Monday, January 05, 2015

Time & Relative Shifting

An important update on Wednesday 7 January 2015.
It's been said before, dear blog reader, but today of all days it needs to be said again, loudly. All of the opinions which are expressed within this blog - unless specifically indicated otherwise - are Keith Telly Topping's own. And he's proud of them and stands by them, each and every one of them. They should not, in any way, be thought of as reflecting the views of any of the various media organisations, broadcasters, publishing companies or periodicals which this blogger has freelanced for in the past, or may be employed by in the future. Or, indeed, anyone else other than yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self. This blogger's opinions about stuff, his political and spiritual beliefs, the choice of which TV shows he likes and dislikes, which newspapers and books he chooses to read and, indeed, which association football team he has the vast misfortune to support are his own and expression of them - no matter how much you may disagree with them - is his right within a free and democratic society. Which, for all of Britain's faults in many other areas in 2015, it just about still is. If you happen to disagree with any of the opinions expressed within this blog, that's your right, and you should please feel free to start a blog of your own and say whatever's on your mind to your own dear blog readers. That is, after all, what blogs are for. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are too precious and too important to ever be threatened or for bullies and cowards to try and silence them. This blogger encourages everyone to use those freedoms - which many brave men and women have struggled, suffered and died to attain and then maintain over the years - to express your own opinions upon whatever subjects you so desire and whenever you see fit in a public forum. Within - of course - the boundaries of the law as it currently stands. Please remember there are, sadly, many parts of the world where citizens do not have similar liberties and who would probably love the opportunity to enjoy some of the freedoms that we in the West, all too often it would seem, take for granted. And, tragically, even in our safe European homes, there are some who would deny us the right to speak. But, the really sad thing is that it takes an event such as the traumatic, savage and unspeakable incident in Paris today to remind us of this. For that reason, and for what tiny, negligible effect it will have on the world at large, this blogger stands with the journalists and cartoonists of Charlie Hebro. We are with you brothers and sisters.
The BBC has confirmed that Monday 5 January officially marks the start of principal photography on the new, ninth, series of Doctor Who, which will see the return of yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self. Jenna's inclusion in the new episodes was only revealed to viewers in the festive special, Last Christmas, after months of uncertainty and crass speculation, mostly created by a series of contradictory stories in the Daily Mirra, as to whether she would return or not. Very little is known about the next series of episodes except that the first is called The Magician's Apprentice.
Peter Capaldi has failed to make the shortlist for top drama performance at the National Television Awards – the first time that the lead of Doctor Who has been snubbed by the awards since the BBC's popular family SF drama was revived in 2005. Capaldi’s predecessors Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith all triumphed for their role as The Doctor at ITV's annual awards. Instead, this year's contenders are Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch and Happy Valley's Sarah Lancashire, while Sheridan Smith for her lead role in ITV's Cilla and Dame Maggie Smith for Downton Abbey complete the list. Doctor Who does not miss out entirely, lining up against Sherlock, Downton Abbey and Cilla for the best drama award. Capaldi has just completed his first full season as the Doctor, having taken over from Smith, who twice won the top acting award at the NTAs, and was shortlisted on a further two occasions. Tennant won for four years consecutively and Eccleston triumphed for his one year in the role.

Mrs Brown's Boys remained the most-watched Christmas Day show, according to consolidated and final data that includes catch-up viewings (but, not iPlayer figures). The BBC1 comedy reached 9.69 million viewers, up from a live Christmas Day overnight audience of 7.61 million. Call The Midwife was the second most popular show, attracting 9.4 million. Viewing figures were, generally, down on last year, with nearly two million less people watching the number one rated show. Irish-based sitcom Mrs Brown's Boys, starring Brendan O'Carroll, also topped the Christmas Day ratings last year, but the number of overall viewers dropped from the 11.5 million punters it attracted then. The Queen's Christmas Message fell to seventh position with a total of 8.04 million viewers across both the BBC and ITV. BBC1 had seven of the top ten most watched programmes while ITV had three. Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas special, which saw gymnast Louis Smith scoop the champion title for a second time, attracted 8.98 million viewers, putting it in third position. Sitcom Miranda was in fourth position with 8.65 million viewers and an audience share of thirty per cent. Reflecting the changing way in which we watch TV, three programmes boosted their audience by more than two million viewers in the seven days after the original broadcast – Mrs Brown’s Boys, Call The Midwife and Strictly Come Dancing, which both jumped ahead of EastEnders in the consolidated top ten. Soaps proved less popular to watch after the original broadcast, with EastEnders watched by an additional 1.2 million viewers above its live audience in the subsequent seven days. Doctor Who - which also had a timeshift of a fraction under two million viewers - was in sixth position with 8.28 million viewers, a thirty one per cent audience share. ITV's highest rating Christmas Day show was for Coronation Street with 6.65 million viewers tuning-in, ahead of Downton Abbey and Emmerdale. However, even the consolidated viewing figures do not give a complete figure, not including video on-demand viewing on devices such as the BBC's iPlayer.

Mrs Brown's Boys is expected to broadcast Christmas specials for the next five years. Brendan O'Carroll told the Mirra that shows for 2015 and 2016 are already planned, with a further three anticipated. He said: 'I have been commissioned to write another two Christmas specials and the BBC are expecting Christmas specials up until 2020. I am lucky enough I can grow into the part and so that is nice. The Christmas special was quite naughty, but it was good fun to do.' O'Carroll also addressed rumours that the popular show would be coming to an end any time soon. He insisted: 'There is absolutely no truth in the story I am not writing any more Mrs Brown's Boys. I would be very disappointed if that were the case, because that is the kind of fool I am. I work for twenty years to make something and as soon as it's successful then I stop. My son Danny did an interview for a newspaper and it was a charity event at Donegal – as part of the interview to promote the event, the journalist asked what is happening with Mrs Brown's Boys and he went, "Oh, we have finished." But what he meant is that we'd just finished filming the Christmas special.'

And, as if by magic, here are the complete final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty One programmes for the week-ending Sunday 28 December 2014:-
1 Mrs Brown's Boys - Thurs BBC1 - 9.69m
2 Call The Midwife - Thurs BBC1 - 9.41m
3 Strictly Come Dancing - Thurs BBC1 - 8.98m
4 Miranda - Thurs BBC1 - 8.65m
5 EastEnders - Thurs BBC1 - 8.60m
6= Doctor Who - Thurs BBC1 - 8.28m
6= Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.28m
8 Last Tango In Halifax - Sun BBC1 - 7.41m
9 Top Gear Patagonia Special - Sun BBC2 - 7.38m
10 Still Open All Hours - Sun BBC1 - 7.32m
11 Downton Abbey - Thurs ITV - 7.24m
12 Film: Skyfall - Wed ITV - 7.15m
13 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.74m
14 The Boy In The Dress - Fri BBC1 - 6.31m
15 Film: Avengers Assemble - Fri BBC1 - 6.04m
16 The Queen's Christmas Message - Thurs BBC1 - 5.97m
17 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.84m
18 Six O'Clock News - MonBBC1 - 5.78m
19 Film: Puss In Boots - Thurs BBc1 - 5.45m
20 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.32m
21 Michael McIntyre's Very Christmassy Christmas - Thurs BBC1 - 5.24m
These figures do not include iPlayer viewers. As usual, BBC1 utterly dominated Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Indeed, aside from Corrie, Downton Abbey and Emmerdale, the only ITV programme to pull in a consolidated audience of more than four million viewers during the entire week was the return of the awful Birds Of A Feather on Boxing Day, And, even that had a much reduced audience (4.57m) from the sort of figures it was pulling in last year. Which does, rather, restore ones faith in the general public. As does the fact that Top Gear's much talked-about two-part South American excursion drew 7.21m viewers for its first episode, on Saturday, and 7.38m for the second part - with all the rock-throwing and people getting stroppy and discombobulated - on Sunday. Quite a considerable coup for the production, that, and a jolly nasty blow to various pond scum lice filth at the Daily Mirra and the Gruniad Morning Star and the Daily Scum Mail who had spent the previous couple of months publishing as much bad publicity about Clarkson and chums as they could manage to find, had handed to them by Copper's Narks or, indeed, had simply created themselves out of thin air. Mind you, one does rather wonder how many of that seven million plus audience were professional offence takers who had turned up specifically looking for something to whinge, loudly, about. Time will tell, one imagines. It usually does. BBC2's highest-rated programme of the week apart from Top Gear was the finale of the current series of MasterChef: The Professionals with a very impressive 4.04 million (again, remember that's more than anything which ITV managed apart from the four programmes mentioned above). Next came Christmas University Challenge with 2.89 million and the return of the about-as-funny-as-a-kick-in-the-knackers The Wrong Mans with 2.82 million. Which really does reduce ones faith in the general public. Next came The Day We Sang which drew 2.57 million, followed by That Awful Wood Woman's Midlife Christmas (2.44m), The Choir: New Military Wives (2.16m), Morecambe & Wise In Pieces (2.14m), Mock The Week (2.05m) and Julie Walters: A Life On Screen (2.03m). Big Fat Quiz Of The Year was Channel Four's most watched broadcast with 3.12m, followed by Gogglebox (2.79m), Homeland (2.26m) and Eight Out Of Ten Cats Christmas Special (2.07m). Channel Five's top-rated shows were The Haunting Of Radcliffe House (1.69m) and Michael Buble's Christmas (1.36m). Midsomer Murders was ITV3's most-watched programme with eight hundred and seventy one thousand viewers. The film Whisky Galore! drew BBC4's largest audience of the week (six hundred and ninety nine thousand), with Inspector Montalbano being watched by six hundred and sixty thousand. On Sky1, The Flash had an audience of 1.11m. A repeat of Top Gear on Dave was watched by four hundred and twenty three thousand. The Universal Channel's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit attracted one hundred and sixteen thousand. A number of channels, including Sky Living and FOX, appear not to have submitted any figures for the week. Both ITV2 and BBC3's best-of lists were topped by movie - Despicable Me (1.50m) and Shrek 2 (1.30m) respectively. Sky Movie Premiere's first showing of Frozen on Christmas Day was watched by 1.23m.

The allegedly 'controversial' Top Gear Patagonia special was the most popular iPlayer show over the Christmas period. There were more than two million requests to view part one of the show. It was a further sign of the changing way viewers watch TV that the on-demand iPlayer audience was nearly half the programme's initial overnight TV audience of 4.7 million. BBC figures showed a twenty five per cent rise in demand for its iPlayer catch-up service, year-on-year. There were two hundred and twenty seven million million requests to view programmes in December and almost fifty five million during the Christmas week itself, the highest one-week figure to date. The second part of the Top Gear special was the third most popular festive show with 1.5 million requests. It had already been announced that the episode attracted 7.38 million viewers in consolidated viewing figures (see above), which include live and time-shifted audiences, but not those on the iPlayer. The second most-watched Christmas show on the iPlayer was EastEnders' Christmas Day episode, with nearly 1.7 million requests. Doctor Who, which has topped the festive iPlayer charts for the last two years was the ninth most-requested programme with slightly more than one million downloads (1.07 million to be exact). Victoria Jaye, head of TV content for the BBC iPlayer, said: 'Christmas on the BBC is an incredibly special time of year, with our broadcast schedules bursting with amazing shows. It's also the time of year when we see a significant surge in BBC iPlayer usage, as people all over the country unwrap new devices and take the opportunity to enjoy our terrific range of programmes, at a time that suits them.' Other BBC programmes to gain more than one million requested included Miranda's Christmas Day episode, The Apprentice final and The Boy In The Dress.

From final and consolidated ratings, to overnights. More than twelve million punters tuned in to watch BBC1's New Year's Eve Fireworks. Broadcast from 11.55pm on 31 December until 12.10am the following day, the fireworks display was seen by 12.32 million people, representing a 63.3 per cent share of the available audience. Queen & Adam Lambert Rock Big Ben Live was seen by an average audience of 5.83 million from 11.15pm on BBC1, while ten million viewers watched as the concert resumed at 12.10am. Earlier in the evening, BBC1's showing of Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull was seen by 3.77 million from 7pm, followed by 2.24 million for the final episode of Mapp & Lucia's first series at 9pm. With guests including Liam Neeson, Anna Kendrick and the king of the mods, yer actual Sir Bradley Wiggins, The Graham Norton Show attracted 4.65 million from 10.15pm. On BBC2, Tigers About the House: What Happened Next drew an average audience of 1.49 million, Christmas University Challenge was seen by 2.01 million, The Help attracted 1.53 million and Mock The Week New Year's Eve Special drew 1.06 million. Jools' Annual Hootenanny 2014 saw in the New Year with 2.61 million from 11.20pm. Elsewhere, 2.54 million watched Rita & Me on what was, all things considered, a thoroughly rotten night for ITV, 2.25 million tuned in for A Funny Old Year 2014 and eight hundred and sixty thousand punters watched a repeat of Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This. Starting at 9pm, Channel Four's Alan Carr's New Year Specstacular was viewed by an average audience of 1.53 million over the course of two and a quarter hours. World's Strongest Man was Channel Five's highest-rated show of the evening, picking up nine hundred and twenty one thousand from 8pm. It was sandwiched between Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away with five hundred and seven thousand and Britain's Favourite Sitcoms with five hundred and thirty thousand. BBC3's 7pm showing of Puss In Boots was among the most-viewed multichannel shows, drawing an average audience of eight hundred and fifty seven thousand.

