. A clear nod towards what is, perhaps, Christie's most famous work with the general public. Of course, when you find out that Doctor Who is going to do an episode influenced by Murder On The Orient Express, you just know in advance it's not going to involve anything as mundane and ordinary as a train journey any more than The Doctor's trip on the Titanic in Voyage Of The Damned was about a sea cruise.
So, after a perfectly furious row with Clara her very self at the end of last week's episode, the excellent Kill The Moon, The Doctor decides to take himself off for what is probably the closest a Time Lord will ever get to a lad's weekend abroad with Clara in tow for one last trip with her, if you will, former friend. Where better for the time travellers to have a bit of much needed fun than on the famous Orient Express - only, it's not the one that runs, on tracks, from Paris to Istanbul, and visa versa. You kind of knew that from the trailer, right? Thus, think flappers and cocktails, jazz and ... err, Frank Skinner as a kind of Black Country train engineer. The Casey Jones of West Bromwich, if you like. Unfortunately, a rotting 'immortal, unstoppable, unkillable' Mummy has only been and gone and turned up to totally ruin everyone's relaxation. Don't you just hate it when that happens?
'Isn't this exciting?' Holidays and The Doctor are not, usually, an altogether happy mix. As proved by, for instance, Midnight, a previous break which involved, in that particular case, a deadly alien mimic and a very paranoid time for all concerned. Not to mention all of the considerable bother and faff that the fifth Doctor had when trying to show Tegan and Turlough The Eye Of Orion or the ninth and tenth Doctors' numerous efforts to take Rose to see the wonders of Barcelona. So, whilst the seen-it-all Gallifreyan speeds through the stars on one of the most beautiful 'trains' in history it is, of course, nothing short of inevitable that he also crosses paths with a lethal creature stalking the passengers aboard this Orient Express. That sort of thing happens to The Doctor quite a lot. You might have noticed, dear blog reader. Anyway, once a poor unfortunate victim claps eyes upon the horrifying titular Mummy, they then have just sixty six seconds to live. Why, specifically sixty six as opposed to say, a nice round minute I hear to ponder? That's if you aren't one of those Special People still whinging about the perceived scientific deficiencies of the Moon being, you know, an egg whilst accepting the existence of alien life, time travel, duo-cardiovascular systems and dimension transcendence as completely valid scientific things. Anyway, 'the number of evil twice over, they that bear The Foretold's stare have sixty six seconds to live' is all we're told until near the end when we get a bit of a gobbledygook, technobbble explanation about 'phase shifts'. And, flanging the down-shift on the glonthometer, probably. Trust me, dear blog reader, it's not important, Therefore, cue countdowns on stop-watches and lots of exasperated facial expressions from a very dapper looking Doctor (he's really got that Pertwee-vibe going big-style at the moment) as he races against time to defeat the deadly gatecrasher. A conflict which sees the seasoned traveller at his deadliest and most ruthlessly manipulative and enigmatic.
'Can we get a new expert?' In what has been a broadly Clara-centric season thus far, this story revolves around The Doctor himself as he embraces the opportunity to solve a literal race-against-time mystery with all the abrasive recklessness and sarky humour that we've come to expect from the Peter Capaldi regeneration. As The Doctor his very self openly admits at one point, on a good day he is both a genius and incredibly arrogant. Like the previous two episodes, this is a largely standalone story which is only loosely connected to the main overarching series-long plotlines of Pink and Paradise. In it's tone it more resembles Time Heist than, say, Listen or Kill The Moon in so much as it does not overplay the horror element - one rotting, murderous Mummy notwithstanding - but it does progress at a furious pace, making it a fine, rather traditional running-up-and-down-lots-of-corridors romp of an adventure of, again, the kind that really wouldn't have been out of place in one of Capaldi's hero Jon Pertwee's early 1970s series. After the events of Kill The Moon, lots of viewers will be wondering exactly where things stand with regard to Clara and The Doctor. The present episode certainly doesn't ignore that particularly plotline, even though for quite a while it appears to. For the second week running we welcome a writer new to the series, this time Jamie Mathieson who is probably best known for his work on Being Human. His is a solid, steady debut, recalling both Voyage Of The Damned and The Unicorn & The Wasp - albeit taking itself a fraction more seriously than either of those episodes. There are also fairly obvious visual nods in the direction of a couple of classic Tom Baker stories, The Pyramids Of Mars and, thematically, The Robots Of Death, playing out as an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery in one confined location - closer to And Then There Were None than Murder On The Orient Express, if we're being strictly accurate - with a few SF trappings thrown into the mix. One gets a larger chunk of The Doctor than in any episode thus far this series. He is, effectively, in full Hercule Poirot mode here (only with a Scottish accent rather than a Belgian one), frantically working out the various clues as the body count ratchets up alarmingly. As ever, Capaldi is terrific. But, more on him later.
