Friday, August 07, 2015

Now I Am Beyond Belief

Want to see a new picture from the series nine premiere of Doctor Who, The Magician's Apprentice, dear blog reader? Of course y'do. The image, released by the BBC on Tuesday, sees The Doctor (yer actual Peter Capaldi) and Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman her very self) running from an explosion. Tasty.
BBC America wasn't packed with panels at the Television Critics Association press tour last week (only two shows), but it was full of announcements for new series in 2016 and a slate of series 'in development.' For the former, there was the political thriller Undercover, starring Sophie Okonedo and Adrian Lester and the 'contemporary mystery' Thirteen. The latter included projects such as BBC's second attempt at Dirk Gently, from Max Landis (which will hopefully be better than the last one), an untitled project with both actors and civilians from writer/director Sebastian Silva, the story of an American woman who finds herself trapped within Tokyo's Shibuya underworld in Moths and film-maker Dana Shapiro's The Greater Good, about the lone survivor of The Jonestown massacre. Then there's BBC America's answer to Starz's Outlander (without the time travel and, presumably, the spanking scene) and HBO's Game Of Thrones (without the dragons) in the form of The Last Kingdom, which is set to premiere on 10 October. The eight-episode series is based on the novel series by Sharpe creator Bernard Cornwell and is set against the backdrop of the birth of England. According to executive producer Gareth Neame – who was 'creatively inspired' by The Tudors and its approach to historical fiction – The Last Kingdom 'is the story of a man and his destiny.' In a way, the same could be said about The Doctor. For the Doctor Who panel, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) was the only one physically present for the press. Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi were busy filming the new series, but they were more than willing to take time out of their schedules to answer questions via satellite. As an early panel, Coleman and Capaldi pretending they could see the critics was quickly the highlight of the day, bringing some much-needed fun to what could be a repetitive process. It was also good for a distraction from the fact that The Moff was being rather tight-lipped – though who could blame him when some of the questioners asked for spoilers in the shape of specific plot points? One of these carefully answered questions came in the form of response to who Game Of Thrones' Maisie Williams would be playing in the upcoming Doctor Who season. According to Moffat, Maisie is 'playing a brand new character not someone from The Doctor's past', which opened up an even bigger world of possibilities. He then quipped: 'Unless I'm lying.' Oooo, trickster, trickster.
The League Of Gentlemen's Reece Shearsmith is to make a guest appearance in the next series of Doctor Who. Shearsmith will join yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self in what has been described as 'a singular episode.' He said: 'I am absolutely thrilled to be filming Doctor Who as Mark Gatiss has written a fantastic role for me in a very scary episode. It has been so exciting to be part of a very singular episode – which, I can say with authority will be unlike any previous episode of Doctor Who. It's a joy to play a part in the show – certainly a badge of honour.' Shearsmith will be joined in the episode by a guest cast which includes Elaine Tan, Neet Mohan, Paul Courtenay Hyu and Bethany Black - see below. It is not Reece's first Doctor Who-related stint as he previously appeared in a cameo as Patrick Troughton in An Adventure In Space & Time, the acclaimed docudrama about the popular BBC show's origins which was also written by his old The League Of Gentlemen mucker, yer actual Mark Gatiss. Mark said: 'I'm delighted to be writing again for Peter and Jenna's brilliant TARDIS team and very excited about this particular story. It's been brewing in the dark recesses of my mind for a while now! I'm also chuffed to bits to finally welcome my old friend Reece Shearsmith onto the show. He's been badgering me for ten years!' Nobody tell Brian May about the badgering, fer Christ's sake, there'll be Hell to pay.