BBC1 also dominated the schedules on New Year's Day with Mrs Brown's Boys and the Miranda finale each attracting over seven million viewers either side of an explosive episode of EastEnders. Miranda bowed out with more than seven million punters - and a wedding - but could not quite match either its Christmas ratings of two years ago or the second festive episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys. Miranda, in which the eponymous heroine finally married her long-term boyfriend Gary, was watched by 7.27 million viewers from 8pm. It was a big night for BBC1, which also had 6.47 million viewers for its ninety-minute Roald Dahl adaptation Esio Trot, starring Judi Dench, Dustin Hoffman and horrible, unfunny waste-of-space James Corden from 6.30pm. Neither could match the 7.3 million punters who watched the second part of the Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special at 9.35pm, or the 8.53 million who watched EastEnders at 8.30pm. After the news, 3.91m watched Moscow Chelski FC implode to a 5-3 defeat to Stottingtot Hotshot on Match Of The Day from 10.45pm. The programme also features yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable and, currently, managerless) Magpies three times surrender a lead to Burnley like a bunch of useless planks. The final episode of Miranda was more than two million overnight viewers down on the 9.5 million who watched the opening episode of its third series on Boxing Day two years ago, understood to be the largest overnight audience achieved by the popular sitcom. Miranda began life on BBC2 in 2009 before switching to BBC1 in 2012. Hart revealed earlier this year that the sitcom would not return for a fourth series. Elsewhere on New Year’s Day, BBC2, ITV and Channel Four went head-to-head with a trio of free-to-air movie premières. ITV had 2.56 million viewers for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight from 9pm, ahead of the 2.40 million who watched the rather more genteel Quartet, the comedy starring Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay, on BBC2 from 9pm. Channel Four's Kristen Stewart movie, Snow White & The Huntsman, had 2.5 million viewers from 8pm. Over on ITV, 3.49m watched a new episode of the thoroughly wretched Birds Of A Feather at 8.30pm. a drop of six hundred thousand from the overnight figure for the previous episode. Which, in and of itself, is far funnier than anything in the programmes. On BBC2, 1.28m watched Tigers About The House at 7.30pm and University Challenge at 8.30pm had an audience of 2.40m. Following the movie, 1.30m watched Julie Walters: A Life at 10.30pm. Channel Four's movie-dominated evening started with Sister Act scoring 1.56m at 6.15pm. An episode of Rude Tube at 10.30pm attracted six hundred and seventy thousand . White Dee: What's All The Fuss About? was Channel Five's top rated show of the night with six hundred thousand punters at 9.30pm. The top multichannel show of the day was Premier League football on Sky Sports attracting 1.24 million from 12.30pm. Sky 1's latest David Attenborough series, Conquest Of The Skies, featuring the unlikely attractions of the descendants of the dragonfly, the Atlas beetle and the blow fly, began its three-part run with three hundred and eighteen thousand viewers from 7pm.

Benidorm was Friday's highest-rated show outside of soaps, peaking with 5.61 million viewers. The first episode of Benidorm's seventh series was seen by an average overnight audience of 5.38 million from 9pm on ITV. In the same time slot on BBC1, The Musketeers returned to an average audience of 3.64 million. The swashbuckling drama series was preceded by Room 101, which was seen by 3.4 million at 8.30pm. Celebrity Mastermind kicked BBC1's evening off with 4.37 million at 7pm, followed by 3.71 million for A Question of Sport: FA Cup Special at 7.30pm. Live At The Apollo rounded things off with 1.71 million at 10.35pm. Back on ITV, The Martin Lewis Money Show was seen by 2.88 million, while Darcy Oake: Edge of Reality attracted 1.28 million viewers at 10.15pm. The regular version of Mastermind was BBC2's most popular programme, reeling in 2.34 million viewers at 8pm. It was sandwiched between episodes of University Challenge with 2.27 million at 7.30pm and Food And Drink with 1.51 million at 8.30pm. The Big Allotment Challenge followed with 1.48 million at 9pm, while a fine episode of Qi featuring Danny Baker and Jezza Clarkson and Rik Mayall: Lord Of Misrule attracted 1.49 million and nine hundred and eighty thousand viewers, respectively. Channel Four's schedule was dominated by The Big Fat Anniversary Quiz, which was shown from 9pm until 11.05pm and drew an average audience of 2.01 million. Elsewhere on Channel Four, Jamie and Jimmy's Friday Night Feast was seen by 1.27 million at 8pm, while The Last Leg Of The Year attracted 1.06 million at 11.05pm. Forrest Gump was watched by nine hundred and forty seven thousand viewers on Channel Five at 9pm, while seven hundred and ninety nine thousand tuned in to Ice Road Truckers at 8pm.

Wretched, horrible, worthless, stinking, maggoty, vile Take Me Out returned to a piss-poor average overnight audience of 2.97 million on ITV on Saturday. Which was funny. Far funnier, in fact, than anything in the show itself. The mindless, numskull dating show, presented by gormless professional Northern berk Paddy McGuinness, returned for its seventh season attracting a thirteen per cent audience share - who should all be sodding well ashamed of themselves - from 8.30pm. It was followed by The Hangover, which entertained 2.36 million viewers from 9.30pm. Despite drawing criticism from many viewers for being as rancid as a pile of stinking diarrhoea with flies buzzing around it, Frank Sinatra: Our Way managed to get an average audience of 4.16 million on BBC1 at 7pm. The - mercifully one-off - singing competition began the hour with 4.49 million viewers and ended with 4.05 million. The National Lottery: Win Your Wish List followed with 4.11 million, while Casualty secured an evening high of 4.44 million at 9.05pm. BBC1's evening continued with 3.39 million for a Mrs Brown's Boys repeat at 10.15pm and 2.71 million for Match Of The Day: FA Cup Highlights at 10.50pm. Dad's Army was BBC2's highest-rated show of the evening, securing 1.82 million viewers from 7.30pm. It was sandwiched between Sacred Wonders Of Britain with 1.14 million and Rubens: An Extra Large Story with eight hundred and eighty thousand. BBC2's broadcast of Albert Nobbs ended the evening with a million viewers at 9pm. On Channel Four, Britain's Wildest Weather 2014 was seen by 1.17 million at 7.30pm, while Taken drew 1.56 million at 9pm. Elsewhere, Zulu and Most Shocking Celebrity Moments 2014 secured respective figures of seven hundred and nineteen thousand and seven hundred and sixty eight thousand for Channel Five from 6.20pm. A Midsomer Murders repeat was among the most popular multichannel shows, attracting 1.02 million from 8pm.

Still Open All Hours remained on top of the Sunday overnight ratings. The BBC1 comedy dipped by around two hundred and fifty thousand viewers from the previous week's episode to an average 6.12 million at 7.30pm. Earlier, live FA Cup coverage of the match a'tween The Arse and Hull City scored 5.48m at 5.30pm, while Countryfile appealed to 5.16m at 8pm. Last Tango In Halifax's audience dropped by around four hundred thousand week-on-week to 5.28m at 9pm. On BBC2, a Top Gear repeat brought in 1.52m at 7pm, followed by Kate Humble's Into the Volcano with 1.51m at 8pm. Racing Legends, a last-minute replacement for the cancelled documentary about the Royal Family interested 1.10m at 9pm, while Qi XL was watched by 1.12m at 10pm. Earlier, Ski Sunday was back on BBC2 with 1.1 million viewers from 4.45pm. ITV's Diversity Live could only manage 2.77m at 7pm. Foyle's War returned for a new - ninth - series with 4.70m at 8pm. On Channel Four, Phil Spencer: Secret Agent attracted 1.32m at 7pm, followed by The Hotel with 1.60m at 8pm. Walking The Nile drew 1.79m at 10pm. Channel Five's broadcast of Rush Hour attracted 1.01m at 7.15pm. The House At The End Of The Street was also watched by 1.01m at 9pm. Gary Anderson's World Darts Championship triumph over Phil Taylor was the top draw away from the five terrestrial channels, peaking with more than 1.5 million viewers for the live simulcast across Sky Sports Darts (as Sky Sports 2 has been rebranded for the competition) and Sky Sports 1. In the quarter hour from 10.30pm, as Anderson closed in on victory, live coverage averaged one million viewers on Sky Sports Darts, with another five hundred and sixty seven thousand punters on Sky Sports 1. During most of the 10pm hour slot, Sky's darts coverage across both channels was more popular than programming on any other network apart from BBC1, with BBC News (5.6 million) and Match Of The Day: FA Cup Highlights (two million).

David Tennant and Olivia Colman's much anticipated return to ITV in Broadchurch was watched by more than seven million overnight viewers on Monday, nearly a million more overnight viewers than watched the first series debut episode in 2013. The launch of the hit ITV drama's second series had 7.25 million overnight viewers, a thirty per cent share of the available audience from 9pm. Shrouded in secrecy with cast and crew forbidden to reveal more than skeleton details of the plot (see below), the drama improved on the overnight audience of 6.15 million viewers for its original series' first episode on 4 March 2013. The first series ended with an overnight of 8.71 million for its finale on 22 April, buoyed by widespread critical acclaim. With new cast members including Charlotte Rampling, Marianne-Jean Baptiste and Eve Myles, its return was given a warm welcome by critics. Written and created by Chris Chibnall, Broadchurch's return was revealed at the climax to the first series, but long production times and the busy diaries of its two leads meant ITV had to wait almost two years for it to come back. The broadcaster will welcome the ratings boost after it suffered the most marked audience decline of all the five terrestrial broadcasters in 2014. Broadchurch's return fared well, despite being up against live FA Cup football on BBC1. Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws’s third round 2-1 win over AFC Wimbledon averaged 5.58 million viewers across two and a half hours of coverage from 7.30pm. BBC1's school drama Waterloo Road, back for its final run after a short mid-season break, was shunted back to 10.35pm to make way for the football and paid the price with just 1.1 million viewers. On BBC2, University Challenge drew 2.60m at 8pm, followed by Only Connect with 2.05m at 8.30pm. Rich, Russian & Living In London brought in 1.31m at 9pm, while odious, worthless, lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall's Backchat returned on its new channel with nine hundred and seventy nine thousand at 10pm. Which is nine hundred and seventy nine thousand too many, frankly. Channel Four's The Undateables returned for a fourth series with 1.90 million viewers at 9pm. It beat Channel Five's delightfully sick Benefits: Too Fat To Work, the first of a four-part series which had 1.47 million viewers also from 9pm. It was part of a really classy Channel Five line-up that also included a repeat of Seventy Stone Man: The Last Days (eight hundred and ninety two thousand) and, later, Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away. This, dear blog reader, is somebody's idea of 'entertainment' in the Twenty First Century. The Undateables was followed by another new Channel Four series, Bodyshockers: Nips, Tucks & Tattoos, which began with 1.53 million viewers. In a night of new series, ITV's Richard Wilson On The Road began with 3.91 million viewers at 8pm. Earlier on ITV, Fat Pets: Slimmer Of The Year, began with 1.1 million viewers at 4pm.

BBC America have revealed that Doctor Who had its highest ever rated season on the channel, finishing with the recent Christmas Special which delivered an audience of over 2.3 million viewers and was the number one non-sports telecast in all of US cable broadcasting during the time period among adults in the important twenty five to fifty four demographic. Last Christmas, had a total of 2.62 million viewers in Live+3 (i.e. viewers who either watched the episode live or recorded it and watched it within three days of initial transmission) when combining the 9:00pm Christmas Day premiere with the 11:45pm and 2:30am repeats. Peter Capaldi's first Christmas special had more than double the viewership of Matt Smith's initial Christmas special, A Christmas Carol in 2010. BBC America was the number one network on Twitter and Tumblr and Doctor Who: Last Christmas was the top rated show on both platforms in all of television during Primetime (excluding sports) on 25 December. Capaldi's first season as The Doctor delivered BBC America its highest rated season ever with an average of 2.04 million total viewers in Live+3 across the entire series.

And finally on the subject of ratings, here are the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Seventeen programmes for week-ending Sunday 21 December 2014 were as follows:-
1 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 11.67m
2 The Missing - Tues BBC1 - 8.36m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.70m
4 The Apprentice: You're Hired - Sun BBC1 - 7.22m
5 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 6.43m
6 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.79m
7= Atlantis - Sat BBC1 - 5.69m
7= Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.69m
9 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.58m
10 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.53m
11 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 5.42m
12= The National Lottery: Saturday Draws - Sat BBC1 - 4.43m
12= Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.43m
14 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.40m
15 The ONE Show - Thurs BBC1 - 4.30m
16 Celebrity Mastermind - Sun BBC1 - 4.29m
17 Match Of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 4.00m
Regular dear blog readers (and not 'dead blog readers' as this blogger originally wrote. Thanks Ben for being a penickety bugger!) will probably notice something of an obvious anomaly here. For reasons as yet unknown ITV did not provide BARB with any ratings figures for the week in question meaning that the above list is, by necessity, incomplete. ITV HD figures (which were provided suggest that both Coronation Street and Emmerdale would, as usual, have featured strongly in the top five had their figures been posted. Strictly Come Dancing's final results episode later on Saturday drew 11.62 million. The final of The Apprentice was watched by 7.17 million. BBC2's highest rated programmes of the week were the final episode of The Fall with 3.60 million, MasterChef: The Professionals with 3.49 million and The Apprentice: You're Fired with 3.06 million. The Great British Bake Off Masterclass drew 3.03 million, followed by University Challenge (three million), Only Connect (2.56m), The Choir: New Military Wives (2.53m), Dad's Army (2.44m), Mary Berry's Absolute Christmas Favourites (2.43m) and Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two (2.10m). Rik Mayall: Lord Of Misrule was watched by 1.65m and Qi by 1.38m. The film Men In Black 3 was Channel Four's most watched broadcast with 3.70m, followed by Gogglebox (3.45m), Steph & Dom Meet Nigel Farage (2.86m) and Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.46m). Channel Five, like iTV, seemingly couldn't be bothered to send their ratings figures in. Lewis was ITV3's most-watched programme with nine hundred and two thousand viewers. Castles: Britain's Fortified History drew BBC4's largest audience of the week (five hundred and seventy one thousand), with Sammy Davis Jr: The Kid In The Middle being watched by five hundred and sixty five thousand. Sky Living's Criminal Minds had eight hundred and fifty one thousand. On FOX, American Horror Story was watched by two hundred and thirty four thousand. A repeat of Top Gear produced BBC3's largest audience of the week (eight hundred and ninety two thousand thousand). On Sky1, The Flash was watched by 1.50m. Storage Hunters on Dave had an audience of three hundred and sixty nine thousand. The Universal Channel's Sleepy Hollow attracted three hundred and fifty thousand.

Yer actual David Tennant is now a master of keeping secrets, according to the former national heartthrob his very self. Between previous acting gigs and his return to ITV's Broadchurch, he's had to learn to be - but even he admits that it's been 'very difficult' maintaining the shroud of secrecy surrounding the second series of Chris Chibnall's BAFTA-winning ITV crime drama. 'But that's the nature of a thriller,' he submits. 'It's more thrilling when you don't know what's coming next. There's certain things that we are desperate to try and conceal - certain plot points that we are working very hard to keep under wraps. I think we're holding the line pretty well - we've announced everything we had to announce, in terms of returning characters who would be seen out in the open, and everything else has been sort of held back.'
Meanwhile, Arthur Darvill has said that none of the Broadchurch cast have been allowed to watch the upcoming second series ahead of broadcast. The actor, who reprises his role as Reverend Paul Coates in the crime drama, revealed on Good Morning Britain that secrecy surrounding the series is 'so important' that the actors have not been able to see the new episodes in full. 'I haven't seen it. None of us have seen it. We're not allowed to see any of it,' he said. 'I've seen little bits of it for doing ADR, but not a whole episode. From the little tiny nuggets I've seen it looks amazing. There's so many of us in it that we all concentrate on our own little bits, so I can't wait to see everyone else in it.' After confirming that the second series will feature many of the same characters as the first, Arty reflected on the huge reaction which last year's series of Broadchurch provoked. 'It went so massive,' he said. 'It's such a heart-wrenching, brilliant, upsetting story. Chris Chibnall has also written the second series so it has all of those elements. There will be a lot of surprises for people.' The actor, who is also known for his role in Doctor Who as Rory Williams, added that although he often worries that he will accidentally reveal plot secrets, he is used to working on jobs where secrecy is vital. 'I'm really good at giving away the secrets. But, I'm so used to it. I always get jobs where I'm not allowed to talk about it and end up being good at talking about nothing for quite a long time.'
A few, quick, scheduling notes for you now, dear blog reader. The 'missing' Qi XL episode - Ladies & Gents - originally slated for early December but cancelled because of the sodding snooker, will now be shown on BBC2 on Sunday 5 April according to the Qi Elves Twitter feed. Additionally, there are three further episodes of series L to be broadcast in both normal and XL versions starting this weekend with Little & Large featuring guests Phill Jupitas, Ricard Osman and Lucy Porter. On a similar theme the one episode, as yet unbroadcast, of Would I Lie To You?'s eighth series - the one which features grumpy breakfast TV flop, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles making his first BBC TV appearance since he flounced off to ITV for masses of filthy wonga in 2010 - will be shown on Friday 8 January. So, if you're a licence fee payer, that'll be one worth avoiding. The fifth series of BBC4's superb French import Spiral (Engrenages) will begin on Saturday 10 January only two months after the thriller's French debut on Canal +. This series is twelve episodes long and will, as usual, by shown over six weeks on BBC4, two episodes per Saturday evening.
Media watchdog Ofcom has cleared the BBC of breaching broadcasting rules over an EastEnders rape storyline, which prompted some whinging from members of the public with, seemingly, nothing better to do with their time. The episode, shown in October, featured scenes from before and after the rape of Queen Vic landlady Linda Carter, played by Kellie Bright. More than ninety people whinged to Ofcom about the episode, while more than two hundred and fifty whinges were made to the BBC. Ofcom said that graphic content had been avoided and pre-episode warnings had been given to viewers. A spokesman for the regulator said: 'After carefully investigating complaints about this scene, Ofcom found the BBC took appropriate steps to limit offence to viewers. This included a warning before the episode and implying the assault, rather than depicting it. Ofcom also took into account the programme's role in presenting sometimes challenging or distressing social issues.' Responding to the original viewer whinges last year, the BBC said in a statement: 'At no point have there been any scenes of a graphic nature. In fact the attack on Linda was implied and not explicit. We have been extremely mindful of the content within the episode and the timeslot in which it was shown.' In an interview with the Radio Times published around the time the episode was broadcast, Bright was asked if she thought EastEnders should be tackling such an emotive issue before the watershed. She replied: 'Yes. EastEnders is a programme that is supposed to be reflective of real life and this issue is part of our society. Why shouldn't it be tackled? I think it's been done in a really sensitive way. It's out there so it's not going to be a shock to viewers and they have the option to make a decision not to watch it. It's a way to educate people.' It was not the first time EastEnders has featured a controversial rape storyline. In 2004, seven viewers whinged to the BBC about an episode which focused on the distress of Mo Slater (played by Kacey Ainsworth), after she was assaulted in the Queen Vic pub by a customer. Six whinges were received by Ofcom, which said it was 'concerned' at the content, 'given the mixed age ranges in the audience.' In 1988, Kathy Beale (played by Gillian Taylforth) was raped by James Willmott-Brown (William Boyde). Other soaps that have featured rape storylines include Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Hollyoaks.
BBC News and RT, the Kremlin-backed news channel, have both been cleared by Ofcom after complaints about their respective coverage of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. The flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over the conflict-hit region of Eastern Ukraine in July last year, claiming the lives of two hundred and eighty three passengers, including eighty children, and fifteen crew members. And, as previously noted, one passenger whom this blogger actually knew, albeit only slightly. One lone viewer complained to the media regulator after the BBC News channel broadcast a picture of a passenger's passport photo page as part of a sequence of still images showing debris from the crashed plane on 17 July, during live coverage on the day MH17 was shot down. The image was on screen for five seconds. Ofcom ruled that although that the image was capable of causing offence – which, on balance, was not justified by the context – as the BBC had apologised and acknowledged that the picture was unsuitable for broadcast, it considered the matter resolved. The complaint against RT, which was investigated and found by the watchdog to not breach broadcasting rules, centred on the use of graphic imagery of bodies at the crash site, also on 17 July. An Ofcom spokesman said: 'Having reviewed the evidence, Ofcom found the BBC took steps to limit any offence caused; including apologising and ensuring the image was not shown again in later reports. As a result we consider the matter resolved.' The regulator found RT had taken 'sufficient steps to limit the potential for offence', according to the Ofcom spokesman. 'This included pixelating graphic imagery and only broadcasting it after the watershed,' Ofcom said. London-based correspondent Sara Firth, who worked at RT for five years, resigned in protest over her employer's coverage of the immediate aftermath of the flight's shooting down. The offending BBC News channel image was aired at 5.40pm during a studio discussion concerning the number of casualties sustained by Ukrainian forces during the on-going conflict with separatist groups. During the discussion, the broadcaster started to show a sequence of still images labelled as: 'Breaking News: Ukraine Plane Crash. Eyewitnesses report seeing bodies next to plane.' Ofcom's concerns focused on a single still image in relative close-up of the photograph page of a victim's passport. The BBC noted in its submission to Ofcom that just before the broadcast it had learned that footage – including the passport grab – of the crash site, sourced 'off-air from a Russian TV station', was available. Because the material had already been edited and provided by a 'trusted agency provider', the BBC decided to 'take the material straight to air.' The BBC said that the images in the sequence were: not graphic, had 'clearly been prepared for broadcast' and, included 'one five-second shot of a passport in which the photograph of the person it belonged to was visible.' It added that the presenter had 'made it clear that the material was being shown for the first time.' The BBC went on to tell Ofcom that it 'immediately recognised that this image carried the potential for distress' following transmission and told its staff to ensure the image was not shown again. In deciding the matter was resolved, Ofcom said although the BBC had, strictly speaking, breached rule 2.3 of the broadcasting code in airing potentially offensive material that was not justified by the context, it had taken into account that broadcasters and audiences have a right to freedom of expression. Ofcom also said the MH17 report was 'clearly a matter of significant public interest.' Because the BBC apologised and took immediate steps to alert staff to the content to ensure it was not broadcast again, Ofcom said it considered this matter resolved. Sky News was heavily criticised by Ofcom in October for causing 'considerable offence' for broadcasting images of one of its presenters handling a passenger's belongings at the crash site. Ofcom received more than two hundred complaints after Colin Brazier was shown picking through an open suitcase in a live broadcast in July. As in the BBC News channel case, the regulator concluded that Sky News had breached rule 2.3 of the broadcasting code, but took into account factors including the apology by the broadcaster and Brazier and ruled that the matter was also resolved. 'Brazier handled two items belonging to a victim of the crash very briefly, and he appeared to almost immediately regret his actions and expressed this to viewers,' said Ofcom. 'Nonetheless in Ofcom’s view these actions were capable of causing considerable offence and this was not mitigated by an immediate broadcast apology. On balance we therefore considered that the offence was not justified by the context and rule 2.3 was breached.' Sky News said that reporting live from such 'difficult and traumatic events' means that difficult editorial decisions 'need to be made at speed and with conviction.' However, the broadcaster admitted that in this particular case it 'fell short of the high standards' to which it aspires. Sky News said that following the incident news teams have been reminded of the need to exercise sensitivity and 'to respect the dignity of all those involved in reporting such harrowing events.' Ofcom said that it 'recognised' the difficulty of reporting from such an 'emotionally charged' situation. The regulator also took into account that Sky News and Brazier issued an apology after the broadcast, and that Brazier went on to publish an article in the Gruniad Morning Star about his 'error of judgment.' 'Despite the offence caused in this case, Ofcom considered that this brief but significant lapse of judgement by a news reporter should not prevent broadcast journalists from reporting live on sensitive and challenging news stories,' said Ofcom. 'Taking all these factors into account, Ofcom considered the matter resolved.'

Stephen Fry has confirmed that he is to marry his partner, Elliott Spencer. The comedian, actor, broadcaster and writer has given formal notice to wed Spencer at a register office in Dereham, Norfolk, near where he grew up. Writing on Twitter after the Sun newspaper revealed the marriage plans, Stephen said: 'It looks as though a certain cat is out of a certain bag. I'm very very happy of course but had hoped for a private wedding. Fat chance!' Stephen, a director of Norwich City Football Club, has been a familiar face on television since the 1980s and is most recently best known for presenting the popular long-running comedy quiz show Qi, as well as for acting roles in The Hobbit and the latest series of 24. His personal assistant said: 'Stephen Fry is very happy and proud to say that he has set the wheels in motion for a wedding sometime in the future but no date has been set due to a busy work schedule.'

The future of Downton Abbey is decided 'year by year', the series creator Lord Snooty has confirmed. Lord Snooty told The Hollywood Reporter that the period drama's fate beyond its upcoming sixth series is 'uncertain', adding that he will know 'when it's going to be time to call it quits. It won't go on forever,' he said. Which proves that, ultimately, there probably is a God. 'I think one does have a sort of sense of when it's going to be time to call it quits and where they'll all be when that time comes. All I can tell you for definite is that there will be a sixth series, because we only ever renew by the year. So it's slightly different in Britain [than in America]. Americans tend to misinterpret that as if I were saying, "This is the end". I'm not saying that. I'm saying, "I don't know when the end will be, but I do know it won't go on for twenty years."'

The great Adam Hills ended 2014 and started 2015 in style with one of his finest ever Last Leg rants. His Dick Of The Week accolade is handed out to public figures who annoy or grate the comic and he saved an extra special rant for his Dick Of 2014 nomination - Katie Hopkins. Hills revealed that it was a tough decision, but opted to give the award to Hopkins over Rolf Harris, pointing out: 'Right now I can't decide whether you're a worse person than a convicted paedophile.' The Last Leg presenter - a particular favourite of this blogger - said he was 'loathe' to mention Hopkins because the odious woman feeds on attention, but branded her a 'professional shit-stirrer' for her comments about Palestinians, Muslims and fat people. With regard to her recent campaign against fat people, he said: 'I'm sick of women telling other women what men want them to look like. Because you know what, men aren't that fussy. All I ever looked for was someone who wanted to kiss me and have a favourite episode of The Simpsons.' In his concluding comments, Adam said: 'There is no point calling you a dick, because you know you're a dick. You trade on it. You're a dick for hire. And it's actually for this reason that I don't want people to vote for you. What I want you to know, Katie Hopkins, is that being a dick is not a good thing. You're not supposed to be proud of being the biggest bitch in Britain. Attention and love are not the same thing.' Word.
Derek Jacobi has praised Last Tango in Halifax for portraying older people in 'an exciting and fun way.' The actor, who has an on-screen relationship with Anne Reid in the drama, says that it is good the BBC1 DRAMA shows their characters 'in a lovely and sexual relationship.' Jacobi told the Radio Times: 'The great thing about Tango is that it's not just two people in their seventies meeting up again – it's two people in their seventies in a lovely and sexual relationship, really getting on in there. And nobody kind of turned a hair. It proved that old people can be as attractive and exciting and fun to be with as the kids.'
In the real-life equivalent of Cash In The Attic, the latest auction of memorabilia from the BBC's former home at Television Centre, including a giant Doctor Who canvas, has generated more than two hundred thousand knicker for the corporation's coffers. That's enough to pay for, ooo, three episodes of Pointless, at least. Among the items under the hammer were a collection of black-and-white David Bailey portraits of stars dating from the 1960s, including Paul McCartney and alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon, Mick Jagger and Michael Caine, which went for one thousand two hundred and sixty four smackers. The slew of quirky collectable items included historical broadcast equipment, such as a vintage microphone embossed with the BBC logo which sold for eight hundred and sixty two quid, and items from Studio Eight, where Fawlty Towers and Monty Python's Flying Circus among many other series were filmed. One of the studio's clocks sold for seven hundred and eighty notes, while the Studio Eight sign itself, which hung above the door, was bought for four hundred and seventy eight quid. An original 'flesh-tone' test card sold for twelve hundred and fifty knicker from among the two thousand one hundred and eighty five lots in the online auction. The BBC said that buyers from the UK, Europe and the US were involved in the auction, which also included a signed Strictly Come Dancing photograph from the 2008 series and a giant Doctor Who canvas featuring yer actual Matt Smith which sold for one hundred and forty five quid. But, it was the items of industrial kit that raised the majority of the money. One bidder paid sixteen grand for a generator, the BBC said. The BBC's director of commercial projects, Chris Kane, said that the auction marked the end of one chapter of the BBC's relationship with the West London building, where the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, and BBC Studios and Post Production will return in the near future. To date, the BBC has made around six hundred thousand smackers from selling off a variety of Television Centre items with more sales planned. Previous auction items have included the entire Blue Peter studio, a desk used by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight and the head of the robot Kryten from Red Dwarf.

A Channel Four 'comedy' - it says here - based on the Irish potato famine has 'caused outrage' according to the Digital Spy website. Actually, it's caused one local politician to get himself quoted in an Irish national newspaper. Whether that, in and of itself, constitutes 'outrage' is somewhat debatable. Hungry has been created by Dublin-based writer Hugh Travers, who compares the comedy to Shameless. Dublin councillor David McGuinness told the Irish Independent: 'Jewish people would never endorse making a comedy of the mass extermination of their ancestors at the hands of the Nazis, Cambodians would never support people laughing at what happened to their people at the hands of the Khmer Rouge and the people of Somalia, Ethiopia or Sudan would never accept the plight of their people, through generational famine, being the source of humour in Britain.' Travers defended the sitcom in an interview with the Irish Times, saying: 'I don't want to do anything that denies the suffering that people went through, but Ireland has always been good at black humour.' Which is, of course, very true. The Mirra reports that Channel Four confirmed it had ordered a script for the show, but that it is still in the 'development process' with no firm plans for a broadcast date at this stage. The Great Famine lasted in Ireland from 1846 until 1852 killing, it is estimated, one-eighth of the entire population of the country and sparking the mass emigration of a million people, mainly to the UK and America - including at least four of this blogger's direct ancestors on both sides of his family. Whether that is a suitable subject for comedy, per se, is a valid question worthy of debate.
It was probably not the publicity the BBC would have been hoping to get for The Voice when one of the show's star judges, Sir Tom Jones, said that the talent on its latest series was 'shit.' The Welsh singing legend and one of the show's four coaches made the comment on Monday at the launch of the fourth series of the singing contest, which begins on BBC1 on Saturday. 'It just slipped out,' claimed Jones. 'I hope it wasn't a Freudian slip.' Jones later clarified the comments in the hope of avoiding a PR disaster for the show. 'I have got to clear something up,' he said. 'When I said what's the talent like this year and I said "shit", it was a joke – and I like to joke. And then I said "I hope it's not a Freudian slip", well that was a joke on top of a joke. So it was not a Freudian slip.' Clear? Jones' fellow judge added: 'I thought you said it was the shit.'

Sir Paul McCartney has called popular music courses focusing on The Be-Atles ridiculous. 'We never studied anything, we just loved our popular music,' he said. The Be-Atles, incidentally, were a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them. 'I think for us, we'd have felt it would have ruined it to study it.' The musician made the comments while taking part in a Q&A session on his website. However, Sir Paul conceded that classes incorporating The Beatles' music were 'kind of a cool idea' and 'very flattering. To be told - as I was years ago now - that The Beatles were in my kid's history books? That was like "What?! Unbelievable, man!"' he said. The seventy two-year-old added that great musicians could not be created in the classroom. 'It may be that you use [pop music courses] to teach other people about the history, that's all valuable,' he said. 'But to think that you can go to a college and come out like Bob Dylan? Someone like Bob Dylan, you can't make.' Sir Paul co-founded the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in 1996. Based in the musician's old school, the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys, it offers degree courses in music, alongside drama and dance. 'It was an early decision when we were thinking of our policies for LIPA, we said: "We want to train people to be all-rounders,"' he said. 'Give them as much info as we can. But you can't tell them how to become a Bob Dylan or a John Lennon because nobody knows how that happens.' Answering another question on the current state of the music industry, Macca said that he did not think modern technology resulted in better records. 'We would record four tracks in a day - which is unheard of now - and those four tracks still sell more than most contemporary records. So obviously the system was pretty good. It was very simple, you had to just be very disciplined. We knew we had to play great,' he said. 'Whereas now you go: "We'll do another take or we'll get it in the mix, we'll just take that bum note out, we'll stick it on Pro-Tools, we'll fix it." But it gives you, I think, too many options. It's great, it's very luxurious, but I don't think it helps the process.'

The Prime Minister David Cameron apparently spent New Year's Eve 'dad dancing' and 'sipping on red wine' at a party held by knobcheese maker Alex James. A report in the Sun claims that the Conservative party leader 'let his hair down' at the 'old school disco-style' party and that he was almost persuaded to take part in karaoke. Just one more reason never to buy another Blur record, one could note.

A warrant has been extremely issued for the arrest of Kidulthood actor Adam Deacon after he failed to appear in court in London to answer a charge of harassment. The thirty one-year-old is accused of posting abusive and threatening messages on social media relating to former Doctor Who actor Noel Clarke, the writer of Kidulthood and the director of its sequel, Adulthood. Deacon was due to appear on Monday at a magistrates' court in West London. Deacon, from Bethnal Green, is accused of one count of harassment without violence between 5 March and 19 December last year. The actor and rapper played firearms officer Robbie in Channel Four's police drama Babylon and appeared in Kidulthood and Adulthood alongside Clarke. Deacon went on to co-direct and star in the 2011 British urban comedy Anuvahood.

The TV, film and stage actor Bernard Kay has died at the age of eighty six. In an extremely wide-ranging TV career, Bernard's CV included two roles on Coronation Street (as the villainous Jim Foster and later as Clive Phillips) and on Doctor Who (in four roles over eight years, most famously a dignified turn as a gallant but war-weary Saladin in the 1965 four-part serial The Crusade). Other TV appearances included Emmerdale Farm and Doctors while his most prominent movie part was as a Bolshevik leader in 1965's Doctor Zhivago. A versatile and intelligent character actor of the kind that Britain used to produce by the dozen, Beranrd brought a sense of gravitas and often – despite his imposing frame – a splash of vulnerability to more than one hundred roles in television drama during the course of a sixty-year career. Born in Bolton, Bernard's father Billy was a reporter for the Yorkshire Post who tragically spent his final years in an asylum and died when Bernard was twelve. His mother, Edith, also died when he was an infant, apparently having taken her own life. Bernard's care was shared between his grandparents and the strict regime at Chetham's school in Manchester, where, as he put it: 'I had Christianity beaten into me.' Bernard began his working life following in his father's footsteps as a cub reporter on Bolton Evening News, and a stringer for the Gruniad Morning Star. He claimed that he decided journalism was not for him when he witnessed a colleague breaking into the house of a recently deceased serviceman and stealing a photograph while the man's grieving father spoke to reporters outside. Bernard was conscripted for National Service in 1946 and started acting whilst in the army. Gaining a scholarship to study at the Old Vic Theatre School, he became a professional in 1950 as a member of the company which reopened the Old Vic after the Second World War. In 1952 during at spell at the Nottingham Rep, while rehearsing as Banquo, due to the lead suddenly falling ill Bernard learned, rehearsed and played the eponymous lead in Macbeth in less than twenty four hours. He felt that his strengths lay on the smaller screen and many leading TV directors (including Douglas Camfield and Richard Martin) appreciated his skill and professionalism, often casting him in their productions. He played prominent roles in the BBC's 1967 production of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (as Aslan), A Very British Coup (1988), Bomber Harris (1989, opposite John Thaw), The Kremlin, Farewell (as Stalin, 1990) and Russell Davies' classic BBC children's serial Century Falls (1993). In 1961 Bernard was given six weeks' paid leave and told to 'keep a low profile' by the producers of Coronation Street after the angry public response to his character killing of Ida Barlow. Though he appeared in several episodes of Z-Cars (including the very first in 1962), he turned down the offer of a regular role and guested in, among many other series, The Avengers, South Riding, Dick Barton Special Agent, The Champions, Juliet Bravo, The Cellar & The Almond Tree, The Professionals, Clayhanger, Jonathan Creek, Casualty and its subsequent spin-off Casualty 1909 and Foyle's War. He portrayed Captain Stanley Lord of the SS Californian in the BBC dramatisation Trial By Inquiry: Titanic in 1967 and he the bandit leader Cordova in the Zorro episode Alejandro Rides Again in 1991 which was filmed in Madrid. His touching performance as Korporal Hartwig in an acclaimed episode of Colditz (1972) as a German corporal charged with checking the validity of prisoner Michael Bryant's claim for repatriation on the grounds of insanity was one of his proudest achievements. Bernard's film career kicked off with a small role in Carry On Sergeant, during which he acted opposite William Hartnell. They would work together again in Doctor Who, with Bernard appearing in two of the first Doctor's stories, as Tyler in the second Dalek adventure The Dalek Invasion Of Earth (1964), and a few months later in The Crusade. He later worked alongside Patrick Troughton in The Faceless Ones (1967) and Jon Pertwee in Colony In Space (1971). Other film roles included They Came From Beyond Space, The Shuttered Room, Matthew Hopkins - Witchfinder General, The Hunting Party, Sweeney!, Sinbad & The Eye of The Tiger, Pierrepoint and most recently as the Reverend Swan in Psychosis. Bernard's friend the comedian and broadcaster Toby Hadoke, who confirmed that he was found dead at his London home on Monday 29 December, said: 'He was one of those superb understated but versatile actors that we don't seem to have any more. He never gave a bad performance. He was greatly admired by his peers. His sense of humour was combative but there wasn't any meanness in him.' The first chapter of Bernard's autobiography, Maybe A Bastard, describing his difficult early years in Bolton, came first in the New Writing Ventures awards in 2006. He entered the competition because he retained very sharp recall and he wanted to see if the writing skills that he had possessed as a young reporter had stayed with him at the age of seventy eight. One of the judges, the novelist Ali Smith, described his entry as 'wise, taut, gripping and a perfect piece of explication.' Bernard's work on it stalled latterly because he found it difficult to write about his wife of fourteen years, the actress Patricia Haines. He never quite recovered her death from cancer in 1977, at the age of forty five. Bernard's stepdaughter Niki, from Patricia's first marriage to Michael Caine, survives Bernard.

Doctor Who director Fiona Cumming died at the age of seventy seven on New Year's Day. Fiona had a long and illustrious career, working on thirty four episodes of Doctor Who. Born in Edinburgh, she began her career as an actress, working at the Royal Scottish Academy before going on to a variety of theatre and television work, including a spell at Border Television in the dual role of announcer and features interviewer. She appeared in a number of minor roles in series such as Dr Finlay's Casebook and Suspense before deciding that she would prefer production work to acting. In 1964, Fiona gained a post as an assistant floor manager at the BBC. She first worked on Doctor Who on the 1965 story The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve. By the following year she had won promotion to the role of Production Assistant and in this capacity she worked on The Highlanders, Patrick Troughton's second story. She worked alongside Troughton again in 1969 on The Seeds of Death. In 1972 she worked with Jon Pertwee on the story The Mutants and in 1974 she become a BBC Staff Director. In the 1980's, she was asked to direct four stories featuring Peter Davison - his first story Castrovalva as well as the Mara sequel Snakedance, Enlightenment and Planet Of Fire. In 1988 she made an uncredited cameo appearance as a tourist at Windsor Castle in the twenty fifth anniversary story Silver Nemesis. Other productions on which Fiona worked included two episodes of Blakes 7 - Sarcophagus and Rumours Of Death - as well as Emmerdale, The Walls Of Jericho, God's Wonderful Railway, High Road, The Omega Factor, Play For Today, Angels, Jackanory Playhouse, Z Cars and the ill fated soap Eldorado. After leaving the BBC she remained active as a freelance director while also pursuing a number of other projects, including some with Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner in their Teynham Productions company.

Deborah Bone, the woman who inspired Pulp's 'Disco 2000', has died at the age of fifty one. A school friend of the song's author, Jarvis Cocker, the nurse from Letchworth was awarded an MBE for her services to children in the 2015 New Year's Honours List, released within hours of her death. 'We are sorry to let you know that after a brave fight, Deborah passed away on 30 December, peacefully at home. She loved life and fought to the end,' read a post on Deborah's blog on New Year's Day. 'Deborah was a truly inspirational woman, always putting other people before herself. We would like to ask for donations to Young Minds to enable Deborah continue her passion to improve children's mental health.' Her husband, Colin, added to The Comet: 'I shall be so proud to attend the MBE award ceremony on her behalf accompanied by her daughter Pollyanna who is following in her mother's footsteps working for the NHS and already achieving national recognition.' Jarvis sang 'Disco 2000' at Bone's fiftieth birthday party last year. 'To top it all my childhood friend, Jarvis, took to the stage and sang 'Disco 2000' along with the amazing CC Smugglers, to me, for me, about me,' she wrote on her blog. 'How could that happen? I will never forget that moment for as long or as short of a time I have left on this planet.'

Mister Bonio out of The U2 Group has revealed that he may never play guitar again. Which is, obviously, very sad. The U2 Group's frontman was involved in 'a high energy bicycle accident' while riding through Central Park in November, and suffered injuries to his eye, his left shoulder and his upper arm. In a blog post on The U2 Group's website, the singer wrote: 'For the last few weeks I haven't been able to move around physically so I have more than made up for it by leaving my mind to wanderlust, untethered except electronically.' It's so nice to see that this horrific accident, whilst inhibiting Mister Bonio physically, has done precious little to diminish his propensity for verbal diarrhoea.
Which of course, bring us to the first Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day for 2015. Let there be music. Play that guitar, Mister Bonio out of The U2c Group. Oh, sorry, you can't. Okay, play that guitar, Mister The Edge out of The U2 Group ...

No comments: