Sunday, January 11, 2015

You Have To Decide What's In Your Bones

Sherlock has, officially, resumed filming. Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self are, of course, reprising their roles as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson for a 2015 one-off special (probably, though not definitely scheduled for the Christmas period) and then a three-episode fourth series to be broadcast in 2016. The BBC officially confirmed that filming had commenced on Tuesday 6 January. 'Element-hairy, my dear Watson! Filming is now under way on the Sherlock special, coming to BBC1 in 2015,' the BBC tweet read. Sherlock producers Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue recently hinted that fans can 'expect big changes' when the series returns from a two-year hiatus.
Fans Sherlock will, no doubt, be excited to hear that part of the new episode is to be filmed in Bath in early February. Filming will take place on Monday 2 February on Queen Street, which may offer the chance for fans to catch a glimpse of yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self in action. A resident from nearby Trim Street, Kate Gray, received a letter by the production company notifying her of the scheduled shooting and immediately grassed this info up like a Copper's Nark to the Bath Chronicle, telling the paper that she 'can't wait' for the cast and crew to arrive. Filming has been taking place this week in nearby Bristol. Benny and Marty were spotted entering a side door leading to the cellars of the city's popular music venue Colston Hall. It appears that Misfits' actress Natasha O'Keeffe will be featured in the special. A read-through for the episode, as previously mentioned, took place in London on 25 November, before filming began in early January. So far, the confirmed cast includes Benny, Marty, Amanda Abbington, Lou Brealey and Jonathan Aris. We can probably expect the likes of Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves and Mark Gatiss to also be appearing. In BBC Books' Sherlock: Chronicles, which came out in November, co-creator Gatiss was asked to provide a word as to what to expect in Sherlock's next adventures. The word he gave? 'Ghosts'.
Paul Kaye is to appear in Doctor Who's ninth series. The Game Of Thrones actor is shooting a guest role on the BBC's popular family SF drama, the Beeb has confirmed. Filming recently began on block one of the latest series, which will again star yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self. Kaye originally rose to fame in the 1990s portraying his comic creation Dennis Pennis, an outrageous celebrity journalist on Channel Four's The Sunday Show. More recently he has taken on a wide variety of acting roles in series like Waking The Dead, Kingdom, Being Human, Game Of Thrones and Ripper Street. He will next be seen in BBC1's adaptation of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell playing the character Vinculus. According to the doctorwhotv website, Paul will be playing a character called Prentis in two episodes of the forthcoming ninth series.

A programme documenting the 2014 Doctor Who world tour will be broadcast on BBC3 later this week. Doctor Who: Earth Conquest - The World Tour will be shown on the channel at 7pm on Friday 16 January. The documentary was previously only available to watch on the show's series eight DVD box set.

Yer actual Russell Davies has revealed that he turned down an offer from the BBC to be part of celebrations for the tenth anniversary of Doctor Who's revival this year. Davies was the executive producer who brought the BBC's popular family SF drama series back to television in 2005, ultimately passing the reigns to The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat in 2010. Speaking to the Radio Times, Big Rusty expressed his opinion that the tenth anniversary of the show's return doesn't need to be celebrated. 'Someone from the [BBC's] branding team sent me a very lovely e-mail [asking] "do you want to do something,"' he recalled. 'I don't know what they imagined: a talk or a convention perhaps. I just said no, to be honest. A programme can't have its fiftieth and then its tenth! I think that's just confusing. It's marvellous and glorious; let it carry on.' Davies added that he is not interested in writing a new Doctor Who episode at this time. 'Wouldn't that be nice?' he said initially about returning. 'The lovely Steven invites me every year to come and write one. And I love him and I love them and I love watching it, but here I am, moving on. I love Doctor Who with all my heart but nothing is more important to me than my own stuff.' Russell is currently working on the CBBC series Wizards Vs Aliens, in addition to Channel Four's distinctly more adult-flavoured Cucumber.

The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine is published this week, and features an interview with Jenna Coleman her very self, during which the actress discusses the loves and lives of Clara Oswald: 'DWM asks Jenna if The Doctor and Clara can finally move on in their relationship – and after the sacrifice of Danny Pink, can things ever be the same again?' the magazine's pre-publicity claims. 'I think so,' Jenna says. 'But they are a bit addicted to each other and to the dynamic that they share. It's getting so that one can't go without the other, and I think that's definitely what Clara's realised. In a way that's quite dangerous now, because she realises that there is no going back for her.'
Neil Gaiman's next collection of short stories will include Doctor Who and American Gods stories. The author and scriptwriter will feature a story written to commemorate The Doctor's fiftieth anniversary in his new book Trigger Warning, reports the Men Who Stare At Books website. It will also include Black Dog, a story set in the American Gods universe. The Doctor Who story is presumably Neil's acclaimed e-book Nothing O'Clock. Gaiman released the first short story follow-up to American Gods - The Monarch Of The Glen - in his 2006 collection Fragile Things.

Silent Witness easily won the overnight ratings on Tuesday outside of soaps. The first episode of the eighteenth series of the popular BBC1 crime drama gathered an average audience of 6.66 million at 9pm, up from last year's opener by around half a million viewers. Later, Count Arthur Strong returned with 1.62m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, The Great British Garden Revival began with 1.56m at 7pm, followed by Six Puppies & Us with 2.75m at 8pm and Billionaires' Paradise: Inside Necker Island with 2.79m at 9pm. ITV's River Monsters returned with 1.92m at 7.30pm, while Britain's Best Back Gardens interested 2.35m at 8pm. Julia Bradbury's The Wonder Of Britain was seen by but 1.51m at 9pm. On Channel 4, Doctor Christian Jessen's Weighing Up The Enemy - possibly the sickest television format any major broadcaster has yet some up with - attracted one million voyeurs who enjoy laughing at fatties at 8pm, followed by the return of Twenty Four Hours in Police Custody with 1.21 at 9pm. Gordon Ramsay's Hotel Hell appealed to nine hundred and forty four thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Scariest Weather attracted nine hundred and eight thousand at 8pm, followed by Worst Weather Ever? with seven hundred and fifty four thousand at 9pm. On E4, The One Hundred continued with nine hundred and sixteen thousand at 9pm, while the new series of Supernatural began with four hundred and twenty eight thousand at 10pm.

Celebrity Big Brother launched with over three million viewers on Wednesday, overnight ratings reveal. A truly appalling statistic which, frankly, makes one want to resign from the human race in protest. Channel Five's latest series of the Victorian Freak-Show featuring a collection of odious horrors, z-listers desperate for one last sniff at the big time and some people you've never heard of, opened with an average audience of 3.09 million at 9pm. Horrifying, dear blog reader. Genuinely, depressingly, deeply horrifying. The overnight figure was slightly lower than last January's ratings of 3.18m when not the last series but the one before launched on a Friday evening. However, it was higher than August's launch figures of 2.24m. Earlier on the channel, a repeat of Benefits: Too Fat To Work drew 1.23m at 8pm. The second part of BBC1's Silent Witness again topped the night overall with 6.42m at 9pm. A repeat of Miranda was watched by 3.81m at 8pm. On BBC2, Six Puppies & Us appealed to 2.69m at 8pm, followed by Super Cars Versus Used Cars with 1.82m at 9pm. Channel Four's Restoration Man returned with 2.03m at 8pm, while the new series of Twenty Four Hours in A&E gathered 1.72m at 9pm.