Bethany Black is to become the first openly transgender actor to appear in Doctor Who. The comedian, who has appeared in Channel Four's Tofu, Cucumber and Banana, confirmed the news on her Facebook fan page, writing: 'Now to sit back and wait until the Mail realises the BBC have cast an open trans lesbian in a family show.' One would hope that the Scum Mail will be their usual tolerant, open-minded selves, Beth love. Wouldn't bank on it, though, personally. The news marks the first occasion that a transgender actor has been cast in the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama. At least, as far as we're aware. Bethany added that her character is not transgender and she got the part because she was considered the best actor for the role. Speaking to the Independent earlier this year about playing trans character Helen in Russell Davies' Channel Four crossover dramas, she said: 'It is an absolute privilege and honour to be representing trans people. There's a massive responsibility but you also know you can't really represent anybody - you can’t even represent yourself.'
Doctor Who returns to BBC1 next month - you might have noticed - but a report in the magazine Private Eye has claimed that there will be no 'full series' in 2016 (whatever that means). In response, a BBC spokesperson told the Digital Spy website that scheduling for the popular long-running family SF drama series cannot be confirmed at this stage. 'It's too early to confirm the schedule for future series at this point, but the new series starts on Saturday 19 September,' they said. As if they were telling us something we didn't already know. Private Eye - which sometimes gets this sort of scoop right and sometimes doesn't - alleges that The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat's commitments to Sherlock will 'preclude' him from working on Doctor Who full-time next year. The last time that Sherlock shot a full three-episode run was in 2013 and, indeed, Doctor Who did not film a full series that year, instead producing two bumper-length specials. Having said that, a tenth series of Doctor Who was confirmed by BBC Worldwide as part of its annual review last month - although it wasn't definitively stated that this would be broadcast in whole or in part in 2016.
Personally, this blogger wouldn't be surprised if there's a grain of truth in this claim, even if the exact details are not entirely accurate; in fact yer actual Keith Telly Topping was half-expected an announcement of just this sort, if not for next year, then for the year after. That seems to be the preferred schedule for Doctor Who these days, three full series in every four calender years - as in 2009 and 2013. It allows the main cast to do other things - something which they can't do with a ten-and-a-half month a year filming schedule - and it allows Steven to go off an do Sherlock for three or four months once every couple of years. Remember, there is nothing stapled to the licence fee which states that anyone is entitled to thirteen (or fourteen) new Doctor Who episodes a year, every year. This blogger tends to take what he's given and is thoroughly grateful for that - having lived through sixteen years of only having ninety minutes of new Doctor Who on TV. And, as a consequence, he advises all dear blog readers to try and adopt a similar attitude and just chill the fuck out instead of getting all stroppy and discombobulated, like. You'll find that life is much less stressful that way. Interestingly, we can probably expect some people to whinge, greatly, about this potential - still unconfirmed - situation to anyone that will listen (and, indeed, anyone that doesn't want to). Oddly, they appear to be broadly the same people who constantly whinge about Steven's continued presence as showrunner. So, to sum up, they don't want any Moffat-produced Doctor Who but, when they're told they're not getting any - or, at least, not as much as they might have expected - suddenly, they do want some. It's all very odd.
And, speaking of odd ... The Doctor Who cast have allegedly been 'banned' from eating biscuits because producers 'fear for their diets' according to that bastion of true and accurate reportage, the Daily Lies (being quoted here by the, equally superb and flawlessly accurate, Daily Mirra). And this utter shite constitutes 'news', apparently. An alleged - although suspiciously anonymous and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious - 'source' allegedly told the Lies: 'They've been taken off the menu but Jenna keeps an emergency packet in her dressing room.' The BBC have denied that biscuits are not allowed on the Doctor Who set. which means that either the BBC are lying, or the Daily Lies' alleged - anonymous and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious - 'source' is. Place your bets now, dear blog reader, on whom you have the most faith in. Because, of course, the Daily Lies have such a great record of reporting accurate Doctor Who-related 'exclusives', don't they? Mind you, if biscuits are, indeed, banned on the Doctor Who set that, presumably, means we won't be seeing a return visit by Foxes this series. Nah, lissun ... (This blogger acknowledges that his old mate, Daniel Blythe was entirely responsible for being the 'source' of that joke. And, he's very definitely not anonymous, or fictitious. Send your complaints, if you have any, which likely you will, to him, dear blog reader. I'm just an innocent bystander.)
An interview Cilla Black recorded with a Canadian radio station in June looks likely to have been her last interview. And it makes for poignant listening in parts following her death at the weekend. When ZoomerRadio DJ Robbie Lane asked whether she might go on tour again, she replied: 'I don't even sing in the shower these days, never mind touring.' And, when he mentioned that 'Anyone Who Had A Heart' was the biggest-selling single by a female artist in the UK in the 1960s, a surprised Cilla said that she never knew that was the case. 'I'm seventy two years of age and for all that time I didn't know,' she said. 'I can die happy now,' she added with a chuckle. She was promoting a Canadian broadcast of Cilla, the recent biopic drama about her life starring Sheridan Smith.
A couple of further reflections on the sad death of yer actual Cilla Blck which this blogger dealt with, at length, in a previous blog update. A Facebook conversation followed this blogger's Cilla obituary - a nice one, let me add - which produced a couple of rather thought-provoking aspects. Firstly there's the question of, why, exactly, Cilla never made it in America - a subject only briefly touched upon in the obituary. There's a very good clip on You Tube from a 1990s Channel Four documentary on Cilla in which the lass herself, George Martin and the biographer Johnny Rogan all discuss that very subject. It seems, genuinely to have been a case of 'wrong place, wrong time.' As noted by George and Johnny in the clip, she had most of the dominoes lined-up for her to be a major success Stateside; the right songwriters, the right producer, the right manager, the right showbiz friends and, most importantly let us remember she was actually pretty good; possibly not quite as good a voice as, say, Dusty Springfield's but, it was a close-run thing. Cilla simply got homesick when she was in New York and returned home at a time when she seemed poised to make a breakthrough and, in that blink of an eye, the moment had passed. Over here, of course, our American dear blog readers should know she was a proper, twenty four carat, national treasure. Twice over, an'aal. Once takes some doing but twice, that's a trick and a half!
In the Gruniad's obituary of Cilla, David Laing writes: 'The British pop revolution of the 1960s involved not only male guitar bands, but also several young female singing stars, including Cilla Black, who has died aged seventy two. Of these, Dusty Springfield was the most technically proficient and the most temperamental; Lulu had the most powerful vocal cords but weaker songs; Sandie Shaw had a trendy, kooky image and songs to match and Black benefited hugely from her association with The Beatles – John Lennon and Paul McCartney composed several of her hits – and their manager Brian Epstein. Additionally, Black was the most telegenic. What one critic called her "gauche, unsophisticated girl-next-door image" propelled her from pop-star beginnings to become in later years the most highly paid woman in British television, with her shows Surprise, Surprise and Blind Date.' Yet, here we have one of the ultimate tragedies of Cilla's career. Out of all the successful British female singers of the 1960s, she was the one who, for some reason, was always considered the least 'cool' by those who, you know, decide on such things. Dusty Springfield, she was cool, even back in the 1960s. Tall, blonde, bisexual, drop dead gorgeous, she hung out with all the Motown acts and then, later, went to Memphis to record with Jerry Wexler and Atlantic. Also, she managed a minor footnote in rock and roll history by helping to get Led Zeppelin signed to the label (John Paul Jones had been her bass player and arranger for several years and she suggested the Zeps to Wexler as a band he should check out). Lulu managed to shake off her Mickie Most years (which, I have to be honest, this blogger loves; 'The Boat That I Row' is another of my favourite records) and then worked with Bowie and, later, Take That. Very cool. Sandie Shaw, likewise, got herself a whole new audience of the 1980s through her association with Morrissey, recording a single with The Smiths and then making an LP produced by Stephen Street and with contributions from the likes of Jim and William Reid, Morrissey and Marr, Chrissie Hynde, Richard Coles, Steve Nieve, Clive Langer and Mike Scott of The Waterboys. Again, way-cool. Ironically, of course, all of this happened at the very moment when Cilla was transforming herself from singer to Britain's favourite Saturday night TV personality. Via two TV shows which the average 'wannabe cool' indie kids of the 1980s - of which, this blogger was very definitely one - would not have been seen dead watching. So, therefore, Cilla - not 'cool'. Okay, so she recorded songs by Bacharach & David, Lennon & McCartney, Randy Newman, Tim Hardin, et cetera. Okay, so at the same time that Lulu was in the studio with Mickie Most, Cilla was in studio One at Abbey Road with George Martin, Geoff Emerick, Ken Scott and the rest of the EMI team, using the same backing musicians that played on Rubber SoulRevolver and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Still not 'cool'. This blogger remembers a few years ago having a - quite intense, if I'm being honest - conversation with a friend about this whole notion of 'coolness' and I was using Cilla as an example. I put forward a theory which I really believe in; that every single group or artists' ultimate worth can be reduced to one basic conceit. Imagine for a second that your favourite band or singer only ever released one record, one four-song EP, of the best four songs they ever made. Sure, it means that a lot of bands who made dozens of great records suddenly find themselves apparently on a par with other artists who only made four good ones (The Kinks or The Who being on the same level as, say, The Creation. Or The Rubettes). But, in Cilla's case, that means you've got an EP made up of 'Anyone Who Had A heart', 'You're My World', 'Alfie' and 'Step Inside Love'. 'And, you want me to do what? Listen to The White Stripes instead because they're "cooler?"' this blogger recalls yelling at the end of our argument. 'Fuck off! I'll take Cilla.' True story, dear blog reader.

