Saturday, November 01, 2014

Dark Water: The Gathering Winds Will Call The Darkness Soon

'You know who I am!'
'Do I have your attention?' In, Dark Water - the first of the 2014 two-part Doctor Who series finale - The Doctor finally comes face-to-face with completely mad-as-toast Missy, the mysterious woman who has been popping up throughout the series, greeting dead characters as they have entered what she and her (equally strange) assistant, Seb, have variously described as 'The Promised Land', 'Heaven', 'The Afterlife' and 'The Nethersphere'. As you might except, the true identity of yer actual Missy has been endlessly speculated over by much of fandom since she first appeared at the end of Deep Breath ten weeks ago, particularly as she seems to know so much about The Doctor and his various doings. Who the Hell (or, you know, Heaven) is she? The Master (or, you know, The Mistress, if you prefer)? The Rani? The latest head-honcho in the Land of Fiction? Romana? A future Clara? A parallel universe version of River Song? None of these people? Well, that question is answered before the end of Dark Water, but enough about her for the moment. Y'see, it turns out that 'plans have been drawn up' and 'an impossible choice is looming', as a sinister organisation known only as 3W promises: 'Death is not an end'. Oh, and The Cybermen invade London. Again. Just an average Saturday night in The Doctor's world, in fact. Last week Danny told Clara that he wanted to know 'the truth', no matter what it was, concerning her continued wish to travel with The Doctor. Consequently we start this episode with Clara in the process of telling him (on the phone, admittedly) just exactly that. In a proper Doctorish style, she's blurting it all out - a massive information-dump - a chaotic and bombastic stream of places been, things seen, and addictions thoroughly satisfied. There is, however, a very human side to all of this, a signal, perhaps, that Clara is learning, as Danny wanted of her, to 'fear a little less', and to trust more. And then, just when you think that's all been sorted out nicely, he gets hit by a car and very killed. Never saw that coming. Though, to be fair, neither did he.

Which brings us to The Doctor his very self. 'I am the spirit of dark and lonely water,' noted the black-robed Grim Reaper-type figure in a notoriously terrifying public information film of the 1970s (voiced by Donald Pleasance, just for extra bowel-shattering effect, dear blog reader) and, in the process, scaring the Bastard Buggering Bejesus out of an entire generation of impressionable youths like this blogger. 'Ready to trap the unwary, the show-off, the fool.' Perhaps The Doctor should have listened to Hoody Don's sage advice. Thus far in his thirteenth regeneration, The doctor has been rather careless more than once, certainly conceited and blasé and occasionally downright cavalier in his attitude towards others (notably, his Clara). It's true that he has also shown not inconsiderable degrees of bravery, heroism, profundity, humanity, faux-naif trust, humour and lots of other highly Doctor-ish qualities, but he's made more than a few mistakes. And now, some of those mistakes are coming back to haunt him,. Quite literally.
'This is it, Clara. One of those moments. The darkest day. The blackest hour. Chin up, shoulders back, let's see what we're made of, you and I.' Dark Water is the opening episode of a two-parter, the first time Doctor Who has attempted a multi-episode story since The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People in 2011 and the first time the production has done a two-parter as a season finale since The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang in Matt Smith's first series as The Doctor. Some fans reportedly dislike two-part stories for a variety of reasons. This blogger has always found a broader canvas to be something worth investing in if, and only if, the material justifies two episodes. On The strength of Dark Water, next week's finale, Death In Heaven is going to have to contain a vast shitload of padding and more running up and down corridors than the third and fourth episodes of an average Jon Pertwee six-parter combined to screw-up the possibilities displayed in Dark Water. This is the best opening to a multi-episode story in Doctor Who since Utopia. Possibly, since The Empty Child. Dark Water is Doctor Who demonstrating that complexity, ambition and even, perhaps, a touch of self-promotion are not, necessarily, bad things if you've got a product worth boasting about.