Death In Paradise returned with impressive overnights to top Thursday evening's ratings. The BBC1 crime drama attracted an average 6.91 million at 9pm. This was marginally down from last year's launch of 7.13m, but is still the popular Caribbean series' third-highest overnight audience ever. Earlier, Would I Lie To You? brought in 4.19m at 8pm, while Question Time gathered 2.80m at 10.35pm. BBC2's Somerset: After The Floods interested 1.57m at 8pm, followed by Super Rich & Us with 1.73m at 9pm. On a broadly poor night for ITV, Jeremy Kyle's wretched new series The Kyle Files attracted a very sub-standard 2.61m at 7.30pm. Birds Of A Feather as usual, failed to amuse 3.47m at 8.30pm - boy, did that revival ever get really old, really quickly - and Bring Back Borstal was watched by 2.23m at 9pm. Channel Four's Location, Location, Location was seen by 1.80m at 8pm, followed by Shut-Ins: Britain's Fattest People with 1.42m at 9pm. Sex Party Secrets had an audience of 1.38m at 10pm. On Channel Five, Secrets Of The Egyptian Pyramids attracted a million punters at 8pm. Celebrity Big Brother continued with 2.35 million brain-damaged morons or the victims of cruel medical experiments at 9pm, followed by the return of Botched Up Bodies with eight hundred and fifty eight thousand at 10pm.

The effing disgraceful worthless smears on Celebrity Big Brother were gawped at by an average audience of 2.16 million sick, easily-pleased planks at 9pm on Friday. The Channel Five freak show - in which various shitty people whom you've either never heard of or who you have but have no worth to them whatsoever did ... stuff, apparently - peaked with 2.25 million at 9.45pm. Celebrity Big Brother: Nomination Face-Off followed with 1.78 million at 10pm. Earlier in the evening, Channel Five's Race To The Pole was seen by three hundred and seventeen thousand viewers, while Ice Road Truckers played to seven hundred and ninety one thousand. ITV's 9pm broadcast of Benidorm was again the evening's highest-rated show outside of soaps with 4.44 million viewers. It was preceded by The Martin Lewis Money Show with 2.88 million at 8pm. The ONE Show kicked off BBC1's evening with 4.09 million viewers at 7pm, followed by 3.59 million for A Question of Sport and 3.38 million for Room 101 at 8.30pm. The Musketeers was watched by 3.64 million at 9pm, while The Graham Norton Show ended the night with 3.51 million at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Great British Garden Revival was seen by 1.18 million at 7pm, followed by an evening high of 2.28 million for Mastermind at 8pm. 1.73 million watched Food & Drink at 8.30pm and The Big Allotment Challenge had an audience of 1.66 million at 9pm. The latest episode of Qi - a particularly fine one featuring Richard Osman and Lucy Porter - finished the evening with 1.58 million. The return of Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown was Channel Four's most-viewed show with 1.91 million at 9pm. It was sandwiched between Jamie and Jimmy's Friday Night Feast and The Last Leg, which attracted respective audiences of 1.33 million and 1.15 million. Agatha Christie's Marple was among the most popular multichannel broadcasts, with five hundred and twenty four thousand at 8pm.

Comedy highlight of the week, indeed, came from that very episode of Qi with Lucy Porter discussing the height difference between herself (four foot eleven) and her, somewhat taller, husband, the comedian and actor Justin Edwards (six foot five): 'In the bedroom, it's like a ventriloquism act that gone seriously wrong!' said lUce. 'What does he make you do whilst he drinking a pint of water?' asked Phill Jupitas. 'I'll bet it's not the alphabet!'
The new series of BBC1's The Voice opened to more than eight million overnight viewers on Saturday. The first episode of blind auditions - which featured singers including Hannah Symons and Stevie McCrorie - was watched by 8.05m from 7pm. The National Lottery: Win Your Wish List followed with 4.87m and Casualty attracted 4.97m from 9.20pm. Match Of The Day - including yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable and, currently, managerless) Magpies expected 2-0 thrashing at the hands of Moscow Chelski FC, had an audience of 4.62m. BBC1 dominated Saturday, winning every single slot across the day from 6am onwards. The channel's new magic show Now You See It pulled in 5.01m as the lead-in show of The Voice. On BBC2, a Dad's Army repeat drew 2.28m from 8.30pm before Britain's Tudor Treasure: A Night At Hampton Court appealed to 1.75m. ITV's Harry Hill's reboot of Stars In Their Eyes premiered to a modest 3.41m from 7pm (though it seems to have gone down like a bucket of cold sick with at least some viewers), with Take Me Out stank up the gaff, as usual, with an audience of 3.18m afterwards. Another broadcast of the James Bond movie Skyfall - which ITV previously showed on Christmas Eve - drew 2.4 million from 9.20pm. On Channel Four, Tsunami: Ten Years On was watched by seven hundred and eighty one thousand viewers in the 8pm hour. The Cameron Diaz movie Bad Teacher was seen by 1.07m later. On Channel Five, 2.05m sick things tuned in from 10pm to see Jeremy Jackson exit Celebrity Big Brother (see below). ITV3's Midsomer Murders topped the multichannels, with 1.10m from 8pm.