And, finally on the Cilla front, in Metro's report of her death on Monday, the newspaper stated 'in 1968 she became the first woman to get her own prime-time TV show, Cilla, which ran on the BBC until 1976.' The line seems to have subsequently disappeared from the online version of the article since, a) it's bollocks and b) it's bollocks. Presumably someone pointed this out to Metro; not only did Cilla's contemporary, Dusty Springfield have her own series for the BBC two years before Cilla  did (Dusty which began in June 1966) but, The Alma Cogan Show started in April 1957. Seriously, Metro, Cilla Black's career was impressive enough without you inventing spurious accolades that she doesn't need. Cut it out, it's unbecoming.
Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch made his highly-anticipated debut as Hamlet in London on Wednesday night. Fans queued overnight for a chance to get on-the-day tickets for the sold-out production at the Barbican Centre. Although the official press night is not until 25 August, some early reviews of the performance emerged on Thursday.
Jon Stewart has hosted his final broadcast of the satirical US news programme The Daily Show. A host of stars joined him for the final show, including Bruce Springsteen. There were also video messages from US Secretary of State John Kerry and Republican Senator John McCain. Stewart took over the show in 1999 and established himself as one of the most influential satirists in the US and the voice of liberal America. He is being replaced by the South African comedian Trevor Noah. The Daily Show, broadcast on Comedy Central, has often been cited as a leading news source for young people, with an average audience of one million viewers per episode. In his final monologue, Stewart thanked colleagues, fans and family. 'Nothing ends. It's just a continuation. It's a pause in the conversation,' he said. 'So, rather than saying goodbye or good night, I'm just going to say I'm gonna go get a drink,' he concluded. The Daily Show has also helped to launch several well-known comic performers, including Steve Carell and John Oliver, as well as Stephen Colbert who is to be David Letterman's replacement on CBS's Late Show.
To the ratings now: ITV's new series Travel Guides got off to a decidedly average start, according to overnight data for Monday. The first episode of four was seen by 2.66m at 9pm. Earlier, Vet School continued with 2.53m at 8pm. BBC1's The Housing Enforcers was the night's most-watched programme outside of the soaps, with 3.35m watching at 7pm. And, if that simple fact doesn't tell you what a thoroughly average night it was an telly pretty much everywhere, nothing will. Panorama followed with 1.56m at 8.30pm, while Britain At The Bookies interested 1.86m at 9pm. On BBC2, Great British Menu brought in 1.36m at 7.30pm, before University Challenge had an audience of 2.71m at 8pm and Only Connect was watched by 2.23m at 8.30pm. Life In Squares continued with 1.06m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Flying To The Ends Of The Earth gathered 1.20m at 8pm, while Twenty Four Hours In Police Custody interested 1.78m at 9pm. A Very British Brothel attracted 1.49m people looking for something to crack on off to - probably - at 10pm. Channel Five's Ben Fogle: Lives In The Wild averaged 1.65m at 9pm and Under The Dome was watched by five hundred and forty three thousand at 10pm. Meanwhile, the penultimate episode of True Detective was seen by eighty nine thousand punters on Sky Atlantic at 9pm.

A total of 3.35 million overnight viewers watched ITV paying tribute to Cilla Black on Tuesday night. ITV's hour-long show The One & Only Cilla Black, which featured an introduction from her close friend Paul O'Grady, attracted a sixteen per cent audience share at 9pm. Elsewhere, Love Your Garden appealed to 3.16m at 8pm and a repeat of the opening episode of the Sheridan Smith biopic drama Cilla gathered 1.23m at 10.40pm. BBC1's new series of New Tricks topped the overnight ratings outside of the soaps with an impressive 5.37m at 9pm. Earlier, Rip Off Britain had an audience of 3.60m at 7pm. BBC2's Great British Menu continued with 1.73m viewers at 7.30pm, before The House That One Hundred Thousand Pounds Built interested 1.70m at 8pm and Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School was watched by 1.82m at 9pm. On Channel Four, The Three Day Nanny brought in nine hundred and sixty thousand at 8pm, while Hunt For The Arctic Ghost Ship appealed to 1.45m at 9pm. The Dog Rescuers With Alan Davies was seen by 1.13m on Channel Five at 8pm, before Can't Pay? Benefits Special averaged 1.45m at 9pm and Botched Up Bodies drew seven hundred and eighty five thousand at 10pm.

The Great British Bake Off returned with a huge overnight audience on Wednesday night. 9.3 million - a forty three per cent share of the available audience - tuned in to see twelve new bakers attempt to win over Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood with their culinary creations at 8pm. The figure is up almost two million on the seven-and-a-half million overnight audience for the start of last year's series, the first on BBC1. Elsewhere, The Sheriffs Are Coming continued with 3.78m at 7pm, while Earth's Natural Wonders was watched by 4.54m at 9pm. BBC2's Great British Menu brought in 1.27m at 7.30pm, before Horizon gathered 1.04m viewers at 8pm and Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Inside The Post Office interested seven hundred and seventy thousand at 9pm. On ITV, it was repeats night with Foyle's War managing to draw 1.92m between 8pm and 10pm, while the hastily scheduled second episode of the Cilla biopic had one million punters from 10.40pm. On Channel Four, Kirstie's Fill Your House For Free averaged seven hundred and seventy thousand at 8pm, before One Born Every Minute had an audience of 1.34m at 9pm. The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door appealed to 1.55m on Channel Five at 8pm, while Undercover Benefits Cheat was seen by 1.90m at 9pm. Wentworth Prison followed with seven hundred and twenty one thousand at 10pm. On E4, Jane The Virgin and Nashville brought in one hundred and twenty eight thousand at 9pm and one hundred and thirty eight thousand at 10pm respectively.

Two-thirds of online TV subscribers in the UK say that they don't watch original shows such as House Of Cards or Transparent which have cost their providers millions to commission and been named-checked in just about every TV-relate article in the Gruniad Morning Star for the last two years. The two biggest online TV services in the UK - Netflix and Amazon's Prime Instant Video - have invested heavily in original programming in a bid to attract more subscribers. Amazon recently struck a one hundred and sixty million smackers deal to create a new show with former Top Gear presenters, yer actual Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Just thirty one per cent of people told Ofcom in April that they used an online TV service to watch original programming, compared to seventy five per cent who said they used the service to watch films and almost half who said they watched 'US shows.' What, exactly, the other four per cent who appear to fall into neither category said they watched, we just don't know. Ofcom said that some of the respondents to the survey could have been 'unaware' that they had watched programming commissioned by the services, despite being provided with prompts such as House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black during the survey. Which may be true but, if it is, you seriously have to wonder what these people have between their ears but it sure-as-shit isn't brains. The figures suggest that the majority of UK online TV subscribers are more concerned with back catalogues and foreign TV than exclusive content. An earlier survey from the beginning of 2014 found that only twenty four per cent of Netflix subscribers and fifteen per cent of Amazon Prime subscribers said that the reason they had signed up to the service was to watch original programming. However, the number of high-profile shows since launched or commissioned has grown, with Netflix broadcasting the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul and the superhero series Daredevil and Amazon doing a deal with the former Top Gear cast. Ofcom says that Netflix had 4.3 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2015, Amazon had 1.2 million and Sky's on-demand service Now TV had just over five hundred thousand. Online TV subscriptions in the UK were worth three hundred and seventeen million quid in 2014.

Jane Tranter's first job as head of production for the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, was to sell Top Gear to the US. So it seems appropriate that on the day she spoke the the Gruniad this week, as she prepares to return from Los Angeles to the UK to start her own production company, Top Gear, or rather Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, were dominating the headlines once again. Tranter says that it was 'a smart buy' for Amazon, which has signed up three series of the as-yet-unnamed show for its on-demand TV service. 'It's going to have a stickiness to it and the brand recognition of those three names, even though they are not bringing the Top Gear title with them, will really do something, whatever the show turns out to be like.' Tranter wonders if something will be lost in the mix when the three presenters no longer have the BBC to rebel against and in the absence of the sort of public and regulatory scrutiny that only licence fee-funded content can generate. 'That was part of the dramatic theme of Top Gear, the baddest boy in class, there was a deliberate feeling of everybody straining at the leash,' she says. 'I don't know if something will be missed when they can do whatever they want. It is going to be interesting to see what they make of it.' The Amazon deal is a sign of how times have changed since Tranter, the BBC's former head of fiction, an all-encompassing role that included drama, film, comedy and acquisitions, arrived in LA in 2009 with a brief to build Worldwide's scripted and non-scripted business and deliver the best of the BBC to the US. 'It was before the explosion of cable, before Mad Men had totally bitten out here and before Downton Abbey which opened the door to period [drama] and much more cable drama,' says Tranter. For someone steeped in drama – [spooks], State Of Play, Life On Mars, Bleak House – the Top Gear pitch was a novel experience, albeit a successful one, as the US version of the motoring show is now in its fifth series on the History Channel. It is the corporation's most valuable format, generating between fifty and eighty million smackers a year for Worldwide. 'Mark Thompson [the then BBC Director General] said to me before I left the BBC, "Okay Jane, go off, good luck, do what you need to but whatever you do don't fuck up Top Gear,"' she remembers. 'I was determined to sell this thing but it was kind of embarrassing, the actual process of selling the show, because it's fair to say no-one expected "from the producers of Little Dorrit, here comes Top Gear US."' The return of Doctor Who, in 2005, was Tranter's most lasting legacy of her time in charge of BBC drama. It was (and still is) produced in Cardiff and she will return to South Wales with her new production company, Bad Wolf, set up with her long-time colleague Julie Gardner, another key player in the return of Doctor Who. It is an area that both women know well – it was also home to Da Vinci's Demons, BBC Worldwide's historical fantasy drama series with Starz that enabled the building of the giant Bay Studios in Swansea. The local creative industries have been transformed over the last decade and Tranter's new venture has the backing of the Welsh government, with a staggered loan depending on future performance. Tranter will move to Wales, with Gardner remaining in LA, so they've got both West coasts covered. 'Working in Wales reminds me enormously of working in New York,' says Tranter, in terms of the drive and the focus of the workforce, although she concedes: 'I am probably the only person in the world who would make that comment.' She returns to the UK with the future of her beloved BBC – 'probably only a shrink would be able to work out why I feel so closely tied to that place' – up for grabs, its future funding and remit thrown into doubt by charter review and the government's Green Toilet Paper on the future of the BBC. The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale questioned whether the BBC should continue to strive to be 'all things to all people' or whether it should focus on a more narrow range of services. 'He just left part of the sentence off,' suggests Tranter. 'The BBC should not be "all things to all people, all the time. That is a very different sentence and, actually, if you are a public service broadcaster and you are asking people to pay a licence fee the BBC should mean something to all people, it should be The People's Broadcaster. To think the BBC should be made for a cultural elite with a more narrow cast is patronising. One thing that really strikes me is how much time politicians have got to tell the BBC what programmes they should be making. You wouldn't get Barack Obama doing that over here.' The overhaul of the BBC is also likely to include a newly commercial in-house production department, freshly renamed BBC Studios and put under the auspices of former BBC1 controller Peter Salmon. 'I have got very strong views about BBC Studios and they may not be the BBC's,' says Tranter. 'What they need to look at is why was it once the most exciting place in the industry to work in and why is it not now. I always felt the BBC was a really cool place to work, where you could make the kind of programmes you couldn't necessarily get your hands on anywhere else. For me it was just really exciting and energising and challenging and they need to put that feeling back.' In more than six years at BBC Worldwide, Tranter is particularly proud of Getting On, HBO's version of the Jo Brand hospital sitcom which was broadcast in the UK on BBC4 and another UK adaptation, Criminal Justice. Based on the BBC1 series by Peter Moffat which starred Ben Whishaw and Maxine Peake, the much-anticipated adaptation was 'a passion project' of the late James Gandolfini, who starred in the pilot and whose role has been taken by John Turturro in the subsequent series. 'We first talked about doing a reformat of Criminal Justice in 2009 and at the end of July 2015 we are editing with another six months to go. If I could define my time out here by one piece it would be that one,' says Tranter. 'It's been through so many twists and turns and ups and downs. Jim Gandolfini became a great friend and taught me so much about the pressures of being an enormous star and how that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your soul or your humanity. He was just the very best of us.' A Doctor Who film is also in development by BBC Worldwide, dating as far back as 2011 or more, but appears unlikely to reach the big screen any time soon. Tranter declines to comment. Showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat said earlier this year: 'You can't make a movie that damages the TV series. I'm sure there's money to be made out of it but that's not the point, is it? We are British, the BBC. We are there for the art.' For now Tranter's thoughts are turning to Bad Wolf and her new home in Wales with her tenure at BBC Worldwide due to finish at the end of August. The name Bad Wolf was taken from the title of one of the episodes of the first series of the new run of Doctor Who, and became a recurring warning sign to The Doctor in subsequent series. 'In a way when we look back we feel we were writing messages to ourselves across time that one day this would happen.'

Aidan Turner has revealed further details about series two of Poldark. The actor spoke to The Huffington Post about filming the drama, saying two extra episodes will be filmed than the first series. Turner said: 'It's going to be longer than it was last year. We're going to start September, I think first or second week. I think we go until like the first week in April.' He added: 'We've two extra episodes this season, which is amazing. The shoot is probably seven-and-a-half months or something like that. A bit longer than last year.' Despite the long shoot, Turner is looking forward to the prospect of donning the military uniform again on location in Cornwall, saying he 'can't wait to get back there.' He said: 'I love shooting the show, I love Cornwall, and adore everyone in the show, so it'll be fun.'
Some proper good news now, dear blog reader, the BBC's utterly rotten and worthless big-money game show Prized Apart, hosted by Emma Willis and Reggie Yates, has been extremely axed after one series. Although sadly not with an actual axe. Cos, that would probably have been messy. It struggled to draw more than three million viewers, despite being scheduled in a prime BBC1 Saturday night slot and was, frankly, one of the shittest things this blogger has forced himself to sit through in the name of this blog in many a long year. Floccinaucinhilipilification, dear blog reader. A classic example thereof. And, why not? All the cool kids are doing it. Anyway, in case you missed it - in which case, congratulations - the show involved ten pairs of brain-dead contestants being separated, with one remaining in the studio to answer questions and the other being flown to Morocco to take part in 'all-action' challenges. If the jet-setting partner failed their challenge they were sent back to the studio until their other half got enough points to send them back out again. The ultimate prize was a 'life-changing' one hundred grand. Prized Apart's launch was reportedly delayed to avoid a clash with ITV's ratings juggernaut Britain's Got Toilets. Its debut on 13 June attracted 3.1 million overnight viewers, dipping to 2.5 million three weeks later and finishing with 2.9 million for the final on 25 July. The show received a mixed reception, with some critics attacking it for 'lacking thrills', while some viewers claimed it involved 'excessive travel' and was 'a waste of licence-fee payers’ money.' Whether that's true or not I'll leave up to the individual but it was certainly a waste of time.

Colin Morgan fans won't have long to wait for their next fix of the actor now that Humans is over. The former Merlin and The Fall star will lead the cast of BBC1's 'haunting' new series, The Living & The Dead. A supernatural drama set in 1890s Somerset, the six-parter has been created by Life On Mars co-creator Ashley Pharoah. Glue actress - and BAFTA nominee - Charlotte Spencer is also in the cast. Morgan will play Nathan Appleby - a young man faced with dangerous supernatural phenomena - with Spencer cast as his wife, Charlotte. 'The Living & The Dead is one of those scripts that you read and are instantly compelled and engaged by,' Morgan said. 'It's intelligent, chilling and engrossing, it's going to be very special and I can't wait to start working on it with the wonderful creative team.' Spencer added: 'It's always been a dream of mine to appear in a period drama and they don't come better than this - fantastic, original scripts and, in Charlotte Appleby, a superb character who's strong, passionate and gutsy. Couple this with an incredible director, crew and cast, I can't wait to get started!' In The Flesh director Alice Troughton will launch the series, which has begun filming in the West Country.
Yer actual Neil Morrissey is starring in series two of ITV's reasonably interesting period drama Grantchester. The actor will appear alongside James Norton and Wor Geet Canny Robson Green, who star as clergyman Sidney Chambers and police inspector Geordie Keating investigating crimes in the 1950s-set village. Morrissey - the former Men Behaving Badly actor, not the former Smiths singer - will play Harding Redmond, the father of teenage Abigail (Grace Holley) who is found dead in Grantchester under suspicious circumstances. He accuses Chambers of having 'an inappropriate relationship' with his daughter - forcing the clergyman to both investigate the girl's murder and clear his name at the same time. But is it too late to save his reputation amongst the residents of Grantchester? Morrissey said of his new role: 'I'm really excited to be joining the cast of Grantchester. It's great to work with James Norton, Robson Green and the rest of the cast and I can't wait to film in the actual village of Grantchester, which I know is beautiful. I'm also happy to be sporting a funky fifties moustache, my first foray into top lip decoration since I started acting.' Other new cast members include Claudie Blakley, Nigel Planer, Andrew Knott and Nicky Henson. Tessa Peake-Jones, Morven Christie, Kacey Ainsworth and Al Weaver all return from the first series. Grantchester is currently filming in London, Cambridge and Grantchester, with broadcast set for next year.
Nearly thirty EastEnders viewers - with, seemingly, nothing better to do with their time or energy - have whinged after a character used 'offensive language' before the watershed. Carol Jackson, played by Lindsey Coulson, called her brother Max Branning (Jake Wood) a 'bastard' at 7.58pm during the latest episode of the BBC1 soap. The TV watershed is 9pm and material which 'may not be suitable for children' should not be broadcast before that time. Although, anyone who considers the word 'bastard' as 'offensive language', seriously, needs to grow the fuck up. A spokesman for Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - said, wearily, that it had already received twenty nine complaints and was expecting more. Because some people are simply professional offence-takers who will whinge about anything if they think they'll get away with it. He added: 'We will assess these complaints before deciding whether to investigate or not.' A spokeswoman for EastEnders said: 'We are always mindful of the time slot in which we go out. As our regular viewers will know, Carol has been pushed to her limits by her brother and her unusual outburst reflected her frustration.'

And, still on the subject of complaints, 'hundreds' of people have signed a petition asking ITV to withdraw an Emmerdale storyline about a helicopter crash following the Clutha disaster. Kerry McGhee, whose father, Samuel, was one of ten people killed when a helicopter crashed into the Glasgow bar in November 2013, is among the signatories. She said: 'I find it disgusting that people want to use it as a storyline."' ITV said that it 'always considers carefully the content of its programming.' The episodes of the soap featuring the crash was due to be broadcast this week. It is part of a series of storylines focusing on the wedding of characters Debbie Dingle and Pete Barton. In a statement, an ITV spokesman added: 'The helicopter crash circumstances are very different to any real life cases that we are aware of. The accident occurs as a consequence of Chrissie setting fire to her cheating husband's car which spreads to the scrapyard. Gas canisters are ignited and explode into the air striking the helicopter.' The petition, called Show some respect to the Clutha Disaster victims and families by not running a storyline about a helicopter crash on Emmerdale has been posted on the change.org website. You know, the same place where over one hundred thousand people signed a petition telling the BBC to put Clarkson back into Top Gear, right this instant or they'd ... be annoyed. And, didn't that work out brilliantly? The petition is addressed to Emmerdale producer Kate Oates. And, this also constitutes 'news', apparently.

Countdown never fails to raise a smile with its unfortunate letter arrangements - and the latest this week saw yer actual Rachel Riley squirm her way through a round when 'slutz' appeared on the board. Things started out innocently enough when Riley revealed the first few letters, but the hostess gives an awkward look to camera when 'slut' was spelled out. Aw, bless. Will someone start a petition about that at change.org or whinge to Ofcom about what 'a right shite state of affairs' this all is, dear blog reader? This blogger wouldn't bet against it.
Good Morning Britain's normal live show was forced off the air on Tuesday morning after a fire alarm went off in the building. Whether any of the seven people watching this even noticed is another question entirely. Presenters Ben Shepherd and Susanna Reid had just begun interviewing Emmerdale type people Charley Webb and Anthony Quinlan when the alarm suddenly went off and they had to evacuate the building. A previous edition of the breakfast programme was broadcast for five minutes until the end of the show at 8:30am. The first twenty minutes of follow-on show, Lorraine was replaced with a repeat of the programme broadcast to mark thirty years of Kelly's career, while a message on-screen read: 'Sorry for the interruption to our normal programme we'll be back to the Lorraine studio as soon as possible.' Normal programming resumed at 08:50. ITV said in a statement: 'It was an isolated incident which was quickly resolved. The building was evacuated as a precaution.' Reid later tweeted that she was back in the ITV building and 'everything was fine.' Except for the flop GMB itself which, of course, is anything but fine.
BBC3 is, currently, seeking 'Content Producers' as it gears up to move online in the next twelve months. Ideally, of course, that 'content' will not include anything whatsoever which features worthless, unfunny, full-of-his-own-importance lanky streak of rancid piss Jack Whitehall or that Russell Kane (very popular with students).
And now, the only story that actually mattered on Thursday; Stuart Broad took eight for fifteen as Australia were bowled out for just sixty runs. Joe Root then hit a century as England put themselves in a strong position to win the Ashes on the first day of the fourth test at Trent Bridge. Broad passed three hundred test wickets with just his third ball of the day and then equalled the fastest test five-wicket haul - a mere nineteen deliveries - as the hapless tourists were dismissed in one hundred and eleven balls and less than two hours. One imagines that when Alistair Cook won the toss shortly before play began and put the Australians in to bat, he wasn't expecting that he, himself, would have his pads on and be out in the middle before lunch. What the fek was going on, you may well wonder, dear blog reader? And you wouldn't be alone if you did. Weren't these guys sold to us as world beaters just a few weeks ago? 'Oh, you've got no chance again this Australian team,' England fans were told. It is interesting that one or two cricket writers in the UK press - but, only one or two, mind. I know the excellent Stephen Brenkley was among them - did suggest before the tour started 'do you not think, maybe, we're building the Aussies up a bit much? Yes, they utterly destroyed England Down Under two winters ago but, they've lost Ryan Harris since then, a couple of their batsmen look like they've forgotten what a run actually looks like and they're a wee bit in danger of doing what the great 1993-2005 team did, growing old together.' But, such comments were all rather poo-pah'd by the cognoscenti and, particularly, by the Australian press. 'What a load of dingoes doo-dahs,' they chorused, in their strutting about like they owned the gaff. Whcih, because they were in Australia at the time they, you know, do. 'You're gonna get another spanking, Poms. Wait till Mitchells Johnson and Starc get stuck into your lot! The scars from last time are still there.' And, as never-short-of-an-opinion Ian Chappell among others said, loudly, England's bowlers would obviously struggle to take twenty Australian wickets in five days given their impressive batting line-up. You know, the one that was rattled out for one hundred and thirty at Edgbaston last week and for sixty on Thursday. 'Maybe, we'll be lucky,' a few England journalists said. 'It rains a lot over here. Maybe the weather will be bad and we'll get a couple of draws so it won't be five-nil this time ...' What a very strange game cricket is, dear blog reader. Anyway, at Trent Bridge, we saw the shortest first innings in test cricket history and then Root's unbeaten one hundred and twenty four helped England to two hundred and seventy four for four at the close, a lead of two hundred and fourteen runs. That's at the end of the first day. Alastair Cook scored forty three and Jonny Bairstow made a bright seventy four, sharing a fourth-wicket stand of one hundred and seventy four at more than five runs per over with his Yorkshire team-mate Root. The one hundred partnership between Root and Bairstow came up in one hundred and twenty one balls exactly ten balls more than it took eleven Australians - the cream of a nation's manhood, apparently - to score sixty. Just, you know, for a bit of context.
Root's hundred came up with a glorious cover drive off the part-time bowling of David Warner. Oh, the irony. 18.3 overs is the quickest that any team has ever been bowled out in the first innings of a test match, beating the one hundred and thirteen balls (22.3 five-ball overs) that it took England to dismiss Australia at Lord's in 1896. Broad's eight for fifteen was the best set of figures in a test match for England since Devon Malcolm's nine for fifty seven against South Africa in 1994. The Nottinghamshire seamer, playing his eighty third Test, returned England's third best Ashes bowling figures, bettered only by Jim Laker's famous nine for thirty seven and ten for fifty three at Old Trafford in 1956. It was also the third-cheapest eight-wicket haul in Test history. His nineteen-ball five-wicket collection was the fastest taken from the start of a test innings, beating the twenty five balls required by South Africa's Vernon Philander to claim five New Zealand wickets at Cape Town in January 2013. Broad joined team-mate Jimmy Anderson, Sir Ian Botham, Bob Willis and the late Fred Trueman in England's three hundred club when he removed Rogers whilst his eighth wicket just an hour and forty minutes later drew him level with Trueman on three hundred and seven. Anderson, who reached the three hundred mark in May 2013, is England's leading wicket-taker with four hundred and thirteen, although he is currently missing from the team, with a side injury. And, my didn't the attack fall apart without him? Having made his debut against Sri Lanka in 2007, Broad has played in three winning Ashes series - in 2009, 2010-11 and 2013 - and scored a test century against Pakistan at Lord's in August 2010. This was only the fourth time in test history that a team had bowled first and been batting by lunch on the first day. Two of the other three, apparently, occurred during the century before last! Victory in the match would give England an unassailable three-one lead in the five-match series and see them regain the urn they lost courtesy of that five-nil whitewash in Australia in 2013-14. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves at this stage and start counting chickens. There are still, in theory, four more days to go yet. But, overall, one could suggest that England shaded the first day.
To continue with the stats; sixty is Australia's joint seventh lowest total in all tests and their second lowest since 1936. Australia's top four batsmen faced a combined total of just twelve deliveries. Australia's first innings saw the earliest fall of the fourth, fifth and sixth wicket in test history. Extras top-scored for the first time in an Ashes test, with fourteen. The Aussies highest scorer that was, actually, a person was Mitchell Johnson with thirteen; Michael Clarke - with ten - was the only other Australian to make it to double figures. The joint highest partnership in their innings was the thirteen put on by Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon for the tenth wicket. Broad, bowling the first over, had Chris Rogers caught at first slip by Alastair Cook with his third ball - claiming his three hundredth test wicket and inflicting a first duck in forty six test innings on the Australia opener - before Steve Smith edged his sixth delivery to Joe Root at third slip. Australia scored ten runs in that first over - two fours and a two - a sixth of their eventual total. Mark Wood, returning to the England side in place of the injured Anderson after missing the third test win at Edgbaston last week, struck in the following over when David Warner was caught behind by Jos Buttler off an inside edge. Broad then had Shaun Marsh held by Ian Bell at second slip in his second over and Adam Voges spectacularly taken one-handed - and, near as dammit, behind him - by a diving Ben Stokes at fifth slip in his third. It was one of the finest catches ever seen at a test ground and Broad's reaction was, seemingly, as shocked as everyone elses. Australia captain Clarke became Broad's fifth victim, slashing widely and inelegantly to Cook at first slip from Broad's nineteenth ball, equalling the number of deliveries needed by Australia's Ernie Toshack to claim five wickets against India at Brisbane in 1947 - although Toshack did not open the bowling. Clarke trudged off the pitch looking for all the world like a man on his way to the gallows who had just shat himself at the prospect. It was quite funny, to be honest. Steven Finn then bowled Peter Nevill to reduce Australia to thirty three for seven after 9.2 overs. There followed a brief thirteen run 'revival' featuring Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc - at one point, three whole overs went by without a wicket falling and someone in the crowd shouted 'boring!' Then, Broad cleaned up the tail, taking the last three wickets as both Starc and Johnson edged balls to Root at third slip and Nathan Lyon was held by Stokes in the gully. There were still twenty minutes until lunch. 'This is one of the most embarrassing batting performances in Test history,' said the Australian radio commentator Jim Maxwell on Test Match Special. For once, even professional misery-guts Geoffrey Boycott couldn't come up with anything more controversial than that. Although, fair play to Boycs, he had a damn good try: 'Australia are just poor at batting when the ball moves. It hasn't moved as much as it did at Edgbaston. Some of the shots have been pathetic. Stuart Broad has just won the game - it's over.'
Meanwhile, on Sky, David Gower in the middle of all this carnage was heard to be a lone whinging voice: 'It might sound churlish given the current state of the scorecard but you want Steven Finn to pitch the ball up a bit more,' said Gower when the score was something like forty three for seven. Might sound churlish? No shit?! There's no 'ish' about it, Dave, that was distinctly 'churl'. A few hours later, bizarreness took over Sky completely as we had Michael Atherton specifically referencing the former Velvet Underground singer when he described this as 'England's Lou Reed sort of day. perfect!' You do know it was about heroin withdrawl, don't you Michael? England again showed some top-order frailty as Adam Lyth was caught behind off Mitchell Starc - the sixth time the Yorkshire opener has failed to reach twenty in seven Ashes innings - before Ian Bell was trapped LBW by the same bowler for one. Cook provided a platform with awatchful forty three before he too fell LBW to Starc who bowled well during the afternoon session which ended with England on ninety nine for three. But Root, again, looked a class above everyone else at the crease, scoring his second century of the series and his eighth overall to usurp Rogers as the leading run scorer in the series and underline England's utter dominance. The twenty four-year-old is the third player in test history to double the opposing team's score on the first day of a test match, after Graeme Smith (against Zimbabwe in 2005) and Alviro Petersen (against New Zealand in 2013). He was ably assisted by Bairstow, who scored his fifth test half-century in his second match since returning to the side in place of Gary Ballance. He was out late in the day to a rather careless hoik off Hazlewood to Chris Rogers (who, almost dropped it, he seemed to surprised). Of course, the Australian press, as usual, took it all with a philosophical worldview. As as it their want.
Rampant England Deliver Australia's Blackest Day wrote Greg Baum in the Sydney Morning Herald. 'Broad and Co. - Co. were also excellent - could not have reckoned on Australia's meek co-operation. Good balls were made better by hard hands pushing at them. Nearly every batsman was classically squared up and Steve Smith cubed. Not until the appearance of tailenders Peter Nevill and Mitch Johnson did it seem to occur to the Australians that the leave was an option. It will be a long time before the Australians stop waking in the middle of the night to a translucent image of Broad, a ghostly sighing and a breathy voice-over: "English conditions." In the case of the beleaguered Clarke, an average ball was made into a wicket-taker by a wild drive at the first delivery he faced from Broad. His thinking? "If he pitches it up, I'm going to hit it as far as I can. I watched guys around me getting out defending. Live by the sword, die by the sword." But first ball? Like compatriot James Faulkner, Clarke should be banned from driving in England. All else that happened on the day was compounded from that first hapless half hour. The pitch mellowed, as it always would, but by lunch England were batting on it. Mitch Starc played his full ball joker three times, but other than that, Australia's bowlers could not find England's Bermuda Triangle. Equally, England's batsmen applied themselves as Australia's couldn't. Joe Root made an unbeaten hundred and Jonny Bairstow most of one after Alastair Cook had laid a platform. Root, once pugnacious, is now imperious, and he is only twenty four. His secret is to watch, wait and choose. Against this mercurial attack, he didn't have to wait long. On such days, it feels on the receiving end as if the world has rounded on them. One calamity begets another, one goad the next provocation. Marsh for Marsh did not add a batsman and cost a bowler. The front-liners wearied, the score mounted, the slights multiplied. One edge fell short, then another, not by accident, for the England batsman rarely jabbed at the ball as the Australians did. But when one at last did carry, it was dropped by Smith and another overflew the slips. For a final indignity, eight byes disappeared over the wicketkeeper's head. The longer Australia have spent in England, the more foreign a land it has become. They are staring in the face of a third pantsing in four matches; the exception, Lord's, was on a pitch described by Cook as "not really English." How the Australians mocked him; they could afford to then. But it is just olde Englande and ye olde Englishe conditiones. The more Australians travel, the more insular and xenophobic their cricket grows. Empirically and statistically, Australia have forgotten how to play anywhere that fields a decent cricket team except - bizarrely - South Africa. Sometimes, distance and time zones mute the embarrassment. By the time the shockwaves from defeat reach Australia's shores, they are merely ripples. But not when it comes to the Ashes, the most jealously guarded trophy when Australia have it, the most crusaded after when they don't. Now they are gone again, and an ugly truth intrudes on the memories of 2013-14: by this weekend, England will have won five of the last seven Ashes series, an ascendancy disguised by the fact that Australia's two were both by whitewash. White is so much more pleasant a colour than green.' Cheer up, mate, it's only a game of cricket. It's Pomicide read the Sydney Morning Herald's back page. No less dramatic was its front, which drew on the 1975 dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by the Governor-General, lamenting a day-one collapse 'that will live in infamy.' Sydney's Daily Telegraph took a scattergun approach, letting readers pick the headline from a choice of three: Embarrassed, Demolished, Humiliated. Its Melbourne News Corp stablemate, the Herald Sun, pictured a downcast Clarke under Ashes Disgrace' ('They couldn’t even make it to lunch,' it added). Brisbane's Courier-Mail kicked off Australia's 2013 series triumph with an infamous 'Broad-ban', its short-lived boycott of the England paceman it branded a 'smug Pommie cheat.' Broadie had his complete revenge on Friday morning, given full billing on the Courier-Mail's front page in wide-eyed elation at his eight wickets, paired with 'Ashes to crashers: pathetic Aussies humiliated by arch-nemesis.'
The very excellent Joe Lidster recently posted the following photo on Facebook of a shop in Central London with a fairly unqiue line of merchandise.
It reminded this blogget of one of his favourite moments of TV, ever (bar none), which was during an episode of, of all things, Antiques Roadshow. Yer actual Fiona Bruce her very self noted: 'I think this must be the first time we've ever had a collection of whips on the show. Tell me, why do you collect them?' Sadly, the lady to whom the fine collection of whips and riding crops in question belonged - who, as it happened, looked uncannily like Siouxsie Sioux ... if she'd been at the cakes for a few months - didn't reply with something along the lines of 'a lifelong interest in getting my ass spanked, Fiona.' It turned out that, actually, she bred horses. How vastly disappointing. Anyway ...
      This blooger also wishes to apologise to all dear blog readers for using the words 'whips' and 'Fiona Bruce' in the same sentence. I now fully realise the potential for inducing Myocardial Infarction in the unwary via such a juxtaposition.
Anaesthetic gas may have been used against Jenson Button and his wife Jessica during a burglary in France, the Formula 1 driver's spokesman says. Two men, who stole jewellery including Jessica's engagement ring, may have pumped gas through the air conditioning before Monday's break-in, he said. The couple were with friends in a rented villa in Saint-Tropez. The British former F1 world champion's spokesman said that they were unharmed but everyone was 'unsurprisingly shaken.' The Sun newspaper reported that valuables worth three hundred grand were stolen. The couple married in December. Jenson's spokesman said: 'Two men broke into the property whilst they all slept and stole a number of items of jewellery including, most upsettingly, Jessica's engagement ring. The police have indicated that this has become a growing problem in the region with perpetrators going so far as to gas their proposed victims through the air conditioning units before breaking in.' Jenson, who drives for McLaren, is based in Monaco, about eighty miles along the coast from Saint-Tropez.
Police who stopped a motorist were stunned to discover a sheep in the boot of the car – which the driver claimed he had taken to McDonald's 'for a treat.' The incident occurred in North Yorkshire when officers from the local roads policing group stopped the driver of a Peugeot 206 on suspicion of driving with two bald tyres. But, when they looked more closely at the vehicle they notice an unusual passenger in the hatchback boot of the car, a sheep. When questioned why he was travelling with the animal in a family hatchback, the motorist explained that he had taken it to a nearby McDonald's restaurant for a meal. Not a lamb burger, one trusts. A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Police said: 'He told the officer, "some people take their dogs in their cars, I take my sheep."' Sounds fair enough. '[The motorist] just wanted to go for a drive-through at McDonalds.' The driver is thought to have been stopped shortly after a visit to the fast food restaurant at Leeming Bar services on the A1. When asked what it thought of the meal, the sheep reportedly bleated 'baaaaaad.' What?!
An upstate New York man who blew his own leg off in his garage making whilst improvised explosive devices will be held in federal custody without bail because law enforcement found 'white supremacist paraphernalia' and believe he is dangerous, WGRZ reports. Michael O'Neill, a former Niagara County corrections officer, is accused of making seven bombs and was arrested two weeks ago after one of the devices accidentally went off. O'Neill was rushed to a hospital where his leg had to be amputated. He was the only one injured. 'Luckily, he is detained,' Assistant US Attorney John Alsup told Time Warner Cable News. 'He is no longer at large in the community with or without some of the physical disabilities he's going to have going forward, but luckily for the community, he only hurt himself.' Pictures of the KKK, Nazi imagery and the Confederate flag were found inside his home, which he lives in with his stepfather, William Ross, who chairs the Niagara County Legislature, WGRZ reports. Even with his leg now missing, prosecutors believed it would be too risky for the public if O'Neill was released from maximum security. In case he trips to, you know, hop it. The explosives he created contained nails and pellets, according to reports. One was labelled 'powder with nails.' His attorney claimed, somewhat unconvincingly, that O'Neill was 'just planning to blow up some tree stumps.' The irony of which is, he now has his own stump because of his activities. Time for another round of How Ironic Is That? on Qi, I reckon.
'The fact that there were some items that we described in court as consistent with, white supremacists, to include the Ku Klux Klan, and the Nazi imagery, some of the verbiage which was particularly on the Nazi picture, also the Confederate battle flag, means that law enforcement has more work to go,' US Attorney William Hochul told TWC News. O'Neill will remain in the custody of the US Marshalls while he recuperates, then will be transferred to a detention facility.

The veteran actor George Cole, best known for playing Arthur Daley in Minder, has died aged ninety. George played the shady Cockney wheeler dealer for sixteen years, between 1979 and 1994. He also starred in the four original St Trinian's movies as the dodgy spiv Flash Harry and in numerous British film comedies and TV series over a near seventy year career. His agent, Derek Webster, said that George had died at the Royal Berkshire hospital 'following a short illness' and surrounded by his family. George played opposite Dennis Waterman's Terry McCann, his affable ex-boxer bodyguard, in Leon Griffiths's Minder for more than a decade. Waterman said that he had 'the privilege of spending Tuesday afternoon with George and Penny and, although very frail, his wit was as evident as ever. I am so sad to hear of George's death. His family must be devastated and I am absolutely certain that anybody who ever knew him, will feel the same. I'm so grateful to have been a friend of this wonderful man. We worked together for many years and my boast is that we laughed all day, every day. He was an amazing man, a wonderful actor and besotted with his family. Farewell old friend.' Then he sang the theme song. Probably. Waterman left the show to be replaced by Gary Webster (no, me neither) for the final two series. Which were rubbish, frankly. Talking to the BBC News website, Webster called Cole a 'comic genius' who 'made you realise there's an Arthur Daley in every family. He was one of those characters you never thought you are going to be without, both as an actor and a character,' he added. 'He was a great guy to work with and a real genuine gentleman.' When once asked what prompted him to accept the iconic role of Daley, George said: 'When I read the proposal for Minder, it said Arthur's favourite film was The Godfather, that he was behind the then-Home Secretary as far as law and order were concerned and that he dressed like "a dodgy member of a Citizens' Advice Bureau." That made me want to do [it].' George also memorably played 'Flash' Harry Edwards, a remarkably similar, if younger, character to Daley in many ways, in the four St Trinian's films between 1954 and 1966, starring alongside the likes of Terry-Thomas, Joyce Grenfell and Sid James in the popular boarding school comedies. It also allowed him to work with Alistair Sim, who had become his mentor. The two had met in theatre when George was a teenager - with George appearing opposite Sim in his film debut, Cottage To Let (1941). Sim and his wife, Naomi, took him under their wing, even taking George and his adopitve mother, Florance, in as unofficial evacuees from Blitz-hit London to their Oxfordshire home. George stayed with the Sims until he was twenty seven, eventually building a home next door to them and starred in a succession of stage shows and films with the veteran Scottish actor, including playing the young Scrooge in 1951's A Christmas Carol, two of the St Trinian's series and a television version of The Anatomist in 1956. Born in April 1925, George was adopted at ten days old (something he was unaware of until he was a teenager) and grew up in a council flat in Morden. He performed music hall routines on stage as a child with his parents, both amateur musicians. At fourteen, after leaving school, he got a job as a butcher's boy. He subsequently pursued his theatrical ambitions by being accepted as an understudy for the musical White Horse Inn in Blackpool. He worked almost non-stop for decades, apart from a brief break from acting when he served with the Royal Air Force from 1944 to 1946 as a radio operator and then running the camp Mess. George, who had began acting in the early 1940s, appearing with Lawrence Olivier in The Demi-Paradise and taking a small role in Olivier's star-studded Henry V, resumed his career when the conflict ended. Cole was a familiar face on-screen in many British comedies of the 1950s, including Too Many Crooks and The Bridal Path (both 1959). He found himself consistently in-work, on stage, television, film and radio. He had, for instance, the lead role in the popular BBC radio comedy A Life Of Bliss, which ran for six series from 1953 to 1959 and then, as with several successful radio shows of the era, transferred to television in 1960 for a further two series. As well as the St Trinian's movies - The Belles Of St Trinian's, Blue Murder At St Trinian's, The Pure Hell Of St Trinian's and The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery - he also appeared opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Cleopatra and in films as diverse as Hammer's notoriously sexy lesbian romp The Vampire Lovers and the wretched Cliff Richard vehicle Take Me High. Cole was seventy when Minder ended but he still worked regularly thereafter, with guest roles in the likes of Midsomer Murders, Heartbeat and New Tricks, where he got to work with his old friend Waterman again. Prior to this, he had played a struggling writer in the - very under-rated - BBC sitcom Don't Forget To Write! (1977 to 1979). He also played Sir Giles Lynchwood in the BBC's adaptation of the Tom Sharpe novel Blott On The Landscape (1985). Cole starred in a number of sitcoms, such as the thoroughly rotten Comrade Dad and My Good Friend. His CV also included appearances in UFO, the classic 1971 chiller Fright (where he first worked with Waterman), The Sweeney, Our Girl Friday, The Green Man, Gideon's Way, A Man Of Our Times, Out Of The Unknown, The Root Of All Evil, Menace, Jackanory, Madigan, Village Hall, The Bounder, Dad, Lloyd George Knew My Father, An Independent Man, Diamond Geezer, Bodily Harm, Root In Europe, Return Of The Saint, The Good Life, Quiller, Affairs Of The Heart, Play For Today, Armchair Theatre, The Sex Game, Comedy Playhouse, One Way Pendulum, Morning Depature, Mary ReillyDr Syn, Alias The Scarecrow, The Constant Husband, The Blue Bird, A Phoenix Too Frequent and An Inspector Calls. George was made an OBE in 1992 for his services to broadcasting and theatre. His autobiography, The World Was My Lobster, based on one of Arthur Daley's most legendary malapropisms, was published in 2013. George was married twice, first to the actress Eileen Moore (1954–1962), which ended in divorce. In 1967, he married the actress Penny Morrell and they remained together for the next forty eight years. He is survived by Penny and his four children, two from each marriage, Crispin, Harriett, Toby and Tara.

According to this website, on 23 September 2015 Satan 'is going to get his full, unrestrained reign over the whole world' as spoken of in the Book of Revelation. No news yet on whether we have to book in advance or if we can just pay on the door.
And finally, dear blog reader, a Bangladeshi blogger known for his atheist views has reportedly been hacked to death by a gang armed with machetes in the capital Dhaka. Niloy Neel was attacked at his home in the city's Goran area. He is the fourth secularist blogger to have been killed this year by suspected Islamist militants in Bangladesh. Which rather makes this blogger grateful for the fact that he lives in a country which, for all of its - many - other faults, at least allows freedom of speech without people getting hacked to death over it.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's a piece of sharp perception from The Mighty Elv and his three little Attractions - well two little 'uns and Big Pete Thomas, anyway - and a sort of general description of the events on the first day at the Trent Bridge test. In the words of the former Andy Kershaw, 'four eyes, one vision.'

1 comment:

RAHIM MAAROF said...

Thanks for posting artical on Cilla Black. She was one of my favorite singer when I was
growing up. Thanks

Regards
Rahim Maarof