'I was being rhetorical!' The larger-than-usual guest cast - including a number of reliable character actors like David Bamber, the voice of John Sessions, Daisy Beaumont, Christopher Villiers and Janet Henfrey (who didn't even make it through the pre-title sequence) - make up the varied collection of passengers on board the train. However, the Mummy's need for a regular supply of victims means that there is little time to get attached to most of them. Similarly, the much-publicised appearance of Foxes - who is, in case you didn't know, 'a popular beat combo', m'lud - amounts to but a one-scene cameo featuring her singing a jazzy cover version of Queen's risible tuneless dirge 'Don't Stop Me Now'. So, if you were watching, as it were, for Foxes sake, you might well be disappointed.
To be fair to the lass, she can, seemingly, hold a tune. Just. At least Frank Skinner - a long-time and very vocal fan of the show - stands out in a rare straight(ish) role as Perkins, the space-train's chief engineer. Frank, one of the sharpest and wittiest comedians Britain has produced in the last couple of decades, gets plenty of decent lines and is, kind of, what you'd expect from Frank Skinner in an episode of Doctor Who - cheeky, likeable and a decent foil to prick the bubble of Capaldi's Doctor's more vainglorious moments. The Mummy itself had, in pre-publicity, been described as a creature that was so scary it caused the episode to be pushed into a later time slot. That's absolute nonsense, of course, though the monster of the week is, undeniably, one of the better designed terrors in the show's history and has a creepy, unnerving presence throughout. Kill The Moon director Paul Wilmshurst returns for his second episode of the series and Mummy On The Orient Express certainly looks fantastic and feels like a proper period piece. Albeit in space. Murray Gold also gives the episode a suitably retro-flavoured musical score to match the visuals and the general tone. Elegantly mounted, this excursion is a decent business class ticket for adult viewers but the Mummy should send younger fans diving for the cover of the cushions. If it sounds like an eclectic bunch of ingredients that's because, well, it's something of an eclectic episode. Steady, but with more than a few moments of quiet brilliance that raise it above the norm. 'There's a monster on this train that can only be seen by those about to die.'
'A good one to end on.' Continuity: The episode, amusingly, reveals that The Doctor does, eventually, get around to following up all those mysterious phone calls he receives in the TARDIS (specifically, in this case, the one he got at the climax of The Big Bang). Like the 'pernicious Doctor!' scene at the end of The Shakespeare Code, the idea of building an episode around a throwaway one-liner from years ago - as with The Day Of The Doctor - wasn't something which really needed to be followed up. Yet, here we are, on a space-train, with a fare-dodging mummy. And it's none-the-worse for that. Actually, stuff it, credit where credit is due, that throwaway line was from an episode four years ago. You don't get this from New Tricks! And then, of course, there's the expected, but welcome, 'are you my mummy?' joke. Which made this blogger laugh. A lot. That aside, there were references to (in no particular order), The Time Of The Doctor ('do you come round people's houses for dinner?'), Vincent & The Doctor ('is it boring?'), The Leisure Hive ('hard light holograms') and The Pandorica Opens (The Doctor and Moorhouse's conversation about myths and legends. 'You certainly know a little mythology.' 'I know a lot. Because, from time to time it turns out to be true').