'You're like a zombie, get your act together!' The last time British viewers were with Laure Berthaud's team of CID officers, policing the worst scum that Paris can throw at them, they were getting the shit blow out of themselves as a bomb destroyed their office and killed one of their own, as he attempted to defuse it. Series four's terrorism storyline - horribly timely, this week of all weeks - left Laure's team in various states of abject disarray: The good captain herself was, obviously, stunned by the death of her lover Sami, particularly when she discovers that she is pregnant and doesn't know who the father is (but, has a some pretty good suspicions). Her loyal lieutenant Gilou is quietly adapting to his new role as 'the sensible one' (no, really!) and poor Tintin - who, previously, occupied that role - is still clearly traumatised by his brush with death and, seemingly, having real marital problems as a result. That's where Spiral series five began on Saturday on BBC4. Throw into the mix yer actual minxy Joséphine potentially facing professional ruin after having aided the anarchists who bombed the police station, Pierre still pursuing his personal and professional folie à deux with Joséphine and Judge Roban having finally vanquished Garnier but only with the help of the odious, scheming Machard. Canal Plus's superb Engranages has been punching way above its potential weight with the very best of European police dramas for nearly a decade now getting better and better with each passing year. Going right back to the start, Spiral plunged viewers into a justice system where police and lawyers sometimes seem indistinguishable from the criminals and the one lone honest man in all of this - Roben - appears to be fighting a never-ending battle against shades of grey. All of this set against a backdrop of a Paris a long way from the tourist-friendly views of the Left Banke and the Latin Quarter. The series took on drug traffickers in series two, a serial killer of prostitutes in the third (the  year that yer actual Keith Telly Topping discovered it), and - long before the horrific events in Paris this week - was focusing on home-grown terrorism during its fourth series in 2013. Spiral never shies away from difficult questions, or lets its characters off the hook too lightly. It's been bleak, hard-hitting, often ice-cold in its depiction of crime and consequence and yet, often, dryly funny, marshalling its classy ensemble cast through the bewildering, sometimes lethal, underworld of the French justice system. Series five began with the double murder of a young mother and her infant daughter, tied together and drowned in the Seine. We rejoin Spiral mere months after Sami's blood-splattered death. Laure is, understandably, all over the place: she's looking terrible, is edgier than ever, drinking far too much, eating little else but chocolates and is fifteen weeks pregnant yet is too caught up in her grief to even notice. She's oblivious to Tintin's own quieter, ore languid distress, the way that he's struggling with his home life as he grieves and recovers from his own near death experience last series. It is, therefore, left to brave-and-loyal Gilou, with his new regime of early nights, sobriety and boxing (no cocaine and hookers for Gilou this time, we imagine), who is keeping the central trio together. Well, Laure together, anyway. Just about. Yet even with Gilou as peacemaker, the team's emotions feel more raw and shredded than usual (in particular he's giving Tintin some tough love to get him motivated). As ever, Spiral's scriptwriters manage to weave together the lawyers, the judge and the police seamlessly. So Pierre Clément just happens to be the brief of Jaulin, the husband of the murdered Sandrine and the chief suspect, in a case which is being run - at Laure's insistence - by Judge Roban. All this occurs while Joséphine finds her way into the judge's office - and, for once, good books - thanks to the pair's determination to prevent a police cover-up in a different, yet, possibly linked, case of a man accused of causing the hit and run death of a police officer. The best scene in the opening episode sees Joséphine shamelessly manipulating a young and inexperienced female lawyer into getting her to represent the chap involved only to, subsequently, find herself, for once, outmanoeuvred by someone even sneaky than herself. Under threat of being kicked into a desk job after his bungling handling of the terrorism case, pushy, ambitious Herville is, for once, backing Captain Berthaud – albeit with somewhat mixed consequences – and the CID team over the course of two episodes make progress: spotting the blood splatters which confirmed the family home as the potential murder scene, locating Stéphane Jaulin and his son Léo with something approaching efficiency and finding a missing laptop in Sandrine's schizophrenic brother Olivier Delorme's freezer. In fact, despite their personal problems, if anyone (the inept Herville aside) looks in danger of buggering up the case at this early stage, it is the normally reliable Roban, who seems very certain of Jaulin's guilt, despite the husband's solid alibi and phone records which place him well away from the scene at the time of the murder. There is likely to be more going on with Jaulin than we yet know – two thousand Euros seems quite a lot of  coin for a painter and decorator to be packing, there are lots of hints that he is violent when he's angry and that final, enigmatic shot of episode two just screamed 'watch this bloke, he's got secrets'. But, given the laptop's discovery, Olivier's hellish paintings and his demented attack on a jogger early in the episode, Laure's instincts appear to be the ones to follow at this stage - her scrambled hormones notwithstanding. Anyway, dear blog reader, Spiral's back. And, as a consequence, Saturday night telly just got interesting again.
Former Baywatch actor Jeremy Jackson (no, me neither) was dramatically thrown out of Celebrity Big Brother on Saturday (it says here) after pulling open another contestant's dressing gown and, allegedly, exposing her bobbies to the world. The incident began when the actor, allegedly, 'got drunk' on a mixture of rum and vodka and vomited copious amounts of rich brown phlegm into the netty. As you do. He was 'being comforted' soon afterwards by the glamour model Chloe Goodman, who suddenly exclaimed: 'That's not okay, I'm leaving now', before flouncing out of the bathroom in tears. Goodman then claimed: 'He went to my dressing grown top and put my boob out.' The incident itself was not broadcast when Channel Five showed the aftermath in Saturday night's episode of the sick Victorian freak show, as cameras do not film in the toilet. Meanwhile, another contestant, Ken Morley is reported to have been given a formal warning for 'using racially-insensitive language.' The former Coronation Street actor - who now appears to make his living doing really annoying double glazing adverts, 'being professionally wacky' and appearing in shit like this - was talking to Katie Hopkins before seeming to use a racist term to describe people of African descent. It wasn't 'Africans' either, just in case you were wondering, He also claimed to only be going into the bathroom that morning so that he could 'look at young ladies' bottoms.' Classy.

Still Open All Hours remained on top of the overnight ratings on Sunday evening. The BBC1 comedy was watched by an average 6.37 million viewers at 7.30pm. Earlier, Celebrity Mastermind drew 4.54m at 6pm, followed by Countryfile with 6.04m at 6.30pm. Antiques Roadshow had an audience of 5.44m at 8pm, followed by the latest episode of Last Tango In Halifax with 5.69m at 9pm. Match Of The Day 2 ended a good night for the channel with 2.64m at 10.35pm. BBC2's live darts coverage attracted 2.54m from 5.45pm and massively overran, completely buggering up the night's viewing for some viewers - this one very much included. When it was finally over, Kate Humble's Into The Volcano drew 1.14m at 9.15pm, followed by Paul Hollywood's Racing Legends with seven hundred and seventy thousand at 10.15pm. On ITV, All Star Family Misfortunes pulled in 2.99m at 7pm, while Foyle's War continued with 4.33m at 8pm. Channel Four's Phil Spencer: Secret Agent had eight hundred and forty five thousand at 7pm, followed by The Hotel with 1.44m at 8pm and Walking The Nile with 1.74m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Aladdin was seen by 1.60m at 5.30pm, while Jackie Chan's The Medallion attracted 1.11m at 7.30pm. The latest droppings from Celebrity Big Brother was seen by 2.37m at 9pm (322k/1.9%) and the horror movie A Lonely Place To Die was seen by nine hundred and ninety three thousand at 10pm. BBC3's repeat of Saturday's The Voice gathered six hundred and eighty two thousand at 7.30pm.

And now, the consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Three programmes for the week-ending Sunday 4 January 2015:-
1 New Year's Eve Fireworks - Wed BBC1 - 12.50m
2= Mrs Brown's Boys - Thurs BBC1 - 9.51m
2= Miranda - Thurs BBC1 - 9.51m
4 Queen & Adam Lambert Rock Big Ben Live - Wed BBC1 - 9.47m
5 EastEnders - Thurs BBC1 - 9.26m
6 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.74m
7 Roald Dahl's Esio Trot - Thurs BBC1 - 7.86m
8 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.10m
9 Last Tango In Halifax - Sun BBC1 - 7.02m
10 Still Open All Hours - Sun BBC1 - 6.90m
11 Benidorm - Fri ITV - 6.61m
12 Six O'Clock News - Fri BBC1 - 6.41m
13 BBC News - Mon BBC1 - 5.69m
14 FA Cup: Match of The Day Live - Sun BBC1 - 5.49m
15 Foyle's War - Sun ITV - 5.37m*
16 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.35m
17 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.29m
18 ITV News - Mon ITV - 5.26m*
19 The Musketeers - Fri BBC1 - 4.93m
20 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.78m
21 Mapp & Lucia - Mon BBC1 - 4.69m
22= Film: Madagascar 3 - Tues BBc1 - 4.50m
22= Celebrity Mastermind - Fri BBC1 - 4.50m
As usual, these figures do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. Aside from Corrie, Emmerdale, Foyle's War and one episode of ITV News, the only ITV programme across the entire week to pull in a consolidated audience of more than four million punters was the thoroughly wretched and funny as a kick in the 'nads Birds Of A Feather. And, even that had an audience 4.24m that was three hundred thousand lower than the previous episode. BBC2's highest-rated programme of the week was Christmas University Challenge with 2.97 million. Next came Jools's Annual Hootenanny on New Year's Eve with 2.84 million and the film Quartet with 2.75 million. Next came Snow Wolf Family & Me which drew 2.32 million, followed by Charlie Brooker's 2014 Wipe (2.21m), Mastermind (2.10m), Dave Allen: God's Own Comedian (1.95m), Flog It! (1.85m) and a repeat of the Top Gear Patagonia Special (1.84m). Qi drew 1.63m whilst the XL edition was watched by 1.34m. The Big Anniversary Quiz was Channel Four's most watched broadcast with 2.81m, followed by the movie Snow White & The Huntsman (2.74m), Walking The Nile (2.48m) and Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown Christmas Special (2.29m). Channel Five's top-rated broadcasts were the movie Bambi (2.05m) and Elvis By The Presley's (1.57m). Midsomer Murders was ITV3's most-watched programme with 1.10m viewers. The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures drew BBC4's largest audience of the week (seven hundred and eighty five thousand), with Wallander: Dogs Of Riga being watched by six hundred and eighty one thousand. Red Bull Soapbox Race: Turin on Dave was seen by five hundred and thirty two thousand. The Universal Channel's NCIS attracted one hundred and eleven thousand whilst FOX's much-hyped first broadcast of the Mark Harmon TV movie Certain Prey had one hundred and thirty eight thousand. Sky Arts' Portrait Artist Of The Year was watched by one hundred and sixty six thousand viewers. Both ITV2 and BBC3's weekly best-of lists were, again, topped by movies - Despicable Me (1.21m) and Shrek The Third (1.08m) respectively.

