Sunday, November 30, 2014

Week Fifty: Two Thousand Light Years From Home

The latest From The North bloggerisationisms is another one of those post-apocalyptic 'I will not celebrate meaningless milestones' moments, dear blog reader, this being the two thousandth blog update yer actual Keith Telly Topping has inflicted on y'all since he started From The North in 2006. Look at it this way, if this blogger actually had a life, he wouldn't know what to do with it. And he'd only waste it.
Figures showing the 'Live plus seven' performance of Doctor Who's eighth series have been made available. The live plus seven figure is calculated by the BBC to try to get an accurate estimate of the total unique audience for an episode of a programme over the week following its initial broadcast. Unlike official consolidated BARB figures the live plus seven uses data to include those viewers who watched one of the broadcast repeats of the episode and those who watched the episode on iPlayer within seven days of the original transmission. On average only sixty two per cent of the total UK audience for Doctor Who watch the programme live or, as a timeshifted recording, on the same day as broadcast, compared with an average of eight six per cent across all BBC programmes. Around twenty four per cent timeshift the recording compared with an average of six per cent for other shows, while four per cent watch one of the repeats compared with an average of six per cent. Around nine per cent watch on iPlayer, with the BBC average being two per cent. Live plus seven figures give a fairly consistent ratings for Doctor Who across the series, with over 10.8 million viewers tuning in for Peter Capaldi's debut episode, Deep Breath. The average rating drops to around eight million for the rest of the series with the finale, Death In Heaven, finishing with around 8.8 million watching.
The BBC has declined to comment on 'speculation' regarding Jenna Coleman's future on Doctor Who. Again. A report from the Mirra - presumably, not obtained from any phone-hacking, oh no siree Bob, very hot water, and containing a bunch of quotes from an anonymous 'insider' which don't sound, even remotely, like the kind of thing real people say - claimed that Coleman will remain with the long-running family SF drama into its ninth series. This, despite speculation that the actress would depart the series at Christmas. Speculation which the Mirra itself was responsible for starting in the first place back in August. So, first they claimed she was going, now they're claiming she's staying. What's that phrase about even a broken clock being right twice a day? The story alleged that Jenna's character, Clara, would then depart midway through Doctor Who's ninth series, next year. 'It's just speculation,' a BBC spokesperson told the Digital Spy website, somewhat wearily. 'Viewers will have to watch the Christmas episode to find out.'
Meanwhile, according to the International Business Times - who, as long-term readers of this blog may recall, have a reputation for true and accurate reportage lower than rattlesnakes piss and roughly equal to that of the Daily Lies - have claimed that yer actual Peter Capaldi has been confirmed as returning not only for next year's series nine of Doctor Who but, also, series ten as well. They do this citing comments made by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat to The Hollywood Reporter at a London press event for the series eight DVD release last week. Interestingly, given the IBT reputation for talking utter bollocks - for example, their sensational claims in July and August that jailed ex-Scum of the World editor and the Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum', Andy Coulson had been beaten up, twice, by fellow prisoners in Belmarsh - The Hollywood Reporter itself has a somewhat different take on what Moffat actually said to them. They suggest, merely, that Steven had confirmed Peter would return next series with nothing whatsoever mentioned about another series after that - a series which, as far as this blogger is aware, hasn't even been commissioned yet by the BBC (although, there is little doubt that it will be, sooner or later). It's also nice to see the IBT following in the footsteps of many media outlets over the last few months by including ratings details for the last series as part of their story and then being very selective about which ones they actually use. They've seemingly based the numbers quoted in this piece on the incorrect overnights quoted by the BBC News a couple of weeks ago. Note the figure '7.3 million' quoted for Deep Breath which is not only wrong, it's wrong whichever set of figures you use - it's either 6.8 million on overnights, 9.2 million on consolidated figures including timeshifts or, as noted above, 10.76 million on live plus seven figures. Good old International Business Times, seemingly happy to keep up their well-deserved reputation of talking out of their arse on a regular basis.