'I'm not a passenger, I'm your worst nightmare.' Dialogue: Well, not unusually, there's plenty of it and much of it is excellent. 'There's a rumour some thing else might be responsible,' for instance. And: 'Goodbye to the good times.' And: 'It's a smile, but you're sad. It's confusing. It's two emotions at once, it's like you're malfunctioning.' And: 'I remember when this was all planets as far as the eye can see! All gone now, Gobbled up by that beast.' And: 'It's not just a Mummy, it's a Vampire. Metaphorically speaking.' And: 'Hatred is too strong an emotion to waste on someone you don't like.' And: 'So, what are you a doctor of?' 'Now, there's a question that doesn't get asked often enough. Let's say intestinal parasites.' And: 'There's a body and there's a Mummy. I mean, can you not just get on  train? Did a wizard put a curse on you about mini-breaks?' 'Could be nothing. Old ladies die all the time, that's practically their job description.' And: 'People just die sometimes, she was over a hundred years old.' '... Says the two thousand year old man!' And: 'I know that when I find someone fiddling with a chair that someone died in, it's best to ply my cards close to my chest!' 'Really? Well, I know that hen I find a man loitering near a chair that someone died in I do just the same.' 'Perkins. Chief engineer.' 'The Doctor. Nosey parker!' And: 'Difficult people, they can make you feel ... all sorts of things.' And: 'To hell with the last roll, let's keep going.' 'It's a big change of heart.' 'Yeah, they happen!'
Some of Mathieson's lines are properly hilarious: 'A mystery shopper? Oh, great!' 'Really, that's your worst nightmare?' And some of them - notably Clara's scene with Maisy when they're locked in the Guard's Van and her subsequent conversation with The Doctor about addiction - are fascinating. 'You can't end it on a slammed door.' 'Yes you can, anyone can. People do it all the time.' Then there's: 'It turns out it's three. The amount of people who have to die before I stop looking the other way.' And: 'Experts in aliens biology, mythology, physics. If I were putting together a team to analyse this thing, I'd pick you. And, I think someone has.' And: 'You, sir, are a genius. This explains everything. Apart from what it is and how it's doing it. Sorry, I jumped the gun there with the "you're a genius, that explains everything" remark!' And: 'Grief counselling is available on request.' And: 'You knew this was dangerous.' 'I didn't know. I hoped!' And: 'You're relieved, soldier.' 'He's not the only one.' And: 'Sometimes, the only choices you have are bad ones. But, you still have to chose.'And: 'It's full of ... bubble-wrap!' And: Is it like ... an addiction?' 'Well, you can't really tell if something;s an addiction until you try to give it up.' 'And, you never have.'
'Dumping him sounds a little scorched Earth.' So, that was Mummy On The Orient Express, that was. Not most demanding or innovative episode in Doctor Who's fifty year history, certainly. But, with more than enough going on in it to keep the average punter more than satisfied. Capaldi's Doctor is on fine form; by turns bombastic, charming, infuriating, arrogant, forgetful and always as manic as a bag full of monkeys, a proper man of action as he takes charge of the situation with consummate ease, despite getting his psychic paper to give out a very odd message at one point. And, having his sonic screwdriver go on the blink, to boot. Plus, the jelly babies are back. That's been a long time coming. 'That's the great appeal isn't it? Earth legends are such dry and dusty affairs. They're always fiction. Up here in the stars, anything's possible. That's why I chose this field, to be honest, hoping one day I might meet a real monster.' 'Isn't that everyone's dream?' The resonance of Clara giving him a right good talking to last time around echo loudly and marble the episode. It would seem that The Doctor has, after all, taken what she said to his heart(s). Capaldi's Doctor in this episode is the darkly ambiguous and alien character he's been all series but, he's also far warmer and - slightly - more understanding of the feeling of others than previously. The mellowing on the Twelfth Doctor, it would appear, starts here. Sort of. 'So you saved everyone?' 'No, I just saved you and let everyone else suffocate. This is just my cover story!' Wilmshurst continues his cinematic tour de force vision for Doctor Who and does wonders with what is, when all is said and done, a pretty claustrophobic, studio-bound set. Frank Skinner - as, effectively, the episode's surrogate companion - is the stand-out in the guest cast, putting in a genuine and believable portrayal with just the right degree of humour. It's a thoroughly smart little performance and, interestingly, far less mannered and arch than many of the more established 'proper' actors we've seen this series. There's even a hint that we may see Perkins again at some stage although the tonal ambiguity of the character's final scene does make one wonder if that's a reunion The Doctor would entirely welcome. 'That job could change a man.' 'Yes, it does. Very quickly.'