Olivia Colman has said that she is worried viewers will become 'fed up' with seeing her cry. The Broadchurch actress has taken on many emotive roles in programmes including The Accused and The Dilemma, as well as the movie Tyrannosaur. In an interview with Vogue, Colly explained: 'I have a sneaking suspicion that audiences have seen me crying a little bit too often in the past couple of years. And if people get really fed up with me, then I won't get more work. And if I can't do what I love, then I will shrivel up and die. If something touches me, I cry. That's it. I'm a bit raw, a bit rubbish really. Often a director will say to me, "I don't think this is a scene where your character cries." And, all I can say is, "Good luck with that!"' Colly, who portrays Ellie Miller in Broadchurch - and, to be fair, has plenty to cry about what with her husband being a sick child killer - also said that she 'became emotional' when one of her sons was praised at school. 'It was slightly embarrassing at a parents' meeting when a teacher was nice about my boy and I started to well up,' she explained.

Broadchurch fans can visit locations used in the drama on a new walking tour. Literary Lyme Walking Tours have introduced a new range of Broadchurch-themed tours to coincide with the show's recent return for a second series. The tours will take place in West Bay in Dorset, which doubles as the small town of Broadchurch in the ITV drama. Locations included on the tour include the local police station, the newsagents and the beach where Danny Latimer's body was found in the first episode of the series. The tours have been organised by Natalie Manifold, who was also involved in the production of the series. She has had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to avoid revealing details about upcoming episodes.
Top Gear has announced a global launch event to be recorded in London. An Evening with Top Gear will be filmed in front of a live audience on Sunday 18 January and will be broadcast via YouTube at 9pm that evening. Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will preview the forthcoming twenty second series of the programme at the event. One imagines that plenty of waste-of-space shites at the Daily Mirra and the Gruniad Morning Star and the Daily Scum Mail will be watching that, closely, in an effort to find something they can whinge about.
ITV has announced that Foyle's War will end after its current series. The long-running period drama starring Michael Kitchen will broadcast its final episode on Sunday at 8pm. The final episode, Elise, will see Christopher Foyle solving his final case. It will feature Foyle looking into Hilda Pierce's secret role during the war, following an assassination attempt on her life.Writer and creator Anthony Horowitz said: 'It feels a terrible wrench to say goodbye to characters I've lived with for more than fifteen years. But the truth is that I'm not sure there are any more stories to tell and anyway it was always my intention to end on a high note and I think this year's episodes are the very best we've done. I'm proud of what we've achieved with Foyle's War and I'm very grateful to the audience that has stayed with us for so long. I've had a good war.' Executive producer Jill Green said: 'We have made twenty eight successful feature length films - a huge body of work - with the quality rising every year. So it is good to be closing on a high, and having the time to now offer our loyal audiences new dramas. Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks and several crew have been with us for every episode across a fourteen-year period so particular thanks again to them.'

Yer actual Johnny Vegas has described Channel Four as 'self-conscious', adding that he now finds it 'incredibly frustrating' taking ideas to TV channels. Speaking to the Digital Spy website, Johnny explained that he can feel 'quite despondent' pitching new programmes. 'It does get soul-destroying trying to pitch what you think is a wonderful idea when it doesn't fit with anybody's remit,' he said. 'I find it incredibly frustrating taking ideas in, that a lot of the time you go in with something original and [there's a] fear of doing something original, because there's nothing to compare it to. And, if there's nothing to compare it to, they can't justify commissioning it, because it's career suicide to commission something original. Channel Four can be, at times, really "But is it Channel 4?", and you go, "What is Channel Four?" When they start to see themselves with a certain identity, in a way they've kind of lost what they were there for, which was taking those risks - being too almost self-conscious as a channel as a whole. Because as the channel grows, the commercial interest grows and then suddenly it's about holding certain numbers.' Meanwhile, Johnny also said that he feels BBC3 has had 'an identity crisis' in recent years, and that the channel's original commissioner, Stuart Murphy, who left the role in 2006 to be replaced by Danny Cohen, was 'always a breath of fresh air.' Murphy commissioned shows including Little Britain, Pulling and Torchwood, as well as Vegas's acclaimed BBC3 sitcom Ideal, a particular favourite of this blogger, which was axed by Cohen's replacement, Zai Bennett, in 2011. Bennett, of course, subsequently left the BBC in high dudgeon when plans were announced for BBC3 to be moved online. Ironically, Bennett is now working for Murphy as the director of Sky Atlantic. Where, presumably, he'll be busy dreaming up a project that he can create for Kerry Katona whose reality show The Next Chapter he green-lit when he was at ITV2. Johnny also said that he finds it a shame that broadcasters like the BBC aren't investing more in one-off projects. 'Within TV now, it's all about returning audiences; "Have we got a third or fourth series? Can we build on this?"' he said. 'It's a real dumbing-down. It's almost a broadcast-induced attention deficit syndrome, where they don't trust that people can watch something that is just a brilliant, self-contained piece in itself. It's just a shame that everything is about competing with something at the same timeslot on another channel rather than putting something on for its creative, artistic validity. Now, things have so little time to get established. With Only Fools & Horses, it was four seasons where people weren't watching it before it became massive. Now it's a classic. There does seem to be an atmosphere of fear of committing to something. Things that don't have that instant hit factor – it's out the door and in with something new. It's a massive shame, but sadly it kind of becomes the norm in which we live in.'