On Saturday evening, BBC1 began its countdown to the Christmas season with a special trail broadcast after the latest episode of Strictly Come Dancing, reminding viewers of some of the Christmas programmes they have enjoyed on the channel in previous decades. The trail, which is available on the official BBC YouTube channel, features examples of some of the channel's previous festive station idents, clips from various Christmas specials down the years, including William Hartnell. The Feast Of Steven, the seventh episode of the 1965-66 serial The Daleks' Master Plan, was the first Doctor Who episode to be broadcast on Christmas Day. Famously, at the conclusion of the episode, The Doctor turned to directly address the audience, breaking the fourth wall for the first time in the show's histroy, to wish: 'A Happy Christmas to all of you at home!' Contrary to an oft-stated fan myth, this was a scripted line and not an ad-lib from Billy. A recreation of the scene was made as a DVD extra for An Adventure In Space And Time featuring David Bradley and can also be viewed on the BBC's YouTube channel, here. The BBC Christmas trail features the audio of Hartnell's line taken from the episode which, of course, no longer exists in visual form, played over footage of Hartnell as The Doctor looking directly into the camera as he faces down one of the eponymous adversaries in The War Machines. The trail also uses the TARDIS sound effect over some of the old Christmas idents to give the impression of going back in time and features clips from more recent Doctor Who Christmas specials such as The Christmas Invasion and Voyage Of The Damned. Christmas Day television is a peak viewing time in the UK, with special editions of popular programmes gathering large audiences and much competition to see which shows will end up at the top of the ratings. Doctor Who's next Christmas special, Last Christmas starring Peter Capaldi his very self, is expected to be broadcast on Christmas Day, at a time yet to be confirmed. This is the tenth year in a row that Doctor Who has been accorded the prestige of BBC1 Christmas Day broadcast. The trailer also features clips from a number of classic BBC programmes including Only Fools and Horses, EastEnders, The Two Ronnies, Till Death Us Do Part, Call The Midwife and Miranda. Earlier this week, the BBC announced its Christmas film and television line-ups. Special editions of Would I Lie To You and Never Mind the Buzzcocks have been confirmed, while Avengers Assemble leads the movie listings.
There's a very good piece at the Den Of Geeks website entitled Sherlock series three: One hundred and eleven things we learned from the special edition DVDs which is well worth a few moments of your time.
Fancy a job working as What Culture's Doctor Who expert out of their Newcastle office, dear blog reader? Then, check out this job opportunity. Looks intriguing does it not? Now, I know you think it sounds like the ideal job for yer actual Keith Telly Topping, taking into account the location, the need for professional writing experience and some broadcasting contacts, being a member of fandom and having an online presence. But, this blogger simply can't do it. He's got a bad back. And, you never know, heavy lifting might be involved.

I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want)climbed back up to over eight million overnight viewers on Thursday. The ITV show rose to an average of 8.14m at 9pm. On BBC1, Watchdog appealed to 3.52m at 8pm, followed by Life Story with 2.78m at 9pm. Question Time gathered 2.50m at 10.35pm. BBC2's Strictly: It Takes Two attracted 1.78m at 6.30pm, while MasterChef: The Professionals brought in 2.75m at 8pm. The latest episode of The Fall was seen by 2.01m at 9pm, while Russell Howard's Good News failed to amuse 1.29m at 10pm. On Channel Four, Amazing Spaces was watched by 1.35m at 8pm, while Twenty Four Hours in A&E had an audience of 1.21m at 9pm. Babylon continued with four hundred and nineteen thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Underground Britain was seen by six hundred and fifty two thousand at 8pm, followed by Britain's Bloodiest Dynasty with six hundred and ninety four thousand at 9pm. On E4, The Big Bang Theory drew 1.36m at 8.30pm. Sky1's latest episode of Arrow was watched by three hundred and seventy seven thousand at 8pm.

And, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was also Friday's highest-rated overnight show, attracting an audience of 7.74 million at 9pm. Earlier on in the evening, the return of The Martin Lewis Money Show was seen by 3.34 million at 8pm on ITV. On BBC1 The ONE Show started the evening with 3.94 million at 7pm, followed by an impressive 3.37 million for The Two Ronnies Sketchbook at 7.30pm. Ratings decreased to 2.48 million for Citizen Khan at 8.30pm - hardly surprising given the fact that it is about as funny as a boil on the bum - before picking back up for Have I Got News For You, which was seen by 4.02 million at 9pm. Not Going Out entertained 2.85 million immediately after. With guests including Nicole Kidman, Julie Walters and Hugh Bonneville, BBC1 ended the night with 3.69 million for The Graham Norton Show at 10.35pm. The Home That Two Built was watched by nine hundred and forty thousand at 7pm on BBC2, followed by two million for Mastermind. Tigers About the House, a Mock The Week repeat and the latest Qi were seen by 1.09 million, seven hundred and twenty thousand and 1.47 million, respectively. Gogglebox continues to do well for Channel Four, playing to 1.99 million at 9pm. It was sandwiched between Marvel's Agents of SHIELD with eight hundred and ninety thousand at 8pm and 1.1 million for Alan Carr: Chatty Man at 10pm. On Channel Five, Ice Road Truckers had an audience of seven hundred and sixty three thousand at 8pm, followed by 1.05 million for Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild at 9pm. Body Of Proof rounded the night off with six hundred and twenty three thousand.

