Saturday, March 12, 2016

Our Sweetest Songs Are Those Of Saddest Thoughts

When The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) announced his departure as Doctor Who showrunner earlier this year, there was only one question on everyone's lips – would the current Doctor, yer actual Peter Capaldi, stay on in the role with the show's new head honcho, Chris Chibnall? Or, would he hand over the TARDIS keys like former Time Lord and national heartthrob David Tennant did when Big Rusty Davies left the series? This week, Radio Times 'revealed' that the BBC has asked yer man Capaldi to stay on as The Doctor after Moffat's departure – though the actor himself is currently non-committal and keeping his options open as to whether he'll take up the offer. 'I've been asked to stay on,' Peter told the Radio Times. 'But it's such a long time before I have to make that decision. Steven's been absolutely wonderful, so I love working with him. Chris is fantastic and I think he's a hugely talented guy. I don't know where the show's going to go then. I have to make up my mind and I haven't yet.' He concluded: 'As Steven will tell you, it's very difficult to say goodbye. The cost of doing Doctor Who to an individual is immense. [Moffat] takes the greatest weight on his shoulders, he loves the show and he's absolutely responsible for it and feels that responsibility gravely - and with delight as well. He loves this job so I think it's very, very difficult for him to leave. But, I think he has to, otherwise he might have a heart attack.' Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's The Janice Forsyth Show, Peter discussed his thoughts on continuing to play The Doctor with presenter Edi Stark: 'I haven't made my mind up. I've been asked to stay on, which is lovely, and I think Chris Chibnall's fantastic and a wonderful choice. To be perfectly honest, it's so far away in the future. Doctor Who is a very difficult thing to say goodbye to, and I don't want to make that decision right now. So, when I am forced to make that decision I will make it.' In summary, then, you shouldn't be surprised to see a familiar Time Lord at the TARDIS controls for another few years, dear blog reader. But, equally, we might get getting a new face sometime around Christmas 2017. One or the other. Clear as mud? Pretty much!
Doctor Who ​series ten will start filming 'very soon' - but don't expect Peter Capaldi his very self to be any more forthcoming than that. Peter had been 'sworn to secrecy' ahead of an appearance this week on ITV's ​Lorraine. 'It's going to start very soon,' Peter said about the next series. 'For some reason, I'm not allowed to tell you exactly - Doctor Who's veiled in secrecy, always.' Production on the next run of episodes will begin with filming on the 2016 Christmas special, with work on episodes scheduled for early 2017 to follow. The new series will also feature the new companion, with Peter telling Radio 2's Steve Wright: 'It's sad when Jenna was on the show before I arrived so she was my welcome to the show and she introduced me to it, and told me where to go and where to get my corned beef and where to sit and all that stuff. She was absolutely lovely, so I'll miss her very much. We're going to have a new companion, because we're just obviously about to start filming the new season - it's going to be someone very different, who will be announced shortly. I really can't say who that is, but the whole dynamic is going to be very different - but that's good too, you know, it's a different character.'
Meanwhile, some self-aggrandising tosser on no importance at the Gruniad has been stirring up trouble, taking a few stray comments Peter has made this week in a variety of interviews and tried to make 'a thing' out of them.
And, so to the ratings, dearest bloggerisationisms reader. Monday evening's overnights were, as usual, dominated by soaps with EastEnders attracting 6.46m on BBC1 at 8pm, Emmerdale drawing 6.26m to ITV at 7pm and the evening's two episodes of Coronation Street pulling in 7.21m and 6.69m on ITV at 7.30pm and 8.30pm respectively. Elsewhere, on BBC1, The ONE Show was watched by 4.21m, Inside Out had 3.35m, Panorama's overnight audience was 2.25m and Frontline Doctors: Winter Migrant Crisis was seen by 2.20m at 9pm. ITV's night also included Further Tales From Northumberland With Wor Geet Canny Robson Green with 2.85m at 8pm. Despite a slight drop in numbers week-on-week - to 3.11m - Davina McCall's Life At The Extreme won slot 9pm for ITV. Channel Four's Royal Navy School continued at 9pm with 1.65m whilst the same schedule-slot also saw the battle of the imported US dramas, Channel Five's The X-Files (1.62m) narrowly beating BBC2's The People Versus OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (1.53m). BBC2's line-up also included University Challenge (2.64m at 8p), Mary Berry's Foolproof Cooking (2.41m at 8.30pm) and a Qi Xl repeat (nine hundred and eighty seven thousand at 9.50pm). On Channel Four, Dispatches attracted 1.08m and Food Unwrapped 1.36m. Channel Five's Carry On Caravanning drew seven hundred and fifty one thousand punters at 8pm. Nine hundred and eighty four thousand watched BBC4's excellent documentary The Return Of The Flying Scotsman at 8.30pm, by a distance the most-watched multichannel programme of the night. Renaissance Unchained put in another impressive performance for BBC4 at 9pm with five hundred and twenty three thousand.
For the fifth week in a row BBC1 had all the Tuesday overnight ratings glory with its grim-n-gritty combination of EastEnders and the second series of crime drama Happy Valley. The long-running London soap secured the day's biggest audience across all channels at 7:30pm with 6.52 million viewers. At 8pm, Holby City helped BBC1 continue its domination as 4.81 million viewers tuned in for the staff's latest hour of professional and personal trauma. The penultimate episode of Happy Valley's second series at 9pm was watched by 6.39 million. ITV's evening started off well enough with Emmerdale netting 5.72 million at 7pm. Then, as usual of late, it all went horribly wrong. The Inspectors Are Coming attracted an audience of 1.85m at 7.30pm. Half-an-hour later, the bizarre misplaced Saturday morning kids show It's Not Rocket Science continued to be of absolutely no interest to anyone with so much as half-a-brain in their skull. The fourth episode of the ill-thought venture saw Romesh Ranganathan use a 'humble vacuum cleaner to help save him from the pit of hungry crocodiles he is being dangled over' (why is another question entirely) in yet another sounds-far-more-interesting-than-it-actually-was segment, bringing in but 1.39 million viewers and a -shocking low - seven per cent audience share. At 9pm, there was one final episode of cobbled-together CCTV show Car Crash Britain: Caught On Camera, with the night's grand finale netting a meagre 1.68 million viewers. Seriously, ITV's Tuesday night schedule is currently the biggest running joke in the industry, getting the channel far more laughs than any comedy that it's produced in, ooo, decades. On BBC2, the final episode of Back In Time For The Weekend (8pm) secured 2.01m million viewers as the Ashby-Hawkins family looked towards the future. At 9pm, The Apprentice and Gogglebox mash-up Who's the Boss? came to a welcome end after three - really horribly bad - episodes, with a mere six hundred and eleven thousand viewers. Earlier, This Farming Life had an audience of 1.59m. Also wrapping up it storylines this week was Channel Four's latest documentary series The Secret Life Of The Zoo (8pm) which was seen by 1.85 million viewers. 9pm brought the concluding part of the catch-up documentary Born To Be Different with the approaching sixteenth birthday celebrations for the children attracting 1.03 million. Meanwhile on Channel Five, Britain's Horror Homes at 8pm had an audience of eight hundred and eighty one thousand. Afterwards, Benefits By The Sea: Jaywick (9pm) returned for a second series, with 1.04 million and a rare victory over Channel Four in the slot. New clip-show, The Best Of Bad TV had six hundred and forty eight thousand at 10pm. Meanwhile, in terms of the worst of bad TV, BBC2's late-afternoon flop Too Much TV's latest episode was watched by a mere four hundred and sixty five thousand punters at 6.30pm. At the other end of the evening, Scrappers drew eight hundred and sixty thousand viewers at 10pm. Multichannel were topped by ITV3's latest Midsomer Murders repeat, seen by nine hundred and ninety nine thousand viewers from 8pm.
ITV's period crime drama Grantchester managed to secure the 9pm slot on Wednesday night, as the second episode of the drama's second series took the honours. The rather nostalgic Middle-England storyline featuring James Norton and Wor Geet Canny Robson Green was down slightly week-on-week with a total of 4.60 million viewers - a twenty two per cent audience share. Meanwhile, BBC1's most hopeless primetime offering consisted of allegedly selfless celebrities taking part in Famous, Rich & Homeless (9pm) as part of the corporation's Sport Relief drive. The second series of the experiment saw Julia Bradbury, ex-snooker player Willie Thorne, Nick Hancock and reality TV cleaner Kim Woodburn (that daft woman with a pineapple on her head, if you're wondering) all attempt to sleep rough in London for a week. An audience of 3.61 million viewers tuned in assuming such a conceit might be, you know, quite a good laugh. Instead, they saw Thorne, seemingly, miss the point entirely and check himself into a hotel. Things got heavy on BBC2 as the family of victims came forward to share their experience in Dunblane: Our Story at 9pm. This excellent, if harrowing and raw, documentary caught up with survivors and parents of those affected in order to mark the twentieth anniversary of the horrific primary school massacre, bringing in a more-than-worthy 1.06 million viewers. On Channel Four, there were more life-threatening injuries sutured up in the name of entertainment on the latest episode of Twenty Four Hours in A&E - which really is crying out for a crossover episode with The Jump at some stage - with 1.54 million viewers. On Channel Five, there were more scenes of real-life squabbles on a new series of Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords at 9pm, with the parade of dodgy characters from both sides of the letting divide bringing in 1.01 million. There was an explosion of consumer content at 8pm, with BBC1's Shop Well For Less? attracting 4.58 million, BBC2's The One Hundred Thousand Pound House: Tricks Of The Trade securing 1.42 million viewers while the constructed reality of Posh Pawn brought in eight hundred and eighty thousand viewers for Channel Four. The ultimate horror of ITV's sickeningly contrived cuteness show Big Star's Little Star was watched by 3.61 million viewers - who, frankly, all deserve to have a bloody big onion fall in their head. Hard - while Channel Five's GPs: Behind Closed Doors netted 1.09 million. Before all the primetime shows rolled out, ITV's soaps had already secured the day's top figures with Emmerdale (7pm) watched by 5.84 million viewers and Coronation Street (7:30pm) taking pole position with 6.61 million. BBC1's The ONE Show had 3.67m. The latest episode of Channel Four's Raised By Wolves was watched by eight hundred and eleven thousand at 10pm.
Thursday evening's overnight were, again, dominated by soaps on both BBC1 and ITV. Two episodes of the Beeb's EastEnders attracted 6.20m and 5.48m at 7.30pm and 8.30pm respectively whilst ITV's Emmerdale double-bill was watched by 5.72m and 5.33m viewers. Also on ITV, The Cruise lost of around thirty per cent of its initial overnight audience for its second episode, 3.04m tuning in at 8pm compared with 4.29 million for the previous week's debut. Later, Bear Grylls: Mission Survive also suffered a week-on-week drop, albeit, only by around two hundred thousand, with 2.35m from 9pm. BBC1's Crimewatch drew an audience of 3.51m in the same timeslot. Earlier The ONE Show attracted 3.72m. On BBC2, after the - now hilarious - daily floppage of Too Much TV, Big Dreams Small Spaces at 7pm had 1.15m, followed by The Secret History Of My Family with 1.33m at 8pm and Murder with a disastrous five hundred and twenty three thousand punters at 9pm. Ouch. Ugly House To Lovely House With George Clarke was seen by 1.57m at 8pm on Channel Four. Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown drew an audience of 1.17m whilst Alan Carr: Chatty Man continued to struggle in its new, mid-week, 10pm slot with a mere seven hundred and nineteen thousand viewers. On Channel Five, Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild had four hundred and forty nine thousand at 7pm, Trauma Doctors: Every Second Counts attracted nine hundred and fifty one thousand at 9pm and The Moors Murders: Britain's Worst Crimes was seen by five hundred and twenty eight thousand at 10pm. A new series of one of this blogger's favourite formats, Digging For Britain began on BBC4 at 9pm with five hundred and seventy three thousand. DC's Legends of Tomorrow on Sky1 had three hundred and sixty thousand.

BBC1's schedule on Friday evening contained The ONE Show (3.78m at 7pm) and then three hours of one of the most boring FA Cup ties in this blogger's - long - memory, Crystal Palace's victory over Reading on Match Of The Day Live (3.12m from 7.30pm). Soaps, as usual, dominated ITV's Friday night line-up. Emmerdale had 5.88m at 7pm and the night's two episodes of Coronation Street drew 6.67m and 5.56m. In-between, Best Walks With A View With Julia Bradbury was seen by 3.67m and what appears to be the final episode of Mr Selfridge limped to the finishing line with but 2.75m. On BBC2, Mastermind had an audience of 1.67m at 8pm, Gardeners' World attracted 2.01m at 8.30pm and Land Of Hope & Glory: British Country Life was watched by 1.51m at 9pm. Channel Four's coverage of Crufts drew 1.50m from 7.30pm and, as usual, Gogglebox was the channel's highlight of the night (and, indeed, this week) averaging 3.36m punters at 9pm. The Last Leg was seen by 1.52m an hour later. Kitten Impossible, the latest example of Channel Five's obsession with - one presumes, extremely cheap - Internet clips featuring animals, was watched by eight hundred and twenty one thousand viewers. That was followed by NCIS: New Orleans, with seven hundred and thirty thousand at 9pm and eight hundred and twelve thousand viewers for NCIS an hour later. Stan Lee's Lucky Man attracted two hundred and eighty three thousand on Sky1 at 9pm. The latest episode of The Blacklist drew one hundred and eighty three thousand for Sky Atlantic in the same slot.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was pure dead made-up to get nine points during the Mastermind round on Ray Davies on Friday evening, one point more than the chap whose specialist subject Ray was. Chuffed doesn't even begin to describe it! Mind you, this blogger should have really got ten, but he forgot which single 'In Need You' was the b-side to ('Set Me Free' to save you looking it up. Like Keith Telly Topping had to).
Sport dominated the early parts of both BBC1 and ITV's Saturday schedules. Match Of The Day Live and the red-hot clash a'tween The Everton Toffeechaps and Moscow Chelski FC was watched by 4.26m on BBC1 from 5.20pm. Everton won by two goals to one bite. Allegedly. ITV's coverage of Six Nations Rugby attracted 1.52m for the early-afternoon clash between Ireland and Italy and 5.02m from 3.25pm for England's narrow, squeaky-bum-time victory over Welsh Wales from Twickenham which guaranteed England the Tripe Crown and leaves them still in with a decent shot of the Gram Slam. After the footie, The Voice remained steady week-on-week with 5.27m from 7.30pm on BBC1. The National Lottery: Win Your Wish List had 3.83m whilst Casualty drew 4.76m from 9.35pm and Match Of The Day concluded the evening with 2.69m. ITV's post-rugby night included Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway (6.05m from 7pm - a drop of around two hundred thousand viewers from the previous episode), You're Back In The Room (3.59m) and The Jonathan Ross Show (2.07m from 9.30pm). On BBC2, Gardeners' World was watched by nine hundred and twenty thousand, Queen Victoria's Children attracted 1.22m, Back In Time For The Weekend had nine hundred and thirteen thousand, the latest Dad's Army repeat was watched by 1.78m and Stag drew nine hundred and eleven thousand viewers. Channel Four's night was dogged, shall we say, by two hours of a twenty four carat TV woofer, Crufts 2016 (1.15m punters with nothing better to do with their time, seemingly). That was followed by Lee Evans: Monsters (1.22m from 9pm) and the movie Riddick (nine hundred and fifty eight thousand). On Channel Five the not-in-the-slightest-bit-amusingly-misnamed Now That's Funny was seen by eight hundred and eighty seven thousand of the dregs of society. The Championship: Football League Tonight attracted three hundred and Ninety thousand from 9pm. BBC4's latest continental Scandiwegian import, Trapped was watched by seven hundred and fifty one thousand and six hundred and fifty three thousand punters for its two episodes of the night.

As expected, Countryfile brought in the weekend's biggest overnight audience at 7pm on Sunday on BBC1. A compilation episode of the best of the latest series brought in 6.92 million viewers and a whopping thirty four per cent share of the available audience for the slot. Later, at 8pm, another popular Sunday perennial, Antiques Roadshow, comfortably fitted into the Beeb's Call The Midwife schedule slot with solid results. A 5.92 million viewers watched as Fiona Bruce went all urban an' t'ing, attempting to muster some enthusiasm at the prospect of being in Neasden. Tricky, even for the great Fifi, one would've thought. Also at 8pm, on BBC2, the second and final part of Steve Backshall's Extreme Mountain Challenge saw the adventurer dangle himself from some rocks in Venezuela - which is nice work if you can get it, one imagines - netting 1.65 million viewers. For the fourth week running, BBC1's adaptation of yer actual John Le Carré's The Night Manager, easily secured victory in Sunday's 9pm slot, with the latest episode of espionage, weapons trafficking and, this time, Tom Hiddleston's bare-nekked arse (in widescreen) gaining an audience of 6.01 million viewers. Up against it, ITV's Lord Snooty period-drama-by-numbers Doctor Thorne - which featured no arses, bare-nekked or otherwise - continued its predictable tale of class-restricted love, suffering an eye-watering twenty eight per cent fall in its overnight audience week-on-week. Debuting with 3.4 million overnight punters last Sunday, the second of three episodes attracted just 2.79 million and a twelve per cent share at 9pm. It really is rather comforting to discover that, outside of Downton Abbey, full-of-his-own-importance Lord Snooty doesn't have that Midas touch which he seems to think he has. Next time, maybe, yer Lordship might want to think about writing something that doesn't involve class and snobbery. Oh no, hang on, that's all you can do, isn't it? That's the trouble with being a one-trick pony, once you've been successful with the one-trick, you often find it gets really old, really quickly. On Channel Four, the drama Indian Summers returned for a second series at 9pm. 1.22 million viewers tuned-in to see Julie Walters swanning about like she owned the gaff. BBC1's evening ended with Match of the Day 2 with 2.55m. Returning, briefly, to ITV the horrorshow (and drag) that is the drama fiasco of the year, Beowulf: Return To The Drawingboard continued to stink the gaff up something rotten. A fraction over a million punters (1.28m to be specific) watched the eleventh of the twelve-part series with, one presumes, ITV counting down the days till it's finished and they can stick it in a draw marked 'Never Again' and try to forget the whole horrid business. Interestingly, the episode only ran for fifty two minutes in its one hour slot, including mid-episode advert breaks (7.02pm to 7:54pm). Meaning, presumably, that ITV are desperately struggling to sell any advertising space during it. I mean, be fair, if you were trying to flog stuff to the nation, would you pay good money to have your - presumably quite expensive - adverts shown in the middle of this turd. Things didn't get much better at 8pm as The Story Of Cats drew a meagre audience of 2.13m and, after Doctor Thorne at 9pm, it got even worse for ITV as the opening episode of the much-trailed Houdini & Doyle was seen by a mere nine hundred and thirty thousand punters on ITV and an additional thirty one thousand viewers on ITV Encore where the rest of the series will - bizarrely - be shown. What an odd idea that was - to put the debut episode of a new drama on ITV and then shown the rest of it only on a minority channel which even those with access to it seem not to watch very much unless it's showing repeats of Vera. Although judging by the reviews of Houdini & Doyle, it's possible that someone at ITV actually did with this what they seemed not to do with Beowulf and watched the damn thing before deciding where to bury their latest drama turkey. And, speaking of turkeys, BBC2's Who's The Boss? limped to the end of its three episode run with just seven hundred and twelve thousand viewers. Later, Let's Play Darts for Sport Relief was watched by 1.22m at 9pm. Crufts again took up a couple of hours of Channel Four's schedule and, against all laws of God and Man, found itself watched by 2.03 million punters with nothing better to do with their time. Which, given the fact that its Channel Five opposition for the first hour was the latest desperate C5 Internet clip show offering, Budgies Make You Laugh Out Loud, is hardly surprising. Honestly, dear blog reader, Keith Telly Topping is not making this up. Seven hundred and eight thousand punters had neither the wit nor the imagination to find something more worthwhile to do with their time than watch this ... budgie. It's like a turkey only, you know, smaller. Penn & Teller: Fool Us In Vegas was seen by nine hundred and twenty one thousand at 8pm, after which the movie, Jonah Hex attracted seven hundred and forty eight thousand. On multichannels, E4's Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D had four hundred and seven thousand and Hawaii Five-O on Sky1 was seen by four hundred and eighty two thousand.