Jessica Raine has revealed that she loved playing someone 'really horrible' in the new BBC historical drama Wolf Hall. The actress - best known for playing Jenny Lee in the BBC's Call The Midwife - told Marie Claire that she was 'desperate to play someone not nice.' She will star alongside Damian Lewis, Mark Gatiss and Charity Wakefield in Wolf Hall, a six-part mini-series based on Tudor novels of Hilary Mantel. 'I was desperate to play someone not nice. I play Jane Rochford, Anne Boleyn's sister-in-law, in Wolf Hall and she is really, really horrible,' Jessica explained. 'It's written by Peter Straughan so it has a very contemporary, thriller edge.' Jessica added that her exit from Call The Midwife 'felt like the right decision', adding: 'You've got to listen to your gut instinct - that's all you've got in this industry. I did think about asking for the nurse's uniform when I left but I thought that was a bit kinky!' Dear blog readers will have to excuse yer actual Keith Telly Topping at this juncture, he's just got The Horn.
Dara Ó Briain has announced that he will not return as host of The Apprentice spin-off You're Fired. The comedian has presented the BBC2 show for five years but now, he says, he wants to spend more time working on his own comedy, according to Press Association. 'After five years hosting You're Fired, I've decided to pass the chair on to someone else,' Dara said. 'In that time, I've interviewed eighty four wannabe apprentices. If I interview any more, I'll turn into Claude Littner. Mainly though, I'm back on tour again this year and I'd like to enjoy getting laughs off my own incompetence for a while.'

Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins have joked that they may call their new daytime talk show a 'farewell tour' in case it fails to impress. The Great British Bake Off duo will launch Mel & Sue on ITV next Monday, fifteen years after their original Channel Four series Light Lunch (subsequently Late Lunch) came to an end. Discussing their nerves, Perkins said: 'I've started calling it the "Farewell Tour" in case it fails. I'll say, "Mel and I will always love each other, but it's goodbye." But if it works, we'll rebrand it and say, "Well, hello again". It's like The Rolling Stones - every tour is a farewell tour.' Giedroyc added: 'Everyone is really nice if they think it's a farewell tour. They give you the benefit of the doubt.' On finding the right format for their return, the pair also revealed that they had spent 'two or three years' trying to find the right live show. 'We love live because of the roughness round the edges, the excitement, the madness, and stuff going off on all sorts of weird tangents,' Mel said, while her co-star added: 'We did so many live shows when we were starting out. That is the medium in which we feel most comfortable.' Jennifer Saunders, Jo Brand and Dermot O'Dreary (who began his media career as a researcher for the pair on Late Lunch) will be among the guests appearing during the first week, with the presenters excited to be interviewing as a duo. 'It's a format where we work well together,' Mel said. 'It's always quite nice to have two people interviewing rather than the one. You've always got back-up.' Sue added: 'Because you can out gun them. It's like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park - two of them working as a team to rip someone to pieces. It's a "double Paxo" because one is never enough.'

The Fall's creator has said that he is 'very confident' of securing a third series following the dramatic, blood-soaked conclusion to series two recently. Allan Cubitt also went on to say that he has an ending planned for the as-yet unconfirmed series. As quoted by the BuzzFeed website's Jarett Wieselman, Cubitt said on the TCA Winter press tour: 'I'm very confident there will be a third season.'
The BBC is believed to have submitted its coverage of the police raid on Sir Cliff Richard's home for this year's Royal Television Society journalism awards. The corporation's exclusive broadcast of the raid on the singer's Berkshire home was met with some - largely media-created - controversy, after it emerged that journalists had been tipped off by South Yorkshire police about the search in advance. The coverage has been submitted for the 2014 ceremony's 'Scoop of the Year' award, the Independent - rather sneeringly reports. Which is, rather, what one would expect from a sneering bunch of sneering Middle class sneering hippy Communists like they. The pre-recorded footage led to an inquiry by Keith Vaz's House of Commons home affairs select committee. MPs later found that South Yorkshire police had been 'utterly inept' in their handling of the raid and that they had caused 'irreparable damage' to Richard's reputation. However, the report was not critical of the BBC, saying that it was 'well within its rights' to run the story and had acted 'perfectly properly' throughout. No charges have been brought against Cliff, who has always vehemently denied historic allegations of sexual assault of a boy under sixteen.

Sky Atlantic has announced a return date for Game Of Thrones in the UK. The fifth season of HBO's epic and award-winning fantasy drama will launch on Monday 13 April at 9pm.

Worthless, waste-of-space know-nothing horrorshow (and drag) Andy Townsend will, reportedly, leave ITV at the end of the current football season. And lo, there was rejoicing throughout the land. Mind you, if he'd stayed, he would have had sod all to do to justify his existence for the next few years. Though some may well argue that he's done sod all to justify his existence in the decade he's been there anyway. See also Chiles, Adrian. This blogger couldn't possibly comment. Townsend, who once presented a segment called Townsend's Tactics Truck during ITV's disastrous highlights show The Premiership and presenter Matt Smith (no, the other one) will leave the broadcaster after it extremely lost the rights to Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League football to other channels, the Daily Scum Mail reports. A series of events which were, let's face it, funny after ITV's utterly inept and disgracefully tabloid-style coverage over the last ... well, thirty years or so. ITV Sport will not be renewing its contract with Townsend and the decision is said to be 'mutual'. Whether Jim Rosenthal continues to be employed by them and, if so, doing what, exactly, is not, at this time, known. Although, again, some would argue we've never known what, exactly, Jim Rosenthal does for his money. Townsend - a rubbish footballer with Southampton, Norwich City, Moscow Chelski FC, Aston Villains, The Smoggies, West Bromwich Albinos and the Republic of Ireland before he was a rubbish pundit with ITV - reportedly wants to work 'in and around international broadcasters' (whatever the hell that means) to continue as a co-commentator on live games. Though, one imagines most of those broadcasters who have the rights to football already fully realise how rotten and dreadful the chap is and how lowly regarded he is by the vast majority of football viewers in this country. Just a thought.
Alice Webb has been appointed the new director of BBC Children's. The current chief operating officer of BBC England will oversee the Salford-based department from late February. She will be responsible for CBeebies and CBBC. Former director Joe Godwin previously departed to take charge of the BBC Academy, while CBeebies controller Kay Benbow was made acting director of BBC Children's. Webb said: 'BBC Children's makes the best content for children in the world and it's a real privilege to be asked to lead such an important part of the BBC, particularly in these fast moving, digital times. This is my dream job and I can't wait to get started.' Peter Salmon, Director of BBC England, added: 'Alice is a rising industry star who has helped make the BBC and MediaCityUK the fastest growing digital hub in Europe and she brings the same energy, focus and conviction to one of the most crucial jobs in the sector. Having worked alongside Alice, first building BBC North and then helping the likes of BBC Children's thrive here, I have no doubt she will lead their talented and passionate teams brilliantly through the huge audience and technology challenges ahead.'

And now, dear blog reader ...
The Green Party has, reportedly, criticised draft Ofcom proposals to consider UKiP a 'major party' ahead of this year's General Erection, but not the Greens. This announcement caused considerable umbrage to be taken by a half-a-dozen Middle Class hippy Communists Gruniad Morning Star readers in Brighton and Islington. Ooo, hopping mad, so they were. They could barely eat their quiche, they were so discombobulated. A consultation has been opened on the matter as the telecoms regulator expressed 'initial' plans to add UKiP to the list. However, it does not believe that the Green Party qualifies. Which, given the fact that only a bunch of risible Gruniad Morning Star frackers ever vote for them, some would argue is a decent enough assessment.
The new president of the Discovery channel, Rich Ross, has promised a move away from 'sensationalist' programming. Many viewers, apparently, regarded the network's recent series of 'fake documentaries', including two on mermaids, as a betrayal of the network's science roots. In particular, a programme called Eaten Alive, where the host claimed that he would be swallowed whole by a snake, was also criticised. Speaking to the press for the first time Ross said 'authenticity' would be his priority while he was in charge. Eaten Alive made headlines around the world but was mocked after it failed to show what had been promised or, indeed, anything even remotely like it. Ross said that he thought the 'special' (his word not anyone elses) had 'the right intention with a packaging that was misleading. I don't believe you'll be seeing a person being eaten by a snake in my time [at the channel],' he added. Speaking about the 'fake' documentaries - including titles such as Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives - Ross, said he didn't think they were 'right for Discovery Channel, and I think it's something that has run its course. They've done very well but I don't think it's something that's right for us.'

