Friday, April 22, 2016

Smart Is The New Sexy

Coming, dear blog reader, to a TV screen somewhere near you. Sometime. Probably next January. You heard it here ... fifteenth.
The new Doctor Who companion will be revealed live on BBC1 on Saturday night. The announcement will be made during half-time of the FA Cup semi-final Match Of The Day Live between The Everton Toffees and The Scum. The new companion will appear alongside yer actual Peter Capaldi in the tenth series of Doctor Who. They will replace Jenna Coleman, who played Clara Oswald, who left the show in 2015. Jenna joined Doctor Who in 2012, and starred alongside two Doctors, yer actual Matt Smith and Capaldi his very self. She asked to be written out so that she could take on the role of Queen Victoria in a major ITV drama series. Filming for the next series of Doctor Who will start shortly and will mostly in 2017 (although ,there is a Christmas special this year). In January, it was announced the head writer and executive producer of Doctor Who, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, was leaving the show. The next series will be his last, after which he will be replaced by Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall.

Here are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Seven programmes, for week-ending Sunday 10 April 2016 were as follows:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sat ITV - 10.82m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.79m
3 Marcella - Mon ITV - 7.55m
4 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 7.20m
5 The Durrells - Sun ITV - 6.92m
6 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 6.38m
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.34m
8 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.87m
9 MasterChef - Wed BBC1 - 5.54m
10 Undercover - Sun BBC1 - 5.43m
11 The A Word - Tues BBC1 - 5.40m
12 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.32m
13 Have I got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.18m
14 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 5.18m
15 Grantchester - Wed ITV - 4.98m*
16 Line Of Duty - Thurs BBC2 - 4.97m
17 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.95m
18 Home Fires - Sun ITV - 4.81m*
19 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.74m
20 Channel Four Racing: The Grand National - Sat C4 - 4.70m
21 How To Stay Young - Thurs BBC1 - 4.63m
22 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 4.58m
23 Holby City - Tues BBC1- 4.56m
24 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 4.03m
25 Bake Off Crème De La Crème - Tues BBC2 - 3.96m
26 The ONE Show - Wed BBC1 - 3.89m
27 Panorama - Mon BBC1 - 3.70m
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 their computers. Why? I dunno, they just don't. Those ITV programmes marked "*" indicate they do not include HD viewers. Among ITV's other - really not very good at all - figures for the week, Drive had a final audience of 2.33 million, The Inspectors Are Coming, 2.25 million and How Not To DIY 2.24 million viewers. On BBC2, apart from the astounding successes of Line Of Duty and the Bake Off spin-off, University Challenge drew 2.96m, followed by An Island Parish: Shetland (2.08m), Golf coverage (1.98m), Workers Or Shirkers? Ian Hislop's Victorians (1.92m) and Inside Obama's White House (1.68m). Aside from Googlebox and the coverage of The Grand National, The Island With Bear Grylls was Channel Four's third highest-rated broadcast of the week (2.93 million), followed by The Supervet (2.27m) and One Born Every Minute (1.95m). Channel Five's top performer was The Tube: Going Underground with 1.75 million. Neighbours: Who Dies had 1.43m. Sky Sports 1's most-watched programme was Live Ford Super Sunday with Stottingtot Hotshots giving The Scum a damned good hiding, which was funny, and which was watched by 1.76 million viewers. The preceding coverage of Leicester City's win at Blunderland had 1.07 million. With the T20 World Cup having ended during the previous week, it was down to Earth with a muffled crunch for Sky Sport 2 which found Live Premier League Darts as its top-rated broadcast, attracting one hundred and ninety thousand punters. Gillette Soccer Special was, as usual, Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast with four hundred and forty one thousand. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (nine hundred and fifty two thousand). Foyle's War drew six hundred and thirteen thousand and Lewis had five hundred and thirty eight thousand. MotoGP Highlights headed ITV4's top ten, with three hundred and fifty seven thousand punters followed by the movie Passenger 57 with three hundred and twenty seven thousand. Worthless steaming pile of rotten diarrhoea, Celebrity Juice was ITV2's second most-watched performer with 1.09 million viewers. Every single one of whom need their bloody heads examined, frankly. The not-much-more-intellectually-stimulating Britain's Got more Toilets topped the weekly list with 1.12 million. The fifth episode of Houdini & Doyle headed ITV Encore's top ten with but ninety nine thousand viewers. BBC4's latest imported Scandi-noir drama Follow The Money had audiences of six hundred and seventy thousand and six hundred and eight thousand for its seventh and eighth episodes. James May: The Reassmelber was watched by six hundred and nineteen thousand, five hundred and thirty two thousand and four hundred and eighty three thousand for its three episodes. The Flying Scotsman: A Rail Romance drew four hundred and seventy two thousand, Decisive Weapons, four hundred and sixty one thousand and the latest episode of The Sky At Night, four hundred and sixty thousand. Sky1's weekly top ten was headed by The Flash (1.04 million), Hawaii Five-0 (nine hundred and thirty eight thousand) and Modern Family (eight hundred and seventy one thousand). Sky Atlantic's list was topped by Blue Bloods (two hundred and seventy one thousand) and Game Of Thrones: The Story So Far (one hundred and twenty thousand). One of the daily repeats of the greatest TV show in the history of the medium that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title - The West Wing - had an audience of fifty eight thousand. On Sky Living, Blindspot drew nine hundred and twenty thousand, Elementary had eight hundred and sixty five thousand, Criminal Minds, six hundred and ninety five thousand and The Blacklist, six hundred and eighty eight thousand. Sky Arts' The Seventies had an audience of fifty four thousand. Pet Shop Boys: Live At The O2 attracted forty eight thousand viewers and, Tales Of The Totally Expected drew forty seven thousand. 