Saturday, May 02, 2015

Don't Worry About The Government

So, dear blog reader, we've got this bloody general erection thing going down later this week. You might have noticed. To be fair, you could hardly miss it, it's been on the telly and everything. Anyway, this blogger's attitude towards politics and politicians remains broadly unchanged from what it was five years ago. No one - and I mean, no one - has been as critical of politicians of all stripes and their self-serving actions and as cynical about their agenda-steeped motives as this blogger - All Politicians Are Scum and all that. It's one of this blogs mantras. And, yer actual Keith Telly Topping genuinely believes that. The irony is that until the middle of the last decade yer actual Keith Telly Topping was a pretty politically active chap and, certainly, liked to think of himself as uncyncial when it came to the political process. Bitter life experience changed all that. However, and this is a big however, yer actual Keith Telly Topping still urges every reader of this blog who is in the UK, who is old enough and who is registered to get themselves down to their local prefabricated polling station on Thursday and cast their vote for someone. Because, as I said five years ago, this is too important a subject to leave to everyone else. Plus, if you abdicate responsibility during a process then you have absolutely no moral right to complain about the outcome. The Russell Brand train of thought - 'I don't like any of 'em, so I'm not going to vote for them' - is an entirely valid stance to take and I understand those who feel strongly about it. But, only as far as the election in-and-of itself is concerned. Once it's over your protest, or apathy, or sense of disdain, has been registered. From that moment onwards anything that the government or the opposition does or says is nothing whatsoever to do with you since you didn't take part in the process that elected and/or rejected them. That's the price of democracy, unfortunately. Like the man once said, 'decisions are made by those who show up.' It might be a shitty system but, unless you prefer we have a crack at some form of dictatorship then it remains the best one we've got. This blogger loathes the vast majority of politicians - with a simmering passion - but I'm not blind to the realities of life. This - who, effectively, tells me what to do for the next five years - is far too important a subject to leave to other people. So what I'll do come Thursday is to think about the two or three issues which are most important to me (one of which, you'll not be surprised to learn is the potential future of the BBC and broadcasting policy in general), sit down with the manifestos and find the party which most closest represents what I want to see and, then I'll vote accordingly. I would encourage everyone reading this blog to do the same, no matter which party that is and what the issues are. If your primary concern is education, then find out which party most closely matches your priorities. Same with health. Or crime. Et cetera. This blogger take seriously the sacrifices that brave men and woman have made over the years to give me the right to vote in the first place - because, there are many places in the world where that right is not a given. Here endeth the lecture.

The Radio Times cover from the issue which announced the arrival of Peter Capaldi as The Doctor has been nominated as the Cover of the Year by the the Professional Publishers Association.They have listed the cover as one of ten nominated for the award. Radio Times was nominated last year for the cover celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who, but lost out to Metal Hammer when the results were announced. This year Radio Times faces competition from The Big Issue, Crumbs, GQ, ShortList, Country Life, Elle, n, Red and Time Out. The winner will be announced at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane on the evening of Thursday 9 July.
The very excellent David Schofield has been cast to appear in the forthcoming ninth series of Doctor Who. David, one of those great character actors that Britain produces by the bucketload and whose face is instantly recognisable to viewers even if his name isn't necessarily, is probably best known to dear blog readers for playing King Alined in the BBC fantasy drama Merlin. His other TV appearances include memorable - often villainous - roles in the likes of Footballers' Wives, Holby City, Jekyll & Hyde, Waking The Dead, The New Avengers, Kids, Our Friends In The North, Shackleton, Mr Wroe's Virgins, Band Of Gold, In Deep, Land Girls and, more recently, as Sergeant Foley in Hugo Blick's The Shadow Line. He can currently be seen in ITV's new drama Safe House. David's big-screen appearances include parts in An American Werewolf In London, The Last Of The Mohicans, Anna Karenina and Gladiator as well as playing as the sneering, Mercer in the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies. Doctor Who Magazine has revealed that David will appear as Odin in episodes five and six of the new series - The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived - currently being filmed in Cardiff.

Yer actual Jemma Redgrave has been confirmed for an appearance in two further episodes in the upcoming series of Doctor Who. The actress made her début as The Brigadier's daughter, Kate Stewart, in The Power Of Three in 2012 and, since them, has also appeared in the fiftieth anniversary special The Day Of The Doctor and last year's series finale Death In Heaven. 'I'm here for the read-through of episodes seven and eight,' Jemma said on a video released by the BBC. 'I'm in Cardiff and really, really happy and thrilled because Kate Stewart is back.' Jemma was already announced as returning in series nine's opening double-header of The Magician's Apprentice and The Witch's Familiar.
BBC Worldwide have signed a deal to bring Doctor Who to the Indian channel FX. All eight post-2005 series of the popular, long-running BBC family SF drama will be screened starting 15 May 2015. The deal marks largest volume sale of the BBC series in India. FX is owned by Star India Private Limited and is available in a million homes across the country. Myleeta Aga, of BBC Worldwide in India said: 'This partnership marks a milestone for us. It will be the first time Whovians in India will be able to participate in the global Doctor Who phenomenon. And it is also the first time we’ve concluded a major deal with Star India. We've seen an increasing interest in British drama from our partners in the last twelve months or so. Viewers now recognise the originality of British drama, and this has caused a surge in interest in our drama series like Doctor Who. We are very glad to be working with Star India to bring this very iconic series (including series nine which is currently being filmed) to viewers in India.' Yeah. But, let me clue you up on this, Myleeta, no one with so much as an ounce of self-respect or dignity about them uses that hateful word 'Whovian'. Only glakes and Americans call themselves that.

Benedict Cumberbatch his very self has reportedly purchased a country home on the Isle of Wight. The Sherlock married Sophie Hunter at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, located on the island, in February. The couple's new estate is nearby the church, according to the Isle of Wight County Press. 'I've been on muddy fields and on horseback playing Richard III for the BBC and I've been on more flights to Los Angeles and back than I can count,' Benny told the Daily Scum Mail in February. 'All of that has been special, but I'm ready to have a couple of months to ourselves to prepare for the baby and do some nesting. It's a real-life role, not a part.'
Yer actual Christopher Eccleston's Safe House continued to top Monday's overnight ratings outside of soaps. The ITV thriller's second episode brought in 4.57m overnight punters at 9pm, losing around seven hundred thousand viewers from the previous week's series opener. Earlier, Wild Ireland interested 3.04m at 8pm. On BBC1, Evan Davis's interview with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon - which, essentially consisted of 'hoots mon, jings and crivens it's oor oil, y'ken?' - was seen by 2.38m at 7.30pm, while Who Will Win The Election? (to which the answer is, the Tories, probably) followed with 2.19m at 8.30pm. The latest New Tricks repeat was watched by 2.57m at 9pm. BBC2's Alex Polizzi: Chefs On Trial continued with 1.28m at 8pm, before Inside Harley Street gathered 1.38m at 9pm and Jack Dee's Election Helpdesk had an audience of 1.15m at 10pm. The Secrets Of Sports Direct brought in 1.75m for Channel Four at 8pm, while Skint was watched by 1.26m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Police Interceptors had six hundred and thirty eight thousand at 8pm and Gotham's latest episode was watched by seven hundred and eighty nine thousand at 9pm. The latest Person Of Interest was seen by five hundred and sixty eight thousand at 10pm. Game Of Thrones brought in a fraction under one million punters for Sky Atlantic at 9pm.