Rita Ora's cleavage has sparked over four hundred whinges after her appearance on The ONE Show. The singer appeared on the BBC1 evening show with her fellow The Voice coaches, dressed in a plunging white suit. The outfit received 'a mixed reaction' from viewers, with some people whinging that the suit was 'inappropriate' for family tea-time viewing. And, once again dear blog reader, let us simply stand up and salute the utter shite that some people chose to care about. The BBC has confirmed that four hundred and twenty four people - with nothing better to do with their time, seemingly - have whinged about Ora's fashion choice, and the broadcaster said they 'appreciate that tastes vary.' And, also, that some people are morons who don't deserve to live in a democracy where freedom of expression is a right, not a privilege. 'The ONE Show allows guests to choose their own attire and pop stars often opt for something glamorous or striking,' said the corporation, rather wearily, in a statement. 'We didn't feel that Rita's outfit would be outside of most viewers' expectations of that of a major pop star, but we appreciate that tastes vary.' Personally, this blogger, had he been in any sort of position of power at the Beeb, would have used the next edition of The ONE Show to have a rolling scroll bar naming and shaming each and every single one of these four hundred and twenty four clowns and telling them - using graphs if necessary - exactly what their remote control is for.
Members of the punk band Stereo Fire Empire (no, me neither) have found and returned a painting worth a reported two hundred and fifty thousand dollars mere hours after it was stolen from a New Orleans gallery. Bassist Elliot Newkirk and his bandmates had just finished a show at the city's famous House of Blues venue when they saw the artwork propped up against a wall outside the club. 'Our guitar player was actually talking about how he saw on Facebook that a painting was stolen,' Newkirk said. 'Literally, five minutes later' he found the canvas and 'his jaw dropped.' The painting, entitled Wendy and Me, was by the New Orleans artist George Rodrigue. It was stolen in broad daylight from New Orleans' George Rodrigue Studios on Tuesday, afternoon. A thief walked into the gallery, lifted the picture from the wall and left. The incident lasted less than a minute and was captured on security cameras. Featuring the blue dog for which he is famous, Wendy and Me was used on the artist's wedding invitations when he married his second wife, Wendy, in 1997. The band handed it to police, along with another artwork - a print called Three Amigos, that is believed to have been sold to a local non-profit organisation through the George Rodrigue Foundation for the Arts several years ago. 'I collect discarded art and things like that,' guitarist Evan Diez told a local news station. 'Even if it's just a frame, I'll pick it up. I saw those canvases and had to check them out.' Singer John Kennedy picked up the story: 'His face was ghost white - jaw dropped, like, "you don't understand - this is a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar piece of artwork."' The band described the events that followed as 'a Scooby Doo adventure', as they carried the paintings to a nearby police station. 'We're walking down the street with these quarter-million-dollar paintings in our hands, and they're facing out and I'm like, "No! Turn that around! We don't want people seeing that,"' Newkirk said. Stereo Fire Empire said they felt like 'The Goonies but with more hair.' Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, George Rodrigue's son Jacques said: 'We're so thankful to the good Samaritans for bringing it back.' The band - who filmed themselves handing over the paintings - did not ask for a reward. But 'we joked that we're going to write a song about it, so we'll see what happens,' said Newkirk. George Rodrigue, who died in 2013, was catapulted to fame by his blue dog paintings, which were based on a Cajun legend called loup-garou. Police say they will use DNA fingerprinting techniques to track down the thief, who is reported to be 'still at large.'

An American terrorism commentator - indeed, he's self-described as an 'expert' - speaking on FOX News has been forced to grovellingly apologise for claiming Britain's second largest city, Birmingham, was a 'Muslim-only city' and a place where non-Muslims 'don't go in.' Steven Emerson also told the channel that in London Muslim religious police beat anyone who doesn't dress according to a strict code. 'Parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound, seriously, anyone who doesn't dress according to ... religious Muslim attire,' he alleged. This blogger thinks it's the repeated 'actually's which make this claim so utterly convincing, dear blog reader. Emerson described Birmingham as one of 'a number' of European cities 'where sharia courts were set up, where Muslim density is very intense, where the police don't go in and where it's, basically, a separate country almost, a country within a country.' He did not give any examples of other European cities, besides Birmingham, where this is alleged to be the case. In fact, according to the most recently available census data (from 2011), around eight hundred and fifty thousand non-Muslims live in Birmingham, accounting for approximately eighty per cent of the near 1.1 million population. After being contacted by a number of British media outlets, Emerson later issued a rather pathetic apology for his 'terrible error.' No shit? Needless to say, social media has been ridiculing this daft bugger's comments with some considerable glee and much, excellent, piss-taking. There are many terrific examples that you can check out here, for instance (this blogger particularly enjoyed the Noddy Holder one). Even David Cameron, whose party held its annual conference in Birmingham last year, weighed in during a television interview. 'When I heard this, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fool's Day,' Cameron told ITV News. The porridge choking proved to be non-fatal, incidentally. Which is, obviously, tremendous news. 'This guy is clearly a complete idiot,' Cameron continued. 'He should actually look at Birmingham and see what a fantastic example it is of bringing people together.' By hell, you really know you've screwed up if David Cameron is calling you an idiot - he normally saves that sort of talk for Milimolimandi. Some commentators have accused Emerson on his own allegedly 'investigative' website of 'speaking nonsense' and called his claims 'utter rubbish.' Which, of course, as anyone who has ever been to Birmingham (or, indeed, London for that matter) will know. Emerson, who founded a group called The Investigative Project On Terrorism, was giving his perspective on the recent terror attacks in France to presenter Jeanine Pirro. And, what is perhaps even more shocking than Emerson's ignorant and factually ridiculous allegations is the fact that Pirro - a former judge, failed Republican politician and a supposedly now passing herself off as a 'serious' journalist - did not question or challenge these comments. Instead, Pirro responded to her guest's claim that the British government doesn't 'exercise any sovereignty' in Birmingham by saying: 'You know what it sounds like to me, Steve? It sounds like a caliphate within a particular country.' Instead of something along the lines of 'you know what? That sounds to me like a load of risible unsupported bullshit, Steve. Where's your evidence for these claims?' And she's a failed Republican politician? Gosh, one wonders why. A witness called to testify to at least one Congressional committee, Emerson - who, remember, the British Prime Minister has just called 'a complete idiot' - later apologised and has offered to make a donation to Birmingham Children's Hospital. 'I have clearly made a terrible error for which I am deeply sorry. My comments about Birmingham were totally in error,' he is quoted as saying by the Torygraph. But, he seemingly stopped short of offering any sort of apology directly to the city's two hundred thousand Muslims, whom he appeared to lump into the same category as extremists during his ludicrous rant. Neither has FOX News, at this time, issued a retraction.
Tom Bateman and Richard E Grant have been cast in ITV's Jekyll & Hyde. The ten-part adventure drama - based on Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novella - will also star Coronation Street's Natalie Gumede. Bateman will take the role of Robert Jekyll, Grant will play Sir Roger Bulstrode and Gumede will star as Bella. The cast of the series also includes Stephanie Hyam, Donald Sumpter, Amit Shah, Phil McKee and Christian McKay. Ruby Bentall, Enzo Cilenti, Lolita Chakrabarti, Michael Karim and Ace Bhatti will feature in supporting roles. The series will be set in 1930s London, and will focus on the grandson of the doctor featured in Stevenson's story. Colin Teague will direct the series, which begins filming in Sri Lanka later this month. Production will take place in London from February until July.
Sky Sports has announced that it will continue showing England cricket matches until 2019. The channel has extended its contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board, remaining the sole broadcaster of England matches. The deal includes all England's home Test, one-day and T20 matches, as well as at least sixty days of domestic cricket. Sky will also show a handful of England Lions and England women's matches, along with the 2019 World Cup in England. The deal also covers TV, mobile and online. Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: 'We're passionate about our commitment to the game, including the men and women's England teams and the County set up, and we're delighted to extend our partnership with the ECB. Since 2006, our viewers have enjoyed the incredible successes of the England team, including three Ashes victories, winning the ICC World Twenty20 and becoming the number one Test team in the world. We look forward to continuing the partnership until at least 2019.' Brian Havill, the ECB acting chief executive, added: 'We are delighted that Sky have taken up their option to extend their broadcasting contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board to 2019 as it demonstrates their belief in the ECB as well as the international, women's and county game. This decision continues Sky's unwavering commitment to cricket in England and Wales at every level for a further two years.' Sky first began broadcasting live England matches in 1990 during the team's tour of the Caribbean.

Why do some Broadway shows flourish and others flop miserably like a big flopping thing? Monday night's properly hilarious announcement that the musical The Last Ship will close on 24 January after a mere four-month run, despite unusual efforts by its composer, the balding ex-milkman from Waalsend, Stink, to increase ticket sales, raises that question more than most other foundering musicals in recent years. Maybe it's simply the fact that no bugger can stand the up-his-own-arse numpty and delight in the failure of his efforts. Particularly those involving lutes. Just a suggestion. On Tuesday the show's producers, who will lose their entire fifteen million dollar investment, had no answer when asked that very question by the press. What is clear is that Stink's gamble last month — to join the cast in hopes of drawing bigger audiences — provided a short-term lift at the box office but abjectly failed to generate enough excitement for the show to last. Stink was set to stay only until 24 January anyway - as, obviously, he had other work to do ... saving the world, probably. Ticket sales for performances after that were so poor, one of the show's producers Jeffrey Seller, said in an interview on Tuesday, that shutting the show was the only option. Seller said that he had 'no theories' for why more female theatregoers (who make up about seventy percent of Broadway audiences) and 'Sting fans' (if, indeed, anyone would have such a lack of self-worth as to describe themselves thus) did not embrace The Last Ship, about the troubled lives of Tyneside shipbuilders and 'young people'. But he did say that he was wrong to focus the marketing strategy and television commercials on the shipbuilders, which Seller said he realised in hindsight, 'American audiences don't really relate to.' Meanwhile, because it's, like, so funny, let's use this as an excuse to show, once again, Jezza Paxman wiping the floor with Stink in a 2009 episode of Newsnight.

Some very sad news now: The scriptwriter and producer Brian Clemens, responsible for TV hits such as The Avengers, The New Avengers and The Professionals, has died at the age of eighty three. Clemens, honoured by The Queen in 2010 for services to broadcasting and drama, died on Saturday, his family have confirmed. One of his sons, George Clemens, said: 'He was a true inspiration.' George told the BBC: 'The world has lost a really great man who has given so much.' Brian was born in Croydon in 1931. Following National Service at Aldershot, where he was a weapons training instructor in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps Brian, according to his autobiography, wanted to be a journalist but he did not have the necessary qualifications. He was offered a job with a private detective agency, but this involved taking a training course in Leeds and, as he had been away from London for two years in the army, he declined. Instead, he worked as a messenger at the J Walter Thompson advertising agency. He later became a copywriter for company when he had a thriller screenplay accepted and filmed by the BBC in 1955, Valid For Single Journey Only. This brought him to the attention of independent, low-budget movie producers the Danziger brothers. From the mid-1950s onwards, Brian was a staff writer for the Danzigers, churning out dozens of quickie scripts for assembly-line B-movies like Three Crooked Men, The Depraved and Three Sundays To Live and filmed television series such as The Vise, Mark Saber, White Hunter, Dial 999, The Man from Interpol, The Mask Of The Clown, Richard The Lionheart and Man Of The World. He also wrote for ITC Entertainment's popular thriller series' HG Wells' The Invisible Man, Sir Francis Drake, Ghost Squad and Danger Man. Brian's output was so prolific during the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s that he frequently used the pseudonym Tony O'Grady when moonlighting for other companies or to get around various union quota rules. In 1961, he was commissioned by Sydney Newman to contribute material to Hot Snow, the pilot episode of a new ATV Saturday night crime drama, The Avengers. It was to be the beginning of a fifteen year plus association with the franchise during the majority of which period Brian (from 1964 onwards) was the series' script editor, associate producer and, effectively, showrunner (a very Twenty First Century TV term that, it could be said, Brian invented the job description for back in the 1960s). According to the British Film Institute's profile, Brian 'brought this spirit of burlesque to his other series - most notably with the BBC's Adam Adamant Lives!, but also with The Baron, The Champions, The Persuaders!, The Protectors and The Adventurer - resoundingly poking fun both at the genre they were imitating and the sources of their inspiration.' The series was originally conceived as a straightforward action-adventure vehicle for Ian Hendry, whose character, David Keel, was assisted by the mysterious John Steed, played by Patrick Macnee. When Hendry left after a year, Macnee was paired with Honor Blackman as the leather-clad Cathy Gale and a more off-beat tone emerged. After this successful transformation, and in order to be sold to America, the series began to be made on film, with Clemens becoming associate producer thanks to his experience in the medium. It was Brian who cast Diana Rigg to replace Blackman when the latter left to play Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. He was later quoted as saying: 'I didn't do Diana a very good service. It made her an international star but I think I could have done more for her as far as the script was concerned. She was rather a stooge to Patrick Macnee.' In 1972, Brian created the BBC sitcom My Wife Next Door which won a BAFTA. That same year he had his first credit on an American production with the TV movie The Woman Hunter, scripted by Clemens and his fellow ITC veteran Tony Williamson. He also created ITV's anthology series Thriller. Having formed his own production company with a fellow Avengers producer, Albert Fennell, and the composer Laurie Johnson, in 1976 Brian launched the Anglo-French-Canadian co-production The New Avengers (which made Joanna Lumley a star) and, when that ended after two series, The Professionals. Clemens also wrote for a number of American shows including Remington Steele, Perry Mason, Father Mysteries and the Highlander TV series. He wrote and produced for Hammer Films - writing 1971's superb Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde and writing and directing the hugely under-rated Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter two years later - while his later screenplay credits included Highlander II: The Quickening. In the early 1980s, he was twice asked to produce a United States version of his most successful series - The Avengers USA for Quinn Martin and The Avengers International for Taft Entertainment though neither version made it to the screen. However, he did write episodes for the ABC series Darkroom and CBS's Max Monroe: Loose Cannon. Back in the UK, he worked on Bergerac, the anthologies Hammer House of Mystery & Suspense and Worlds Beyond and adapted Gavin Lyall's espionage thriller The Secret Servant as a three-part drama for the BBC. Although Brian was best known for his work on television, his hero was the master of suspense cinema, Alfred Hitchcock. His own forays into the medium included screenplays for Operation Murder, The Tell-Tale Heart, Station Six-Sahara, The Peking Medallion, the classy Anglo-French thriller ... And Soon, The Darkness (co-written with his friend Terry Nation), See No Evil, The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad and The Watcher In The Woods. Receiving his OBE, Brian said: 'I am pleased from the point of view of all screenwriters.' Clemens, who lived near Ampthill in Bedfordshire, was also involved in The Elstree Project. A spokesman for the project said in a statement posted on its website: 'Brian gave his support and time to The Elstree Project and is featured in our documentary film, through clips from the oral history interview he gave to us, as well as the short documentary we made about the making of The Avengers at ABPC Studios in the 1960s. We are hugely grateful to Brian and send our love and support to his wife Janet and their family.' From a personal point of view, as a writer, this blogger never thought Brian was, quite, the Premier League player that he's usually described as (it's seldom his episodes of The Avengers that I tend to go back to, as opposed to Philip Levene's or Roger Marshall's, say). But he was, nevertheless, a true colossus - almost the very definition of, if you'll excuse the pun, a TV professional - who bestrode the British television industry for over forty years, wrote for half-a-dozen of this blogger's favourite series and also wrote (or co-wrote) three of Keith Telly Topping's favourite horror movies. So, this is a very sad day for many of us 'of a certain age'. Brian and his first wife, Brenda, were divorced in 1966. From 1967, his partner was the actress Diane Enright until she died in 1976. He is survived by his second wife, Janet and their two sons, Sam and George.