5USA's The Mysteries Of Laura was watched by five hundred and forty three thousand viewers. Law & Order brought in three hundred and seventy thousand and NCIS drew three hundred and eight thousand. NCIS also featured in the weekly top tens of FOX - the latest episode of series thirteen attracting eight hundred and seventy four thousand punters - CBS Action and the Universal Channel. Aside, from NCIS, FOX's list also included new episodes of The Walking Dead (1.75 million) and the debut of 11.22.63 (four hundred and seventy one thousand viewers). On CBS Action, Bad Girls was seen by ninety nine thousand. The Universal Channel's top ten was headed by Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (two hundred and eighty four thousand) and Chicago Med (two hundred and seventy six thousand). On Dave, a repeat of the wretched, unfunny Gavin & Stacey was the highest-rated programme with three hundred and sixty four thousand punters. No, this blogger has no idea why either. That was followed by Room 101 (three hundred and thirty seven thousand) and Qi XL (three hundred and ten thousand). Drama's Inspector George Gently was watched by four hundred and twenty seven thousand viewers. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Castle (four hundred and forty five thousand), followed by Rizzoli & Isles (three hundred and fifty six thousand), Quantico (two hundred and eighty seven thousand), Murdoch Mysteries (two hundred and ten thousand) and Death In Paradise (one hundred and forty four thousand). On W, the most-viewed programme was Grimm (four hundred and sixty nine thousand). Yesterday's repeat run of Porridge was watched by two hundred and thirty thousand and Impossible Engineering by two hundred and twenty seven thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Misfit Garage had an audience of one hundred and eighty two thousand punters, a figure also achieved by Deadliest Catch. Discovery History's America Unearthed topped the weekly-list with thirty two thousand viewers. In Search Of The King's Head was watched by twenty two thousand. On Discovery Science, How It's Made attracted fifty two thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programme was Wheeler Dealers (thirty five thousand). National Geographic's top ten was headed by Car SOS which had one hundred and sixty seven thousand viewers. The Story of God was seen by seventy one thousand. On The History Channel, Black Sails attracted one hundred and five thousand. Pirate Treasure Of The Knights Templar had an audience of sixty eight thousand on Military History. Murder Comes To Town and Ghost Asylum were ID's top programmes of the week (forty six thousand and forty thousand viewers respectively). The Jail: Sixty Days In headed CI's list (ninety thousand). The latest episode of GOLD's repeat run of Mrs Brown's Boys attracted three hundred and thirty six thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (three hundred and sixty three thousand). Your TV's Snapped had forty nine thousand viewers. On More4, The Good Wife was viewed by six hundred and seventy eight thousand whilst E4's latest episode of The Big Bang Theory drew 2.46 million punters (by a huge distance the largest multichannels audience of the week). The Horror Channel's broadcast of the movie House On Haunted Hill attracted one hundred and two thousand viewers. Hammer House Of Horror had eighty one thousand. Human Planet drew fifty seven thousand on Eden.

Countryfile (7pm BBC1) attracted Sunday's largest audience as 6.32 million viewers, tuned in to see Anita Rani's Badgerwatch. Which, ultimately, wasn't anywhere near as exciting as it sounded, frankly. The latest episode of Antiques Roadshow at 8pm drew 5.59 million viewers as Fiona Bruce and her team descended on unsuspecting Droitwich. Before a deluge of Sunday night drama took over the schedule, Channel Four managed to squeeze in the second half of Hidden Britain By Drones (8pm) which featured a stream of intriguing locations seen from unusual angles. A total of 1.32 million viewers watched as presenter Tony Robinson flew his drone around a ship, a laboratory and a shipwreck. But, nowhere near Heathrow Airport, obviously. Straight afterwards was Indian Summers (9pm) which saw the British characters' lives put in danger by a child with a bomb, watched by seven hundred and thirty three thousand viewers. At the same time on BBC1, Undercover reached the halfway point on its six episode run, with the latest episode delivering a few more unexpected truth for Sophie Okonedo's Maya. The thriller had an audience of 4.21 million viewers. Once again, ITV's line-up of comforting family-appeal drama secured both the 8pm and 9pm timeslots, with the latest episodes of The Durrells (8pm) bringing in 5.49 million viewers and period drama Home Fires drew 4.45 million viewers an hour later. Earlier on BBC1, the fourth episode of Paul O'Grady: The Sally Army & Me featuring the patron saint of over-sentimental slush (with a sarky Scouse edge) was seen by 2.78 million at 6pm whilst the evening ended with Match Of The Day 2, and 2.61 million. ITV's The Chase: Celebrity Special had 3.15 million on ITV at 7pm. On BBC2, Jumbo: The Plane That Changed The World was watched by eight hundred and ninety thousand at 7pm, followed by Natural Born Winners (seven hundred and nine thousand) and Liz Bonin's Horizon film Should We Close Our Zoos? (1.11 million viewers). Channel Four's coverage of the China Grand Prix Highlights averaged 1.70 million, winning its slot from 1.30pm to 3.15pm. Later, the 10pm repeat of Friday's episode of Gogglebox had an audience of six hundred and forty seven thousand. Channel Five's evening line-up included Now That's Funny! (which, as usual, it wasn't or anything even remotely like it), watched by five hundred thousand viewers. Penn & Teller: Fool Us In Vegas drew six hundred and thirty one thousand whilst the movie Going The Distance brought in a thoroughly unimpressive three hundred and forty seven thousand from 9pm. Marvel's Agents of SHIELD was seen by four hundred and nineteen thousand on E4. Sky Sports 1's coverage of The Arse versus Crystal Palace had 1.16 million whilst Leicester City controversial 2-2 draw with West Hamsters United drew eight hundred and ninety three thousand.