The final and consolidated numbers for the Top Twenty programmes, for week-ending Sunday 6 March 2016 were as follows:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 10.89m
2 Happy Valley - Tues BBC1 - 8.36m
3 The Night Manager - Sun BBC1 - 8.11m
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.10m
5 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.89m
6 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.46m
7 Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 7.36m
8 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.28m
9 Grantchester - Wed ITV - 6.73m
10 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 6.11m
11 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 6.05m
12 Shetland - Fri BBC1 - 5.71m
13 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.44m
14 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.22m
15 Holby City - Tues BBC1- 4.80m
16= Pompeii: New Secrets Revealed With Mary Beard - Thurs BBC1 - 4.47m
16= The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.47m
18= Lord Snooty's Doctor Thorne - Sun ITV - 4.46m*
18= Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.46m
20 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 4.39m
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 they do not include HD viewers. The final episode of Call The Midwife's current series is the second most-watched TV broadcast of the year so far, following Sherlock's 11.64 million on New Year's Day. On BBC2, Mary Berry's Foolproof Cooking had 3.23 million viewers, followed by University Challenge (2.96m), Back In Time For The Weekend (2.89m), The People Versus OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (2.42m), The Great Interior Design Challenge (2.08m), Dad's Army (2.08m), Gardeners' World (2.05m) and The One Hundred Thousand Pound House: Tricks Of The Trade (two million viewers). The second episode of Stag was watched by 1.29m whilst new episodes of Qi and Qi XL attracted 1.13m and 1.07m respectively. Aside from Googlebox, The Secret Life Of The Zoo was Channel Four's second most top-rated broadcast of the week (2.56 million), followed by The Last Leg With Adam Hills (2.13m), Royal Navy School (2.09m), Ugly House To Lovely House With George Clarke (2.03m) and Twenty four hours In A&E (1.94m). The Jump dipped under two million for the third time in its current series - 1.87m. The excellent Raised By Wolves was watched by 1.17m, tragically forty thousand punters less than the 1.21m sad, crushed victims of society who found themselves having to sit through Penelope Keith's Hidden Villages (1.21m). Depressing doesn't even begin to describe that statistic. Channel Five's top performer, by a distance, was yet again The X-Files (2.74m), whilst the movie Olympus Has Fallen attracted 1.60m, The Great British Benefits Handout drew 1.55m in the latest example of television demonising the poor. Inside Buckingham Palace - where they also receive plenty of public money, interestingly - had 1.41m and Gotham had 1.37m. Sky Sports 1's Live Ford Super Sunday and coverage of the West Bromwich Albinos victory over The Scum was watched by 1.26m punters. Earlier on the same day, Crystal Palace against the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws had nine hundred and seventy seven thousand whilst the previous evening's Live Ford Saturday Night Football and Watford's match with Leicester attracted 1.06m. Gillette Soccer Saturday was Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast with one of its largest ever audiences, 1.05m viewers. Unbelievable, Jeff! Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated broadcast (a whopping 1.18m). The Bletchley Circle drew four hundred and sixty four thousand. A broadcast of UK Open Darts, headed ITV4's top ten, though quite why six hundred and thirty three thousand punters felt the urge to watch fat men 'tossing from the oche' is, perhaps, a question best left for another day. Take Me Out: The Gossip was ITV2's 'best' (and, this blogger uses that word quite wrongly) performer with nine hundred and eighty one thousand. Which, really, tells you every single thing you need to know about ITV2 and why you should never, under any circumstances, watch it. Because, it will melt your brain and give you smallpox. Probably. Another Vera repeat topped the list for ITV Encore with one hundred and eight thousand. Imported Icelandic drama Trapped on BBC4 had audiences of 1.09m and 1.08m for its seventh and eighth episodes. The Renaissance Unchained was watched by five hundred and seventy three thousand, whilst The Prosecutors: Real Crime & Punishment was seen by five hundred and sixty three thousand and The Brecon Beacons by five hundred and thirty seven thousand. As for BBC3 ... who cares? Actually, if you're really interested, a repeat of Gavin & Stacey drew forty two thousand punters to their Interweb browsers. Sky 1's most watched dramas were the opening episode of DC's Legends Of Tomorrow (1.37m and, gosh, wasn't Arthur Darvill terrific in it?) and Stan Lee's Lucky Man (1.12 million viewers and, gosh, wasn't Jimmy Nesbitt playing exactly the same part than Jimmy Nesbitt always plays?) The Flash drew nine hundred and fifty two thousand. Sky Atlantic's weekly list was topped by Blue Bloods (three hundred and thirty four thousand), One Hundred Code (one hundred and seventy one thousand) and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (one hundred and forty three thousand). The much-trailed Vinyl was seen by sixty one thousand whilst one of the daily repeats of the greatest TV show in the history of the world that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title - The West Wing - was seen by sixty five thousand. On Sky Living, The Blacklist was watched by eight hundred and twenty four thousand, Elementary by six hundred and eighty seven thousand and Bones by six hundred and three thousand. Sky Arts' Occupied drew sixty five thousand and Giles Coren: My Failed Novel (Turn Down Because Nobody Can Stand My Insufferable Smugness, Possibly) had fifty six thousand. The Seventies was seen by forty one thousand and The Who Live At Shea Stadium, 1982 by twenty six thousand. It would have been more but many viewers were temporarily blinded by clawing at their own eyes at the terrifying sight of Roger Daltrey's silver suit and peroxide blond quiff. 5USA's broadcast Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was watched by four hundred and twenty one thousand viewers and Law & Order by four hundred and seven thousand. NCIS drew three hundred and eighty three thousand and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation by three hundred and thirty one thousand. NCIS also featured in the weekly top tens of FOX - the latest episode of series thirteen attracting nine hundred and eighty six thousand punters - CBS Action and the Universal Channel. On the latter, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit drew an audience of two hundred and eighty eight thousand. Aside, from NCIS, FOX's top ten also included new episodes of The Walking Dead (1.86 million, the largest multichannels audience of the week) and Marvel's Agent Carter (three hundred and sixty three thousand viewers). On CBS Action, Bad Girls was seen by one hundred and fifty two thousand. For Dave, Suits was the highest-rated programme with four hundred and sixty three thousand punters. That was followed by Qi XL (three hundred and fifty one thousand), Room 101 (three hundred and ten thousand) and Have I Got A Bit More News For You (two hundred and ninety seven thousand). Drama's New Tricks was watched by four hundred and fifty thousand and Inspector George Gently by four hundred and thirty four thousand. Maisie Raine had four hundred and eleven thousand, Jonathan Creek, three hundred and sixteen thousand and [spooks], two hundred and seventy nine thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Castle (three hundred and thirteen thousand), followed by Murdoch Mysteries (two hundred and forty six thousand), The Closer (one hundred and thirty six thousand) and Father Brown (one hundred and thirty thousand). W - the channel formerly known as Watch - repeated a series of MasterChef, one episode of which was seen by two hundred and forty thousand. A repeat of the Matt Smith Doctor Who episode A Town Called Mercy was seen by one hundred and ten thousand. Yesterday's David Starkey's Monarchy: The Windsors had an audience of two hundred and twenty five thousand viewers whilst The Two Ronnie's Spectacle was also watched by the same figure and Old Mister Portaloo's Great British Railway Journeys by one hundred and ninety six thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush had an audience of five hundred and thirty one thousand punters. Alaskan Bush People had one hundred and forty four thousand, Mythbusters by one hundred and forty thousand and David Bladdibub On The Silk Road by ninety nine thousand. Discovery History's SAS topped the weekly-list with audience of forty thousand viewers. Rory McGrath's Best of British Engineering drew twenty two thousand and Time Team had twenty thousand. On Discovery Science, Mythbusters was seen by thirty seven thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programmes were Chasing Classic Cars (sixty eight thousand) and the always-popular Wheeler Dealers (forty eight thousand). National Geographic's top ten was headed by Air Crash Investigations which had one hundred and sixteen thousand viewers and Supercar Megabuild (seventy on thousand). A broadcast of the acclaimed documentary He Named Me Malala drew sixty nine thousand. Texas Rising was seen by one hundred and twenty nine thousand viewers on The History Channel. Evil Lives Here and Your Worst Nightmare were ID's top programmes of the week (seventy thousand and sixty nine thousand viewers respectively). Britain's Darkest Taboos topped CI's top ten (sixty two thousand) followed by Crimes That Shook Britain (sixty thousand). GOLD's list was headed Fawlty Towers (one hundred and fifty three thousand). Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (four hundred and two thousand). Your TV's Crime Files: The Homefront had eighty thousand viewers. On More4, The Good Wife was watched by seven hundred and three thousand. The Horror Channel's broadcast of The Canal, attracted one hundred and eighty three viewers. Fly Fishing With Hywel Morgan was watched by eleven thousand on the Horse & Country Channel. Total Divas had an audience of one hundred and seventy thousand viewers of E!