And then, there's Clara's sudden change of heart and decision to lie to Danny and stay with The Doctor, one suspects because she believes his thrill-seeking is an addiction and, as noted earlier in the series, she cares so he doesn't have to. There are, one suspects, bound to be repercussions over that. All in all, then, a bit of charmer, this one. A collection of clever bits and pieces which add up to something greater than the sum of its - many - parts. 'Do you love being the man making the impossible choice?' 'Why would I?' 'Because its what you do it. All day, every day.' Plus, Jenna Coleman in silk pyjamas. Which is nice. And, what's perhaps most important is that you sense everybody involved in Mummy On The Orient Express actually had fun making it. It's only polite, therefore, to reciprocate when watching it. Be rude not to. 'Now, shut up and give me some planets ... Let's go!'
This blogger mentioned Jenna Coleman in silk pyjamas, yes? Okay. Just checking.
To the latest set of overnight ratings figures, now: The Great British Bake Off attracted a massive overnight audience for the final episode of its current series, averaging 12.3 million, punters on Wednesday evening. The 2014 series of the popular baking competition concluded with 12.29m between 8pm and 9pm on BBC1, with a share of forty nine per cent of the available audience. The episode peaked in the last quarter of the hour, with slightly over thirteen million viewers watching Nancy Birtwhistle’s unexpected win, pipping the show's favourite, Richard Burr. This made it the most-watched non-sporting event of the year so far on UK television in terms of overnight viewers. The highest final and consolidated audience for the year so far is the 12.72 million viewers who watched the opening episode of Sherlock's third series on New Year's Day. In comparison, last year's Strictly Come Dancing grand final, for example, scored an average of 11.5m viewers. Last week's Bake Off semi-final was seen by 8.82m, while the 2013 final - won by Frances Quinn - attracted an average audience of 8.42m. The switch to BBC1 after four series on BBC2 was always going to give the show a ratings lift but such a meteoric rise was beyond most people’s expectations and more than justified the channel change. The cookery show featuring Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, and presented by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, has come a long way since it started on BBC2 with an audience of around two million viewers in 2010. Its producer, Love Productions, had spent five years pitching the format of the show, only to be rebuffed by numerous UK broadcasters before it was picked up by BBC2 and its then controller, Janice Hadlow. Later in the night, BBC2's spin-off show, The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice, appealed to 1.97m between 10pm and 10.40pm. Scott & Bailey continued with 3.71m viewers in the 9pm hour on ITV. Earlier, risible flop Celebrity Squares managed a mere 2.23m from 8pm. Our Zoo followed The Great British Bake Off on BBC1 with 4.49m. On BBC2, Long Shadow appealed to six hundred and thirty nine thousand and the second episode of Horizon's Cat Watch 2014 was seen by 1.6m from 9pm. Channel Four's Sarah Beeny's Double Your Gaff For Half The Bread attracted 1.06m from 8pm. Afterwards, Grand Designs and True Stories were watched by 1.87m and six hundred and twenty three thousand respectively. On Channel Five, The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door was seen by 1.33m in the 8pm hour. Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away averaged 1.6m from 9pm and Wentworth Prison had seven hundred and twelve thousand from 10pm. On the multichannels, Watch's The Strain managed one hundred and fifty eight thousand from 10pm.
The latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are? appealed to 4.6 million overnight viewers on BBC1 on Thursday. The genealogy documentary show, which this week centred on Twiggy, attracted 4.61m in the 9pm hour. It was preceded by Your Home In Their Hands, which managed 2.45m from 8pm. On ITV, England's five-nil win over San Marino in the Euro 2016 qualifiers averaged 4.8m from 7.15pm. BBC2's The Great British Bake Off Masterclass drew and audience of 2.01m in the 7pm hour. Horizon's Cat Watch 2014 was watched by 2.16m immediately afterwards, and acclaimed period drama Peaky Blinders continued with 1.42m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Location, Location, Location and Educating The East End were seen by 1.33m and 1.11m respectively. Channel Five's No Foreigners Here - One Hundred Per cent British averaged seven hundred and seventy one thousand viewers from 9pm.