Monday night saw the third episode of Marcella, the Scandinavian-tinged thriller securing the 9pm slot for ITV, despite a third week of declining ratings. This week saw the continuation of the troubled detective's investigation into a serial killer, who might turn out to be Marcella herself due to a penchant for violent, rage-induced blackouts. The crime drama debuted two weeks ago to an overnight audience of 5.8 million viewers, but the paranoia-fuelled rip-roaring roller-coaster of a drama fell to an overnight of 5.2 million for the second week. While an initial week-on-week fall is usually expected for any new drama, this week's continuation of the trend will be a concern for ITV, especially with the drama generating some good publicity and facing very little competition in this particular slot. An overnight of 4.41 million viewers watched as the title character's week got worse as the body of a woman was found on Hampstead Heath. On Channel Four, things went from bad to worse on The Island With Bear Grylls (9pm) where the unisex group were getting dangerously close to starvation. In all, 1.88 million viewers tuned in. There was some closure on offer on BBC2. After ten weeks of stranger-than-fiction legal practising on The People Versus OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (9pm), the recreation of the so-called 'trial of the century', came to an end. Featuring memorable performances from all of its main cast (and from John Travolta's eyebrows, obviously), the drama attempted to make some sense of the story behind the headlines, highlighting how everyone involved in the case was personally affected, regardless of the outcome. 1.70 million overnight viewers watched the opening episode in mid-February, with this week's conclusion attracting 1.10 million viewers for BBC2. On Channel Five, TFL workers faced a night from Hell as the latest episode of The Tube: Going Underground (9pm) looked at drunken passengers on New Year's Eve. An audience of nine hundred and sixty three thousand viewers were attracted as escalators were used a lavatories. It was quite a sight, really. There was a double dose of alleged 'comedy' on BBC1 with the launch of two new shows. Peter Kay's Comedy Shuffle (9pm) saw the bafflingly popular Northern comedian take a look back over his own career, in the first of six episodes. Given that, one presumes they put most of the good clips into the first show, one rather wonders how many of those 4.51 overnight viewers will be left in six week's time. Completing the hour, was Ben Miller and his new sitcom, I Want My Wife Back, an odd tale of a man trying to win back the woman that escaped his terminal dullness. An audience of 3.50 million viewers saw the opening episode - pretty much double the sort of figures that Ben's recent ITV factual flop, It's Not Rocket Science attracted. Earlier in the day, another Tales From Northumberland With Wor Geet Canny Robson Green (8pm) filled the gap between ITV's soaps, with the latest wander around the border country bringing in 2.65 million viewers. Meanwhile, ISIS & The Missing Treasures, part of Channel Four's Dispatches strand (8pm) drew six hundred and sixty thousand viewers while, at the same time, Channel Five's Police Interceptors was watched by eight hundred and thirty six thousand. On BBC1, a double helping of Masterchef played out either side of EastEnders. The 7:30pm episode was watched by 3.82 million viewers and increased to 4.13 million at 8:30pm. As usual, Monday's overload of soap drama took the top four spots. ITV's Emmerdale, at 7pm, was seen by 5.79 million viewers, while the 8:30pm episode of Coronation Street attracted 6.10 million viewers. BBC1's EastEnders, at 8pm, provided the meat in the MasterChef sandwich with an audience of 6.59 million, while the 7:30pm episode of Coronation Street took the top spot for the day with 6.81 million viewers. On BBC2, Antiques Road Trip was watched by 1.22 million, the final of University Challenge had 2.87 million to see Hannah, Oscar and chums from Peterhouse giving their St John's, Oxford oppos a bit of a damned good hiding. Later, An Island Parish: Shetland had 1.63 million. On Channel Four, The Food Chain at 8.30pm had an audience of eight hundred and thirty nine thousand. The latest, excellent, episode of Gotham on Channel Five was seen by four hundred and ninety two thousand at 10pm. The second episode of Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair)'s A History Of Ancient Britain attracted six hundred and forty three thousand for BBC4, Midsomer Murders drew nine hundred and forty nine thousand on ITV3 and yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable and probably still relegation-bound) Magpies battling 1-1 draw with Sheikh Yer Man city had eight hundred and fifteen thousand on Sky Sports 1.
Tuesday night saw the dysfunctional family drama The A Word (BBC1 9pm) once again secure the biggest audience for its time slot and, while its weekly following is steady rather than spectacular, it has continually proved rigid enough to overthrow some very lacklustre competition. This week's episode was the penultimate of the six part series. A total of 4.70 million viewers watched the opening episode as the family dealt with the revelation of Joe's autism, falling to 3.9 million viewers for the second episode. The audience has remained mostly unchanged over the following three weeks with the latest episode watched by 4.04 million, the biggest 9pm audience across all channels. BBC2 was also beating its competitors with the second part of the worthwhile and extremely timely documentary Europe: Them Or Us also at 9pm. An audience of 1.70 million viewers tuned in. Tuesday remains, Emmerdale aside - 5.28 million at 7pm - a serious problem for ITV. With It's Not Rocket Science and the like having recently limped to their conclusion to the interest of pretty much no one, Drive (9pm) was still a thing that 'continued to exist in its floppage' rather than attract any enthusiasm from anyone. The latest episode of 'honest, it's not much like Top Gear' seeing the remaining z-list celebrities tasked with driving some vehicles, completely failing to wake up its audience of but 1.48 million viewers, a figure that actually makes It's Not Rocket Science's seem good in comparison. No, not 'good, 'not quite a woeful,' possibly. So, just to sum up then, on Tuesday of this week, ITV latest - much-vaunted and, one presumes, extremely expensive - light entertainment format was beaten in terms of overnight ratings by a political documentary on BBC2. Which is both one in the eye for those who talk of British TV always dumbing down and, really very funny indeed. Surely the very least that the ITV light entertainment department should be doing is engaging with the mass audience, otherwise what is it doing? On Channel Four, there were plenty more bellows of pain on offer in One Born Every Minute at 9pm which was seen by 1.20 million viewers. Channel Five had a new bad behaviour reality show in the 9pm slot, Tribal Teens: Here Comes Trouble. This saw various bad 'uns being carted off to all corners of the globe for a schooling in some tough love, resulting in an audience of five hundred and twenty eight thousand viewers with nothing better to do with their time. BBC channels also did well in the 8pm slot, with Holby City securing 4.02 million viewers for BBC1, while Bake Off: Crème De La Crème continues to do the business with 3.09 million viewers. On ITV, the always over-excited Steve Backshall launched a new series of, let's face it, 'exotic animal bothering' in Fierce at 8pm. The first of six episodes saw Steve entice a Komodo dragon with a slap of meat, as you do, resulting in another factual format fiasco audience of but 1.91 million viewers. That followed River mOnsters at 7.30pm, which had a similar-sized audience of 1.85 million. On Channel Four there was offspring exploitation in The Tiny Tots Talent Agency, the sort of show designed to overwhelm Gruniad Morning Star readers with its torrent of bad parenting. Nine hundred and thirteen thousand viewers watched these poor kids forced to smile as thought their lives depended on it. Which, for one or two of them, it just might. On Channel Five, there was another chance to catch up with The Yorkshire Vet (8pm), which is very like Channel Four's The Supervet but a little bit less super and lot more Channel Five. In all, 1.26 million viewers tuned in to see an injured swan and a working police dog get their five minutes of fame. Phil Mitchell's first sober day in quite some considerable time secured Tuesday's top spot for EastEnders at 7:30pm on BBC1, with 6.29 million viewers. Antiques Road Trip on BBC2 at 7pm attracted 1.36 million. Channel Five's Britain's Pushiest Parents was watched by three hundred and ninety thousand at 10pm. Britain's Treasure Islands drew six hundred and ninety one thousand to BBC4 at 9pm. On Sky1, The Flash had three hundred and sixty nine thousand whilst a new series of Storage Hunters UK at 8pm on Dave was watched by two hundred and twenty two thousand.

BBC1's Wednesday evening schedule includes The ONE Show (3.02 million at 7pm), MasterChef (4.47 million at 8pm) and the third episode of flop factual format Secret Britain (a woeful 2.62 million at 9pm). On ITV, Emmerdale was watched by 5.12 million followed by Coronation Street 5.99 million at 7.30pm. Tonight At The London Palladium was seen by 3.23 million at 8pm whilst the second episode of Scott & Bailey had 4.24 million at 9pm. Antiques Road Trip attracted 1.05 million on BBC2 at 7pm. Possibly the most bizarre format imaginable, Caravanner Of The Year, at 8pm was watched by 1.34 million. Five Star Babies: Inside The Portland Hospital had 1.53 million an hour later. On Channel Four, The Supervet had 1.56 million at 8pm, a new series of Twenty Four Hours In Police Custody kicked off with 1.38 million at 9pm, followed by the fascinating documentary Murder In Paradise with five hundred and eighty three thousand at 10pm. GPs: Behind Closed Doors began a new series with 1.14 million for Channel Five at 8pm. Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! drew 1.11 million at 9pm. Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords was watched by seven hundred and eleven thousand an hour later.

BBC1's Elizabeth At Ninety: A Family Tribute was the highest-rated programme across all channels on Thursday evening with an overnight audience of 6.32 million loyal punters on BBC1 at 9pm. That followed a solid evening line-up of The ONE Show (3.93 million at 7pm), EastEnders (5.83 million at 7.30pm) and a truly hilarious episode of MasterChef (4.14 million at 8pm, see below). BBC1's News At Ten (which,actually started at 10.10pm) drew 5.71 million overnight viewers, highest-rated 10pm bulletin of the year so far. BBC2's hastily scheduled Victoria Wood Seen On TV tribute was watched by 3.21 million viewers over ninety minutes whilst the latest episode of Line Of Duty had an audience of 3.39 million at 9pm. Mock The Week drew eighty hundred and seventy eight thousand at 10pm. ITV's two nightly episodes of Emmerdale drew respective audiences of 5.21 million at 7pm and a surprisingly low 4.63 million at 8pm. Paul O'Grady's Animal Orphans was watched by 1.67 million at 9pm. Millionaires' Mansions brought nine hundred and sixty one thousand viewers to Channel Four at 8pm, followed by British Army Girls with nine hundred and twenty one thousand and Alan Carr: Chatty Man which had five hundred and nine thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's own birthday celebration (if you can call it that) for Her Maj, Elizabeth II: Ninety Glorious Years was seen by five hundred and twenty seven thousand at 7pm, Medical Mysteries drew five hundred and fifty nine thousand at 8pm and On Benefits: Life On The Dole: was watched by eight hundred and eight thousand at 9pm. E's The Big Bang Theory had the largest multichannel overnight of the day, 1.15 million. On Sky1, DC's Legends of Tomorrow had an audience of two hundred and twenty two thousand. Sky Living's latest episodes of Elementary and Scandal attracted two hundred and twenty one thousand at 8pm and one hundred and two thousand at 9pm respectively.

