Sunday, March 15, 2015

It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous

Yer actual Jenna Coleman - looking all stern and cross, let it be noted - was hard at work filming for the next series of Doctor Who last week, with the cast and crew travelling to Tenerife for a spot of winter sun in the Balearics. Jenna was joined by the very excellent Michelle Gomez on-set, who is returning as Missy (with a new beehive, to boot). Presumably Peter Capaldi was also there, somewhere.
National heartthrob David Tennant has spoken about the relationship between The Doctor and Rose Tyler. The actor reportedly told fans at Wizard World Comic Con that yer actual Billie Piper's character was the Time Lord's 'girlfriend', even if it wasn't confirmed on screen. Rose served as the companion to Christopher Eccleston's Doctor and Tennant's in 2005 and 2006. Piper returned for three episodes in 2008, before making a cameo appearance in Tennant's fina episode in 2010. She also made an appearance as The Moment in the fiftieth anniversary special The Day Of The Doctor. And, was reet proper excellent in it. Tennant added that he is enjoying life as a fan again now that he doesn't know what is going to happen in each episode. He said: 'I grew up as a fan of Doctor Who. It used to be the show I waited for every Saturday night with bated breath, it was very exciting. To then be in it, it's weird. In some ways it changes how you are, you can never be a fan in the same way again because of course you're looking at your own ugly mug, it's quite hard to be entirely enjoying it - and, of course, I knew what was coming as I'd read the script. Now, of course, I can watch it and not know what's coming up, so I get to be a fan again, which is great.'

This news is not going to make the two year wait between series' of Sherlock any easier for fans, but The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has revealed that he finds our torment rewarding. Yeah, he's a bit like that is The Moff. But, we love him, anyway. Discussing the situation in a recent interview, Steven is quoted by BT.TV as saying: 'I feel slightly guilty that we may have exacerbated the appetite through starvation because we make so few of them over so much time. But it's incredibly rewarding that each time we come back it's so rapturously received. If we'd done it at the normal rate, which would be six to twelve every year or every two years, we'd be finished by now and we'd never get hold of Benedict and Martin again. So, it's certainly kept it going, and it's nice that we don't wear it all out. It's still quite fresh.'
Arthur & George shed almost half of its overnight audience for its second episode on Monday. The Martin Clunes-fronted drama brought in 3.15m for ITV at 9pm. Earlier, Wor Geet Canny Robson Green's More Tales From Northumberland (featuring Wor Geet Canny Robson Green his very self) interested 3.63m at 8pm. However, it was BBC1's Match Of The Day Live which topped Monday's overnight ratings, with 7.27 million punters tuning in to watch The Arse beat The Scum, 2-1, at Old Trafford. Which, to be fair, was funnier than any sitcom ITV have made in three decades. On BBC2, University Challenge was watched by 2.29m at 8pm, while Only Connect continued with 2.11m at 8.30pm and A Cook Abroad brought in 1.07m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Dispatches averaged 1.23m at 8pm, while Food Unwrapped attracted 1.30m at 8.30pm. The Billion Pound Hotel gathered 2.09m at 9pm. Channel Five's Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud brought in 1.06m at 8pm, followed by Benefits: Life On The Dole with 1.41m at 9pm and Ten Thousand BC with five hundred and eighty eight thousand at 10pm.

The return of MasterChef topped the overnight ratings on Tuesday. The new series of the popular BBC1 cookery competition appealed to 4.67m at 9pm, while the Comic Relief special Kids In Camps was watched by 1.06m at 10.45pm. On BBC2, Nature's Weirdest Events interested 1.51m at 7pm, before Natural World averaged 2.27m at 8pm. Horizon followed with 1.21m at 9pm, while the new Paul Whitehouse sitcom Nurse gathered nine hundred and fifty thousand at 10pm. ITV's coverage of the UEFA Champions League tie between Real Madrid and Schalke 04 was watched by 2.69m from 7.30pm. Channel Four's Mary Portas: Secret Shopper brought in 1.53m at 8pm, while One Born Every Minute attracted 1.82m at 9pm. The Kids Who Can't Stay Awake was watched by nine hundred and forty thousand punters at 10pm. On Channel Five, Costa Del Casualty: Benidorm ER had an audience of eight hundred and seventy nine thousand at 8pm, followed by The Benefits Estate with 1.06m at 9pm.

From The North has noted previously on several occasions that MasterChef's producers seem to take an almost perverse delight in slapping down examples of outrageous culinary hubris. Invariably, if an episode includes Gregg Wallace interviewing one of the contestants and asking them to tell the viewers how shit-hot good they believe they are, or how far they think they can go in the competition it will, almost always, be the contestant that bigs themselves up into The Second Coming of Auguste Escoffier and suggests that they are, like, totally fan-effing-tastic who will, then, have an absolute 'mare, produce something barely edible and be asked to leave the MasterChef kitchen and never darken their door again. Case in point on Tuesday's series opener, we had James from Bristol who was, he said, 'really confident' that his dish, 'a kind of Asian surf and turf' as going to smoke Gregg and John's cornet the mostest, baby. 'I've practised time and time again so I'm really confident it'll come out A1,' he said. Of course, it didn't. His prawn tempura went spectacularly tits up. Then, there was Olivia who confessed that 'time-keeping is my problem. But, it'll be fine.' But, it wasn't. She failed to get her meatballs cooked in time and, therefore, had to present the judges with a salad. A nice salad, let it be said but still, it was a case of close, but no cigar. Contrast that with Recruitment Consultant Tony, wearing a very Matt Smith-style dickie-bow and an outrageous moustache, who said that his mum considered him to be the best cook in the world but that he, personally, wasn't making any such claims. John Torode didn't like the sound of his chicken thighs dish one little bit but Tony proved him wrong and continued to impress throughout the episode, qualifying for the quarter final with ringing endorsements from both judges. So, there's a useful tip for anyone who takes part in MasterChef, if Gregg asks you how good you are just say 'I'm crap, mate. Totally inept. You're gonna hate this' and, like as not, you'll be fine.

MasterChef remained top of the overnight ratings on Wednesday. The cooking series added around two hundred thousand viewers from Tuesday's episode to reach 4.87 million for its second episode 7.30pm, while The People's Strictly entertained 3.35m at 9pm. On BBC2, Nature's Weirdest Events continued with 1.09m at 7pm, before Suffragettes Forever! The Story Of Women & Power had an audience of 1.01m at 8pm. This World appealed to eight hundred and eighty thousand at 9pm, while Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience gathered eight hundred and ten thousand at 10pm. On ITV, the wretched Big Star's Little Star added two hundred thousand sad crushed victims of society for its second episode with 3.11m at 8pm, before DCI Banks continued with 3.65m at 9pm. Channel Four's Location, Location, Location averaged 1.61m at 8pm, while Twenty Four Hours In A&E rose to 1.85m at 9pm. First Dates was watched by nine hundred and fifty thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's GPs Behind Closed Doors rose to 1.04m at 8pm, while My Violent Child was seen by 1.07m at 9pm.

And, MasterChef topped the overnight ratings for a third night running on Thursday. The programme scored its highest numbers of the week with a very impressive 5.45m at 7.30pm. Later, Comic Relief: Operation Health gathered 2.72m at 9pm and Question Time averaged 2.60m at 10.45pm. On BBC2, Nature's Weirdest Events continued with 1.37m at 7pm, before The Great British Sewing Bee had an audience of 3.03m at 8pm. Bitter churlish old Red Jimmy McGovern's miserable-as-Morrissey period drama Banished lost more than one million viewers for its second episode, with 2.38m tuning-in at 9pm. As predicted by this blogger last week, in fact. I don't wanto to say I told you so, dear blog reader, but I did tell you so. ITV's coverage of Everton's Europa League victory over Dynamo Kiev brought in 2.77m from 7.30pm. Channel Four's Cucumber concluded its eight episode run with a mere five hundred and eighty thousand at 9pm. Earlier, The Supervet was seen by 1.39m at 8pm. On Channel Five, Britain's Worst Crimes the latest episode of which concerned dirty of scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile was seen by nine hundred and forty two thousand at 8pm, while Holiday Love Rats Exposed drew 1.18m at 9pm. The latest episode of The Mentalist had an audience of seven hundred thousand viewers at 10pm. Sky Atlantic's Fortitude dipped yet further to three hundred and forty four thousand at 9pm.

The annual Comic Relief telethon topped Friday's overnight ratings. The charity fundraiser averaged 8.1m viewers from 7pm on BBC1, with 2.97m returning at 10.40pm after the news. On BBC2, A Cook Aboard concluded with seven hundred and eighty thousand at 7pm, before Mastermind was watched by 1.59m at 8pm. At 8.30pm Gardeners' World attracted 1.78m and Quelle Catastrophe! France With Robert Peston gathered 1.13m viewers at 9pm. Jo Brand's The Great Comic Relief Bake Off: An Extra Slice was watched by 4.37m at 10pm. An average of 3.28 million watched ITV's Barging Round Britain With John Sergeant, as 2.37m viewed Bear Grylls: Mission Survive at 9pm. On Channel Four The Million Pound Drop brought in four hundred and ninety thousand at 8pm, while 9pm's Gogglebox had an audience of 2.41m. NCIS: New Orleans drew eight hundred and forty nine thousand on Channel Five at 9pm followed by NCIS with right hundred and fourteen thousand at 10pm.

Comic Relief has officially raised over one billion knicker for chariddeeeee since the project started thirty years ago, with seventy eight million eighty two thousand nine hundred and eighty eight quid already achieved from this year's fundraiser. The Red Nose Day event, which launched in 1985, broadcast live from the London Palladium for the first time on Friday night. Richard Curtis, the founder and vice chair of Comic Relief, said: 'This is a very strange moment for me. When a bunch of comedians got together all those years ago we dreamed of raising a million or two, and never imagined the generosity that would be shown by the British public for so many years. Figures tell us that the billion pounds have helped around fifty million people in the UK and overseas, fifty million people whose lives have been changed or saved by the generosity of people they've never met. It's an extraordinary thing that we do in Britain and I'm enormously proud to be part of it. Our thanks to every single person who has ever done their bit over the last thirty years - both the funny and the money.' Cheeky big-toothed Scouse funster John Bishop, Lenny Henry (who was last remotely funny for about five minutes in 1984), Davina McCall, David Walliams and Claudia Whatsherface presented the BBC telecast, with sketches including the return of Mr Bean, Dawn French and Emma Watson in The Vicar Of Dibley and Alan Carr as the voice of James Bond. Walliams and Stephen Hawking also starred in a Little Britain sketch. Dermot O'Dreary completed a twenty four-hour dance marathon and that awful Wood woman was named winner of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off. Sam Smith and John Legend performed the official Comic Relief single 'Lay Me Down' and Cassidy Little won The People's Strictly. And people gave money for that? We live in strange times, dear blog reader.

There were some good bits, though, if you looked hard enough. For example, Liam Gallagher made a guest appearance in a comedy sketch alongside Stephen Fry. In the sketch Fry is tasked with finding Britain's next 'national treasure' along with Miranda Hart and Sheridan Smith. The three person panel then welcomed a number of famous faces into the room to state their case including Robbie Williams, Cheryl Fernandez-Whatsherface and the model David Gandy, apparently (no, me neither I'm afraid). The sketch ended with Liam Gallagher his very self walking in. At which point, Stephen puts his head in his hands and the scenes ends with Liam's name written on the list of National Treasures in felt tip next to a cartoon penis. Well, this blogger thought it was funny.
The Voice dropped to a series overnight low on Saturday although it was still, by a comfortable distance, the most-watched programme of the evening. BBC1's singing competition averaged 6.69m during the first knockout episode, which saw will.he.is and Rita Ora choose their final teams. The National Lottery: Win Your Wish List continued with 4.08m from 8.30pm, with Casualty attracting 4.85m afterwards. BBC2's How We Got To Now With Steven Johnson ended with six hundred and sixty three thousand from 7.30pm. A repeat of Dad's Army averaged 1.7m and Hockney managed eight hundred and twenty eight thousand from 9pm. On ITV, Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway appealed to 5.46m from 7pm. Phillip Schofield's You're Back In The Room began its run with 4.08m from 8.20pm, before the Madonna 'special' of The Jonathan Ross Show was watched by 2.68m. Channel Four's The World's Weirdest Weather drew seven hundred and twelve thousand in the 8pm hour, and the Kristen Wiig film Bridesmaids had an audience of 1.08m from 9pm. On Channel Five, the latest episode of CSI averaged eight hundred and seventy eight thousand from 10.10pm. The multichannels were topped by ITV3's Foyle's War, which managed nine hundred and fifty five thousand from 8pm.

The Voice topped the overnight ratings on its first Sunday outing this year. The BBC1 talent show's final Knockout rounds were seen by an average audience of 7.46 million viewers at 7.45pm, up from Saturday's overnight audience of 6.99m. Earlier, Countryfile brought in 6.17m at 6.45pm, while Poldark dropped around four hundred thousand week-on-week to 6.56m at 9pm. Match Of The Day 2 featuring yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies' craven and cowardly surrender before kick-off at Everton, scored 2.59m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Pompidou was watched by six hundred an sixty five thousand punters at 6.30pm, followed by Comic Relief - The Best Bits - something of an oxymoron, I know but, there you go - with 1.20m at 7pm. Red Arrows: Inside the Bubble, a last minute replacement for the cancelled Top Gear was watched by 1.32m at 8pm - something which seemed to absolutely astonish the Gruniad Morning Star and gave them the excuse to write their twelfth Clarkson-related article since last Wednesday. Twelfth. Media watchdog Ofcom said that it had received more than one hundred complaints about Top Gear being replaced. And that became the Gruniad's thirteenth Clarkson-related story. An Ofcom spokesman said that it would take no action as it 'can only assess a breach of the broadcasting code if a show has actually aired.' Anyway, Dragons' Den was seen by 2.12m at 9pm. Bluestone Four Two returned for a new series with four hundred and ninety eight thousand at 10pm. ITV's The Chase drew 3.34m at 6.30pm, while Off Their Rockers attracted 3.19m at 7.30pm. All Star Family Fortunes could only muster 3.21m at 8pm and Mr Selfridge - recommissioned this week for a fourth series - dropped to a new overnight low of 3.01m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Great Canal Journeys appealed to 2.15m at 8pm, followed by Indian Summers with 1.06m at 9pm and Britain's Racist Election with six hundred and fifty six thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's showing of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider had an audience of nine hundred and seventeen thousand at 7.15pm, followed by the Jason Statham vehicle Killer Elite with eight hundred and fifteen thousand at 9pm.

Here's the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Six programmes for week-ending Sunday 8 March 2015:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 10.22m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.82m
3 Poldark - Sun BBC1 - 8.75m
4 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.28m
5 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 8.13m
6 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.30m
7 Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 6.88m
8 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.82m
9 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.92m
10 Top Gear - Sun BBC2 - 5.84m
11 Arthur & George - Mon ITV - 5.52m*
12 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.51m
13 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.39m
14 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.94m
15 DCI Banks - Wed ITV - 4.71m*
16 Gogglebox - Fri Channel Four - 4.55m
17 The ONE Show - Mons BBC1 - 4.45m
18 Banished - Thurs BBC2 - 4.43m
19 The People's Strictly For Comic Relief - Wed BBC1 - 4.22m
20 The Big Painting Challenge - Sun BBC1 - 4.20m
21 Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBc1 - 4.11m
22 The Musketeers - Fri BBC1 - 4.05m
23 Mr Selfridge - Sun ITV - 3.98m*
24 FA Cup Match of The Day Live - Sat BBC1 - 3.97m
25 The Graham Norton Comic Relief Show - Fri BBC1 - 3.88m
26 DIY SOS: The Big Build - Thurs BBC1 - 3.86m
These figures, as usual, do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. On BBC2, apart from what's now looking like the series finale of Top Gear (the Monday repeat of which added a further 1.66m viewers to the near six million who watched the episode on Sunday) and churlish, bitter old Red Jimmy McGovern's misery-fest Banished (the consolidated ratings for the second episode of which will, this blogger confidently predicts, be considerably lower than four and a half million), The Great British Sewing Bee was watch by 3.43m. University Challenge had 3.20m, followed by Only Connect (2.85m), Let's Play Darts For Comic Relief (2.66m), Natural World: Super-Powered Owls (2.35m) Gardener's World (2.03m), A Cook Abroad (2.03m), and Horizon (also 2.03m). Gogglebox was, yet again, Channel Four's most watched programme of the week (and not by a little bit, either), followed by Indian Summers (2.23m) and Twenty Four Hours In A&E (also 2.23m). Channel Five's top-rated broadcasts were Benefits Britain: Life On The Dole (1.86m) and the imported US dramas CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (1.66m), The Mentalist (1.38m) and NCIS: New Orleans (1.35m). Foyle's War was ITV3's most-watched drama with 1.01 million viewers. Great Continental Railway Journeys was BBC4's highest-rated progamme (six hundred and nineteen thousand), followed by TOTP2: Special (five hundred and twenty two thousand). Climate Change: A Horizon Guide drew four hundred and seventy two thousand. A repeat of Pain, Pus & Poison: The Search For Modern Medicines had four hundred and fifty one thousand whilst the final episode of Saints & Sinners: Britain's Millennium Of Monasteries was watched by four hundred and twenty seven thousand. Including this blogger. Just sayin'. Anyway, BBC3's most-watched programmes was Waterloo Road (seven hundred and sixty seven thousand). The FOX Channel's latest episode of The Walking Dead's fifth series had 1.22 million viewers whilst NCIS's twelfth series continued with eight hundred and thirty seven thousand (for that rather good episode featuring yer actual Jamie Bamber as Ellie Bishop's oft-mentioned-but-never-before-seen husband). The Universal Channel's most watched show was Law & Order: Special Victims Unit with one hundred and fifty two thousand. The log-awaited return of The Blacklist to Sky Living drew eight hundred and fifty one thousand. Sky 1's The Flash had 1.15m, just ahead of Arrow (nine hundred and eighty thousand). Sky Atlantic, seemingly, did not send BARB their homework for marking so, tragically, this blogger can't tell you how many punters the latest episode of Fortitude attracted. Although it seems to have been very much a case of diminishing returns over the last couple of weeks. Sky Sports 1's coverage of the SPL clash between Dundee United and Glasgow Celtic had three hundred and one thousand viewers, whilst Sky Sports 2's Cricket World Cup coverage peaked for the Australia versus Sri Lanka tie (two hundred and three thousand). Storage Hunters had Dave's largest audience (three hundred and eighty six thousand). Drama's Judge John Deed was watched by four hundred and thirteen thousand. Cult favourite Murdoch Mysteries was top of Alibi's ratings list (two hundred and three thousand).

And now, the only story that anybody in Great Britain (or, indeed, in the world) has been in the slightest bit interested for the last week. That's if you believe every national newspaper and the Internet,of course. The BBC is reported to be 'facing a multimillion-pound bill' over its decision to suspend yer actual Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear, with foreign broadcasters eligible for compensation and rival TV companies poised to poach the presenter. This, needless to say, is all according to a sneering, shitty agenda-soaked piece written by some louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star. Meanwhile, as the scum press descended on the story like a pack of crazed dogs and various Middle Class hippy Communist Gruniad Morning Star readers were having a party and creaming in their own shorts at the thought that they'd finally 'got' Clarkson, the staff of that particular newspaper - and those at the Daily Scum Mail, the Daily Mirra, the Torygraph, et cetera - were all having a wake. Because, if the chap does lose his job at the Beeb, or quits and moves to another broadcaster (as now seems increasingly likely), then they'll have nothing left to write about and will have to go back to reporting the effing news. Which would, obviously, be a tragedy for them.
    So, just in case you've been living in a cave for the last week and hadn't heard, Clarkson was suspended and the three remaining editions of the current series of Top Gear were pulled from the BBC2 schedules after allegations emerged that Jezza had punched a member of the production team - geet hard, at that - at the Simonstone Hall Hotel in Hawes, North Yorkshire, near where the show was filming on location. And, if you've ever been to Hawes, as this blogger had the misfortune to many years ago when he was on his way back to the Toon from Lancaster, you'll know that a biff on the conk is, frankly, the least of your worries. Jezza's Top Gear co-presenter James May confirmed on Wednesday that Jezza had been 'involved in a bit of a dust-up.' May accepted that his colleague might be 'a knob' but said that he quite likes him. He added that the situation over Clarkson's suspension from the show was now 'getting a bit ridiculous.' Speaking after being doorsteped by scum reporters, James was asked whether he supported Clarkson. He said: 'In many ways no, I have said many times before the man is a knob, but I quite like him.' Asked what he understood about had happened, James gave a perfectly May-like answer: 'Not very much, I was blind drunk.' Neither Clarkson nor the BBC would comment on reports that the presenter had punched one of the show's segment producers, subsequently named in the press as Oisin Tymon, when no hot food was available at the hotel after a long day's filming. Though that didn't stop a bunch of guests at the hotel from snitching and Copper's Narking their own versions of the story to anyone that would listen. One wonders how much they got paid for that? Clarkson his very self told reporters outside his London home on Wednesday: 'I've been suspended, haven't I? I’m just off to the Job Centre.' He added: 'At least I'm going to be able to get to the Chelsea match tonight.' And, indeed, he did and got a rousing reception from the Moscow Chelski FC ultras. Which was just about the last thing they had to cheer about all night as ten-man Paris Saint Germain dumped блюз out of the Champions League at Torpedo Stamford Bridge on away goals. The BBC was understood to be keen to resolve the issue as soon as possible, with Jezza consulting his lawyer, Mark Devereux, a senior partner at the legal firm Olswang. Any meeting with Clarkson is likely to include BBC Director General Tony Hall and the corporation's director of television Danny Cohen. Hall confirmed in an appearance before parliament's European scrutiny committee on Wednesday that he was involved in the BBC inquiry into the latest media-created Clarkson controversy. It emerged on Wednesday evening that the BBC executive Ken MacQuarrie is to chair the disciplinary panel that will decide upon Clarkson's fate - that is if Clarkson himself hasn't had enough of all of this crap and decided to abandon ship and sign up with another broadcaster with, one imagines, twice as much money and half the interference. MacQuarrie previously oversaw the investigation into the disastrous Newsnight edition which accused the late Conservative peer Lord McAlpine of, allegedly, being involved in the North Wales child abuse scandal.
      Top Gear is, of course, BBC2's most popular show, regularly watched by a consolidated audience of more than six million viewers per week (not counting iPlayer figures which regularly top two million per episode). By late Friday night more than eight hundred thousand people had signed an online petition organised by the right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes calling for the presenter to be reinstated by the BBC. Meanwhile, everybody and their dog was having their say on the matter. Mostly, people with absolutely sod-all to do with the issue at hand. Case in point, the vile and odious rascal Miller expressed her support for Clarkson in a Wednesday lunchtime interview with Radio 4's The World At One. Although quite what the frig any of this has to do with the disgraced former lack of culture secretary whose expense claims caused her spectacular, and very funny, downfall is another question entirely. Similarly, the former BBC presenter (and Beard Of Despair) Noel Edmonds had his say, criticising the corporation's top executives for displaying 'sheer incompetence' in 'managing' Clarkson. The Deal Or No Deal presenter, himself a former Top Gear host (back when it was crap), who acrimoniously left the BBC after a thirty-year career following a falling-out with management in the late 1990s, said the corporation needs to 'shoulder the lion's share of the blame.' So, no quite obvious sick agenda going down there, then. Cowardly Cowardly David Cameron, a friend and neighbour of Clarkson, also loaned his support. He said that he hoped the issue could be 'sorted out' soon as his children would miss the show if it were to disappear. He told BBC Midlands Today: 'I see that he said he regrets some of what happened. All I would say, because he is a talent and he does amuse and entertain so many people, including my children who'll be heartbroken if Top Gear is taken off-air, I hope this can be sorted out because it is a great programme and he is a great talent.' Jezza also received support from Katie Hopkins and Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads. Christ, he is in trouble if the quality of those springing to his defence is anything to go by! Jezza could - and, indeed, probably will - walk away from the show when his current contract runs out at the end of this month whatever the verdict of the BBC's internal inquiry into the affair. Rival UK broadcasters would swoop to sign Clarkson, who despite - or, perhaps because of - his history of controversy is one of the most popular presenters on television. Both ITV and Channel Four have previously tried to poach Clarkson from the BBC and his departure would spark a huge bidding war among the corporation's commercial rivals. The programme's suspension could also have big ramifications for the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, which broadcasts the series to over two hundred territories with a record global audience of three hundred and fifty million viewers. In 2013 Guinness World Records proclaimed that the show was 'the most widely watched factual TV programme in the world.' Franchises and spin-offs include Top Gear programmes in Australia, India, Malaysia, Netherlands, the US, China and Russia. That year its audience covered two hundred and twelve territories 'from Ghana to Guatemala, Moldova to Myanmar', the records organisation said. The BBC could be liable for penalty payments, likely to run into millions of quid, for failing to deliver the final episodes of the series on time, as well as facing having to renegotiate the original deal price for a full series. The show's huge global success, generating an estimated eighty to one hundred million smackers a year, is likely to complicate negotiations around any exit.
     Top Gear is - along with Strictly Come Dancing and Doctor Who - one of the BBC's biggest money spinners, spawning not only massive overseas sales but also merchandise, magazines, DVDs, live events and locally produced versions. As a contingency measure, BBC Worldwide is, according to the Gruniad, to offer foreign broadcasters Top Gear programming that has not been aired before in their respective markets. 'We are working on supplying international broadcast partners with alternative content,' said a spokesman for BBC Worldwide. The Clarkson saga poses a major immediate commercial headache for some of BBC Worldwide's other Top Gear brand extensions. A question mark looms over the fate of the sold-out Top Gear Live event in Stavanger, which is to be held on 27 and 28 March. The live tour, which is a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and a company called Brand Events, includes appearances from the cast members and is scheduled to head to Australia on 18 April. Other dates in the global tour calendar include Belfast in May, Sheffield and Johannesburg in June and London in November. Clarkson's 'fracas' came just days before the show's presenters – Clarkson, May and Richard Hammond – had been expected to sign new contracts tying them to the BBC for the next three years. It is understood that those negotiations have now been postponed. 'Jeremy Clarkson is hugely, hugely valuable,' one alleged - though suspiciously anonymous - 'industry executive' allegedly told the Gruniad. 'He has a brilliant connection with the audience and very few presenters have that.' The BBC's disciplinary policy, relating to the majority of its employees, states that allegations of assault constitutes 'gross misconduct' and will automatically trigger a formal disciplinary procedure and can lead to summary dismissal without notice. However, it is not known how the policy applies to Clarkson's contract with the BBC. Clarkson is a freelance and not staff. The BBC did not expand on its original statement, issued on Tuesday, which said: 'Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation. No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday. The BBC will be making no further comment at this time.' Clarkson was, initially, reported to be 'intensely relaxed' about the inquiry into his alleged 'fracas'. An alleged - though, again, anonymous, and therefore, probably fictitious - 'source' allegedly 'close' to the presenter allegedly said that Clarkson was, allegedly, 'confident' about the outcome of the disciplinary process. 'Jeremy is intensely relaxed about being suspended,' the alleged - though, suspiciously anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'source' allegedly said. That's if the alleged 'source' exists. Which he or she probably doesn't. It was later reported that Clarkson had told BBC bosses himself about the incident which led to his suspension. The Gruniad sneered that it 'understood' it was not Tymon who reported the alleged ‘fracas’ - which they erroneously stated had taken place at 'at a hotel in Newcastle' - but rather Jezza himself. One would criticise the geographical error if it was anyone else but, Hell, this is the Gruniad we're talking about, they don't realise a world exists beyond Islington. At a meeting at the beginning of this week, the Gruniad claimed, Clarkson had informed staff working on the show about the incident and said that he had contacted the BBC's Director of Television Danny Cohen to tell him about it. According to one alleged - though, again, anonymous - 'production source' there was, allegedly, 'some disquiet' within the team about what had,allegedly, happened. Although quite who snitched that information up the Gruniad has not been revealed.
    Writing in his column for the Sun on Saturday Clarkson appeared to signal that one way or another his time at the Beeb - for whom he has  worked since the 1980s - may be coming to an end. He referred to himself as 'a dinosaur', explaining that 'the day must come when you have to wave goodbye to the big monsters.' He wrote: 'As you may have heard, I've been suspended by the BBC following a fracas at a North Yorkshire hotel. I don't intend to dwell here on what happened then or what will happen in the future. I'm sure you're as fed up with the story as I am. One of the things which has cheered me is how many people have expressed support in the last few days. I'm touched and grateful. Nature made a mistake when it invented the dinosaur. It was too big, too violent. All the dinosaurs died and now, years later, no-one mourns their passing. These big, imposing creatures have no place in a world which has moved on. You can start as many campaigns as you like and call on the support of politicians from all sides, but the day must come when you have to wave goodbye to the big monsters, and move on.'
It appears that the Clarkson story has been stressing out the staff at Dave. Clarkson's suspension and future Top Gear episodes have been pulled by the BBC - for a channel whose output is dominated by hugely popular repeats of the motoring show, that's not good news according to the channel's Twitter account.
Meanwhile, those chancers at the History Channel were quick to attempt to exploit the Top Gear hiatus. By coincidence, the channel is just about to start a repeat run of Fifth Gear, having recently purchased a bunch of episodes of the Top Gear spin-off. So, they quickly knocked up a trailer informing viewers disappointed that there wasn't going to be a new Top Gear episode on Sunday that there was an alternative to be had with Tiff and co. Not only that, but they closed the trailer with the tag-line 'Fifth Gear. The programme with punch.' Oh, hardy-har-har. I'll bet you think you're the funniest kiddies in all the land, don't you?

As a minor postscript to all this malarkey, as this story was breaking on Wednesday morning yer actual Keith Telly Topping was called by his local BBC radio station to ask if he'd like to come onto The Breakfast Show and talk about 'Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear situation'. Whatever that meant. As it happened, and perhaps luckily, yer actual Keith Telly Topping was out at the time taking his regular morning swim at the pool, and thus, missed the opportunity. The opportunity, that is, to turn them down and refuse - unlike David Cameron, Katie Hopkins, Noel Edmonds, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, Jim White, Sion Clwyd Roberts, AA Gill, The Stig, Hadley Freeman, another Stig (the sacked one), old Uncle Tom Cobley and all - to pontificate on a subject which is, frankly, none of my sodding business. Or theirs for that matter. But, I'd have also asked what the Hell my local BBC radio station thought they were playing at in running a story on this issue whilst a BBC investigation is, currently, ongoing. And whether Tony Hall knew what they were planning. And, if not, why not.
From all that trivial nonsense to some proper good news: The Fall will return for a third series, finally revealing the fate of the serial killer played by Jamie Dornan. The second series of the BBC2 thriller - starring the Goddess that is Gillian Anderson - was one of the channel's most popular dramas of last year and ended, like the first, on a cliffhanger, with Dornan's Paul Spector lying shot in the arms of detective Stella Gibson. Both stars will return for a new five-part run of the Belfast-based drama which the BBC, announcing its recommission on Tuesday, said would 'bring the story to a close.' It is likely to be filming in the autumn and broadcast next year. Writer and director Allan Cubitt said: 'The cliffhanger ending of season two was conceived in the hope of further exploring the characters and the themes that are at the heart of The Fall.' Dornan was a relative unknown when the first series was shown in 2013, after which he said he felt 'scarred' by inhabiting the mind of a serial killer. But the former Calvin Klein model has since been catapulted to global stardom playing Christian Grey in the film version of Fifty Shades Of Grey. More than three million viewers watched the second series of The Fall, with an overnight audience of 3.6 million tuning in to the feature-length finale last December. The award-winning drama has also been controversial - at least, according to some shrill waste-of-space gobshites in the media if not anyone that actually matters - for its depiction of violence against women. Cubitt has rejected the charge, describing it as a 'dissection of a certain kind of male view, an exploration of misogyny.' BBC's Director General Tony Hall also defended the series, describing it as 'remarkable, critically very well received. I couldn't stop watching it.' The BBC said the new series would see the relationship between Spector and Gibson 'intensify and the story of the investigation into the murders become more complex and intricate.' The BBC controller of drama commissioning, Ben Stephenson, said: 'The story is far from over. Allan has known the end game from the beginning – the cat and mouse game between Gillian and Jamie has one last act to play out. Who will win?' Anderson, who is also one of the drama's producers, said at the programme launch last year that she was keen to bring the character back for a third time. 'Who she is and everything she stands for and how she operates – I find that very compelling and I don't feel like I have really seen that before,' said Anderson. 'She makes it very clear how she feels about violence against women, how these women are represented and how they are perceived. She is a supporter of women and women being treated respectfully and she doesn't mince words. It's in her bones. I like that about her.' Commissioned by BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw and Stephenson, The Fall is made by Fables in association with Artists Studio, part of the Endemol Shine group. Shillinglaw said that she wanted 'programme-makers to come to BBC2 to do their most distinctive and signature work.' Gub Neal, producer at Artists Studio, added: 'It's thrilling to be continuing the story between Stella Gibson and Paul Spector. A third season gives Allan Cubitt and Artists Studio a chance to pursue the investigation in a way that few crime dramas ever do and complete a cycle of events which will have held audiences for over three years.'

Producers of the BBC's Poldark have been 'left red-faced' - according to some louse of no consequence at the Daily Scum Mail - after a burglar alarm was spotted in press shots for the new period drama. The anachronism – the show being set in 1782, shortly before the invention of the burglar alarm – is seen just above Aidan Turner by the window of one of the houses in front of which the series was being filmed.
Comedian and actor Jason Manford has said that the BBC made a mistake by publicly announcing a ban on male-only panel shows, suggesting the announcement automatically 'undermined' the women taking part and made them appear to be examples of tokenism. Manford, a former presenter of The ONE Show and a regular - along with plenty of women - on Qi, said that it was harder for women to break through on the comedy circuit because of 'audience preconceptions' and because men were more used to dealing with rejection. He said the BBC Director of Television Danny Cohen's Soviet-style decree just over a year ago that there would be no more all-male comedy shows was 'a brilliant idea. I just don't think they should have said it out loud,' Manford told the new issue of the Radio Times. 'Why say it? Just do it and then let it become a thing. By saying it, you're undermining the female on the panel show because now she's thinking, "Am I here because I'm funny or because they needed [a woman]?"' Manford, one of the stars of new BBC1 drama Ordinary Lies, argued that women brought 'a different flavour' to TV panel shows. 'It can be a bit willy-waving when it's just blokes trying to shout over each other,' said Manford, obviously thinking about the bear-pit that is Mock The Week. 'Me and my brother have got some comedy clubs and we always make sure there's a female either on the bill or a female MC because it just makes blokes act differently – it makes it better.' Asked why there were not more famous female comedians, Manford suggested: 'I always think stand-up is a bit like flirting. So when a bloke comes out and does his thing, he's making people laugh, and this is what you do when you're flirting.' He added: 'It's harder for females sometimes to come on and be at the forefront because that's not what we're used to in our society. Generally the woman's passive. For a female to be aggressive is not what we're used to. So, I think female comics have to work harder because of an audience's preconceptions. And men are more used to rejection. Generally, it's the bloke who asks a girl out. I'm stereotyping but that's what we do. And so a fella gets used to rejection. I've noticed it on the circuit. A woman will come off stage, she's had a bad gig and she'll go, "I must have said something wrong." A guy will come off and go, "Maybe the sound was off", or "It was the audience." He'll find an external reason for his failure. And early on in stand-up there's a lot of failure.' Jason's comments echo the sentiments of Dara Ó Briain, who said last year that the BBC should have 'evolved' instead of 'legislating for token women. I wouldn't have announced it, is what I'd say, because it means Katherine Ryan or Holly Walsh, who’'e been on [Mock The Week] millions of times, will suddenly look like the token woman,' said Ó Briain. The News Quiz host Sandi Toksvig - herself a regular on Qi - has also voiced her concern, saying that there were 'better ways' of signing up women. Danny Cohen said last year that it was 'not acceptable' to have panel shows such as Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week and Qi without any women on them. Manford added: 'When I see a female act who's totally nailing it, I think, "Well, she's worked harder than most blokes to get to this point." That's why you only see brilliant female acts on the telly whereas there's a lot of mediocre male comics on TV. Because there's loads of us.'

Can it really be eighteen years since Buffy The Vampire Slayer began, dear blog reader? Well, yes it can. Jesus, where did the time go? The influential US Telefantasy drama was first broadcast on the WB network in America on 10 March 1997. Of course, as all true Buffy nerds like this blogger will point out at this juncture, Buffy actually received its public unveiling in, of all places, New Zealand, where the series was first broadcast on 2 February 1997, a full six weeks ahead of the series' US début. Just thought I'd mention it. Anyway, to celebrate this landmark, there's a beautifully written piece by Daniella Graham in this week's Metro called, not unreasonably, Eighteen Reasons Buffy The Vampire Slayer Was The Best Show On TV. Spot on in just about every respect, Daniella. Plus, of course, number nineteen, it changed this blogger's life by giving him a career writing about it for anyone that would pay him. If you missed Buffy first time around and want to know what all the fuss was about, dear blog reader, there's a rather decent episode guide which is still available for as little of sixty two pence (postage and packing inclusive). Local author, apparently. Not that he'll see any of the royalties, of course. Numfar, do the dance of abject poverty.
Daniel Mays has joined the cast of BBC2's Line of Duty. The actor will star in the upcoming third series as Sergeant Danny Waldron, whose 'unpredictable behaviour is becoming a threat to colleagues and suspects.' He joins Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar in the cast of Jed Mercurio's award-winning police drama. The new series - which will begin filming in Belfast later this month - will see AC-12 called in to investigate Waldron's conduct.

The Horror Channel has announced that it is moving to Freeview. Viewers previously had to be a Sky, Virgin Media or Freesat subscriber to access the channel but will now be able to access it Freeview. The Horror Channel broadcasts a variety of SF, fantasy and horror programming and films, including The Incredible Hulk and Labyrinth. It is also popular among Doctor Who fans, who are able to watch classic episodes on the channel. The Horror Channel's move will open it up to nineteen million Freeview users, instead of the three million to whom it is currently available. Tanya Gugenheim, chief business development officer at AMC Networks International, said: 'The channel already boasts a loyal fanbase and we're pleased to introduce it to a broader audience through Freeview.' The Horror Channel will appear on Freeview channel seventy from Friday 13 March.
David Lynch has suggested that Twin Peaks may not return to screens for a third series as previously announced. The show's creator spoke at the opening of the Between Two Worlds exhibition in Brisbane, revealing that there are 'complications' surrounding the mooted project. He added: 'I'm not sure at this point if it's happening.' Fan website Welcome To Twin Peaks has suggested that while scripts for the project are finished, contract negotiations 'haven't been finalised.' Lynch also spoke on ABC news show The Mix, saying that it would be 'very special' to return to the show.

Prosecutors in France have opened a manslaughter investigation after two helicopters crashed in Argentina, killing eight French nationals. Three well-known French sports personalities were among those killed in the collision, which also claimed the lives of the two Argentine pilots. French President Francois Hollande said it was 'a cause of immense sadness.' Both helicopters were involved in the filming of TV survival show Dropped, which is broadcast on French channel TF1. On the show, celebrities are flown into rough terrain and filmed while they attempt to find food and shelter. You know, for a laugh. Yachtswoman Florence Arthaud, Olympic swimmer Camille Muffat and Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine were the show's celebrities on board at the time of the crash. They all died. Other contestants were standing on the ground blindfolded a few hundred metres away when the accident happened near Villa Castelli in La Rioja province, French media said. Reports in Argentina said French swimmer Alain Bernard, who was also taking part in the show, narrowly escaped the crash after getting off one of the helicopters at the last minute to avoid overloading it. The five other French nationals killed were said to have worked for Adventure Line Productions, the company making the programme. They were named as Laurent Sbasnik, Lucie Mei-Dalby, Volodia Guinard, Brice Guilbert and Edouard Gilles. The Argentine pilots were Juan Carlos Castillo and Roberto Abate. Emergency workers had removed all of the bodies from the wreckage by Tuesday afternoon. Local authorities said that they were being taken to a morgue in the capital of La Rioja province, about two hundred miles from the crash site. Tributes have poured in to the dead stars from France and beyond. 'We are shocked by this sad news,' said Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee. The world of sport and the Olympic family have lost three of their key members,' he said, calling them 'champions and role models.'

Some really dreadful and appalling news now, I'm afraid dear blog reader. Birds Of A Feather has been renewed for another series by ITV. Truly, there is no God.

India's NDTV halted programming last Sunday in protest at the banning of the BBC documentary India's Daughter. The network ran a slate referring to the film's title, during the hour-long slot when it should have aired. The film, which features an interview with one of the men convicted of the Delhi bus rape, was due to be broadcast by the channel on Sunday night. But it was outlawed by the Indian authorities on the grounds of 'objectionable content.' Explaining its decision not to broadcast an alternative show from 21:00 to 22:00 local time, editorial director Sonia Singh said in a tweet: 'We won't shout, but we will be heard.' Other Twitter users praised the decision. One comment read: Kudos NDTV for the protest. A surprisingly mature decision in a mediascape that seems to deteriorate by by the day.' Another added: 'NDTV; they may not always be right, but this time they are.' Filmmaker Leslee Udwin, who directed India's Daughter, has rejected claims by the authorities that the documentary contained 'offensive remarks towards women' and 'could cause a public outcry.' She also denied allegations that she broke a contract with the prison by broadcasting the interview with the rapist, Mukesh Singh. He is currently facing the death penalty for his part in the rape and murder of a medical student on a bus in Delhi in 2012, which sparked protests across India. The BBC's Danny Cohen defended the corporation's decision to show the Storyville film in the UK on BBC4 the previous Wednesday, despite a request from the Indian government that it shelve the broadcast. 'We do not feel the film as currently edited could ever be construed as derogatory to women or an affront to their dignity,' he said.
Lord Grade, the former chairman of the BBC governors, has been accused of failing to be open about his links to the Conservative party after he accused the broadcasters of 'bullying' Downing Street over the television election debates. Sir Michael Lyons, who succeeded Grade in the different post of chair of the BBC Trust in 2007, accused Grade of an 'audacious' attempt to push a party position dressed up as a lesson on broadcasting impartiality. Lyons, a former Labour councillor who served as chairman of the BBC Trust from 2007 to 2011, spoke to The World At One on Radio 4 about Grade's intervention. 'I thought it was audacious really. Here we have a Conservative lord giving us party policy dressed up as a lecture on impartiality for the broadcasters. Either he didn't seem to be aware of that or, certainly, it wasn't made apparent. Indeed perhaps the BBC should have made it more apparent.' Lyons spoke out after Grade warned that broadcasters risked breaching rules on impartiality if they place an empty chair in lilly-livered chicken-shit cowardly coward David Cameron's place if he declines to take part in a head-to-head TV debate with Ed Milimolimandi. Or, if he sends his mate Jezza Clarkson along in his place, presumably. Grade - who is not only a Tory scumbag but was, infamously, the man who put Doctor Who on hiatus in 1985 when he was controller of BBC1. So he, clearly, isn't to be trusted, over anything - called on the BBC to 'make an immediate public statement' that it will refrain from threatening the prime minister with an empty chair. Although what the Hell hit has to do with him is, again, a question perhaps left for another day. Grade, who served as chairman of the BBC board of governors between 2004 and 2006 - badly - told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday: 'The idea that broadcasters can threaten politicians with empty chairs, real or imaginary, is completely unacceptable and against the statutory requirement for impartiality. It is not for the broadcasters to threaten the Prime Minister and risk breaching their duty of impartiality. The BBC should stand up today and say that they are not going to empty-chair anybody or to threaten anybody.' In an article in The Times, Grade wrote: 'It is bullying, a case of the broadcast media getting way ahead of itself.' Grade's view was initially supported, in part, by the virry Prince of Darkness himself, Lord Mandelson, who said broadcasters were 'not entitled to waive the threat of an empty chair.' But, Labour later challenged Grade by pointing out that he said in January no leader had a right to veto the debates. Aha, gotcha there, Micky! Answer that and stay fashionable. Lyons said the debate negotiations have been 'a dog's dinner' as he said the Coward of the County Cameron was right to object to the exclusion of the Green party leader, Natalie Bennett, after the UKiP leader, Nigel Farago, was invited. But, Lyons added that the broadcasters had done their best to deliver a head-to-head debate between Cowardly Cowardly Cameron and Milimolimandi, the two leaders most likely to be Prime Minister after the erection. 'There has been no debate about the principle of whether these debates should take place. It is all gaming about the detail.' The broadcasters had proposed holding a four-way debate between Cowardly Cowardly Cameron, Milimolimandi, the tragic Nick Clegg and Farago, a three-way debate between the leaders of the three main Westminster parties and a head-to-head between Milimolimandi and Cowardly Cowardly Cameron. The broadcasters amended their proposals after Cameron objected to the exclusion of the Greens. They proposed holding two debates among the seven party leaders in early and mid-April and one head-to-head debate between Milimolimandi and Yellow Chicken Cameron on 30 April. The scared Prime Minister has agreed to take part in one debate with six other party leaders which must take place in the week beginning 23 March – before the formal start of the short erection campaign. The former BBC Trust chairman said that he had never hidden his links to the Labour party, in stark contrast Grade who had been 'less than straightforward' about his Tory links during his time as chairman of the BBC board of governors. 'I am not saying that he hid them,' Lyons said. 'But he certainly was never clear about them while he was chair of the BBC. I think far too frequently we see people entering into public debate and concealing or at least not being honest about their real motives in doing that. So here we had something dressed up as a lecture about impartiality when it was really the party line.'

Karen Gillan is dreading the possibility of needing to have her head shaved for a second time. Kazza has been growing her hair for two years after she went slapheed for her role as Nebula in SF film Guardians Of The Galaxy. Now, the former Doctor Who star is reported to be 'getting twitchy' as film director James Gunn is set to put the second Guardians Of The Galaxy film into production. Karen who moved to the US last year, hopes graphic artists might be able to fake her bald look and save her having the chop again. Speaking in Indianapolis, she said: 'I have a physical and emotional attachment to this hair. We'll have to see if I have to shave it. Maybe CGI will have developed further by the time we shoot it.'
Eddie Izzard is set to star in the HBO drama pilot The Devil You Know (formerly going under the working title New World). Also cast in the project, co-written by Orange Is The New Black creator Jenji Kohan, Bruce Miller and Tracy Miller and directed by Gus Van Sant, are actresses Nadia Alexander and Ismenia Mendes. Described as 'a provocative period drama', The Devil You Know explores the circumstances around one of the most compelling chapters in American history — the infamous Salem Witch Trials in Seventeenth Century New England, where intolerance and repression set neighbour against neighbour and led a town to mass hysteria. Eddie plays farmer Thomas Putnam, the conservative, rigid and devoutly Puritan patriarch of the powerful Putnam family. He is a leader in agrarian Salem Village, but his top position is being threatened from many sides. Alexander plays another lead role, the bright and ambitious Ann Putnam, who is unsure of her role as a woman in this world but determined to discover her place in it. Mendes plays Mercy Lewis, a captured servant girl from Maine. Production on the pilot — a co-production between HBO and Lionsgate TV - is slated to take place in Boston in the spring.
Two judges on the New Zealand version of The X Factor have been fired over abusive comments made to a contestant during a live show. Natalia Kills and her husband, Willy Moon, were sacked by broadcaster TV3 after criticising a singer, Joe Irvine, during Sunday night's live programme. He had just performed his version of 'Cry Me A River'. Kills said: 'As an artist who respects artists' integrity and intellectual property I am disgusted at how much you have copied my husband. From the hair, to the suit, do you not have any value or respect for originality? You're a laughing stock. It's cheesy, it's disgusting. I personally found it absolutely artistically atrocious. I am embarrassed to be sitting here in your presence, even having to dignify you with an answer of my opinion.' 'Thank you Natalia you're beautiful,' Irvine said. 'To me it just feels a little bit cheap and absurd,' Moon then said. 'It's like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother's clothing. It's just a little bit creepy and I feel like you're going to stitch someone's skin to your face and kill everybody in the audience.' Mediaworks, the owners of the show's broadcaster TV3, confirmed that it had sacked the pair. 'Both Kills and Moon made comments that were completely unacceptable,' said MediaWorks' chief executive, Mark Weldon. 'While the judges on The X Factor are expected to provide critiques of the performances, we will not tolerate such destructive tirades from any of the judges.' Co-producer FremantleMedia Australia backed MediaWorks' decision, and criticised Kills and Moon's 'very poor judgement and intention. We one hundred per cent support TV3 and MediaWorks in their decision to remove them,' director of programming Jonathon Summerhayes said. 'The X Factor does not tolerate the behaviour they displayed last night.'

Listeners to BBC Radio 5Live's coverage of the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday got more than they bargained for during an interview featuring presenter John Inverdale, former jockey John Francome and current rider Lizzie Kelly. Having listened to Francome ruminate on life as a jockey in his era – 'You get wet, you're mucking out and it's hard work' – Inverdale declared: 'This is looking at it through rose-cunted, rose-tinted glasses from the past.' As Francome guffawed in amazement at John's dropping on the C-bomb, Inverdale quickly corrected himself, stammering: '[I] apologise there for a slip of the tongue, but Lizzie, your love of the sport just shines through.' Kelly, to her credit, hardly skipped a beat in answering enthusiastically in the affirmative, and Inverdale, trouper that he is, managed to finish the broadcast without further expletives. Well, it's easily done, dear blog reader. Even yer actual Keith Telly Topping once accidentally dropped the C-bomb during his radio career (albeit, thankfully, only as an outtake).
Anne-Marie Duff is to play TV’s next strong-willed policewoman in new BBC drama From Darkness. She will take on the role of Clare Church - an ex-police officer who left her job in the mid-1990s after the impact of sexism and violence became too overwhelming. Finding herself ignored in the office and disillusioned by her relationship with her married colleague, Clare finds solace instead in the remote Western Isles of Scotland with her new partner, Norrie, and her daughter, Megan. But four bodies from Clare's past investigations are soon unearthed, meaning that she is pulled back into the policing world she had turned her back on. Sounds a bit far-fetched , to be brutal, but, then again, so did Broadchurch series two. And, indeed, it was. Anyway, Anne-Marie Duff praised writer Katie Baxendale’s scripts: '[She] has created a beautifully complex character in her female protagonist. As soon as I started to read episode one I felt excited at the prospect of being involved. It's a world in which all of the characters have real stories to tell. Also I loved the BBC series The Village and one of its directors, Dominic Leclerc, will be our director on this. I couldn't be happier.' Baxendale returned the mutual sexy-tonguing, adding: 'I'm a huge fan of Anne-Marie Duff. In Clare, I hope I've created a psychologically complex lead female character and I can't wait to see all that Anne-Marie brings to the role.' Executive producer Hilary Martin said: 'We're thrilled that the stunningly talented Anne-Marie Duff will bring the emotionally compelling Clare Church to life for a BBC1 audience. We are delighted to have assembled such a talented team on both sides of the camera to do justice to Katie Baxendale's brilliant script.' Filming on the four-part BBC1 drama begins in Manchester and Scotland later this month, with further casting announcements due to be made soon. It is likely to be broadcast towards the end of 2015.

Christ almighty, sneering full-of-his-own-importance goitre Stewart Lee has actually written something which this blogger entirely agrees with. Wonders will never cease. Good piece, Stew, and well argued into the bargain - even if the use of 'jörmungandrian cycle' was there simply to show off yer university education,wasn't it? Oh, and by the way, the character is called The Doctor, it's the programme that's called Doctor Who and, has been since 1963. Just, you know, for the sake of accuracy.

This Morning host Phillip Schofield has spoken out after media watchdog Ofcom launched an investigation into a recent 'Bondage For Beginners' feature, inspired by Fifty Shades Of Grey. Ofcom received more than one hundred and twenty complaints from 'concerned citizens' (or, you know, whinging tight-arsed busybodies) over the daytime TV report, which featured an interview with a self-styled'sexpert' and a range of sex toys. Schofield said This Morning had always 'pushed the boundaries.' He said that Ofcom 'must be sick to death' of complaints over 'any minor outrage. In the old days, people would pick up the phone and complain or they'd write a letter,' said Schofield, who presented the segment on 3 February with The Curious Orange giggling halfwit Christine Bleakley. 'But now they go to Ofcom and they must be sick to death of all of this. Any minor outrage that anyone's got, they go to Ofcom. They must be inundated with minor complaints.' Ofcom said last week it had 'opened an investigation into whether an item about "bondage for beginners" was really suitable for broadcast before the watershed.' Inspired by the release of the Fifty Shades Of Grey movie, it saw sex toys including an eye mask, a leash and collar and a 'feather spanker' discussed with 'sexpert' Annabelle Knight. Product demonstrations with scantily clad models also featured in the piece. 'As far as I'm concerned, This Morning has always pushed the boundaries,' claimed Schofield. 'Richard and Judy did it when they launched Viagra for the first time, the first time we did a testicular examination, the first time we did an examination to hopefully safeguard yourself against breast cancer, people were outraged, up in arms. This was shocking, shocking television. Since the first day This Morning did that, we've saved countless lives.' Really? Countless lives? You've got documented proof of that claim, have you pal? Plus, of course, there was that time he turned into The Paedofinder Pursuivant and handed Cowardly Cowardly Cameron Ze List, an incident which should have cost Schofield his job - and, would have done had he been working for, say, the BBC. He added: 'Obviously I'm not saying the bondage is going to save anyone's life.' No shit? You think? 'But, what we did was reflect on what everyone else was doing or talking about at the time.' So, 'everyone' was talking about spanking were they, Phil? Hey mate, a tip - when you're in a hole, it's usually a good idea to stop digging. 'Everyone went to see the movie,' he claimed - wrongly - 'and if you look at the stuff we had on there, it was very innocent stuff and also spectacularly, when the item had finished, the things we had were all sold out in moments. So behind those closed, outraged doors of Middle England, what they were secretly doing was going to buy this stuff online.' 'This Morning is a lifestyle programme that covers a diverse range of human interest topics,' said a spokesperson for the show when the Ofcom investigation was announced. 'The programme has dealt with advice on sexual matters many times in the past, and a suitable announcement was given at the start.' This blogger never thought he'd find himself saying this, dear blog reader, but I hope Ofcom throw the sodding book at them just to give Schofiled something proper to whinge bout.

Despite being axed in 2012, former Time Team presenter yer actual Sir Tony Robinson has hinted that he’d like to see the series make a return in the future. As, indeed, would this blogger - if only because it would give the half-a-dozen satellite channels that broadcast old episodes during the afternoon something new to show. See, everybody wins. 'I see no reason why in three or four years or so it shouldn't come back in another guise in exactly the same way Tomorrow's World came back,' Tone told an audience at the Cheltenham Literature Festival late last year. His comments followed on from a discussion about a Facebook campaign for a special dig to commemorate the show's archaeologist the late Mick Aston, who died in June 2013. Talking about the likelihood of the dig coming to fruition, Robinson said, 'I'm part of it behind the scenes. Who knows? There are always political problems; certainly as far as televising the dig is concerned, I think Channel Four might be uneasy about bringing Time Team back to life because they might feel that they would be subject to even more flack than they got when they cancelled it in the first place. From my point of view, I think it would be a wonderful thing to do. Mick, as most of you will know, left Time Team in a bit of a grump – he left every organisation he ever worked for in a bit of a grump so it's quite extraordinary he spent twenty years with us before he did. I would love to see one final Time Team conducted in the very best way it possibly could be and let's hope the Time Team campaign succeeds.' The actor also recalled the moment when Channel Four commissioned a separate production company and presenter to televise the dig for Richard III in a Leicester car park in September 2012. 'It was the time when I realised that Time Team was on its way out. I realised we were no longer the fashion of the week. In all fairness, we were the fashion of two decades so I can't feel too bad that they moved onto other people and other companies.' He continued, 'Everybody assumed that I was going to be involved in it. In a way, to be truthful, I was quite glad that I wasn't asked to do it because all the way up to the time of the discovery, I would have been saying, "I don't think there is a cat's chance in Hell of it being Richard III." But what they found would seem, beyond all question as far as current science is concerned, to have been Richard.' Although, Tony did expose a glimpse of his own scepticism: 'I'm slightly confused about the humpy back he's got because all my understanding is that that hump was a later gloss created by the Tudors who hated the Plantagenets. I've seen portraits of Richard looking like this and if you look really closely, you can see that the hump was painted on later. So that puzzles me. Nevertheless, they found him and I didn't.'

A request to film scenes for the next James Bond movie at the Senedd chamber in Cardiff Bay was reportedly rejected by the National Assembly for Wales. Assembly officials were approached by the makers of Spectre, which stars Daniel Craig as 007, in late 2014. But the request to film in the Senedd's debating chamber was turned down. The assembly said the chamber - which, to be fair, does look like most people's idea of Boldfeld's meeting room - 'is not a drama studio.' Ooo, get them. The Bond production team turned down its offer of using other locations within the assembly's estate. Filming has already begun on Spectre, the twenty fourth James Bond film, which is due to be shown in cinemas in November. The assembly statement said: 'The Senedd's Siambr [chamber] is the home of Welsh democracy and seat of government for Wales. 'Some media activity is allowed in the Siambr when it relates to the work of the assembly or reflects the Siambr's status as the focal point of Welsh civic life. It is not a drama studio. Decisions on requests from the creative industries to use the assembly's estate are made on a case by case basis and we are proud to have collaborated with many television and film companies on drama productions such as Sherlock and Doctor Who. The request by James Bond to use the Siambr was turned down and they were offered alternative locations on the estate which they subsequently declined.' The revelation caused something of a social media storm with many Welsh politicians hurrying to say it had been a missed opportunity to showcase Wales and attract tourists. And, also, to stress that the decision was made by officials at the Assembly and not by the politicians who debate in it. The Welsh government's tweet said: 'We did not make the decision to refuse James Bond filming in the Senedd chamber. That was Assembly Wales Commission. As a Government we are doing everything we can to attract film makers to Wales.'

A bird dubbed 'the terror owl' by residents of a Dutch city has been caught after it attacked more than fifty people. The European eagle owl had been swooping silently from above and attacking residents in Purmerend, North of Amsterdam, for the past year. Many of the owl's victims were left bloodied and bruised by the attacks. 'The animal was trapped by a falconer,' Purmerend city council said in a statement. 'It's in good health and is currently being kept in a temporary facility awaiting a transfer once a proper permanent home has been found.' After the attacks became widespread, local officials advised residents to use umbrellas to protect themselves. In one of the attacks, two members of a local athletics club were struck by the swooping bird whilst they were jogging. One of the athletes needed stitches for six head wounds. Owl experts said that the bird's unusual behaviour was caused by it either being raised in captivity, or due to 'heightened hormone levels' at the start of the breeding season. Yeah, that usually makes yer actual Keith telly Topping violent as well. City council member Mario Hegger said that he had 'mixed feelings' about the owl's capture. 'On the one hand, you would of course rather leave such a magnificent beast alone,' Hegger said in the statement. 'But on the other hand, the situation could not continue. We had to do something.'

Which, if nothing else, gives From The North the opportunity to highlight Bill Bailey's 'Owl Song'. An opportunity that's too good to miss, frankly.

There is 'no doubt' that a prize-winning Irish Setter was 'maliciously poisoned' at Crufts, one of his owners has claimed. Thendara Satisfaction, known as Jagger, obviously, died after leaving the Birmingham show last week. His owners say that he ate poisoned beef. Co-owner Jeremy Bott said he did not think the dog was targeted, but that the culprit may been acting on 'a grudge against dogs or the Crufts show.' Fellow owner Aleksandra Lauwers said that they had lost 'our love, family member and best friend to our son.' Or, a dog in other words. Bott's wife, Dee Milligan-Bott, told BBC Radio 5Live: 'I don't believe in my heart of hearts that this was another competitor or anyone involved in the dog world. I can only imagine that it was a random act that somebody premeditated and wanted to cause total distress at the best dog show in the world. It's not unknown for people to do things like this. He was a typical Irish Setter, totally trustworthy and so loved. We are devastated,' she added. 'The Crufts committee and all championship show dog committees will have to look at security.' Jagger came second in his class at the show at Birmingham's NEC on Thursday. He died after returning to Belgium with Lauwers. Leicester-based breeder, Milligan-Bott, claimed that the dog must have been given the meat 'while on his bench at Crufts', calling it 'a heinous crime.' Speaking to Radio 4, her husband said: 'When the vet opened up his stomach, she found cubes of meat - some sort of beef-like steak - and they had been sewn up with poison inside. She thinks there were possibly two or three types of poison. She identified one as a slug killer. I would guess that the other would turn out to be a rat poison or some industrial type of poison.' He said that he did not believe the attack was targeted but he did not think the culprit would be caught. 'They will hopefully try with the CCTV they have in the halls at Crufts but I don't think they will be able to find anybody.' The couple's daughter, Amy Nettleton, said: 'The accessibility of shows such as Crufts is such that the general public can wander in and out of the dogs' benches and approach any dog, so to keep an eye on everybody who came up and spoke to the dogs is very difficult.' Nettleton described her family as 'just devastated and beside themselves. The sensationalisation that the media has portrayed today - that Jagger was worth fifty thousand pounds - is beyond ridiculous,' she said. 'Jagger, to his family, was priceless and he was also used, not only as a family pet but as pet therapy.' She said that his owners took him into elderly care homes. 'He would sit there and give the residents some delight in him just being around.'