​The BBC is reported to be bringing back another three classic sitcoms, Steptoe & Son, Till Death Do Us Part ​and ​Hancock's Half Hour, remaking 'lost' episodes of all three legendary series for BBC4. This comes after the previously announced news that the broadcaster had ordered remakes of the likes of The Good Life ​and Are You Being Served?​, as well as new versions of Up Pompeii! and Keeping Up Appearances. Porridge, as previously bemoaned by this blogger, is also also set to come back, as a sequel - written by its creators Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais - focusing on Norman Fletcher's grandson, who is banged up in stir for cybercrime. The series of remakes come as the BBC celebrates sixty years since the TV debut of Hancock's Half Hour​. And, because nobody seems to have any original comedy ideas in television these days. The lost Till Death Us Do Part episode, A Woman's Place Is In The Home, dates from January 1967. It features Alf Garnett ranting at his wife when he returns to an empty house and finds his dinner burned. The sitcom season will begin this summer on BBC1 with a special live episode of Brendan O'Carroll's comedy Mrs Brown's Boys.
Which, of course, this being a day with a 'y' in it, brings us to this ...
Proposals to allow greater government say over the running of the BBC risk it being seen as 'a state broadcaster', the BBC's Director General Tony Hall has said. His comments follow an allegedly 'independent' (though, in fact, not independent at all or anything even remotely like it) 'review' which recommends replacing the BBC Trust with a board of directors, half-appointed by government ministers. BBC's TV controller, Big Hard Charlotte Moore, has also said that she 'didn't recognise' claims that BBC1 had become 'less distinctive.' Which were also made in an allegedly 'independent' (though, in actual fact, not in the least bit independent or anything even remotely like it) report. Lord Hall - who must be wishing on a daily basis that he'd never left his nice, comfy, extremely well-paid job at the Royal Opera House to take over this poisoned chalice - made his speech on Tuesday morning in London. Moore, the BBC's controller of TV and iPlayer, was making her first speech in the role on Monday at the launch of a batch of new programmes. She responded to the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's allegations that the BBC had become 'much like its commercial rivals' in some of its TV offering, citing especially entertainment programmes such as The Voice, which was recently bought by ITV (and is, therefore, no longer the BBC's problem). The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale called for the creation of 'a more distinctive' BBC after an allegedly 'in-depth' and, again, 'independent' (but, in actual fact not even remotely independent or anything like it) review of the broadcaster's services claimed that BBC1 had become 'less innovative and less risk-taking.' One of the authors of the allegedly 'independent' (though not independent or anything even remotely like it') report, one Mark Oliver - whoever the Hell he is - made a rather mealy-mouthed effort at defending the utter politically-motivated and agenda-soaked horseshite he wrote in a miserably self-righteous piece in the Gruniad Morning Star, this week: 'Programmes such as Doctor Who, Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing are both distinctive and popular – they are public service "breakout hits", and are precisely what BBC1 should be doing. It would also not be in the interest of viewers to prohibit the BBC from buying in formats from overseas. Innovation in formats is as much about the execution as it is about the overall concept – while the BBC should probably aim to use more home grown formats than overseas ones for the benefit of the UK creative sector, a ban is neither desirable nor necessary.' As the broadcaster David Mitchell noted in the same newspaper a week earlier, shortly after the allegedly 'independent' (though, in fact, not in the slightest bit independent or anything remotely like it) review had been published: 'Unfortunately the distinctiveness of a Hitchcock movie, a Lowry painting or a Cole Porter lyric doesn't seem to be the sort the report is getting at, because that's a kind people really like. That would be entirely counter-productive to its stated aims. By "distinctiveness", the report means that the BBC should deliberately target smaller and more niche audiences, in order to allow the commercial sector to take the bigger ones. Its "distinctive" flavour would be less like chicken liver and more like calves' brains. Because that would be fairer on the market place. This repellent tang is to be achieved in broadly three ways: the corporation should generate more content in less populist, and indeed less popular, genres; it should schedule programmes less aggressively and it should take more risks in commissioning new ones. So Radio 1 should be more like Radio 1Xtra, broadcasting more obscure music and talking. The news website should ditch entertainment and soft news stories in favour of in-depth analysis. And BBC1 should do arts documentaries in primetime, make more new programmes and stop using Strictly Come Dancing as a stick with which to beat The X Factor.' Moore, whose role was expanded in January, showed a significant bit of backbone - most ulike the majority of BBC executives of late - and said: 'I don't recognise - and more importantly neither does the public recognise - what the secretary of state said about BBC1. I'm not sure how much more distinctive the last few weeks could have been - with new shows like The Night Manager, our mental health season, David Attenborough's Giant Dinosaur, Dickensian, War & Peace - not to mention the return of Happy Valley.' On Tuesday the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale - who, really, would do the entire nation a really excellent favour if he decided to shat out his own innards - once again claimed to journalists that he is 'a fan' of the corporation. One or two people even believed him. He told a Press Gallery lunch: 'I'll say it again. I love the BBC. I've not set out to destroy the BBC. Reports to the contrary are entirely incorrect.' The politician said that news should be an 'absolute core central activity of the BBC, and it should be a priority. There are savings within the BBC that don't require them to slash news budgets or close a channel', he claimed, adding 'news is not the first place they should look, in many ways it should be the last place.' He added: 'I read Charlotte Moore's comments at the beginning of the week, she said "What do you mean the BBC isn't distinctive? We make programmes like War & Peace and The Night Manager.' Well, actually, vile and odious rascal, she didn't say that or anything even remotely like it, as the above quote ably demonstrates, she mentioned those two programmes along with half-a-dozen others. But then, who'd expect a louse scum career politician to be accurate when talking about what someone else has said? 'I commissioned a report which said in some areas the BBC has become less distinctive than it was. What I hoped the BBC would do was say, "that's really interesting, obviously we take that seriously let's sit down and we will look at it, it will give us some guidance."' And, the reason they didn't say that was - let me put this for you in very simple terms, mate, because you seem to have trouble understanding nuance - it was a load of agenda-smeared bollocks and not true. 'I also said when I made a speech about this last week [that] the BBC still produces programmes that only the BBC could do, like The Night Manager. So I was slightly surprised when Charlotte Moore said a week later, what does John Whittingdale mean, what about The Night Manager?' And, again, see the above quote of what Charlotte Moore actually said. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said that he did not think the allegedly 'independent' (but, actually not independent or anything even remotely like it) report, by Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates and Oxera, was 'contradicted' by BBC or Ofcom data. Which, also, isn't true. 'You need to sit down, it's a very big piece of work,' he claimed. 'I'm not sure – I hope Charlotte has read the whole thing – she needs to do so, as does Tony. It's not supposed to be critical, it's supposed to be flagging up areas where indistinctiveness. There's a lot of stuff in it which is incredibly positive.' Asked at this stage, by the reporters to whom he'd been speaking, to identify in exactly which areas the BBC was 'indistinct' from its rivals, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale 'declined to comment.' What a surprise, because the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale has normally got so much to say for himself, on all manner of subjects. Many of which are sod-all to do with him. The lack of culture secretary, who will meet Moore in the coming weeks - presumably to take her across his knee and teach her a damned good lesson for daring to disagree with him - said that he was 'really looking forward to having a debate with her.' Or, in other words, really looking forward to telling her what he wants her to do and her, you know, doing it. 'All I was doing was accurately quoting from what is a very through, very objective piece of work,' he weaselled. No one believed that. 'It wasn't just me being critical, it was saying this is a piece of work and I really did and I do believe – and I hope Charlotte and Tony will still do this – instead of trying to knock it down they'll say "This is an interesting contribution to the debate, it makes some valid points we will go away and think about it,’ that’s what we want." A BBC spokesman said, amusingly: 'We are all for debate, that's good and healthy, but part of debating is sometimes disagreeing.' Hall addressed the Media & Telecoms 2016 & Beyond Conference, saying that he 'welcomed' a 'transparent and independent process' in deciding the future governance of the corporation. His speech was in response to an allegedly 'independent' (but, actually, not independent in the slightest) report by once Sir David Clementi, which also recommended shifting oversight of the BBC to the allegedly 'independent' (but, actually, not independent or anything even remotely like it) media regulator, Ofcom.
More than half of people in the UK regard the BBC as their 'most trusted' source of news, according to a survey commissioned by campaign group Thirty Eight Degrees. The results of the poll, published on Thursday, also suggested more than half of people who expressed a preference 'did not trust' the government with the future of the BBC. Or indeed, with pretty much anything other than lying, looking after their mates and indulging in sleaze. The corporation's future size and scope remains uncertain following last year's funding settlement, in which it took on the seven hundred million smackers cost of free TV licences for the over-seventy fives, with the government's BBC White Paper likely to be delayed until after the EU referendum in the summer. The online survey commissioned by Thirty Eight Degrees, which was behind a petition signed by nearly four hundred thousand people in support of the BBC, said that fifty three per cent of people 'did not trust' the government to protect BBC services during charter renewal. A further twenty five per cent said that they trusted the government, with another twenty two per cent saying 'don't know.' Given a choice of seven different news organisations including Sky News, ITV News and Channel Four News, fifty eight per cent of respondents ranked the BBC first for 'balanced and unbiased' reporting. Sky News - part of billionaire tyrant and right-wing thug Rupert Murdoch's empire was second, with fifteen per cent. Middle Class hippy Communists Channel Four News came nowhere, baby. The BBC also ranked top when given a selection of non-broadcast sources of news. Half of respondents ranked it first as 'a trusted source of balanced and unbiased reporting', ahead of family members (eighteen per cent), national broadsheet newspapers (eleven per cent), social media (five per cent) and national tabloids (two per cent). And, still the most startling thing here is that five per cent of the total of seventeen hundred and thirty one people who took part in the survey between 24 and 25 February thought that social media could be 'trusted' with anything. I mean, that's not just surprising, it's also scary. Truly, dear blog reader, we are living in the end of days.
Alleged comedy panel show, Insert Name Here is getting a second series. Which is something of a surprise, frankly, as it was shit. The BBC2 show - featuring Sue Perkins, Richard Osman and Josh Widdicombe - focuses each episode around one particular name and the numerous people, past and present, that have shared it. Yes, dear blog reader it was every single bit as bad as that description makes it sound.
At the age of seventy four, Michael Crawford is apparently still willing and able to do his own stunts as he reprises his most famous role as Frank Spencer in a sketch for Sport Relief. The actor is being dragged behind Olympic gold medallist, Tour De France winner and King Of The Mods Sir Bradley Wiggins his very self in this scene from the upcoming sketch, which will be broadcast on 18 March. Crawford told Radio Times that in today's industry, it would be 'virtually impossible' to film some of the dangerous scenes for which Some Mother Do 'Ave Em is still known. 'Of course, these days it's all much more difficult with health and safety rules. We didn't have those forty two years ago,' he said.
Two black actors are to appear in the lead roles of a primetime British drama for the first time next month when Sophie Okonedo and Adrian Lester star in the new BBC1 thriller, Undercover. The show, about undercover police officers and death in custody, features Okonedo as a high-flying lawyer about to become the first black director of public prosecutions. Lester plays her husband. Written by the award-winning playwright Peter Moffat, the six-part drama comes as the BBC and other British broadcasters face mounting whinging to improve their record on diversity, both on and off-screen. Lester said that he hoped viewers would focus on Undercover's tense story rather than the colour of the actors' skin. 'What appears on-screen is just my everyday life. It's not remarkable, it's just Britain.' He said that he had focused on his character's nature – 'a concerned parent, someone who loves his partner deeply, but who has lied' – and that society had to get to a point where it recognised 'somebody's skin colour isn't a character trait.' Moffat, who was inspired to write the story by the Gruniad Morning Star's investigations into the behaviour of undercover policemen and the failures of the justice system and the media, said that the idea of casting black actors in the lead had come as the storyline developed. However, several scenes brought home the significance of the casting, including one in which the family are eating dinner in their nice, middle-class home. 'Here was a black family sitting around the dinner table eating pasta. So normal and yet I had never ever, not once, seen that on mainstream TV [in the UK].' Moffat, who won two BAFTAs for Criminal Justice, and also wrote Silk, Einstein & Eddington, The Village and Hawking, said the situation was 'far better' in the US where popular dramas such as Scandal and Empire have given lead roles to black actors. Both Idris Elba and Okonedo, Oscar-nominated for her role in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda and currently appearing on Broadway in The Crucible, have said they were 'offered more opportunities' for lead roles in the US. In an interview with - yes, you guessed it, the Gruniad - in 2014, Okonedo said: 'Why isn't my inbox of English scripts busting at the seams in the same way as my American one is? There's something amiss there.' Mind you, nobody in America gave her the opportunity to play the Queen, as Doctor Who did in 2010. Swings and roundabouts, innit? Moffat, who credited his female lead for helping with the script, described the situation in the UK, where Luther has no black friends or even acquaintances for example, as 'embarrassing' but said that he was 'optimistic' things would improve. 'I think it's about to change. I know people at the BBC who want to change it and will change it,' before adding that it showed how far society had to move if 'even the BBC, which is fairly full of liberal thinking folk, hasn't got round to sorting this stuff out.' Both Moffat and Lester, who has won awards for several Shakespearean roles, said that it would be 'disappointing' if viewers focused on the colour of the main characters' skins by the second episode. Moffat said that as well as being inspired by the scandal of undercover policemen, he had been made 'profoundly angry' by the revelation that the sister of a former paratrooper who died in police custody, Christopher Alder, had been spied on after his death by the police. 'I don't think we should think about black parts or white parts but ... we should think about imagination. We should have black actors playing the Night Manager and not think about it.'
After all those denied rumours about problems filming the new series of Top Gear, it seems that Matt LeBlanc, at least, is having a perfectly lovely time. He has posted some updates from Morocco on social media and he seems to be, if you will, 'living the dream.'
The latest trailer for the new series of Game Of Thrones has racked up thirty million views in less than twenty four hours, according to Entertainment Weekly. The first preview of season six of the fantasy series garnered eight million views on YouTube and another twenty two million on the show's official Facebook page. HBO, who won't be sending out review copies in order to protect key storylines, claims this is an all-time high for a trailer launch. Here's the trailer for the new season, which kicks off in the US on 24 April. Be warned, though: this trailer contains nudity and violent imagery. As though that's a bad thing.
Channel Four's winter sports injury show The Jump has escaped censure - and/or a jolly good strapping - from the broadcasting regulator despite a string of whinges about serious injuries suffered by many of those taking part including Olympians Beth Tweddle and Rebecca Adlington, and Holby City actor Tina Hobley. Ofcom - a politically-appointed quango, elected by no one - has been 'assessing' seventeen whinges by viewers with nothing better to do with their time about the level of danger to which contestants were subjected, after seven of an initial line-up of twelve celebrities were forced to pull out through one form of injury or another. Twelve z-list celebrities who, let's remember, were happy enough to sign up for the gig in the first place. One assumes that they didn't take too much notice of the 'you might get really badly injured' clause when they read the original pay-cheque and got their greed on, big-style. The most serious injury was to Tweddle, the gymnast who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics and had 'potentially life-changing' surgery to fuse fractured vertebrae in her neck following an horrific crash on the ski-jump. Adlington dislocated her shoulder and Hobley fractured her arm in two places, in an incident which was caused by the crew not clearing the area on which she was supposed to be landing. The string of incidents resulted in Channel Four launching a safety review of The Jump, which came to be dubbed 'the most dangerous show on television' and sparked social media calls for the series to be cancelled. Albeit, not from anyone that actually matters. Rumours that future series of The Jump - should there be any if Channel Four can afford to pay the, no doubt, massively increased insurance premiums - will be renamed The Muffled Crunch cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied. Despite the organised furore - or, possibly, because of it - Ofcom dismissed viewers' complaints, saying that there were 'no grounds' to launch a full investigation under the UK broadcasting code. There is, apparently, no rule requiring broadcasters to ensure the physical welfare of adults, as there is for children who appear on shows. 'We received a number of complaints about the welfare of the participants in this programme themed around winter sports, but won't be taking them forward for investigation,' said Ofcom. 'We noted that all the participants in The Jump were consenting adults and were aware of the potential risk of injury when they decided to take part.' True that, although it's also probably the first time that anyone has ever described The Only Way Is Essex and Made In Chelsea-type people and some bloke out of The Wanted as 'adults'.
Ofcom has also dismissed complaints about a segment on ITV's This Morning which featured eight-year-old girls pole dancing. The segment, titled Are pole dancing classes suitable for eight-year-olds?, was broadcast on the ITV breakfast show at 10.30am on 16 February. The clip, which featured eight-year-olds and an eleven-year-old pole dancing, discussed whether the routine's move from being the 'preserve of red light districts' to the mainstream made it 'acceptable' for children to take it up 'as a hobby.' The broadcasting regulator received whinges from an unspecified number of viewers that the clip was unacceptable and should not have been shown. Ofcom assessed the complaints but decided there were 'no grounds' to launch a formal investigation to see if ITV was in breach of the broadcasting code. The watchdog assessed the clip and decided it was 'specifically focused' on fitness and 'not sexualised' behaviour. 'We received complaints from viewers objecting to children aged eight to eleven carrying out a pole-dancing fitness routine,' said a spokesman for Ofcom. 'However we won't be taking these forward for investigation.'
Oscar winner Mark Rylance has triumphed again - this time for his role as Henry VIII's right-hand man in BBC2's Wolf Hall. Rylance, who last month won the best supporting actor Oscar, beat Poldark's Aidan Turner, Timothy Spall (Enfield Haunting) and London Spy's Ben Whishaw, to be named best actor for his role as Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall at the Forty Second Broadcasting Press Guild awards. The historical drama, which merged Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, also won the award for best drama series, over fellow contenders Doctor Foster, Fortitude and Humans. Which, having already won the - even more coveted - From The North award for the best TV programme of 2015, was a nice little addition to Wolf Hall's now-sagging mantelpiece. Doctor Foster's lead, the wonderful Suranne Jones, did win best actress for her performance as a woman pushed over the edge by her husband's affair. She beat Humans star Gemma Chan, Julia Davis (Hunderby), Claire Foy (Wolf Hall) and Nicola Walker (River) to take the prize. Rylance used his acceptance speech to further lash the government over their treatment of the BBC whilst Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky went even further, accusing the government of 'an ideological attack on the corporation.' Kosminsky launched an impassioned defence of the BBC. He said British broadcasting was 'under sustained attack on all fronts. The BBC is being clobbered and Channel Four threatened with privatisation. A lot of this feels ideological, a bit doctrinaire. Our heads are down.' Rylance told the audience: 'I don't think there's any company in the world other than the BBC that could have made this incredible film of Wolf Hall.' Big Russell Davies who won the innovation award for his Channel Four drama, Cucumber and its spin-offs Banana and Tofu, joined in the defence of the BBC and Channel Four. He said that his drama 'didn't particularly work, it wasn't a huge success and when they privatise Channel Four this is exactly the sort of risk-taking that will cease to exist. That's what is under attack. A strange ideological attack.'
Chris Evans makes no shortage of references to Top Gear on his Radio 2 breakfast show, but the BBC has ruled that the presenter was wrong to use the airwaves to promote another of his TV shows, Channel Four's TFI Friday. Evans made a string of references to TFI Friday on his Radio 2 show before its return for a new ten-part series last year following the success of an anniversary special. He told listeners about guests who would be appearing on the show and joked with one of his breakfast show guest who was on to promote a BBC1 show because it was scheduled at the same time as TFI Friday. The BBC said that the cross-promotion was in breach of its editorial guidelines and could not be editorially justified because the show's makers look to make a profit from the sale of the programme to Channel Four. The show's return was overseen by Evans's new production company, Zimple TFI Friday, in a three-way production with two other companies, Monkey Kingdom and Olga TV. Evans was told at a meeting with senior BBC management that the references 'could not be editorially justified.' He was also 'reminded of the issues connected with commercial products' and their on-air reference. The meeting followed a complaint by a listener about the references to the first of the new series of TFI Friday, which the listener said had been 'inappropriately commercial.' In a statement, the BBC said: 'A viewer complained that Chris Evans's references to the first of his upcoming series of TFI Friday on Channel Four had been inappropriately promotional. As the producers of TFI Friday profit from its sale to Channel Four, it comes within the scope of the editorial guidelines dealing with references to commercial products, organisations and services. Contrary to those guidelines, the references to TFI Friday were largely promotional in character and more numerous than was editorially justifiable. At a meeting following the finding, the management of BBC Radio spoke to Chris Evans about the issues connected with commercial products and the editorial justifications for mentioning them.'
Ripper Street, which was saved by Amazon Prime after being dropped by the BBC, is to come to an end after five series. Filming on the fifth series of the period crime drama – which stars Matthew Macfadyen, MyAnna Buring, Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg – has begun in Dublin with an exclusive release on Amazon's streaming service later this year. Ripper Street was dropped by the BBC in December 2013 after receiving low viewing figures for its second series. Amazon stepped in a few months later and began streaming a third series in last June; it also aired on BBC1 a month later (where it got even lower ratings than the previous year had). In May last year, Amazon commissioned a fourth and fifth series of Ripper Street; the former launched on Amazon UK on 15 January 2016.
Competing docu-drama projects about he's Henery VII he is, he is, are due to be broadcast later this year. Channel Five has ordered a four-part series Henry VIII & His Six Wives from Oxford Film & Television which will 'mix dramatic reconstructions with perspectives from historians Suzannah Lipscomb and Dan Jones.' The show will highlight the different perspective of Henery and his six queens. Two of whom had the perspective 'oh, fuck, he's gonna cut me heed off, like.' Each episode will focus on of a different wife, capturing the king at different stages in his life and exploring 'the intrigue, scandal, romance, lust, betrayal and tragedy that characterised his marriages.' Meanwhile BBC1 has ordered the three-part Henry VIII's Six Wives from Wall to Wall. The show will follow historian and From The North favourite Lucy Worsley as she travels back to the Royal Court, with dramatic reconstructions written by Dickensian's Chloe Moss. As events play out, Professor Lucy will 'eavesdrop on the events in the Royal Court', the saucy minx, and then 'report back to viewers.'
The eagerly awaited third series of Line Of Duty will start in the week beginning 19 March the BBC had announced. Which means that it will reappear at least forty days after a review of the first episode bizarrely appeared in early February in the Daily Torygraph, where bamboozled arts and TV chappie Jasper Rees was, seemingly, under the impression that the award-winning police drama was due any day. Or, perhaps he'd just got it confused with Happy Valley which was starting that week. Torygraph readers who obeyed the reviewer's concluding injunction to 'strap in' for 'a thrilling joyride' will have spent a frustrating couple of months waiting belted up with the motor running.
It was the first night of this year's Letters Live series on Thursday, as the five-day event marked its second year celebrating 'the enduring power of literary correspondence' at The Freemasons' Hall in London. Actors including Sir Ian McKellen, yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliet Stevenson, Jude Law, Olivia Colman and Toby Jones are taking part in this year's series, which runs until 15 March. The opening night saw Jarvis Cocker, From The North favourite Gillian Anderson and The IT Crowd's Matt Berry read letters from historical figures such as Elvis Presley and David Bowie. Berry opened the show with Elvis's boastful letter to President Nixon - who wasn't a crook, apparently - urging the President to let him join the American secret service.
It may not be the type of music you'd expect from the star of 24, but Kiefer Sutherland is reported to be bringing out a CD of 'folk-tinged' songs. Sutherland is, to be fair, a noted music fan with a fantastic collection of guitars and has had his own record label since 2002. But, Down In A Hole will be his debut CD. Jack Bauer will kill you if you don't buy this record. Apparently.
Martin Freeman his very self has won an animation award for voicing The Stick Man. The BBC animation - broadcast to great acclaim on Christmas Day - also won best use of sound at the British Animation Awards. Shaun The Sheep: The Movie won the biggest award of the night - best long-form animation.
The original British House Of Cards famously appeared to foresee Margaret Thatcher's downfall and the ensuing power struggle – it launched in late 1990 just weeks after The Rotten Old Milk Snatcher had been forced from office in a backstage coup – and Netflix's US remake can be seen as either cannily able to work in recent political developments or having the same prophetic ability. In the series four première, released with the rest of the series last week, a key storyline centres on the discovery of a photo of President Frank Underwood's father with Ku Klux Klansmen. American viewers will have made the obvious connection with the current controversy over Donald Trump's relationship with the KKK (he has declined to disavow an endorsement his campaign received from ex-Klan leader David Duke) and the discovery in the autumn of a 1927 report of arrests including a Fred Trump – the name of Donald's father, although the property tycoon has vehemently denied that his dad was arrested – after Klan members fought with police in New York.
A former Home & Away actor has been charged with the rape and indecent assault. Martin Lynes is accused of attacking the woman at his home on the New South Wales Central Coast. An 'apprehended violence order' is in place after the Australian actor was arrested on Tuesday 1 March. Lynes told the Sydney Daily Telegraph that he 'strenuously denied' the allegations and would be 'fighting the charges.' Now working in real estate, Lynes appeared on the popular Australian soap opera Home & Away as recently as 2014, playing criminal figure Adam Sharpe. He also starred in the medical drama All Saints as Luke Forlano. He has been granted conditional bail and has been ordered to face Wyong Local Court again on 27 April.

Is yet another Saturday night BBC car crash on the way? Can't Touch This - no Rapping Rabbis jokes, please - which begins later this month will see Zoe Ball and Ashley Banjo present a 'primetime game show with a very simple premise – if you touch the prize, you win the prize!' I'm not making this up, dear blog reader. I mean, why would Keith Telly Topping want to? It all sounds about as entertaining as an afternoon at the genital torturers, doesn't it? Looks like The Getaway Car might have some competition as the crappiest lowest-common-denominator format this blogger's beloved BBC have come up with this year. Still, it can't possibly be as bad as Don't Scare The Hare. Can it?
Robert Glenister is to lead the cast of ITV's new conspiracy thriller Paranoid. The Hustle actor will appear alongside Indira Varma, Neil Stuke, Lesley Sharp and Kevin Doyle in the eight-part drama. The show will focus on the killing of a doctor in a children's playground, and the mysterious investigation into her death. Lark Rise To Candleford's Bill Gallagher will write the series, with Mark Tonderai behind the camera. ITV Director of Drama Steve November said: 'Paranoid is a taut, compelling eight-part series with all the hallmarks of a classic psychological thriller. Bill has written some incredibly well-defined characters who embark on a terrifying murder investigation as it becomes evident from the outset that malevolent forces are at play.' Paranoid will begin filming in Cheshire, Cologne and Dusseldorf later this month.
Channel Four has lured veteran Murray Walker out of mothballs and managed to attract Eddie Jordan to bolster its F1 line-up. Channel Four's coverage will be fronted by worthless Steve Jones, the former T4 and The X Factor USA presenter in his first foray into sports presenting. Who, this week was quoted as saying 'Formula 1 is like Hollyoaks on wheels.' Which, you know, it isn't or anything even remotely like it. Inspired choice, eh? Course, this is Channel Four, anyone else remember their bright idea to employ The Gadget Show's Otis Thingy to front their coverage of the the World Athletics Championship a few years ago? Jones will team up with David Coulthard, who was previously part of the BBC's team, who was announced after Channel Four secured the free-to-air TV rights from the BBC and Ben Edwards. The line-up will also include former racing drivers Mark Webber, Susie Wolff, Bruno Senna, Alain Prost and Alex Zanardi, who returned to racing after losing both legs in a 2001 crash. Another former driver, Karun Chandhok takes the role of technical analyst and ex-BBC F1 team member Lee McKenzie will be a reporter. Channel Four said that Jordan, who faces a heavy filming schedule as part of Chris Evans's new Top Gear team, will reunite with Coulthard for 'some' C4 live races. 'This is the dream team,' said Channel Four chief creative officer Jay Hunt. 'We've brought together the very best in-screen and off-screen talent to make Channel Four's coverage unmissable.' The return of Walker, who will be sent to some races to 'interview some of the stars of F1', is remarkable with the ninety two-year old last working on F1 for the BBC's web commentary team in 2008. He retired from live TV commentary on motorsport in September 2001, after the end of that year's F1 championship, at the age of seventy seven. The broadcaster, which shares the rights with Sky Sports, has the rights to show ten live races and extensive highlights of all twenty one grands prix, starting with Melbourne on 20 March. 'I'm very proud to be a part of this exciting line-up which will give F1 fans who choose to watch the most creative and innovative free-to-air coverage of the season a totally fresh perspective,' said Coulthard. 'This season promises to be the most competitive for years and viewers can look forward to extensive coverage of all the races, expert punditry, unrivalled paddock and pit access as well as exhilarating stunts and features throughout to bring the audience right into the heart of the race action.'