'I'm sorry everyone, another ranting Scotsman in the street. I had no idea there was a match on!' For an episode that depends for much of its impact on a couple of surprise plot-twists (on, in particular), Dark Water sets out its arsenal of wares in a very cleverly constructed way. There's a deeply impressive pre-title sequence ending with a shock death of the regular character, much subtle characterisation in the early scenes, a really sharp little moment of emotional thrust at the halfway point, a big reveal three quarters of the way through, a false climax that leads viewers in one direction and then, in its final two scenes, a couple of twists that rocket the episode to its conclusion on a knife-edge with one of the finest cliffhangers that Doctor Who - a drama whose reputation was broadly built on such conceits - has ever pulled up. Not bad for forty five minutes work, you might well concede, dear blog reader, and you'd be dead right. Dead being the operative word. 'Don't cremate me.'
'All the graves of planet Earth are about to give birth.' The script is good, needless to say. Minimalist and stripped of much in the way of over-egging, it's an episode with a taut, claustrophobic and smart central plot. It's also full of gruesome ingenuity and weird little side avenues which add to, rather than subtract from, the whole. It isn't, perhaps, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat's best script for the show - it's no The Girl In The Fireplace, for instance - but it's certainly one of his most genuinely unsettling. Not merely in terms of the horrors lurking in the ominous 3W Institute, either. It is by turns provocative, humorous, poignant, deadly serious and yet, at other times, more than a little bit daft. And, isn't it ironic that Moffat, the author who once wrote episodes in which 'no one dies' should have ended up here, in an episode in which the entire process of death and the afterlife (or lack of it) is what Dark Water is all about. There's a flashback to a properly awful moment in Danny Pink's past which is a set-up for a truly devastating moment late in the episode. We finally get to see the oft-mentioned 'bad day' that soldier boy Dan once lived through. And, subsequently, to him having to try and face up to the consequences his actions. Speaking of which, Dark Water is, by a distance, Sam Anderson's best episode. Both he and Jenna Coleman take their characters to some new - and darkly unhappy - places. This is particularly true of Jenna - Clara, in this episode, is so determined to achieve her bottom line that she's even prepared to threaten The Doctor with taking away the one thing he can't do without, the TARDIS. Much of the horror elements in the episode – and there is plenty – will, nevertheless, have gone right over most of the younger heads in the audience; less visual and more cerebral and conceptual in that regard. Director Rachel Talalay manages to create an eerie sense of dislocation in The Nethersphere which works beautiful when juxtaposed against the wit that Peter Capaldi brings to the party.
'These are tombs. Why would anyone go to so much trouble just to keep watch on the dead?' Michelle Gomez's Missy is fascinatingly realised. Playful and lightweight, full of pithy asides one moment, a monstrously dangerous cackling harridan with a wicked kissing technique the next, playing with The Doctor with a demented and casual confidence that matches, and even surpasses, his own. She's a worthy, dare one suggest, masterful, opponent and Gomez gives it the beans-on-toast, utterly dominating every scene she's in, even those featuring Capadli. She's got a couple of fey acolytes, Chang (played by Andrew Leung) and Seb (a prissy, over-clever iPad-wielding Mark Gatiss-like turn by Chris Addison). They're both very good but, compared to Gomez, they're just kids playing around in a grown-up's world.
'Who would harvest dead bodies? I feel like I'm missing something obvious.' Continuity: Most obviously, there are both visual and dialogue references to at least three previous classic Cybermen adventures, The Tomb Of The Cybermen, Earthshock and The Invasion. There are also allusions to Forest Of The Dead ('time can be rewritten.' 'With precision'), Genesis Of The Daleks ('they're etheric beam locators!'), Revelation Of The Daleks (in an episode which deals with death and the afterlife, there are lots of black jokes about cremations, organ donations and bodies wasting), Army Of Ghosts, Waters Of Mars and The Aztecs (Clara's deliberate attempt to change the timelines), Inferno ('I've never seen lava'), The Fires Of Pompeii, The Name Of The Doctor, Logopolis (the Cloister Bell), The End Of Time ('the one you abandoned. Didn't you ever think I'd find my way back?'), Utopia, The Doctor's Wife (Time Lord cross-gender regenerations) and Listen ('remember, we did this before, We plugged you into the TARDIS interface').
