Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Ain't That A Lesson For Us All?

The Voice once again topped the overnight ratings on Saturday, drawing an audience of 6.87 million, almost three hundred thousand up from the previous episode's overnight figure. BBC1 had its traditionally strong Saturday evening which was only let down by the very disappointing The Getaway Car (3.48m at 6.50pm). But, that aside, all the rest of the night's BBC1 programmes won their respective slots; Pointless Celebrities attracting 4.52m, Casualty with an audience of 5.09m, The National Lottery Live drawing 3.91m and Match Of The Day: FA Cup Highlights closing the evening with 2.82m overnight viewers. On ITV, Ninja Warrior had the better of The Getaway Car from 7pm - with 3.98m - but odious, risible shat Take Me Out was seen by a mere 2.91m and The Jonathan Ross Show by but 1.89m. BBC2's evening began with Flog It! (1.89m from 6.35pm), followed by a repeat of King George & Queen Mary: The Royals Who Rescued The Monarchy (1.96m), Dad's Army (2.12m) and The Real Marigold Hotel (1.50m). On Channel Four George Clarke's Amazing Spaces: Floating Homes attracted nine hundred and sixty two thousand viewers and the movie Now You See Me was watched by 2.08m from 9pm. Channel Five's Toddlers Make You Laugh Out Loud had an audience of eight hundred and seventy thousand punters. World War II Battlefield Recovery was watched by three hundred and sixty eight thousand, Football League Tonight by five hundred and eleven thousand and Celebrity Big Brother by 1.80m.

Sunday once again belonged to BBC1, with evening highs for Countryfile's Winter special (a remarkable 8.13 million overnight viewers from 7pm) and Call The Midwife (7.60m an hour later). The 9pm drama battle between War & Peace and the return of Vera to ITV, however, saw the Brenda Blethyn thriller have slightly the better of the two - 5.45 million against 4.78 million for the BBC's Tolstoy adaptation. BBC1's overnight ratings triumphs began in the afternoon with Match Of The Day Live and the FA Cup clash between The Muck Dons and Moscow Chelski FC watched by 4.26m (and a peak audience of 4.77m at 5.30pm). Vera aside, it was another horrible night for ITV. The wretched Planet's Got Talent was watched by 1.81m and Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands plunged to new depths with 1.38m from 7pm. Beowulf is,frankly, rapidly turning into another Jekyll & Hyde-style disaster for the commercial channel. Normally ITV tend to leave low-rated shows in their slots for the entire run but Beowulf's numbers are terrible - under one and a half million overnight viewers for a Sunday evening primetime drama. Surely they cannot continue broadcasting it at 7pm slot for another seven weeks? After that fiasco, Vera - considering the horrorshow lead-in and Call The Midwife as competition for its first half - did remarkably well in the circumstances. Panda Babies at 10.15pm drew 1.01mto end a shocking night for ITV. BBC2's evening began with Ski Sunday drawing 1.20m, after which the movie John Carter was watched by 1.13m, Dragons Den by 2.19m, James May's Cars Of The People by 1.75m and True Grit by nine hundred and twenty one thousand. On Channel Four The Incredibles attracted 1.80m whilst the return of the channel's crass z-list celebrity vehicle The Jump drew an average of 2.09 million overnight viewers, down five hundred thousand from the equivalent episode in 2015. The winter sports reality format, which features z-listers including Dean Cain, Sarah Harding and Linford Christie, managed a nine per cent share of total TV viewing between 7.30pm and 9pm. That was followed by Deutschland Eighty Three (five hundred and eighty thousand viewers) and Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown (five hundred and nine thousand). Channel Five showing of The Wedding Date brought in eight hundred and sixty two thousand, Celebrity Big Brother was watched by 2.31m and Celebrity Botched-Up Bodies was seen by eight hundred and forty one thousand.

The return of Vera is, of course, always welcome at Stately Telly Topping Manor. Two hours of watching drama for the sole purpose of looking for location inconsistencies. That's always a fun way to spend a Sunday evening. There was one corker during Sunday's episode; it's nice to know that the terrace bar next to the Baltic Arts Centre and the Millennium Bridge on Gatesheed quayside is now, apparently, a Chinese restaurant. Looks like a nice one as well. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping must check it out some time.
The final and consolidated numbers for the Top Twenty Four programmes, for week-ending Sunday 24 January 2016 are as follows:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun - 9.77m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.70m
3 Silent Witness - Mon BBC1 - 8.40m
4 Attenborough & The Giant Dinosaur - Sun BBC1 - 8.05m
5 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.88m
6 Death In Paradise - Thurs BBC1 - 7.83m
7 Still Open All Hours - Sun BBC1 - 7.75m
8 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 7.42m
9 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.23m
10 War & Peace - Sun BBC1 - 6.70m
11 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.97m
12 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.72m
13 The National Television Awards - Wed ITV - 5.71m
14 Shetland - Fri BBC1 - 5.45m
15 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.37m
16 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.25m
17 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.02m
18 Match Of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 4.73m
19 Holby City - Tues BBC1- 4.72m
20 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.44m
21 Birds Of A Feather - Fri ITV - 4.34m*
22 Endeavour - Sun ITV - 4.30*
23 Benidorm - Fri ITV - 4.28m*
24 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.20m
These consolidated figures include viewers who watched the programmes live and on catch-up, but does not include those who watched on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via computers. Those ITV programmes marked "*" indicates that they do not include HD viewers. Disappointing final figures continue for several ITV dramas, including Mr Selfridge (3.62m) and Jericho (3.16m) whilst the fourth episode of Beowulf again didn't even register an audience large enough to make it into ITV's top thirty programmes. On BBC2, University Challenge drew an audience of 3.18. The final of the latest series of Only Connect had 2.90m viewers, followed by Trust Me, I'm A Doctor (2.71m), Victorian Bakers (2.64m), Dragon's Den (2.60m), Dad's Army (2.40m), James May's Cars Of The People (2.20m), Mastermind (2.13m), What To Buy & Why (2.02m), the movie War Horse (1.95m) and The Town That Took On The Taxman (1.91m). The latest episode of Qi drew 1.71m. Location, Location, Location was Channel Four's top-rated broadcast of the week (2.67m), followed by The Undateables (2.46m), How To Lose Weight Well (2.25m), Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown (2.12m) and Walking The Himalayas (2.11m). Celebrity Big Brother continued to dominate Channel Five's week (Friday's eviction episode was the highest-rated with 2.95m. Depressing, isn't it?) Lip Sync Battle had 1.88m viewers, the movie Labyrinth was watched by 1.68m and the return of Gotham attracted 1.52m. Sky Sports 1's Live Ford Super Sunday and The Arse's clash with Moscow Chelski FC was watched by 1.64m punters, the largest audience for a multichannel broadcast during the week. Sky Sports 2's coverage of Live Test Cricket and Sunday's play in the fourth test between South Africa and England was watched by two hundred and thirty six thousand. Gillette Soccer Saturday was Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast, as usual, with a whopping nine hundred and ninety thousand punters. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated broadcast with 1.23m. A broadcast of the movie Absolute Power headed ITV4's top ten (two hundred and ninety six thousand). Empire Of The Tsars: Romanov Russia With Lucy Worsley on BBC4 drew an audience of nine hundred and twenty two thousand. The Young Montalbano was watched by eight hundred and thirty five thousand, whilst The Queen's Castle was seen by seven hundred and eighty thousand and The Good Old Days was watched by five hundred and eleven thousand, an audience figure that also saw Timeshift: Shipwrecks - Britain's Sunken History. The movie Die Hard With A Vengeance (nine hundred and three thousand) topped BBC3's top-ten list. Sky 1's most watched programme was the opening episode of Stan Lee's Lucky Man watched by 1.63 million viewers, making it the channel's biggest launch for an original drama series in the last four years. Hawaii Five-0 drew 1.02. Sky Atlantic's weekly list was topped by Blue Bloods (four hundred and ten thousand). On Sky Living, Blindspot was watched by nine hundred and twenty nine thousand and Bones by seven hundred and two thousand. Sky Arts' Occupied had one hundred and thirty eight thousand. 5USA's broadcast of Castle was watched by four hundred and seventeen thousand viewers and NCIS by three hundred and ninety two thousand. NCIS also featured in the top tens of FOX - the third episode of series thirteen attracting nine hundred and eighty nine thousand - and the Universal Channel - on which Major Crimes drew an audience of two hundred and nine thousand. CBS Action's weekly-list was topped by Bad Girls with one hundred and thirty three thousand. On Dave, Mock The Week was the channel's highest-rated programme with three hundred and fifty seven thousand. That was followed by Top Gear (three hundred and thirty seven thousand), Dave Gorman's Modern Life Is Goodish (three hundred and thirty six thousand) and Qi XL (three hundred and four thousand). Drama's The Inspector Lynley Mysteries was watched by five hundred and thirty eight thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Castle (four hundred and sixty eight thousand). Watch's broadcast of an old series of MasterChef was the channel's biggest hit of the week, Tuesday's episode seen by two hundred and twenty thousand. Yesterday's David Starkey's Monarchy: The Windsors had an audience of two hundred and twenty one thousand viewers whilst a repeat of the excellent David Bowie: Five Years was seen by two hundred and three thousand. Wild China drew one hundred and ninety thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush was watched by four hundred and thirty three thousand punters. Fast N' Loud had three hundred and thirty six thousand. On Discovery History, Tony Robinson's Wild West topped the weekly-list with audience of fifty thousand thousand viewers (more or less double the usual figure for the slot). Gunslingers was watched by thirty one thousand and Weapons Of War by twenty nine thousand. On Discovery Science, Mythbusters was seen by thirty three thousand punters. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programme were Fast N' Loud (fifty five thousand) and Wheeler Dealers (forty nine thousand). National Geographic's top ten was headed by Air Crash Investigations which had two hundred and seven thousand viewers and Challenger Disaster: Lost Tapes (eighty six thousand). The Curse Of Oak Island was seen by one hundred and seventy six thousand viewers on the History Channel. I Almost Got Away With It and A Crime To Remember were ID's top programmes of the week (both watched by seventy four thousand). The First Forty Eight topped CI's top ten (forty seven thousand). Eden's A Volcano Odyssey was seen by twenty nine thousand and Yellowstone by twenty seven thousand. GOLD's top ten was headed by the much-trailed The Comic Strip Presents ... Red Top (two hundred and thirty four thousand) and Blackadder Back & Forth (one hundred and twenty three thousand). Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (three hundred and thirty three thousand). On ITV Encore, Downton Abbey was watched by seventy nine thousand viewers. True Drama's William & Kate had thirty one thousand. Your TV's Unusual Suspects had seventy seven thousand viewers. On More4, Come Dine With Me was watched by four hundred and sixty two thousand.

Nearly six million people tuned in to watch The ONE Show's tribute to the late Sir Terry Wogan on Monday night. The special episode attracted an overnight audience of 5.82 million viewers - more than one-and-a-half million more viewers than any other episode of the magazine show in the last month. So far this year, the only ONE Show to match it was another special covering the FA Cup draw. BBC1's strong night continued with EastEnders (6.86m) and Silent Witness (5.81m). On BBC2, University Challenge had an audience of 2.81 million viewers, followed by Mary Berry's Foolproof Cooking (2.89m) whilst Bloody Queens interested 1.27m at 9pm. ITV's two episodes of Coronation Street were watched by 7.3 million and seven million viewers respectively. Benidorm attracted 3.8m th the cfhannel at 9pm. Channel Four's night started with Dispatches' investigation of parcel firms which pulled in 1.37m, the network's most watched programme of the night. Later, Supershoppers had 1.29m and The Undateables was seen by 1.26m. On Channel Five, Ancient Mysteries had an audience of seven hundred and forty thousand viewer at 8pm. Celebrity Big Brother kicked off its final week with a somewhat reduced audience of 2.01m whilst the latest episode of Gotham drew eight hundred and two thousand viewers at 10pm.

Now, dear blog reader, you are about to enter a certain place so, if you're bothered about such malarkey, beware.
'What would you do if you were a werewolf?' 'Get high all the time!' Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster - broadcast this week in the US - was, by a distance, the best The X Files episode since 1996. It's also the first X-Files episode written by the legend that is Darin Morgan since ... well, 1996. Coincidence? After From The North fave Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny his very self signed up to do a six episode mini-series of the cult 1990s SF drama, the name most of the show's fans - and, yer actual Keith telly Topping counts himself as fully paid up fan - were most excited to see in the credits for the revival series was Morgan. The writer and director is a favourite among fan for his absurdist-yet-poignant and thoroughly sharp episodes - he wrote four for the original series, Humbug, Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose, War Of The Copraphages and Jose Chung's "From Outer Space" as well as allegedly providing uncredited rewrites to a couple of others - notably Quagmire - and acting in another two, Small Potatoes and The Host. If you think of an X Files episode which falls into the 'one of the funny ones' category then, chances are, Darin Morgan - or his protégé Vince Gilligan - wrote it.
Morgan wrote this week's and it is everything you would expect from a Darin Morgan episode. It's properly hilarious, full of classic SF and horror references and B-movie spirit and is, ultimately, rich with meaning. It's also fabulous. It begins in classic Morgan style with Mulder at a low ebb, dejectedly throwing pencils at his I Want To Believe poster. When Scully brings him their next case, he complains about how, in the fourteen years that he and Scully have been off The X-Files, much of the creepy and weird paranormal phenomena which they previously investigated have turned out to be either hoaxes by attention-seekers or misunderstandings due to natural causes. Mulder's raison d'être has always been that he wants to believe in weird shit but, sometimes, he wants to believe too much to the point of making himself look foolish. Now, he seems to be on the verge of monster atheism. 'Mulder,' Scully says wearily, 'the Internet is not good for you!' No one writes Fox Mulder's character better than Morgan and no one is better at making him into a vaguely ridiculous figure tilting at windmills to the exasperation of his partner. Cleverly, however, Morgan inverts the usual X Files formula as Mulder becomes the sceptic in this episode and it's Scully who is enthusiastic about solving a bizarre mystery. 'I forgot how much fun these cases can be,' she says gleefully, after they've begun to look into a series of grizzly murders that may or may not have been committed by some feral beast in the woods. It has all the hallmarks of a werewolf attack, with throats ripped out during a full moon.
In one of the episode's funniest and most incisive scenes, Mulder paces back and forth in front of Scully, exploring multiple theories about the case, as well as what he expects her rebuttals to his theories will be whilst she is unable to get a word in edgewise. However, she is nevertheless elated by her partner's sudden enthusiasm as compared to his earlier lethargy. 'This is how I like my Mulder,' she says. 'So you're agreeing with me?' Mulder asks. 'No!' Scully replies. 'You're batcrap crazy!' The great thing about Morgan's script are that David Duchovny who, sometimes, appears to be phoning in his performances genuinely seems to love being given something usual to work with and here, as in previous Morgan episodes, he acts his little cotton socks off. As the investigation progresses the focus points to an odd chap staying at the same motel as Mulder and Scully, Guy Mann (played by the excellent New Zealand comic and actor Rhys Darby). Mulder finds out that Guy had been seeking psychiatric help, while Scully tracks him down to his job at a cellphone store. Meeting Mann at the cemetery, Mulder is told the sad story how Guy is actually a lizard creature who has been turned, against his will, into a were-human. Even if he does tell some outrageous lies about Scully seducing him. It can't be overstated how utterly hilarious the resulting fantasy sequence is, especially watching Anderson as she plays a kind-of cartoon version of The Fall's Stella Gibson, desperate for any bonking she can get, no matter with whom. 'Stop!' Mulder cries in the midst of Mann's exaggeratedly lurid tale of sex in the storage cupboard. 'That ... did not happen!' Alas, Mulder knows Scully too well.
Scully, of course, cracks the case whilst Mulder is still off chasing monsters; the killer turns out to be a local Animal Control officer, whose grandiose attempt at exposition is cut short by Scully's irritated 'save it for the trial!' 'But, I had a whole speech prepared,' the man whinges as he's led away by the fuzz. There's even a brief allusion to one of Morgan's previous scripts, Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose with the suggestion that Scully may (or may not) be immortal. Mulder, though, isn't satisfied with Mann's story: 'If there's nothing more to life than what we already know, there's nothing but worries, self doubt, regret, loneliness.' The agent seeks out the lizard man one more time because he doesn't believe his story. 'Life's hopeless,' he is told. 'A few fleeting moments of happiness surrounded by crushing loss and grief.' This is, again, Morgan at his best, exploring the senselessness of existence with a potent mix of humour and pathos. 'I'm just looking for some kind of internal logic,' Mulder says, as the insect-eating, blood-squirting, shape-shifting, lizard-monster's tale becomes increasingly labyrinthine and ridiculous. 'Why?' Mann asks, not unreasonably. 'There isn't an external logic to any of it.' This might be regarded as Morgan's smart way of commenting on the very show for which he's writing. For better or for worse, The X-Files thrives on impenetrable narratives which can never be neatly decoded. He's done this several times before - most notably in Jose Chung's "From Outer Space" - slaying more than a few of the sacred cows at the heart of The X Files' sometimes po-faced worldview. If The X Files does continue beyond the current six-episode run, it's to be hoped that Darin Morgan can be persuaded to write for it again as, to put it simply, nobody does it better.
Surely, dear blog reader, you didn't think for a second that Gotham had seen the last of Fish Mooney. Of course, the vixenish villainess got a dramatic send-off at the end of series one - pushed off a tall building by The Penguin - but in superhero drama no character ever really stays gone if they're popular enough. So, Jada Pinkett Smith is reportedly set to return when series two of the acclaimed drama returns next month. FOX has confirmed to TVLine this week that Pinkett Smith's character will be back for 'multiple' episodes in the second half of series two. Both Pinkett Smith and Gotham showrunner Bruno Heller have previously hinted that Fish could be back on the show.
Stephen Fry is to return to the issue of his own bipolar disorder as part of a two-week BBC1 season on the issue of mental health which also includes EastEnders exploring the issues of postpartum psychosis. The launch of a fortnight's programming on the UK's most-watched television channel, set to include several special reports on the main evening news bulletins as well as hard-hitting documentaries, demonstrates how mainstream the issue has become. The last time the BBC launched a season on mental health in 2013 it focused on young people only and was broadcast on BBC3. New NHS figures showed that the number of deaths annually among mental health patients in England has risen twenty one per cent over the last three years. The government's campaign, Time To Change, launched last October to raise awareness about the issue among young people, comes amid mounting criticism of cuts to mental health services. BBC1's In The Mind season kicks off on 15 February with a primetime broadcast of a documentary which sees Stephen Fry return to the issue of his own disorder ten years after his first award-winning show for BBC2. In The Not So Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive: Ten Years On, Stephen talks about his suicide attempt while filming in Uganda in 2012, six years after the last documentary was shown. Now president of the mental health charity Mind, Stephen talks about how his own busy lifestyle exacerbates his own illness, which can be managed but not cured. Diagnosed with cyclothymia, a version of bipolar disorder considered less severe than some, Stephen's appearance in the two-part documentary in 2006 went on to win an EMMY award for best documentary. Charlotte Moore, the controller of BBC TV channels and iPlayer said that a decade after this documentary is 'the right time' to revisit the issue: 'Now feels like the right time to bring this important subject to a mainstream audience on BBC1. To find out what has changed, what progress has been made and what the future holds for people living with mental health conditions in the UK. Over the last decade we've broken down taboos and medical advances mean we have a greater understanding of the brain than ever before, but we're not there yet. There is still so much more that needs to be done.' James Harding, director of BBC News, says: 'This is a moment when we stop and reflect on one of the big issues of our time, one that touches all of us. We will report and examine – with all the BBC's expertise, insight and understanding – on what's really happening in mental health.' A key strand to the BBC1 season is a series of special reports set to be shown on the BBC's main evening news bulletins at 6pm and 10pm. Topics will range from neuroscience to the NHS, and mental health in the black community. David Brown, the project initiator for BBC News, said: 'We're aiming to make a real contribution to understanding of mental health in the UK. It's a fantastic opportunity to do something special for the BBC1 audience with an issue which will almost certainly touch all of us at some point in our lives.' Other documentaries include My Baby, Psychosis & Me, which details the real-life stories of two women who suffer from postpartum psychosis following childbirth. A storyline involving Stacey in EastEnders will involve the same issue. When BBC3 launched the It's A Mad World season, the headline-grabbing titles, including Don't Call Me Crazy and Diaries Of A Broken Mind, attracted some controversy but won plaudits for raising awareness of the issue.

The BBC will broadcast the next five Olympics - Summer and Winter - on its television, radio and online platforms and continue an association that began with radio coverage of the 1928 Games. It had already secured the rights for the 2016, 2018 and 2020 Games. Now an 'innovative' partnership with Discovery Communications ensures the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing and the Summer Games two years later will also be broadcast by the corporation. The announcement ensures the BBC will continue to be the free-to-air home of the best Olympic action until 2024. 'The Olympic Games is one of the nation's most treasured sporting events,' said Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport. 'This is an extensive package of rights that ensures we can offer the best of the Games, across TV, radio, online and digital, maximising the reach and impact of the BBC. This ground-breaking partnership also shows how the BBC can collaborate and work with others to continue to bring the very best in sport to licence fee payers.' The 2012 Games in London were watched on the BBC by more than fifty million people in the United Kingdom. Seven million people accessed the BBC website every day, with one hundred and eleven million requests for video and more than two million people downloading the app. 'The BBC prides itself on bringing the biggest sporting moments to the public,' said Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC. 'I'm delighted that through our new partnership with Discovery, the BBC will continue to carry the torch for great sporting coverage right through to the 2024 Games. While the BBC has had to take some tough financial decisions, this partnership underlines our commitment to making world class sport available to all.' As part of the agreement, Discovery will sub-license from the BBC exclusive pay-TV rights to the 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games. David Zaslav, president and chief executive officer of Discovery Communications, said the deal was 'a win for UK sports fans.' He added: 'For thirty years, our two organisations have charted new frontiers with co-production partnerships in factual and natural history programming. Now we join together once again to bring the most compelling stories of human ambition, sacrifice and achievement to people across the UK.'

The BBC has also agreed a four-year deal to broadcast video coverage across its website of all major ICC cricket tournaments. The deal allows the BBC to show video clips, end-of-day round-ups, digital preview programming features and archive material in the UK. Major events will include the World Twenty20, Champions Trophy, Women's World Cup, and the 2019 World Cup. Video will be used to enhance coverage on all digital platforms, mobile alerts and on an enhanced live page.

Relatives of Frank Finlay have paid tribute to the Oscar-nominated actor after confirming that he had died last week, aged eighty nine. Josh Coombes, the drummer with the band Tigress, said that his grandfather, Finlay, had been 'a funny, loving, amazing storyteller' and 'an inspiration and one of the best actors this country has ever seen.' Finlay liked to remind interviewers that he had once played Jesus Christ. But with his prematurely silver hair, swarthy, vulpine features and deep, spine-chilling voice, it was as villains that he really excelled. Early in his career he played Iago to Laurence Olivier's Othello both on stage and in a movie adaptation, the performance in the latter won him Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. Of Finlay's television performances, the critic AA Gill once observed: 'I've always imagined that he must have been on his way to Speaker's Corner with a board promising the end of lust, nuts, sitting and the world, got banged on the head on the bus and ended up in Television Centre.' The end of lust, though, was never on the cards, for in the title role of Dennis Potter's adaptation of Casanova and as Peter Manson, the father with an unhealthy interest in his nubile daughter (Susan Penhaligon) in A Bouquet of Barbed Wire, Frank shattered the boundaries of what was considered acceptable to show on television. Mary Whitehouse popped up to condemn the 'lewdness' of Finlay's portrayal of the Eighteenth-Century seducer, working his way steadily through a cast of women in varying states of undress. She would, perhaps, have been even more appalled if she had known that some of the girls playing prostitutes were the genuine article. 'The BBC couldn't get actresses who were prepared to take their blouses off,' Frank recalled. 'So in the end they got girls off the streets.' The scandal caused by Casanova was as nothing, however, compared to the furore that erupted over A Bouquet Of Barbed Wire. With its themes of infidelity, sexual jealousy and incestuous desire, the series, a dramatisation of Andrea Newman's novel, became a Friday night cult in 1976 and was watched by over twenty million variously shocked or enthralled viewers. By the end, as Clive James concluded, 'everybody had been to bed with everybody else, except the baby.' The series turned Finlay into something of a sex symbol and TV Times readers voted him the best actor of the year for his role. But Frank always saw his television career as secondary to his main job as a theatre actor. He recalled that when A Bouquet of Barbed Wire was first screened, he was working with John Osborne on a stage production of one of his plays. 'Now, what's that bloody awful telly you're in on Friday nights?' Osborne asked him, adding: 'Terrible, it is? But I find I can't miss it!' Frank Finlay was born in Farnworth, Lancashire, in August 1926. His father, Josiah, worked as a packer in a local battery factory and Frank was educated at St Gregory the Great School where he appeared as The Mad Hatter in a production of Alice. During post-school jobs as a butcher's apprentice and a grocer's assistant, he took up amateur dramatics, then became an assistant stage manager of a theatre in Scotland before gaining a scholarship to RADA. He arrived in London to find himself in the company of a working-class theatrical invasion alongside Albert Finney, Alan Bates and John Osborne. 'It was still the time when the Reps were doing "Who's for tennis?" plays, so we spent days trying to lose our North Country accents,' Finlay recalled. 'Within two years of our leaving, they had a full-time voice coach teaching the students how to sound as if they came from Oop North!' After two seasons backstage, he made his first professional appearance in 1954 at Guildford rep, and three years later moved to Hammersmith and then Coventry, where the first part of Arnold Wesker's East End trilogy, Chicken Soup With Barley, was being staged. When it transferred to the Royal Court in 1958 in John Dexter's production, Frank won praise for his role as the incontinent Jewish paterfamilias Harry Kahn and went on to confirm his place as a rising star in the rest of the trilogy (Roots and I'm Talking About Jerusalem). One of his earliest television roles was in the family space adventure serial Target Luna (1960), as the journalist Conway Henderson. In a wide-ranging career across stage and screen, Frank starred as Porthos in Dick Lester's The Three Musketeers and its sequels, alongside Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain and Michael York. He also starred in Shaft In Africa, played Adolf Hitler in 1972's The Death Of Adolf Hitler, as well as appearing twice as Inspector Lestrade in Sherlock Holmes adaptations (A Study In Terror in 1965, and Murder By Decree, fourteen years later). He also played a role in an episode of the Granada Television adaptation of Sherlock Holmes starring Jeremy Brett, in which his son, Daniel, also played a minor role. Frank was a thoughtful Van Helsing in the BBC's 1977 adaptation of Count Dracula, was gloriously over-the-top as The Witchsmeller Pursuivant in the first series of The Black Adder and played Jacob Marley in a 1984 version of A Christmas Carol. In his later career, he appeared in the TV series Life Begins and as Jane Tennison's father in Prime Suspect. In 2007, he guest-starred in the Doctor Who audio adventure One Hundred and in Merlin, as Anhora, Keeper of the Unicorns. Frank was a devout Catholic who served as Vice President of the Catholic Association of Performing Arts and was a great supporter of Corpus Christi in Covent Garden. He was appointed CBE in 1984 though many fans wondered why he was never knighted. 'Perhaps I haven't been high-profile enough,' he suggested in a self-effacing interview with the Independent in the 1990s. His turns as Sancho Panza in The Adventures Of Don Quixote and Voltaire in Candide, both BBC Play Of The Month productions, however, led to BAFTA awards. He was married to his wife, Doreen Shepherd, for fifty years until her death in 2005. He is survived by their three children, Stephen, Cathy and Daniel.

The veteran BBC broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan has died aged seventy seven, after a short illness. In a statement, his family said: 'Sir Terry Wogan died today after a short but brave battle with cancer. He passed away surrounded by his family. While we understand he will be missed by many, the family ask that their privacy is respected at this time.' BBC Director General Tony Hall said: 'Terry truly was a national treasure.' Limerick-born Wogan had a fifty-year career on radio and television, including presenting Wake Up To Wogan on Radio 2 and the Wogan chat show on BBC1. He was also the voice of The Eurovision Song Contest in the UK for many years and had been involved in the annual Children In Need telethon since it began in 1980. An easy-going man off air, as well as on, he remained remarkably untouched by fame, fortune or any whiff of scandal. Michael Terence Wogan was born in Limerick in August 1938, the son of a grocery shop manager. His upbringing was strongly religious. At the age of eight he was sent to Crescent College, a school run by Jesuits where discipline was harsh. 'We were brainwashed into believing,' he later said, describing losing his faith at seventeen as 'a relief.' Sir Terry originally went into banking after college before switching careers to join Ireland's national Radio Eireann as a newsreader and announcer. He moved into light entertainment, as a DJ and host of TV quiz and variety shows in Ireland, before joining the BBC, where he would stay for the rest of his career. He first broadcast on the Light Programme in September 1966. He presented the Tuesday edition of Late Night Extra for two years on BBC Radio 1, commuting weekly from Dublin to London. After covering Jimmy Young's mid-morning show in July 1969, he was offered a regular afternoon Radio 1 slot between 3pm and 5pm. In 1972, he took over the breakfast show on BBC Radio 2. Wogan enjoyed unprecedented popularity, achieving audiences of up to eight million listeners. His seemingly ubiquitous presence across the media meant that he frequently became the butt of jokes by comedians of the time but he was capable of self-parody, releasing a vocal version of the song 'The Floral Dance' in 1978, by popular request from listeners who enjoyed hearing him sing over the instrumental hit version by The Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band. He presented the breakfast show from 1972 to 1984, as The Terry Wogan Show and then from 1993 to 2009 as Wake Up To Wogan. Sir Terry first covered Eurovision for television in 1973 and from 1980 to 2008, he provided the commentary each year for the BBC. His chat show, Wogan, ran from 1982 to 1992, eventually being broadcast three times a week. During that time, he also hosted the popular quiz show Blankety Blank. He also compèred Come Dancing, Miss World, Do The Right Thing and Auntie's Bloomers. He wrote a column in the Sunday Telegraph for many years and published several books, including the autobiographies, Is It Me? (2000) and Mustn't Grumble (2006). Having been awarded an OBE in 1997, Wogan took British citizenship in 2005 and was knighted the same year. He was the recipient of numerous broadcasting awards, as well as an honorary doctorate from the University of Limerick. He was appointed a deputy lieutenant for Buckinghamshire and was a freeman of Limerick and of the City of London. In Who's Who he listed his occupation as 'jobbing broadcaster.' Sir Terry is survived by his wife of fifty years, Lady Helen - whom he often referred to in the radio shows as 'the current Mrs Wogan' - and their three children. The couple also had a daughter, Vanessa, who died in infancy.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's a fine glass of Juice.

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