Twenty Four Hours In The Past topped the overnight ratings outside of soaps on Tuesday. The first episode of the bizarre BBC1 history series - which saw six z-list celebrities including Anne Widdecombe and Zoe Lucker experience life in Victorian Britain - brought in 3.79m at 9pm. And, truly, it was breathtaking in its pointlessness. On BBC2, Alex Polizzi: Chefs On Trial continued with 1.34m at 8pm, while Wastemen averaged 1.51m at 9pm. ITV's latest Midsomer Murders repeat had an audience of 2.28m between 8pm and 10pm. On Channel Four, Kirstie & Phil's Love It Or List It interested 1.89m at 8pm, while The Queen's Big Night Out gathered 1.67m at 9pm. Ballot Monkeys was watched by nine hundred and thirty thousand punters at 10pm. On Channel Five, Britain's Horror Homes was watched by 1.01m at 8pm, while Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! brought in eight hundred and ninety three thousand at 9pm. Killer Psychopaths gathered five hundred and thirty seven thousand viewers at 10pm. BBC3's Girls Behind Bars: Stacey Dooley In The USA was seen by five hundred and ninety six thousand at 9pm, while E4's Empire began with four hundred and forty thousand in the same time slot.
The return of Inspector George Gently topped Wednesday's overnight ratings. The BBC1 period crime drama's seventh series started with 5.85m at 8pm, while Peter Kay's Car Share followed with 5.68m at 9.30pmdespite having earlier been available through iPlayer. On BBC2, Alex Polizzi: Chefs On Trial continued with 1.13m at 8pm - and continued to get right on this blogger's tit-end, to boot - while Nick & Margaret: The Trouble With Our Trains interested 1.02m at 9pm. Inside Number Nine averaged six hundred and eighty thousand punters at 10pm. ITV's wretched, risible, horrifyingly twee Amanda Holden-fronted flop Give A Pet A Home continued to shed viewers faster than most cats and dogs shed hair, falling to 2.33m at 8pm - which is still 2.33 million too many, frankly - while the staggeringly unoriginal Newzoids dropped to a staggeringly low 1.77m at 9pm. That was bad, but worse was to follow as The Delivery Man gathered a mere 1.10m at 9.30pm. That strangled cry you can hear, incidentally, is the sound of whoever came up with ITV's Wednesday night schedule having their knackers slammed in a vice. Channel Four's The Island With Bear Grylls continued with 2.14m at 9pm, while First Dates entertained 1.23m at 10pm. Channel Five's The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door attracted 1.15m at 8pm, before Autopsy brought in six hundred and seventy two thousand at 9pm and an old episode of CSI: Miami was seen by four hundred and sixty seven thousand at 10pm. Jane The Virgin's second episode brought in two hundred and fifty three thousand viewers on E4 at 9pm, while BBC3's Reggie Yates' Extreme Russia was watched by three hundred and forty seven thousand at 10pm.
Question Time's pre-erection 'special' (and, one used that word very loosely) topped the overnight ratings outside of soaps on Thursday. Oily snivelling coward David Cameron, stupid-faced smear Ed Milimolimandi and 'I'll say and do anything, including abandoning all of the principles I've ever held in a heartbeat for another sniff of the Big time' Nick Clegg's appearance on the debate show brought in 4.28m punters for BBC1 at 8pm. Most of whom couldn't believe their eyes. Although the bit where that bloke told Cameron he was spending too much on the NHS was, admittedly, quite funny. Later, Peter Kay's Car Share drew 4.15m at 9.30pm. On BBC2, Alex Polizzi: Chefs On Trial continued with 1.27m at 8pm - will it never end? - before the opening episode of the period espionage drama The Game averaged 1.63m at 9pm. Quite good, it was too, albeit, a bit over-complicated in the plot department, but with a fine cast including Brian Cox (no, the other one), Tom Hughes, Sherlock's Jonathan Aris and Shaun Dooley. This blogger will probably stick with it for a while yet. W1A had 1.13m at 10pm. ITV's Tonight was watched by to 1.68m at 7.30pm, while Double Decker Driving School brought in 2.05m at 8.30pm on what was, soaps aside, another rotten night for ITV. That was demonstrated even further when Fraud Squad interested but 1.68m at 9pm. On Channel Four, The Supervet was seen by 1.36m at 8pm whilst The Island With Bear Grylls dipped slightly to 2.01m at 9pm but still managed to spank ITV's bare bum in the slot. The Body In The Freezer: Countdown To Murder was watched by six hundred and forty one thousand on Channel Five at 8pm, while The Hotel Inspector gathered nine hundred and thirty five at 9pm. The feature-length final episode of The Mentalist was watched by six hundred and eighty two thousand at 10pm - including this blogger who always rather enjoyed the series - and climaxed with Patrick and Theresa finally getting together after seven years of almost-but-not-quite. Good on 'em. Mad Men averaged a mere forty eight thousand for Sky Atlantic in the 9pm slot. Even less than ITV, which took some doing.
Have I Got News For You was Friday's highest-rated overnight programme outside of soaps. Hosted by Alexander Armstrong, the topical panel show attracted an average overnight audience of 4.07 million from 9pm. BBC1's evening began with 3.24 for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by 3.11 million for A Question Of Sport at 7.30pm. A repeat of Wallace & Gromit: A Grand Day Out filled the void left by MasterChef at 8.35pm and had an audience of 2.12 million. Mrs Brown's Boys drew 2.88 million at 9.30pm, while The Graham Norton Show's overnight ratings were 2.72 million at 10.40pm. On ITV, Weekend Escapes With Warwick Davis was seen by 2.36 million at 8pm, while Slow Train Through Africa With Griff Rhys Jones ha an audience of 2.05 million at 9pm. BBC2's evening was dominated by Live Snooker: The World Championship coverage from 6.30pm until 9pm. The event drew an average audience of 1.14 million and peaked with 1.44 million on two separate occasions. BBC2's evening continued with 1.63 million for The Natural World at 8pm, followed by 1.09 million for The Clare Balding Show. Gogglebox attracted an average audience of 2.99 million on Channel Four at 9pm. It was sandwiched between Marvel's Agents of SHIELD and Alan Carr: Chatty Man, which drew respective audiences of seven hundred thousand and 1.43 million. Secrets Of Great British Castles was seen by an increased audience of eight hundred and eighty nine thousand at 8pm on Channel Five. It was followed by eight hundred and forty six thousand for NCIS: New Orleans at 9pm and eight hundred and ninety one thousand for NCIS at 10pm. With an audience of six hundred and twenty two thousand from 8pm on ITV3, Midsomer Murders was among the most viewed multichannel shows.

Britain's Got Toilets continued to top Saturday's primetime television with more than 9.6 million overnight viewers. The ITV competition was watched by an audience of 9.62m from 8pm. Ninja Warrior UK attracted 4.69m earlier in the evening, whilst wretched, hopeless banal flop Play To The Whistle managed but 2.47m from 9.20pm despite much pre-publicity about some nonsense involving The Curiously Orange Christine Bleakley revealing her bloke's 'dirty habits'. Can't you two piss off to America any quicker? On BBC1, Pointless Celebrities was watched by 4.2m from 6.55pm. The latest episode of extremely cancelled drama Atlantis appealed to 2.32m, before The National Lottery: In It To Win It gathered a not-much-better 2.54m. Casualty was watched by 4.16m from 9.20pm. Match Of The Day drew an audience of a fraction under three million punters. In this yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved, (though unsellable and now, seemingly relegation-bound) Magpies 'surrendered before kick-off' against Leicester City. A shameful, gutless lack-of-performance in which a team composed of apparently spineless cowards and, if their soon-to-be-former head coach is to be believed, at least one deliberate saboteur, repaid their travelling support by, basically, not bothering to break sweat in 3-0 defeat. It's got to the point now, dear blog reader, where it's hard to even get angry about the sad, laughless fiasco of a football club that this blogger has supported for forty six years. In life, we probably get the football teams we deserve. Anyway, BBC2's coverage of the World Snooker Championship averaged 1.83m between 7pm and 10.30pm. On Channel Four, Men in Black II attracted nine hundred and thirty thousand from 8.15pm. Channel Five's latest CSI episode was seen by nine hundred and twenty three thousand. Sky Atlantic's The Following, which featured the death of a regular character, drew one hundred and five thousand punters.
The Enfield Haunting opened to over seven hundred and fifty thousand overnight viewers on Sky Living on Sunday, hugely above the channel's usual average for the slot. The Tim Spall-fronted supernatural thriller was the second most-watched broadcast on multichannels with seven hundred and fifty two thousand punters at 9pm. ITV's new Women's Institute drama Home Fires was watched by 4.82m at 9pm, whilst the much-anticipated Sheridan Smith drama The C-Word on BBC1 was seen by 3.79m at 8.30pm. Earlier in the evening, ITV's Celebrity Squares and Sunday Night At The Palladium spectacularly failed to entertain 1.77m and four million viewers respectively. Chances of poor Warwick Davis - a likeable chap stuck in a wretched format - getting another series of Celebrity Squares? Like Warwick himself, on the short side this blogger believes. As usual, Countryfile topped the night's ratings with 5.42m, while Antiques Roadshow collected 5.22m. On Channel Four, Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown returned with 1.09m at 9pm and Henning Wehn's An Immigrant's Guide To Britain pulled in seven hundred and eighty thousand non-UKiP voters from 10pm. Channel Five broadcast Legally Blonde to eight hundred and thirteen thousand at 7.10pm and Resident Evil: Afterlife to eight hundred and one thousand at 9pm. BBC2's Snooker World Championship coverage which took up the majority of the night, interested precisely no-one, not even the 1.95m sad, crushed victims of society who were watching two men hitting some coloured balls around a table, for money. Elsewhere, BBC3's showing of Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had nine hundred and eighteen thousand from 8.05pm.
Here are the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Two programmes for the week-ending Sunday 26 April 2015:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sat ITV - 11.31m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.66m
3 Poldark - Sun BBC1 - 7.37m
4 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.13m
5 MasterChef - Fri BBC1 - 6.95m
6 Safe House -Mon ITV - 6.91m
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.53m
8 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.061m
9 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.90m
10 Ordinary Lies - Tues BBC1 - 5.87m
11 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.42m
12 Vera - Sun ITV - 5.33m*
13= Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.26m
13= BBC News - Sat BBC1 - 5.26m
15 Ninja Warrior UK - Sat ITV - 4.86m
16 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.68m
17 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 4.46m
18 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.36m
19 Secret Britain - Wed BBC1 - 4.32m
20 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.18m
21 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 4.07m
22 The ONE Show - Fri BBC1 - 3.78m
These figures, as usual, do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. All four weekly episodes of BBC1's MasterChef had a final audience in excess of five and a half million viewers (5.52m, 5.84m, 5.79m and 6.95m for Friday night's finale). Despite the return of Britain's Got Talent and a couple of impressive drama hits - Safe House and Vera - ITV's general woes continue. Much-hyped Spitting Image rip-off Newzoids lost over a third of its audience between its first and second episode, with a consolidated audience of but 2.11 million (down from 3.35 million a week earlier). The least said about spectacular flops Give A Pet A Home (2.25m), Play To The Whistle (2.03m) and Weekend Escapes With Warwick Davis (1.95m), the better. Wretched, laughless alleged 'comedy' The Delivery Man's audience collapsed completely, this week's episode pulling in less than 1.95 million punters and not even making it into ITV's top thirty broadcasts of the week. BBC2's most-watched programme was, again, Back In Time For Dinner (2.40m) followed by W1A (1.92m), Gardeners' World (1.85m) and An Island Parish: Falklands (1.70m). Sunday's coverage of The London Marathon was watched by 1.47m. Aside from Gogglebox, Channel Four's highest-rated shows were The Island With Bear Grylls (3.11m) and One Born Every Minute (1.88m). Channel Five's top-rated broadcasts were Autopsy: Robin Williams (1.94m), The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door (1.48m) and the channel's quartet of popular US drama imports Gotham (1.44m), CSI (1.41m), The Mentalist (1.30m) and NCIS: New Orleans (1.27m). E4's The Big Bang Theory was the mutichannels second most-watched broadcast of the week (1.67m), beaten only, uusal, by Sky Atlantic's Games Of Thrones (1.93m). Midsomer Murders was ITV3's most-watched show with nine hundred and ninety one thousand, followed by Foyle's War (six hundred and eighty eight thousand). Inspector Montalbano was, again, BBC4's highest-rated programme (six hundred and eighty three thousand). The Plantagenets drew five hundred and forty seven thousand. BBC3's weekly ratings list was topped by the movie Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (1.16m). ITV4's most watched broadcast was, also, a movie, Dr No (four hundred and seventy nine thousnad). 5USA's The Mysteries Of Laura attracted four hundred and nine thousand. Elementary on Sky Living had an audience of seven hundred hundred and eighty seven thousand, followed by The Blacklist (seven hundred and eight thousand). Sky 1's The Flash brought in 1.17m. On Dave Qi XL drew three hundred and ninety five thousand. Drama's New Tricks repeat was watched by four hundred and fifty four thousand. Watch's Grimm had an audience of five hundred and seventy two thousand. FOX's latest episode of NCIS was watched by six hundred and forty two thousand. On Sky Sports News, Gillette Soccer Saturday drew three hundred and sixteen thousand. An episode of Discovery History's repeat run of Time Team pulled in eighteen thousand viewers.

Yer actual Victoria Coren Mitchell her very self is taking a closer look at the history of bohemians for BBC4. And, why not? Three-part documentary series How To Be Bohemian With Victoria Coren Mitchell will journey from Nineteenth Century Paris to 1960s Soho and focus on influential bohemian figures like Oscar Wilde. Stephen Fry, Grayson Perry, Will Self, AA Gill, John Cooper Clarke, the Reverend Richard Coles, Maggi Hambling, Molly Parkin and performance artist Jonny Woo will all appear in the series. Victoria her very self said: 'Bohemians confuse me tremendously. I don't know whether to find them exciting and inspiring, or annoying and threatening. Possibly all four at once. From these mixed feelings, I know I must be a bourgeois.' Hell, if you're not, sweetheart, I don't know who is. 'But I've never been fully immersed in Bohemian circles before. I'll be interested to find out whether I end up running into their open-minded embrace, or running screaming away,' she continued. BBC4's channel editor Cassian Harrison added: 'How To Be Bohemian will look at the bohemian lifestyle of past and present – the weird and wonderful artists, writers and bon viveurs who defy convention and whose alternative lifestyles are often just as colourful as their art – and sometimes even more so. Victoria will bring viewers a series full of interesting facts delivered in her unique and sharp way.'
James May has suggested that he, Jezza Clarkson and Richard Hammond would have quit Top Gear after a final three-year deal before Clarkson's contract was not renewed. The presenter made the claim in his review of the two hundred and eight grand Ferrari 458 Speciale in The Sunday Times. Explaining why he was planning such an extravagant purchase, May said: 'There we were, all three of us, on the brink of a new three-year contract to make Top Gear, after which we would definitely chuck it in with dignity and hand the reins to a new generation, assuming we were still alive. There were a few details to resolve about time frames and other mundane stuff, but the groaning draft version of this document was actually sitting on my desk.' Earlier in the piece, May denied rumours that he, Clarkson and Hammond already have a new show lined-up for another broadcaster after they were photographed together last week and executive producer Andy Wilman resigned from Top Gear. 'Nobody yet knows what is going to happen in the future of Top Gear or its three former presenters,' he said. 'That is the honest truth, despite what you may have read elsewhere. No-one has even arrived at a definitive pronunciation of "fracas" yet, so what chance is there that we'd have rescued our careers?' May added that he, Clarkson and Hammond may be reunited on some future project, or they may go separate ways, or disappear from TV entirely. 'Whatever we do, it will be scrutinised ruthlessly,' he continued. 'Our fans feel betrayed and believe a spell has been broken. Our foes are rejoicing at the banality of our demise. If there's a hint of mediocrity in any future endeavour, both parties will feel vindicated. Even if Top Gear is revived in a new format with new hosts and isn't as successful as it once was, that'll be our fault. And if it's better, then we were overdue for retirement anyway.' May added: 'I accept that this is a bit of a hashtag 'first world problem', but I'm finding it quite difficult to handle. Humility is the key, I think, to coming out of this well.'

And, further to this, it was then reported that James and Richard Hammond had been spotted together at the BBC's London offices. The presenting duo arrived at the building on Thursday and found time to pose for photos with fans.
Which was, immediately, followed a day later by news that James, Richard and Jezza Clarkson had been holding 'secret' talks. So secret that every national newspaper in the country knew about it, obviously. Jesus, has everybody taken the frigging Stupid Pills this week, or what?
Evil right-wing scumbags UKiP have, get this, whinged to the poliss over comments made about their hideous, nasty leader Nigel Farago on an episode of the BBC's topical news quiz Have I Got News For You. Cos, what's the point of being in politics if you can't go around bullying broadcasters and trying to have comedians locked up by The Filth for making you look small and twatty? On last Friday's episode, the journalist Camilla Long - who, to be fair, does seem rather full of her own importance but is, nevertheless, quite funny - made a series of claims about how often Farago had visited Thanet South, where he is standing for election. UKiP alleged that these comments broke a law which bans 'false statements' about candidates. Thankfully, Kent Police subsequently said that it would not be taking any action into this ridiculous allegation. Whether they also told UKiP to grow the fek up and stop wasting police time or they would be the ones having their collective collar felt is not, at this time, known. Long had visited the constituency for an article published in The Sunday Times last month. UKiP's Raheem Kassam whinged: 'Camilla Long made false statements about a candidate at this election. The BBC chose to air it. If this isn't a breach of Section 106 of the Representation of People Act then we don't know what is.' Well, seemingly you don't know what is then, Raheem me aud cock sparra. Kent Police said: 'It was suggested that the comments breached the Representation of the People Act. The matter has been reviewed by officers but there's no evidence of any offences and there will be no further action.' The law says that it is very illegal to make a 'false statement of fact in relation to the candidate's personal character or conduct' before or during an election. A BBC statement said Britain had 'a proud tradition of satire.' It added: 'Everyone knows that the contributors on Have I Got News For You regularly make jokes at the expense of politicians of all parties.'
BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw has signalled her intention to 'blow away' the channel's cobwebs, calling for more documentaries that 'grab you by the balls' for an audience she described as the 'punk' generation. The channel, which has become synonymous with cookery and craft shows - and Top Gear, to be fair - has just seen the average age of its audience rise above sixty for the first time. Shillinglaw called for more presenters with 'edge and attitude' and appeared to call time on 'straight cooking' shows despite the imminent return to the channel of Nigella Lawson (she has her knockers). The BBC executive, charged with reinventing Top Gear said that the channel required 'fresh ideas and renewal right across the landscape' of its schedule. Shillinglaw said: 'People often forget that if you are in your fifties or sixties you grew up with punk; you don't have an automatically staid view of the world. I don't think in terms of an actual age, I think more in terms of a mindset. That young-at-heart thing is very important to me.' Shillinglaw, the BBC's former science and natural history chief who took over BBC2 last year (and, infamously, said the channel should be 'showing its knickers a bit', called on documentary makers to 'put more emotion' into their films, pointing to Channel Four series such as Benefits Street and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. 'Whatever you thought about it as a series, Benefits Street had some moments that absolutely grabbed you by the balls.' Although, quite how Kim her very self had her own balls grabbed, she didn't elaborate. Perhaps that's just as well. 'We made a flawed but very interesting documentary called Meet The Ukippers which had some moments in it which just made your jaw drop,' she told a BAFTA event in London. Shillinglaw said she wanted BBC2's factual shows to be 'a little bit more contemporary. Life isn't just about bunting; we could do more to get closer to the national conversation.' There was praise for a variety of BBC2 presenters such as Stephen Fry, Brian Cox, Dara O Briain and Mary Beard who, she said, had 'attitude and irreverence' borne out of knowing their subject matter inside out. 'Cheeky irreverence is really important to me; it can't be surplus or cheap or unearned, it's got to be rooted,' she added. 'The reason why Mary Beard can crack a joke about Roman sex lives and, you know, penises, is because, you know what? She bloody knows her stuff about Rome.' The average age of BBC2's audience reached sixty last year - a year older than that of BBC1 - up from fifty eight three years earlier. Last week the channel unveiled a pottery spin-off of its biggest show, The Great British Bake Off, which switched to BBC1 last year. It was the latest in a long line of BBC2 talent contests including The Great British Menu, The Great Interior Design Challenge and The Big Allotment Challenge. Shillinglaw praised BBC2 comedies such as James Corden's rotten as a stinking swamp The Wrong Mans and the, only slightly, better Inside Number Nine but admitted in recent years on the channel 'there hasn't been something quite as close to capturing the moment if you like, as The Office or Absolutely Fabulous.' New BBC2 shows include Phone Shop Idol about the search for Britain’s best mobile phone salesman, Chinese School in which Chinese teachers attempt to turn around UK schools and Britain's Hardest Worker, about, you know, Britain's hardest worker. Basically. She said there was 'less appetite' for 'straight cooking' or 'chop and cook' shows but indicated that there was 'more potential' for travel documentaries to find the 'next turn of the wheel.' Asked about the difference between BBC2 and BBC4, which she also oversees, Shillinglaw said: 'BBC2 brings you the universe and BBC4 brings you the atom.'

Jessica Hynes has admitted she is 'disappointed' with the decision to axe the wretched Up The Women, calling the laughless BBC2 sitcom 'a special job.' So was a big fat floater this blogger shat into the netty last night after a particularly arse-rattling curry but, to be brutally honest dear blog reader, he doesn't want to have it hanging around stinking up the gaff. Anyway, the suffragette sitcom was extremely cancelled after two series - because it was shit and no one was watching it - with the channel voicing its desire to 'bring new comedy shows through.' Ideally, ones that are, you know, funny. 'I was disappointed, but at the same time grateful for having had a chance to do it,' Hynes - who created, wrote and starred in the show - whinged to the Digital Spy website. 'When you go through the process of development and commission and production, everything is very incremental. When it goes from a treatment idea to a script, that's a celebration - and then when you get a commission, that's a massive milestone. And then we got a series, and then we got commissioned for another series, so I'm very aware of the investment that the BBC put into it and I'm grateful for it. Of course, I'm sad that it's not going again, but that's their remit.'

From The North favourite yer actual Gillian Anderson, Paul Dano and Lily James are bringing Leo Tolstoy's novel War & Peace to life in a new mini-series. Lifetime, A+E and History will simulcast a limited series event in 2016 as part of a co-production with The Weinstein Co and the BBC, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Its international cast will also includes Jim Broadbent and Happy Valley's James Norton. This television version will condense elements of Tolstoy's 1869 novel about the Napoleonic army's invasion of Russia. Anthony Hopkins and Rupert Davies starred in a previous adaptation of War & Peace for the BBC in 1972.
Red Dwarf is set to return our screens with two new series which will begin shooting this autumn. The eleventh series of Red Dwarf is set to be broadcast on Dave in 2016, with a twelfth scheduled for 2017. Red Dwarf was originally shown for eight series on BBC2 between 1988 and 1999, before Dave revived the SF sitcom for a mini-series Back To Earth in 2009.

It was nice to see this week that the chap (or, lady chap) working on the music on Gotham is still inflicting his (or her) gloriously left-field punk/indie obsessions upon The Colonials. Previous examples have included cover versions of songs by Echo & The Bunnymen, Siouxsie & The Banshees and The Sex Pistols turning up in the US drama, whilst the latest episode - The Anvil Or The Hammer - featured a band at The Penguin's club playing a really spirited take on The Specials' 1979 classic 'Do the Dog'. Tasty.
If you've been watching the adverts between programmes - in this blogger's case, on the Discovery History channel - then you'll probably have spotted that Bombardier beer have replaced the late - and much lamented - Rik Mayall as the face of their, rather witty, adverts with Bob Mortimer. Bang on.
A rare interview with a very young Lalla Ward has been released on You Tube. Lalla was just fourteen when she was featured on the legendary BBC 'Yoof' programme A Whole Scene Going. First shown on the 9 March 1966, the film looks at the work of the teenage poet and artist. The item was directed by John Crome who uploaded the feature, which is missing from the BBC archives, to his own You Tube Channel.
Viewers are no stranger to seeing the odd naughty word or two crossing up on Countdown, but they probably weren't expecting the eight-letter word 'gobshite' to come from guest Myleene Klass. Although, to be fair, it is an apt one where Klass her very self is concerned. In an episode broadcast on Tuesday, the risible, full-of-her-own-importance Klass joined Susie Dent in Dictionary Corner and managed to offer up the word, beating the contestants who had managed the seven-letter 'ghosted'. It was hard not to love the cheeky grin on Rachel Riley's boat when she put the offending word up so viewers could see what a gobshite looks like.
Still not as good as the day somebody came up with 'erection', though.
And, speaking of erections, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal (and gobshite) Javid has accused the BBC of bias – calling one item 'very, very anti-Tory' – and said that the job of changing the way the press is regulated is 'done.' Warning that the upcoming BBC charter review would include an 'investigation into bias' - a clear and scummish example of bully boy thuggery - the vile and odious rascal (and cocksplash) Javid said in an interview with his vile right-wing louse mates at the Daily Scum Mail that Labour's commitment to 'revisit regulation' risks interfering with press freedom. So, no obvious - sick - agenda going down there, then. The comments come after the Tory minister had already indicated that the BBC's licence fee could be cut if the party returns to power. In comments made more than a week after Radio 4's flagship morning news show Today ended with a three-way debate in which the Scottish comedienne Rhona Cameron called the Tories 'a cancer', the vile and odious rascal (and gobshite) Javid said: 'Last week, listening to the Today programme, there was a debate, they were all anti-Tory. It came across as very, very anti-Tory.' And, the problem with that is, exactly? In words set to be greeted with sycophantic, arse-licking approval by the filth of humanity at the Scum Mail and many other parts of the press, Javid confirmed that the Tories had 'no plans' to change press regulation. After The Leveson Inquiry into standards, much of the industry rejected the idea of a Royal Charter. Instead, the Independent Press Standards Organisation started last September. Asked by the Scum Mail if the Tories would back a Leveson-approved regulator, he said:'“No, we won’t. But Labour will. It interferes with the freedom of the press. It goes fundamentally against one of the Leveson principles, which is independent self-regulation. I think we have achieved what we set out to do. Everyone accepted the old system, the Press Complaints Commission, didn't work. Our job is done as a government. It's up to the press.' A BBC spokesman said the corporation believed it had 'reported fairly and impartially on the policies of all parties.' Scum.