Dialogue: 'Stay shut up.' There are some twenty four carat crackers on display in this episode: 'You know the key strategic weakness of the human race? The dead outnumber the living!' And: 'My heart is maintained by The Doctor.' 'Doctor who?' And: 'Look at that! You can see my house from here!' And: 'Sounds like somebody left their body to science.' And: 'I'm terribly sorry, but I'm exactly what you deserve.' And: 'If you say that again, I swear I will switch this thing off!' Dark Water contains much of the de rigeur snappy dialogue that we've come to expect from Peter and Jenna as a double act. 'You told me once what it would take to destroy a TARDIS key, that's what's so good about lava.' And: 'So what happens now?' 'Go to Hell!' And: 'You let me down', 'Then why are you helping me?' 'Why? Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?' And: 'Stop it with the eyes, don't do that with the eyes. How do you do that, anyway? It's like they inflate!' And: 'I need sceptical and critical, not mopy... Buck up and given me some attitude!' And: 'You're very realistic.' 'Tongues?' 'Shut up!' And: 'Are you okay?' 'No!' 'Good. There would be something very wrong if you were.' There are, additionally, many really funny lines which help to undercut the grim nature of the story. Like: 'You have iPads in the afterlife?' 'iPads? We have Steve Jobs!' And: 'Why is there all this swearing?' 'I've got a lot of internalised anger.' And: 'Can you just hurry up or I'll hit you with my shoe!' And: 'Good point. Tombs with windows, who wants to see their loved ones rot?!' And: 'I presume you have stairs?' 'I'm not a Dalek!'

'Either do as you are told or stop threatening me, there really isn't a third option here.' Dark Water is a remarkably confident and mature piece of television drama, with some very serious, deep and disturbing things to say about human attitudes towards death. It features terrific performances from the majority of the cast and works hard to space out its many set-pieces, all within the format of a fifty year old family SF drama about a mad man in a box. Oh, and Missy is The Mistress after all. 'Time Lady. I'm an old fashioned sort of girl!' Didn't see that coming a mile away. Bottom line, this blogger thought it was great, dear blog reader. As usual. 'nuff said.
Next week's Doctor Who series eight finale will be an extended episode. Death In Heaven will run for sixty minutes, it has been confirmed. The episode, written by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat and directed by Rachel Talalay, will be broadcast on BBC1 on 8 November from 8pm. From the following week, 15 November, the second series of fantasy drama Atlantis will replace Doctor Who in the Saturday night schedules.
Yer actual Sean Pertwee posted an image of himself dressed for Hallow'een as The Doctor circa 1973. Fabulous. This blogger was so impressed by this delicious conceit he reckons that next Hallow'een he might dress up as his dad.
Former national heaththrob David Tennant used his appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman this week to turn educator when he discovered that his host knew little about Doctor Who. David paused from promoting his new US series Gracepoint to tell Letterman all about the BBC's popular long=running family SF drama. 'It's been running fifty years – almost as long as you have,' Tennant said. He went on to praise yer actual Peter Capaldi as being 'fantastic', particularly because he's 'another Scotsman'.
Yer actual Neil Gaiman has said that he would like to write a third episode of Doctor Who. The author told Audrey Niffenegger at a Q&A in New York that he is 'eager' to write for the current Doctor Peter Capaldi. He previously wrote 2011's The Doctor's Wife (which was really very good indeed) and last year's Nightmare In Silver (which, sadly, wasn't). The great Gaiman - whim yer actual Keith Telly Topping once shared a convention panel with and has rather dined out on the story ever since - said: 'Whenever I'm in the UK, I sneak into meetings with [the production team]. They say, "Can you do another one?!" and I say, "Yes! But not yet!"' He continued: 'Now I'm just sort of hoping that I can get one done while Peter Capaldi is still The Doctor, because it would be a very sad thing if I lost my chance to write for a grumpy, Scottish Doctor.' When asked what he would like to write about in any potential future episode, Gaiman added: 'I haven't done an episode set on Earth yet, and I haven't created a new monster. So there are boxes left to tick. And there's part of me that feels I haven't scared anybody yet. I'd love to do something that sends adults behind the sofa too and makes them wee.'

Benedict Cumberbatch his very self has offered up some definitive answers about the love life of his Sherlock Holmes. Although it was implied in the BBC drama's second series premiere that Skerlock is a virgin, Benny told Elle magazine that this may no longer be the case. Asked whether he would like to see Sherlock have sex in the series, Cumberbatch responded: 'Oh, he has. He shagged Irene Adler, that night they had together when he rescued her from a beheading.' And there, dead blog reader, is that point that a thousand pieces of extremely badly-written fan-fiction erotic suddenly become canon. Slippery slop, Ben, slippery slope. Cumberbatch went on to suggest that Sherlock would have enjoyed The Sex despite his canonical lack of interest in it: 'Even if it was for queen and country or for some purpose. He's sociopathic, he could probably do that, I think.' However, Benny then shattered the hopes of a few hundred 'shippers, responding to the question of whether Sherlock would ever slip Molly Hooper a length of his big dirty maleness, with a simple 'no.' Pfft. Spoilsport.
The Apprentice dipped to under six million overnight viewers for odious bully-boy Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie's latest ego-inflated firings on Wednesday. The BBC1 series dropped by just over one hundred and fifty thousand viewers week-on-week, though it still comfortably topped the night's figures with 5.91 million at 9pm. BBC2's spin-off The Apprentice: You're Fired brought in 2.48m at 10pm. Earlier on BBC2, The Great Interior Design Challenge continued with 1.20m at 7pm, followed by Autumnwatch with 2.57m at 8pm. Trust Me, I'm A Doctor was watched by 1.58m at 9pm. ITV's Surprise, Surprise had an audience of 3.69m at 8pm, while the Scott & Bailey series finale regained around three hundred thousand viewers week-on-week with 4.14m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Supervet appealed to 1.47m at 8pm followed by Grand Designs with 1.16m at 9pm. Coverage of the 2014 Mercury Prize attracted seven hundred and fourteen thousand viewers at 10pm, with an additional seventy eight thousand punters watching on More4. Channel Five's Nightmare Neighbour Next Door brought in 1.05m at 8pm, while Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away brought in 1.52m at 9pm. Wentworth continued with six hundred and nine thousand at 10pm.

Paul O'Grady's For The Love Of Dogs topped Thursday evening's overnight ratings outside soaps. The ITV show appealed to 4.46 million viewers at 8.30pm. The Great Fire continued with 2.43m at 9pm. On BBC1, Watchdog brought in 3.31m at 8pm, followed by David Attenborough's Life Story with 3.94m at 9pm. Question Time drew 2.30m at 10.35pm. BBC2's Autumnwatch interested 1.74m from 8pm. Sadly, a faulty generator caused a power cut midway through the flagship nature programme. Viewers were watching the live programme being broadcast from Morecambe Bay when it suddenly cut after half an hour. Hosts Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan about in the process of talking about barn owls eating starlings when screens suddenly went blank. The BBC2 studio announcer seemed equally unprepared for such an eventuality, coughing and spluttering an apology before a fragment of an old episode of Coast about the Isle of Wight was shown. Normal service was resumed after about ten minutes and the presenters apologised for the break in transmission. Peaky Blinders was seen by 1.44m at 9pm. Russell Howard's Good News attracted 1.11m at 10pm. On Channel Four, Amazing Spaces had an audience of 1.38m at 8pm, while Twenty Four Hours in A&E returned with 2.07m at 9pm. Channel Five's Underground Britain was seen by 1.03m at 8pm, followed by Sham Wedding Crashers with eight hundred and fifty seven thousand at 9pm. E4's latest The Big Bang Theory episode was watched by 1.59m at 8.30pm. Elsewhere on the multichannels, Sky1's Arrow returned with three hundred and ninety two thousand at 8pm, while BBC4's The Detectorists had four hundred and nine thousand punters at 10pm.
Speaking of Autumnwatch, a quick note of appreciation from the blogger his very self concerning how fine the musical soundtrack has been this series; because, let's face it, it's always nice to see old Packham being given the opportunity to dust off his extensive record collection! Friday night's episode, for example, included snatches of The Clash, The Lightning Seeds and van Morrison, to name but three. Tasty.
Plus, of course, Autumnwatch remains, by a considerable distance, the best place of television if you enjoy looking at a pair of tits. oh yes.
