Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Week Forty Seven: Pale Stones & Epitaphs, Roses On A Barbed-Wire Fence

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's most favourite TV reviewer in the whole wide world, ever, bar none, the Metro's very excellent Keith Telly Watson (no relation) cast a critical eye over Death In Heaven in his latest column, dear blog reader. And, he found it good - even if he did use that hateful 'Whovian' word in the process. Seriously, Keith mate, take it from yer actual Keith Telly Topping (who, on this one subject, does know what he's talking about), no Doctor Who fan with an ounce of dignity and self-worth uses it: 'Steven Moffat, you are a one,' wrote yer actual Keith (no, the other one). 'Looks like the next thing he won't be telling us is the identity of the Time Lord's new companion, as Clara (Jenna Coleman) bowed out of Doctor Who just as she'd begun to feel indispensable. I'm no Whovian but I can appreciate great writing. This was Moffat at his intelligent, humane, generous best and his cast knew it, delivering on all the burgeoning promise of a fine series in a beautifully balanced finale. As Missy, Michelle Gomez was a worthy sparring partner for the peerless Peter Capaldi - petulant, ingenious and ruthless enough to leave Earth in such a fix that only appointing The Doctor as President could save it. Not even Malcolm Tucker ever aspired to such a promotion but The Doctor, 'the blood-soaked old general', didn't want it after all the suffering he'd seen. With the help of Clara and Danny in his dying fall, he found another way to win.' Yes. What he said.
The first image from Doctor Who's Christmas special has been revealed. Yer actual Peter Capaldi and Nick Frost star in the, as yet untitled, episode which will be shown on BBC1 over the Christmas period (almost certainly on Christmas Day). A preview of the episode will be broadcast on the BBC Children In Need appeal telethon this Friday from 7.30pm. In the festive episode, Capaldi will be joined by Jenna Coleman he very self (yes, she hasn't left, at least not yet, anyway), as well as guest stars Natalie Gumede, Nathan McMullen, Michael Troughton and Faye Marsay.
The next issue of Doctor Who Magazine is available this week from all good newsagents (and, some bad ones) and features an in-depth interview with yer actual Michelle Gomez her very self.
Doctor Who ended its eighth series with more than 5.4 million overnight viewers on Saturday. Death In Heaven - which saw The Doctor once again facing off against his old-foe-with-a-sex-change, Missy and which drew an AI score of eighty three - was watched by 5.45m overnight punters from 8pm on BBC1, the long-running family SF drama's highest overnight since Capaldi's debut episode, Deep Breath earlier in the year. Strictly Come Dancing attracted 9.37m from 6.30pm, the strongest numbers of the night. The Royal British Legion Festival Of Remembrance was watched by 5.01m from 9.10pm. Later, Match Of The Day drew 3.01m. On ITV, The X Factor rose slightly week-on-week to 7.72m from 8pm. The Chase preceded the singing competition with 3.04m. The Jonathan Ross Show managed 2.43m from 9.45pm. A repeat of Dad's Army had an audience of 1.23m on BBC2. The Culture Show received eight hundred and ten thousand in the 8pm hour before the channel's coverage of the F1 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying - in which Nico Rosberg took pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton - averaged 1.47m. The latest Walking Through History was watched by nine hundred and seventy two thousand from 8pm on Channel Four. It was followed by the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which drew 2.14m. On Channel Five, festive films The Christmas Heart and The Case for Christmas were watched by four hundred and five thousand and four hundred and seventy thousand punters respectively. On, just in case you were wondering, it was 7 November. I'm just sayin'. On the multichannels, a Doc Martin repeat averaged seven hundred and fourteen thousand from 8pm on ITV3.

And, speaking of Doctor Who's ratings, at a Royal Television Society event in London on Monday The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat was asked about them. His reply (extensive, accurate and full of nuance and context) was subsequently reported by the BBC News website in the single most ham-fisted and sensationalist way imaginable. The title of the piece is especially inaccurate. To be clear, yer actual Steven Moffat did not 'play down Who ratings slip' or anything even remotely like it. Rather, he quite correctly noted that there hasn't been a ratings slip at all to play down. He stated, again quite correctly, that viewing habits in this country are continuing to change rapidly - far too quickly, it would seem, for much of the media to get a handle on - and that, with this in mind, audience figures for Doctor Who have remained broadly consistent with previous series. 'The headline - boring though it is - is that they've barely changed since Doctor Who came back.' Moffat argued, again entirely correctly, that lower overnight figures can be accounted for by a rise in the number of viewers watching on various forms of catch-up such as video on demand and iPlayer. One would have thought that the Beeb, of all people, would have been able to write an article about television ratings with a) a bit of context in the hope of teaching their readers the difference between overnights and final consolidated figures and b) use accurate figures, not wildly inaccurate ones (the ratings figure quoted for Deep Breath in the article, for instance, was neither the overnight nor the consolidated figure - nor, indeed the Rating Plus Seven total - but something else entirely. For the record, that particular episode had an overnight audience of 6.8 million, a consolidated rating of 9.17 million and a Ratings Plus Seven figures of 10.76 million. So where the Hell this 7.4 million figure comes from is anyone's guess). With friends like these, dear blog reader, who needs enemies?
At the RTS event, Steven talked about the current series. The showrunner was appearing at the Doctor Who: Anatomy Of A Hit event alongside his fellow executive producer Brian Minchin, producer Nikki Wilson, director Ben Wheatley and special effects producer Rob Mayor, to discuss how the twelfth Doctor emerged from script to screen. Moffat said the casting of Peter Capaldi had been inevitable as soon as Peter's name was mentioned in connection with the role. He agreed that the casting of an older Doctor may have 'unsettled' that part of the popular family SF drama's audience which had grown up with David Tennant and Matt Smith in the role.' We definitely ruffled their feathers by changing the actors. Shows don't die when they change, they die when they are comfortable. If you're watching it saying "I'm appalled!" Well then, you're still watching it!' He said that the casting of Danny Pink had been 'very difficult' because all the actors who auditioned had been so good. He added that making Doctor Who is 'always difficult' because each story is so different. 'The terrifying thing is you discover at the start of every new show that you've learned nothing in making Doctor Who.' Moffat said he felt 'no guilt' about lying about the return of The Master at an event for the launch of Deep Breath. It would, he suggested, have ruined the surprise climax to Dark Water. Because the reveal of Missy's true identity was filmed on location outside St Paul's Cathedral in London the actors mimed their lines and post-synced the dialogue later. To try to keep the secret, the team even went to the trouble of recoding as scene where Missy identifies herself as a Random Access Neural Interface, hoping fans would pick up on the acronym and spread the word that The Rani was returning.' Whenever I arrange skulduggery, no-one ever notices,' Steven bemoned. Moffat revealed he has tried the misdirection trick before, and with a similar lack of success. 'When we did The Day Of The Doctor, we went to the trouble of having John Hurt's character referred to as Omega throughout. Is nobody stealing scripts these days?' Moffat was asked about the killing of Osgood in the final episode, defending it as 'necessary. I was aware thatTthe Master as a character gets cuddly very fast. If we're going to bring her back, she's got to kill someone in a horrible way. Otherwise she becomes a slightly more naughty Doctor.' Ben Wheatley said that he was 'disappointed' by the leaking of unfinished early episodes from series eight onto the Internet as some fans first view of the new Doctor would be 'in an unfinished episode.' Moffat admitted that, as a fan himself, he would have looked. 'I would have had to go and look. It would have ruined it for myself, but it was a new Doctor.' The showrunner, as noted above, was asked about the audience reaction to series eight, in particular about perceived falling ratings. 'The figures are the same,' he said. 'If by "ratings", you mean the number of people who watch the show, they are the same. The number of people who watch Doctor Who on iPlayer has trebled. The way people watch it has changed but viewing figures have remained the same. The way people watch it has changed. People watch it on catch-up to a much greater degree, but there is no drop-off in the ratings. For the record, [even] if our overnights were our final rating, that would still count as a hit. I would be working hard, even as a Scot, to be disappointed!' Brian Minchin also pointed out how well the show is doing globally now, for example the audience watching on BBC America is up thirty percent since Capaldi took over the role. The team are now working on preparation for series nine, with Moffat currently writing the opening episode. The list of writers has been decided but the details are secret for the time being.

Lord Snooty's Downton Abbey dropped its audience slightly week-on-week for its Sunday series finale, overnight data reveals. The ITV period drama dipped by around one hundred thousand punters to an average audience of 7.92 million at 9pm. This is down by around 1.7m from last year's finale, which attracted an overnight audience of 9.64m. Earlier, The X Factor fell by around four hundred thousand to 7.17m at 8pm. This is the lowest-rated results show of the current series so far and the second-lowest Sunday episode overall. Meanwhile, Keep It in The Family was watched by 3.28m at 7pm. On BBC1, Strictly Come Dancing easily won the night with 9.30m at 7.45pm, dropping around four hundred thousand from the previous week but still having more than enough to give The X Factor a jolly good thumping. Which is always good for a laugh. Countryfile appealed to 7.07m at 6.30pm, while the BBC's F1 coverage of the Brazilian Grand Prix scored 3.26m at 8.30pm. Match Of The Day 2 brought in 2.14m at 10.35pm, featuring yer actual Keith Telly Topping's (though unsellable Magpies) giving the West Bromwich Albinos a damned good hiding. Which was, dear blog reader, glorious in yer actual Keith Telly Topping's sight. BBC2's Mekong River With Sue Perkins attracted 2.36m at 8pm, while Police Under Pressure interested 1.33m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Speed with Guy Martin had an audience of 1.40m at 8pm, followed by Homeland with 1.14m at 9pm. Channel Five's coverage of the MTV EMAs drew complete indifference from four hundred and ninety nine thousand at 9pm. BBC3's repeat of Doctor Who's Death In Heaven was watch by a little over two hundred thousand viewers.

Grantchester topped the Monday overnight ratings outside soaps for its finale episode. The James Norton and Wor Geet Canny Robson Green ITV crime drama fell by around one hundred thousand viewers from the previous episode to 4.61 million at 9pm. Countrywise appealed to 3.05m at 8pm. On BBC1, Inside Out brought in 3.54m at 7.30pm, while a different Panorama to that advertised gathered 2.18m at 8.30pm. Gareth Malone's All-Star Choir rose by around one hundred thousand viewers week-on-week to 3.85m at 9pm. BBC2's University Challenge was watched by 2.54m at 8pm, followed by Only Connect with 2.06m at 8.30pm. Intruders continued with four hundred and forty eight thousand punters at 9pm. On Channel Four, How Rich Are You? drew 1.19m at 8pm (276k/1.2%), while Twenty Four Hours In Police Custody continued with 1.69m at 9pm. Eight Out Of Ten Cats eight hundred and seventy thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Mysteries Of The Bermuda Triangle had an audience of seven hundred and eighty six thousand at 8pm, followed by the latest episode of Gotham with 1.43m at 9pm and Under The Dome with six hundred and sixty three thousand at 10pm. On FOX, The Walking Dead was watched by six hundred and twenty two thousand at 9pm.

The Missing rose again to top Tuesday's overnight ratings. The BBC1 drama climbed by around one hundred and fifty thousand viewers from the previous week to 5.79 million at 9pm. On BBC2, The Great Interior Design Challenge appealed to 1.54m at 7pm, followed by MasterChef: The Professionals with 2.60m at 9pm. Teenage Tommies attracted 1.04m at 9pm. ITV's Wilderness Walks interested 2.46m at 7.30pm, while Hotel In The Clouds brought in 2.59m at 8pm. The Nation's Favourite Queen Song was watched by 2.72m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners drew 1.35m at 8pm, followed by You Can't Get The Staff with nine hundred and seventy four thousand at 9pm. A Gogglebox repeat was watched by nine hundred and forty two thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Britain's Worst Crimes had an audience of eight hundred and seventy thousand at 8pm, while Miracle Babies had seven hundred and sixty thousand at 9pm. Sky1's latest episode of The Flashwas watched by six hundred and fifteen thousand at 8pm. On Dave, Storage Hunters UK attracted seven hundred and thirty two thousand at 8pm and seven hundred and sixty eight thousand at 8.30pm.

The Apprentice rose to its second-highest viewership this series, Wednesday's overnight data reveals. The BBC1 show climbed by around three hundred thousand viewers from the previous week to 6.41 million at 9pm. BBC2's You're Fired spin-off gathered 2.28m at 10pm. Earlier, the much-postponed episode of Panorama interested 2.52m at 7.30pm, while a Children In Need special Looking After Mum was seen by 1.21m at 10.35pm. BBC2's Great Interior Design Challenge interested 1.43m at 7pm, followed by MasterChef: The Professionals with 2.91m at 8pm and The Great Continental Railway with 2.29m at 9pm. On ITV, Surprise, Surprise had an audience of 3.45m at 8pm. The second part of Broadmoor was watched by 2.25m at 9pm. Channel Four's Posh Pawn brought in 1.38m at 8pm, followed by the return of Liberty Of London with 1.04m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Gibraltar: Britain In The Sun attracted eight hundred and sixty five thousand at 8pm, while Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away continued with 1.22m at 9pm. Wentworth's latest episode was seen by five hundred and sixty five thousand at 10pm.

Here are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Five programmes for week-ending Sunday 2 November 2014:-
1 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 10.93m
2 Downton Abbey - Sun ITV - 10.31m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.25m
4 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 8.66m
5 The X Factor - Sat ITV - 8.17m
6 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.66m
7 The Apprentice - Wed BBC1 - 7.62m
8 Doctor Who - Sat BBC1 - 7.34m
9 Emmerdale - Wed ITV - 6.85m
10 The Missing - Tues BBC1 - 6.28m
11 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.73m
12 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.48m
13 Grantchester - Mon ITV - 5.44m*
14= Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.39m
14= BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.39m
16 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.35m
17 Lewis - Fri ITV - 5.28m*
18 Scott & Bailey - Wed ITV - 5.09m*
19 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.84m
20 Life Story - Thurs BBC1 - 4.65m
21 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.46m
22Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.43m
23 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.23m
24 Paul O'Grady's For The Love Of Dogs - Thurs ITV - 4.10m*
25 Not Going Out - Fri BBC1 - 3.97m
Those ITV programmes marked '*' do not include include HD figures. Doctor Who's consolidated figure for the episode Dark Water included a timeshift above the initial 'live' audience of over two million viewers for the ninth time in eleven weeks (2.07 million to be exact). The series' average timeshift across all eleven episodes of the series so far remains bang on two million. For the first time in as long as this blogger can remember, Saturday evening's episode of The X Factor had a final rating higher than the Sunday evening results show, albeit only by a few thousand (8.17 million on Saturday, 8.11 million on Sunday). Meanwhile, this blogger is trying to remember the last time an episode of The X Factor didn't feature in the top three most watched programmes of the week during a week in which an episode was broadcast. Oh yes, it was last week, wasn't it? Strictly Come Dancing's Sunday episode drew 10.06 million, meaning that the BBC show whipped The X Factor's bare ass on both Saturday and Sunday for the fifth week running. One wonders what Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads will have to say about that malarkey? Nothing good, one imagines. BBC2's highest rated programme of the week was The Apprentice: You're Fired! with 3.08m. University Challenge drew 2.85 million, followed by Autumnwatch (2.79m), Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two (2.29m), Only Connect (2.13m), Peaky Blinders (2.10m) and Qi (also 2.10m). All four of Autumnwatch's nightly episodes pulled in an average audience of more than two million viewers. Gogglebox was Channel Four's largest-rated show with a very impressive 3.87 million, followed by Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.49m) and Speed With Guy Martin (2.40m). Channel Five's best performers were Gotham with 2.56 million, Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away (1.85m) and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (1.82m). Doc Martin was ITV3's most-watched programme with seven hundred and twenty three thousand viewers. Lewis attracted seven hundred and thirteen thousand. Inspector Montalbano drew BBC4's largest audience of the week (six hundred and seventy eight thousand), followed by Storyville: Exposed, Magician Psychics (six hundred and sixty three thousand) and Detectorists (five hundred and twenty five thousand). E4's The Big Bang Theory had the biggest multichannels audience of all (2.40m). Sky 1's The Flash had 1.53m. Dave's Storage Hunter UK attracted 1.23m. Sky Living's best performing show was The Blacklist (nine hundred and seventy thousand).

The Bleeding Cool website - which has been the source of the majority of the incredulous and hyperbolic reporting of rumours concerning the possible recovery of Doctor Who missing episodes over the last year is, would you Adam & Eve it, at it again. Their latest article, citing an anonymous (and, therefore, quite probably fictitious) alleged 'secret source', spins a not-particularly-convincing story of half-truths, financial shenanigans and Chinese whispers. Whether there is a basis in fact for any of this, God only knows. Time will tell, dear blog reader. It usually does.
Fancy another reet good laugh, dear blog reader? Well, here's something that might tickle yer funny bone. Some plank (one Tristan Berry - no, me neither) has started a petition on the change.org website - you know, the place which is supposed to be there for petitions about genuinely important political and social issues - urging the BBC to 'rerun "classic" Doctor Who in order from Hartnell to Mcgann [sic].' Oh, grow up, sonny, for God's sake. And, please note the misspelling of McGann into the bargain. This blogger particularly enjoyed the pointedly sneering tone of Tristan's line 'this is important because newer fans of the show do not know all of the past story lines of Doctor Who and many do not understand the shows progression throughout the years.' Oh, rilly? Sez you, matey. Here's a thought: Wouldn't it be nice if all those episodes were, let's say for the sake of argument, available for purchase via DVDs and downloading or on some sort of streaming services, for anyone that wished to watched them? Oh, wait, they are. Silly me. You know, this blogger is all in favour of more Doctor Who being shown on our telly-boxes, dear blog reader, but idiotic numskull 'everybody look at me, me, me, me, me' nonsense the likes of this automatically makes me want to ignore such ridiculous elitist bollocks on general principle and shovel it into the gutter, where it belongs. The petition, incidentally, at the time of writing has a whopping two hundred and twenty signatures (from people, one presumes, with nothing better to do with their time). I think, Tristan mate, that you're probably going to need a fair few more than that to get anyone at the BBC to take you even remotely seriously. Having an issue which people actually give a monkey's about might help. Next ...
This blogger is pure dead indebted to the very lovely Colin Fletcher for alerting him to the following letter in the latest issue of Viz magazine and asking the obvious question: 'Any relation, Keith'? God, I hope not!
James Harding, the BBC's director of news, has pledged that Panorama will broadcast the exposé of Sun on Sunday journalist Mazher Mahmood 'as quickly as possible', despite pulling it at the eleventh hour on Monday after an intervention from Mahmood's lawyers. Harding, speaking at the Society of Editors conference in Southampton, said that the documentary was 'extremely revealing' and 'squarely in the public interest.' Despite winning an appeal to reveal the identity of Mahmood, known as The Fake Sheikh, the BBC decided not to broadcast the documentary following a last-minute intervention. BBC executives, led by Harding, decided to pull Fake Sheikh: Exposed just ninety minutes before the scheduled transmission time at 8.30pm. Harding told the conference on Tuesday morning: 'Before I get going, I know people are interested in what's happening on the Panorama on Mazher Mahmood: This is a seriously good piece of work, extremely revealing and squarely in the public interest. But the worst of all worlds is when you get the big picture right, and trip up over a detail. So, when some information we'd been asking to see for many days was sent to us by Mazher Mahmood's lawyers at seven o'clock last night we, as a responsible broadcaster, had to consider it. We're looking at it, and we'll make sense of it as quickly as we can, and then we'll broadcast it. Mahmood was extremely suspended by the Sun on Sunday in July following the collapse of a trial involving the singer Tulisa Contostavlos. The BBC's publicity material for Panorama said that its reporter, John Sweeney, had 'spoken to some of Mahmood's highest profile targets' and the men who helped him expose them. Lord Justice Elias, in the court of appeal in London, earlier on Monday refused Mahmood leave to appeal against Sir David Eady's ruling last Friday. He rejected the application to issue an injunction against the BBC1 show, which had already been delayed by a week. Elias said that the BBC broadcasting up-to-date images of the former Scum of the World journalist presented 'no substantial increase in risk' to Mahmood, who claims to have helped secure more than ninety criminal convictions spanning thirty years. Lawyers for the journalist, who worked at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World from 1991 to its closure in shame and ignominy in 2011, had wanted to prevent any pictures of Mahmood from 2006 onwards being shown. The judge that said Mahmood's name, ethnicity, employer and images as recently as 2006 were already well known and in the public domain. He said that Mahmood had published his own picture in his autobiography, albeit with his eyes obscured by a black bar. Harding told the Gruniad Morning Star after his speech that the decision not to broadcast the documentary, despite winning the court appeal, was 'not about a lack of confidence in Panorama. The documentary is about a number of Mahmood's stories. The issue was not with revealing his identity, it was about fresh information about one of the stories [covered in the programme]. It is one small thing we want to look at.' Mahmood himself accused the BBC of 'being deeply irresponsible' for pledging to broadcast the episode and said that broadcasting the episode was 'not in the public interest'. The irony of which will, this blogger trusts, be lost on no one.

ITV has decided not to commission a second series of the controversial comedy series Dapper Laughs: On The Pull, following widespread criticism of the show. The decision was made after around sixty thousand people signed a petition calling on Adam Crozier, the network's chief executive, to pull the ITV2 show and, after footage emerged of a comedy gig hosted by Daniel O'Reilly – who plays the character of Dapper Laughs – which made a reference to the rape of women and which mentioned the show. An ITV spokesman said: 'We have given careful thought to the recent criticism of the character Dapper Laughs, which has focused on his activities outside of the ITV2 programme, whose content was carefully considered and complied. We have taken the decision that we will not be considering this show for a second series.' In the programme, O'Reilly gives crass laddish advice on how to 'pull birds' under the guise of a deliberately provocative character with lines such as: 'Just show her your penis; if she cries, she's just playing hard to get.' And: 'If she's looking at me and playing with her hair, by the end of the night she'll need a wheelchair.' Classy. The petition called on ITV to drop the programme, saying: 'O'Reilly's work frequently depicts real-life harassment of women and in his new show he offers dating tips to members of the public inspired by his misogynistic views, all under the guise of harmless comedy. O'Reilly's attitudes towards women, and ITV's backing in particular, are far from harmless, however: because ITV has granted O'Reilly the massive exposure and credibility of its platform, everyday sexism is being normalised for both young men and women.' I'm not sure about 'massive exposure', mind. This is ITV2 we're talking about. The last episode of the series was broadcast on 7 November and drew an average overnight audience of one hundred and nineteen thousand. I mean, one hundred and nineteen thousand too many but, this is hardly The Great British Bake Off we're talking about. The former cruise ship entertainer O'Reilly come to prominence via the Vine social media website. But, public criticism of his character led homeless charity Shelter to announce it will not take any donations from revenue raised by his charity Christmas CD. The broadcasting regulator Ofcom said it had received thirty seven complaints about the show from viewers who thought it was degrading to women.

Michael Palin has said that he is 'unsure' whether to produce a new travel series. The Monty Python's Flying Circus comedian has filmed eight travel documentary series since 1988, his latest being 2012's Brazil. However, he has not made any plans to film a ninth, as it 'takes up a large amount of time' to complete. 'I did think about it,' he told the Digital Spy website and others. 'To do the series properly, especially if there's a book attached, that's two years of work. I'm pretty certain that I couldn't give up two years of my life. That is something about getting older, you start thinking, "Well, I've got a certain limited amount of time." I want to be light on my feet, doing things like [drama] Remember Me or an arts documentary, rather than commit to two years of being away. I've got two grandsons now and I don't want to be saying, "Sorry, I can't see you I've got to do this." Maybe when they grow up a bit I'd love to take them travelling.' Speaking about the recent surge of comedians fronting travel series, Palin said that the hosts have 'got to really want to do it' rather than filming for the sake of it. 'It depends how successful they are, each one is an individual thing,' he said. 'Karl Pilkington's got his thing going and he's very funny, but I can't quite work out if he really hates travelling, or loves it but only claims he hates it because it's a good gimmick. It's what you see and how you report on it. Anyone can do it if they want to travel enough. The danger is to say that because everyone's travelling, you've got to travel. You've got to really want to do it and find out something that no-one else will find out, so it depends very much on your own character and style.' Palin added that he has 'no plans' to retire from the entertainment world, saying: 'I don't know what I'd retire from. I can't imagine what retiring would mean. Not writing, not acting? It's just a carry-on until I drop. As you get older, it's great to have projects that test you, it's very important to find some new resources from somewhere, it's good for you. When you're seventy or older, there's a certain amount of wisdom, there's a certain amount of things you don't understand, but the perspective is interesting.'

Did The Times throw away its own potential world exclusive, when yer actual Mister BT Cumberbatch announced his very engagement there on Wednesday? Although the announcement was highlighted by a box in the paper's Births, Marriages and Deaths columns – and although such notices must be received 'by 3.30pm two days prior to insertion' (so, presumably tea-time on Monday, in this case) – John Witherow's paper appeared comically taken by surprise, managing only a two-paragraph down page news story on page twenty that had the air of a last-minute quickie insertion. The following day Cumberbatch and his fiancee, the lovely Sophie Hunter, were sheepishly placed on the front-page masthead, trailing a piece in T2, but by that time everyone else was going big on the story as well. A missed opportunity, one could suggest.
And, speaking of Benny, his lady, and newspapers which don't know their arse from a hole in the ground, it might be somewhat small potatoes considering what else is going on in the world at the moment, but Monday morning's Daily Scum Mail Sebastian Shakespeare column ran an obscenely 'nothing' story, speculating that Benny might be marrying someone who is, shock horror, related (distantly) to an alleged Cold War 'traitor'. Gosh, what's this? The Daily Scum Mail scrabbling around in the shittiest gutter of journalism imaginable? How very surprising. There must be a 'y' in the day.
Broadchurch's second series has been teased with a number of short trailers on ITV. Two unbranded, twenty-second clips featuring the coastline were broadcast on the channel during The X Factor results show on Sunday evening, each bearing the tagline 'The end is where it begins.'
Top Gear has announced details of its first ever UK arena tour. Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will play arenas in Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield, Belfast and London in 2015. Tickets go on sale on Friday 14 November at 9am and prices start at thirty five knicker. Expect some louse of no consequence at the Gruniad Morning Star to find something to whinge about in relation to this story within, you know, seconds.
And so to the latest batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 15 November
The fantasy drama Atlantis is back - 8:30 in the Doctor Who slot - and much has changed in the year since the death of King Minos. His daughter Ariadne is on the throne and at war with her former stepmother Pasiphae in a bloody and brutal battle for power. As the kingdom stands on the brink of collapse, there is only one person the young queen dare turn to for help - Jason. The time has come for the warrior to fulfil his destiny. Jack Donnelly stars, with Mark Addy, Aiysha Hart, Sarah Parish and Robert Emms.

In It Was Alright In The 1970s - 9:00 Channel Four - Matt Lucas narrates a look back at the decade's TV shows, meeting people who appeared in them, those who watched them and their creators. The first of two programmes focuses on 'pleasure and leisure' on 1970s television, with featured clips including outrageous adult jokes in pre-watershed sitcoms, smoking cigarettes on prime-time panel shows, a surprising history lesson aimed at children, and St Bernard dogs being offered for prizes. The footage is also seen through the eyes of people who missed the decade altogether and who find the moral values exhibited to be a real eye-opener. And, the chances of any clips from Jim'll Fix It, Rolf On Saturday - OK! and It's A Knockout featuring in this? Your guess is as good as mine, dear blog reader. But, it's probably about the same as the chances of any clip from The Black & White Minstrel Show. Yes, weren't the seventies like beyond great? Industrial unrest, a load of crap in the charts, paedophiles on TV and casual racism in everyday life. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be, is it?
Krakatoa Revealed - 10:35 BBC4 - sees Professor Nick Petford lifting the lid on the famous eruption of the tiny volcanic island in 1883, with the help of some of the world's leading vulcanologists. The blast caused a series of tsunamis which devastated the nearby Asian coastline, resulting in the deaths of thirty six thousand people and prompting the first modern scientific study of such an event.

The body of a Falklands War veteran who became one of the leading lights in the campaign against nuclear weapons is found in a stretch of river running underneath the Ministry of Defence in Solidarity, a classic two-part Waking The Dead - 9:00 Drama. As Peter Boyd and his Cold Case team set about investigating the chap's former allies, they stumble upon footage of an incident intelligence services had tried to cover up - and Grace is reunited with a former lover from her own time in the anti-nuclear movement. Much admired crime drama, starring Trevor Eve, Sue Johnston, Tara Fitzgerald, Wil Johnson and Eva Birthistle with a superb get cast that includes Jack Shepherd, John McArdle, Frances Tomelty, Penny Downie and Anna Chancellor.
If you missed it first, second, third, or sixteenth time around, then tonight is another chance to see Tony Roche's award-winning Holy Flying Circus - 9:00 GOLD - a surreal comedy drama, based on the controversy which surrounded Monty Python's Life of Brian on its release in 1979. As a campaign to ban the film gathered momentum, John Cleese and Michael Palin defended their work by participating in an infamous ambush, on the live TV chat show Friday Night ... Saturday Morning, a debate against Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark (Roy Marsden camping it up like there's no tomorrow). But, as we all know, the programme did not go according to plan. Darren Boyd and Charles Edwards star alongside Steve Punt, Rufus Jones, Tom Fisher and Phil Nichol. Stephen Fry as God.
Sunday 16 November
Rosetta; A Sky At Night Special - 9:00 BBC4 - could be a celebration of an awe-inspiring achievement, so long as everything goes to plan. On Wednesday 12 November, the space probe Philae was released from the Rosetta spacecraft to land on the rugged surface of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the first-ever soft touchdown on a comet. If the astrophysicists at the European Space Agency got their calculations right, Philae will be digging into the comet’s icy core to study its composition and history, which in turn could provide clues to the virry origins of life on Earth itself. This special Sky At Night shows events as they happened inside mission control and reveals the first, groundbreaking findings coming back from the comet. That's if it hasn't floated off the surface by then, of course.
In the second episode of The Mekong River With Sue Perkins - 8:00 BBC2 - the comedienne and presenter embarks on the most emotional leg of her journey along the South East Asian river as she witnesses how deforestation and wildlife crime are stripping Cambodia of its last wild places. Perkins, hoarse from a sore throat, visits a hermit in the heart of the Cambodian rain forest. Their meeting, however, is interrupted twice by the chirping of his mobile phone. It’s incongruous, but Perkins is so understandably charmed by the man's greeting that she doesn't seem bothered. She goes on a raid with a rapid response rescue team searching for trafficked animals and bush meat, as well as helping the unit release macaques and a slow loris back into the wild. She also spends time with the women of the Krung, who live in the remote highlands of Ratanakiri and are one of the tribes most affected by rapid deforestation.

A young woman is found dead in the rockery of an Oxford college, which is an occupational hazard in Lewis territory, of course, as the city appears to be routinely littered with corpses - 9:00 ITV3. In this episode, The Mind Has Mountains from 2011, James Hathaway and Robbie Lewis struggle to determine whether her death during a college-based clinical trial for a new antidepressant was murder or suicide, and receive little assistance from the institution's evasive psychiatric professor. A second student's demise then leads to the revelation that the trial's participants are all operating under the influence of a mind-altering drug, and that the lines between love, obsession and madness have become dangerously blurred. Guest starring Douglas Henshall, Lucy Liemann and Thomas Brodie Sangster, with Kevin Whately, Laurence Fox, Clare Holman and Rebecca Front.
A 1987 concert at the Sydney Entertainment Centre as part of David Bowie's Glass Spider tour is broadcast on Sky Arts 1 - 9:00. A show that included spoken-word performances, bizarre theatrical vignettes and 'elaborate visual effects' (it says here). And a drummer who, as this blogger well remembers from the gig he attended on that tour at Sunderland's Roker Park, sounded like he was putting up some shelves. The Grand Dame her very self is joined by a backing group that included guitarist Peter Frampton, as well as a troupe of - really crap - dancers, as she performs hits including 'The Jean Genie', 'Rebel Rebel', 'Let's Dance', 'Heroes', 'Fame' and 'Young Americans'. For masochists, lovers of bad hair and people who think Tin Machine was a good idea only.

Monday 17 November
Harvey Bullock fears that a copycat may be on the loose when the eldest daughter of a prominent Gotham family is murdered and her body left on an altar in Gotham - 9:00 Channel Five. The case matches the methods of a serial killer known as The Goat Man, who targeted the offspring of wealthy citizens before Bullock shot him dead ten years previously. Meanwhile, Montoya and Allen follow up the apparent killing of Oswald Cobblepot by canvassing people down on the waterfront, and a homeless man identifies Jim Gordon as the culprit. And, Sean Pertwee's Alfred continues to get given all the best lines that Robin Lord Taylor isn't getting. Tonight, this blogger particularly recommends you look out for the deliciously pointed way in which he notes: 'You do realise that you happen to be "one of them", Master Bruce!'
BBC4 seems to specialise in surprising mash-up's and Dancing Cheek To Cheek: An Intimate History Of Dance - 9:00 - is a clear case in point. Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman and historian - and particular From The North favourite - Lucy Worsley take a sideways look at the country's favourite dances from the past four hundred years and reveal how they relate to changes in society and culture. Len and Lucy explore how dancing went from being frowned upon as dangerous and debauched in the Seventeenth Century to being celebrated as an essential social skill a hundred years later. And then, back to being dangerous and debauched when Hot Gossip arrived. The pair begin by joining a group of performing arts students on Ickwell Green, Bedfordshire, to learn the cushion dance, a Seventeenth Century favourite with a rather raunchy reputation. In between enjoying themselves getting to grips with routines from the rural cushion dance to court dances and the minuet, Lucy and Len deliver a potted history of how moving in time to music has been used for courtship, romance and sex. There are bawdy stories about the licentiousness of maypole dancing, a demonstration of the strictures of court dancing and revelations about the disreputable image of Jacobean dance instructors, plus a joke about Len's codpiece. Oooo, err.
Gibbs goes into his favourite diner for his usual cup of joe and finds himself staring down the barrel of a gun, forcing him to question choices he has made in the past and present in the two hundredth episode of the popular crime drama NCIS - 9:00 5USA. The action then flashes back a few days to when he and the rest of the team members were investigating the death of a petty officer on board USS Gentry, which has been undergoing repairs in dry dock.
In 1973, Jamie Baulch was given up for adoption, and the former world champion sprinter has now decided to track down his birth mother a story told in Jamie Baulch: Looking For My Birth Mum - 11:20 BBc1. Helping him through the process is social worker Gemma Williams, but as he gets further into the search, he begins to question his own identity and seeks to find out whether his sporting talent is down to nature or nurture.

Tuesday 18 November
In 2006, the case is thrown into disarray by a murder, and Tony is horrified to realise someone he thought was a friend is not the person he claimed to be in The Missing - 9:00 BBC1. In the present day, Julien is intent on reinvestigating the links between the dead witness and Oliver's disappearance, while raking over the past starts to take its toll on Emily and Mark's relationship. Drama, starring James Nesbitt (in his best performance in anything since Jekyll), Tcheky Karyo, Frances O'Connor and Jason Flemyng.
Now that the FA Cup is back on the BBC, ITV will have far less opportunity from now on to inflict their woefully wretched and lousy coverage on much football upon us. Sadly, they've still got the rights to England's international matches, though. Tonight, we've got Scotland versus England friendly match from Celtic Park (kick-off 8pm), where the two oldest rivals in the international game face each other. This is the one hundred and twelfth fixture to take place between these nations and the second in two years having also met at Wembley Stadium in August 2013, in a contest which saw England emerge with a 3-2 victory. Rickie Lambert was the hero on that occasion, scoring the winning goal with his first touch of the ball after being introduced as a second-half substitute. However, the Scots led twice on the night and performed admirably throughout, and Gordon Strachan's side will be eager to triumph this time around as they entertain England for the first time since November 1999. Presented by worthless greed bucket, breakfast TV flop, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles, with commentary from Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend. Who knows nothing. Analysis comes from Lee Dixon and Glenn Hoddle. Who, it is to be hoped have a few irons in the fire since ITV are losing the Champions League shortly as well. What a shame. No, really.

Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold learn the skills of medieval castle builders by heading to Guedelon in the Burgundy region of France in Secrets Of The Castle With Ruth, Peter And Tom - 9:00 BBC2. They spend six months working on the world's largest archaeological experiment - a twenty five-year project to build a medieval castle from scratch, using only the tools and materials available in the Thirteenth Century. In the first episode, Peter and Tom are taught the skills of medieval stonemasons as they help construct a spiral staircase, while Ruth sets about equipping the simple wattle and daub hovel that is to be their base. The skill with which the local craftsmen use traditional medieval methods and tools is extraordinary: a carpenter quickly knocks up an exquisite 'grain ark' from a log, while sandstone blocks are shaped and hauled up the tower by hand. But did they really say that stones were graded into three groups called 'pith, path and poof'? Or, alternatively, you could watch More4's risible Penelope Keith's Hidden Villages instead. If you're mental, that is.
While Sherlock and Joan work together on a double homicide case, new apprentice Kitty threatens the investigation when she allows her jealousy of their obvious rapport to override her better judgment in the latest Elementary - 9:00 Sky Living. Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu and Ophelia Lovibond star.

Wednesday 19 November
Scientists predict a fit of violent activity on the sun which will propel billions of tonnes of superheated gas and pulses of energy towards Earth. In 1989 one of these solar storms, which has the power to close down modern technology, cut off the power to the Canadian city of Quebec. Horizon - 8:00 BBC4 - meets the weathermen as they try to predict what is coming and organisations like the National Grid as they prepare for the cosmic tempest. 'We are playing a game of Russian roulette with our Sun,' warns a scientist in this enlightening film about space weather. One wonders if he and the others featured in the programme are, perhaps, hyping the risks of solar storms for the sake of their budgets, but no, the danger is very real: when a solar flare erupts it does so with the power of a billion atom bombs (that’s right – a billion atom bombs), flinging a chunk of the Sun at us in a hail of magnetism, x-rays and energetic protons. That can knock out power grids and fry satellites, so forecasting space weather matters.
Michael Portaloo uses his 1913 copy of Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide to explore Poland in the latest Great Continental Railway Journeys - 9:00 BBC2. He begins in the capital Warsaw, where he takes to the floor to dance to one of Chopin's polonaises with high-school students rehearsing for their leavers' ball, before discovering how the former industrial city of Lodz supplied the vast Russian empire of the early Twentieth Century. He then heads to Poznan and rides one of the few remaining steam-powered commuter trains, visits a factory in Wroclaw that manufactures car bodies for locomotives, and ends his journey in Krakow, where he takes a tour in an iconic vehicle of the Communist era.

The week's second heat of MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:00 BBC2 - sees five more chefs enter the kitchen, with the first challenge giving them an hour to cook a plate of food that showcases their culinary skills, before one is asked to leave. Forthwith. if not sooner. The remaining four then try to impress sour-faced and angry Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace by preparing a dish featuring whelks and winkles. Stop it. After that, Marcus Wareing asks them to make a spectacular chocolate dessert. Marcus - who has fitted in so easily to the format that the most asked question amongst MasterChef fans at the moment is 'Michel who?' - and Monica then decide which three have earned a place in the next round.
On the Birmingham council estate, Charlie from the chip shop wants to swap Chelmsley Wood for Hollywood, while aspiring actor Gareth has a life-changing audition approaching, but has a battle with his weight to win first in People Like Us - 9:00 BBC3. Teen mum Sophie is reluctant to leave the hotel of mum and dad, and local taxi driver Joe shows his customers how to have a good time in his disco minibus. Narrated by Mathew Horne. Last in the series.

Thursday 20 November
Stella Gibson realises that her mistakes have put the life of witness Rose Stagg in danger in The Fall - 9:00 BBC2. Desperate to save Rose's life, she steps up the police investigation as serial killer Paul Spector continues to stalk Belfast's streets. Allan Cubbitt’s creepy, unsettling urban tale benefits hugely from the presence of yer actual Gillian Anderson. She's sensational as Stella, the obsessed cop and flawed human being. As her investigation develops, despite the meddling of that hopelessly inept assistant chief constable, she is implacable, though haunted by bad dreams. While Spector (Jamie Dornan) tries to burrow deep into the minds of his women victims and his pursuers, Stella and her team have to stay one step ahead. But, like all TV serial murderers, he’s a clever chap.
David Jensen presents an edition of Top Of The Pops - 7:30 BBC4 - first broadcast 15 November 1979. Includes performances by The Jam, Cliff Richard, Thin Lizzy, BA Robertson, Suzi Quatro, The Moody Blues, Kool & The Gang, Secret Affair, The Ramblers, yer actual Sho-Wuddy-Wuddy and Dr Hook. Plus, dance sequences by Legs & Co.

David Attenborough reveals how the competition to breed creates scenes of the most extraordinary beauty, as well as some of the most violent battles seen in nature in Life Story - 9:00 BBC1. A male flame bowerbird shows off its artistic prowess to impress a potential mate - but if that does not prove enough, it will demonstrate its dancing skills instead. Waved albatrosses pair up for life and spend hours in each other's company, although things are not so simple for a male peacock jumping spider - one wrong move in its dazzling courtship routine could prove fatal. However, one of the most magnificent displays of all is created by a tiny male pufferfish, which impresses the ladies by building a spectacular underwater 'crop circle' in the sand - arguably the most perfect and complex structure created by any animal.
Eager to justify Commissioner Miller's faith in her, Liz presents her vision for Metwork - the police's very own digital news channel that will rival established outlets and tell it like it is, for better or worse in Babylon - 10:00 Channel Four. It could be a game changer, but for Finn, Metwork is a vanity project and he's determined to kill it. Warwick's psychological state reaches crisis point after the high-risk pursuit of a gang of armed robbers, and firearms trainee Robbie realises he must sharpen up if he is to make the cut. The high-level political stuff among the Met top brass is the meat of this satire. But the parts which work best involve the SO19 unit of armed officers and their brutal banter: it feels like the germ of a bigger, funnier sitcom in itself. At the moment, the everyday machismo is veiling the fact that Warwick is having a bit of a wobble, mentally. He shot someone dead in the pilot and later was assigned to shoot a horse as part of his rehabilitation!

Friday 21 November
David Mitchell chairs tonight's Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1 - with DJ Sara Cox and Labour MP Alan Johnson joining regulars Ian Hislop and Paul Merton to poke fun at the stories of the past seven days or so. Meanwhile, Sandi Toksvig, Bill Bailey and Jason Manford join regular panellist Alan Davies for another round of Qi - 10:00 BBC2. Stephen Fry is on absolutely lethal form in this episode. Partly because that's the theme, but also because he's on fire comically. After a lengthy dissertation about a particular marsupial's energetic but ultimately deadly sex life, he solemnly wags his finger and says, 'Russell Brand take note.' Parklife.
Red learns Berlin was manipulated by a Blacklister, so the pair travel to Moscow to track down a high-ranking Russian official who they believe is responsible in The Blacklist - 9:00 Sky Living. Meanwhile, Liz struggles to keep her secret hostage from unraveling. Crime drama, starring James Spader and Megan Boone.
And so to the news:-

Peter Firmin, the co-creator of beloved children's animations Clangers and Bagpuss, is to be honoured at the BAFTA Children's Awards. Firmin, eight five, said that he was 'delighted' to receive a Special Award recognising his 'outstanding contribution' to children's media and the entertainment industry. It will be presented by Bernard Cribbins, with an introduction by Michael Palin. The awards take place on Sunday 23 November at London's Roundhouse. Firmin said that his fifty-year partnership with long-term collaborator Oliver Postgate, who died in 2008, had 'opened up the world of television to us and allowed us to explore new ways of telling stories to generations of children.' He said: 'Television has changed and developed beyond anything we could have dreamt of in the years before colour and digital and computer chips with everything, so it is touching that our work is still remembered with such affection. I'm honoured that our work, and that of everyone who contributed to it, is being honoured with this accolade.' Firmin and Postgate began making children's programmes in 1959 with Ivor The Engine, a series for ITV about a Welsh steam engine with a dragon in its boiler. It was remade in colour for the BBC in the 1970s. Firmin made the puppets and sets, while Postgate wrote the scripts and did the animation - and most of their films were made in a barn on Firmin's farm in Kent. Ivor The Engine was followed in the early 1960s by the epic Norse sagas of Noggin The Nog, Later POstage and Firman branched out into stop-motion puppet animation. These included Pogles' Wood and Clangers. In 2013, a new version of Clangers was announced, with Michael Palin providing the narration and Firmin as an executive producer. Bagpuss, about a pink and white striped cat in a shop of lost and broken objects, made his first appearance in 1974. Only thirteen episodes were made but it was voted the UK's favourite children's programme in a BBC poll in 1999. With Ivan Owen, Firmin also created Basil Brush in 1962. The fox puppet had his own show on the BBC from 1968 to 1980 and returned to the BBC in 2002. After he stopped making films in the 1980s, Firmin returned to his craft as an engraver and printmaker. Harvey Elliott, Chairman of BAFTA's children's committee, said: 'Peter Firmin helped lay the foundations for the industry we see today, all from his small barn in Blean. His legacy is delighting and enchanting a whole new generation with the upcoming remake of family favourite The Clangers [sic]. Over the past fifty years, Peter's work has thrilled, entertained and inspired generations of filmmakers and animators and he is more than deserving of the Special Award at this year's British Academy Children's Awards.'

Zoe Ball is to co-present Strictly Come Dancing again this weekend, it has been confirmed. It will be the third week in which the It Takes Two host has fronted the Saturday and Sunday programmes, after Claudia Winkleman's daughter was involved in a Halloween-related accident.
Former Australian cricket captain and legendary commentator Richie Benaud has revealed he is undergoing radiation therapy for skin cancer. The eighty four-year-old made his illness public at an event in Sydney to mark the start of Australia's summer season. 'I'm coping with it very well - the doctors are pleased,' he told Australian broadcaster Channel Nine. Benaud, who has commentated since he ended playing in 1964, has not worked since crashing his car in October 2013. He said he was receiving treatment for skin cancers on his forehead and the top of his head, and urged people to protect themselves from the sun. "I recommend to everyone they wear protection on their heads. 'Eighty-four-year-olds don't seem to mend as well as they used to,' he said. 'When I was a kid, we never, ever wore a cap. I wish I had. You live and learn as you go along,' he added. He said that he was still recovering from injuries - including two fractured vertebrae - sustained after crashing his vintage 1963 Sunbeam Alpine in Sydney a year ago. But, he confirmed that he will be returning to work with Channel Nine and will commentate on Australia's fourth Test against India starting on 3 January. Benaud made his broadcasting debut on BBC Radio in 1960 and moved to BBC Television three years later, becoming a full-time cricket journalist and commentator when his playing career ended a year later.

Keith Allen has joined Bradley Walsh and Kayvan Novak in a new BBC1 comedy, Woody. Allen has signed up alongside Emma Pierson, Jamie Demetriou and Alan Williams. The show is set on a fictional Spanish island and sees the titular undercover reporter (played by Novak) fleeing Britain after being framed by his corrupt newspaper editor. On the run, he encounters his former mentor, Brutus (Walsh), who now runs a bar on the island. Despite their attempts to stay out of trouble, the pair soon find themselves tackling a series of crimes and mysteries and up to all manner of larks and that in the process, with Woody fooling the locals with his array of impromptu disguises. Jack Dee, Kara Tointon, Tracy Ann Oberman, Paul Kaye, Simon Day, Morgana Robinson, Lee Boardman, Cavan Clerkin, Clive Swift, Alex Kirk and Sean Gilder will also cameo in the series.

Yer actual From The North favourite Gillian Anderson has hinted at a possible third series of The Fall. Which is jolly nice.
The Dog Rescuers With Alan Davies has been renewed for a Christmas special and a third series. A total of twelve episodes will be shown on Channel Five in the New Year, following the RSPCA's attempts to rescue dogs which are being neglected or abused. The Christmas special will see dogs who were rescued during series two revisited, as Davies throws them a festive party and looks back on stories featured during previous episodes of the programme. The second series of the show, presented by the comedian and dog lover, peaked with an audience of 1.7 million viewers. Greg Barnett, Commissioning Editor at Channel Five, said 'Alan Davies adds great warmth to this wonderful series which is both heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time. I'm delighted Channel Five's viewers loved it so much that we can bring it back and continue to get the people of Britain behind the good work of rescuing and rehoming dogs.'

Julia Davis is to star in a new Channel Four sitcom about a failing breakfast TV show in which any resemblance to real-life programmes past or present is, presumably, entirely deliberate. Morning Has Broken will feature Davis as Gail Sinclair, 'the Queen of Daytime' and star of Good Morning … With Gail Sinclair. The six-part series, which is expected to echo the dark humour of Davis's previous series, such as BBC3's Nighty Night and Sky Atlantic's Hunderby, takes up the story after eight years of high ratings and awards when the audience drifts away and tensions break out within the production team. Channel Four has not had a dedicated breakfast programme since the ill-fated RI:SE was very axed in 2003, filling the slot with repeats of US sitcoms such as Frasier. ITV’s breakfast troubles are more recent, with Good Morning Britain, fronted by Susanna Reid – the broadcaster’s big-money signing from the BBC – replacing the short-lived and risible fiasco Daybreak earlier this year. Morning Has Broken was one of a number of new Channel Four shows announced on Tuesday. Other new shows include Hunted, in which a group of volunteers will 'go on the run' to try to avoid detection by the UK surveillance state. You know, 'for a laugh'. There is also the observational documentary The Massage Parlour, about the UK's 'only female-owned massage parlour.'

Sky Sports are to broadcast women's test cricket for the first time. All seven of England Women's Ashes games, including one test match, will be televised on Sky in summer 2015. Clare Connor, ECB's Head of England Women's Cricket, said: 'It has already been a remarkable year of firsts for England women's cricket – the first crop of eighteen players to receive professional contracts, alongside the first standalone commercial sponsorship deal with Kia. We are now delighted to report that Sky Sports will provide live coverage of every ball of the multi-format Women's Ashes next year and in so doing, will cover a women's test match for the very first time. The level of broadcast coverage that the England women's team now gets is exceptional, and I am thrilled that the ECB, in partnership with Sky Sports and BBC Radio, continues to lead the way in this respect within international women's team sport. It is this level of exposure and support that will ensure that the women's game continues to grow, and that will inspire the next generation of England women's cricketers.' The series will begin with three fifty-over One Day Internationals on 21, 23 and 26 July, before the test match takes place from 11 to 14 August. Three T20 games will then take place on 26 and 28 August and 3 September.
Channel Four is bringing back 8pm dramas in 2015 with a new week night series The ABC, a show about a multicultural school in Lancashire. Inspired by shows such as Educating Yorkshire and Educating The East End, the series is being written by East Is East's Ayub Khan Din. The show promises to 'offer a funny and revealing insight into the daily drama of the teachers, teenagers and families whose lives and cultures collide in the large Northern comprehensive.' A press release adds: 'With the wide ethnic mix of the community reflected in the corridors and classrooms, education isn't always the first thing on the agenda for the staff and pupils of The Arnold Braithwaite College. But if anyone can appreciate the nuances and pressures of educating a diverse flock, it's new headteacher Emma Hussein.' Ayub Khan Din recently enjoyed success taking East Is East to the stage, which has won critical acclaim.

A 1984 Oxo advert starring Lynda Bellingham is to be screened on Christmas Day as a tribute to the actress, who died last month. Bellingham became a household name thanks to the stock cube commercials, which ran from 1983 to 1999. Oxo said that 'hundreds of thousands of fans' had contacted the firm after her death, asking for the advert to be repeated. The My Christmas advert will be shown on ITV at a time still to be confirmed. Bellingham had spoken of her plans to spend one more Christmas with her family days before she died of colon cancer on 19 October, aged sixty six. Premier Foods, which owns Oxo, said that it would re-screen the advert 'in memory of her life and career. Over the past few weeks, hundreds of thousands of Lynda's fans have rallied behind a call for the return of the ad as a fitting tribute for all the inspiring things she achieved during her career,' the company said. 'To honour the sad loss of such a fabulous actress, [the] organisations and individuals involved in the creation and production of this initiative have given freely of their time.' It added it would make a donation to the charity Action Against Cancer, according to the wishes of the actress's family.
Yer actual Chris Packham has written an open letter to Ant and/or Dec asking them to end 'abuse of animals' in 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) This blogger likes Packham his very self a lot but, Keith Telly Topping has to clue him up on this, a closed letter (buy a stamp, mate) sent to the producer of the programme would probably do a lot more good. The duo preside over the show's 'bushtucker trials', in which contestants eat live insects, or endure close encounters with creepy crawlies. Writing in the Radio Times, Springwatch presenter Packham described the trials as 'out of date' and 'silly'. The ITV series is set to return on Sunday. Packham said that teaching young viewers killing for 'exploitative "entertainment" is acceptable' is 'a shame that I imagine neither of you will want to take to your graves.' He wrote: 'The problem is that animals such as snakes, spiders, crocodiles, rats and many invertebrates are already misunderstood and thus unfortunately vilified, despite the incredibly important roles they play in the world's ecosystems and our lives. By orchestrating a fear of them among your contestants, I'm afraid you're reinforcing and exaggerating a terrible ignorance and intolerance of these remarkable animals.' Packham was also dismissive of the programme's use of consultants to advise on animal welfare, saying: 'I can guarantee that some animals are harmed during production, because they are fragile or easily stressed. Or simply killed, as they are in your bushtucker trials.' He added: 'The show has been running for years now. Surely it's time for it to mature, for you to accept that, as pillars of the British broadcasting community, you should put an end to this inhumane, embarrassing and destructive aspect of an otherwise great show.' Packham also said that the eating of invertebrates and animal body parts such as eyes and testes made a mockery of the needs of those from some cultures who have no choice but to eat such things. ITV responded to Radio Times, saying: 'Ant and.or Dec are the presenters of the show, and as such are not involved with the formatting of the trials, which are devised by the show's producers. ITV takes animal welfare very seriously and expert handlers are on hand at all times.' Packham is not the first person to criticise the show's treatment of animals. Tony Blackburn, who won the first series in 2002, said in 2012: 'I wouldn't have done the show if I'd had to eat bugs. They supplied Tofu for me. I don't like the way they treat creatures. I think it's cruel.' ITV was also fined sixteen hundred smackers in 2010, after contestants Gino D'Acampo and Stuart Manning killed and cooked a rat as part of the show. The RSPCA in New South Wales, Australia - where the reality show is filmed - said that it was 'not acceptable' an animal had been killed as part of a performance. D'Acampo and Manning were originally charged with animal cruelty themselves, but the charges were dropped after ITV admitted responsibility.

A man who asked a woman to turn off her mobile phone during a screening of Mike Leigh's Mr Turner was sprayed in the face with mace, it has been claimed. The alleged encounter took place at an American Film Market screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Monday, The Hollywood Reporter said. The unidentified woman was subsequently escorted from the cinema by security (and, presumably, by the scruff of her neck). An AFM spokeswoman confirmed there was 'an incident' that had 'been handled', and that 'everyone [was] okay.' The alleged altercation allegedly took place after the woman was repeatedly requested to refrain from using her mobile device near the beginning of the screening. The woman allegedly 'took umbrage' at this, took a canister of mace from her handbag and sprayed the unnamed man in the mush. The man reportedly left the cinema with a companion.

The Rolling Stones (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might have heard of them) face a battle to win a $12.7m insurance claim for the concerts they postponed when Mick Jagger's girlfriend died. L'Wren Scott took her own life in March, prompting The Stones to postpone a tour of Australia and New Zealand. The group had taken out a policy to be paid in the event shows were cancelled due to the death of family members or others, including Scott. But underwriters say that Scott's death may not be covered by the policy. In denying the claim, they say Scott 'might have been suffering from a pre-existing mental illness' which could invalidate the policy. The twelve underwriters have now won permission to seek evidence in Utah - the state where Scott was born and raised - about the fashion designer's mental health. A federal judge has allowed the underwriters to gather testimony and documents from Scott's brother, Randall Bambrough. Bambrough told the AP news agency that he 'did not know' about the court case naming him and had not been contacted to provide information about his sister. According to documents filed in the court case, Jagger was 'diagnosed as suffering from acute traumatic stress disorder' after Scott's death, and was advised by his doctors not to perform for at least thirty days. The Rolling Stones began a new tour of Australia and New Zealand at the end of last month. But, they had to cancel their Melbourne concert on Saturday after Jagger developed a throat infection. The singer is under strict doctor's orders to rest his vocal cords, according to an official statement.

The Pink Floyd Group look set to achieve their first number one LP in nearly twenty years with The Endless River, according to midweek figures from The Official Charts Company. The CD has sold more than ninety thousand copies, putting it on course to become one of the fastest-selling CDs of the year. The band say it is likely to be their last studio work. The Endless River is a tribute to Pink Floyd's keyboard player Rick Wright, who died in 2008. It is based on unreleased material from recording sessions for their 1994 CD The Division Bell. Wright, who was also a founding member of the band, appears on the record posthumously. David Gilmour told the BBC 6Music that Wright was 'underestimated by the public, by the media and by us at times I hate to say. I didn't necessarily always give him his proper due.' Nick Mason added that the CD 'is a great opportunity to recognise, remember and maybe give some credit rather late on.' Pink Floyd have previously achieved twenty seven top forty LPs, with five topping the album chart. Their last was Pulse in 1995.
An HMRC press officer who sold stories to the Sun allegedly reassured his girlfriend that he would be 'treated as a protected source' by the newspaper, a court has heard claimed. But, of course, he wasn't,. Rather, they grassed him up to the law like a bunch of dirty stinkin' Copper's Narks. What a West Ham, eh? Jonathan Hall allegedly convinced Marta Bukarewicz to let him use her account for payments from News International, a jury at the Old Bailey was told. The Sun's ex-Whitehall editor Clodagh Hartley is very accused of arranging payments totalling more than seventeen grand to Hall in exchange for a series of 'scoops.' Hall is said to have arranged with Hartley to switch the payments to Bukarewicz's bank account, in what was described as 'a botched attempt to hide his tracks.' Both Hartley and Bukarewicz deny conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. Giving evidence, Bukarewicz, a forty five-year-old administrator and massage therapist, denied knowing the payments that she received on Hall's behalf were very illegal. Nichola Cafferkey, counsel for Bukarewicz, asked when Bukarewicz had first met Hartley. 'In the magistrates court in Westminster,' she replied, referring to their first court appearance in relation to the charge which she is facing. She claimed that Hall had 'mentioned Hartley's name' previously but that the two women had never spoken to each other. 'How is it that payments from News International started to go into your account?', Cafferkey asked. Bukarewicz replied: 'Jonathan asked me if he could use my bank account. He said that it was Miss Hartley's suggestion. As I remember at the time, he explained that he is seen as "a protected source."' Asked why this meant Hall should use her account, Bukarewicz replied: 'I don't know, I can't explain. I didn't question much. What I understood at the time was that he was assisting Miss Hartley with further explanation or clarifications ... I never asked about the details.' She was asked about a text she sent to Hall: 'It may be better if you provide [the Sun] with your bank account details.' Bukarewicz explained: 'We had an argument before and I was trying to spite him, being childish.' 'Did you discuss with Jonathan what he was being paid for?', the barrister asked. She replied: 'Not in detail, no.' Prosecutor, Zoe Johnson QC, cross-examining, asked what Bukarewicz's understanding of her partner's job had been. 'I understood [his job] was just the role of press officer, as in liaising with the media and dealing with their inquiries,' Bukarewicz said. Johnson asked why Bukarewicz thought she had been asked for her account details. 'Maybe he didn't want to be found out at work,' she replied. 'I can't explain.' 'Found out about what?' Johnson asked. 'That he was assisting Miss Hartley, that he was being paid, I don't know.' 'What was it that HMRC would not have approved of?', Johnson asked. 'I don't know,' Bukarewicz claimed. 'Why did his identity need to be disguised?', the prosecutor asked. '“I don’t know, only that was all I had been told, it was standard practise at the Sun for paying protected sources ... journalists protect their sources.' She was questioned about the text sent to Hall, Johnson suggesting that this was because she knew what Hall was doing was 'illegal.' 'I didn't know what he was doing was illegal, I didn't realise,' Bukarewicz said. 'So you just chose this topic randomly?', Johnson asked. 'Yes,' Bukarewicz said. 'I don't remember being worried.' Johnson put it to Bukarewicz that she had kept eight hundred and forty five for herself as 'a reward' for using her account. Bukarewicz denied this and said: 'If he was about to give me money or had to pay for something ... instead of transferring money back and forward he asked me to keep some money back.' Johnson asked why she had recorded transfers to Hall's account as rent. 'I don't know why this came to mind, rent,' she replied. Both Hartley and Bukarewicz deny conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. The jury has been told that Hall has 'accepted' that he supplied stories for which he was paid. The trial extremely continues.

The final wave of BBC memorabilia from Television Centre has been sold off at auction, raising thousands of pounds. Studio signs and backdrops were included in the auction, alongside large items such as industrial washing machines and a cherry-picker lorry. Television Centre was built in 1960. The BBC sold it to developers in 2012 and moved operations to other buildings. Among the lots sold were a vintage microphone and a Test Card. Items from Studio Eight - which housed classic shows such as Fawlty Towers and Monty Python's Flying Circus - attracted a number of bids, with one clock fetching seven hundred and eighty knicker and the Studio Eight itself sign going for four hundred and seventy eight smackers. A collection of black-and-white portraits taken by David Bailey of stars including Paul McCartney and his mate the alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie, Michael Caine and Mick Jagger ended with bidding reaching twelve hundred and sixty four notes. While the final tally for the auction has still to be calculated, it is thought that final figure will be around one hundred grand, which will go back into the BBC. One of the highest bids was for a huge generator, which went for sixteen thousand knicker. A previous auction saw an entire Blue Peter studio sold off, as well as Jeremy Paxman's Newsnight desk and cardboard Doctor Who Dalek. Chris Kane, director of commercial projects, said: 'This auction marks the end of one chapter of the BBC's relationship with this iconic building and I hope that the winning bidders will enjoy their own small piece of TV history. The sale of Television Centre has generated huge savings for licence fee payers and with BBC Worldwide and BBC Studios and Post Production set to return, a new chapter is just about to begin.'

The lead singer of Irish band The Cranberries was arrested earlier this week following an alleged double assault on a flight from the US to the Republic of Ireland. Dolores O'Riordan was detained after an air hostess was reportedly attacked on an Aer Lingus flight from New York to Shannon on Monday. Irish police were called to meet the aircraft and during the course of the arrest, a policeman was also assaulted. Quite why Dolores wasn't arrested years ago for 'having a horrible voice' is not, at this time, known. But, it should be.