Sheridan Smith is an truly wonderful actress who can inhabit seemingly any role and she has seemingly disappeared into character for upcoming BBC drama The Moorside Project. Smith plays Julie Bushby​, who is chair of The Moorside Residents & Tenants Association and a friend of Shannon Matthews' mother, Karen. The two-part drama is not focused on Shannon's abduction nor her experience - and her mother Karen is not its lead character. Instead, it tells of how a group of women brought their community together in a bid to find a missing child and the impact on that community when the truth about Shannon's disappearance - that she had, actually, been abducted by her mother - was revealed.
It has conquered Sunday nights and now BBC1's Countryfile will look to do the same on weekday TV after John Craven was confirmed as presenter of its new daily spin-off, Countryfile Diaries. Craven will be joined by Countryfile regular Jules Hudson, Flog It!'s Paul Martin and Keeley Donovan, a weather presenter on Look North. The rural affairs show, which once had a couple of million viewers in its traditional Sunday morning slot, has become a ratings sensation since it was moved to evenings and had its biggest-ever overnight audience of 8.6 million for one episode last month. The daily show will coincide with a Countryfile spring special on 15 May and will be broadcast on five consecutive weekdays. Craven said: 'The British countryside in spring – what better place to launch this new show. I've been with Countryfile for the best part of thirty years and for me this is a really exciting development, hosting a daily diary that brings viewers the best of our countryside at this magical time of year. We have a great team on board and we can't wait to get started.' Countryfile was moved to its new slot in 2009 and its ratings success elevated it to the top tier of programmes. BBC1 already broadcasts a number of Countryfile seasonal specials. Martin, who has a rural smallholding in Wiltshire which will feature on the show, said: 'For me the farm bursts into life in the spring with optimism and energy, becoming a hive of activity after the long winter. It's a time for new life, innovation and expectation for the growing season ahead. I can't wait to be part of this unfolding story and to see the effects of this year's extreme weather. I hope we can show the passion farmers have for this challenging yet incredible British industry.' Countryfile's executive editor, Bill Lyons, said: 'Countryfile is Britain's most popular weekly factual TV show and on-air fifty two weeks a year, so we constantly see the dramatic difference that the turn of the seasons makes to the landscape, wildlife and working lives of everyone in our countryside. We want to offer BBC daytime viewers a real chance to celebrate spring with us and the team of presenters we've got are the perfect people to do just that.'

The BBC has been warned against making further cuts to its local radio services by the BBC Trust, which said that budgets had been left 'very tight' by previous rounds of cost-cutting. The BBC's thirty nine local radio stations face the prospect of cuts as part of the corporation's attempts to meet the seven hundred million knicker cost of free TV licence fees for the over-seventy fives. But a Trust review of the BBC's local news and current affairs services, including radio, TV and online, said that they were 'unique and highly valued.' However, the report, published on Wednesday, said the BBC's local offerings had to 'work harder' to stay relevant in the digital age. It said they were failing to reach sufficient black, Asian and minority ethnic listeners and were 'much more likely to be used by white audiences.' The report also warned that its audiences were 'increasingly going online' to find local news and information and said the BBC's regional websites were seen as 'slow with fewer news stories.' One option is said to be a merger with Radio 5Live, with local radio stations retaining their own breakfast and drivetime stations. Former 5Live controller, Roger Mosey warned earlier this week that such a merger would be 'a shotgun marriage' and 'incompatible with the national station's extensive sports portfolio.' The last time BBC local radio faced big cuts, four years ago, proposed savings of fifteen million were halved to eight million quid following protests from listeners and opposition from the then-BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten. The Trust asked local radio bosses to come back in six months' time with how they plan to address the challenges in the report. The review said that the last round of cuts had been 'proportionately lower' in local radio than other areas of the BBC but said it should be 'protected where possible from further budget cuts due to its high public value and unique contribution. While scope cuts cannot be ruled out in the future, we will need to see clear evidence that the value of this offer can be preserved if plans are made to cut its funding,' it added. Despite recent cuts, the cost per listener of local radio has gone up because its audience has fallen in recent years. At 3.8p per listener hour it is more expensive than any of the BBC's national networks. Local radio reach fell by around ten per cent from 17.3 per cent in 2010-11 to 15.5 per cent in 2014-15 and shows no sign of slowing down. Among its target audience of over-fifties, it fell by eleven per cent over the same period. The report said there was 'nothing comparable' to the BBC's local news and current affairs services in the commercial sector and its local radio stations were 'unique in many respects.'
Laurence Fox - or, Mister Billie Piper as he's better known - has apologised for swearing at a heckler during a play at London's Park Theatre on Tuesday. The Lewis star reportedly spoke angrily at the man who had been muttering and swearing audibly in the front row. Fox, who is playing the French statesman Charles de Gaulle in The Patriotic Traitor, stopped acting, swore back and refused to continue until the bloke shut the fek up. But, he told Radio 4's Today programme that he was 'sorry' and should have dealt with the situation better. Personally, if it had been this blogger, he would have bunched the rude chap's lights out and no mistake so quite why Laurence feels the need to apologise for his, in this context very restrained, reaction is very much a question worth asking. 'Can I just start by apologising to the other one hundred and ninety nine people in the theatre for my use of language,' said Fox on Thursday's programme. 'It was a very emotional part of the play and I was very upset about it and am upset about how I behaved.' The Patriotic Traitor centres on the relationship between French president de Gaulle and the politician Philippe Petain, played by Tom Conti, during World War Two. Fox told Today that the audience member had 'started muttering and heckling' early in the play. 'It became so loud and impossible to deal with,' the actor explained. But, he went on to acknowledge that he should have 'handled things in a different way' rather than start swearing himself. 'I really should have had a little speech prepared and gone: "Excuse me sir, you can either leave, or whatever." But, instead, in the heightened emotion of the thing, I told him to err ...' Fox added: 'The dynamic of the theatre and the storytelling process to me seems that there is a fourth wall through which the audience watch. Therefore, if someone is hell-bent on heckling they are ruining it for everybody. It becomes an unperformable play.' Fox said that he had spoken to his father, James, after the performance, who had advised him to 'prepare a little speech' and speak to any disruptive audience member politely. One imagines that some of the South London gangsters whom James hung around with whilst preparing for his - magnificent - role in Performance in the late 1960s might have taken the heckler round the back and had a word with him. Laurence said that Wednesday's audience had been 'very nervous' as a result of the publicity from his outburst the previous night.
Turgid, tuneless old rocker Bryan Adams has claimed that his priceless guitar was 'defaced' by Egyptian customs officials with a green marker pen. Well, let's face it, we've all wanted to do it, haven't we? Next ...

So, dear blog reader, here is the single worst bit of news of the week; Ellie Goulding is 'taking a break' but is not, repeat not, quitting music.
Well, that just totally blows, does it not?

Director Danny Boyle, whose films include Steve Jobs, Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire, is to make a ten-part series for US TV about oil dynasty heir John Paul Getty III. The first episode - which Boyle will directed - is set in 1973, when the young Getty was kidnapped by the Mafia. Variety describes the FX series, Trust, as 'equal parts family history, dynastic saga and satirical examination of the corrosive power of money.' Sounds rather good. The drama reunites Boyle with Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog's Oscar-winning screenwriter.

Good Morning Britain's latest desperate attempt to get above six hundred thousand viewers - Ben Shephard flashing Kate Garraway's knickers to the, one presumes very disturbed, viewing public - reportedly left Garraway 'red-faced.' And, this is 'news', apparently. The pair had been promoting the breakfast show flop’s upcoming Tough Mums Challenge with a nearby vat full of icy water. Words utterly fail this blogger.
Rafa Benitez took over as manager at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable and, probably, relegation-bound) Newcastle United on Friday as the Premier League strugglers extremely sacked Steve McClaren and gambled their top-flight survival on the experienced and wily Spaniard. Hours after The Magpies ended McClaren's nine-month spell in charge and dumped for the former England manager's backside into the gutter, the North-East club confirmed the former Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and Moscow Chelski FC manager Rafa The Gaffer would be returning to the Premier League having signed a three-year contract. Which, assuming The Toon do go down at the end of the season, one assumes won't be worth the paper it's printed on. The Spaniard, who has been out of a job since leaving Real Madrid in January, will be immediately thrust into action at league leaders Leicester City on Monday and has just 10 matches remaining to secure Newcastle's Premier League survival. The club are currently second from bottom in the table having lost three successive games and five of the last six with the possibility of a return to the second tier for the first time since 2010 prompting Friday's managerial change. They also have a squad of massively overpaid, under-achieving inept cowards. So, chances of them getting out of their current place deep in the clarts? Slim-to-zero, this blogger estimates.
Sunderland football club's chief executive, Margaret Byrne, has extremely resigned following the Adam Johnson child abuse case. Johnson, faces between four to ten years in the slammer after being found very guilty of sexual activity with a fifteen-year-old girl. The Premier League club has been widely criticised for letting the former England winger play after his initial arrest. Byrne, chief executive of The Mackems since 2011, said that decision 'was a serious mistake', with the club adding: 'We are so very sorry for this.' In a statement, Sunderland said that Johnson's victim had been 'very badly let down first and foremost' by the player and 'his despicable actions', but also 'by the club they support. Mr Johnson lied to the club; he also lied to our fans and they have every right to feel aggrieved by this,' it added. The club initially suspended Johnson in March 2015 but lifted that ban - with indecent haste - after just sixteen days. He was eventually sacked on the eve of his trial last month, when he finally admitted to grooming the girl and to one charge of sexual activity. In the intervening ten months, he played twenty eight times for The Mackems. Byrne, who joined Sunderland in 2007, said in a statement: 'Contrary to what has been suggested, I did not understand that Johnson intended to change his plea at trial, or at all. I was astounded when he did plead guilty. I accept that Johnson should not have been permitted to play again, irrespective of what he was going to plead. It was a serious error of judgement and I accept full responsibility for this.' Durham Police said that Byrne was told on the day of Johnson's arrest - 2 March, 2015 - that he had allegedly messaged and kissed the schoolgirl. Byrne did not address this claim in her statement but she did say that she 'saw a note' in May 2015 which recorded 'that Johnson had kissed the victim and communicated with her. I did not share this information with anybody, including the board of Sunderland AFC,' she added. During his trial, Johnson, who has played twelve times for England, also claimed that the club knew he had kissed the girl. But the club has 'strongly' denied claims that it knew he planned to admit any of the charges before his court case began in Bradford. Johnson, who was warned by a judge to prepare himself for 'a significant jail term', is set to be extremely sentenced on 24 March.

The former editor of the Sun newspaper has been very convicted of breaching the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act after a pixelated photograph of Adam Johnson's teenage victim was printed by the tabloid. Durham constabulary launched a prosecution against David Dinsmore after the Sun published the photograph of the victim, taken from her Facebook page, following Johnson's arrest last year. Dinsmore, who was promoted to chief operating officer of the paper's publisher, News UK, in September 2015, was found very guilty of breaching the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 following a trial on Monday. Under the legislation, victims are granted lifelong anonymity and the press is strictly prohibited from publishing any details that might lead to the victim's identification. The judge ruled that, although the Sun had altered the photo in an attempt to disguise the girl's identity, it could have left her identifiable by people familiar with her Facebook profile. At Westminster magistrates court, Judge Howard Riddle said that he was 'satisfied' Dinsmore 'did not know' he was committing an offence and ordered that he pay thirteen hundred quid in costs and offer to pay a grand in compensation to the girl for any distress caused. News UK did not comment on the proceedings but confirmed that Dinsmore had 'apologised' to the girl and would be 'happy' to pay her compensation. Oh, so that's all right then. Riddle said: 'It is right and it is indeed clear that there are no facial features identifiable from the photo, the hair colour has been disguised, the hair length has been changed and the background to the photograph has been altered and indeed there have been other changes relating to, for example, clothing. Having heard from Mr Dinsmore I am satisfied that he took and the staff on the newspaper took steps that they thought complied with the law.' Detective Inspector Aelfwynn Sampson, of Durham constabulary, said after the ruling: 'What Dinsmore did in the Sun was legally and morally wrong. As a victim of a sexual offence, the identity of this child should have been protected. Instead her picture, although pixelated, was plastered across a national tabloid. She was not fair game, she was a child who was groomed by a person in power for his own sexual gratification.'

French authorities have opened a criminal investigation into two teenage girls suspected of planning an attack similar to the one on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in November. The girls, aged fifteen and seventeen, had been exchanging messages on Facebook about the planned assault, police said. Both girls appeared before an anti-terrorism judge on Friday. Prosecutors said that the alleged plan had been 'at an early stage' and that neither weapons nor explosives had been found. Which would suggest that the likelihood of them actually hurting anyone, at least at this stage, was somewhat remote. France - not unsurprisingly - remains on high alert following the Paris attacks in which one hundred and thirty people died, including ninety at The Bataclan. The Paris prosecutor's office said the fifteen-year-old - seemingly, the naughtier of the two - would remain in custody while the seventeen-year-old would be released 'under judicial supervision.' The girls, who have not been named, were arrested on Wednesday by counter-terrorism agents. They are suspected of criminal conspiracy in connection with a terrorist undertaking, prosecutors said. Two other girls have been questioned by police and released.

Two cargo planes full of biscuits were flown into South Yorkshire in the past two weeks in response to a significant biscuit shortage in the UK according to a report in the Independent (which used to be a newspaper). The shortage, which previously mentioned on this blog, was caused by last year's winter flooding in Cumbria forcing United Biscuits – who manufacture products under McVitie's, Jacob's, Crawford's and Carr's - to close its Carlisle factory on 5 December due to damage to electrical equipment and ovens. This also helps to explain yer actual Keith Telly Topping's complete inability to get a packet of Carr's Water Biscuits (which he really likes) when doing his weekly shop at Morrisons of late. Robin Hood Airport near Doncaster, welcomed two aircrafts filled with biscuits, which, the Independent state, 'should help to satisfy Britain's biscuit cravings until the United Biscuits factory is fully up and running again.' Dayle Hauxwell, the cargo manager for the airport told Doncaster Free Press: 'There has been a lot of press coverage about Britain's biscuit shortage following the floods in December and we are pleased to hear that the factories hope to be up and running again this month. In the mean time we've been delighted to welcome two flights from Emirates full of the nation's favourite biscuits.' A statement from United Biscuits on 5 March said that the factory is now 'well on its way to the full resumption of baking.' Ah. Panic over, then.
Here, dear blog reader, is a health warning. Give up smoking or, you will be assimilated. Capiche?
And, here's the fourth in From The North's semi-regular series, 'Cool Motors Belonging To Cool TV Characters'. Number four: Lord Brett Sinclair's Aston Martin DBS.
Earlier this week, he was paying tribute to the late Be-Atles producer, Sir George Martin. Now, seemingly, it's back to business for yer actual Sir Paul McCartney, who has just announced a smattering of new tour dates in the US, Canada and Germany. Unveiling the shows, which include dates in Seattle, Vancouver, Munich and Berlin, Sir Paul promised 'no shortage of surprises.' A live debut for 'The Frog Chorus' perhaps?
Maximum respect is due to yer actual's dear old mucker Big Roy who came around to Stately Telly Topping Manor on Thursday evening for the sole purpose of allowing this blogger to rip a copy of his righteous six-CD Produced By George Martin box-set onto my PC. Some good deeds are, simply, above and beyond the call ...
From The North seems to be rapidly turning into an obituary blog as much of what yer actual Keith Telly Topping seems to do these days is spend his time writing about the death of his heroes.
     Just two days after celebrating the life and works of yer actual Sir George Martin, sadly, this blogger is at it again. The legendary production designer and war hero Sir Ken Adam, famous for his work on Dr Strangelove and seven James Bond films, has died at the age of ninety five. Ken reportedly died on Thursday at his home in London after a short time in hospital. His famous sets include the triangular Pentagon War Room in Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Love The Bomb and the villain's headquarters in the 1962 James Bond debut, Dr No. He also designed the car in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
His death was confirmed by Sir Christopher Frayling, his biographer, who told the BBC: 'As a person he was remarkable. Roger Moore once said about him that his life was a great deal more interesting than most of the films that he designed. He was a brilliant visualiser of worlds we will never be able to visit ourselves - the War Room under the Pentagon in Dr Strangelove, the interior of Fort Knox in Goldfinger - all sorts of interiors which, as members of the public, we are never going to get to see, but he created an image of them that was more real than real itself.' Sir Ken was born Klaus Hugo Adam in 1921 in Berlin. His Jewish family, who ran a sports store, were forced to flee Germany to England in 1934 after the family became early victims of Nazi anti-semitism purges. Ken was thirteen when his family moved to England and he went to St Paul's School in London, then attended University College London and Bartlett School of Architecture, training to be an architect. When World War II began, the Adam family were still German citizens and could, in theory, have been interned as enemy aliens. Ken was able to join the Pioneer Corps, a support unit of the British Army open to citizens of Axis countries resident in the UK and other Commonwealth countries, provided they were not considered a risk to security. Ken, with his design background, was seconded to design bomb shelters. In 1940, he successfully applied to join the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve as a pilot. He was one of only three German-nationality pilots in the wartime RAF (along with his brother, Dennis and Peter Stevens). As such, if he had been shot down and captured by the Germans, he would have been liable to execution as a traitor rather than being treated as a prisoner of war. Flight Lieutenant Adam joined RAF Lympne in October 1943. He was nicknamed 'Heinie the tank-buster' by his colleagues for his daring exploits. The squadron flew the Hawker Typhoon, initially in support of USAAF long-range bombing missions over Europe. Later they were employed in support of ground troops, including at the battle of Falaise Gap, in Normandy shortly after D-Day. After the war, Ken first entered the film industry as a draughtsman for This Was A Woman (1948). He met his Italian-born wife, Maria Letitzia, while filming in Ischia and they married in August 1952. His first major screen credit was as production designer on the 1956 thriller Soho Incident. In the mid-1950s Ken worked on the epics Around The World In Eighty Days and Ben-Hur and on Jacques Tourneur's cult horror movie Night Of The Demon. He was also the production designer on several films directed by Robert Aldrich. Ken was hired for the first James Bond film, Dr. No, in 1962. Two years later, fresh from working on Goldfinger, he designed the war room set for Dr Strangelove. Ken, however, turned down the opportunity to work on Stanley Kubrick's next project, 2001: A Space Odyssey, after he discovered that Kubrick had already been working with NASA for a year on space exploration and that would put him at a disadvantage in developing his own designs. This enabled Ken to make his name with his innovative, semi-futuristic sets for further James Bond films, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice (in which he designed Blofeld's Japanese volcano base) and Diamonds Are Forever. 'The challenge appealed to me. Also the shape of the volcano,' Ken noted concerning You Only Live Twice. 'I knew if it didn't work I'd never work in movies again. Cubby Broccoli asked me how much it would cost. I quoted him a million dollars, which at that time was a huge amount of money. He said if I could do it for a million, then do it. That's when I really began to worry.' The supertanker set for The Spy Who Loved Me was the largest sound stage in the world at the time it was built. Ken's last Bond film was 1979's Moonraker. His other notable credits include the Michael Caine espionage thriller The Ipcress File and its sequel, Funeral In Berlin, the Peter O'Toole version of Goodbye, Mr Chips, another Caine classic Sleuth, Salon Kitty, Agnes Of God and Addams Family Values. He was also a visual consultant on the acclaimed BBC-TV adaptation of Dennis Potter's Pennies From Heaven in 1981. Ken returned to work with Kubrick on Barry Lyndon, for which he won his first Oscar in 1976. He won a second two decades later for The Madness Of King George. He also designed the car for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which was produced by the same team as the Bond film series. During the late 1970s Ken worked on storyboards and concept art for Planet Of The Titans, a proposed Star Trek film then in pre-production. The movie was eventually shelved by Paramount. He was also Oscar nominated for his work on Around the World In Eighty Days, The Spy Who Loved Me and Addams Family Values. Steven Spielberg told Ken his work on Dr Strangelove included the best movie-set ever built. Sir Christopher said: 'It is said that when Ronald Reagan first became president, he visited Washington and asked one of his aides to see the War Room under the Pentagon and the aide said: "Mr President, there isn't one!"' In 2003, Ken Adam received a knighthood - the first for a film production designer. In 1999 the Victoria and Albert Museum in London hosted the exhibition Ken Adam - Designing the Cold War Ken won the Art Directors Guild's lifetime achievement award in 2002. In 2013 he and the James Bond franchise's other three key production designers - Peter Lamont, Allan Cameron and Dennis Gassner - received the Cinematic Imagery Award at the Art Directors Guild Excellence in Production Design ceremony. He is survived by his wife of sixty three years, Maria.
Also, just as this blog was being completed and tidied up for online publication came the news that Keith Emerson has also died. Very sad. This blogger was never a huge fan of ELP, personally - a bit too much going on there for my tastes if you catch my drift - but yer actual Keith Telly Topping always rather enjoyed Keith's previous band, The Nice. And, particularly, their extraordinary, playful, dramatic version of Leonard Bernstein's 'America' (as demonstrated on this memorable clip of them playing it on the BBC2 arts show How It Is).
The latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 Of the Day features one of the most-celebrated masterpieces of spectacular production from the late and much-lamented George Martin and, at the same time, has a link to the late and much-lamented Ken Adam. Both, in their own ways, 'the men with the Midas touch.' Take it away, Shirl.

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