The curse of 'bigging oneself up on MasterChef' struck again, big-style, on Thursday evening's episode. As we have noted so often in the past on this blog, producers of the popular cookery competition seem to take an almost perverse delight in the inclusion of statements made by contestants that appear to signpost their soon-to-be demise with a big white arrow. This time it was Pedro, clearly talented but who had already been a bit full-of-himself through several previous rounds. Having, so far, looked like a potential winner of the competition and having, earlier in the episode, been one of the few of the latest batch of MasterChefers who seemed to actually enjoy the professional kitchen experience, an invention test proved his dramatic downfall. A 'very simple' wild mushroom fricassee with smoked duck-egg, garlic toast and mushroom ketchup had Gregg Wallace frowning when Pedro described it. 'You're in knock-out week on MasterChef and you're doing egg-on-toast?' 'What Pedro is doing is really risky,' John Tordoe added. Then Pedro said The Thing: 'I don't intend on going home any time soon, that final's got my name on it!' Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no! Mate, as sure as duck-eggs are duck-eggs, one could almost hear the audience shriek, that's your goose cooked. Torode had already noted that with such a simple dish - only three parts to it - if anything went wrong with one of those constituent parts Pedro, basically, didn't have a dish. And, of course, inevitably, something did go wrong. The smoked duck-egg fell apart on Pedro's spoon. 'I don't really know what to say at the moment,' Pedro noted as his dreams dripped into some tin foil in a yellow gloopy mess. Wallace pulled one of those faces that he always pulls at times like this. 'It's a tough environment and I just hope these chefs can cope with this sort of challenge,' said the episode's guest host, Marcus Wareing. A sad-faced Pedro presented his dish to the judges. 'It's just disappointing,' said John. 'My issue is, I look down and think "where's the cooking?"' added Gregg whilst Marcus was most damning of all: 'This dish doesn't work because it's in the wrong hand, unfortunately. What we're missing here is a little bit of knowledge and skill.' 'If they look at my overall competition, I might get a free pass,' said Pedro in the post-match interview. 'If they judge me on that dish, I'm out.' They judged him on that dish. So, despite Jen's plate having 'a lack of clarity,' Liz bursting into tears when her effort didn't do the business and Stuart having something of a 'mare in the professional kitchen, it was Pedro who left the competition.

Knockout week came to a close on MasterChef on Friday, as the final nine chefs took on the challenge of cooking for a place in the semi-final. The remaining contestants had ninety minutes to make something spectacular for Gregg Wallace and John Torode during the half-hour episode. Liz, Jen, Juanita, Annie, Stewart, Natasha, Jack, Jane and Billy faced off against each other, but only eight could make it through to the semis. An overnight audience of 4.22 million punters saw Natasha emerge as the unlucky one. Prior to that, EastEnders was watched by 5.95 million whilst, later, an excellent episode of Have I Got News For You attracted 4.58 million at 9pm (see below for details). On BBC2, Grand Tours Of Scotland was watched by 1.69 million, Gardeners' World by 2.20 million and Rick Stein's Long Weekends by 1.56 million. ITV's soaps all pulled in slightly below-average overnight audiences of a Friday, Emmerdale being watched by 5.38 million at 7pm and the evening's two episodes of Coronation Street attracting 6.13 million and 5.51 million at 7.30pm and 8.30pm respectively. Channel Four's George Clarke's Amazing Treehouses was seen by nine hundred and thirty nine thousand, the latest episode of Gogglebox by a whopping 3.44 million and Lookalikes by 1.18 million at 10pm. Henry VIII & His Six Wives drew eight hundred and sixty one thousand to Channel Five, followed by Ben Fogle: The Great African Migration (seven hundred and fifty eight thousand) and a repeat of Big Fat Eamonn &d Ruth: How The Other Half Lives (three hundred and sixty eight thousand). The Five was watched by two hundred and nineteen thousand on Sky1 at 9pm whilst The Blacklist had two hundred and eleven thousand on Sky Living at the same time. BBC4's schedule included Young Musician 2016 (two hundred and twenty thousand), The Everly Brothers: Harmonies From Heaven (six hundred and thirty three thousand at 9pm) and a hastily scheduled repeat of the Prince episode of Black Music Legends of The 1980s (seven hundred and sixty one thousand from 10pm).
TV comedy line of the week came from a particularly fine episode of BBC1's Have I Got News For You on Friday evening. Guest host, the divine Goddess that is Victoria Coren Mitchell noting: 'According to one of the many fact-filled Royal pull-outs this week, "Buckingham Palace has its own cash-dispensing machine." Yes, it's called the tax payer!'
And, TV expression of the week came from the same episode, with the great Eddie Izzard teaching the Queen how to look enthused when waving to 'The Common People.'
The headline of the week was also featured on HIGNFY. The German publication Der Spiegel seemingly getting their own back for two World Wars and one World Cup. Doo-dah.
'Live Plus Seven' figures are finally available for the whole of series nine of Doctor Who. The 'Live Plus Seven' figure is calculated by the BBC to attempt to get an accurate estimate of the total unique audience for an episode of a programme. Unlike official BARB figures the Live Plus Sevens use data to include those viewers who watched one of the broadcast repeats of the episode and those who watched the episode on iPlayer all within seven days of the original live transmission. The figures show an average of sixty per cent of the audience watch Doctor Who on the day of transmission, either as a live broadcast or as a delayed viewing via a PVR. The number is slightly higher for the series finale - Hell Bent - and the Christmas spacial, The Husbands Of River Song. A further twenty six per cent of the audience watch the programme, via a recording device of one sort or another, within seven days of the original transmission. The highest delayed viewing was for the episode The Zygon Invasion. Around eleven per cent on average watch episodes on iPlayer, although this dropped to around five per cent for the Christmas special. The number watching a scheduled repeat dropped sharply this series, from an average of four per cent last year, to an average of 1.3 per cent this year. The decline of the audience watching on BBC3 caused the BBC to cancel the regular repeats from episode four onwards. The only repeat thereafter was the late night, signed version on BBC2, which had an average of forty thousand viewers. Overall Doctor Who's total Live Plus Seven ratings were down around 1.4 million on the equivalent 2014 figures, to average a total audience of around 6.7 million viewers watching each episode. The overall chart position for each week ranged from thirteenth for The Magician's Apprentice to thirtieth for Sleep No More. The only episode this year to make a weekly top ten was the Christmas Special, The Husbands Of River Song, which came in eighth.
BARB has begun talks with pay-TV platform including Sky and Virgin Media about securing access to their customers' viewing habits. The audience research organisation is keen to plug gaps in its TV Player Report, which does not currently measure on-demand viewing via connected-TVs. It also wants to future-proof its five thousand one hundred-strong panel used to measure traditional audiences according to Broadcast magazine. BABR has conducted two pilots with Sky, drawing data from three million homes. It has also secured an agreement from its board, which includes representatives from the major UK broadcasters, that it should attempt to secure data from other providers. While BARB has established a nationally-representative panel of homes, with viewers pressing a button on a remote control to register their presence, the likes of Sky have access to a wealth of additional data. At a household level, Sky and Virgin Media can harvest detailed information about viewing habits from those subscribers who have connected their set-top boxes to the Interweb. They can see precisely which programmes have been viewed, as well as whether these have been watched live, on-demand or have been recorded. The move could prove a boon to smaller channels and shows which usually suffer as a result of BARB's panel-based system due to its relatively small sample size. 'We have to acknowledge that because of the way the panel works there is some volatility in the audience numbers we produce for some lower viewing occasions – whether that be channels that have particularly niche audience or niche programmes on larger channels,' said BARB chief executive Justin Sampson. 'One of the advantages we see to work with return-path data is to reduce the volatility in the audience numbers. The panel is good at many things but it will be enhanced by bringing in device data whether that be from the TV player apps data or the more granular data that the set-top box operators are collecting.' Sampson said in return, BARB was able to offer platform providers information gleaned from its panel about which individuals were watching programming. BARB's ambition is to run a pilot project this year, involving a range of platform providers before looking to integrate the additional data over the next couple of years. Speaking at an RTS event Big Data Smart Data, Sky Media deputy managing director Jamie West acknowledged that Sky is 'building up its own database,' but stressed that it is not seeking to compete with BARB.

The BBC's Wolf Hall has been voted the best TV drama of 2015 at The Voice Of The Listener & Viewer Awards this week. Radio 4 won four awards from the highly regarded consumer group which champions public service broadcasting. Gareth Malone was honoured for his work as a choirmaster and Jon Snow (no, the other one) was named best individual TV contributor. 'These awards are a reminder of the excellence of so much of our radio and television,' said the VLV's chairman, Colin Browne. BBC2's Face Of Britain, fronted by yer actual Simon Schama, was named the best arts and entertainment TV programme. Channel Four News won best TV news and factual programme and BBC4 was - rightly - named as the Digital TV Channel of the Year. More than forty years after it was first broadcast, CBeebies' reboot of Clangers was named best children's TV programme. Radio 4 won best drama and comedy programme with Book Of The Week, best news and factual programme for From Our Own Correspondent, best music and arts programme with A Good Read and best individual contributor for James Naughtie who presented the station's Today programme until December last year. Classic FM won digital radio station of the year. 'As politicians and regulators plot the future of public service broadcasting in the UK, it is timely to remember that what really counts is the quality and diversity of the programmes available to listeners and viewers,' Browne said, pointedly. Word, brother.

Scott & Bailey will soon be hanging up their handcuffs for the last time. Despite its popularity with viewers, the drama starring Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp will come to an end after its current three-episode run. A ITV spokesperson-type told the Radio Times: 'It is a mutually agreed decision by all parties. We totally respect that decision.' The series began in 2011, based on an idea conceived by Jones and fellow actress Sally Lindsay.
​The Night Manager's scriptwriter David Farr has admitted that there has been 'lots of pressure' for a second series to be made. But, Farr doesn't want a continuation of the Tom Hiddleston-starring mini-series, insisting that he is more than happy with the way it ended. 'There is lots of pressure but I'm not keen,' he told Variety. 'Personally, I liked the fact that the story ended where the story ended. But that's entirely personal. Given the characters, there is a potential for something more to happen and, I'm sure someone could find the right area. But for me, it's done. My simple feeling is that I wouldn't be able to make the next one as good. But I would love to work with [John] Le Carré again and we are talking about future projects.' Hiddleston himself dismissed talk of a second series recently, saying that The Night Manager's story was 'complete', while Hue Laurie also said that the show was 'done.'
BBC1's big-budget drama Dickensian has been cancelled after one series. Because it was crap and no one was watching it, basically. The twenty-part series, based on the novels of Charles Dickens, started on Boxing Day with an overnight audience of more than five million viewers but it fell to an average of two million per episode by the series' conclusion. The brainchild of former EastEnders' writer Tony Jordan, the drama brought together characters from books such as Oliver Twist, Bleak House and Great Expectations. A BBC spokeswoman said that the cancellation had been 'a difficult decision.' Although, really, it wasn't that difficult given that the BBC haven't got a pot to piss in and they need to spend what money they do have on programmes that, you know, people actually want to watch. 'We are incredibly proud of Dickensian and would like to thank all those involved in such an ambitious series. We sometimes have to make difficult decisions to make room for new shows and it won't be returning for a second series.' She forgot to add 'maybe, if a few more people had watched it, we might still be making it. But, they didn't, so we aren't.' The show starred Stephen Rea as Inspector Bucket from Bleak House trying to solve the murder of Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol, played by Peter Firth. The cast also included Tuppence Middleton as a young Miss Havisham from Great Expectations and Caroline Quentin as Mrs Bumble from Oliver Twist. But some viewers complained about the lack of a fixed time slot in the schedules for the programme and most simply didn't bother watching it after the opening couple of episodes. Before the series was shown, Jordan said that he had already scripted sixty episodes and was banking on the BBC commissioning more, pointing out that Dickens created in excess of two thousand characters and he had only used thirty. Nice try, Tone. Jordan, the managing director of Red Planet Pictures who made the drama, admitted that he was 'disappointed' they would not be making a second series. 'We are hugely proud of what we achieved in the first series of Dickensian and would like to thank everyone who helped us create a truly special and unique drama.'