The return of Lewis was Friday's highest-rated show outside of soaps. The new series of the popular ITV crime drama was seen by an average overnight audience of 5.28 million from 9pm. Earlier on in the evening, Gino's Italian Escape: A Taste Of The Sun was viewed by 2.65 million at 8pm on ITV. Have I Got News For You was, once again, BBC1's highest-rated show outside of soaps, scoring overnight viewing figures of 4.14 million. BBC1's evening began with 3.48 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, while 2.89 million tuned in to A Question Of Sport immediately after. The evening continued with 3.35 million for Would I Lie To You? 8.30pm, while the final episode of Big School attracted but 2.37 million at 9.30pm. The sooner that risible, unfunny nonsense is flushed into the nearest gutter along with all the other turds the better, frankly. With guests including John Cleese and Taylor Swift, The Graham Norton Show rounded off the evening with 3.17 million at 10.35pm. On BBC2, The Great British Bake Off Masterclass picked up an average of 1.7 million viewers at 7pm, followed by an evening high of 2.41 million for Mastermind at 8pm. Elsewhere, Lorraine Pascale: How To Be A Better Cook had an audience of 1.49 million viewers at 8.30pm, Tom Kerridge's Best Ever Dishes continued with 1.15 million at 9pm, while Gardeners' World attracted 1.61 million at 9.30pm. The latest episode of Qi drew 1.81 million at 10pm. Channel Four's evening began with four hundred and seventy thousand viewers for Stars At Your Service at 8pm, followed by 2.64 million for Gogglebox afterwards. Alan Carr: Chatty Man, which featured guests Hugh Grant, Davina McCall and that bloody weirdo Noel Fielding, had an audience of 1.23 million at 10pm. Paul Merton: World's Biggest Cruise Ship was Channel Five's highest-rated show of the night with eight hundred and fifteen thousand punters, beating the likes of JFK's Secret Killer: The Evidence with four hundred and ninety nine thousand and Body Of Proof with five hundred and ninety one thousand. BBC3's Family Guy was among the most popular multichannel shows. The third of four episodes peaked with half a million punters.

Utopia will not be renewed for a third series on Channel Four, the broadcaster has confirmed. Created and written by BAFTA nominee Dennis Kelly, the critically-acclaimed but, not particularly well-viewed drama thriller featured actors including Geraldine James, Ian McDiarmid, Fiona O'Shaughnessy, Stephen Rea, Rose Leslie, Alexandra Roach and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett. 'Utopia is truly channel-defining: strikingly original, powered by Dennis Kelly's extraordinary voice and brought to life in all its technicolor glory through Marc Munden's undeniable creative flair and vision,' a spokesperson for Channel Four told Den of Geek seconds before announcing that it was so good, they were cancelling it. 'The team at Kudos delivered a series which has achieved fervent cult status over two brilliantly warped and nail-biting series. It also has the honour of ensuring audiences will never look at a spoon in the same way again. It's always painful to say goodbye to shows we love, but it's a necessary part of being able to commission new drama, a raft of which are launching on the channel throughout 2015,' the spokesperson added. Channel Four and AMC recently announced a joint commission of a new SF show Humans>. David Fincher is behind a US remake of Utopia which is expected to premiere on HBO in 2015.