The actor, comedian, impressionist, writer and singer Lance Percival has died at the age of eighty one. Among his notable film roles were Carry On Cruising, On The Fiddle, Mrs Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter, Postman's Knock, There's A Girl In My Soup and Darling Lili. A tall, thin chap with a distinctive crooked nose and prominent ears, on TV, Lance appeared in the 1970s series Shoestring, Jason King, the impression shows Who Do You Do? and You Must Be Joking and the sitcom Citizen James. He also provided the voice for both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in the 1960s cartoon The Beatles. Born John Lancelot Blades, he died on 6 January following a long illness. His TV career began performing satirical calypso songs on comedy shows such as That Was The Week That Was. He was later given his own series, The Lance Percival Show and Lance At Large, a 1964 sitcom which also featured Bernard Bresslaw, Gladys Bacon and Eric Barker and was written by Peter Tinniswood and David Nobbs. He was also a regular voice on BBC radio on programmes such as Just A Minute throughout the 1980s. He was also the author of two books of verse, Well-Versed Cats and Well-Versed Dogs, both illustrated by Lalla Ward. Subsequently he gained a reputation as a writer, a presenter and an after-dinner speaker. Lance was born in Sevenoaks, and was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset where he learned to play the guitar. Lance then did national service with the Seaforth Highlanders as a lieutenant and was posted to Egypt. In 1955 he emigrated to Canada where he worked as an advertising copywriter, writing jingles for radio. He also formed a calypso group as Lord Lance which toured the US and Canada. In 1960 he starred with Kenneth Williams and Sheila Hancock in Peter Cook's stage revue One Over the Eight (for which he was understudied by Ken Loach). TW3's deviser Ned Sherrin plucked Lance from playing guitar at The Blue Angel Club in Mayfair and during the show's brief but hugely successful outing on the BBC during 1962 to 1963, Percival featured in political sketches and performed a regular 'instant calypso' inspired by the week's events — often suggested by members of the audience - in the manner of the West Indian singer Cy Grant. One memorable 1970s effort, made up on the spot during an episode of Parkinson began: 'The football season's started, at what a cost/Never mind the hooligans, Chelsea lost!' Gangly, with an expressive, snaggle-toothed face and a good line in funny voices, Lance was the Tory leader Sir Alec Douglas-Home to Willy Rushton's Harold Macmillan in many sketches. He was also memorable as a civil servant detecting sexual innuendoes in bureaucratese in a 1963 sketch spoofing the controversy over the junior minister Tam Galbraith beginning a letter to the mandarin John Vassall (whose homosexuality had been used to blackmail him into spying for the Soviet Union) with the words 'My Dear Vassall.' Lance's love of calypso music saw him working, like many British comics of the era, with George Martin at Parlophone, Percival had one UK chart hit - albeit a minor one - his cover version of a calypso-style song entitled 'Shame & Scandal (In The Family)' in October 1965. he recorded several other comedy songs, including 'The Beetroot Song' in 1963 written by Mitch Murray and 'The Maharajah Of Brum' (1967, written with Martin himself). Following on from voicing roles in The Beatles cartoon, he went on to be cast as the voice of Old Fred in the band's Yellow Submarine animated film. In the 1971 film version of Up Pompeii, which followed on from Frankie Howerd's TV series, Lance starred as Bilius. He also appeared in the sequels, Up The Chastity Belt and Up the Front, which moved the action to World War One. In December 1970, he was involved in a fatal car crash near Farningham, apparently while racing another driver at high speed in his Jaguar XJ on a dangerous stretch of road near Brands Hatch. Lance almost lost the sight of one eye in the incident. Lance returned to film work sustaining a film career until the early 1980s. Between 1972 and 1978 the Thames Television game show Whodunnit! was written by Percival and his friend Jeremy Lloyd, who died just two weeks before Lance. He made a variety of television appearances both as an actor and personality, including in the series Up The Workers (1974-76), The Kenneth Williams Show (1976) and Noel's House Party in the 1990s. Later roles included a stint in the shortlived 1989 BBC children's drama Bluebirds, which also starred Barbara Windsor and a young Martine McCutcheon. Lance's son Jamie told BBC News: 'When he spoke about his showbiz life, he spoke fondly of his time on That Was the Week That Was and he always loved Ned Sherrin, who discovered him performing at The Blue Angel Club. He was an amazing dad. He was involved in my life right up to the present day. He came to every rugby game I was in, and we watched sports together and we held Ryder Cup parties. He was loved by all his family and will be very much missed.'

The first record yer actual Elvis Presley ever made has sold at auction for three hundred thousand dollars. An unnamed buyer placed the winning bid online for the 78rpm recording of 'My Happiness', the first time it has come up for public sale. The auction was held at Presley's former home Graceland on what would have been his eightieth birthday. Presley recorded the ballad in 1953 when he was eighteen-years-old. He wanted to find out what his voice sounded like on record and paid four dollars for the session to record 'My Happiness' and 'That's When Your Heartaches Begin' onto acetate. Presley was said to have made the recording partly as a present for his mother. But the family did not have a record player, so he took it to his friend Ed Leek's house to listen to the results of the session and left it there. Leek kept the record in a safe for sixty years and after he and his wife died their niece Lorisa Hilburn inherited it. Hilburn from Florida was surprised but 'very happy' with how much the record sold for. 'There was adrenaline beforehand but when it was over, I was numb,' she said. She plans to use some of the money to put her sons through college.
For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, it's been a while since we've had a decent slice of the 'sis.

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