A charity providing support for survivors of child abuse has defended the BBC's use of an image of dirty old scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile in its police drama Line Of Duty, saying that Savile's crimes should not be 'whitewashed' from history and that it is 'important' for drama to explore issues around child abuse. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood advised the BBC on the series, which has a long-running storyline about an investigation into a police cover-up of child abuse. The penultimate episode of the current series of the BBC2 show, shown on Thursday, has been criticised - albeit, mostly by people with a particular anti-BBC agenda - for using a photo showing Savile shaking hands with one of the characters. The lawyer Liz Dux, who represents some of Savile's victims, whinged to the Daily Scum Mail - of course - that her clients had 'had enough of Savile's image invading their lives' and accused the BBC of showing 'a total lack of sensitivity.' So, in other words, Liz appears to be suggesting that Savile be airbrushed from history and we can all just pretend that he - and his dreadful, wicked and horrible crimes - simply be forgotten about. How, exactly, that 'helps' Savile's hundred (possibly thousands) of poor victims, she didn't say. Please do remember Dux's statement, dear blog reader, the next time that a newspaper like, for instance, the Daily Scum Mail, publishes a file photograph of Jimmy Savile to illustrate a story such as this. Double standards? From a British tabloid newspaper? Surely not. However, Peter Saunders, the founder of the NAPAC, said that the programme had handled the issue 'sensitively' in the context of 'an important' storyline. 'It's a fleeting moment, it's not a large, in your face, long-lasting image of Savile,' he said. 'I've watched the first five episodes including this one and it is incredibly powerful. I don't find it gratuitous - it's a serious look at just how these bastards get away with it. Line Of Duty is a very serious comment on police cover-ups, society's cover-ups and the power of celebrity. I think all forms of media used responsibly and appropriately can contribute to the very serious conversation about this issue of vile child abuse and how it exists.' Saunders said that the BBC had 'concerns' about including the image of Savile, given the corporation's failure to stop him from abusing many of his victims while working on its programmes, as detailed in The Smith Report published in February. However, he argued that the BBC's failure to stop Savile from abusing his victims made it 'all the more important' that the corporation acknowledged what had happened. He said: 'We find out things that people have done that are terrible and unfortunately we can't whitewash them out of history. We should be able to acknowledge that Savile was an evil bastard who used his celebrity.' In response to the whinging criticisms, a spokesperson for the BBC said that the use of the image was 'consistent' with Line Of Duty's setting in 'a recognisable and authentic world.' She added: 'One brief picture has been included to highlight the real-life context of the fictional story – that a fictional police officer suppressed claims of child sexual exploitation by a fictional local politician. When viewers have had the opportunity to view the episode for themselves, they will see the BBC has acted responsibly and sensitively towards the victims and survivors of Savile. NAPAC were consulted and aware of his inclusion and the episode will be preceded by a warning and followed by an action line.'

Game of Thrones fans appear to have some unusual tastes when it comes to public transport. The actor Owen Teale - who plays the villainous Alliser Thorne in the popular fantasy series - has revealed that fans on London's Underground ask him to abuse them in the style of his character. 'People love the character,' Owen said. 'They come up to me on the Tube and ask me to abuse them.' He told Radio Times that some want to record him swearing at them as the master-at-arms of The Night's Watch, asking him to 'say it with real contempt.' The set for Castle Black, The Night's Watch headquarters, is 'a permanent set filmed in this disused quarry not far from Belfast,' he added. Owen said that filming can be tough going: 'Once you're in the quarry you can't get to your comforts as an actor - to the caravans, to the food wagon; and they just keep you in there. When it rains it takes two people to put that enormous cloak on me and once it gets wet it probably weighs my own weight again, which is about fifteen stone. So it's a bleak, horrible situation, often with me standing up to my ankles in water. But I think it helps. This is what Ser Alliser thinks the world is like.'
If Castle gets a ninth season, it will be without its co-lead, Stana Katic. Katic played Detective Kate Beckett for the eight series of the popular crime drama, but Deadline reported this week that ABC is planning a ninth series but without the actress, as part of 'a major shake-up.' Despite Katic's co-star, Nathan Fillion, being approached for a new deal, Katic was reportedly 'informed' that 'for budgetary reasons' she would not be asked back, while fellow original cast member Tamala Jones, who plays medical examiner Lanie Parish, also will not be returning. The decision was, apparently, made by ABC and ABC Studios. 'Rather [than] distract from what was an amazing experience, I would just like to say that I'm very grateful to ABC for giving me the opportunity to be a part of a much-beloved show. Thank you to the fans,' Katic said in a statement. 'Kate Beckett has been a beloved character on our hit series Castle for the past eight years. We are grateful to Stana Katic's talent and dedication to the series and we hope to continue our relationship,' ABC stated. 'Tamala Jones has also been an integral part of the series and we are grateful she was a part of Castle.' In her own statement, Jones noted that she has had 'so much fun' on the show and will 'miss' working with the cast and crew: 'It's been a privilege getting to work with this incredibly hard working group of people.' It's not yet clear if Castle will be renewed for a ninth series; it was later revealed that the writers have written two different series eight finales in case the show is cancelled. Alexi Hawley, who was named showrunner with Terence Paul Winter for the eighth series, has said that one of the two endings filmed is a cliffhanger. 'There's stuff up in the air, so we are trying to leave it in a very dynamic way,' he said. The news of Katic's departure apparently came as a shock to Jon Huertas, who plays Detective Esposito on the show. He found out at the same time as the fans, he said. 'What else is sad? That I have to find this out online! This is my family! Why couldn't someone have told me?' he wrote on Twitter.