Not since the return of Doctor Who in 2005 after more than a decade away from our screens has a television show generated such feverish expectations as the imminent revival of David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks. The darkly surreal murder mystery, which combined elements of ongoing soap opera with macabre fantasy, was one of the most influential shows of its generation, the first of a so-called 'second golden age' of TV which spanned The X Files, The West Wing, The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men and Breaking Bad. And, Buffy The Vampire Slayer for that matter. But if Twin Peaks was ahead of its time when it was first broadcast in 1990, FBI agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan, will return to a TV landscape unrecognisable from that of a quarter of a century ago, when most British viewers still had only four channels to choose from. Jane Tranter, the head of BBC Worldwide Productions based in Los Angeles, said: 'I suspect there are very few people of a certain age working in TV today who weren't enormously influenced by Twin Peaks. Every decade something comes along that changes the way you think about TV quite radically, and in the 1990s that was Twin Peaks.' Unlike traditional network TV dramas in the US, said Tranter, Twin Peaks was 'not afraid of the dark. It took us to the weirdest, strangest places, often quite extreme forms of sexuality, and allowed you to "get your freak out" as they say over here. As one writer said to me, Twin Peaks "really, really fucked with your head."' Lynch, the director of Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, who will oversee all nine episodes of the new series with co-creator Frost, has said that television is 'way more interesting than cinema now.' Partly that is a consequence of Twin Peaks, which spawned hundreds of imitators and a new era of highly serialised drama, requiring every moment of a viewer's attention. Frost has rebuffed suggestions that the show might feel 'out of time' when it returns in 2016 on the US cable network Showtime, telling one interviewer: 'I think we’ll be able to effectively translate [the show] into today's cultural language without too much trouble.' Cancelled by ABC after two series – the show suffered dwindling returns after network executives insisted on revealing the identity of Laura Palmer's killer – it ended with MacLachlan's character possessed by the spirit of 'Bob'. Bryan Fuller, the screenwriter and producer behind NBC's acclaimed drama Hannibal said: 'There are so many exciting possibilities, so many roads where the show could lead. I still want to explore this world; there is a hope for it, and also a nostalgia. At its core it was a story about a madman who molested and murdered his daughter, but David [Lynch] dressed it up in such haute couture and soap opera elements, it was the science fictionalisation of a very real-world family trauma.' At its peak, four million viewers watched the series on BBC2 in the UK, with the log lady and agent Cooper's fondness for cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee briefly becoming part of the national conversation. Fuller said: 'With anything that has some pressure points in social media, there is much hope and elation but with that comes great cynicism. But there is no point in cynicism at this state of the game because you simply don’t know [what it's going to be like]. To automatically presume it's going to be a travesty kind of makes you an asshole.' Showtime is remaining tight-lipped about the revival of the show, beyond that it will take place 'in the present day' and it remains to be seen whether it will adopt the style of Netflix, the on-demand service that produced House Of Cards, by releasing all nine episodes at once. Its closest heir was probably another US network drama, Lost, but Gub Neal, creative director of producer and distributor Artists Studio whose credits include The Fall, Prime Suspect and Cracker, said: 'We have had things that have been influenced by it but I still don’t think we have had anything like it – we haven’t had people wandering around talking to logs. It's really hard to redo, it won't be easy but that's not an excuse not to try. From my perspective there were a number of things that were untoppable about the original. You have to take the essence of what made it exceptional and recontextualise it for the present day.' There is something distinctly Lynchian about Sky Atlantic's new big budget drama, Fortitude, a murder mystery set in the 'safest place on earth' in the Arctic circle, which will be shown on the channel early next year. 'I hope we haven't copied one element of it but we have definitely been inspired by it,' said its executive producer, Patrick Spence. 'David Lynch's ability to create a world that feels real but is utterly from a different place and sensibility, that is an inspiration to any storyteller. It was the show that kicked off the golden age of television.'
ITV has commissioned a new drama The Forgotten. The six-part series from Mainstreet Pictures will centre on a thirty nine-year-old cold case which is reopened following the discovery of a skeleton buried underneath a cellar. An extensive investigation is led by officers Cassie Stuart and Sunil Khan that spans the country and delves back in time to find the evil rotten scoundrel what done the dirty deed. Chris Lang has written the series and Tim Bradley is the producer. ITV's Director of Drama, Steve November said: 'The Forgotten will look at how an historic police investigation affects the lives of all those touched by it. Lang's scripts are wonderfully compelling as the mystery deepens and the police hunt for the killer intensifies.' BBC Worldwide has claimed the global distribution rights for the series. The Forgotten will begin filming in March 2015, with casting due to take place later in the year.

Yer actual Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon, Toby Jones and Sir Tom Courtenay his very self are among the noted actors who will appear in a big-screen remake of the classic sitcom Dad's Army. Jones will star as Captain Mainwaring, Nighy will appear as Sergeant Wilson and Courtenay will play Corporal Jones. Gambon will fill the role of Private Godfrey and there will also be roles for Bill Paterson, Daniel Mays, Catherine Zeta Jones, Sarah Lancashire and yer actual Mark Gatiss. The original sitcom followed a hapless but endearing World War II Home Guard platoon in the small Kent coastal town on Warmington-on-Sea. It ran for nine series from 1968 to 1977 (eighty episodes) and is widely regarded as one of Britain's greatest ever TV comedies. The film, which will begin shooting this month in Yorkshire, has been supported by Screen Yorkshire's Yorkshire Content Fund. It has, admittedly, got a great cast although the fact that the director, Oliver Parker, and writer, Hamish McColl, previously collaborated on Johnny English Reborn doesn't, exactly, fill one with total confidence.

Former Doctor Who star yer actual Matt Smith and his ex-girlfriend, Daisy Lowe, are reported to be the latest victims of a naked photo leak online. Which is, you know, the worst sort of naked photo leak imaginable. On a certain Interweb site, eighteen pictures were posted under the title 'Daisy Lowe Leaked Nude'. Urgh. They appear to show the pair posing in the mirror of a hotel bathroom in the naughty nude. Smudger his very self, who left his role as The Doctor last year, dated the former model for several years before they split in 2013. This would suggest the photos are more than a year old. If the photos are genuine, this would make Smudger the second male celebrity to be targeted in a recent wave of photo hacks. And, the moral of all this is, I guess, it might be an idea not to take naughty nude photographs of yourself and/or your partner of choice and, if you do, don't store them anywhere that some else can gain access to them.
Stephen Fry has described ITV's Downton Abbey as 'horrible'. Writing in his autobiography More Fool Me released recently, the Qi host took the opportunity to criticise the 'ghastly snobbery' within Lord Snooty's series, which recently returned for its fifth series. 'The excellent balance of Upstairs Downstairs stands up very well against the ghastly snobbery and tacked-on noblesse oblige of that horrible Abbey programme,' he wrote, adding: 'I say this guiltily, having actor friends I like very much who play in it, and play excellently, but truth must out.' Stephen previously revealed his dislike of the EMMY Award-winning series in 2012, when he tweeted: 'I do so wish that every reference to Downton Abbey didn't make me want to puke,' he observed. 'Nice talented people involved but ... is it just me?' No, Stephen, it isn't. It's me as well.

Rona Fairhead, the former head of the Financial Times Group, has been officially confirmed as the chairwoman of the BBC Trust. The fifty three-year-old becomes the first woman to chair the Trust, which is the body in charge of overseeing the BBC. Fairhead replaces Lord Patten, who quit in May after three years. She said that she is 'under no illusions about the significance and the enormity of the job' but is 'excited' to have the chance to lead the corporation. 'The BBC is a great British institution packed with talented people, and I am honoured to have the opportunity to be the chairman of the BBC Trust,' she said. Fairhead was chairwoman and chief executive of the Financial Times Group between 2006 and 2013 as part of a twelve-year career with its owner, Pearson. In 2012, Fairhead - a non-executive director at HSBC and PepsiCo - became a CBE, receiving the award for services to UK industry. Earlier this year she was appointed a British business ambassador by the Prime Minister. Lord Patten, who was appointed in 2011, left the job of chairman on health grounds following heart surgery. One of the hurdles Fairhead had to negotiate before being confirmed in the job was facing questions from MPs on the Media Select Committee on 9 September. The appointment was ultimately decided by the Queen on a recommendation from the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Javid. When she was announced as the preferred candidate for the role in August, the vile and odious rascal Javid described Fairhead as 'an exceptional individual' with a 'highly impressive career. Her experience of working with huge multinational corporations will undoubtedly be a real asset at the BBC Trust,' he said. 'I have no doubt she will provide the strong leadership the position demands and will prove to be a worthy champion of licence fee payers. I am sure that under Rona's leadership the BBC will continue to play a central role in informing, educating and entertaining the nation.' Being in charge of the BBC Trust is 'a big job', said BBC media and arts correspondent David Sillito. 'You are overseeing the BBC, but you are also in many ways responsible for being the cheerleader, defending it when politicians have got something to say about the BBC,' he added. Negotiations are about to begin over the BBC's royal charter, which sets out the corporation's purposes and the way it is run. It is reviewed every ten years and the current charter runs until the end of 2016.

The BBC has unveiled China's local version of Top Gear with a double Olympic gold diving champion, the presenter of Chinese Idol and a pop star turned actor taking the place of British hosts yer actual Jezza Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. Clarkson his very self was consulted about the line-up, which, according to Tim Davie, the chief executive of BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s commercial arm, could have featured a woman. In the end, Worldwide and its Chinese production partners plumped for three men: pop star turned professional motor-racer Richie Jen, former Olympic diver Tian Liang and Chinese Idol presenter Cheng Lei. China is the biggest market Top Gear has launched a local version in – with a potential audience of hundreds of millions. Chinese Top Gear is due to air on national broadcaster Shanghai Dragon TV in early November. The hit show already holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for most watched factual programme in the world – two hundred territories – and already has local versions in the US and South Korea. Which, no doubt, will considerably piss off big-style the phone-hacking left-wing scum tabloid and the middle-class hippy Communist louse broadsheet which have both been running - a suspiciously concerted - agenda-smeared campaign again the production of late. So, that's excellent news. As Top Gear commercial director Duncan Gray said, China is 'a huge market and opportunity. 'Chinese Top Gear will feature a Chinese Stig, plus familiar features such as a star in a reasonably-priced car and a studio audience with banter linking the films. According to the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, the Chinese show 'will mirror the UK show’s irreverent humour, presenter camaraderie, epic races, outrageous stunts and challenges, unique celebrity guest participation, and its often eccentric methods of testing cars.' However, as Gray said, it has been adapted to appeal to a Chinese audience: 'Often in foreign language markets creating it with local sensibilities and the local culture in mind is the much better proposition. There are certain elements of the format where we need to let them make it the best way for their audiences. We want them to discuss matters that relate to cars in China. When casting international versions of Top Gear we always try to bring together talent that have displayed a passion for the subject and a certain on-screen chemistry. Thus far we've had all-male presenter line-ups but that’s not to say there couldn't be a female presenter in the near future.' In addition to China, BBC Worldwide is planning more local versions of Top Gear, including a French one.

The FA Cup draw will return to its traditional Mondays in a new evening slot on the BBC for the 2014-15 season. The first-round draw will come from the National Football Centre at St George's Park in front of a live audience on Monday 27 October. 'We're delighted to bring back the tradition of the FA Cup draw on Mondays,' said BBC Sport's Mark Cole. 'We hope the new early evening show will generate a great interest for our audiences on TV, radio and online.' Mark Chapman will present the coverage from 19:00 to 19:30 on BBC2 and Radio 5Live and it can also be followed on the BBC Sport website. The new Monday evening draw is set to evoke memories of families huddled around the radio to listen to those all-important fixtures being announced in the 1970s and 80s. FA Cup draws used to be very formal until about fifteen years ago. Two men, usually dressed in blazers, would pick the balls from a velvet bag at Lancaster Gate, the Football Association's old headquarters in Central London on Monday lunchtime and the former FA chief executive, bucket of lard Graham Kelly, would announce the ties in his distinctive high-pitched girly tone live on radio. This season, BBC Sport will take the FA Cup draws live on the road from different venues across the country throughout the season, including a few 'surprise' locations. Forty ties will be drawn in this first round, as forty eight clubs from League One and League Two join the non-league teams who have battled their way through the various qualifying rounds. The Football Association's FA Cup media officer, Matt Phillips, said: 'The draw at St George's Park is going to be a very special occasion and totally different to anything we've done before with a studio audience that will represent all levels of our national game. The FA Cup is a real adventure and we're delighted that the BBC will be there to tell the story to football fans across the globe.' Audiences will be able to watch up to sixteen live matches on BBC TV along with regular highlights. In addition, every FA Cup goal will be available online at BBC Sport. The BBC has a four-year FA Cup rights contract running until 2018 in partnership with BT Sport.

The public will be able to find out what meerkats, otters and giant tortoises, housed at London Zoo, get up to when the visitors have left, thanks to new wireless technology. London Zoo is working with UK regulator Ofcom to test so-called TV White Space technology. TVWS uses gaps in the spectrum assigned for television transmissions. Videos of the animals will be streamed to YouTube twenty four hours a day. TVWS uses sections of spectrum either left intentionally blank to act as a buffer between TV signals or space left behind when services went digital. Compared with other forms of wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth and wi-fi, the radio waves can travel longer distances and also travel more easily through walls. The trials are intended to test white space-enabled devices as well as identify what spectrum is available and the processes needed to minimise the risk of interference.

And so to the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader. Get on board.

No comments: