Saturday, May 09, 2015

One Nation Under A Groove

Let's start with some good news before we get onto the black, swirling despair and misery. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat is undoing one of Doctor Who's cruellest twists by bringing Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) back from the dead. This is good news. This blogger likes this news. The popular asthmatic UNIT scientist will return for a new two-part adventure, alongside the previously announced return of her boss, Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave). Osgood last featured in series eight's finale, Death In Heaven and was, seemingly, very killed by the maniacal Missy. Unless that was her Zygon duplicate, of course. But, perhaps I've said too much. Away, also returning to Doctor Who are The Zygons their very selves, the shape-shifting aliens first introduced to the long-running family SF drama in 1975 and last featured in 2013's fiftieth anniversary special, The Day Of The Doctor. Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other God Before He) had previously expressed his desire to bring back The Zygons, following their reappearance. Of Osgood's own return, he said: 'Osgood is back, fresh from her recent murder at the end of last series. We recently confirmed that Osgood was definitely dead and not returning - but in a show about time travel, anything can happen. The brilliant Ingrid Oliver is back in action. This time though, can The Doctor trust his number one fan?' Hopefully, she'll get a first name this time as well. Written by Peter Harness - who scripted Kill The Moon for series eight, which went down like rattlesnakes piss with some fans but which yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought was bloody great - the new two-parter will feature a guest cast including Jaye Griffiths, Cleopatra Dickens, Sasha Dickens, Abhishek Singh, Todd Kramer, Jill Winternitz, Nicholas Asbury, Jack Parker and Aidan Cook.
Sunday, according to lots of places on the Interweb, saw the great Terrance Dicks celebrate his eightieth birthday. Arguably the most prolific contributor to Doctor Who, as well as being script editor in the Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee eras Terrance also wrote a number of memorable adventures for the series, including both the introductory story, Robot, for Tom Baker in 1974 and the series' twentieth anniversary celebration, The Five Doctors in 1983. His Target novelisations accounted for over sixty of The Doctor's adventures and he was later invited to write a story for the launch of the Virgin New Adventures in 1991 (Timewyrm: Exodus) and then to launch the new official range of BBC Books in 1996 with The Eight Doctors. He also brought Doctor Who to the stage twice, with Doctor Who & The Daleks In Seven Keys To Doomsday in 1974 and then The Ultimate Adventure in 1989. As well as fiction, Terrance also co-wrote arguably the first ever reference book about the series, The Making Of Doctor Who, first published by Target in 1972. Born in East Ham, Terrance studied English at Downing College, Cambridge, and later performed two years of National Service. Following his discharge he worked for several years as an advertising copywriter and started to write radio play scripts for the BBC in his spare time. His breakthrough into television came when his friend Malcolm Hulke asked for his help with the scripting of an episode of the ABC action-adventure series The Avengers, for which Terrance was awarded a co-writer credit. In 1968, he was hired as assistant script editor on Doctor Who. He became script editor the following year and earned his first writing credit for the popular long-running family SF drama when he and Hulke co-wrote the ten-part serial The War Games, which concluded the series' sixth season and Patrick Troughton's tenure as The Doctor in 1969. Terrance had, however, been the uncredited co-writer of the earlier serial The Seeds Of Death, having extensively re-written Brian Hayles' original scripts. After stepping down as script editor, Terrance continued his association with Doctor Who, writing four scripts for his successor, Robert Holmes. Terrance also wrote for the ATV soap opera Crossroads. He co-created and wrote for the short-lived BBC science-fiction TV series Moonbase 3 in 1973, and also wrote for Space: 1999. But, we'll forgive him for that. During the early 1980s, he served once more as script editor to his close friend Barry Letts on the BBC's Sunday Classics strand of period dramas and literary adaptations. For many of us of a certain age, however, Terrance will always be the storyteller of The Doctor's early adventures. And, as someone who first read Terrance's novelisation of The Day Of The Daleks as a sickly ten year old on a wet family holiday on the Isle of Wight in 1974 and, many years later, actually got to know Terrance personally, correspond with him when we were both writing novels fir the BBC and share a couple of glorious nights in Los Angeles having dinner with one of my heroes, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is particularly delighted to say happy birthday, Uncle Terrance. Many happy returns.

Edited to add: Having said all that, this blogger is indebted to his old mate Steve Roberts - who knows everything - for information that, contrary to the report on the Doctor Who News website and the date given on Wikipedia, Terrance's birthday is, in fact, in April. As confirmed by Keith Telly Toping's old mucker, Paul Cornell his very self.
So, all of the above is a month too late. Which, given that Doctor Who is a show about time travel is, curiously, comforting. Next ...

Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch will look to break his BAFTA duck on Sunday with his fifth nomination at an awards that are likely to be dominated by crime drama. Benny has been nominated more times than anyone else in the main categories at this weekend's awards, including three times for Sherlock, but is yet to win one. The awards, the most prestigious of the UK television year, have seen multiple nominations for a handful of critically acclaimed crime dramas including Sally Wainwright's Happy Valley and The Missing on BBC1, and Line Of Duty on BBC2. BBC3's sleeper hit Murdered By My Boyfriend and ITV's The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies, both based on real life events, are each nominated twice. Ben Stephenson, the BBC's outgoing controller of drama commissioning, said that crime drama was so popular because it was 'a Trojan horse to allow writers to tell whatever story they wanted to tell. It's a catch-all term that belies the fact that drama relies on conflict and one of the most dramatic conflicts is people breaking the law in one way or another,' he said. Stephenson, who will leave the BBC next week, said that the drama nominations were 'not the most cheery list. Throughout literature, from Dostoyevsky and Dickens, it's full of crime because it's such a dramatic way into ultimately human truths.' Two lighter but hugely popular dramas, BBC1's Call The Midwife and ITV's Downton Abbey, have, like Cumberbatch, never won a BAFTA. 'It's a bit of an anomaly, they are the biggest series in this country,' said Stephenson. 'Probably awards are more naturally predicated towards pieces that have a more serious tone. Possibly shows like that are slightly underestimated. They are so confident and look so simple but are actually incredibly difficult to put together.' Downton Abbey maker Carnival Films is nominated for The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies with a best actor nod for the man who portrayed him with uncanny accuracy, Jason Watkins. Gareth Neame, managing director of Carnival Films, said that there was 'nothing particularly confusing or unusual' about BAFTA not recognising Lord Snooty's Downton Abbey, which has won multiple awards in the US. 'BAFTA has tended to recognise things for cultural and creative reasons and tended not to recognise shows with big audiences and where revenue has been generated. It's very often the smaller thing that didn't get a large audience or something that had a big cultural impact. There's really nothing wrong with that,' he said. 'Jason's nomination is typical of BAFTA – he is not particularly a huge star but he is very, very respected and has given a great performance.' Watkins will compete for the leading actor prize with Cumberbatch, The Missing's Jimmy Nesbitt, and Toby Jones for his role in Peter Bowker's Marvellous. The leading actress category is arguably the strongest at this year's awards, with Happy Valley's Sarah Lancashire up against Line Of Duty's Keeley Hawes, Cilla's Sheridan Smith and Murdered By My Boyfriend's Georgina Campbell. The two stars of BBC2's Rev - Tom Hollander and Olivia Colman - are both nominated in the comedy performance categories, where there are also nods for Matt Berry, star and co-writer of Channel Four's massively over-rated Toast Of London, and two stars of another BBC2 comedy, W1A - Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes. Rev executive producer and chief executive of Big Talk Productions Kenton Allen, said that the consequences of winning a BAFTA was not comparable to a Brit award or an Oscar (which he has also won, for Martin McDonagh's short film Six Shooter). 'It's not like the Brits where you see a massive spike in downloads, it doesn't have that sort of commercial impact,' he said. 'But I suppose when Rev won the Bsfta for situation comedy in its first series it was significant in giving everyone involved the confidence to do it again but be bolder with it, and gave the channel which breathed life in it the confidence to do it again. Sadly it doesn't mean you get paid more. Often it has the reverse effect.' Hynes, who plays Siobhan Sharpe in W1A, is nominated for her fourth BAFTA. Like Cumberbatch, she hasn't yet won one. 'I'm very happy with my status as a BAFTA loser, I'm very comfortable with that,' said Hynes. 'My approach is to genuinely enjoy it as much as possible. It's lovely being in a room with so many people you know if you are not wearing uncomfortable shoes, I'm not making that mistake. It's probably as bad winning as it is losing, it's probably excruciating, particularly if you think, "that other person should have won." I'm thrilled to be nominated.' Hynes gave a memorable acceptance speech at the Royal Television Society awards two years ago, a scene-stealing affair in which her phrase, 'fuck film', became a recurring theme of the night. 'I had been working so hard and not going out, I was living like a nun,' she remembered. 'I arrived there and someone bought me a gin and tonic and before I knew it I was up on the stage. I thought, well, it's not televised, let's have fun and be a bit irreverent.' Andrew Newman, chair of BAFTA's television committee, said hat the awards were 'about looking at programmes in forensic detail. 'Sometimes the most popular and perhaps in the public's mind the most obvious show is the rightful winner,' he said. 'Sometimes it's a show that perhaps not as many people have seen, a little bit quirky and original. It's not about what is most popular or populist, it's about what is the most brilliantly made show.'

Safe House topped the ratings outside of soaps on Bank Holiday Monday, according to overnight figures. The penultimate episode of the four-part Christopher Eccleston-fronted thriller brought in 4.18m overnight punters at 9pm on ITV. Earlier, Wild Ireland interested 2.68m at 8pm. BBC2's seemingly endless - and snore-inducing World Championship Snooker coverage was watched by 3.31m punters between 7pm and 11pm. On BBC1, a repeat of Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers had an audience of 2.35m at 7.30pm, while VE Day: Remembering Victory was watched by 2.82m at 8.30pm. Channel Four's Food Unwrapped averaged 1.24m at 8pm, while the much-trailed documentary Stranger On The Bridge was seen by 1.43m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Police Interceptors was watched by seven hundred and seventy eight thousand viewers at 8pm, before the latest episode of Gotham rose to nine hundred and forty five thousand at 9pm and Person Of Interest gathered five hundred and ninety nine thousand at 10pm. Game Of Thrones attracted one million punters for Sky Atlantic at 9pm.

ITV's European football coverage topped the overnight ratings outside of soaps on Tuesday. The Juventus Hunchbacks and Real Loadsamoney Madrid's Champions League semi-final first leg entertained 3.58m between 7.30pm and 10pm. BBC1's Twenty Four Hours In The Past dropped to 3.22m for its second episode at 9pm, while Del Boys & Dealers continued with 1.73m at 10.45pm. On BBC2, the latest episode of Coast Australia interested 1.32m at 7pm, before Inside The Factory: How Our Favourite Foods Are Made was seen by 2.11m, and Wastemen gathered an audience of 1.76m at 9pm. Channel Four's No Offence - which was really rather good - launched with an impressive 2.15m at 9pm. Earlier, Kirstie & Phil's Love It Or List It attracted 1.77m at 8pm. On Channel Five Britain's Horror Homes fascinated eight hundred and thirty thousand at 8pm, while Twenty Moments That Rocked Britain averaged nine hundred and eighty one thousand at 9pm.

Inspector George Gently topped the overnight ratings outside of soaps on Wednesday. The popular period crime drama brought in 5.90m at 8pm, while Peter Kay's Car Share followed with 5.15m at 9.30pm. On BBC2, Coast Australia interested nine hundred and ten thousand at 7pm, before Inside The Factory: How Our Favourite Foods Are Made was seen by 2.14m and Charlie Brooker's Election Wipe gathered 1.87m at 9pm. A Qi repeat followed with 1.35m at 10pm. ITV's hilariously wretched flop Give A Pet A Home continued with but 2.03m at 8pm, while Newzoids continued to drop like a stone, being watched by a mere 1.57m at 9pm. Plus, several of their puppets are now, no longer leaders of the political parties that they were and will, as a consequence, probably never appear again. The Delivery Man averaged a spectacularly low 1.10m at 9.30pm. Yes, that's right, a primetime ITV comedy (well, you know, 'allegedly') could only manage to pull in an audience of just over one million viewers. One trusts a second series of that is pretty unlikely. Channel Four's The Island With Bear Grylls continued with 2.11m at 9pm, while Ballot Monkeys was watched by nine hundred and ninety thousand viewers at 10pm. Channel Five's The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door had 1.20m at 8pm, before Autopsy brought in eight hundred and forty two thousand at 9pm. The ninety third showing of Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides appealed to eight hundred and twenty thousand on BBC3 at 8pm, while Jane The Virgin dropped to one hundred and fourteen thousand on E4 at 9pm.

Channel Four's Alternative Erection Night, hosted by David Mitchell and Jezza Paxman, beat ITV in the overnight ratings. An average of 1.11 million watched Channel Four in the first hour after the polls closed at 10pm, with eight hundred and ninety seven thousand tuning in to ITV's coverage. BBC1's Erection 2015, hosted by David Dimbleby, dominated the audience, with an average of 6.35 million for the opening hour. The first four hours of results brought in 4.35m. Earlier, Watchdog At Thirty was seen by 2.89m and Shark gathered 3.55m at 9pm. Sky News attracted three hundred and fifty six thousand punters to the first hour of its rolling coverage of the erection. ITV political editor Tom Bradby hosted the channel's erection broadcast for the first time, alongside newsreader and moderator of the TV leaders debate, Julie Etchingham. BBC1's programme saw Dimbleby host his final erection coverage, with help from Jeremy Vine, Sophie Raworth, Fiona Bruce, Emily Maitlis, Andrew Neil, Laura Kuenssberg and the BBC's political editor geet slaphead Nick Robinson.  Plus, just before the end in the wee small hours of Friday morning, a brief appearance by BBC erection veteran dear old David Butler who, this blogger must confess, he thought died years ago. Channel Four's alternative erection coverage had kicked off an hour earlier than BBC1 and ITV, and included special editions of the channel's The Last Leg, which averaged two million viewers. From 10pm the coverage included special Gogglebox inserts, featuring the show's regulars discussing political broadcasts such as last week's Question Time featuring party leaders. Earlier on Thursday evening, More4's broadcast of live play The Vote, starring Dame Judi Dench, Mark Gatiss and Catherine Tate, was seen by an average of five hundred and twenty three thousand. It followed the drama in a fictional polling station in real time in the last hour-and-a-half before the polls closed. The main coverage on Sky News was anchored by Adam Boulton and also offered viewers a behind-the-scenes look at its newsroom, broadcasting live coverage on Sky Arts 1 which attracted an average audience of six thousand. As voting ended, BBC2 comedy W1A attracted seven hundred and ninety thousand viewers, with six hundred thousand watching the film Kinky Boots on the channel from 10:30. Earlier, ITV's Tonight interested 2.50m at 7.30pm, while You've Been Framed! brought in but 1.69m at 8.30pm. Fraud Squad continued with 1.79m at 9pm. Channel Four's The World's Most Extreme Railways drew nine hundred and sixty thousand at 8pm. On BBC2, Coast Australia interested 1.05m at 7pm, before Inside The Factory: How Our Favourite Foods Are Made was seen by 2.16m and The Game gathered 1.23m at 9pm. An erection-free zone, Channel Five's The Last Days Of Jesus Christ attracted four hundred and ninety three thousand at 8pm while The Hotel Inspector reached 1.16m at 9pm. Stephen King's Bag Of Bones was watched by two hundred thousand viewers at 10pm.
To be fair to all concerned, it was a long night for those tasked with covering the erection but still, one moment was up there with the more unfortunate typing errors in TV history. A slip of the hand (one assumes it wasn't intentional) led the BBC to make a disparaging typo about the Scottish constituency of Paisley & Renfrewshire South. Although, to be honest, if you've ever been there ... Anyway, the seat had belonged to Labour's Douglas Alexander but he very lost as part of the SNP's landslide in Scotland. He was beaten by Mhaira Black who at twenty years of age is now the youngest MP since 1666. But, not on a school night, obviously.
Well, I suppose yer actual Keith Telly Topping should probably say something about the General Erection. And, that word is ...
Of course, as longer-term dear blog readers will be aware, this blogger has been predicting a Tory victory for ... ooo, about five years (albeit, he takes absolutely no pleasure whatsoever in that boast). Admittedly, I thought they'd have a minority but I always thought they'd be the single biggest party. Not necessarily due to them being so mad fuck-off brilliant (because, they really are not) but because of the paucity of the opposition that they faced. The Lib Dems lost the election when they got into bed with the Tories five years ago and allowed Clegg to sell out every principle they've ever held for a sniff - and, it was only a sniff - of power. That's something they won't be getting again in a hurry. Probably ever. I wonder if, on Friday morning, they thought it had all been worth it. Labour, on the other hand, also effectively lost the election five years ago. When they picked the wrong Milimolimandi brother.
One of the things you can say without fear of contradiction about people who've traditionally voted Liberal is that they are principled people. And, having spent the best part of four decades voting for a party that often had as few as six MPs, they needed to be. I liked them, personally. But, the second that the party, at Nick Clegg's urging, broke a set-in-stone manifesto promise to abolish student tuition fees as a price to get themselves a minor-partner role in the coalition government and meekly ran along after the Tories with their tongue hanging out like a pet dog was the moment that many committed, die-hard Liberals thought, 'you know what, fuck this. I'd sooner vote for someone else than have my integrity messed with.' And, as Clegg himself observed, they were punished for it on Thursday. The following five years, with Clegg doing increasingly brilliant impressions of Jack Lemmon in Glengarry Glen Ross were just waiting for the inevitable. As for Labour, Miliband was a lightweight - and, to use that brilliant regular West Wing insult, 'a hairdo'. I'm sure that he's a very nice man and is kind to his mother and cats and all that but, politically, he has been a liability to Labour from day one. Regardless of him looking like Mister Bean or the fact that he often gives the impression of a man being unable to tie his own shoelaces without help it's been embarrassing for the last five years to watch him being spanked, weekly, by Cameron in Prime Minister's Question Time. Cameron is no great debater, and worse, he's smug as fuck and everybody knows he is (including himself). But, he constantly wiped the floor in debates with Milimolimandi who always came across like the school sneak trying to get one over on the Head Boy. And almost always failed. His favourite - and constantly over-used - whiny-voiced phrase in debates, 'he [Cameron] just doesn't get it' could, equally, be applied to him and sounded like what it was, banal posturing from a political novice. Labour lost this election when they picked the wrong Miliband brother as leader. With David they might well still have lost but they would have been a much more credible opposition than Useless Ed's front bench.
     The New Statesman's Ian Leslie has provided a jolly useful guide to Ten Delusions About The Labour Defeat To Watch Out For (this blogger particularly enjoyed number six). Whilst the author John O'Farrell laid the blame for The Left's delusions where it firmly belongs, at the door of Twitter. Which, according to the Gruniad Morning Star is The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things. Whereas, in reality, it isn't.
Within a few hours of the final results, Milimolimandi, Cleggy, Nigel Farago and Horrible George Galloway were all, effectively, history and had quit as the leaders of their respective parties (although, in Horrible Galloway's case, his party was, effectively, a one man operation anyway). Less night of the long knives and more morning of the machine gun as it were. Frankly, we should do this more often.
Still, if there's one thing that the General Erection proved beyond all question, it's that democracy does work. Evidence? Well, Farago lost, for a kick off.
Keith Telly Topping would love to be able to say it was From The North wot won it but, I think it's only fair to suggest the voters of Thanet South deserve a jolly good pat on the back for their own, significant, part in this highlight of British erection history which was almost as funny as David Mellor's send-off at Putney in '97. Never in the course of human history have so many laughed at the misfortunes of so few.
     Though, here's a horribly ironic thought for you, dear blog reader - many people (this blogger thoroughly included) partied like it was 1997 when UKiP ended up with just one MP. If, however, they had done even just slightly better in terms of the national share of the vote (maybe fifteen per cent rather than thirteen) they would've possibly got half-a-dozen seats but, the knock-on effect may well have eaten into the Tory vote in many constituencies and we could well have ended up with the hung parliament that almost everyone was predicting, pre-erection. So, whilst seeing one lot of right-wing windbags failing to shake the foundations of British politics was very pleasing, in a round-about way, it did another lot of right-wing windbags a massive favour. It truly is an ill wind that blows nobody any good, is it not?
Still, back to the good news column, odious full-of-her-own-importance smear Esther McVey extremely lost her seat. That was effing hilarious.
So, the Tories won, dear blog reader. Therefore, that's the BBC's future effectively fucked. The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Javid has already said, publicly, that he wants to see the Beeb's licence fee pinned; which will mean further cuts in services. What the government will be faced with, virtually straight away as one of their first orders of business, is to get into negotiations over the next Royal Charter extension. And, that's where the problems will really start for my beloved BBC. In many ways, from a purely selfish point of view, this blogger's favourite show Doctor Who's position has actually been strengthened by the result of the erection since the BBC are going to need every penny they can get. And, given that they're in the process of losing one of only a handful of formats they make which accrues a decent amount of income for them (Top Gear, notwithstanding any reformatting they try to come up with next year) the other ones - Who, Strictly, Sherlock et cetera - become even more vital now. But, for this blogger, the erection result signals that in the next eighteen months to two years, we're going to see BBC4 go the way of BBC3, then probably local radio after that. I told a friend who works in local radio, when he was sneering a few weeks about about Clarkson's departure, that he'd just, effectively, seen the preparation of his P45 for about eighteen months time as a direct result of the BBC losing Top Gear's massive income. I think last night's result has only strengthened that likelihood. Many people within the Beeb exist in their own private little fiefdoms and believe that what goes on in other parts of the organisation has no affect on them. They about to find out just how very wrong they are. The BBC will still exist, in some form, the licence fee will probably still be with us, in some form, for another five or maybe even ten years, but, this is probably the beginning of the end of the BBC as we know it. It was fun while it lasted.
      Oh, and the NHS is probably in trouble as well. Next ...

As for Scotland's 'victory' in rejecting all of the major parties in favour of the nationalists, well great. Superbly done. For all the good it's going to do you under a Tory government. A rather famous TV industry employee whom this blogger has had some interaction with rather took Keith Telly Topping thoroughly to task earlier in the year when I cracked a mild - if, admittedly, somewhat puerile - joke about how rubbish the Scottish football team are. 'Let's see if you're all laughing at Scotland on 8 May,' he crowed. I asked then, and I ask again now, what exactly we all have to be so grateful to Scotland for? What are they going to do, buy the bunting for the Tories victory parade?
Final erection thought: A friend of yer actual Keith Telly Topping from the US said on erection night, that he was 'sick at heart' at the political news coming out the Britain. Nowhere near as sick as those of us who have to live here, Ben, mate. Sadly, anybody with half-a-head (and, for what it's worth, this blogger does have half-a-head) saw this coming five years ago due to the paucity of opposition they faced. Any belief that the Tories might not get back in was, simply, denial on all of our parts. Ultimately, we probably get the governments we deserve. As this piece from the Gruniad, ably, proves.
Still, the sun came up again on Friday morning same as usual. This blogger had his first trip to the pool in a week early doors. I managed twenty six lengths with some ease an'all which, frankly, surprised the hell out of me. Then, it was the usual routine - breakfast, a schlep down to Morrison's to get some prawns for us dinner, into town to the bank to see how much money I haven't got, bought a pair of new shows and came home. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping then spent much of the rest of the day contemplating the inherently ludicrous nature of existence. That, and watching repeats of Time Team on Discovery History. That said, the grass on the once beautifully manicured lawns of Stately Telly Topping Manor was looking as high as an elephant's eye so yer actual got out the - gold-plated - Telly Topping strimmer for the first time in, probably a couple of years, and, you know, strimmed like a big ... strimming .. .thing. Successfully, as well (again, trust me, this surprised me as much as, I imagine, its surprises you). But the problem was that thereafter, combined with the exertions of the morning's swimming, Keith Telly Topping ached in places he didn't know he could ache in.
      So, tell me younglings, Keith Telly Topping is really not sure about the current 'I saw Lon Chaney Jnr walkin' with The Queen' look he's sporting. Comments? Suggestions?
I've come out of the back of the 'it's pure dead itchy, so it is' phase. But, I'm still in two minds about the facial fungus myself. It's always been something of a family tradition that beards 'don't suit' the Telly Toppings. Mama Telly Topping always used to say 'it makes your face look dirty, our Keith Telly Topping' and I can kind of see where she was coming from. But ... I dunno, I think the grey hairs actually make yer actual look rather distinguished in a sort of Stewart Grainger type area. If, you know, old.

Anyway, back to the ratings ... Have I Got Erection News for You was Friday's highest-rated overnight show outside of soaps. Hosted by Jo Brand, the topical panel show was seen by an average audience of 4.49 million at 9.30pm. It was preceded by a Question Time Erection Special with 3.16 million from 8.30pm. That bloody erection; you can't get away from it even when it's over. BBC1's evening kicked off with 4.14 million for The ONE Show Erection Special at 7pm, while 3.12 million stuck around for A Question Of Sport Erection immediately after. Slightly later than usual, The Graham Norton Erection Show, which featured guests such as Miranda Hart and Rupert Everett, was watched by 2.74 million at 11pm. On ITV, Weekend Escapes With Warwick Davis was seen by 2.56 million at 8pm, while Slow Train Through Africa With Griff Rhys Jones picked up an average audience of 2.21 million at 9pm. BBC2's evening began with seven hundred and seventy thousand for Iolo's Great Welsh Parks at 7pm, followed by nine hundred and ten thousand for The Cenotaph: Highlights at 7.30pm. An Island Parish: Falklands continued with 1.52 million at 8pm, Gardeners' World attracted an evening high for the channel of 1.95 million at 8.30pm, while Britain's Greatest Generation was seen by 1.13 million at 9pm. With guests including Judy Murray and Martina Navratilova, The Clare Balding Show rounded out the evening with seven hundred and seventy thousand at 10pm. An increased week-on-week audience of 3.17 million tuned in to Gogglebox at 9pm on Channel Four. Marvel's Agents of SHIELD played to eight hundred and forty thousand at 8pm, while Danny Dyer and Anna Kendrick were guests on Alan Carr: Chatty Man which achieved ratings of 1.31 million at 10pm. Secrets Of Great British Castles dropped to seven hundred and three thousand at 8pm on Channel Five. It was followed by eight hundred and eighty thousand NCIS: New Orleans at 9pm and nine hundred and forty four thousand for NCIS at 10pm.

Britain's Got Toilets continued to dominate Saturday overnight ratings with an audience of more than 9.6 million. The ITV lack-of-talent competition appealed to 9.61m from 8pm. Ninja Warrior UK managed 4.16m earlier in the evening, while Play To The Whistle once again managed to chuck away a lead-in audience of near ten million, being watched by a mere 2.64m from 9.20pm. On BBC1, the latest episode of drama flop Atlantis episode drew 2.63m from 7.35pm. The National Lottery attracted 1.81m, before VE Day Seventy: A Party To Remember averaged 4.76m from 8.30pm. BBC2's Young Dancer 2015 coverage was watched by nine hundred and twenty thousand punters between 7pm and 9.05pm. A broadcast of the award-winning film Salmon Fishing In The Yemen had an overnight audience of eight hundred and seventy one thousand from 9.15pm. On Channel Four, The World's Most Extreme ... continued with five hundred and thirty three thousand viewers in the 8pm hour, followed by Russell Crowe's Robin Hood movie which averaged eight hundred and seven thousand from 9pm. On Channel Five, the latest episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation attracted an audience of nine hundred and forty four thousand viewers.

The BAFTA Television Awards were up marginally on last year's ratings, according to overnight figures for Sunday. The Graham Norton-hosted ceremony brought in 5.26m for BBC1 between 8pm and 10pm. Earlier, Countryfile topped the overnight ratings with 6.05m at 7pm. On BBC2, Britain's Greatest Generation was watched by five hundred and eighty thousand at 7pm, before Hunters Of The South continued with 1.18m at 8pm and Wellington: The Iron Duke Unmasked interested 1.07m. Modern Times followed with seven hundred thousand punters at 10pm. ITV's new period drama Home Fires fell marginally for its second episode with 4.64m at 9pm. Earlier, Z-List Celebrity Squares failed to entertain a meagre 1.71m at 7.15pm and Sunday Night At The Palladium gathered 3.53m at 8pm. On Channel Four, Three In A Bed averaged five hundred and seven thousand at 7pm, while For The Love Of Cars continued with 1.26m at 8pm. The network première of Prometheus had an audience of 1.46m at 9pm. Grown Ups and Safe were Channel Five's duel Sunday evening film selections, with the former bringing in 1.23m at 8pm and the latter being watched by five hundred and eighty seven thousand at 9pm.

And, on the subject of the BATFAs, huge congratulations from all at From The North to team-Sherlock for a very well-deserved victory. Somebody's going to have to strengthen the Moffat family home's mantelpiece, one imagines as it must be groaning under the weight of all them BAFTAs.
Here's the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Four programmes for the week-ending Sunday 3 May 2015:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sat ITV - 11.12m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.04m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.25m
4 Inspector George Gently - Wed BBC1 - 6.91m
5 Peter Kay's Car Share - Wed BBC1 - 6.85m
6 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.33m
7 Safe House - Mon ITV - 6.12m
8 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.54m
9 Home Fires - Sun ITV - 5.50m*
10 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.08m
11 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 4.93m
12 The C-Word - Sun BBC1 - 4.92m
13 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.89m
14 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.63m
15 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.60m
16 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.50m
17 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.35m
18 Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.31m
19 Ninja Warrior UK - Sat ITV - 4.25m*
20 Twenty Four Hours In The Past - Tues BBC1 - 4.15m
21 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 4.03m
22 Match of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 3.87m
23 Question Times - Thurs BBC1 - 3.77m
24 Peb - Tues BBC1 - Mon BBC1 - 3.71m
These figures, as usual, do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. ITV's woes continue. Spectacular flops Give A Pet A Home (2.31m), Play To The Whistle (2.25m) and Weekend Escapes With Warwick Davis (2.23m) continue to provide more entertainment via their risibly low ratings figures than anything in the series' themselves. Much-hyped Spitting Image rip-off Newzoids continued to shed viewers faster than big, hard shedding thing. Neither it, nor the wretched, laughless alleged 'comedy' The Delivery Man's managed a consolidated audience of more than two million punters and didn't even make it into ITV's top thirty broadcasts of the week. BBC2's most-watched programme was The Game (2.59m) followed by coverage of The World Snooker Championship (1.94m), Iceland: Land Of Ice & Fire (1.73m) and W1A (1.60m). Aside from Gogglebox, Channel Four's highest-rated shows were The Island With Bear Grylls (2.90m), Love It Or List It (1.88m) and the Dispatches documentary The Secrets of Sports Direct (2.10m). Channel Five's top-rated broadcasts were the channel's quartet of popular US drama imports CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (1.64m), the final episode of The Mentalist (1.56m), Gotham (1.53m) and NCIS: New Orleans (1.29m). Sky Atlantic's Game Of Thrones was the mutichannels most-watched broadcast of the week (1.98m), followed by the opening episode of Sky Living's The Enfield Haunting (1.87m) and E4's The Big Bang Theory (1.61m). Foyle's War was ITV3's most-watched show with six hundred and seventy eight thousand viewers. Inspector Montalbano was, again, BBC4's highest-rated programme (six hundred and twenty seven thousand). Wild China drew five hundred and eighty thousand, Storyville: Himmler - The Decent One (five hundred and nineteen thousand) and The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler (four hundred and seventeen thousand). BBC3's weekly ratings list was topped, as usual, not by a programme they made themselves but, rather by the six hundred and twelfth broadcast of the movie Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull (nine hundred and thirty six thousand). ITV4's most watched broadcast was coverage of the Tour De Yorkshire cycling (two hundred and eighty four thousand). 5USA's The Mysteries Of Laura attracted four hundred and seventy six thousand. Aside from The Enfield Haunting Sky Living's most watched programmes were The Blacklist (eight hundred and eight thousand) and Elementary (seven hundred and ninety four thousand). Sky 1's The Flash brought in 1.12m. On Dave, a repeat of last year's Would I Lie To You? Christmas episode drew three hundred and fifty four thousand. Drama's latest New Tricks repeat was watched by four hundred and thirty six thousand. Watch's Grimm had an audience of five hundred and eighty eight thousand. FOX's latest episode of NCIS was watched by seven hundred and twenty three thousand. On Sky Sports News, Gillette Soccer Saturday drew four hundred and seventy eight thousand. An episode of Discovery History's repeat run of Time Team pulled in twenty two thousand viewers. True Horror With Anthony Head had fifteen thousand. The Discovery Channel's most watched shows were Gold Rush (four hundred and seventy eight thousand) and Wheeler Dealers (two hundred and ninety seven thousand). CI's Killer Kids attracted forty nine thousand viewers whilst ID's Murder Comes To Town drew seventy seven thousand viewers. National Geographic's Car SOS was watched by one hundred and sixteen thousand. Yesterday's highest-rating shows were Coast (two hundred and eighteen thousand) and Secrets Of The Bible (one hundred and eighty six thousand).

Lift doors designed to look like the TARDIS have been installed at new police headquarters in Durham. Durham police tweeted a picture of the new doors, apologising that 'time travel was not an optional extra.' A spokesman said customising the lifts showed the force could be 'professional and still have a sense of humour.' Staff moved into the new fourteen million quid building next to its old base at Aykley Heads in Durham last Autumn. The tweet attracted one whinger saying the doors were a complete and utter 'waste of taxpayers money.' Which, to be fair, may be true but, personally, this blogger would sooner see the money spent on something like this rather than, for example, really big nasty rubber truncheons like the South African filth used to use back in the Apartheid era. Just sayin'. The six lifts were covered with vinyl wraps, not hand painted, and the cost had been 'pretty modest', the spokesman for Durham Constabulary said. Personalising the headquarters was 'a bit quirky' and 'a talking point' for anyone who came into the building, he added.
The first episode of the next, thirteenth, series of this blogger's beloved Qi was recorded in London earlier this week. Maladies -the first of the 'M' series, features returns for Wor Geet Canny Ross Noble and Lucy Porter and a first appearance by Matt Lucas. A total of sixteen episodes are scheduled to go before the camera between now and June with an initial broadcast date of 4 September having recently been announced.
Polly Hill, the BBC executive responsible for Wolf Hall, Poldark and The Missing, has been appointed the new controller of BBC drama commissioning, one of the most powerful jobs in the UK television industry. Hill succeeds the very excellent Ben Stephenson, who is leaving to join JJ Abrams' Bad Robot production company in the US. Hill, who is currently head of independent drama at the BBC, has overseen productions including BBC1's Poldark, The Missing, Ripper Street and Death In Paradise and Wolf Hall, The Honourable Woman and The Shadow Line for BBC2. Announcing Polly's appointment on Thursday, the BBC's director of television Danny Cohen said that Hill had an 'exceptional track record for delivering outstanding drama. From Wolf Hall to Poldark and The Missing, Polly's work speaks for itself and is driven by her passion for writing and storytelling,' he said. 'BBC drama is in wonderful shape. We are determined to keep developing our reputation for dramatic range and quality, working with the very best established and emerging writers and being home to the most ambitious and risky projects.' Hill said that BBC drama had 'thrived' under Stephenson and was 'an incredible place and I would like to personally thank him. I look forward to steering BBC Drama into the future and building on this success; continuing to be the home of the most original and ambitious storytelling across a range of drama that is unique to the BBC.' Polly joined the BBC in 2005 after working as a producer on Gwyneth Hughes' drama Cherished. She previously worked at Channel Four where she oversaw the first series of Andrew Lincoln comedy drama Teachers and started her career working for the late Verity Lambert, before getting her first script editing job on EastEnders. The BBC said POlly would work closely with Stephenson over the coming days as she begins her new role.

Jezza Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond have, allegedly, got closer to signing a deal with ITV. The former Top Gear trio and executive producer Andy Wilman are reported to have met with ITV's programme chief Peter Fincham on Wednesday evening, according to alleged 'claims' made in that good friend of Top Gear the Gruniad Morning Star. So, probably a load of lies, then. After Clarkson's Top Gear contract was not renewed, May and Hammond declined to sign new BBC deals. Since then, ITV has been named as the most likely channel to pick up the trio for a Top Gear-like format. The meeting allegedly took place at Fincham's London home, with ITV's director of entertainment and comedy Elaine Bedell also attending. However, ITV has remained coy regarding to the reports. A spokesman said: 'We haven't commented and aren't planning to comment on the continual Top Gear speculation which is swirling around the television industry.' If the three presenters were to sign a deal with ITV, they would not be allowed to use the Top Gear name or branding, which are BBC copyright. They have also been linked with a move to on-demand service Netflix, as the show has proved popular in over two hundred countries.
BBC1 is going to be bringing whales, dolphins and seals into our living rooms with its huge new television event Big Blue Live. The three-part series - which will be hosted by Matt Baker, Liz Bonnin, Steve Backshall and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall - will be broadcast live from Monterey Bay in California, a location home to a huge variety of wildlife. The BBC explained that the show will follow what happens when animals such as blue whales, humpback whales, elephant seals, dolphins, sea otters and great white sharks gather off the coast of the Bay. Many of them make tough journeys to reach it, but will there be enough food for them when they arrive? Fearnley-Whittingstall is also expected to focus on how the animals have flourished after hunting was stopped along the Californian coast. Baker and Bonnin will host the series live from Monterey Bay Aquarium, getting up close to some of the 'cutest' wildlife, while Backshall will be stationed on a boat in the middle of the bay looking for whales and dolphins live. Or, indeed, dead ones. The team are also keen to spot some blue whales, and will try to track them down by heading into the air, joining scientists who tag them, and learning about how shipping companies and biologists are trying to avoid deadly collisions. Viewers can also get rolling updates online at the Big Blue Live Digital - Never Miss A Moment webpage, as the team will post sightings of various animals there. 'I'm so excited about this,' Baker said. 'I think the BBC's Natural History Unit is the finest in the world and combining my love of live television and bringing the outdoors into our homes, this is an adventure that I can't wait to start. It's a super team and with a cast of whales, sharks, sea otters and other amazing creatures, it'll be a thrilling watch. We will bring you everything we can during our time there and capture some incredible moments that viewers would never normally see.' Meanwhile, BBC1's controller Charlotte Moore said: 'In this ambitious television first, BBC1 will take viewers on an extraordinary oceanic journey and get up close and personal with marine life above and beneath the water. It promises to be an unmissable live TV event showcasing a spectacular display of sea creatures rarely seen in such close proximity.'

The forthcoming Supergirl series' star David Harewood has described Melissa Benoist as 'a fantastic pick' for the title role. Harewood plays Hank Henshaw in the CBS comic book adaptation, which just secured a series order at the network. He revealed that fans can expect to see Supergirl 'flying and kicking serious butt' when the show launches in the US, likely this fall.
CBS is reportedly planning to end the run of its veteran crime series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation with a two-hour TV movie. According to Deadline, the network is currently discussing how best to end the successful crime drama, which wrapped up its fifteenth season in February. While the idea of producing a TV movie to wrap up the series is apparently a popular one within CBS, another option reportedly being explored is the possibility of a short, limited-run final season of six episodes. Questions about the future of long-running procedural drama first began when CSI's episode order was reduced and star Ted Danson accepted a role in Fargo.
In other Crime Scene Investigation-related news, Deadline predicts that the franchise's most recent spin-off, CSI: Cyber, will probably get renewed. However, it 'may undergo some retooling.'

NCIS's twelfth series ends its current run with 'a major plot development' involving a tragic death of a prominent character and the possibility of returning a lost character from past seasons. The show resumed on 28 April and the fan-base has, apparently been 'buzzing' with excitement (rather than, you know, drugs) at the crescendo of events since it returned to screens. The much-rumoured death of a character was confirmed by Emily Wickersham. 'It was a shock to me, and I think it will be a shock to the fans,' she reveals in her interview about the finale with TV Guide. She also believes that the death holds a special emotional appeal to people who have experienced losing a loved one or someone close to them.
A new series of The Muppet Show has been commissioned by US TV network ABC, promising a 'more adult' take on much-loved characters. The prime-time show will be filmed in a 'contemporary, documentary-style' - whatever the Hell that means - and will 'explore their personal lives, relationships and even disappointments.' Oh Christ, this sounds wretched. The Big Bang Theory's producer Bill Prady is behind the series. The recent pilot got a standing ovation at an ABC screening last month, according to Entertainment Weekly. The Muppets, created by puppeteer Jim Henson, first appeared on television in the 1950s, getting their own show in the 1970s. They recently made a return to the big screen in 2011's The Muppets and 2014's Muppets Most Wanted, featuring Ricky Gervais. Their TV comeback series is one of several new comedies picked up by ABC after the US pilot season.
The US cookery show The Taste featuring Nigella Lawson - she has her knockers - has been extremely axed by ABC after two series, following a dramatic ratings slump. The cooking competition lost more than half of its viewers, falling from highs of seven million punters to less than three million on New Year's Day. Channel Four axed the UK version of The Taste last year after just one series. Because it was shit and no one was watching it. Other shows cancelled by ABC include Forever, supernatural drama Resurrection and new sitcom Cristela. Industry website Deadline had warned earlier this year that the future of The Taste was 'up in the air.' Starring alongside Lawson were chefs Anthony Bourdain, Ludo Lefebvre and Marcus Samuelsson. The show saw cooks trying to impress the experts with spoonfuls of food. Lawson's UK TV cookery career remains intact however - BBC2 recently confirmed she would return for new series, Simply Nigella, later this year, her first on the channel since 2012's Nigellissima. Marvel's Agents of Shield has been renewed for a third season, while Agent Carter - starring British actress Hayley Atwell - will return for a second. Other hit shows including Grey's Anatomy, Nashville, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder have all been renewed for another season, according to Variety.
Tina Fey gave David Letterman the best possible goodbye gift during her final appearance on The Late Show. The Thirty Rock star talked in her interview about how she would never have to wear anything nearly as fancy as the blue dress she had on for any other talk show. 'It’s very hard work,' Fey stated. 'I don't know if you're aware of the contraptions under here. It's almost medical.' But more importantly, Fey said, she dresses like this specifically out of respect for Letterman. 'What am I gonna do, dress up for Jimmy?' she asked, referring to former SNL co-star and current Tonight Show host, Jimmy Fallon. 'That's creepy, he's like my brother. I'm not gonna wear special underwear for James Corden. That's not gonna happen. The next time you see me, I'll be playing charades in a slanket.' Then, in honour of Letterman's retirement, Fey had a very special gift prepared – her dress as the comedienne stepped out of the restricting fashion statement to reveal some pretty fancy underwear – black spanx, with the words 'Bye Dave!' emblazoned on the front. And 'Last Dress Ever!' on the bum.
Of course, some scowling waste-of-space arsehole at the Gruniad wasn't amused by all this malarkey. They really are a piece of work, those Middle Class hippy Communists tossers.

Yer actual Martin Freeman has joined the cast of Marvel's Captain America: Civil War. It is not yet known which character Marty will play in the movie - the third instalment of the superhero franchise - which is due for release in May 2016. Marvel said that they had been 'consistently impressed' and were 'honoured and excited to have such a talented actor join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.' Marty, of course, won an EMMY and a BAFTA for playing John Watson in Sherlock. You knew that, right? Captain America: Civil War will pick up the story from the end of current blockbuster Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
Meanwhile, Joss Whedon has denied leaving Twitter over feminist criticism of his latest movie, Avengers: Age Of Ultron. He told Buzzfeed News that, in fact, he needed to go to 'a quiet place' to focus on writing, adding that Twitter is 'the least quiet place I've ever been in my life. It's like taking the bar exam at Coachella,' he said. 'I really need to concentrate on this!' Some critics - not many, but they're quite loud - have labelled Joss's portrayal of female characters, including Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, as sexist. The criticism came as something of a surprise to many media observers - as the writer/director had previously been praised for creating strong female leads in his TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse. He said, 'I saw a lot of people say, "Well, the social justice warriors destroyed one of their own!" It's like, nope. That didn't happen.' Whedon also denied the accusation that he quit Twitter because of specific criticism from campaigning group Feminist Frequency. 'Literally the second person to write me to ask if I was okay when I dropped out was [Feminist Frequency founder] Anita [Sarkeesian],' he said.
Idris Elba has broken the 'Flying Mile' record for his new TV series. The Luther actor surpassed Sir Malcolm Campbell's land speed record on Pendine Sands in South Wales over the weekend. Filming his four-part Discovery Channel series Idris Elba: No Limits, the actor reached speeds of more than one hundred and eighty mph. 'I'm absolutely elated to have broken the "Flying Mile" at Pendine Sands,' Elba said after his achievement. 'It's an honour to have taken on the challenge, and to successfully follow in the footsteps of the illustrious Sir Malcolm Campbell.' Campbell set the record of 174.8 mph nearly ninety years ago in his iconic Napier-Campbell Bluebird vehicle. Elba drove a Bentley Continental GT Speed, with his record being verified by the UK Timing Association. No Limits will be broadcast on Discovery in the summer and will see Elba explore his love for drag racing, rally driving and aerobatics.
A film crew making a documentary about the controversial 2022 World Cup due to take place in Qatar has, allegedly, been arrested and interrogated by that country's authorities. The team was denied permission to leave for five days and also had its equipment destroyed and footage deleted, the Daily Torygraph has claimed. ARD journalist Florian Bauer and his team had been documenting the treatment of migrant workers for their film The Selling Of Football: Sepp Blatter & The Power of FIFA. Bauer and his cameraman, camera assistant and driver arrived in Qatar on 26 March, were alleged to have been arrested the following day and were held for fourteen hours. The reporter did not have a permit to film in Doha and the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy claimed this was the reason for the detention and destruction of footage. 'The journalist and the film crew concerned were not arrested as a result of reporting on allegations surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar or FIFA. Any suggestion to the contrary is explicitly false,' a statement read. 'Any media outlet wishing to film in Qatar requires a film permit to do so, as is common in many countries. Any working journalist who has visited Qatar will be aware of this process and understand filming in specific locations without permission runs the risk of legal repercussions. The journalist in question has visited Qatar several times before. Furthermore, during the same period a second film crew from the same German network also visited Qatar, gaining access to numerous locations and stakeholders throughout the country. To our knowledge they encountered no such problems.' Bauer, who had been granted permission to film on past occasions, claimed that his applications for a permit were rejected by World Cup organisers and ignored or denied by government agencies. 'I can only assume that this time they thought, "We don't want to have the same story in terms of labour camp-visits,"' he told the newspaper. 'There were interrogations by people from the intelligence service who said if I didn't co-operate with them, it would work badly for me.' He added: 'Everything was deleted: phone, hard drives. A laptop got destroyed, got opened by I don't know who.'

The Who - a popular beat combo, you might have heard of them - have been confirmed as Glastonbury Festival's final headliner, closing the event on Sunday 28 June. The rock band join Foo Fighters and Kanye West at the top of the bill for the sold out festival next month. Roger Daltrey said The Who would 'close this year's event with a bang.' The band will also headline the British Summertime Hyde Park festival with a show on Friday 26 June, supported by Paul Weller, Kaiser Chiefs, Johnny Marr and Gaz Coombes. Weller will also play before The Who at Glastonbury, in the penultimate Sunday night slot on The Pyramid Stage. Mod-tastic. The band said they would take the audience on 'an amazing journey' (he!) through The Who's back catalogue. 'It's great to be ending this part of a fifty-year career at the most prestigious and respected music festival in the world,' said Roge. 'We'll do our best to close this year's event with a bang, unless of course the fireworks get wet!' The Who made their first and, to date only, Glastonbury headline appearance in 2007, when they also closed the festival. At the time Daltrey likened the band's performance, 'after three days of horrendous weather', to the Battle of Passchendaele. 'The conditions were horrendous and you think no one is going to stay to the end. It was like the seventies when the crowds got bigger,' Daltry told the Sun.
Channel Four News economics editor Paul Mason is, very much, a chap after yer actual Keith telly Topping'sown heart. Paul has admitted to his shady past as a 'leftie activist' – although he says that his politics are now 'very complicated.' Ditto, matey. But Paul is equally well known as a music fan – he wrote a feature for the Observer last year recounting his experiences going to Northern Soul all-nighters at the Wigan Casino and also presented a, quite superb, episode of The Culture Show on the same subject. So what better way to keep depressed spirits up on erection day – and avoid breaching any media rules – than tweeting a countdown of one hundred Northern Soul masterpieces? Paul kicked off with 'Contact' by The Three Degrees. Tasty.
The actor Nigel Terry has died at the age of sixty nine. Younger dear blog readers will probably know Nigel from his performance as General Cobb in the 2008 Doctor Who story The Doctor's Daughter. Nigel had a long and distinguished career both on stage and screen and worked extensively for both the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is probably best known to the wider public for playing King Arthur in John Boorman's 1981 cult movie Excalibur. Nigel was admired by all who worked with him and revered by his contemporaries, fully deserving that over-used description an actor's actor, according to his obituary in the Gruniad. He made a sensational film début in Anthony Harvey's Oscar-winning The Lion In Winter (1968), one of this blogger's favourite movies. As a drooling young Prince John, Nigel was in no way fazed by playing scenes opposite Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn. But, unlike his fellow débutants on that particular film – Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton – Nigel didn't graduate to Hollywood but, instead, spent the majority of his career working with mavericks of the British cinema. His other movie roles included playing the title role in Derek Jarman's Caravaggio. He worked with Jarman again on several occasions - in 1988's The Last Of England and, later, in War Requiem, Edward II and the director's final movie, Blue. Nigel also appeared in Richard Loncraine's cult 1974 movie Slade In Flame. On television one of Nigel's most memorable early roles was in Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) - magnificent in a scene-stealing role as Harry the hippy agoraphobic painter in the 1970 episode Someone Just Walked Over My Grave - who has dialogue like 'I don't dig Rembrandt. He's a drag, man!' He also appeared in Boy Meets Girl, Agatha Christie's Marple, The Orchid House, Covington Cross, Sea Of Souls, [spooks], Foyle's War, Holby City, Mortimer's Law, Resort To Murder, the Highlander TV series, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Denys Villiers, Cutting It, The Merry Wives Of Windsor, Sherlock Holmes and his first starring role, 1967's Kenilworth. He also had another memorable - and sympathetic - role as the aging hitman Sam Jacobs in the two-part Waking The Dead story Anger Management. Otherwise, Nigel worked mostly in theatre. He was prominent on the fringe of both the National Theatre and RSC, often working with fellow mavericks such as the director Max Stafford-Clark and the playwright Howard Barker. He played Byron in the first revival in 1988 of Howard Brenton's Bloody Poetry, at the Royal Court; he was, said a fellow cast member, Sian Thomas, 'beautiful, turbulent [and] wild.' As a student, Nigel reportedly drove a flatmate to distraction with his protracted silences at the breakfast table. 'I can't stand your fucking moods!' the flatmate allegedly exclaimed one morning. Another silence of ten minutes followed before Nigel muttered 'moods?' He was always going to be an artist of some sort from a young age. His ancestry was English, Irish and Huguenot. Nigel was said to be the first baby born in Bristol after the end of the second world war, the only child of Frank Terry, an RAF pilot and his wife, Doreen. The family moved to Truro, in Cornwall, where Nigel's father worked as a senior probation officer. Nigel developed his passion for acting, and painting, while at Truro school, joined the National Youth Theatre in his holidays and worked briefly in forestry and as a petrol pump attendant before training at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London in 1963. He made a stage début at the Shaw Theatre in North London, playing Evans in Willis Hall's The Long & The Short & The Tall and Tybalt in Romeo & Juliet. After seasons in rep in Oxford and at the Bristol Old Vic, he appeared in controversial new plays at the Royal Court, including the premières of Edward Bond's The Fool (1975) and Caryl Churchill's Light Shining In Buckinghamshire (1976). At the RSC in the late 1970s he was Soranzo in 'Tis Pity She's A Whore and Casca in Julius Caesar. He featured in a notable season at the National in 1981, playing the lead in Molière's Don Juan as a brazen but unflustered Spanish nobleman, as if, said the critic Michael Billington, 'David Niven were playing Tamburlaine.' He also played a laconic Rakitin in Turgenev's A Month In The Country, opposite Francesca Annis. Both shows were directed by Peter Gill. In Barker's Victory (1983), Nigel was Charles II and in The Bite Of The Night (1988), directed by Danny Boyle, he was 'the last classics teacher at a defunct university' who goes in search of Homer, Eros and Helen of Troy. Also in the 1980s he led a brilliant production of Dostoevsky's The Possessed directed by Yuri Lyubimov at The Almeida and, for the RSC, played a sinister Bosola in The Duchess Of Malfi, with Harriet Walter in the title role, and a great double of Shylock and Benedick, opposite Fiona Shaw, on a touring production of The Merchant Of Venice and Much Ado About Nothing. In his last major film, Wolfgang Petersen's Troy (2004), Nigel had the joy of playing a Trojan high priest and adviser to his old friend Peter O'Toole's King Priam. Nigel moved from London back to Cornwall in 1993 and spent the rest of his days there in a cottage near St Ives, partly to be near his parents during their last years but also to enjoy the beauty of the cliffs and sea.

And, more sad news, Hot Chocolate's lead singer the very excellent Errol Brown has died aged seventy one. Errol had liver cancer and died at his home in the Bahamas. Hot Chocolate, with their attractive brand of disco-pop, had hit singles in more than fifty countries worldwide, including their most famous number, 1975's 'You Sexy Thing' - which Brown co-wrote - 'It Started With A Kiss', the brooding torch-song 'Emma', 'So You Win Again', 'No Doubt About It' and 'Every One's A Winner'. Errol was made an MBE in 2003 and received an Ivor Novello award for his outstanding contribution to British music in 2004. A statement on Wednesday confirmed the singer's death. 'Errol was a lover of life and obviously music. I never went into his home, car or a hotel room without music playing. Errol was a Gentle Man and was a personal friend of mine who will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him,' his manager Phil Dale continued. 'His greatest legacy is that his music will live on.' Errol was born in Jamaica but moved to the UK with his mother in the mid-1950s when he was twelve. His musical career began in 1969 when he and some friends sent a demo, a reggae version of 'Give Peace A Chance', to its author the alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon. 'We all laughed about it,' Errol told BBC Breakfast in 2009. 'Amazingly, a week later I got a call to say John Lennon approved it and wanted to sign the band to the Apple label - and that's how we began.' Errol said they were originally named by Mavis Smith working in Apple's press office as The Hot Chocolate Band, which was later shortened. Record producer and hit-maker Mickie Most signed Errol and his friend and bandmate Tony Wilson as songwriters towards the end of 1969, championing Brown's writing and singing. Most recorded their songs with Mary Hopkins, Julie Felix and Herman's Hermits and signed Hot Chocolate to his own RAK label. The band released their next single 'Love Is Life' in 1970 and the song became a top ten hit. Thereafter, the group had at least one hit every year between 1970 and 1984, making Hot Chocolate the only group in the UK to have a hit for fifteen consecutive years. In 1985, Brown left the band to spend more time with his family. But he made a comeback in the 1990s with two solo tours. Errol embarked on a farewell tour in 2009, telling Breakfast he had 'done all [I] wanted to do. I'm getting a little older now. It's hard to pack the suitcase and get back on the road again. But the music will be there, so that won't go away.' In a message on his website after the tour, he thanked fans for coming out in such large numbers to show their love and support. 'The atmosphere at the concerts were the best ever,' he wrote, 'and you played your part in making me realise just how wrong it would have been to have just drifted away and not say goodbye. The love I felt at each concert will stay in my heart forever.' Errol is survived by his wife Ginette and daughters, Colette and Leonie.

So, anyway, for the post general erection Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's former President George Clinton and the some parliamentary types. If only it were dear blog reader, if only it were.

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