Lewis was Friday's highest-rated overnight show outside of soaps. The fourth episode of the current series was seen by an average audience of 4.4 million at 9pm on ITV. Between visits to Coronation Street, a Secrets From Tthe Sky Stonehenge special entertained 2.41 million at 8pm on ITV. Have I Got News For You was once again BBC1's highest-rated show outside of soaps, drawing in 4.05 million viewers at 9pm. BBC1's evening kicked off with 3.56 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by 2.71 million for A Question Of Sport at 7.30pm. Citizen Khan returned to 2.86 million viewers at 8.30pm, while Not Going Out was seen by 3.22 million at 9:30pm. Featuring guests Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Lena Dunham and Micky Flanagan, The Graham Norton Show capped off BBC1's evening with 3.35 million at 10.35pm. Mastermind kicked off BBC2's night with 1.26 million, followed by 1.3 million for Autumnwatch: Unsprung and 2.34 million for the final episode of Autumnwatch 2014. Tom Kerridge's Best Ever Dishes continued with 1.24 million at 9pm, Gardeners' World had an audience of 1.33 million at 9.30pm and Qi was watched by 1.82 million at 10pm. Gogglebox continued to attracted big numbers for Channel Four, being watched by an average audience of 2.69 million at 9pm. Marvel's Agents of SHIELD dropped to eight hundred and forty thousand punters for its second episode. Alan Carr: Chatty Man closed the night with 1.09 million. On Channel Five, Rome: The World's First Superpower was seen by six hundred and twenty seven thousand at 8pm, followed by six hundred and seventy nine thousand for Alex Polizzi's Secret Italy and four hundred and ninety nine thousand for Body Of Proof at 10pm.

TV comedy highlight of the week came from Have I Got News For You, and guest host Damien Lewis's comment: 'This is the unexpected profits announced by Tesco. The Serious Fraud Office has been looking into Tesco's accounts. If you're looking for pre-cooked books, I think you can find them on aisle three. Tesco's new boss has been given a four million pound "Golden Hello." The outgoing Finance Director and Chief Executive were given a "two-for-the-price-of-one Fuck Off!"'
Meanwhile, on BBC2, Qi were having 'fun with spectacles.'
The legend that is Vic Reeves and Jody Latham have joined the cast of Inspector George Gently. Vic will appear in the third episode of the drama's eighth series as 'a shady pawnbroker'. Is there any other sort? Meanwhile, Latham (probably best known to dear blog readers for his recurring role in Shameless) will play a character called Jonjo Burdon, described as 'a skinhead maniac' - once again, is there any other sort? - in the fourth and final episode of the series. Inspector George Gently's eighth series will be broadcast on BBC1 in early 2015, and is comprised of four feature-length episodes. Sherlock's Louise Brealey, Emma Cunniffe, Anthony Flanagan, Adrian Bower, Paul Brennen, Danny Cunningham and Lucian Msamati will also feature in the new episodes. Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby will return for the series, which is set in Durham in 1969. Written by Peter Flannery and based on Alan Hunter's novels, the drama follows the titular London inspector solving crimes in the North East.

Call The Midwife's creator Heidi Thomas is developing a new US-based drama about nurses. The as-yet-untitled project is expected to be co-produced by a UK and US channel and will focus on a team working in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1920s. According to Broadcast, Thomas is working with Neal Street Productions on the series, which is to be shot on location in the Kentucky mountain range. The story will be based on the work of Frontier Nursing Service founder Mary Breckinridge, who was inspired by the district nursing systems of London and Scotland. Breckinridge went on to lead a small team in the Appalachians, where they encountered multiple challenges including mudslides, snakes, wildcats and disease.

Channel Four will imagine a country run by the odious fuck-faced waste-of-oxygen Nigel Farage in a spoof documentary which will be broadcast in the run up to next year's general erection. The broadcaster, which has previously used the, if you will, mockumentary genre to put Tony Blair on trial and execute Gary Glitter - and, hey, why ever not? - will use actors alongside real-life footage for its fictional portrayal of the UKiP leader in Downing Street. One Hundred Days Of UKiP, a working title, will follow the trials of a newly-elected female MP in Farage's party as she attempts to follow up its promises to create a new Britain free of interference from Europe. Channel Four said that casting for One Hundred Days Of UKiP will be announced soon. It will be made by Raw TV, the same production company that was behind last year's Channel Four drama-documentary Blackout, exploring the effects of a cyberattack on Britain's national grid, which also combined fictional scenes with archive material. Tory defector Douglas Carswell became UKiP's first elected MP in the Carswell by-election last month. Farage's party is tipped to gain its second House of Commons representative at the Rochester and Strood by-election on 20 November following the defection of another Tory, Mark Reckless. Such has been the surge in support for UKiP that forecasts have suggested Farage could potentially hold the balance of power after the national poll on 7 May next year. Executive producer Richard Bond said: 'With support for UKiP growing in the polls, this is timely exploration of the effect their policies might have on Britain.' Channel Four said that the fictional documentary would 'explore the effects of an imagined future in which UKiP win the general election in May 2015 [and] tell the story of how Britain adapts to a change in government policy and political outlook.' Nick Mirsky, head of documentaries at Channel Four, said, 'This is a very exciting commission from a team known for brave and thought-provoking television.' Raw TV is also making Channel Four's Cyber Bully, a real-time docudrama starring Game Of Thrones' Maisie Williams.

From The North wishes to apologise concerning the image used to illustrate the previous story. We wish to make it clear that this was not, in fact, a photograph of Nigel Farage himself, or indeed, any other member of UkiP but, rather, of a Nazi. This blog wishes to sincerely apologise for any embarrassment and distress caused. To the Nazi. Next ...

From one lot of disgraceful shat-scum to another. Student reporters claim that they have been offered 'thousands of pounds' to take and provide photographs of students dressed up as Jihadi John or the murdered UK hostage Alan Henning for Hallow'een. They claim they were also told that if they could get photographs of students dressed as Ebola victims or in other controversial outfits, these could make a front-page story. Student newspapers that were contacted include the University of Manchester's Mancunian, Bath student newspaper Bath Impact, and Leeds University's The Gryphon. 'It is not clear whether the woman was acting with the knowledge or authority of the Sun,' the Gruniad Morning Star states in a piece on the claims. Gráinne Morrison, one of the editors at the Mancunion, said: 'Our editor-in-chief was phoned by a reporter claiming to be from the Sun, who offered him thousands of pounds if he could find a picture of a student dressed up as either Jihadi John, a name given to a British member of Isis said to be behind several beheading incidents this year, or Alan Henning, the Salford resident who was killed by Isis at the beginning of October. They implied that if we could make that happen, they would reward us and if we wanted to go even further, there would be even more reward. We felt that it was really shocking and we had to write something about it, because obviously we weren't going to find them a picture.' Morrison added that she and other students at her paper were 'particularly offended' because Alan Henning was from the Greater Manchester area and his death had been shocking to the student community there. 'We felt that they were trying to misrepresent students, by trying to get us to send something that would not only make students look bad but that would also be completely insensitive, especially for Manchester students. Manchester students have been very affected by Alan Henning's execution.' Joel Smith, activities officer at Manchester student union, told the Mancunion: 'We strongly condemn this journalistic approach which sought to damage the integrity of both our union and the Mancunion. The reputational damage to any individual who does end up on the cover of [a paper] could really affect them, and the paper is showing blatant disregard for this.' Ben Butcher, a reporter at Bath Impact who was also contacted, said: 'A woman claiming to be from the Sun phoned on Wednesday afternoon to ask if we were planning on sending any photographers out to cover Hallow'een events. We were told that pictures of Jihadi Johns would be a front-page story, but Ebola victims would also be good. They said a substantial financial reward would be offered. They wanted to portray all students as stupid – based on the actions of a few. We wouldn't want to sell out the whole student body like that.' Last year the Sun published photos of two University of Chester students who won a nightclub's Hallow'een fancy-dress competition wearing costumes depicting the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.

The great Richie Benaud is set to make his broadcasting return a year after being injured in a serious car crash. The eighty four-year-old former Australian captain, revered throughout cricket and one of the sport's most widely respected commentators, sustained shoulder and chest injuries when he lost control of his vehicle in October last year. He is now set for a tentative comeback on the Australian network Channel Nine, with the possibility of further appearances during a busy 2015 schedule. Nine's head of sport Steve Crawley told Fairfax Media: 'Richie is coming in to work to voice a teaser for the first Twenty/20 [against South Africa] next week. That is the first bit of work Richie has done in more than a year since his car accident. He is good. In his words, he is moving along slowly but happily. It will be lovely to have him launching our summer of cricket next week.'
Horrible nasty little full-of-his-own-importance twonk Alan Titchmarsh is to explore the Queen's garden for ITV. What a pity we no longer live in times where people could get hanged, drawn and quartered for such malarkey.
The BBC has, very satisfyingly, rejected a demand by the Argentinian ambassador to apologise for Jeremy Clarkson's controversial Top Gear visit to the country, saying the BBC2 special will be broadcast as planned. The corporation instead backed the Top Gear team's view of the events as victims of Argentine aggression, and insisted once again that the number plates were a coincidence. Much to the obvious disappointment for some odious half-arsed hippy Communist lice at the Gruniad Morning Star who have spent the last few months involved in a suspiciously concerted and sinisterly agenda-soaked campaign to create as much bad publicity and stir up as much trouble as possible for Top Gear in general and Jezza in particular. So, that's great. Danny Cohen, the BBC's director of television - continuing his recent trend of, for once, actually showing a bit of backbone and telling the crass bullies where they should go - said that there was 'no evidence' to support the Argentine allegation that the number plate on Clarkson's Porsche - H982 FKL - was a deliberate reference to The Falklands War. The presenter, his colleagues Richard Hammond and James May and the programme's production team were forced to flee the country amid violent scenes at the beginning of last month, later described by Clarkson as 'the most terrifying thing I've ever been involved in.' Cohen said in a letter to the ambassador: 'The BBC was disturbed by the violence the team faced during their visit and I know we are agreed that this violence should not be condoned. I am very aware that some have questioned whether the number plates were in some way a prank. I would like to reassure you again that nothing we have seen or read since the team returned supports the view that this was a deliberate act.' Clarkson's comments in his Sunday Times and Sun columns after returning from the trip, in which he branded the Tierra del Fuego province of Argentina a 'Mafia state' and accused its government of allowing the Top Gear team to walk into 'an ambush', further outraged Argentina's ambassador to the UK, Alicia Castro. Or, at least, that's what they claimed. Cohen said: 'Turning to Jeremy Clarkson, in addition to being employed by the BBC, he is also a columnist for two national newspapers. Mr Clarkson stands by the account he has provided in his newspaper columns. We do plan to go ahead and broadcast the Top Gear programme filmed in Argentina. We will ensure that these programmes are a fair representation of what took place throughout their stay.' Cohen met with Castro at Broadcasting House at the beginning of last week to discuss the ambassador's request for a public apology over Clarkson's 'provocative behaviour' and 'offensive remarks'. And, tell her to sod off with her 'demands', one hopes. Whether he also asked Castro if she would like to take the opportunity on national television to apologise for her country's appalling human rights record during the 1970s when it was ruled by a fascist junta and their sick murdering secret police is not known at this time. But, if he did, it would seem Castro chose not to.
Convicted kiddie-fiddler and hateful filthy old rotter Rolf Harris has lost the first round of a legal challenge against his conviction for indecent assaults. The disgraced entertainer was extremely jailed in July for nearly six years for twelve indecent assaults on four girls, including one aged just seven or eight. The Judicial Office confirmed a judge had refused his application for permission to appeal, lodged in August. But the eighty four-year-old can still renew the application before three judges at the Court of Appeal. He was very jailed for five years and nine months for the offences, which took place between 1968 and 1986. Attorney General Jeremy Wright decided in July not to refer Harris's sentence to the Court of Appeal despite one hundred and fifty complaints over its alleged 'leniency.' He said that he did not think judges would find it to be unduly lenient and increase it. Harris's victims included a young autograph hunter, two girls in their early teens and a friend of his daughter's against whom he committed a catalogue of abuse over several years. One victim said the abuse had taken away her 'childhood innocence.' Mr Justice Sweeney said upon sentencing that Harris took advantage of his celebrity status and had shown 'no remorse.' Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Police said they had received 'a number of allegations' about Harris and his filthy ways since his conviction, which are currently being investigated.