One of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, Warren Clarke, best known for his TV role in Dalziel And Pascoe, has died aged sixty seven after a short illness, his agent has confirmed. Warren, who was born in Oldham, also starred in the controversial 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, by Stanley Kubrick. He recently appeared in the BBC1 dramas Call the Midwife and Down To Earth, about a family moving to rural Devon. The actor is due to appear in the forthcoming remake of Poldark, which was his last role before his death. Warren, with his heavy set build and hangdog facial features, was a perfect fit for the grumpy police detective Andy Dalziel, who was translated to the screen from the novels by Reginald Hill. The popular series ran on BBC1 from 1996 to 2007 and clocked up forty six feature-length episodes, some of which Warren himself directed. Speaking of his curmudgeonly character in 1997, Clarke said: 'One of the reasons I did the series was because I loved the fact that he doesn't bow to liberal views of society. He's this bloke from The North who's farting, scratching and behaving badly with women.' Warren was raised in a council house in a suburb of Manchester. His parents both died within a year of one another when Warren was in his twenties, leaving him and his sister Beryl a 'bunch of photographs and lots of happy memories', he told the Daily Scum Mail in 2011. Warren wanted to be a footballer as a teenager until his passion for acting kicked in. ‘When I told my parents what I was going to do, they said, "Good luck, son."' He started his acting career on the stage of the Liverpool Playhouse and in Huddersfield Repertory. His first television appearance was in the long running Granada soap opera Coronation Street, initially in a one episode cameo as Kenny Pickup in 1966 and then as a different character, Gary Bailey in 1968. Another early TV role was in an episode of The Avengers. His first major film appearance was in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971) where he played 'Dim', second-in-command to Malcolm McDowell's Alex in the ultraviolent teenage Droogs. On the fortieth anniversary of the film's release in 2011, Clarke said that working with the legendarily exacting film director was 'extraordinary. If he thought your performance was false he would ask: "Why are you doing that?" If you didn't have an answer, he'd shout at you. But I got on well with him and I would shout at him if I thought he was pushing us too hard,' said the actor. He added that numerous offers came from Hollywood after his performance, but he turned many of them down, saying: 'It was stuff I didn't want to be involved with.' Warren appeared with McDowell again in the classic 1973 film O Lucky Man! and in the 1985 TV movie Gulag. Clarke appeared in a wide range of roles in movie productions both in the UK and abroad including The Breaking of Bumbo (1970), Charlton Heston's Antony and Cleopatra (1972), S.O.S. Titanic (1979), Hawk The Slayer (1980), Masada (1981), Enigma (1983), Lassiter (1984), Top Secret! (1984), Ishtar, (1987) and I.D. (1995). One of his most notable roles was playing a Russian dissident in Clint Eastwood's Firefox (1982). In 1984 he played the uncharacteristic, against-type role of the overtly homosexual Sophie Dixon in the landmark Granada series The Jewel In The Crown. In 1988 he appeared as Colonel Krieger in the first series of LWT's Wish Me Luck. A year later, he played two of his most acclaimed small-screen roles, Martin Fisher, the chairman of a Second Division football club, in The Manageress and Vic Wilcox, the Managing Director of an engineering firm with a complex private life in the TV adaptation of the David Lodge novel Nice Work. His other TV work included Gone To The Dogs and its sequel, Gone To Seed, Moving Story, Inspector George Gently, Midsomer Murders, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Lovejoy, In With The Flynns, Lewis, In The Red, Giving Tongue, The House Of Windsor, The Russian Soldier, All Good Things, Stay Lucky, Chelmsford 123, Big Deal, Reilly: Ace of Spies, the Play For Today Psy-Warriors, Shelley, Winder, Tales of The Unexpected, Hammer House Of Horror, The Onedin Line, Zcars, The Expert, The Sweeney and Callan. His comedic talents were be seen in one-off Comic Relief special Blackadder: The Cavalier Years, and in the episode Amy and Amiability from Blackadder The Third. In 1991 he played the one of the two lead roles in Sleepers alongside Nigel Havers as KGB agents living in Britain and leading their own lives until they are reactivated. In 2005, he appeared as Mr Boythorn in the BBC dramatisation of Bleak House. In 2008 he starred alongside Anthony Head in the - sadly, not very good - BBC drama The Invisibles and in 2009 appeared as corrupt police officer in the Channel Four trilogy Red Riding. The same year, played Commander Peters in the ITV production of the Agatha Christie's Marple episode Why Didn't They Ask Evans?. Clarke's physical presence landed him the role of Winston Churchill in a 1974 ITV drama, Jennie and he later played the politician again on stage in Three Days in May. He is survived by his second wife, Michele, their daughter Georgina and Rowan, his son by a previous marriage.

The former Casualty actress Rebekah Gibbs has died from cancer. The forty one-year-old played paramedic Nina Farr for more than one hundred episodes of the BBC medical drama between 2004 and 2006. Her agent Belfield & Ward tweeted the news: 'Darling Rebekah Gibbs, a true inspiration and dazzling light, never to be forgotten.' She left Casualty to have a family and was diagnosed with cancer after the birth of her daughter in 2008. Gibbs was just weeks away from giving birth when she first noticed a lump in her breast. Doctors were initially reassuring and said it would be benign. But, just months after having her daughter, Gigi, and after pushing for further treatment because she felt something was wrong, the actress was told she had a particularly aggressive form of cancer. Speaking to the BBC in 2010 when she had celebrated two years of being cancer free, Rebekah said that she didn't take anything for granted. 'I won't get cocky though and I take each day as it comes. I am always a little unsure about the future,' she said. She wrote about her experience of breast cancer in a weekly column for the Daily Mirra, saying the exact moment she found the lump was 'one that will be etched on my memory forever. I close my eyes, and I am right back there, in front of the TV, feeling petrified as I desperately run my finger above my baby bump and under my breast, willing the lump to disappear. That crushing fear has stayed with me. It's with me every day.' The actress, who also appeared in The Bill and, on stage, in A Chorus Line, Grease and Starlight Express, was given the five year all clear in April 2013. She said that she was 'really content' to have reached the milestone but, in August she suffered from a seizure while on holiday in Devon. She was subsequently diagnosed with two brain tumours. Her husband, Ashley Pitman, said that she died in the early hours of Wednesday at the Hospice in the Weald in Kent with her family by her side. In a statement he said: 'Rebekah had wonderful care and felt loved and safe right up until the end, especially with the outstanding nursing staff at the Hospice in the Weald, who were exceptional. I'd like to thank them and her dear, loving friends, from the bottom of my heart for all the love and support we received over the last year. Without which Rebekah and I would not have been able to cope. I'd also like to thank everyone for their kind wishes and messages at this difficult time. My daughter and I take a great deal of comfort from this as we come to terms with life without our Rebekah.'

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle moved up to eighth place in the Premier League with a comfortable win over West Bromwich Albinos on Sunday, thanks to goals from Ayoze Perez and Fabricio Coloccini. Perez opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time with a sublime backheel from twelve yards out. The game was ended as a contest on sixty two minutes when an unmarked Coloccini headed in at the far post. The hosts went close through Saido Berahino in the first half, but faded dramatically in the second. The Magpies have now won four successive league games for the first time since November 2013 and Alan Pardew's well-organised side suddenly look capable of challenging for a top-eight finish. They got their tactics spot on against the Baggies as they mixed controlled possession with an ability to press their hosts whenever they did have periods without the ball. And, perhaps more importantly, they appear to have found a natural finisher in the twenty one-year-old Perez. Signed from Tenerife for a reported £1.5m in the summer, Perez's goals have played a significant part in Newcastle's recovery from a piss poor start to the season in which they took until 18 October to register their first win, against Leicester City. Since then, they have also beaten Stottingtot Hotshots and Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws, either side of knocking holders Sheikh Yer Man City out of the Carling Cup - Perez netting the winner against both Spurs and the Reds. His instinctive finish at The Hawthorns came at the end of a scrappy first half, which The Baggies possibly edged. After Newcastle's Sammy Ameobi had hit the bar from the edge of the area after ten minutes, Victor Anichebe and Saido Berahino began to link up well and the latter brought a good save out of Tim Krul with a snap-shot. As well as Anichebe and Berahino linked up however, they were not afforded enough support from their midfield players and that enabled Newcastle to cope with any sustained pressure. United took the lead just before the break when Perez showed the finishing prowess of a seasoned striker to flick the ball past Ben Foster from Daryl Janmaat's cross. Dutch full-back Janmaat, who had a fine game, also created the second goal when a corner was only partially cleared and he delivered a beautiful cross to the back post where Magpies skipper Coloccini met it with a thumping header. West Brom never truly threatened to break down Newcastle in the final half hour, and the visitors almost made their victory margin even more handsome when Perez had a superb volley tipped over by Foster after a good cross from substitute Ryan Taylor, playing his first league game in over two years following a series of potentially career-ending injuries.

Non-league Blyth Spartans' FA Cup second-round trip to Hartlepool United is to be televised live on BBC2. Dan Walker will host Match Of The Day Live from Hartlepool's Victoria Park on Friday 5 December from 19:30. Spartans, of the Northern Premier League, shocked Conference side Altrincham with a 4-1 win in the first round. League Two Hartlepool reached the second round after beating another non-league side, East Thurrock United, 2-0.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day pays tribute to Remembrance Day this week with, well, 'Remembrance Day', obviously.

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