Former Newsnight presenter Jezza Paxman claims that he no longer watches the BBC2 programme which he used to front but has emerged as an unlikely fan of a different kind of programme – ITV's Saturday night dating fiasco Take Me Out. Paxo, who will front Channel Four's general erection night coverage, said that he had 'no second thoughts' about leaving Newsnight. 'I don't see Newsnight, I'm afraid. My idea of fun is to go to bed at 10.30 and read a book,' he told the Radio Times. Paxo said Russell Brand's suggestion that people should not vote in the erection was 'the position of an idiot' and added that he would not have a problem if voting was made compulsory in Britain as it is in, for example, Australia. Asked if he had seen ITV's reality show The Only Way Is Essex, Paxman said: 'I have. I didn't like it as much as I like Take Me Out, which I think is a fantastic show.' Which, it isn't. Asked whether he was serious about enjoying Take Me Out, fronted by professional Northern berk Paddy McGuinness, Paxo replied: 'I do!' and added that he had also seen Made In Chelsea. 'I don't like the people in it. It's probably a reflection on me, not them,' he said of the E4 show about socialites. Meanwhile Paxo refused to hit back after Andrew Marr's recent claim that Paxman's interview technique was 'disdainful' and 'contemptuous'. Marr called the rival broadcaster 'a genuinely tortured, angry individual' after Paxman interviewed David Cameron and Ed Milimolimandi for Channel Four in March. 'You are not the first person to try to get me to be rude about him and I'm not going to, I'm afraid,' Paxo said about his former BBC colleague. He joked that it was 'for others' to judge if he really was a tortured and angry individual. Which he is. He's quite funny, though. Paxman said of the general erection: 'I think it really matters. I've no sympathy whatsoever with people who say "I don't vote."' On the subject of Brand, who famously encouraged people not to vote during an interview with Paxman two years ago, Paxo added: 'I'm just astonished anyone would take that position seriously. It's the position of an idiot.' Paxman added: 'On the whole, I'm in favour of the state getting out of people's lives, but I would not have a problem with voting being made compulsory. But if you did that, you'd have to have a box for "none of the above."' He branded the choice at this erection as being 'between one man who was at primary school with Boris Johnson and one man who was at secondary school with him – both of whom did PPE at Oxford.'

Richard E Grant has joined forces with the BBC to mark the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. The actor will star as the Duke of Wellington in the documentary Wellington: The Iron Duke Unmasked. On the role, Grant said: 'This is a part of European history that I've always wanted to know more about. It's been an honour to be able to play the Duke of Wellington in this dramatic retelling of his personal accounts. I'm thrilled the BBC is commemorating this important part of our history and that I could be a part of it.' The BBC added: 'This new documentary drama will look behind the iron mask and focus on the intriguing complexities of the Duke of Wellington - the man - his character, personality and relationships, told through his own words, and the words of those who knew him best. General, politician, lover, outsider – the programme discovers that the hero of Waterloo was far more complex than his public image.' Sir Arthur Wellesley, the first Marquess of Wellington KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS (1769–1852) was, of course, responsible for more dead Frenchman than anyone else and, therefore, was quite a great chap. Previous fictional portrayals of Nosey have included John Malkovich (in Lines Of Wellington), Julian Glover (in The Young Victoria), David Troughton and Hugh Fraser (in Sharpe), Stephen Fry (magnificently, in Blackadder The Third and Sabotage!), Bernard Archard (in The Iron Duke), Tom Bell (in Blue Peter: Special Assignment), Christopher Plummer (in Waterloo), Laurence Olivier (in Lady Caroline Lamb), C Aubrey Smith (in Sixty Glorious Years) and George Arliss (in The Iron Duke). Wellington: The Iron Duke Unmasked will be broadcast on Sunday 10 May at 9pm on BBC2.

Yer actual Arthur Darvill and Richard Wilson have joined BBC1's Danny & The Human Zoo, the fictionalised account of Lenny Henry's life as a teenager. Kascion Franklin is playing the titular Danny, while Henry his very self - who also wrote the script - will portray Danny's father, Samson. Cecilia Noble plays Danny's mother, Myrtle. Former Doctor Who and Broadchurch actor Arty has been announced as the character of Jonesy, Danny's first manager, with Wilson signed on to the part of James Broughton. Mark Benton also joins the cast as local entertainer Syd Bolton. Danny & The Human Zoo follows the ups and downs of Danny's emerging career after he wins a talent competition at a local club. Working the comedy circuit, Danny eventually hits the big time on television, but is taken advantage of by his unscrupulous manager. 'I can't believe that we're finally shooting my screenplay, said Henry. Who was last funny, briefly, in about 1983. 'This is a fantasy memoir of the first two years of my career - my beginnings, working on The Zoo, working men's clubs and all that stuff that happened to me in the mid-1970s - but crammed into ninety minutes. The script took about three years with the help of Nicola Shindler and Caroline Hollick at RED Productions, and now we're going to make it in Dudley, led by a wonderful director - Destiny Ekaragha. There's an incredibly talented cast, and I feel very lucky to be part of it all.'

Timothy Spall has revealed that he originally turned down The Enfield Haunting because he found it 'too disturbing.' The actor plays paranormal investigator Maurice Grosse in the Sky Living drama, which is based on events that took place at a house in Enfield in 1977. Speaking to the Digital Spy website, Spall said that it was the story's 'other complexities' that later attracted him to star in the project. 'What I take from whether something's good or not is the first read, and I have to say that when I first read it, I was terrified,' he said. 'I was actually a bit disturbed by it. It's quite an achievement where you're just sitting reading, and I don't want to sound self-indulgent, but I read quite a lot of scripts. So when you're reading and you get the hairs go up on the back of the neck [it's impressive]. In fact, I read it and I turned it down, I didn't want to go anywhere near that! I was very tired and exhausted when I read it, the wrong antennae were out. When I read it again, I read it not on the scary side, the actual manifestations, but the connections between the people in it. What was very intriguing was the connection between my character and the young girl and his grief. All these energies come together and it was the emotional depth of thing that interested me and I think that's what sustains the piece more than just a horror story.' Juliet Stevenson, Matthew Macfadyen, Rosie Cavaliero and Eleanor Worthington-Cox also star in the three-part drama on Sky Living.
Cancerous and toxic self-styled controversialist Katie Hopkins's alleged plans to become The Next Big Chat Show Host have, reportedly, been thwarted due to a lack of interest.
The horrifying self-publicist and waste-of-oxygen was reported in several media outlets to be 'working on a chat show format' with the channel TLC. So, you know, not a real channel then. However, it has now been claimed that when producers went on the hunt for z-list celebrity guests, no one signed up. Not even any of the cast of The Only Way Is Essex. Blimey, that's rough. An alleged 'source' allegedly told the Mirra: 'They can't find anyone who wants to go on it. She is too controversial. Too nasty. The bottom line is, no one likes her. Why would you want to go and speak to her?' Good question. Although, to be fair, the same could also be asked about former - extremely sacked - Mirra editor oily Piers Morgan and his chat show has been a resounding ... ah, yes. Suddenly, I see their point.
Stroppy Robert Downey Junior has spoken for the first time about walking out of a TV interview earlier this month. Interviewed by American DJ Howard Stern, the actor described Channel Four News's Krishnan Guru-Murthy as 'a bottom-feeding muckraker' for bringing up his past problems with drugs. The actor said that he had been 'promoting a superhero movie' and suggested his interviewer had 'a creepy dark agenda.' Guru-Murthy himself has insisted that he had 'no particular agenda' - although, if that's true it would be the first time in recorded history that a piece has gone out on Channel Four News which hasn't been soaked in an agenda that their nasty Middle Class hippy Communist Gruniad Morning Star-reading audience have come to expect. Writing in - of course - the Gruniad Morning Star, the broadcaster claimed that Downey Junior's PR man had been 'informed' that the actor's 'recovery from jail and drug abuse' would be brought up during the interview. 'We don't do promotional interviews on Channel Four News,' Guru-Murthy wrote. 'We agree with PR people that as well as talking about a new movie for a while we want to ask wider ranging questions on relatively serious topics,' Guru-Murthy claimed. Downey Junior, however, said that Guru-Murthy had been 'weirding [him] out' with his 'weirdo' line of questioning in his 'first interview of the day.' He said that he now wished he had left the interview sooner and suggested Guru-Murthy had violated 'social decorum' by scrutinising him 'like a kiddie-fiddler who's running for mayor.' Downey Junior said that he needed 'to distance myself from this clown. Otherwise, I'm probably going to put hands on somebody and then there's a real story,' he added. Ooo, now there's a programme idea for Channel Four - Do A Clarkson On Guru-Murthy - where z-list celebrities have a geet rive-on with the smug, full-of-his-own-importance news anchor and biff him, hard, in the mush. Perhaps for a small prize for the one that punches the hardest. This is, after all, the channel which commissioned the Twenty First Century equivalent of bear-baiting, Benefits Street. Guru-Murthy previously clashed with movie director Quentin Tarantino, who bridled when asked to discuss the violence in his film Django Unchained. 'I know he pulled the same garbage on Tarantino, and Tarantino stayed in his chair and lit him up for five minutes,' said Downey Junior of that 2013 encounter. 'I'm a fifty-year-old guy, I used fancy words and yet I'm completely unevolved when it comes down to simple boundaries.'

There's a fascinating piece by Billy Mills in the Gruniad this week on James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. Which, if you've never read it ... don't worry, neither have the vast majority of those who claim to have. Mostly, they just live and love and laugh and leave. What? What?! Brilliant book to read when you're bombed off your face on vodka, mind.
Sky will drop one of its two Sky Arts channels, home to the drama A Young Doctor’s Notebook and the Playhouse Presents series later this year. Part of a shake-up of the broadcaster's channels from 9 June that will also see the axing of Sky 3D, the two channels will be replaced by a single 'super channel' moved higher up Sky's electronic programme guide in a bid to boost audiences and reduce repeats. The channel, home to shows including Portrait Artist Of The Year and Melvyn Bragg's The South Bank Show, alongside its classical, opera and rock music output, will be given a ten percent budget boost as part of the changes. Phil Edgar-Jones, head of Sky Arts, who took over the network a year ago, said that it was 'a massive win' for the channel which will move up from the fourth to the third page of the Sky EPG in the slot currently occupied by Sky2. 'I have argued for quite a long time we should have one Sky Arts channel not two. I didn't see the sense when we can do one super channel effectively,' he told the Gruniad Morning Star. He added that none of the current output would be dropped. 'That's the beauty of this, we are repeating less, structuring the week differently,' said Edgar-Jones, who previously oversaw Big Brother for Channel Four. 'Being on page three [of the EPG] we'll have more eyeballs, footfall. It is hard to predict exactly [how audiences will increase], but up to thirty per cent,' he added. Sky Arts is also creating an on-demand platform, which will have a prominent logo, and signposts to 'library' collections of opera and ballet through to heavy metal. 'I think it is true when it comes to the arts, most people don't like all the arts, so a Johnny Cash fan isn't, necessarily, a fan of the Globe Theatre productions,' said Edgar-Jones. 'People tend not to sit on the channel and watch everything. They cherry-pick the genre they are enthusiastic about.' Edgar-Jones said that the TV landscape has changed since Sky Arts launched a second channel in 2008, one to focus on more popular contemporary art including rock concerts and the second on classical music and opera. 'We can put that all in one place quite easily because of the on-demand offering. The perception, when I started, was that the older audience wasn't taking up on-demand as swiftly as the younger audience, but that turns out in our research not to be true.' Sky Arts, the Gruniad sneers, 'appeals to relatively upmarket ABC1 viewers aged typically between forty five and fifty five,' skewing towards male viewers who make up fifty five per cent of the audience, attracted by the vintage rock performances of Cream, The Who, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones et cetra. That's certainly the sole reason yer actual Keith Telly Topping - who fits the gender and age profile for the average Sky Arts viewer is not, in the slightest, any of this ABC bollocks; I am not a letter, I am a free man - watches Sky Arts. The programme budget is currently estimated to be upwards of eight million smackers a year, with a monthly reach of about seven million viewers. However, audiences for individual shows remain a fraction of those to the mainstream channels, with primetime shows regularly watched by fewer than ten thousand overnight punters. Its most popular shows, such as the Playhouse series, can attract about one hundred thousand viewers. But, they usually don't. The new schedule is also being streamlined, with each day of the week having a particular theme: the most popular strand, Portrait Artist/Landscape Artist Of The Year, will run on Tuesday, designated factual entertainment night. Music and concerts, including violinist André Rieu, and festivals, will still dominate on Saturday and Sundays. The relaunch in June will kick-off with a new talent show, Guitar Star and 'a sex season' - cor! - later in the summer will include a BalletBoyz production themed on The Kama Sutra. Edgar-Jones describes it as 'quite startling.' Sky Arts has gone through a series of changes since it was launched in 2000 as the subscription Arts World channel with backing from the Gruniad Morning Star Media Group. BSkyB stepped in to take a fifty per cent stake in 2003 and took full control two years later rechristening it Sky Arts.

The ventriloquist and entertainer Keith Harris, famous for his puppet companion Orville the Duck, has died from cancer, aged sixty seven. The entertainer, who hosted The Keith Harris Show on BBC1 and also voiced Cuddles the Monkey, had a showbusiness career which spanned fifty years. Harris, who performed at birthday parties for the young princes William and Harry, had a top ten chart hit at the peak of his popularity in 1982 with the wretched 'Orville's Song'. But, you know, let's not hold that against him. No, hang on, on second thoughts, lets. God, it was bad. Anyway, Keith first announced that he had cancer last April. His agent, Robert C Kelly, told the Press Association that Harris had become ill again in January after first being diagnosed in 2013. 'I spoke to Keith most days, whether we had business to do or not. I think I laughed every single time we spoke,' Kelly said. 'Keith was not only a technically great ventriloquist, he was also a gifted mimic and an extraordinarily funny man both on stage and off. Perhaps even rarer than that in showbiz, he was a thoroughly decent man, a great friend and a wonderful father and husband.' Harris - seen right with Orville and with a member of the Telly Topping family at a charity event in 2006 (Graeme Telly Topping is the one not wearing a nappy) - had three children, Skye, Kitty, and Shenton and had been married four times. Kelly said that Keith spent his last months 'at his second home in Portugal, taking walks along the Blackpool seafront and sitting in the park eating ice-cream and watching the world go by.' Born in Lyndhurst, Hampshire in 1947 and later moving to Chester, Keith said that he had loved performing with puppets since the age of three, acting as dummy for his ventriloquist father, Norman. His BBC1 show ran for eight years from 1982, after successful appearances on a number of TV variety and children's shows. After appearing in summer seasons at holiday resorts Keith had spots on the television series Let's Laugh (1965). He became a popular act on variety shows and, following a spell as the host of The Black & White Minstrel Show, was given his own first format, Cuddles & Company. He also appeared several times on the BBC's long-running The Good Old Days. Harris' best known creation, Orville, came about after he reportedly saw some green fur lying around backstage at a performance of The Black & White Minstrel Show in Bristol. Orville was known for his child-like innocence, enduring constant jibes from Cuddles whose catchphrase was 'I hate that duck'. It was followed by The Quack Chat Show in 1990. Depressed by the cancellation of his show, Keith suffered from money troubles towards the end of his career, blaming his lack of reading ability for having signed unfavourable contracts. He once claimed that his dyslexia had cost him seven million quid. Having lost his TV show, he performed at Butlin's holiday camps, took on pantomime roles and appeared on Celebrity Big Brother. He appeared as a guest star in Harry Hill's TV Burp, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Trisha, Banzai - on which he was the winner of the Man Monster Petrol Pump Off Puzzle - and The Weakest Link. This, combined with work entertaining in the clubs, in pantomime and at holiday camps around the country, as well as starring in a commercial for Surf soap powder, enabled him to become solvent again. In 2002, Keith was the subject of the Louis Theroux documentary, When Louis Met ... Keith Harris. Keith later said that he and Theroux had become friends during the course of filming, although they lost contact when Theroux went back to the US for his next projects. Harris also starred in the children's programme The Slammer and was among the all-star line up in Peter Kay and Tony Christie's music video for 'Is This The Way To Amarillo?' In 2005, Keith and Orville won the Five reality show The Farm. As a result, Keith became an auctioneer on the shopping channel Bid TV until 2006 and he made a cameo appearance with Orville on Al Murray's Happy Hour on ITV. He also toured with an adult version of his puppet show, Duck Off. But, he reportedly refused to appear on Ricky Gervais' Extras in 2006, distressed at the proposed portrayal of his character. 'He wanted me to be a racist bigot,' Keith told the Independent. 'I read the script and thought, this isn't clever writing, it's pure filth. I turned it down. I'm not that desperate.' And, he lamented the lack of his brand of gentle, child-friendly comedy on modern television. 'There's nothing for kids to laugh at now,' he told the Daily Scum Mail. 'I thought I could do a TV show with Cuddles and Orville that teaches children manners. But the TV people don't like to back an old horse. They say, "I don't think it's what we want any more."' Keith had an operation on his cancerous spleen and was told he had a year to live in 2013, but was apparently given the all-clear in May 2014 after months of chemotherapy. But his illness returned and he was told the cancer had spread to his liver, giving him no chance for further treatment. He is survived by his fourth wife, Sarah, and his three children.

Jack Ely, the lead singer of The Kingsmen has died at the age of seventy one. His son, Sean Ely, said that the musician died at home in Redmond, Oregon, after a long battle with ill health. 'Because of his religious beliefs, we're not even sure what [the illness] was,' he said. Ely's incoherent singing on 'Louie Louie' (1963) reportedly led the FBI to investigate the famous song on the grounds that it 'might be obscene.' The law enforcement agents ultimately concluded, in a lengthy investigative report, that the song was 'unintelligible at any speed.' And, a hugely influential garage-band masterpiece on which numerous bands based entire careers. Ely had a falling out with the band shortly after the song was recorded and later trained horses in Oregon. 'Louie Louie' was originally recorded in 1957 by Richard Berry, who had written it two years earlier and had also been covered by dozens of other bands - including The Kinks. The song is written from the perspective of a man who wants to sail to Jamaica to return to a girl he loves. Or, something. But it was Ely's crazed rendition which popularised the song. His son said: 'Right out of his mouth, my father would say, "We were initially just going to record the song as an instrumental and, at the last minute, I decided I'd sing it. It's all of this is in a ten-by-ten room with one microphone. I'm standing on my tippy toes yelling into the microphone: Louie Louie! Louie Louie! We gotta go!"' The sound engineer working on the song raised the studio microphone to several feet above Ely's head and placed him in the middle of the group of musicians to create a better 'live' feel' for the recording. The result was that Ely - who was just twenty at the time - had to shout as loudly as he could to be heard over the drums, bass and guitar. It might not have helped, either, that Ely was wearing teeth braces at the time, although he maintained that the main problem was trying to sing with his head tilted back at a forty five-degree angle. The song has been widely recognised by organisations including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame for its influence on the history of rock and roll is one of the most covered in rock and roll history. If you've never heard The Clash's version, you haven't lived. Ely (second from the left on this 1963 photo) co-founded The Kingsmen in 1959 as, primarily, a covers band. Four years later, the group recorded 'Louie Louie' as their second single for the local Jerden label. In 1962, while playing a gig at the Pypo Club in Seaside, Oregon, the band noticed Rockin' Robin Roberts's version of 'Louie Louie' being played on the jukebox for hours on end. The entire club would get up and dance. Ely convinced The Kingsmen to learn the song, which they then played at dances to a great crowd response. After Ely left, The Kingsmen had some other hits - 'Money' and 'The Jolly Green Giant'. However, Ely was content with his legacy as a one-hit wonder, according to his son. 'He wanted to try on different occasions to pursue other endeavours in the music industry, but I think when it was all done and said he was pretty happy that he did 'Louie Louie'.'

And, Ben E King, best known for the R&B classic 'Stand By Me', has died at the age of seventy six. King started his career in the late 1950s as a member of The Drifters, singing hits including 'There Goes My Baby', 'This Magic Moment' and 'Save The Last Dance For Me'. After going solo, he recorded 'Stand By Me' in 1961. A huge transatlantic hit at the time, it returned to the charts in the 1980s following its use in the film of the same name and on a TV commercial. King's other hits included 'Spanish Harlem', 'Amor', 'Don't Play That Song (You Lied)' and 'Supernatural Thing'. The singer died on Thursday, his publicist Phil Brown said. Born Benjamin Earl Nelson in in September 1938 in Henderson, North Carolina, Ben initially joined the doo-wop group The Five Crowns, who later became The Drifters after that group's manager fired the band's previous members and recruited Charlie Thomson, Dock Green, Beary Hobbs and James Clark to sing with King. Ben co-wrote and sang on the band's first hit single 'There Goes My Baby', which reached number two in the US in 1959. But -despite further hit singles and regular sell-out tours - the group members were paid just one hundred dollar per week by their manager and, after a request for a pay rise was turned down, the singer decided to go it alone in 1960. In the process, he adopted the surname King. His first solo hit, in 1961, was 'Spanish Harlem', which was followed by 'Stand By Me'. He originally intended 'Stand By Me' for The Drifters, but said that they turned it down. So he worked on the song when Atlantic Records boss Ahmet Ertegun paired him with the writers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. 'In my vocal I think you can hear something of my earlier times when I'd sing in subway halls for the echo and perform doo-wop on street corners,' he told the Gruniad Morning Star in 2013. 'But I had a lot of influences, too - singers like Sam Cooke, Brook Benton and Roy Hamilton. The song's success lay in the way Leiber and Stoller took chances, though, borrowing from symphonic scores, and we had a brilliant string arranger.' The song went on to chart nine times on the US Billboard hot hundred - King's version twice and seven times with covers by artists including alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon and Spyder Turner. It was also the fourth most-played song of the Twentieth Century on US radio and TV. Earlier this year, the US Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry, declaring that 'it was King's incandescent vocal that made it a classic.' 'Stand By Me', 'Spanish Harlem' and 'There Goes My Baby' were all named on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's list of five hundred Songs that 'Shaped Rock & Roll', and were all given a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Ben continued to tour and, in the mid-1970s, Ertegun was so impressed by one of his shows in Miami that he decided to re-sign him to Atlantic. That led to a return to the charts with the funky 'Supernatural Thing' in 1975. King returned to the spotlight again in the late 1980s when 'Stand By Me' was the theme song for Rob Reiner's film about boyhood friendship and was used in a British TV commercial for Levi's jeans. He also established the Ben E King Stand By Me Foundation, a charity that says it 'helps deserving youths working to further their education and to assist various civic organisations and associations in their efforts to improve the quality of life of their constituents.' He is survived by his wife, Betty, three children and six grandchildren.

Crime author Ruth Rendell has died aged eighty five. She wrote more than sixty novels in a career spanning over fifty years, her best-known creation being Inspector Reg Wexford, which was turned into a highly successful ITV series, Ruth Rendell Mysteries. Born in Essex, she is credited with bringing a social and psychological dimension to crime fiction. Her first Wexford book, From Doon With Death, was published in 1964, beginning a series of more than twenty starring Inspector Wexford, played excellently in the TV series by the late George Baker. Most of them were terrific, this blogger's particular favourite being 1973's Some Lie & Some Die. One of Britain's best selling contemporary authors, many of her works were translated into more than twenty languages and adapted for cinema and TV, attracting worldwide sales in excess of sixty million. She was also the author of more than twenty standalone novels, whose protagonists were often on the margins of society. She also wrote several thrillers using the pen-name Barbara Vine, delving into the psychology of both criminals and victims, often mentally afflicted or socially isolated. These included A Dark-Adapted Eye (1986). 'Ruth and Barbara are two aspects of me,' she once wrote. 'Ruth is tougher, colder, more analytical, possibly more aggressive. Barbara is more feminine. For a long time I have wanted Barbara to have a voice as well as Ruth. It would be a softer voice, speaking at a slower pace, more sensitive perhaps, and more intuitive.' Whether writing as Rendell or Vine, she became noted for her blend of elegant prose, cogent plots, believable characters and insights into the human psyche. From the 1960s onwards, she also reflected fast-moving social changes, raising awareness of such issues as the status of women and domestic violence. Her last published novel was The Girl Next Door (2014) but, saying she had no plans to retire, she had recently finished another. 'If I were to stop writing, which I will not do, I would hate it. I don't know what my life would be like without my writing. It's very important to me.' Her final novel, Dark Corners, is due to be published in October. A lifelong socialist, she was appointed to a seat in the House of Lords in 1997 as a Labour life peer, attending most days of the week and campaigning on such issues as female genital mutilation, homelessness and gay rights. She was a close friend with the Conservative peer and fellow crime writer PD James, who died last November. Ruth was born Ruth Barbara Grasemann in 1930 in South Woodford to an English father, Arthur Grasemann and a Swedish-born mother, Ebba Kruse, both of whom were teachers. Often holidaying in Sweden and Denmark, Ruth learned both languages as well as English. Her mother developed multiple sclerosis and died when Ruth was a child. The young Ruth attended the Loughton High School for Girls. Sensing that words might be her vocation, she landed a job as a cub reporter on the local paper, the West Essex Gazette and was later as a feature writer for another Essex paper, the Chigwell Times. She was forced to resign after filing a story about a local sports club dinner without actually attending. Her report failed to mention that the after-dinner speaker had died halfway through his speech. Appointed a CBE in 1996 and made life peer the following year, she took the title Baroness Rendell of Babergh (in the County of Suffolk) and used her favourite animals - polar bears - on the coat of arms of her formal Lords attire. She was active in the CND during the 1980s and her massive royalties allowed her to become one of the Labour party's biggest private financial donors. But she also gave freely to charity, with donations estimated at one hundred thousand smackers a year, including to children in Darfur. Baroness Rendell had lived her latter years in Maida Vale and in a cottage in Groton, Suffolk. She had been hospitalised in January after a major stroke. The author married the journalist Don Rendell in 1953. The couple divorced twenty two years later but then remarried within two years. Don died in 1999. Ruth is survived by her son, Simon, who lives in Colorado, and her grandchildren Philip and Graham, both students in the United States.

Mark Ronson's highly derivative disco hit 'Uptown Funk' has gained another five writers after The Gap Band's 1979 funk classic 'Oops Up Side Your Head' were, belatedly, added to the song's writing credits. The Gap band members, the brothers Charlie, Robert and Ronnie Wilson, along with keyboardist Rudolph Taylor and producer Lonnie Simmons, were added in the wake of a copyright claim put forth by publisher Minder Music. It follows the high-profile legal battle that saw Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams ordered to pay more than seven million dollars to Marvin Gaye's family over similarities between 'Blurred Lines' and Gaye's 1977 hit 'Got To Give It Up'. The bigger the headache, the bigger the pill, the bigger the doctor, the bigger the bill. And that.
An international team, including battlefield archaeologists from the University of Glasgow, have started a substantial dig on the site of the Waterloo battlefield. The team has chosen a site near Hougoumont Farm ahead of the bicentenary of the battle in June. It is thought there is a mass grave of soldiers located there or very near there. Some of the team are members of the armed forces and veterans who have experienced trauma during service. They are part of a project called Operation Nightingale, which encourages armed forces personnel to work alongside experienced archaeologists to help their recovery. During the battle, thousands of Napoleon's troops attacked the farm, which was held by British forces - chiefly members of the Coldstream Guards and the second and third Foot Guards. There was a fierce melee and the British managed to close the gate on the French troops streaming in. The Frenchmen trapped in the courtyard were all very killed. Only a young drummer boy was spared. Napoleon's forces were eventually defeated and there were tens of thousands of casualties. The French dictator was subsequently exiled to the island of Saint Helena, where he died in 1821. Tony Pollard, director of the Centre of Battlefield Archaeology at the university, said that the work would answer many questions that still hang over the site as, he says, many first-hand accounts of the battle are confusing and biased. Although Bernard Cornwall's novel Sharpe's Waterloo is a damned good starting point for anybody interested in what went on there.
Later the same month, there will also be an archaeological dig at Brighton at the site of ABBA's 1974 Eurovision win. Oh yes.

The Mercury probe Messenger's mission has finally come to a close, with the spacecraft hurtling into the planet's surface at a speed of eight thousand seven hundred miles per hours on Thursday. As it plummeted, having used the last of its fuel to position itself into the gravitational pull of Mercury, the probe still continued to take photographs of the planet's surface. The final image transmitted back to Earth was of the floor of the fifty eight-mile-wide Jokai crater. Messenger's impact would have created a small crater of its own, estimated to be about fifty feet in diameter. The probe, which was originally planned for a one-year mission, was launched on 3 August 2004, reaching Mercury's orbit in March 2011. It then went on to spend the next four years studying the planet in an unprecedented level of detail, quadrupling its expected mission length. 'Going out with a bang as it impacts the surface of Mercury, we are celebrating Messenger as more than a successful mission,' said John Grunsfeld, the associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. 'The Messenger mission will continue to provide scientists with a bonanza of new results as we begin the next phase of this mission, analysing the exciting data already in the archives, and unravelling the mysteries of Mercury.' The impact occurred on the far side of Mercury, so NASA scientists were unable to observe it directly. Instead, the impact was confirmed at the time the probe was due to reappear from behind the planet twenty minutes later. In addition, the NASA Deep Space Network Radio Science team independently confirmed the loss of a signal from Messenger. One of Messenger's last images, transmitted the day before impact showed a region some one hundred miles south of the centre of the Mansart crater. The probe's important discoveries include the surface composition of Mercury, its geological history, its polar ice deposits and that its magnetic field is offset from the planet's centre. 'Today we bid a fond farewell to one of the most resilient and accomplished spacecraft to ever explore our neighbouring planets,' said Sean Solomon, Messenger's principal investigator and director of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York. 'A resourceful and committed team of engineers, mission operators, scientists, and managers can be extremely proud that the Messenger mission has surpassed all expectations and delivered a stunningly long list of discoveries that have changed our views, not only of one of Earth's sibling planets, but of the entire inner solar system.'

Bill Bailey has revealed he plans to hold a special show in Cumbria to raise money for the county's mountain rescue teams after his beloved dog was saved from danger in the Lake District. Bill says that he is doing the gig to say thank you to the brave rescuers who brought his four-year-old rescue dog, Tiger to safety. The comedian was out walking near Buttermere with wife, Kris, eleven-year-old son Dax, two friends and their pet, when the greyhound dingo cross ended up stranded. Bill said he doesn't quite know what frightened his pet leading to him being stranded on a steep ledge, but without members of Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team 'anything could've happened.' Now, as a way of repaying the efforts of the rescuers and their peers across the county Bill plans to return to Cumbria to host a special event. 'Hopefully, it's my intention, and this stage we are in discussions, to do a show in the area to raise money for them,' he told the local News & Star newspaper. 'I will be making a donation and I urge others to do the same. They did such a fantastic job, I was very impressed with them and their operation. I am very grateful to them for responding the way they did. I was very happy with the outcome, they were brilliant. I thought trying to carry a reluctant dog on my shoulders along that terrain would end up in us being hurt.' Once the rescue mission was complete Bill was taken on a tour of their rescue centre in Cockermouth. 'I was very impressed with the way they use technology to sync with the emergency services. If you think of the amount of people who visit the Lakes each year, knowing that operation is in place, I would say everyone is in good hands,' he said. 'That doesn't mean you can go out ill-prepared but if something does happen then you're in the best hands possible.' Bill and his family have been regular visitors to the Lake District for around twenty years and especially like the Buttermere area. He is due to bring his Limboland tour to Cumbria later this year when he performs at Carlisle's Sands Centre on 26 November. Mike Park, the team leader of Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team, said he was 'delighted' that the comedian plans to raise funds for the county's teams. 'It's absolutely brilliant that he understands how we are set up as a charity and voluntary organisation,' he said. 'We need donations to survive and if Bill is going to help move that on then that's fantastic. We are very happy. I'm pleased that it will support mountain rescue teams in Cumbria because although it was us that rescued him he could've been in anyone else's area. We really appreciate what he's doing.'

So, for the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a message for Thursday from the Clint Eastwood and General Saint party. Erie, erie.