The BBC has rejected outright a demand from The Green Party to be part of the proposed TV leader election debates, a decision which, according to the Gruniad Morning Star (of course) has made the Greens 'furious'. Blimey, a couple of hundred risible middle-class hippy Communists in Brighton who knit their own yoghurt have gone aal irate and stroppy and discombobulated. And, like as not, initiated a strongly worded T-shirt campaign. Which should, in and of itself, be a sight to see, dear blog reader.
It may look like a slow news day at ITV News HQ, but there is, actually, a good reason why Mary Nightingale and Alastair Stewart decided to take a nap on their desk. The pair posted the photo online in support of the bedless campaign, which has been launched by charity Shelter From the Storm. The organisation - which supports London's homeless through winter - is asking people to post pictures of themselves sleeping in strange places to raise funds to support those living on the streets of the capital.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United's revival under Alan Pardew continued as they picked up a third successive league victory - and fourth in all competitions - against a toothless Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws side who continue to struggle for form. Substitute Ayoze Perez, who scored in the Magpies' impressive win at White Hart Lane last week, netted the second-half winner from close range after the visitors failed to clear Paul Dummett's cross. Newcastle also went close through Remy Cabella and Papiss Demba Cisse as victory - their first at home over the Reds in five attempts - moved them to within a point behind their opponents. The win lifted United into the top half of the table and made it an amazing turnaround in fortunes for Pardew and his side. Just as with the Capital One Cup victory against Sheikh Yer Man City on Wednesday, the win was secured with a very inexperienced front line with Sammy Ameobi, Rolando Aarons and Perez ending up front and Remy Cabella also joining from the bench. Mehdi Abeid kept his place in midfield and performed well again alongside Jack Colback and Moussa Sissoko whose return to form has coincided with the dramatic improvement in the team's performance and results. But the visitors also contributed to their own downfall with an inept display, epitomised by their sulky centre-forward, Mario Balotelli who never looked likely to score. Defeat for Brendan Rodgers's side initially left them nine points behind leaders Moscow Chelski FC, who stretched that margin to twelve points by winning against Queens park Strangers later in the afternoon. While the defence is a continuing concern under Rodgers' stewardship - they have kept only one clean sheet in the last twelve matches - far more worrying for Reds fans is at the other end, where summer signing Balotelli, a 'calculated risk' as Rodgers labelled him, has not worked so far. There was a small fanfare when he was brought in to fill the void left by nasty bitey Luis Suarez's move to Barcelona, but while the Uruguayan managed thirty one goals last season between snacks, the Italian will be lucky to get a fifth of that total on current form. Balotelli's game revolves around explosive power and instinct rather than guile, but he barely fired, only threatening with a first-half free-kick which Tim Krul easily held. His team-mates provided little support and rarely troubled the Newcastle defence, with only headers from Martin Skrtel and Philippe Coutinho, the latter producing a marvellous save from Krul, causing any jitters in the home backline. Despite being handicapped by injuries to winger Gabriel Obertan and Cisse during the match, Newcastle never looked anything but a team riding on a high after starting the season so poorly, while the confidence gained from beating Leicester City, Stottingtot Hotshots and then Sheikh Yer Man City in the cup was clearly visible. Four fantastic team performances have turned things around for Pardew and the manager must also take credit for some substitutions and tactical switches that have been key to the successes. It should have been 2-0 late on when Perez and Cabella charged upfield with the Frenchman left with just the keeper to beat. But, Simon Mignolet stuck out a foot to deny Cabella his first Premier League goal. At the conclusion of an amazing seven days, The Magpies celebrated their fourth successive win with a group huddle on the pitch, while cheers and applause from home fans raised the rafters at St James' Park. The turnaround in fortunes has been nothing less than miraculous and rightly brought the ground to its feet in appreciation. Pardew even spoke about treating himself to a pint in Toon post-match.
So, anyway, dear blog reader yer actual only went and done yet another British, European and Commonwealth All Comers PB on Friday morning, didn't he? Thirty bloody two lengths of the pool.
Yer actual Keith telly Topping his very self would have illustrated what happened next as well, but sadly he couldn't find an image of Aquaman going to Greggs' for a bacon sarnie and a coffee.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, it's about time for something properly Lush.

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