Friday, February 19, 2016

Be Thou The Rainbow In The Storm Of Life

Doctor Who series one (first broadcast in 2005) has been named as the most frequently bought drama in the entire forty year history of BBC Worldwide's Showcase event. Worldwide is, of course, the commercial arm of the Beeb, which sells the best British TV shows - from both the BBC and UK independent producers - around the world. Since 1976 it, and its predecessor, BBC Enterprise, has hosted international TV buyers at its own annual sales event, BBC Showcase. The first Showcase took place in a meeting room at The Old Ship Hotel in Brighton and was attended by twenty five overseas buyers. Since then, the Showcase has grown into the world’s biggest single distributor trade fair, regularly attracting more than seven hundred international buyers. To celebrate forty years of Showcase, BBC Worldwide has released the new data based on the number of times that a title has been bought rather than the number of territories it was bought by, which shows how series continue to interest broadcasters again and again. The most purchased drama series has been named as Doctor Who series one. Starring yer actual Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor, the series has attracted six hundred and twenty nine buyers from countries including Bahrain, Hong Kong, France and Chile. But not the Federated States of Micronesia. No cigar there, then. Doctor Who was one of the titles screened to buyers at the very first Showcase in 1976. The most bought comedy programme is the wretched, unfunny sitcom Keeping Up Appearances which has been bought nine hundred and ninety two times over the forty year period. Why, no one knows. The most bought natural history title is The Life Of Mammals with nine hundred and fifty eight sales and the most bought factual entertainment series is Top Gear series nine, broadcast in 2006, which has clocked up two hundred and eighty two sales.
Yer actual Peter Capaldi is to feature in a series of films marking the four hundred years since William Shakespeare's death (which occurred in 1616, just in case you're not very good at maths). The Complete Walk has been organised by Shakespeare's Globe, the theatre complex based on London's Southbank and the location of the 2007 Doctor Who story The Shakespeare Code. The Walk, to be held over the spring weekend of 23 to 24 April, will feature a series on short films, shown on thirty seven screens, along a two-and-a-half mile route on the Thames embankment between Westminster and Tower Bridge. Each screen will show a ten minute film based on one of Shakespeare's plays, each shot on location in a setting with a particular historical and narrative resonance to the story. Yer man Capaldi his very self will play the titular role in Titus Andronicus in scenes specially shot in Rome. Other films include Cleopatra in front of the Pyramids, Shylock in Venice's Jewish quarter, Hamlet on the rocks of Elsinore in Denmark, Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace and Richard II in Westminster Hall. Other Doctor Who alumni taking part include Lindsay Duncan in All's Well That Ends Well, filmed in Roussillon and Meera Syal as Lucetta in The Two Gentlemen Of Verona. After appearing in London, the project will be presented in cities across the UK and internationally, after which the films will be accessible on Globe Player.
Meanwhile, this week saw a visit to CERN's Large Hadron Collider (or, as Mad Frankie Boyle calls it 'The Black Hole Machine'!) by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE). Needless to say, he took the TARDIS along. This blogger's advice to Steven was 'try not a create any Black Holes whilst you're there and, if you think you're in any danger of doing so, ask that Cox fellow what to do, he seems to know ... stuff.
It was also The Moffinator his very self who informed this blogger of something that Keith Telly Topping had completely missed - pfft, call yourself a media watcher, Telly Topping? The fact that Doctor Who won a Golden Tomato Award at the annual ceremony held by the Rotten Tomatoes film and TV review website this week as the 'best-reviewed TV SF/fantasy/horror' series of 2015. Congratulations to all at the Doctor Who production office on winning this thoroughly well-deserved and prestigious award. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping thinks it's great.
BBC1's most watched overnight programme on Monday was EastEnders (6.87m). The last ever BBC3 same-night EastEnders repeat pulled in a further three hundred and seventy six thousand punters at 10pm. Elsewhere on BBC1, The ONE Show drew 4.03m, Inside Out was watched by 3.35m, Panorama had 2.03m and the Stephen Fry-fronted documentary The Not So Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive: Ten Years On attracted 2.21 million viewers. On ITV, Griff's Great Britain had an audience of 3.19m, sandwiched between the evening's two episodes of Coronation Street (7.36m at 7.30pm and 6.92m at 8.30pm). Benidorm was watched by 4.03m at 9pm. BBC2's night began with Chinese New Year: The Biggest Celebration On Earth (1.42m) at 7pm. Later, the first episode of The People Versus OJ Simpson pulled in a more-than-decent 1.69m audience at 9pm. That followed The Great Interior Design Challenge (1.58m). Channel Four's Dispatches investigation of ambulance waiting times wasn't one of the strand's most watched episodes, being seen by 1.25m at 8pm. Supershoppers drew an audience of 1.38m. The second episode of Royal Navy School attracted 1.65m at 9pm, up fourteen per cent on the slot average. On Channel Five, the second episode of The X-Files was down a million overnight viewers on its - extraordinary - opening night audience (see below) but it still easily topped the network's night with 2.13m at 9pm. Ice Road Truckers hit a series high of seven hundred and fifty four thousand whilst Gotham was seen by six hundred and seventy three thousand at 10pm. The second episode of Vinyl on Sky Atlantic meanwhile attracted forty nine thousand viewers at 9pm (whilst an early morning simultcast with the US broadcast was watched by a further thirty thousand). And, just in case you didn't know, it was the last night of BBC3. Oh, how the bitter salt tears from Russell Kane (very popular with students) and the like did flow. Tough. In addition to the usual repeats of EastEnders, Family Guy and American Dad!, the channel's last night also included further repeats - Top Gear (three hundred and ten thousand), Don't Tell The Bride (two hundred and sixty five thousand), wretched, awful Gavin & Stacey (three hundred and fifty four thousand), wretched, awful Little Britain (four hundred and ten thousand) and really wretched and awful Bad Education (two hundred and forty four thousand). And so, it's gone now. Online where one can comfortably ignore its existence. Good riddance to rotten shite.

BBC3 - you know, it used to be a TV channel - spent the majority of Tuesday desperately telling people on Twitter that the channel is not dead. Merely 'no longer on telly'. Because, of course, 'people on Twitter' are the only people that matter as far as most of those in the TV industry are concerned, it would seem. Just as the various lowlife phlegm that, this week, forced Stephen Fry into his latest 'I'm quitting Twitter' moment consider themselves, apparently, worthy of having their whinging listened to by 'normal people'. And, all of this nonsense was then reported - as 'breaking news' - by the Gruniad Morning Star. Because they also seem to believe that Twitter is The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things. Which, it isn't. Not even close. Jesus, do you ever have one of those days where you feel like you've woken up in the Bizarro universe?
On Tuesday evening, BBC1's overnight audience began with 3.73m for The ONE Show. Later, EastEnders had 6.52 million viewers, Holby City attracted 4.64m at 8pm and the second episode of the new series of Happy Valley had 6.24m - three hundred thousand punters down on the series' opener the previous week. Of course, some louse of no importance by with a sick agenda at the Daily Scum Mail had a theory as to why (instead of just noting the normal sort of sized drop-off from the opening episode of any drama to episode two. Well done, Lucy, all of us are sure that your mother is very proud of you and all you've achieved in your life. Particularly being employed by a newspaper group that spent the majority of the 1930s openly supporting Hitler and Oswald Mosley). ITV had their usual rotten Tuesday night with The Kyle Files being watched by 2.24m, the new factual format It's Not Rocket Science attracting but 1.94m and, at 9pm, Heroes & Villains: Caught On Camera getting a mere 1.49 million, a figure which was beaten by a new episode of The Supervet on Channel Four (1.54m). It was a decent night for Four, broadly speaking, with The Secret Life Of The Zoo drawing 1.81m at 8pm (just a fraction less than It's Not Rocket Science). On BBC2, Back In Time For The Weekend was watched by 2.21m at 8pm, Chinese New Year: The Biggest Celebration on Earth had 1.18 at 9pm and Phone Shop Idol drew four hundred and forty one thousand viewers at 10pm. Channel Five was, seemingly, renamed 'Channel Benefits' for the evening; The Great British Benefits Handout seen by 1.10m at 9pm whilst Bargain-Loving Brits In The Sun attracted 1.05m an hour earlier. Milly's Killer: How Many More? had an audience of six hundred and eighty nine thousand at 10pm.

Wednesday, as usual, was ITV's big night of the week, with Emmerdale averaging 5.31m overnight punters at 7pm and Coronation Street being seen by 5.63m. However, the normally strong Midsomer Murders could only attract 4.05m for its latest episode from 8pm and lost out on both the eight o'clock and nine o'clock slots to BBC1 - The Great Sport Relief Bake Off watched by 5.87m and DIY SOS: The Big Build by 4.35m respectively. On BBC2, The Great Interior Design Challenge brought in 1.55m, The One Hundred Thousand Pound House: Tricks Of The Trade drew 1.53m and the opening episode of the, much-trailed, drama One Child attracted 1.36m. Channel Four's night began with eight hundred and eighty thousand for Posh Pawn at 8pm and continued with 1.61m for Twenty Four Hours In A&E: at 9pm. Bodyshockers: Nips, Tucks & Tattoos was watched by eight hundred and thirty one thousand. On Channel Five, GPS: Behind Closed Doors was seen by 1.16m, Violent Child, Desperate Parents by eight hundred and thirty nine thousand and The Boy With Giant Hands by six hundred and eleven thousand. On ITV2, a broadcast of White House Down was seen by six hundred thousand viewers at 9pm. In the same slot, Sky 1's Limitless had four hundred and sixty one thousand and BBC4's excellent The Bermuda Triangle: Beneath The Waves was seen by six hundred and three thousand.

Thursday's night's BBC1 schedule was propped up by impressive overnight figures for EastEnders (6.16m at 7.30pm) and Death In Paradise (a terrific 6.16m at 9pm). In between, however, Dickensian continued to struggle along with 2.30m at 8pm for its eighteenth episode. Whether the BBC will ever again produce a twenty-episode drama series again has to be seriously in question. On ITV, horrible, worthless pile of steaming shat Birds Of A Feather continues to, very annoyingly, do decent business, the latest episode of the, alleged, 'comedy' being watched by 4.29 million punters at 8.30pm. Poor old Jericho, however, is having as bad a time of it as Dickensian, with a mere 2.42m watching the second-to-last episode of the ambitious-but-not-very-good period drama. Still, bright side, in terms of complete and utter floppage, Beowulf, which reportedly cost much more to make, is still - by a distance - a far greater fiasco. On BBC2, Sea Cities at 7pm, was watched by 1.75m, the opening episode of Monty Don's new series Big Dreams Small Spaces attracted a more-than-decent 1.95m at 8pm and The Story Of China had 1.15m an hour later. Location, Location, Location was seen by 1.74m on Channel Four at 8pm, followed by Keeping Up With The Khans (eight hundred and seventy one thousand viewers at 9pm) and a repeat of the excellent Inside The Ku Klux Klan (six hundred and sixty three thousand at 10pm). Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild had an audience of six hundred and twelve thousand on Channel Five at 8pm. Thereafter Storm Force: Winter Road Rescue drew 1.11m and Inside The World's Toughest Prisons had nine hundred and nine thousand.

On Friday evening, EastEnders pulled in an overnight audience of 6.48m at 8pm and Shetland was watched by 4.51m at 9pm on BBC1. Dickensian attracted 2.20m for its penultimate episode. On ITV, Best Walks With A View With Julia Bradbury's opening episode had an overnight of 3.19m, a respectable average figure and a significant improvement of Julia's last factual format, The Wonder Of Britain, which was, infamously, pulled from ITV's primetime schedules after just two episodes following disastrously low overnights. The once-very-popular Mr Selfridge continues to shed viewers all over the place, however, the latest episode of its fourth series - the seventh out of ten - being watched by an overnight audience of just 2.74m at 9pm. Chances of a series five? Not high, this blogger would suggest. One area of the schedules where ITV are doing rather well at the moment is teatime, where the combination of Tipping Point (2.37m at 4pm) and The Chase (3.21m at 5pm) are drawing the sort of audiences that many primetime ITV shows would give their teeth to get anywhere near. And, of course, the commerical channel's two long-running soaps continue to prove reliably popular with viewers, Friday's Emmerdale (5.95m) and Coronation Street (6.88m and 6.44m) very much proving that point. BBC2's evening kicked-off with Mastermind (1.76m) at 8pm, which was followed by Grand Tours Of The Scottish Islands (1.65m), Earth's Greatest Spectacles (1.27m) and Qi (1.02m at 10pm). On Channel Four, a new series of Gogglebox was watched by an overnight 3.56m and The Last Leg drew a terrific 1.62m at 10pm. King Tut's Tomb: The Hidden Chamber was Channel Five's evening highlight - nine hundred and eighty four thousand at 9pm. On Sky1, the latest episode of Stan Lee's Lucky Man had an overnight of three hundred and nine thousand.

The return of yer actual Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway provided ITV's flagging Saturday night schedule with a timely boost, the opening episode of the cheeky-chappie-doon-The-Bigg-Market duo's popular comedy format being watched by an overnight audience of 6.89m from 7pm. ITV's gain was, very much, BBC1 loss as The Voice - which had been doing quite well over previous weeks, whilst admittedly up against far weaker opposition - had its lowest audience of the current series, the last 'blind audition' episode being watched by 5.51m viewers when facing a clash with something more challenging than Ninja Warrior. That apart, the rest of BBC1's evening line-up was solid and steady, the channel winning all the other primetime slots: Match Of The Day Live: Bournemouth Versus Everton drew 4.11m punters to the FA Cup Fifth Round clash and The Toffees victory over The Cherries. The National Lottery: Win Your Wish List attracted 4.21m, Casualty's audience was a fraction under five million viewers and Match Of The Day: FA Cup Highlights was seen by 2.51m. ITV's odious, risible, horrifyingly wretched shat Take Me Out had 3.85m when up against the final fifteen minutes of The Voice and Win Your Wish List whilst The Jonathan Ross Show - with 2.35m - got a damned good pants-down hiding from Casualty. On BBC2, the evening began with a last minute addition to the schedules, News Special: EU Referendum watched by 1.55m at 6pm. Thereafter, the latest Dad's Army repeat drew 2.13m, the movie Cast Away had 1.95m and Kipling's Indian Adventure brought in 1.29m at 9.15pm. Channel Four's Great Canal Journeys was seen by nine hundred thousand viewers whilst poxy, trite and thoroughly offensive Penelope Keith's Hidden Villages was watched by 1.34m Daily Scum Mail-reading Little Englanders. After that, Robocop had an audience of 1.21 although, how many people who watched the former show also watched the latter is a question well worth asking. On Channel Five, Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! attracted eight hundred and fifty seven thousand at 8pm. The Championship: Football League Tonight drew three hundred and sixty three thousand an hour later. The latest two episodes of BBC4's imported Trapped were watched by six hundred and thirty seven thousand and five hundred and fifty seven thousand viewers respectively. Rod Stewart Live At Hyde Park had two hundred and sixty one thousand.

The first episode of the BBC's star-studded adaptation of John Le Carré's espionage thriller The Night Manager drew an overnight audience of more than six million viewers on Sunday. The BBC1 drama - which stars Tom Hiddleston, Huge Laurie and Olivia Colman among others - had 6.14 million viewers for its opening instalment, a twenty six per cent share of all available TV viewing between 9pm and 10pm. It comfortably won its slot, beating its closest rival, the closing episode of the current series of Vera, which pulled in 4.56 million between 8pm and 10pm for ITV. The latter was rather a good episode, actually - mostly filmed at North Shields Fish Quay, fact fans - and the ITV continuity announcer at the end confirmed that the popular crime drama series will return 'next year'. The Night Manager wasn't the most popular drama of the night, however. Call The Midwife, which was shown on BBC1 from 8pm to 9pm, drew 7.66 million and a thirty one per cent audience share. It was, as usual, a strong night overall for BBC1 with Countryfile attracting 6.94m at 7pm, a slightly lower figure than usual. It appears that its lead-in show, Dickensian - the final episode of which was shown on Sunday to a marginally increased audience of 3.92m - managed to do what neither The X-Factor or Beowulf could and put a small dent in Countryfile's figures. In the afternoon, Match Of The Day Live: Moscow Chelski FC Versus Sheikh Yer Man City Reserves had 4.63m viewers whilst, at 10.30pm, Match Of The Day: FA Cup Highlights closed the evening with 2.11m. Vera aside, ITV's night was typically disastrous, with grossly expensive drama flop Beowulf's latest episode being watched by a mere 1.51m. Planet's Got Toilets had 1.93m. On BBC2, the movie I Am Number Four had an audience of 1.52m, Dragons' Den drew 2.31m and Let's Play Darts For Sport Relief was seen by 1.55m at 9pm. Channel Four's broadcast of Dumbo attracted an audience of 1.66m, The Secret Life Of The Zoo was watched by 1.72m, the latest episode of The Jump had 1.64m viewers and, for once, no broken bones and a showing of the final part of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's Cornetto Trilogy The World's End - a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping - attracted 1.24m. On Channel Five Disney's The Fox & The Hound had an audience of eight hundred and twenty nine thousand viewers, the seven hundred and sixty eighth TV broadcast of Dirty Dancing was watched by 1.17m and Greatest Eighties Movies pulled in six hundred and eighteen thousand. Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD on E4 drew four hundred and thirty thousand and Sky1's Hawaii Five-O had four hundred and sixty one thousand.

The final and consolidated numbers for the Top Twenty Five programmes, for week-ending Sunday 14 February 2016 were as follows:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 9.62m
2 Happy Valley - Tues BBC1 - 8.63m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.43m
4 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 8.11m
5 Death In Paradise - Thurs BBC1 - 7.90m
6 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.52m
7 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.23m
8 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 7.11m
9 Vera - Sun ITV - 6.53m
10 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 6.03m
11 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 6.00m
12 Shetland - Fri BBC1- 5.77m
13 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.698m
14 Rugby Six Nations: Wales Versus Scotland - Sat BBC1 - 5.28m
15 Midsomer Murders - 5.13m*
16 Holby City - Tues BBC1- 4.85m
17 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.84m
18 British Academy Film Awards - Sun BBC1 - 4.62m
19 The X-Files - Mon Channel Five - 4.60m
20 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.40m
21 Benidorm - Mon ITV - 4.26m*
22 Birds Of A Feather - Thurs ITV 4.19m*
23 The National Lottery: Win Your Wish List - Sat BBC1 - 4.19m
24 The Graham Norton Show - Fri BBC1 - 4.05m
25 The Real Marigold Hotel - Tues BBC2 - 3.98m
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 (3.14m) and Jericho (3.17m). Needless to say, Beowulf didn't register an audience large enough to make it into ITV's top thirty programmes. On BBC2, aside from the continued success of The Real Marigold Hotel, Mary Berry's Foolproof Cooking had a fraction over three million viewers, followed by University Challenge (2.95m), Back In Time For The Weekend (2.77m), Cats Versus Dogs: Which Is Best? (2.73m), Greece With Simon Reeve (2.48m), Match Of The Day 2 (2.47m), Dad's Army (2.18m) and The One Hundred Thousand Pound House: Tricks Of The Trade (2.06m). The latest episode of Qi was watched by 1.46m. First Dates was Channel Four's top-rated broadcast of the week (2.76 million), followed by Royal Navy School (2.42m), The Secret Life Of The Zoo (2.39m), The Jump (2.24 million viewers), Twenty Four House In A&E (2.24m), Location, Location, Location (2.17m) and The Last Leg (2.15m). With Celebrity Big Brother - mercifully - having ended, Channel Five's top performer, by a distance, was The X-Files (see below for further details). Violent Child, Desperate Parents drew 1.76m and GPs Behind Closed Doors 1.69m, while the latest episode of Gotham had 1.60m. Sky Sports 1's Live Ford Super Sunday and coverage of Sheikh Yer Man City versus Stottingtot Hotshots was watched by 1.78m punters, the largest audience for a multichannel broadcast during the week. The same day's other two Premier League games - The Arse versus Leicester City and Aston Villains Nil versus Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws - had audiences of 1.43m and 1.41m respectively, whilst the previous evening's Live Ford Saturday Night Football - and yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable and, apparently, relegation-bound) Magpies latest shameful and cowardly 'surrender before kick-off', against Moscow Cheski FC - was seen by seven hundred and twenty three thousand. At least a portion of whom, one suspected, turned off long before the end in disgust. Sky Sports 2's Live ODI Cricket and coverage of the Friday international between South Africa and England was watched by three hundred and thirty one thousand. Gillette Soccer Saturday was Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast, as usual, with an 'uge eight hundred and seventy thousand punters. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated broadcast (a whopping 1.17m). Lewis drew eight hundred and eighty six thousand. A broadcast of Goldeneye headed ITV4's top ten (four hundred and forty thousand) and another movie, Despicable Me was ITV2's best performer with nine hundred and eighty one thousand. Imported Icelandic drama Trapped began on BBC4 with audiences of 1.27m and 1.13m viewers for its first two episodes. Addicted To Sheep was watched by five hundred and forty five thousand, whilst Natural World Special was seen by five hundred and twelve thousand and Grand Tours Of Scotland by five hundred and five thousand. Elizabeth I: A Timewatch Guide had four hundred and eighty four thousand and Horizon attracted four hundred and fifty eight thousand. Traffic Cops (nine hundred and fifty seven thousand) topped BBC3's second-to-last top-ten list in a week in which five of the now-former TV channel's most watched programmes were episodes of Family Guy. Sky 1's most watched show was the fourth episode of Stan Lee's Lucky Man with a consolidated audience of 1.20 million viewers. Hawaii Five-0 drew 1.02m. Sky Atlantic's weekly list was topped by Blue Bloods (three hundred and seventy eight thousand) and the opening episode of Vinyl (one hundred and seventy eight thousand). On Sky Living, Elementary was watched by eight hundred and fifty four thousand and Bones by six hundred and forty two thousand, followed by Madam Secretary (four hundred and twenty three thousand). Sky Arts' Occupied had ninety two thousand and ABBA: Dancing Queen by sixty seven thousand. The History Of The Eagles: Part 2 drew fifty thousand stinking, lice-ridden hippies to it - did we really fight The Punk Wars for this? - whilst documentaries about a couple of bands that were actually worth listening to, REM By MTV and The Story Of The Jam: About The Young Idea attracted thirty eight thousand and thirty thousand punters respectively. 5USA's broadcast Castle was watched by four hundred and fifty four thousand viewers and NCIS by three hundred and seventy two thousand. NCIS also featured in the weekly top tens of FOX - the latest episode of series thirteen attracting 1.06m punters - and the Universal Channel. On the latter, Major Crimes drew an audience of two hundred and thirty one thousand. Aside, from NCIS, FOX's top ten also included Marvel's Agent Carter (five hundred and thirty thousand viewers). On CBS Action, Bad Girls was seen by one hundred and forty four thousand. On Dave, Suits was the highest-rated programme with three hundred and ninety nine thousand. That was followed by Have I Got A Bit More News For You (three hundred and thirty nine thousand), Qi XL (three hundred and one thousand), Alan Davies: As Yet Unfunny (two hundred and eighty six thousand) and Room 101 (two hundred and seventy five thousand). Drama's Dalziel & Pascoe was watched by three hundred and twenty four thousand and Inspector George Gently by three hundred and twenty thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Castle (four hundred and fifty six thousand), followed by Murdoch Mysteries (two hundred and sixteen thousand). In the first week after its rebranding, on W - the channel formerly know as Watch - Grimm was seen by five hundred and thirty five thousand. Yesterday's The Great Rift: Africa's Wild Heart had an audience of one hundred and seventy five thousand viewers whilst David Starkey's The Monarchy: The Windsors was seen by one hundred and sixty four thousand and Locomotion: Dan Snow's History of The Railways by one hundred and forty five thousand. The World At War had one hundred and twenty six thousand viewers. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush was watched by four hundred and sixty eight thousand punters. Fast N' Loud had two hundred and twenty thousand and Mythbusters one hundred and eighty five thousand. On Discovery History, The Executioners topped the weekly-list with audience of forty two thousand viewers. Gunslingers attracted forty one thousand. On Discovery Science, Food Factory USA was seen by forty four thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programmes were Fifth Gear (sixty eight thousand) and Wheeler Dealers (forty nine thousand). National Geographic's top ten was headed by Air Crash Investigations which had one hundred and forty eight thousand viewers and Primal Survivors (sixty five thousand). Texas Rising was seen by one hundred and forty eight thousand viewers on The History Channel. Ghost Asylum and Facing Evil were ID's top programmes of the week (forty nine thousand and forty four thousand viewers respectively). They Took Our Child, We Got Her Back topped CI's top ten (sixty eight thousand), followed by The Hatton Garden Heist: One Last Job (fifty three thousand). GOLD's top ten was headed by Only Fools & Horses (one hundred and ninety nine thousand). Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (four hundred and eighteen thousand). On ITV Encore, Vera was watched by one hundred and eighteen thousand viewers. Your TV's Snapped had fifty five thousand viewers. On More4, The Good Wife was watched by seven hundred and six thousand.

The first episode of the new X-Files provided Channel Five with its biggest audience ever for a drama in the channel's history, with more than five million total viewers watching the show live or catching it in the week after it was first broadcast. The début episode, the first new X-Files TV episode in thirteen years, drew an average of 3.35 million live viewers and a fifteen per cent share of total TV viewing in its Monday night slot – the best new US drama launch for Channel Five since The Mentalist in 2009. Nearly two million further viewers chose to record and watch the first episode over the following week. The boost in viewing gave The X-Files a total consolidated audience of 5.1 million (including five hundred thousand on C5+1), and a nineteen per cent audience share of all consolidated viewing between 9pm and 10pm, the largest for any drama since the channel launched in 1997. For Channel Five it is the biggest show since the launch of Celebrity Big Brother in 2011. The only other programmes to beat it were coverage of two football matches, England versus Poland in Euro 2000 and a World Cup qualifier match in 2001.
Meanwhile, dear blog reader, the latest - fifth - episode of The X Files revival, Babylon, was broadcast in the US this week. This saw Chris Carter effectively trying to write a Darin Morgan-style episode and getting it about three quarters right (apart from a very wanky philosophising scene at the end). But, if only for the sight of a stoned David Duchovny line-dancing, this blogger is going to let Carter off on this occasion!
The X-Files reboot has been a pretty major success for FOX, but the big question is will there be any more episodes after the mini-event series wraps this week. While there are said to be 'no firm plans' at this time for a second round of episodes, with the ratings it's been getting, FOX executives are undoubtedly discussing the possibility of ordering more.  Indeed, it's noticeable that the network has been promoting Monday's finale as the 'season finale' rather than a 'series finale'. A minor, but possibly significant difference. 'We said before it aired that we would love to do more and we are over the moon with the performance. So far, the response has been really encouraging,' FOX entertainment president David Madden told Variety. 'We haven't talked to the talent yet about season two in any more definitive way than we had prior to airing the show, but certainly, it seems like there’s an audience responding to the show that would love to see more episodes.' The performance certainly has been impressive. More than fifty million international viewers watched the two-night première in the first three days following its debut on FOX channels in eighty countries, and The X-Files has held strong since its opener. Though it fell off this week opposite the Grammy Awards, the drama has been pulling in quietly impressive return, averaging a 3.3 rating in adults eighteen to forty nine and around ten million total viewers in same-day averages through five episodes so far. The series has been a gainer in delayed viewing, too, with its 8 Feb episode ranking number two in the eighteen to forty nine demographic among all dramas for the week behind only AMC's The Walking Dead, in 'live plus-three' estimates from Nielsen. And, FOX has got to be pleased with its big online numbers via FOX Now and Hulu. Alleged 'insiders' have allegedly told Variety there are 'no official conversations' under way as yet regarding the future of the franchise, but FOX would clearly love to make more X-Files happen, if they can - the main hurdle would be getting the schedules of Chris Carter, From The North favourite Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny to align, given their various other commitments. When asked about the possibility of a second rebooted season last month at the Television Critics Association press tour, FOX bosses Dana Walden and Gary Newman also touched on the subject, saying, 'The biggest impediment to going forward with The X-Files is the schedule of David and Gillian and, to an extent, Chris. But, even the other night at the première, we were all laughing and joking that we would love to do this again. So we would be on board if schedules can be worked out.' Long before the six revival episodes were broadcast, Duchovny talked to Variety about the possibility of returning for more episodes. 'I would never have gone and done another twenty two episodes of X-Files,' Duchovny said. 'But we're going to do six, well, that's like doing a movie. That's like continuing the show in a way that we all can do at this point in our lives so that's how it all came about. Six to me sounds very doable at any walk of my life. It's not a great hardship in terms of time. I would hope it will be successful, I would hope we could continue, but right now, I'm just looking at it as these six and then we'll see what happens.' Probably not to Duchovny's surprise, the series has indeed been successful and the potential for a follow-up is clearly there, especially with FOX's track record of bringing back hits like 24, which was revived in 2014 for a twelve-episode limited series and is planned to come back yet again with a reimagined pilot greenlit.

Beowulf, ITV's properly disastrous seventeen million smackers attempt to capitalise on the success of Game Of Thrones, looks set to be axed after just one series according to various media reports. Although, sadly not with an actual axe, because people might have watched that. ITV had high hopes for the TV adaptation of the epic Old English poem and several of the cast boasted, loudly, to anyone that would listen that they had signed five year contracts in the confident expectation that the series was set for a long and successful run. But, sadly for ITV, Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands utterly failed to resonate with viewers in any way, shape or form. Because it was rubbish, basically. So far, eight episodes of the twelve-part drama have been broadcast pulling an average overnight audience of about one-and-a-half million (sometimes, less), far short of what ITV would have been hoping for with such a big budget drama in a prime Sunday evening slot. At launch ITV was unabashed about its plans for Beowulf hoping that it would become a sort of multi-series British Game Of Thrones, but with less violence and nudity than the hit HBO show. Ignoring the fact that the reason why many viewers seemingly watch Game Of Thrones in the first place is precisely because of the sex and violence. That's certainly why yer actual Keith Telly Topping watches it. This, however, never seems to have even occurred to ITV. 'Game Of Thrones, for example, is a great series but many people, including younger viewers, can't watch it because of the level of sex and violence,' said Tim Haines, the co-creator and executive producer on Beowulf, at a launch even last year. 'Beowulf is a show that delivers epic fantasy, danger and excitement but that three generations can enjoy and, we hope, find fascinating for many series.' But, they didn't. A spokeswoman for ITV said that with five episodes yet to be shown 'no decision' has yet been made on whether to recommission the show. One or two people even believed her. 'It’s standard practice for ITV to decide upon recommission of a series once it's fully aired,' she squirmed. 'Consequently, we have no decision currently about Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands.' ITV has really struggled with its attempts to create a fantasy drama hit. It recently cancelled Jekyll & Hyde, the ten-part action adventure series written by Charlie Higson, after it too failed to attract audiences. The - so far unconfirmed - 'news' that ITV is planning to cancel Beowulf was first reported by the Sun.

The Kennedys has been dropped by the BBC. The sitcom's author, Emma Kennedy, has written a very insightful blog about the series (which includes details of ratings, both overnights and consolidated, and AI figures) which you can check out here. For what it's worth, this blogger never really took to The Kennedys but, I certainly enjoyed Emma's balanced and witty assessment of making the series and the reasons for its cancellation.
The Night Manager​ looks to be one of the BBC's most exciting new dramas for years and one of its cast,s Neil Morrissey, says he hopes it will kick-start a '​new trend' of great British programmes. Whatever that means. Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston and Olivia Colman star in the six-part adaptation of John le Carré​'s 1993 thriller, which launches on BBC1 this weekend. Morrissey - who plays secret service agent Harry Palfrey in the drama - told the Digital Spy​ website that he is 'proud' of the BBC for trying something different. "'It's one of the things that the BBC should be doing – championing a great British writer. And it has a multinational cast and director, it has that blend between the BBC and Scandinavian drama. They've given us time to slow down a little bit and not try and track the Americans so tightly, because we all like a good American drama. But there's something wonderful about the pacing and thought process behind The Night Manager, which is very BBC.' He continued: ​'I hope it continues to go along this way. If you look at police dramas – ten years ago there might have been eight or ten, and now there's about forty! Obviously, we love them, but let's hope this sparks off another era of championing great British novelists and turning them into brilliant dramas.'
The Real Marigold Hotel​ is returning for a second series and a Christmas special. Roy Walker, Sylvester McCoy and Miriam Margolyes and the rest of the series one cast will feature in a one-off festive special in December, before the show returns with a new roster of elder statesmen and women in 2017, Radio Times ​reports.
Will Top Gear make it back on-air by the planned 8 May broadcast date? Radio Times says it 'understands' that the production team is 'working around the clock' to get the show back on BBC2 by then. 'It is a race against time and there can be no slip-ups,' an alleged production 'source' allegedly told the magazine. 'There can be no delays.' Last week, the new Top Gear presenting line-up was revealed. It's Chris Evans, Joey from Friends, Mad Eddie Jordan, The Stig, Sexy Sabine and ... a couple of other people you've never heard of.
Chris Evans has revealed that Jenson Button was 'so close' to being a host on the new Top Gear. ​Appearing on Evans' BBC Radio 2 show on Thursday morning, Evans brought up the topic of whether Jenson would host the motoring show next year. 'I knew that was coming!' Jenson responded, before confirming that they were 'close' to getting him for the series. The former Formula 1 champion was rumoured to be part of the new team, though things did not work out due to his new McLaren deal for the 2016 season.
The Anglo-American Top Gear presenting duo of Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc seem to be forming a special relationship already as they were seen filming scenes for the new series of the hit motoring show this week. LeBlanc may be wondering what he had let himself in for, because rather than zooming about in expensive supercars, one of his first assignments was to chug along in a three-wheeled Reliant Robin outside Broadcasting House.
Are You Being Served? is getting a remake on BBC1 later this year. Because, as previously noted, nobody seems to have any original ideas in TV these days. Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft's comedy is to be rebooted - seemingly for a one-off special episode - with 'an an all-star cast.' So, that'll be people from The Only Way Is Essex, like as not. The show originally starred the likes of Mollie Sugden and Trevor Bannister and ran between 1972 and 1985. A message on the BBC website reads: 'Classic British sitcom Are You Being Served? returns to BBC1 later this year. Picking up where Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft's much-loved comedy left off, the show will bring Grace Brothers and some of the nation's all-time favourite sitcom characters including Mrs Slocombe (and her pussy), Captain Peacock, Miss Brahms, and Mr Humphries back to life with an all star cast.' BBC1 previously announced it was remaking a host of comedies including The Good Life, Up Pompeii! and Keeping Up Appearances as part of the celebrations for sixty years since Hancock's Half Hour 'became the first sitcom' on British TV. Even though it wasn't, actually, the first sitcom on British TV or anything even remotely like it (Pinwright's Progress began in November 1946, a decade before Hancock's Half Hour transferred from radio to TV). The broadcaster has also previously announced the truly disastrous decision to remake Porridge.
New episodes of Doctor Who will be mostly absent from our tellies in 2016, a Christmas episode aside - but a new spin-off, Class, is coming to BBC3. Damian Kanavagh - the digital controller for BBC3 - told the Digital Spy website that writer Patrick Ness and producer Brian Minchin have 'an amazing vision' for the series. 'I've read some of the scripts, I've met and talked to Patrick and Brian and I think their vision for it is amazing,' he said. ​Class ​is set in ​Doctor Who​'s Coal Hill School and will follow its students as they battle intergalactic monsters and other sinister villains.
The Missing was one of the most talked-about drama series of 2014 - and now a second series is under way. Tchéky Karyo will return as the charismatic detective Julien Baptiste for the new series, again written by Harry and Jack Williams. New to the show are two of this blogger's favourite actors, David Morrissey and Keeley Hawes - cast as Sam and Gemma, a couple whose young daughter went missing in 2003. Their lives are turned upside down when Alice - played by Nina Forever's Abigail Hardingham - resurfaces after eleven years. Series two of The Missing will again be split across two timelines - 2014 and the present - as Alice's family are thrown back into a turmoil which threatens to tear them apart. Breaking Bad's Laura Fraser and Endeavour's Roger Allam are also among the cast of the eight-part series, directed by ​Cyberbully​'s Ben Chanan. Sounds terrific, doesn't it? 'While we were writing the first series, we began talking about what the show would have been had Oliver Hughes been found,' said the Williams brother. Well, presumably, one of them said it unless they chanted it in unison. Which, to be honest, is unlikely. 'This story grew out of that discussion. It's the other side of the coin to series one - an exploration of loss, of freedom, of how the past can shape the present in myriad ways that we cannot fully understand. It's bigger, more ambitious, and we're delighted to have such a brilliantly talented cast joining Julien Baptiste for a new case.' The first BAFTA-winning series of ​The Missing ​starred Jimmy Nesbitt as an obsessive father hunting for his missing son Ollie. And, it was proper good, an'all.
Hattie Morahan and Mad Men's Aaron Staton are starring in a new five-part BBC1 drama, which has just begun filming. Written by Barry Devlin, My Mother & Other Strangers is set during World War II and follows the fortunes of the Coyne family in Northern Ireland. They struggle to adapt when four thousand men and women from the United States Army Air Force land in 1943. Overpaid, oversexed and over here, as it were. Morahan plays Rose Coyne, with Owen McDonnell taking the part of her husband Michael. Staton complicates their relationship as the handsome and charming USAAF liaison officer Captain Dreyfuss, as a dangerous love triangle threatens. Des McAleer, Seamus O'Hara, Ryan McParland, Kerr Logan, Fiona O'Shaughnessy, Gavin Drea and Charles Lawson are also among the cast. 'I'm really excited about the casting,' Devlin said. 'I wrote the series around Hattie Morahan because she somehow manages to combine a magical serenity with a capacity to be daft as a brush - and Rose our heroine combines those two qualities in spades. Watching Hattie work that magic onscreen is a true pleasure.'

The London production of Hamlet, starring yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch, and a West End revival of Gypsy have shared the spoils at the WhatsOnStage theatre awards. Benny his very self won the best actor in a play at the awards, decided by a public vote, while the Barbican production picked up three other awards. Gypsy won four awards, including best actress in a musical for Imelda Staunton. Nicole Kidman was named best actress in a play for her role in Photograph Fifty One. The actress played pioneering British scientist Rosalind Franklin in the play last year in the West End. Franklin was the only woman involved in the discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953, but received recognition only years after her death. Photograph Fifty One also won the best new play award. Gypsy's other triumphs were best supporting actress in a musical award for Lara Pulver, best musical revival and best direction. Dame Judi Dench was named best supporting actress in a play for her role in Kenneth Branagh's production of The Winter's Tale. Kinky Boots also fared well, picking up three awards - best new musical, best choreography and best actor in a musical for Matt Henry. Mark Gatiss received the the best supporting actor in a play award for the second year running for his turn in Three Days In The Country, while David Bedella picked up best supporting actor in a musical for In The Heights.
And now, dear blog reader, the latest in a continuing misadventure ...
Two Conservative grandees have told the government to change course on its two most high-profile media polices, saying that ministers should scrap the BBC's royal charter and rule out any privatisation of Channel Four. In an open letter to the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale published on Wednesday, Lords Fowler and Inglewood – both former chairmen of the House of Lords select committee on communications – said that the royal charter, which must be renewed after a set period, made the BBC 'too reliant on government.' They said that major decisions on the BBC's future should have to be approved by both houses of parliament, rather than being taken during charter renewal negotiations between ministers and the broadcaster. Two points to make at this juncture, firstly why they wrote an 'open' letter rather than, you know, buy a sodding stamp and make it a closed letter that was actually delivered to its intended reader. And, of course, there's also the pre-supposition that the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale can read. The royal charter system, they said, allows the government to 'do very much what it likes'. Instead of depending on charter renewal, the BBC should be set up as a statutory corporation by act of parliament 'with a commitment to its independence', similar to Channel Four, they said. 'We believe that the BBC remains, despite any shortcomings, the cornerstone of broadcasting in the United Kingdom. BBC News is, rightly, valued for its accuracy and impartiality,' the letter to the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale read. 'In spite of the views of some politicians, the British public regard the BBC as the most trustworthy of news sources. Overseas, the World Service is seen as the most objective international radio broadcaster rather than as an agency for propaganda. We believe that the starting point of policy is that the government underline its belief in the BBC and distance itself from suggestions that its intention is to "take on the BBC" as was widely reported immediately after the 2015 election.' Fowlpest, who was chairman of the BBC charter review committee during the last renewal and served in the cabinet under both Margaret Thatcher and John Major, has also been a national newspaper journalist and regional newspaper executive. In their letter, the two lords also say that the BBC Trust should be abolished and replaced with a board of directors and chairman, adding that the Trust's creation was opposed by the House of Lords communications committee and was 'motivated by [the government's] resentment of BBC reporting of the Iraq crisis. By common consent, the Trust has been shown to be a failure and our hope is that now it will be abolished. But the point that is too often missed is that it was precisely because ministers working under the royal charter were able to act without any parliamentary check that the Trust went ahead in the first place.' On Channel Four, Fowler and Inglewood said that the channel was 'working well' under its current state-owned, but commercially funded, model, and that privatisation, as the government is said to be considering, would 'do little' to improve it. 'Channel Four was created by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher as something deliberately different from existing providers,' they wrote. 'It was neither licence fee-supported, nor a commercial company with shareholders. Instead, Channel Four took advertisements but ploughed back profits into television. We doubt very much whether privatisation as suggested would help in these roles and believe that Channel Four should be allowed to develop further the unique contribution it is making.' A BBC spokesperson said: 'The future governance of the BBC is subject to the charter review process, and we await the conclusions from Doctor David Clementi's review. However, we welcome Lords Fowler and Inglewood's conclusion that reviews of the BBC should take place every ten or eleven years rather than every five years and that there should be no top-slicing of the licence fee.' The BBC Trust issued a more detailed statement: 'We support a new Charter for the BBC, but with at least eleven years between reviews. We agree that in order to protect the BBC's independence, decisions about its future and its funding must be more transparent – and we propose that a formal process, including a requirement to consult the public, should be built into the charter itself. As last week's culture select committee report recognised, the BBC Trust has been a step forward, bringing greater transparency and accountability, and better scrutiny of BBC proposals, but we have ourselves also proposed substantial reform of the current system.'

Catastrophe's Rob Delaney has warned the government to 'stay the fuck away' from Channel Four amid the threat of privatisation. The American comedian and actor spoke out against the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, praising the channel's quality of television. 'Stay the fuck away from it,' Delaney told Broadcast at the magazine's awards ceremony last week. 'I moved here from the United States aged thirty eight and I've never seen anything like Channel Four in my life. Get your filthy hands off of it.' Word, brother. He added: 'Let it do what it does, which is make amazing television.'
New rules have been announced for The Eurovision Song Contest in the biggest change to voting since 1975. In previous years each country's jury and public votes were combined and announced together. Now, the votes will be split with each country's jury vote cast first and votes from viewers in all countries combined and announced at the end. Organisers say this will create 'a dramatic finish' as the winner will be only be revealed at the very end of the broadcast. In previous years, the winner has been known for up to twenty minutes before the end of voting. 'This format change will inject a new level of excitement into the finish of The Eurovision Song Contest,' said Martin Osterdahl, executive producer for this year's show. The new voting system is 'a big step forward', according to Jon Ola Sand, executive supervisor of The Eurovision Song Contest, which will 'make a better television show as well as a more exciting competition.' He added: 'It is fitting that this change to the contest's iconic scoring sequence will be debuted in Stockholm, where the famous douze points system was introduced in 1975.' The same voting system will be used in the semi-finals. For those wanting to know how their country has voted, the televoting and jury scores from each participating country will be available after the show on the official Eurovision website. The grand final will take place in Stockholm on Saturday 14 May. Each country participating will now be able to score a maximum of twenty four points - twelve from the five-member juries and twelve from the voting public - instead of combining the jury and public televote.
Michael Crawford is set to reprise the role of Frank Spencer in a one-off special of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. The last episode of the BBC comedy was shown on Christmas Day 1978. The sketch reunites Crawford, seventy four, with his on-screen wife Betty (played by Michele Dotrice), and features an appearance from Olympic cyclist and Tour De France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, the King of the Mods. 'I am thrilled and delighted to have been asked to bring Frank back,' Crawford said. Dotrice noted that it would be 'an absolute joy to be reunited again with Frank' and that it was fitting 'for it is such a wonderful cause.' Sir Bradley added: 'I am a huge fan of Michael so it's an absolute honour to be asked to be involved alongside such an icon of British television and all for a great cause.' Meanwhile, Lenny Henry, last funny (briefly) in 1983 was heard to say 'oh great, I can do me hilarious, thigh-slapping Frank Spencer impression again, "Oooo, Betty!" That'll be good for a laugh, won't it?' Yeah. side-splitting. Obviously. When the show ended in 1978, Crawford went on to star in the original production of The Phantom Of The Opera and other successful Lloyd Webber musical theatre productions. But, don't hold that against him. Sport Relief will be broadcast on BBC1 on 18 March.
Yer actual Daniel Craig is ready to swap Hollywood for TV and his new show has already, allegedly, sparked a huge network bidding war. Showtime, Netflix and FX are among those said to be 'in talks' to land the James Bond star's limited series Purity​, Variety ​reports. Purity​ is an adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's novel and will be produced by Scott Rudin and written by Todd Field along with Franzen himself. Field is also expected to direct. The story is centred around a young woman, the titular Purity, who was raised 'in bizarre circumstances' in California and ends up travelling from Oakland to Bolivia to Denver after college, meeting strange people along the way. Further casting details have yet to be announced. It would be Craig's first US TV series, though he appeared in several UK dramas before finding movie success in the late 1990s - most notably his star-making performance in Our Friends In The North.
Eddie Izzard is planning another huge charity appeal for Sport Relief, hoping to complete twenty seven marathons in twenty seven days. True story. The actor and comedian will head to South Africa later this year to take on the challenge, which will be broadcast on BBC3's Eddie Izzard: Marathon Man​. Izzard will attempt to complete seven hundred miles in extreme heat on consecutive days for the charity, beginning on 23 February 2017. He famously completed forty three marathons in fifty one days for Sport Relief in 2009, raising 1.8 million smackers for the charity. As well as following Izzard's marathons, Eddie Izzard: Marathon Man will also see the comedian tell the story of Nelson Mandela, finishing up at Union Buildings in Pretoria where Mandela gave his first speech as President of South Africa. Kevin Cahill, Chief Executive at Comic Relief said: 'Eddie is undoubtedly one of our Sport Relief legends and we are absolutely thrilled that he is going to push himself to the physical limit once again. What he did for Sport Relief last time was truly astonishing and raised a staggering amount of money that has really helped to transform lives at home and across the world. We are beyond grateful for his continued support and will be with him every step of the way.'
Channel Four has commissioned a two-hour 'special' - and, one uses that word quite wrongly - looking at Hollywood's greatest ever stunts - and who better to present than the Arnold Schwarzenegger his very self? So, in other words, this is one of those dreadful 'list' shows that Channel Four used to specialise in but claimed that they'd stopped doing a few years ago. Liars. In Arnie's Fifty Greatest Ever Stunts, the former Governor of California will 'take viewers through the action which wowed audiences at the time with feats of strength and bravery, as he offers an insight into what it takes to be a real-life action hero.' Fans, alleged 'comedians' - most of whom you'll never have heard of and, frankly, will never want to hear from again - and stunt coordinators are also providing commentary for the countdown. Worth avoiding like the effing plague that one, I'd suggest.

EastEnders was definitely 'feeling the love' on Valentine's Day as the BBC soap topped iPlayer's list of 'most-loved' programmes. Because, this is 'a thing', apparently. CBBC children's dance school drama The Next Step took second position in the 'most-loved' list, while Match Of The Day, Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing rounded out the top five. The top ten list also included Poldark and Sherlock. BBC's 'love' button (no, me neither) was first introduced in March 2015 as a way of 'providing users with personalised recommendations.' Why any users should need personalised recommendations or what in the name of all that is holy such a thing is useful for is, of course, another question entirely. If you like a programme, apparently, the idea is that you tap the 'love' button and iPlayer will recommend new titles based on what you've liked previously. Or, alternatively, you could just ignore the 'love' button and watch what you want to watch instead. Radical suggestion, I know but, hey, that's yer actual Keith Telly Topping aal ower the shop, like. The website, apparently, keeps a list of what episodes have been getting the 'most love' on the service at any one time, but this new list details which programmes have been 'most loved' since the service launched last year. And, once again, let us simply stand up and salute the utter crap that some people chose to care about.

Sean O'Connor, the editor of long-running Radio 4 soap The Archers, is taking over as executive producer on EastEnders. He will be replacing Dominic Treadwell-Collins who has been in charge in Walford for the past two and a half years. Treadwell-Collins' leadership period at EastEnders saw the arrival of the Carter family - with Danny Dyer and Kellie Bright - and the Who Killed Lucy Beale? plot. O'Connor takes over from Treadwell-Collins in the late spring. Before he leaves, Treadwell-Collins will oversee Dame Barbara Windsor's final episodes as Peggy Mitchell and the return of Peggy's son Grant, played by Ross Kemp. Treadwell-Collins said: 'After two and a half years of giving my blood to Walford, it is time for me to move on to other things - and keep EastEnders creatively refreshed, something that it has to do to stay at the top of its game. I made the decision to leave back in the summer, but decided to stay longer for two reasons. Firstly, to oversee Peggy's last episodes, which will air in May. When Dame Barbara comes to you to produce her final episodes, you cannot say no. Secondly, I needed to find the right person to take over from me. This is an incredible all-consuming show, and in Sean, I know that we have found someone who already has Albert Square in his bones and who adores EastEnders as much as I do.' O'Connor, who joined The Archers as editor in September 2013, returns to EastEnders after an eleven-year gap, having previously worked on the programme as a director, producer and story producer. His storylines during his previous tenure included the big reveal that Kat Slater was Zoe Slater's mother and not her sister, the domestic violence storyline between Little Mo and Trevor and the courtship of Dot Cotton and Jim Branning. 'Dominic hands over EastEnders in robust health,' he said. 'It's a testament to his endless commitment, infectious enthusiasm and rich imagination that the programme remains BBC1's flagship drama. I'm thrilled to be back in Walford and particularly delighted to work once more with many dear friends and colleagues both backstage and on screen.' During his career, O'Connor also worked on Channel Five's soap, Family Affairs.

The Trip​ is returning for a third series. Hurrah! Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon will be annoying the bejesus out of each other again in The Trip To Spain​. However, it has moved from BBC2 to Sky Atlantic, with filming scheduled to begin later this year. Michael Winterbottom will once again direct the award-winning comedy, which sees the pair of friends having a culinary road trip around the Mediterranean coast. The duo will take in six beautiful locations in Spain: Cantabria, the Basque region, Aragon, Rioja, Castile-La Mancha and Andalusia. Coogan said: 'Having thought long and hard about yet another sojourn into culinary distractions and middle age, I have reluctantly agreed to Eviva Espana. I have a hole in my diary, there will be free food and accommodation and Rob Brydon is surprisingly good company. I also like Michael.' The Trip​ debuted in 2010 as both a six-part series and an edited movie version and was followed by 2014's The Trip To Italy​.

Star Trek's William Shatner - Ilfracombe's bête noire - and Leonard Nimoy were the best of friends on-screen for nearly thirty years – but their relationship in real life was far more complicated. Shatner is opening up about the rift that grew between him and Nimoy in his new book Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship With A Remarkable Man – commissioned after Nimoy's death last year. 'We had some disagreements to begin with, and in the end,' Bill admitted to NBC's Today. 'In between was a brotherhood and I loved it.' While stressing that he and Nimoy were 'brothers' in spite of their occasional rifts, Shatner acknowledged regretting not making peace whilst Nimoy was alive. 'I sought to find out why - [I] couldn't,' he recalled. 'I thought whatever it was would blow over, he'd tell me what it was. I would try to make amends or find some common ground - but he died before that could happen. I miss him.'
Police in Montana responded to a neighbour's panicked 911 call to find a family in their home watching The Walking Dead according to the Washington Post. Great Falls police surrounded the home with weapons drawn after responding to the call of a neighbour who reported 'hearing screaming and gunshots' coming from a nearby home last Sunday. The officers reported hearing 'loud talking' and saw 'flashing lights' before finding two adults and several children watching 'a show about firearms' with nearby windows open. Police soon realised that there was no threat as the family was simply watching the mid-season première of AMC's zombie drama The Walking Dead and no further action was taken. Not even to the stupid bastard n a neighbour who can't tell the difference between a TV show and real life gunfire, seemingly.
And now, dear blog reader, the first in a new semi-regular From The North series 'Cool Motors Belonging To Cool TV Characters'. Number one, Emma Peel's Lotus. It doesn't get much better than that, really.
ITV has appointed Peter Bazalgette, who helped to popularise reality television formats, as its chairman to succeed Archie Norman, who is stepping down after more than six years. Bazalgette, sixty two, has been a non-executive director of commercial broadcaster ITV since 2013. He was earlier chairman of television production company Endemol UK where he brought the Big Brother format to Britain. Endemol Group's internationally successful formats also include Deal Or No Deal and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Bazalgette said that he was 'looking forward' to working with ITV Chief Executive Adam Crozier, describing TV as his 'first love.' He will take the non-executive role from May when Norman leaves. Bazalgette studied law at Cambridge University before beginning his broadcast career on a BBC news trainee scheme. He has been responsible for popular television shows including Ready Steady Cook, Changing Rooms and Ground Force on the BBC. ITV, which has been expanding its production business through acquisitions, said in November that the initial outlook for 2016 was 'encouraging.'
Paul Merton has now clocked up more appearances on Just A Minute than Kenneth Williams. Paul will overtake Williams's record when the first episode of the new series is broadcast next Monday. The episode will mark Merton's three hundred and forty seventh appearance on the popular long-running BBC Radio 4 game show. He's now second only to Clement Freud, who appeared regularly on the programme from the first episode in 1967. Freud, who died in 2009, appeared five hundred and forty four times. Given the number of episodes per series, it will take Paul around ten years to beat Freud's record. Speaking about overtaking Kenneth Williams, Merton said: 'I would like to say without hesitation, deviation or repetition that I am amazed, astonished, thrilled, seasick and severely gobsmacked.' The fifty eight-year-old, who is also a panellist on BBC1's Have I Got News For You, has been appearing on Just A Minute for twenty seven years. However, no contestant has featured in as many episodes as the programme's host,Nicholas Parsons. Now aged ninety two, Nicholas has presented the show since its first episode. Speaking about Merton's ascent up the show's rankings, Parsons described him as 'one of the outstanding players of Just A Minute. Since his first appearance in 1989, he has been consistently amusing, clever and witty at playing this amazingly difficult game. He is also a very generous player. He is more concerned with contributing and making sure we have a good show than striving to win and impose his personality on the programme - though he does frequently finish up with the most points.' The seventy fourth series of Just A Minute begins on Monday, with the programme's eight hundred and sixty fifth episode. Contestants are challenged to speak for one minute without hesitation, deviation or repetition on any given subject. Regular panellists in recent years have included Susan Calman, Julian Clary, Jenny Eclair, Stephen Fry, Graham Norton and Sue Perkins.

A lock of the alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon's hair which was cut off as he prepared for a film role has sold for thirty five thousand dollars. To someone with more money than sense, obviously. The four-inch piece of hair was, apparently, bought by UK collector Paul Fraser at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. A German hairdresser kept a piece of Lennon's hair after giving the chap a trim before Lennon began filming the movie, How I Won The War in late 1966. Richard Lester's film follows the World War Two misadventures of British troops led by an incompetent commander (Michael Crawford). Lennon played Private Gripweed in the film - rather well, as it happens, albeit it's quite a small part - donning his now signature style round glasses in public for the first time. 'This is the largest lock of John Lennon's hair ever offered at auction and this world record price is a lasting testament to the world's more than fifty-year love affair and fascination with Lennon and The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo on the 1960s, you might've heard of them),' said Garry Shrum, director of music memorabilia at Heritage. Also auctioned was a signed glossy head-and-shoulders 'before shot' portrait of Lennon, taken shortly before the haircut, which sold for over two thousand dollars. Yeah, that's right, two thousand bucks for a photograph! See what I mean about more money than sense? Several other Be-Atles items were also up for sale at the auction, including a photograph of the popular beat combo signed by all four members which went for forty two thousand bucks and an unused ticket for the Beatles' first US concert in Washington DC in 1964, which fetched thirty thousand. One hopes that the person who bought it was informed that it's no longer valid. The large gloss black-and-white photograph by Dezo Hoffmann featured The Be-Atles performing at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool on 7 December 1963. The biggest seller was a rare sealed copy of the band's US LP Yesterday & Today, which went for one hundred and twenty five thousand dollars.

Former royal butler Paul Burrell has extremely won a high court privacy action against the former PR agent - and convicted sex offender - Max Clifford. A judge in London announced on Friday that Burrell's claim had succeeded and awarded him five grand damages. Clifford, who is currently serving a lengthy sentence for sex offences, had branded Burrell's fifty thousand smackers action for breach of confidence and misuse of private information 'an affront to common sense.' Seemingly, the judge did not agree with this assessment. Burrell said that he had hired Clifford to 'limit' bad press coverage about him but, rather than stopping stories, Clifford 'betrayed' him by passing on material in a fax to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. In a statement after the ruling, Burrell, who was not in court, said: 'I am extremely pleased with the outcome and am delighted to have been vindicated by the high court.' His lawyer Lia Perin, of Taylor Hampton Solicitors, said: 'This was a serious betrayal of confidence by Max Clifford. Paul Burrell had sought Mr Clifford's assistance and reposed his trust in him at a time when he was at his most vulnerable.' Burrell said that any agreement between him and Clifford was terminated before the fax, containing details about Burrell's life with the Queen, Prince Philip and the late Princess Diana, was sent in November 2002 – the day after the butler had been acquitted of stealing items belonging to the Princess. At a hearing at the high court last month, Burrell told Deputy Judge Richard Spearman that after he met Clifford in April 2002, the PR man said that he needed to know more about Burrell. 'He said I had to trust him with my innermost secrets because all his clients did that and he locked their secrets up in his safe. He said that, as my agent, he would need to know my secrets so that he could defend me.' Burrell added: 'This is a man who I trusted and was betrayed by.' Clifford claimed that Burrell was 'never' a PR client but came to him for one reason – to sell a 'sensational' story to a newspaper about his time in royal service. The letter which was faxed contained a watered-down version of what Burrell said he wanted to reveal and had been sent to Clifford on the basis he would use it as a pitch to broker a deal. By sending the fax, Clifford was following Burrell's instructions, the convicted sex offender claimed. The disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World offered 'a lot less' than the four hundred thousand knicker that Burrell allegedly wanted, Clifford claimed. So he 'gave up' as he did 'not have time to waste' on a story which was not worth much at all. He added: 'And it remained in confidence. Nothing he said to me appeared in the News of the World.' Giving his decision on Friday, Judge Spearman said that he found Burrell 'did not at any time engage or authorise Mr Clifford to market the contents of the letter, or send it to him to use for that purpose.' And that Clifford was, in any case, a very naughty man.
An actor has died after being stabbed in the stomach with a samurai sword during a theatre rehearsal in Japan. The Independent reports that Tokyo police are investigating whether the death was criminal and do not know if the weapon was real or a prop. Daigo Kashino, a thirty three-year-old theatre group actor, was rehearsing with a number of other people at a downtown studio in the Japanese capital when the incident occurred. He was taken to hospital, but sadly died hours later. Nobody saw exactly what happened or how it happened, initial media reports suggest. Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that other members of the theatre group said they saw Kashino 'hunched over' when his groans made them turn around.
Egypt's top prosecutor has ordered the arrest of a Facebook page administrator whose assertion on a popular television talk show that a third of married women in the country are unfaithful caused 'a social media uproar.' Because, again, let's remember that Twitter is The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth of All Things. Jesus, has everyone taken the frigging Stupid Pill this week, or what? The public prosecutor issued an arrest warrant on Tuesday for Taymour el-Sobky, accusing him of 'slandering' Egyptian women and 'damaging their honor', according to a statement from his office. Sobky 'caused a furore' after making his conclusions on the evening talk show Mumkin, which means 'It Is Possible'. His remarks were broadcast in December on the privately-owned CBC channel but did not generate controversy until a clip of it was posted on social media this week. The show was suspended for fifteen days as a result. Yeah, that's the way for a modern democracy to operate, if somebody says something you don't like, shut them down and lock them up. One trust those who whinged about this chap on social media are happy with this outcome? 'Thirty percent of Egyptian women are ready for immorality, they just can't find someone to encourage them,' said Sobky, whose Facebook page, Diaries Of A Suffering Husband, has more than one million followers. 'These days, it is very normal for women to cheat on their husbands and seek it out ... Many women are involved in extramarital affairs while their husbands are abroad.'
Have you heard about the Nigerian astronaut apparently stranded in space for the last fourteen years? An e-mail scam concerning the ill-fortune of one Major Abacha Tunde has been doing the rounds on social media this week. The e-mail claims that the astronaut has been 'trapped' on the long-deorbited Soviet Salyut Six space station since 1999 but now wants to come home and just needs some bank details and a three million dollar million to get back to Earth. he e-mail claims that Major Tunde was 'the first African in space' and he remains 'in good humour' despite his 'secret' mission going spectacularly tits-up. 'His other Soviet crew members returned to Earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going since that time,' explains a man who claims to be Major Tunde's brother in the e-mail. It adds: 'In the fourteen years since he has been on the station, he has accumulated flight pay and interest amounting to almost fifteen million dollars. This is held in a trust at the Lagos National Savings and Trust Association. If we can obtain access to this money, we can place a down payment with the Russian Space Authorities for a Soyuz return flight to bring him back to Earth. I am told this will cost three million dollars. In order to access this trust fund we need your assistance. My colleagues and I are willing to transfer the total amount to your account or subsequent disbursement.' Well, that sounds entirely plausible.

Neanderthals and modern humans were interbreeding much earlier than was previously thought, scientists say. Traces of human DNA found in a Neanderthal genome suggest that we started mixing with our now-extinct relatives one hundred thousand years ago. Previously it had been thought that the two species first encountered each other when modern humans left Africa, about sixty thousand years ago. The research is published in the journal Nature. Doctor Sergi Castellano, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Germany, said: 'It is significant for understanding the history of modern humans and Neanderthals.' The ancient remains of a female Neanderthal, found in a remote cave in the Altai Mountains in Siberia, are the source of these revelations about the sex lives of our ancestors. A genetic analysis reveals that portions of human DNA lie within her genome, revealing an interspecies mingling that took place one hundred thousand years ago. Earlier research suggested that humans started interbreeding with our heavy-browed, stocky relatives when they migrated out of Africa and began to spread around the world. As they left the continent, they met - and mingled with - the Neanderthals, who lived across Europe and Asia. Neanderthal genes from these encounters are found in humans today, and recent studies have shown that these portions of DNA play an integral role in everything from our immune system to our propensity to diseases. But the latest finding of a flow of genes in the opposite direction, from humans to Neanderthals, suggests such mating was happening thousands of years earlier. It is not yet clear what impact these genes had on Neanderthals. 'The functional significance of this is unclear at the moment,' said Castellano. However, the findings do shed more light on the history of human migration. If early humans were having sex with Neanderthals one hundred thousand years ago, then they must have been doing so outside of Africa because our close relatives were not found there. And this means that they had left Africa before the larger dispersal that took place at least forty thousand years later. This adds to the idea that early forays out of the continent took place. Other recent evidence includes early human fossils found in Skhul and Qafzeh in Israel, and recent research that suggests people were living in China at least eighty thousand years ago. Commenting on the study Professor Chris Stringer, research leader in human origins, from the Natural History Museum in London, told the BBC: 'I think that anywhere in Southern Asia could theoretically have been the location of this early interbreeding, since we really don't know how widespread Neanderthals and early modern humans might have been in the regions between Arabia and China at this time.' He added: 'At the moment we simply don't know how these matings happened and the possibilities range from relatively peaceful exchanges of partners, to one group raiding another and stealing females (which happens in chimps and some modern hunter-gatherers), through to adopting abandoned or orphaned babies. Eventually, geneticists should be able to show if the transfer of DNA in either direction was mainly via males, females, or about equal in proportion, but it will need a lot more data before that becomes possible.'

For the first time, astronomers have managed a direct measurement of the gases present on a so-called 'super-Earth' planet orbiting an alien star. They found evidence for hydrogen and helium in its atmosphere, but no water. Called Fifty Five Cancri E, the world is twice the size of Earth and eight times the mass - but orbits unusually close to its host star, with an eighteen-hour year and surface temperatures above two thousand degrees. So, probably not habitable, then. The UK team published their findings in the Astrophysical Journal. 'This is a very exciting result because it's the first time that we have been able to find the spectral fingerprints that show the gases present in the atmosphere of a super-Earth,' said Angelos Tsiaras, a PhD student at University College London and the first author of the paper. 'Our analysis of Fifty Five Cancri E's atmosphere suggests that the planet has managed to cling on to a significant amount of hydrogen and helium from the nebula from which it formed.' Astronomers believe super-Earths are the most abundant planets in our galaxy. The term describes any world heavier than Earth but not as massive as gas giants like Saturn and Jupiter. With its very close orbit, Fifty Five Cancri E is a particularly exotic example. As with all extrasolar planets, or 'exoplanets', the evidence for its existence comes from tell-tale, regular dips in the brightness of its host sun, Fifty Five Cancri. This star is forty light-years away and extremely bright; it is also known as Copernicus and forms part of the Cancer constellation. When a planet like Fifty Five Cancri E makes a transit in front of its star, it typically blocks about one per cent of the star's light - and this happens across all the colours of light. 'The entire planet has a signal that doesn't depend on wavelength; it's just a solid body that is blocking the light,' explained Professor Giovanna Tinetti, a study co-author also from UCL. But, if the planet has an atmosphere, its 'fingerprint' can be detected in how the transit affects different wavelengths, as the gases filter the star's light. These signals are much smaller, dimming the star by as little as 0.001 per cent. Researchers studying super-Earths have never detected such a fingerprint before. 'There are just two other observations of super-Earths,' Professor Tinetti told the BBC. 'They found a signal that was very flat.' One of those other examples, GJ 1214b, has been studied in some detail. Its 'flat' signal could indicate that it is shrouded in clouds, Tinetti said, or its atmosphere might contain heavier molecules like water - as a previous study has suggested. 'A flat spectrum can be interpreted in many ways. It's hard to get more information out of it.' Consequently, a direct measurement of a super-Earth's atmosphere has never been made, and Tinetti said the team is 'very excited.'

The largest moon orbiting Pluto, Charon, looks to have once been home to a frozen ocean that caused fractures and breaks on the moon’s surface. Evidence that scientists are using in making this claim comes from pictures taken by the New Horizons spacecraft that explored Pluto and the moons surrounding it. The outer surface of Charon is mostly frozen ice. Scientists now believe that during the formation of this moon, enough heat was generated to have allowed the ice to thaw. As the thawing ice began to refreeze, an ocean under the surface was created. As the ice freezes, it expands, and the expanding ice caused breaks and fractures in the moon's surface. One of the primary areas studied on Charon is called Serenity Chasma. The chasms on this moon are the biggest in the entire solar system. The chasm runs to over eleven hundred miles in length and almost five miles deep. In order to get a better understanding, this chasm was compared to the Grand Canyon which is only two hundred and seventy seven miles in length and just over one mile deep.
Two BBC nature documentaries have been criticised for 'serious editorial breaches' by the BBC Trust. Patagonia: Earth's Secret Paradise, which was broadcast in September 2015, showed what appeared to be a volcano erupting. But it emerged later that the clip included footage from a storm surrounding a different volcano eruption in 2011. The BBC Trust described the sequence as 'potentially misleading.' Wonder what their reaction will be when they find out that Peter Capaldi isn't actually an alien with two hearts who travels through time in a blue box but is, in fact, an actor. For God's sake, nobody tell the Daily Scum Mail about this. 'The Committee bore in mind the very high regard in which output from the BBC's Natural History Unit is held. They considered this was a serious breach of the editorial guidelines for accuracy,' a summary of their findings read. After the BBC2 programme was broadcast, the show's producer Tuppence Stone said in a blog post that volcanic eruptions could be 'difficult' to capture on film and so 'it requires special techniques to reveal and portray their true extraordinary nature. The lightning shots were taken by an award-winning Chilean photographer, of a nearby Patagonian volcano, Cordon Caulle four years earlier during its eruption, using long exposure techniques,' she wrote. 'The Cordon Caulle volcano eruption was a very similar event to the Calbuco volcano this year.' It was only when the blog was circulated that the executive producer of the programme and the BBC's Head of Knowledge Commissioning became aware that footage used in the programme was comprised of different events. The Trust noted in its findings that Stone had not undertaken a training course which was compulsory for all staff working in the BBC Natural History Unit. BBC management have since made a commitment that senior staff working on future projects will have to complete the training before being allowed to join the corporation's production teams. A second programme, Human Planet: Deserts - Life In The Furnace, which was also produced by Stone, was also examined in the report. The episode - originally broadcast in 2011 - included the story of how an infant camel had been killed by wolves. But producers, having been unable to film a wild wolf for the programme - because it was, you know, wild - used a semi-domesticated wolf which had been let off a lead just before filming. Herdsmen were seen apparently firing at it in the footage. The BBC Trust noted that it was a historic episode of the programme - which had been made and broadcast before more stringent editorial processes had been introduced. But, they agreed that the output breached the editorial guidelines and that, had it been a current production, it would have raised 'significant concerns' about accuracy and misleading audiences. The programme, despite being broadcast five years ago, had come to the attention of the BBC Trust after newspaper coverage in the Daily Torygraph - who, of course, had absolutely no sick agenda to pursue in this regard, oh no, very hot water - in October, printed as a result of the controversy surrounding the Patagonia programme.

A fast-growing tumbleweed called 'hairy panic' is clogging up homes in a small Australian town. Extremely dry conditions mean the weeds pile up each day outside a row of homes at Wangaratta, in Victoria's North East. Frustrated residents are forced to clear out the weeds for several hours every day, with piles of hairy panic at times reaching roof height. A nearby farmer is being blamed for failing to tend to his paddock. 'It's physically draining and mentally more draining,' resident Pam Twitchett told Prime7 News Albury. Also known by its Latin name Panicum effusum, it is a grass that is found in every Australian state. It's called 'hairy' because while there are a number of other Panicum species, none have long hairs along the edges of their leaves. It grows rapidly and can form tumbleweeds which are dead grass with seeds inside designed to disperse them for reproduction. It can cause a potentially fatal condition called 'yellow big head' in sheep if eaten in large quantities. Wangaratta veterinary surgeon Richard Evans told the BBC that the weed would lose its toxicity once it dried up. 'The important thing is it's not going to kill people's dogs and cats, it just makes a hell of a mess,' he said. Authorities are unable to help with the clean-up because the tumbleweeds do not pose a fire threat, reports say.
An Aston Martin from the James Bond film Spectre has sold at auction for £2,434,500. The DB10, one of only two 'show cars' from the ten made specially for the film, smashed its reserve price of a million knicker. Made in Warwickshire, the model has a 4.7-litre V8 petrol engine and a top speed of one hundred and ninety miles per hour - but it cannot be driven on public roads. Spectre - The Auction, at Christie's London King Street, saw ten lots raise £2,785,500 for charities. A further fourteen items continue in an online auction which ends next Tuesday. Other lots included the 'Day of the Dead' costume worn by Daniel Craig in Spectre, which sold for ninety eight grand. Aston Martin has been associated with Bond since 1964's Goldfinger, which featured a DB5. The auctioned DB10, hand built at Aston Martin's UK headquarters in Gaydon, was signed by Daniel Craig. Most of the DB10s were modified for use in the filming of Spectre but two were left unmodified for display.
A complete Bronze Age wheel believed to be the largest and earliest of its kind found in the UK has been unearthed. The three thousand-year-old artefact was found at a site dubbed 'Britain's Pompeii', at Must Farm in Cambridgeshire. Archaeologists have described the find - made close to the country's 'best-preserved Bronze Age dwellings' - as 'unprecedented.' Still containing its hub, the three feet-diameter wooden wheel dates from about Eleven Hundred to Eight Hundred BC. The wheel was found close to the largest of the roundhouses. Its discovery 'demonstrates the inhabitants of this watery landscape's links to the dry land beyond the river', David Gibson from Cambridge Archaeological Unit, which is leading the excavation, said. Historic England, which is jointly funding the one million smackers excavation with landowner Forterra, described the find as 'unprecedented' in terms of size and completeness. This remarkable but fragile wooden wheel is the earliest complete example ever found in Britain,' chief executive Duncan Wilson said. 'The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of Late Bronze Age technology, and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens three thousand years ago.' The dig site, at Must Farm quarry near Whittlesey, has been described as 'unique' by Gibson. It has proved to be a treasure trove for archaeologists who earlier this year uncovered two or possibly three roundhouses dating from about One Thousand BC. The timbers had been preserved in silt after falling into a river during a fire. Kasia Gdaniec, senior archaeologist at the county council, said the 'fabulous artefacts' found at the site continued to 'amaze and astonish.' 'This wheel poses a challenge to our understanding of both Late Bronze Age technological skill and - together with the eight boats recovered from the same river in 2011 - transportation,' she said. The spine of what is thought to be a horse, found in early January, could suggest the wheel belonged to a horse-drawn cart, however, it is too early to know how the wheel was used, archaeologist Chris Wakefield said. While the Must Farm wheel is the most complete, it is not the oldest to be discovered in the area. An excavation at a Bronze Age site at Flag Fen near Peterborough uncovered a smaller, partial wheel dating to about Thirteen Hundred BC. The wheel was thought to have been part of a cart that could have carried up to two people. The Must Farm quarry site has given up a number of its hidden treasures over the years including a dagger found in 1969 and bowls still containing remnants of food, found in 2006. More recently the roundhouses, built on stilts, were discovered. A fire destroyed the posts, causing the houses to fall into a river where silt helped preserve the timbers and contents. 'We're here in the middle of the Fens, a very wet environment, so the biggest question we've got to answer at the moment is "Why on Earth is there a wheel in the middle of this really wet river channel?,"' says archaeologist Chris Wakefield. 'The houses are built over a river and within those deposits is sitting a wheel - which is pretty much the archetype of what you'd expect to have on dry land - so it's very, very unusual.' An articulated animal spine found nearby - at first thought to be from a cow - is now believed to be that of a horse. '[This] has pretty strong ties if they were using something like a cart. In the Bronze Age horses are quite uncommon. It's not until the later period of the Middle Iron Age that they become more widespread, so aside from this very exciting discovery of the wheel, we've also got potentially other related aspects that are giving us even more questions. This site is giving us lots of answers but at the same time it's throwing up questions we never thought we'd have to consider.' Analysing the data from samples found at Must Farm could take the team several years, Wakefield added. Other artefacts found inside the roundhouses themselves - including a small wooden box, platter, an intact 'fineware' pot and clusters of animal and fish bones that could have been kitchen waste - have been described as amazing by archaeologists. The team is just over halfway through the eight-month dig to uncover the secrets of the site and the people who lived there.

Research into 'drunken mob violence' in 'the shires' was ordered by the Thatcher government, previously unseen Cabinet Office files have revealed. Home Secretary Douglas Hurd told police to investigate the problem of the 'rural rioter', noting similarities with the 'football hooligan'. In a memorandum from June 1988, Hurd said that police saw violent offences in rural areas as 'an increasing burden.' In the memorandum, Hurd noted there had been eighty three thousand violent offences in county and rural areas the year before - half as many again as in 1980 - and he said that he was 'concerned that the problem is getting worse. Many of the sixteen to twenty five-year-olds involved in these disturbances have a latent capacity for violence,' he said. 'Toughness is a proof of manhood. Drink removes their inhibitions and pushes them over the edge.' Plus, obviously, they're all poor and, therefore, should be shovelled into the gutter with all the other shite. Hurd dismissed the idea of having 'a rural riot squad' to react to 'spontaneous disorder', saying: 'They would spend their time chasing from one end of the county to another.' Instead he proposed tougher licensing laws, quick prosecutions and exemplary sentences and improved policing procedures. The newly-released documents also show that Margaret Thatcher's advisers urged the Prime Minister to 'force' a showdown with her Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine, telling him to accept her authority or quit, over the Westland affair in 1986. Heseltine was backing a European consortium in its battle with the US aircraft manufacturer Sikorsky to take over British aircraft manufacturer Westland, even though the government was supposed to be neutral. Other documents show Thatcher refused to bail out the 1986 Commonwealth Games despite being asked to contribute a million knicker by media tycoon Robert Maxwell. And Thatcher was warned repeatedly that the Poll Tax would be 'a political disaster', the files revealed. But, as usual, she took no notice of them. Though she did find plenty of time to host her 'close personal friend' Sir Jimmy Savile (OBE) at Chequers on numerous occasions just in case you'd forgotten.

A lot of fashion experts have a dirty secret - they have never washed their jeans. What's more, 'experts' at Vogue and Levi's say that we should all follow suit arguing that washing jeans ruins the garments' shape and feel, especially if the jeans in question are unique, vintage ones. This all according to an article on Yahoo Style. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self is certainly no fashion expert but he would add that this advice is, probably, only worth following if you have never shat in your jeans. If you have, then, shoving them in the washer might be an idea and sod what 'experts' say.
Now, to whomsoever decided to put Ladies & Gentlemen ... The Rolling Stones on Sky Arts on Tuesday evening just when yer actual Keith Telly Topping was feeling a bit under the weather and in need of a pick-me-up, God bless 'ya!
On Friday morning, yer actual Keith Telly Topping rewatched the first seven episodes of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? back-to-back for an article what he is currently writing. This blogger didn't get much note-making done but he did spend three hours feeling happy. Which is rather unusual. if you're wondering, dear blog reader, Keith Telly Topping got exactly this far.
Friday was also the seventy fifth birthday of yer actual Smokey Robinson, 'the greatest poet of the Twentieth century' according to Bob Dylan. So, in tribute, this blogger directs all dear blog readers to this wonderful clip of The Miracles performing a definitive live version of 'Mickey's Monkey' on Ready Steady Go's Motown Special (March 1965) with various Supremes, Temptations, Vandellas and, you know, Dusty Springfields joining in on the backing vocals. The thing to really watch out for, though, is Lil' Stevie Wonder having been strategically placed - with his harmonica - on the riser that Dusty had been using during the show to introduce acts. So, to sum up then, somebody had the bright idea of sticking The Blind Kid, ten foot up in the air without a safety rail. They'd never get away with it in these days of Health & Safety!
And, speaking of groovy tunes, dear blog reader, the playlist at Stately Telly Topping Manor over the last week or so has included the following. Which was nice.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is informed by his old mucker, the very lovely Lisa Power about an event which any dear blog readers in the South Wales area will love to know about. Turn & Face The Strange - which takes place of 28 February at the Marriott Hotel in Cardiff - is described as 'a celebration of the life and works of David Bowie' organised as part of the LGBT History Month. Guests at the event will include The Complete Bowie author - and another old casual acquaintance of yer actual - the very terrific Nick Pegg. Tickets - which cost a mere fiver - are available from here. Get yourself along if you're in the area, it sounds like a rattlingly good night.
'People, generally, see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.' Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird - in this blogger's opinion not only the greatest novel ever written but, quite possibly the greatest novel that will ever be written - has died at the age of eighty nine. The news was first confirmed by the mayor's office in her home town of Monroeville, Alabama. The novelist was born Nelle Harper Lee on 28 April 1926. In 1960, she published Mockingbird, a huge critical and commercial success which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and told the tale of a white lawyer defending a black man accused of rape in America's deep South. The book sold more than forty million copies worldwide. A sort-of sequel, Go Set A Watchman, was published in 2015. Harper Lee remained an enigma despite writing what has been hailed as a classic of modern literature. To Kill A Mockingbird has been in print for more than five decades and few works have been subject to as much critical analysis and interpretation. It has become a set book in school literature studies and regularly appears on lists of books that are essential reading - this blogger did it for O level in 1980 and fell in love with its sweeping and humane worldview, every bit as relevant then (and, indeed, now) than when it was written. As the author and journalist Tony Parsons noted, 'Harper Lee said more in one book than most of us will manage in a lifetime.' Yet its author refused all requests for interviews and public appearances and there was surprise when, in 2015, it was announced she had previously written a sequel. Nelle Harper Lee was born in Monroeville the youngest of four children of Frances Finch Lee and Amasa Coleman Lee. Her father was a former newspaper editor and proprietor, who practised as a respected lawyer in the town and was, very much, the inspiration for Mockingbird's hero, Atticus Finch. She studied law at the University of Alabama from 1945 to 1949, and spent a year at Oxford University as an exchange student - originally intending to work as a lawyer in her father's firm. However, six months before finishing her studies, Lee went to New York to pursue a literary career. In 1957 she submitted a manuscript of her first novel to JB Lippincott Company. They told her it was 'a series of short stories' and encouraged her to rewrite it. Lee spent the next two-and-a-half years reworking the book, which was published in 1960. It was an immediate success, becoming an international bestseller, and receiving critical acclaim. Lee was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1961. Semi-autobiographical, the novel is set in a small Alabama town, and several of the characters are drawn from life. The lawyer Atticus Finch was modelled on Lee's father, and the character of Dill was drawn from the author Truman Capote, Lee's childhood friend. Narrated by Atticus Finch's daughter, Scout, it is the story of his defence of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white girl from a poor family and of his children's fear of a mysterious neighbour. The tale has two strands, the first describing the joys and sorrows, the little triumphs and minor disasters of childhood, told with a warmth and humour reminiscent of Mark Twain; the second depicts the routine racism in the southern states during the period and the attendant menace directed at Scout's white family. Though he is clearly innocent, Robinson is convicted of the crime by a white jury, and shot dead while trying to escape. The story emphasises that children are born with an instinct for justice and absorb prejudices in the socialisation process. Harper Lee considered a small country town to be 'the last refuge of eccentrics.' She lovingly portrayed a fictional community that was at once both particular and universal. White trash, country hicks, local gossips and bullying schoolchildren coexisted – not always harmoniously – with a put-upon black community, a gentle and heroic recluse, Boo Radley and Scout's quirky and extended family, headed by Atticus, a philosophical man of outstanding humanity and integrity. Harper Lee's years of silence left her book - a searing indictment of racism in the Deep South of America - to echo in her absence. 'A hundred pounds of sermons on tolerance, or an equal measure of invective deploring the lack of it,' stated the Washington Post on the novel's publication, 'will weigh far less in the scale of enlightenment than a mere 18 ounces of new fiction bearing the title To Kill A Mockingbird.' A - really very good indeed - film adaptation of the novel was produced in 1962, and won four Oscars, including best actor for Gregory Peck - who played Atticus. Lee was so impressed by Peck's performance that she presented him with her father's watch. Both her home town Monroeville and Mobile, another Alabama city, had petitions to host its première. Mobile secured the prize. She divided her time equally between New York and Monroeville, where she lived with her sister Alice, after her father became ill. After he died in 1961, she continued living in both places for the rest of her life. Harper made one additional contribution to literature, however. In 1959, after she had completed but not yet published To Kill A Mockingbird, she accompanied her childhood friend Truman Capote to Holcombe, Kansas, where he was to interview people about the murder of a farmer and his family for an article he intended to write. Capote asked Harper along, reasoning that for all her time in New York, she still had a country aura about her, to which Kansas farmers were more likely to respond than to his own urban sophistication. Harper conducted and wrote up many of the interviews which were to be expanded beyond the intended article into Capote's masterly non-fiction novel In Cold Blood (1966), which he dedicated to Lee 'with love and gratitude.' The pairs friendship was depicted in two movies, Catherine Keener and Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote and Sandra Bullock and Toby Jones in Infamous. Harper was celebrated in her home town and local people guarded her from outside interest. Few would speak about her, beyond describing her as 'a little hard of hearing, but nice.' Her cousin, Richard Williams, who ran the local drug store once said: 'I asked her one time why she never wrote another book. She told me, "When you have a hit like that, you can't go anywhere but down."' Shunning all publicity, Lee would reveal only that she loved golf, admired her father, and planned to publish her memoirs. She did occasionally appear in public and, in 2006 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Notre Dame University. As the degree was presented, the graduating class rose as one, held up copies of her book, and cheered something which visibly moved Lee. A year later she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W Bush recognising her special contribution to American life and culture. A rare return to the media spotlight came in 2006 when she wrote a letter for Oprah Winfrey's magazine, O, in which she despaired of modern mores: 'In an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me. I prefer to search library stacks because when I work to learn something, I remember it.' Apart from Mockingbird, Lee had only four articles published until, in February 2015, to the surprise and delight of her millions of fans, it was announced that an unpublished novel, written before Mockingbird, was finally to see the light of day. Lee had written it in the mid-1950s but put it aside on the advice of her editor. Go Set A Watchman, features the character Scout Finch as an adult who has returned to her home town to visit her father. 'I thought it a pretty decent effort,' she said. 'I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.' In the event, the book generally disappointed fans and was dismissed by the critics. Harper Lee remained largely withdrawn from the public gaze. Even a revised introduction to a new edition of To Kill A Mockingbird had to be taken from a letter she wrote to her agent, saying that she would not write an introduction. 'Mockingbird still says what it has to say; it has managed to survive the years without preamble.'

And, as if that's not bad enough, on the same day, another of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's literary heroes the Italian writer and philosopher Umberto Eco, best known for his novel The Name Of The Rose, died aged eighty four. His family says that Umberto died late on Friday at his home. No further details were given. Eco became Italy's 'best known literary export' when his medieval murder mystery The Name Of The Rose became a surprise international best-seller after its publication in 1980; he so boosted his country's literary reputation that publishers described his influence on sales as 'l'Effetto Eco.' Eco was forty eight when he wrote the novel, an Agatha Christie-style whodunnit spiced up with arcane medieval lore, after a publisher asked him to contribute to a series of short thrillers by prominent Italians who had never written fiction. He eventually agreed because 'I felt like poisoning a monk', but insisted that the book would be set in the Middle Ages and be more than five hundred pages long. Eco thought the initial print-run of thirty thousand copies was overambitious, but the book – which was attacked by the Vatican as a 'narrative calamity that deforms, desecrates and offends the meaning of faith' – sold two million copies in Italy and went on to sell ten million copies worldwide in thirty languages. The English translation by William Weaver was published in 1983. In 1986 it was made into a - reasonably good - film by Jean-Jacques Annaud, starring Sean Connery as Eco's monk-detective, William of Baskerville. Eco's day job was as a professor of an abstruse branch of literary theory known as semiotics, developed by the postmodernist French theorist Roland Barthes, which sees all culture as a web of signs – messages to be decoded for hidden meanings. Critics complain that it accords world-historical significance to trivia but, then, critics are the type of people who never get invited to cool parties so, nobody really really gives a shit what they think. Certainly there was nothing so ephemeral that Eco disdained to subject it to semiotic deconstruction. As a result he was able to position himself as a sort of portmanteau intellectual, giving his views on everything from how to eat peas with a plastic fork to changing concepts of beauty. Much like yer actual Keith Telly Topping, in fact, albeit, with a far larger audience. Among other things Eco decoded James Bond novels, Peanuts and pulpy strip-cartoons such as The Savage Sword Of Conan the Barbarian and even subjected the Italian porn star La Cicciolina to semiotic scrutiny. Which was a nice change from merely scrutinising her tits as most media watchers did. In one memorable essay he analysed the cultural significance of his own denims: 'Well, with my new jeans life was entirely exterior: I thought about the relationship between me and my pants and the relationship between my pants and the society we lived in. I had achieved epidermic self-awareness.' Mickey Mouse, he proclaimed 'can be perfect in the sense that a Japanese haiku is.' Eco, who also wrote the novel Foucault's Pendulum, continued to publish new works, with Numero Zero released last year. He also wrote children's books and literary criticism. Eco once wrote that 'books always speak of other books and every story tells a story that has already been told.' 'I am a philosopher,' he was quoted as saying. 'I write novels only on the weekends.' Eco founded the communications department at the University of San Marino in the 1980s. He was later professor emeritus and chairman of the Higher School of Humanities of the University of Bologna. Umberto Eco was born on 5 January 1932 at Alessandria, a small industrial town in the Piedmont region of Italy where his father was chief accountant at the local iron works. His early life, he recalled later, had been shaped by Mussolini. He recalled being proud of his fascist uniform, and at ten won first prize in a writing competition 'for young Italian fascists.' It was only with the fall of fascism that 'like a butterfly from a chrysalis, step-by-step I understood everything.' During the German occupation of Northern Italy he experienced starvation and recalled dodging bullets traded by the SS, fascists and partisans. As a teenager, he explored American literature and jazz, took up the trumpet and, aged fourteen, joined the Catholic youth organisation, of which he later become a national leader but from which he resigned in 1954 during protests against the strongly conservative Pope Pius XII. Subsequently he abandoned Catholicism in favour of a sort of unfocused religiosity and secular morality. Eco's passion for medieval thought began as a student at Turin University, where his doctoral thesis (published in 1956) was on St Thomas Aquinas. After leaving university he made cultural programmes for the national television network RAI and, following military service in 1958, joined the Milan publishers Bompiani, where he worked as a senior non-fiction editor from 1959 to 1975. From 1956 Eco lectured in aesthetics, architecture, visual communications and semiotics at universities in Turin, Florence, Milan and Bologna. In 1959 he began a monthly column full of literary spoofs and pastiches in Il Verri, an organ of the 'neo-avant-garde', some of which were later published in English in Misreadings (1993) and How To Travel With A Salmon (1994). In the 1960s he became a founder-member of Gruppo Sixty Three, a radical and disputatious avant-garde group of young Italian writers opposed to what they called the 'neo-capitalistic' language of traditional literary and poetic texts, who developed a line in meaningless ('non-significanza') verses and promoted the idea of 'art as a plaything in itself.' As his contribution to the cause, Eco wrote Open Work, one of the first texts to advocate 'the active role of the interpreter [the reader] in the reading of texts' – in other words the reader's right to interpret a book however they choose, regardless of authorial 'intentions' – a 'postmodern' idea which has become well established university English and History departments. It was at about this time, too, that Umberto began defying the taboo against serious analysis of popular culture, finding a unifying theme in the theory of semiotics which he set out in books such as A Theory Of Semiotics (1976) – written in English – and The Role Of The Reader (1979). In addition he wrote several works on language and the use of words. Eco was an important Left-wing voice in debates on abortion, the Mafia and corruption in Italian society. He was a prominent critic of the former Italian president Sylvio Berlusconi, whom he once compared to Hitler and whose ninety per cent monopoly of Italian television Eco described as 'a tragedy for a democratic country.' Nevertheless, his suggestions of how 'Berlusconismo' might be counteracted ('a series of continuous, positive proposals could give the public a glimpse of another way of governing') were somewhat vague. Short, plump, bearded and bespectacled, Eco was an amusing and energetic raconteur with that sort of studied nonchalance which Italians call sprezzatura. Though his novels made him rich and famous, he disdained his writing of them as 'a hobby' and confessed that fame had its drawbacks: 'I have lost the freedom of not having an opinion.' He married, in 1962, to the German-born Renate Ramge, a graphic designer, with whom he had a son and a daughter.

Magician and entertainer Paul Daniels has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, his family has announced. Which is, obviously, sad.

A spoof news website has been recognised as an 'official media outlet' by a council after it gained thousands of followers on social media. Southend News Network's stories include a mother demanding fifty quid spend on gifts for her son's birthday and a restaurant introducing a five knicker breastfeeding charge. Its creator said that he 'never thought' his site would be officially recognised. Southend Council, displaying a sense of humour and proportion that a lot of other official bodies could well learn from, said it was better to 'have fun' with the spoof stories rather than get annoyed by them. And, good for them. Other fake stories published on the site since its launch last October include school pupils being taught by cats because of a teacher shortage and the Dartford Crossing being closed because of 'thousands of Kent residents trying to enter Essex illegally.' The local authority said that it had received calls from 'concerned residents' about some of the stories, including one about trick or treaters needing a council permit at Hallow'een. Following a meeting with council officials, the spoof site has been added to the authority's media database and is treated similarly to more traditional local newspapers and broadcasters. The site's anonymous creator, who prefers to be known by the nom de plume 'The Chief Reporter', said that he had been inspired by satirical news sites such as The Onion, The Daily Mash and The Poke. 'My stories are tapping into the types of things people get wound up about. I like a heated, healthy debate,' he said. 'Some of the things I write, I could actually see happening in real life. It's how people feel about their own town, their own lives - it taps into that and builds on it.' The reporter said that Southend Council had 'recognised we're building up town's public profile' with the site, which has more than six thousand Facebook likes. Adam Keating, a media manager at the local authority, said that interacting with Southend News Network allowed the council to build on its own social media profile. 'Although their stories might not be correct, they've built up a following we could also engage with,' he said. 'People have been commenting on the posts with real issues, and we've been replying with facts about "the truth behind the spoof." The media landscape is changing, and we're treating Southend News Network in the same way we would other local news sites or community groups.'

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, a sweaty slab of good old rock and/or roll music from a popular beat combo of the 1960s (you might've heard of them). Shake those heads and good 'Woooo!' boys.

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