Strictly Come Dancing was Saturday's highest-rated show, peaking with an overnight audience of 10.27 million. Featuring dances from around the world, this week's episode was seen by an average audience of 9.63 million from 7pm on BBC1. I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was ITV's highest-rated show with 7.85 million punters from 9.45pm. It was preceded by The X Factor, which drew an average audience of 7.55 million. ITV's evening began with 3.4 million for The Chase: Celebrity Special at 7pm and ended with 2.55 million for The Jonathan Ross Show at 10.50pm. On BBC1, Atlantis was seen by 3.76 million at 8.15pm, followed by 3.92 million for Casualty. BBC1's evening ended with 2.99 million for Match Of The Day, which featured highlights from Hull versus The Scum and Queens Park Strangers versus Leicester and yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies' first defeat in six games against The Hamsters. A Dad's Army repeat was once again BBC2's best performing show of Saturday night, playing to 1.78 million. Elsewhere, Flog It! averaged six hundred and eighty thousand from 7pm, Perry And Croft: Made In Britain attracted 1.13 million viewers, while Qi XL rounded the night off with 1.10 million. Channel Four's Woolly Mammoth: The Autopsy was watched by four hundred thousand viewers at 7pm, followed by eight hundred and eighty thousand for Walking Through History: England's Last Battle and nine hundred thousand for The Inbetweeners. A Channel Five movie double bill of The Bridge At Remagen and The Expendables attracted five hundred and fifty three thousand and seben hundred and forty one thousand, respectively. ITV3's repeat of Foyle's War was seen by six hundred and ninety nine thousand, while BBC4's Inspector Montalbano had six hundred and seventy thousand.

Strictly Come Dancing also topped Sunday evening's overnight ratings. The BBC competition was up from last week to an average 9.94 million viewers at 7.15pm. On ITV, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was up around two hundred thousand punters from the previous Sunday episode to 9.15m at 9pm. The X Factor was also up slightly to 7.79m at 8pm. Earlier, Keep It In The Family brought in 2.62m at 7pm. Earlier on BBC1, Countryfile appealed to 6.68m at 6.15pm, while Antiques Roadshow was seen by 5.32m at 8pm. Remember Me drew an audience of 4.26m at 9pm. BBC2's Secrets Of The Castle gathered 1.06m at 7pm, followed by Sue Perkins's Mekong River with 2.24m at 8pm. World's Greatest Fools amused 1.39m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Secret History was watched by 1.38m at 8pm, while the latest episode of Homeland attracted 1.04m at 9pm. Channel Five's broadcast of Planet Of The Apes was seen by an audience of nine hundred and three thousand at 7pm, followed by The Expendables 2 with 1.25m at 9pm.

Here are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Four programmes for week-ending Sunday 23 November 2014:-
1 I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) - Mon ITV - 10.88m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 10.33m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.01m
4 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 8.27m
5 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.75m
6 The Missing - Tues BBC1 - 7.12m
7 The Apprentice - Wed BBC1 - 6.77m
8 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.67m
9 Remember Me - Sun BBC1 - 6.49m
10 England Friendlies: Scotland Versus England - Tues ITV - 6.40m
11 Emmerdale - Tues ITV - 6.17m*
12 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.62m
13 Six O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 5.26m
14= BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.00m
14= Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.00m
16 Formula 1: The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Sun BBC1 - 4.78m
17 Atlantis - Sat BBC1 - 4.67m
18 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.61m
19 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.57m
20 Paul O'Grady's For The Love Of Dogs - Thurs ITV - 4.53m*
21 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.44m
22 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.27m
23 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.14m
24 Not Going Out - Fri BBC1 - 4.09m
Those ITV programmes marked '*' do not include include HD figures. Saturday evening's episode of The X Factor had a final rating of 8.23 million whilst Strictly Come Dancing's Sunday result episode drew 10.28 million. BBC2's highest rated programmes of the week were MasterChef: The Professionals with 3.70m (again, all three episodes of the latter - on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - achieved audience figures above three million) and The Fall with 3.11m. University Challenge drew 2.76 million, followed by The Mekong River With Sue Perkins (2.62m), Great Continental Railway Journeys (2.53m), The Apprentice: You're Fired! (2.51m), Rugby Union (2.37m), Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two (2.31m) and Only Connect (2.22m). Qi's latest episode drew 1.56m. Gogglebox was, by a distance, Channel Four's largest-rated show (3.38m), followed by Homeland (1.84m) and Twenty Four Hours In A&E (1.79m). Channel Five's best performers were Gotham with 2.21 million, and Ice Road Truckers (1.28m). Endeavour was ITV3's most-watched programme with seven hundred and eighty three thousand viewers. Dancing Cheek To Cheek drew BBC4's largest audience of the week (1.15m). E4's The Big Bang Theory had the biggest multichannels audience of all (2.57m). Sky Living's Elementary had 1.01m. On FOX, The Walking Dead was watched by 1.14m. A repeat of Sherlock produced BBC3's largest audience of the week (seven hundred and seventy four thousand).

Yer actual Stephen Fry will be part of the cast of the Danger Mouse remake when the cartoon favourite returns to TV next year. The broadcaster, actor, Qi host and national treasure will voice the role of Danger Mouse's boss, the veteran spy Colonel K, a character voiced by The Archers actor Edward Kelsey in the original. Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse himself in the new CBBC series. Fellow Pointless regular Richard Osman will also have a role in the show - as a jellyfish scientist called Professor Strontium Jellyfishowitz. Osman said he 'could not be more delighted' to be involved, describing himself as 'a lifelong fan' of the cartoon. Kayvan Novak, from Channel Four's Facejacker, will play a number of different characters in the new version, while Ed Gaughan will play amphibious villain Baron Silas Greenback. Kelsey, who plays Joe Grundy in Radio 4's The Archers, also voiced Baron Greenback in the original, which ran on ITV from 1981 to 1992. The new series, a co-production with FremantleMedia, will initially run for fifty two episodes.

ITV has denied tabloid reports that a third series of Broadchurch is already in the works. A story in the Sun claimed that writer Chris Chibnall was working on a third run, before the second has even been broadcast. However, an ITV spokesperson has told the Digital Spy website that the story is inaccurate, with Chibnall still concentrating on finishing series two and not currently considering the show's future beyond that. So, either ITV are lying or the Sun is lying. Care to guess which, dear blog reader?

From The North favourite Gillian Anderson and Tom Hiddleston have taken the top acting honours at this year's Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Anderson won for her role as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire - a part she had coveted for thirty years. Hiddleston said he was 'so proud' to win for his title role in Coriolanus. The awards, at the London Palladium, included a surprise appearance by Kate Bush, whose comeback series of concerts were given a special award. Her Before The Dawn shows at the Hammersmith Apollo won the editor's award for creating 'a new high in music performance.' After receiving the award from Sir Ian McKellen on Sunday night, Bush thanked her audiences for 'driving us on and filling us with energy.' Picking up her best actress statuette, Anderson said: 'I haven't done that many plays and any time I do one I feel like an imposter.'

Hiddleston described Coriolanus as a 'bloody, brutal, angry play.' He revealed that he'd had four stitches in his head during the run and 'had the scars to prove it.' Among the guests at the event, presented by Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, were David and Victoria Beckham, Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory, Naomi Campbell, Sienna Miller and Dame Helen Mirren. The award for best play went to Rona Munro's epic trilogy The James Plays about three generations of Stewart Kings who ruled Scotland. Picking up the award, Munro said: 'Who knew Fifteenth Century Scottish history could be so interesting?' The Scottsboro Boys, a story of racist bigotry in 1930s Alabama, won the best musical. Jeremy Herrin was awarded the prize for best director for his RSC productions of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. Actress Laura Jane Matthewson won the emerging talent award for her performance in Dogfight, based on the 1991 River Phoenix film, at the Southwark Playhouse. She created one of the biggest cheers of the night when she said: 'It's such an honour to be invited to an event like this and not be serving the drinks.' At the end of the ceremony playwright Tom Stoppard received a lifetime achievement award from Benedict Cumberbatch who attended with his fiancée, Sohpie Hunter.
And so to the next Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 6 December
In Tomorrow's Worlds: The Unearthly History Of Science Fiction - 10:00 BBC2 - Dominic Sandbrook continues his exploration of the genre by looking at its obsession with robots. The idea of playing God and creating artificial life has fascinated writers since the earliest days of SF. Among the creations he examines are Victor Frankenstein's monster, Doctor Who's Cybermen and the time-travelling cyborg of the Terminator, as well as considering the worlds of Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica and The Matrix. Featuring contributions by actors Rutger Hauer, Peter Weller, Edward James Olmos, Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker, as well as producer Gale Anne Hurd and cyberpunk novelist William Gibson.
It is believed that one per cent of the population could be classified as psychopathic and, trust this blogger when he says that he has met them all. The documentary Psychopath Night - 9:00 More4 - goes inside the minds of psychopaths, revealing how to spot them and meeting real-life killers. It also counts down a top ten of psychotic movie characters, as selected by experts including a real-life Clarice Starling who uses Hollywood films to teach FBI trainees how to handle dangerous criminals.

When yer actual Led Zeppelin announced they were reforming for a one-off charity concert, the flurry to score a prized ticket to London's O2 arena on 10 December 2007 caused the Interweb to collapse. Was it worth it? According to those filmed coming out, it was the most 'mazing, tight and musically perfect gig they'd, like, ever seen. Bar none. To be honest, if this blogger had paid a hundred snots to see a band, he'd want them playing in the front room of Stately Telly Topping Manor but, you know, different people have different priorities. And, besides, Jimmy Page wanted to buy the rest of Scotland so, you know, these things cost. It took five years for a cinematic release of the concert footage - Celebration Day, 9:40 Sky Arts 1 - to emerge and this edited version is a decent alternative to actually being there. From the opening chords of 'Good Times Bad Times' to the powerhouse finish of 'Rock and Roll', this is pure, get down and dirty Led Zeppelin in a benefit concert to commemorate the life of Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones were joined by John Bonham's son Jason on drums as the group played a selection of songs from their back catalogue, including 'Whole Lotta Love', 'Kashmir', 'Trampled Underfoot', 'Dazed and Confused' and 'Black Dog'. And 'Stairway To Heaven', obviously.
Codes and Conspiracies - 9:00 Discovery - is a six-part documentary series unveiling the truth behind the world's most clandestine institutions, top-secret locations and mysterious symbols, beginning by investigating rumours that Washington, DC is laid out in a masonic code.
Sunday 7 December
Hannah is traumatised by Tom's mysterious disappearance and calls DI Fairholme, who arrives in Scarborough with news - the evasive pensioner has been sighted at a nearby caravan park in the final episode of Remember Me - 9:00 BBC1. When they find him, he is battered and bruised, while his caravan is destroyed and drenched in water - but he still refuses to be drawn on the significance of the song Scarborough Fair. He does, however, tell them who the original singer was, providing them with a fresh lead to pursue. Supernatural thriller, starring Michael Palin, Jodie Comer, Mark Addy and Sheila Hancock.
For eight years, Britain's biggest overseas base since the Second World War has been the powerhouse of UK and US military operations in Afghanistan and now Camp Bastion has closed down for good. A town the size of Reading with a massive infrastructure, including an airport, hospital and fast-food restaurants, has been dismantled bolt by bolt - a huge project that faced a constant threat from the Taliban as defences and manpower depleted daily. The documentary The Billion Pound Base: Dismantling Camp Bastion - 8:00 Channel Four - follows the men and women assigned to the task.

In the latest episode of Pscyhobitches - 10:30 Sky Arts 1 - Rebecca Front's therapist is visited by roller-skating comedy actress Lucille Ball, a sex-mad Mary Magdalene, gun-toting outlaw Bonnie Parker and ravenous, yeti-eating Mrs Noah. Native American emigrant Pocahontas also drops in to the consulting room to reveal she is disillusioned with modern British life along with a group of actresses traumatised by their appearances in Alfred Hitchcock movies. Co-starring Sam Spiro, Sharon Horgan, Morgana Robinson, Mark Benton and Martha Howe-Douglas.
BBC4 concludes its acclaimed re-run of The Day Of The Triffids - 8:00 - the BBC's 1981 adaptation of John Wyndham's classic SF tale, starring John Duttine and Emma Relph with the final two episodes.

Monday 8 December
The divine Goddess that is Victoria Coren Mitchell welcomes back another two teams as the second round on Only Connect continues - 8:30 BBC2 - with three linguists taking on a trio of Doctor Who fans (yer actual Keith Telly Topping very much not included) for a place in the quarter-finals. They must use patience, lateral thinking and sheer inspiration to make connections between groups of four things that may appear at first not to be linked, with one set of clues consisting of a rat, zombies, a paternity dispute and racism. That'd be the subjects of four Michael Jackson songs, this blogger would venture to suggest.
Remember when The Royal Variety Performance - 7:30 ITV - would usually be one of the TV highlights of the year, dear blog reader? No, yer actual Keith telly Topping neither, he's only fifty one. Anyway, Michael McIntyre hosts the 'entertainment extravaganza' from the London Palladium in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who've got the short straw this year. The allegedly 'star-studded' line-up of performers includes Dame Shirley Bassey, Bette Midler, Ed Sheeran, One Direction, Ellie Goulding, McBusted, Simply Red, Demi Lovato, Alfie Boe and Britain's Got Talent winners Collabro. Also on the bill are Stephen Mulhern, Ladysmith Black Mambazo's Inala, the casts of Miss Saigon and hit cabaret La Soiree, the soprano Pumeza, Trevor Noah, Wor Geet Canny Sarah Milican, Rod Woodward and the complete lack of comedy talents of odious, lanky streak of pale and wretched piss Jack Whitehall and Russell Kane (very popular with students). So, that'll be well worth missing, then.

Jim Gordon teams up with Assistant District Attorney Harvey Dent (and, we all know what's going to happen to him when he gets half his face burned off in the the future) in an attempt to close the Wayne murder case, much to Mayor James's displeasure in Gotham - 9:00 Channel Five. Meanwhile, Oswald Cobblepot makes contact with Fish Mooney's secret weapon Liza and Kitten Girl Selina is taken to stay in protective custody at Stately Wayne Manor, much to Master Bruce's delight and Alfred's chagrin. Crime thriller based on characters from the Batman comics, starring Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Sean Pertwee, David Mazouz, Zabryna Guevara, Robin Lord Taylor, Camren Bicondova, Erin Richards, Anthony Carrigan, Jada Pinkett Smith, Cory Michael Smith, Makenzie Leigh, Richard Kind and Nicholas D'Agosto.
Jack is commissioned by a high-profile judge to find a mysterious red book, which plunges the investigator into a world of seductive club owners, drug dealers and unhinged killers in Jack Irish - 9:00 FOX. Anyone who touches the book winds up dead, but Jack has a specific reason for following its path and his search leads him to a remote coastal property with an ominous name. Crime thriller adapted from Peter Temple's novels, starring Guy Pearce as the troubled private detective, with Marta Dusseldorp.

Tuesday 9 December
Brian Pern - 10:00 BBC2 - is a spoof, if you will, rockumentary about the former frontman of progressive rock group Throtch, last seen presenting a history of music in BBC4's acclaimed The Life Of Rock earlier this year. In the opening episode, Brian and his Thotch bandmates reunite to discuss the making of a musical based on their songs, but it is not easy as they all hate each other. Not only that, but on the opening night of Stowe Boys, Brian is unexpectedly arrested by officers from Operation Bad Apples for a crime that, he claims, he doesn't know he has committed. Will he make the second half of the show? Written by Rhys Thomas and Simon Day, who also stars as the titular hero - who, obviously, isn't based on Peter Gabriel (oh no, very hot water). With the great Michael Kitchen (who, as Pern's foul-mouthed manager is just about the best thing in it), Paul Whitehouse and Nigel Havers and featuring cameos by Martin Freeman (sporting a beard because, apparently, he's just been playing the lead in a Chas & Dave biopic!), Kathy Burke, Alan Yentob, Tony Blackburn, Annie Nightingale and Billy Bragg. Sadly, it's also got odious lanky streak of diarrhoea Jack Whitehall stinking up the gaff as well. So, you know, you might want to use your recording devices wisely dear blog reader and fast-forward through the bits that he's it. Because they'll be unfunny shit, just like everything else the risible waste-of-space touches.
The flashback scenes move forward to 2009, three years after Oliver's disappearance in the seventh episode of The Missing - 9:00 BBC1. No significant progress has been made in the case, and Tony and Emily's marriage is hanging by a thread. But then a surprise turn of events brings them both back to France for the first time since 2006. In the present day, the latest information has provided a tenuous lead. Emily is back in Chalons Du Bois and as the case finally seems to be getting somewhere, there is a thawing in her and Tony's relationship. Drama, starring James Nesbitt and Frances O'Connor.

Two MasterChef: The Professionals semi-finalists work a shift in Nathan Outlaw's restaurant at the Capital hotel in Knightsbridge - 8:00 BBc2 - before the chef asks them to prepare one of his signature dishes; turbot cooked on the bone, served with deep-fried potatoes and capers, asparagus, peas, broad beans and a warm tartare sauce. So, fish and chips with mushy peas, basically. Can Keith telly Topping have his without the peas. I hate peas. They then face a final test in which they must use what they have learned from their experience to cook a main course and a dessert for Marcus Wareing and sour-faced and angry Monica Galetti, who pick one of them to go through to the last round of the contest.
Our War returns - 9:00 BBC3. The award-winning documentary exploring the war in Afghanistan through the words and pictures of the soldiers on the frontline, includes the story of a platoon sergeant who lost one of his men just two weeks into their tour and the terrifying moment a British Apache helicopter fired on its own men - with devastating consequences. The film also catches up with some of the soldiers today, as they offer their reflections on the conflict, wonder whether it was worth it and explain how it has changed their lives.

Professor Jim Al-Khalili investigates the important yet perplexing theory of quantum physics in The Secrets Of Quantum Physics - 9:00 BBC4. Beginning with Albert Einstein's work which questioned the validity of the subject in the 1930s - with his ideas largely ignored until scientist John Bell found a way to test his concerns during the 1960s. The presenter then recreates this experiment - with shocking results.
Wednesday 10 December
In the final Great Continental Railway Journeys - 9:00 BBC2 - yer actual Michael Portaloo follows in the footsteps of Edwardian travellers to trace a route recommended in his copy of George Bradshaw's guide from the heart of France to the Mediterranean coast. His journey begins in Lyon, where he learns how the city got its gastronomic reputation, and takes instruction from a leading chef on making an omelette. In Avignon, he samples a glass of the region's famous wine Chateauneuf-du-Pape, before his journey ends at the Mediterranean port of Marseille, where he joins a pilot boat as it leads a supertanker to its berth. Nice work if you can get it.

Tonight sees the first episode of the much-anticipated two-part, fact-based drama The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies - 9:00 ITV - starring Jason Watkins. It's December 2010 and retired school teacher Christopher Jefferies finds his life in Bristol turned upside down when the police question him about the disappearance of his young tenant Joanna Yeates, who has gone missing just before Christmas. Her murder then becomes a major news story and the press seize upon Jefferies as a suspect, despite the lack of anything even approaching evidence and smear his name and reputation - with destructive results. With Ben Caplan, Shaun Parkes, Nathalie Armin and Joe Sims. Concludes tomorrow. It is to be hoped that every pond scum journalist that was involved in this sorry affair will be watching this. And squirming at the scummish, loathsome ways. But, of course, they won't.
Spike Milligan: Love, Light And Peace - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary offering a personal portrait of the truly unique comedian, as told in his own words and featuring exclusive home movie footage. With contributions from those who worked with him, lived with him and were inspired by him.
Gibbs travels to his home town, Stillwater, after hearing the sad news of his father's death in the final episode of series eleven of NCIS - 9:00 FOX (a plotline which was caused by the real-world death of the much-loved Ralph Waite, who played Gibbs Snr). Meanwhile his team investigates whether a fire on a US Navy ship that served as a secret detention site for indicted terrorists was accidental or an intentional diversion for escape. Starring Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette, Sean Murray, Brian Dietzen, Emily Wickersham, Rocky Carroll, David McCallum and Billy Dee Williams. Isn't it about time you guys at FOX started showing some new episodes of this fine series or, is that too radical a suggestion?

Thursday 11 December
With Paul Spector under surveillance, Stella Gibson wants to make sure that a solid arrest strategy is put in place so that no evidence is lost when the time comes and the police have the best chance of saving Rose Stagg's life. However, the killer's unpredictability forces the detective to act quickly as her carefully laid plans fall apart in front of her eyes. Thriller, starring Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan and Colin Morgan.
Mike Read presents an edition of Top Of The Pops - 7:30 BBC4 - first broadcast on 13 December 1979. Featuring music from Fiddler's Dram, yer actual Paul McCartney MBE, The Tourists, ABBA, The Beat, The Inmates, Blondie, The Pretenders and Pink Floyd their very selves. With dance sequences by Legs & Co.

The historian Sam Willis charts how Edward I turned the castle into an instrument of colonisation in Castles: Britain's Fortified History - 9:00 BBC4. He spent a large amount of money on subduing the Welsh and built fearsome fortresses in Caernarfon, Gwynedd and Beaumaris, which were used to impose England's rule on the country. However, when the king's attention turned to Scotland, his plans didn't go as expected.
Chris Evans and scourge of the alleged 'bullies' Fearne Cotton host the inaugural BBC Music Awards - 8:00 BBC1 - broadcast live from Earls Court. An array of British and international singers and bands come together to celebrate the past year in music and there could be a few surprising collaborations. Performers confirmed so far include Ed Sheeran, Paloma Faith, Take That, Coldplay, George Ezra, Labrinth, Ella Henderson, Calvin Harris and pop-classical fusion quartet Clean Bandit - and One Direction. One or two of whom yer actual Keith Telly Topping has actually heard of. During the evening, three awards will be presented - British Artist of the Year, International Artist of the Year and Song of the Year - and while the first two are chosen by a panel of music journalists, the last one is voted for by members of the public.

Friday 12 December
Actor Martin Clunes hosts Paul Merton, Ian Hislop and their guests - comedian Reginald D Hunter and Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark - on the week's Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1 - hoping to raise a few laughs along the way. This is the last in the current series. Meanwhile, Stephen Fry continues Qi's exploration of subjects beginning with the letter L - 10:00 BBC2 - as he asks a range of fiendish questions on the topic of Liars & Lying. Joining regular panellist Alan Davies are comedienne Sara Pascoe stand-up and The Last Leg host Adam Hills, both of whom are great. And, stinking up the joint for the second time this series, odious lanky streak of worthless piss Jack Whitehall. Who isn't.
Listen, it's really very simple.
Anyway, Canterbury Cathedral - 9:00 BBC2 - is a new observational documentary series following a year in the life of this Eleventh-Century building, which is the home of the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion, as well as being a Unesco World Heritage Site. Having taken over from Rowan Williams in February 2013, the Most Reverend Justin Welby celebrates his first Christmas as the Archbishop of Canterbury, while the cathedral's Great South Window is taken down for restoration and a new girls' choir makes its mark after fourteen hundred years of male domination of the choral tradition.

If you're looking for possibly the least interesting thing on TV tonight, then this blogger directs you straight to A Night in With Olly Murs - 9:00 ITV. A 'musical extravaganza' (it says here) with the 'pop star' (it says here), who performs some of his 'best-known hits' - both of them - alongside songs from his new CD. Z-list 'celebrity' guests also get involved, as Olly has a lip-sync battle with cheeky chappie Scouse funster John Bishop, goes 'photo-bombing' with Nicole Scherzinger and plays a trick on his former Xtra Factor co-host Caroline Flack. He also pays a visit to Albert Square, where he stars in his very own EastEnders scene with Alfie Moon. Hateful, dear blog reader. If anybody was looking for a prime example of everything that is wrong with not only television but also society's obsession with the fatuous in the Twenty First century, here it is.

And so to the news.

The crime novelist PD James, who wrote more than twenty books, has died aged ninety four. Her agent said that she died 'peacefully at her home in Oxford' on Thursday morning. The author's novels, many featuring the detective Adam Dalgliesh, sold millions around the world, with various adaptations for television and film. Her best known novels include The Children Of Men, The Murder Room and the Pride And Prejudice sequel Death Comes To Pemberley. The author told the BBC last year that she was working on another detective story and it was 'important to write one more. With old age, it becomes very difficult. It takes longer for the inspiration to come, but the thing about being a writer is that you need to write,' she said. 'I hope I would know myself whether a book was worth publishing. I think while I am alive, I shall write. There will be a time to stop writing but that will probably be when I come to a stop, too.' In a statement, James's publishers, Faber and Faber said: 'This is a very sad day for us at Faber. It is difficult to express our profound sadness at losing PD James, one of the world's great writers and a Faber author since her first publication in 1962. She was so very remarkable in every aspect of her life, an inspiration and great friend to us all. It is a privilege to publish her extraordinary books. Working with her was always the best of times, full of joy. We will miss her hugely.' Fellow authors also paid tribute to James, including Ruth Rendell, who was a close friend and fellow life peer. 'She was wonderfully accurate in her police work; she really took great pains about it. She took great care and she got it right. She did not make mistakes, she saw to it that she didn't,' Rendell told BBC Radio 4's Front Row programme. 'She knew very well what she thought a perfect universe would be and she wanted her books to come close to that, to show what it should be. She held up people who were bad - who acted wrongly - as examples of the kind of people she didn't like and didn't want others to be affected by,' Rendell told John Wilson. Ian Rankin tweeted: 'So sad about PD James. Every event I did with her was a joy. Sharp intellect, ready wit.' Val McDermid said: 'I salute the great PD James for so many reasons. Today, I've lost a friend as well as a teacher. There was nothing cosy about Phyllis.' Booker Prize winner AS Byatt told BBC News: 'The world will be a worse place without her. The writing was terribly good. When people in her books died, other characters' lives changed too. She was working with real people that she cared about. She said crime fiction should win the Booker and tried to have it taken seriously. Phyllis was on the borderline between crime fiction and literary fiction. She attended to detail and knew about chemistry and the nature of poisons and stabbings. She was always in control and always knew where she was going and what would happen.' Born Phyllis Dorothy James in August 1920, the author did not publish her first novel, Cover Her Face, until she was forty two. It was a critical success, but she continued working for the Home Office - where she held a job in the forensic science department and then the criminal law department until 1979. She gained international recognition in 1980 after the publication of her eighth book, Innocent Blood. During the 1980s, many of James's Adam Dalgliesh novels were adapted for television by ITV, starring Roy Marsden in the lead role. The BBC later adapted Death In Holy Orders and The Murder Room in 2003 and 2004 respectively, starring Martin Shaw as the detective. James's 1992 dystopian novel The Children Of Men was also given the big screen treatment in 2006 with a movie directed by Alfonso Cuaron and starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore. The author was awarded the Crime Writers' Association's Diamond Dagger award in 1987 for lifetime achievement and received the Medal of Honour for Literature in 2005 by National Arts Club. She also served as a BBC governor from 1988 to 1993 and famously confronted former Director General Mark Thompson in 2009 during an edition of BBC Radio 4's Today programme about the excessive pay packets given to some of its top executives. She grilled Thompson while serving as a guest editor of the show, telling him that it was 'really quite extraordinary' that thirty seven BBC executives earned more than the Prime Minister. Thompson's successor Tony Hall paid tribute to the writer, calling her 'a wonderful governor of the BBC, a brilliant author and a unique talent. Throughout her career she made a significant contribution to public service broadcasting and just last Christmas millions enjoyed BBC1's adaptation of Death Comes To Pemberley,' he added. In 1991 she was created a life peer - Baroness James of Holland Park - in recognition of her role.

Anyway, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's something appropriate to celebrating meaningless milestones.

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