Horse racing hopes to have a new free-to-air broadcasting deal in place by this time next year, with the BBC being 'encouraged' to bid to bring the sport back to its screens. Although,quite why the BBC should wish to do this after the sport got its greed on a few years ago and ran into Channel Four's open arms is a question that, perhaps, horse racing should be asking itself before doing any 'encouraging.' Whilst the Jockey Club chief executive, Simon Bazalgette, praised the impact of Channel Four's coverage since it sealed an exclusive fifteen million smackers deal to exclusively show all the major meetings, he said that 'the door was open' for the BBC to return. 'Channel Four have been a good partner, they've really promoted racing. Equally, I think racing is probably a more attractive sport than it was four years ago so I think there will be competition for it,' he said. 'I think there will be other people who will be interested. Channel Four are in situ and they have done a great job,' he said. 'If the BBC were only coming in for the crown jewels they'd have to convince us that was better for the sport than doing it week in, week out. But that's possible, they may be able to do that.' Or, more likely, not. The current three-year deal runs to the end of next year, but Bazalgette said that he hoped to have a new one in place by next year's Cheltenham Festival. Channel Four had previously argued that it could not afford to air any racing without subsidy but following a change in the law to permit bookmakers to advertise on television it shifted strategy. The ratings for the Grand National, which peaked last year at 8.9 million punters, compared well with recent audiences on the BBC but there have been questions over Channel Four's coverage more generally. Bazalgette, who was enthusiastic about the Channel Four deal when it was signed, paid tribute to the broadcaster's coverage and insisted that concentrating the entire output on one free-to-air channel had been a success. 'It's worked out really well. If you consider what the other options might have been – probably sticking with the split deal between the BBC and Channel Four – we'd have been in a much worse position,' he said.

Jailed sex offender and dirty old scallywag, the odious Max Clifford has been arrested by Operation Yewtree officers. Clifford, who is currently extremely serving an eight-year prison sentence for his sordid and hideous trombone-shaped crimes, is thought to have been interviewed by officers in connection with further sexual offence allegations at a Peterborough police station and inquiries are said to be ongoing. A Met Police spokesman said that it had spoken to seventeen people as part of Operation Yewtree, the investigation into sexual abuse claims launched in the wake of the dirty old scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile fiasco. He added: 'This is not a new individual to Operation Yewtree. Clifford was the first person to be convicted under the operation during a trial in which the size of his, ahem, appendage was discussed in court in great detail. In May 2014 he was extremely jailed by Judge Anthony Leonard after being found very guilty of assaulting four young women and girls, one of whom had been fifteen at the time. Clifford was given eight consecutive sentences of between six and twenty four months and was told he had to serve at least half of his total sentence in the pokey. Judge Leonard said at sentencing that some of the offences would have been charged as rape if they had happened under current guidelines and told Clifford he had groomed and degraded his victims.
As you probably know by now, dear blog reader, Sir Terry Pratchett, the fantasy author and creator of the Discworld series, died last week aged sixty six, eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. 'The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds,' said Larry Finlay of Terry's publishers, Transworld. The author died at home, surrounded by his family, 'with his cat sleeping on his bed', Finlay added. Sir Terry wrote more than seventy books during his career and completed his final novel last summer. He 'enriched the planet like few before him' and through Discworld, satirised the world 'with great skill, enormous humour and constant invention,' added Finlay. 'Terry faced his Alzheimer's disease (an "embuggerance", as he called it) publicly and bravely. Over the last few years, it was his writing that sustained him. His legacy will endure for decades to come.' Sir Terry is survived by his wife, Lyn, and their daughter, Rhianna. The announcement of his death was made on Sir Terry's Twitter account on Thursday afternoon, with Rhianna later writing: 'Many thanks for all the kind words about my dad. Those last few tweets were sent with shaking hands and tear-filled eyes.' Despite campaigning for assisted suicide after his diagnosis, Sir Terry's publishers said that he did not take his own life. Fellow author and close friend Neil Gaiman was among those paying tribute to Sir Terry, writing on his website: 'Thirty years and a month ago, a beginning author met a young journalist in a Chinese Restaurant. The two men became friends and they wrote a book and they managed to stay friends despite everything. Last night, the author died. There was nobody like him. I was fortunate to have written a book with him, when we were younger, which taught me so much.' Gaiman added: 'I will miss you, Terry, so much.' Sir Tony Robinson, another good friend of Terry, described him as 'a bit of a contradiction', saying: 'He was incredibly flamboyant with his black hat and urban cowboy clothes. But he was also very shy and happiest with his family. Everybody who reads his work would agree Death was one of his finest creations - Terry in some way has now shaken hands with one of his greatest-ever creations.' The Discworld series - which started in 1983 - was based in a flat world perched on the backs of four elephants which, in turn, stand on the back of a giant turtle. By 2013, he had written more than forty instalments of the series. At the peak of his writing powers, Sir Terry - known for his striking dress sense and every present large black fedora - was publishing more than three books a year. His quirky and satirical view of the world won him a worldwide following not just among the SF and fantasy cognoscenti but with a far wider literary audience. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping met Terry once, in the mid-1990s, and found him to be ... pretty much exactly what you'd expect from his novels; quietly spoken, sharp, clever and very very funny. This blogger counts himself lucky to have been in Terry's presence, albeit only briefly. In August 2007, it was reported that Sir Terry had suffered a stroke, but the following December he announced that he had been diagnosed with a very rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's which, he said, 'lay behind this year's phantom stroke.' Knighted in 2009, he said: 'It would appear to me that me getting up and saying "I've got Alzheimer's", it did shake people. The thing about Alzheimer's is there are few families that haven't been touched by the disease. People come up to me and talk about it and burst into tears; there's far more awareness about it and that was really what I hoped was going to happen.' Terry's death was announced on his Twitter account with a tweet composed in capital letters - which was how the author portrayed the character of Death in his novels - read: 'AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.' A fundraising site set up in Sir Terry's memory to raise money for a charity which cares for those with Alzheimer's and their families has already raised over thirty thousands of pounds.

Comedy line of the week came from Soccer Saturday's Jeff Stelling at half-time in the relegation-haunted Blunderland versus formerly relegation-haunted Aston Villains. With Tim Sherwood's side leading the hapless Mackems by four goals to nil, Champagne Charlie Nicholas, who was covering the game, had been banging on about the increasingly tense 'sityayshun' [sic] which was developing at the Stadium of Shite and how many of the great unwashed in the crowd were getting aal stroppy and discombobulated by this carry on. And were, as a consequence, more sour and bitter than normal and having a reet go at the soon-to-be-former Blunderland manager Gus Poyet over his side's inept and cowardly performance. 'Half-time at the Stadium of Light,' Stelling noted. 'Where the natives are revolting,' Well, you know, us on Tyneside have been saying that for years.
On a related note, Blunderland were compared to 'a pub team' after they started the second half of their calamitous loss to the Villains with just ten players on the pitch, with Seb Larsson missing. Soon to be former manager Gus Poyet entered the tunnel area several minutes into the half as he attempted to locate the missing midfielder. 'It's like a pub team starting without a player who is having a fag in the car park,' said BBC pundit Chris Sutton. Larsson, who appeared to be limping, emerged from the tunnel with about three minutes of the second-half played. He was greeted by ironic cheers from the, by this point, thoroughly cheesed off home crowd and, although he appeared to be limping when he came back onto the field still proceeded to play the full ninety minutes. Poyet later claimed that his team started the half with ten players as Larsson needed stitches and that his request for the kick-off to be delayed had been rejected. One or two people even believed him. Anybody fancy a couple of choruses of 'you're getting sacked in the morning'?
And, indeed, he was. Well, on Monday afternoon, anyway.

On Thursday, for us dinner at Stately Telly Topping Manor, yer actual Keith Telly Topping only went and cooked spicy ostrich and chicken curry with basmati rice, chilli and garlic, didn't he? If you fancy having a go at this spectacular dish your very self, dear blog reader, first take two ostrich fillets (or, if you prefer, one lightly killed ostrich), add some chicken (again, dead if possible) and, whilst they are being cooked to within an inch of their lives and the rice is boiling away on the hob (oh, add some water to the rice otherwise the boiling might go a bit pear-shaped), you can start to make the sauce. You do that with the following: one chopped onion (red or spring will do as an alternative or, if you're fancy, all three), some wild mushrooms, one diced shallot, a pinch of ginger (or ground ginger if you can't be bothered to peel something that looks like The Elephant Man), some chopped garlic, a squeeze of lemon, a spoon of honey, a splash of soy sauce, some ground chilli (or chilli powder if you're lazy like this blogger), plenty of ground black pepper, some onion salt, fresh coriander, ground parsley, cayenne pepper, a smidgen of cumin, turmeric and paprika, a pinch of salt and whatever's left over from last night's curry sauce that you got from the local takeaway. If you've got prawns, chuck them in as well. Tragically, this blogger didn't on that particular day. Add the meat. Then, and this is the really tricky par, eat the bugger. Today's Stately Telly Topping Manor recipe was brought to you by yer actual Keith Telly Topping. Who will never starve ... if there's an ostrich in the area.
For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, let us break like The 'Wind.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I wouldn't normally leave a comment that doesn't specifically relate to a post, but I've started a petition whose remit I think you may support. If you're interested in signing please do so and help spread the word too if you can

https://www.change.org/p/the-bbc-repeat-your-treasure-trove-of-single-drama-such-as-play-for-today-and-screen-one-on-bbc4-now