Spending your days working in the warm Caribbean ​sunshine rather than the cold, rainy UK sounds like a dream, so when Ben Miller quit Death In Paradise two years ago, many were confused. Ben has now revealed the reason for leaving a dream job and it was all because he was about to become a father and wanted to make sure he saved his relationship. 'Two weeks after I arrived in the Caribbean, Jessica found out that she was pregnant,' he told Radio Times. 'I've just got divorced and I've finally met somebody and now I'm on the other side of the world and we're having a baby. That's a proper curveball to be on the end of. There was a period of eighteen months when I was only in the country for six months and in the Caribbean for a year. Absolutely amazing, but I thought, "I've just messed up one marriage, I don't want to mess this up as well." So I knew what I had to do to get my wife back - quit Death In Paradise!"' The actor was replaced by Kris Marshall in the opening episode of the hugely popular crime drama's third series. 'It's all worked out fine - Kris is great, [executive producer] Tony Jordan is still speaking to me and [creator] Rob Thorogood isn't,' Ben said.
Match Of The Day pundit, yer actual Keith telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable and, probably, still relegation-bound) Magpies legend and former England captain Alan Shearer has extended his BBC contract to 2020. Big Al joined the BBC shortly after his retirement from football in 2006 and has covered five major international tournaments. He said: 'I'm loving my broadcasting work with the BBC and I'm excited to continue my role working across its wide range of football coverage.' Philip Bernie, the Head of TV Sport for the BBC, described Shearer as 'one of the very best pundits in the business.' He then, mysteriously, got elbowed. Shearer will be part of the BBC's team for Euro 2016 this summer, including fronting a BBC1 documentary reflecting on twenty years since Euro 96, when he was top scorer with five goals.
Dame Judi Dench is to appear on BBC1's Countryfile. The award-winning actress will take part in a special Shakespeare episode, marking the four hundredth anniversary of the death of the playwright. Alongside John Craven, Dame Judi filmed a report in which she followed in the footsteps of Shakespeare's touring players, The King's Men, who travelled the countryside performing his plays. 'I'm a huge fan of Countryfile. It was lovely to be part of it,' she said. 'It was wonderful to learn that Shakespeare had toured with his company.' Dame Judi made her professional debut as Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet. For the programme, she and Craven embarked on a journey by foot and by boat to discover where Shakespeare may have performed, looking into documents from the time. 'In my long career few things have topped the experience of standing in a Sixteenth Century hall where Shakespeare's touring company once played and doing a bit of the balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet with Dame Judi Dench,' Craven said. 'She was a delightful companion as we traced The Bard's journey by foot and boat through rural Kent and her lifelong passion for Shakespeare's work really shone through. She's great fun, too.'
Sir David Attenborough's early natural history films are to be shown in colour for the first time to mark the broadcaster's ninetieth birthday. The 1950s series Zoo Quest was, of course, originally shown in black and white, but when footage was unearthed by the BBC Natural History Unit last year it was found to have been shot in colour. Sir David said that he was 'astonished' at the discovery. Zoo Quest In Colour will be screened on BBC4 on 11 May. The special programme has been made using footage from the first three episodes of Zoo Quest and will feature the best footage from Zoo Quest trips to Western Africa and South America. It will also include the best scenes from Zoo Quest For A Dragon, in which a komodo dragon was filmed in the wild for the first time. Sir David said: 'I was astonished when someone said we've got nearly all the film of the first three expeditions you did, in colour. I said, "it's impossible, we shot in black and white."' Charles Lagus, Sir David's cameraman at the time, said that he too was surprised by the newly-discovered sixteen mm film. 'At its best it's as good as any colour you see now, quite staggering for the period that it was filmed in,' he added. Zoo Quest on the BBC ran for nine years from 1954 and was considered groundbreaking as it brought never-before-filmed wildlife into millions of British homes. The special programme - which will be broadcast three days after Sir David's birthday - is part of a week of programming. Other shows to be screened include Attenborough's Passion Projects, featuring Sir David's four favourite films from his catalogue of work. There will be a BBC1 celebratory special entitled Attenborough At NInety, which will see Kirsty Young talking to the broadcaster about his career. Meanwhile BBC2's Life That Glows will see Sir David looking at creatures such as glow worms, fire flies and luminous plankton to guide viewers through the world of bioluminescence.
Idris Elba will star in a new Sky Atlantic drama, Guerrilla, about an underground cell in 1970s London by the Oscar-winning writer of Twelve Years A Slave. The six-part series by John Ridley will be Elba's first TV drama since BBC1's Luther. Elba will also be one of the executive producers on the drama which will be co-produced by his company, Green Door Pictures. The series was announced by Sky on Wednesday, one of a number of new Sky dramas including projects involving Game Of Thrones' John Bradley, Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, Julia Stiles, Dawn French, Tim Roth and The Crying Game director, Neil Jordan. Elba said: 'It's been a long time desire of mine to collaborate with Mister Ridley and his work here is nothing short of a masterclass in character-building and storytelling. TV is in for a treat.' Guerrilla tells the story of 'a politically active couple' who 'liberate' a political prisoner and form 'a radical underground cell.' Their target becomes 'the black power desk', a true life counter-intelligence unit within Special Branch. Ridley said: 'I am both humbled by and impressed with Idris's passion towards bringing this story to life. I share his commitment for populating the culture with driven and complicated people of colour.' Ridley will also executive produce and direct the first two episodes of the series which will be shown in the US on Showtime. Sky's head of drama, Anne Mensah, said: 'Rarely does a project pitch the personal and the political in such a flawless combination. Guerrilla presents characters you will fall in love with but also a world and a part of black British history that is rarely tackled in such a bold and compelling manner.' John Bradley will appear in an epic medieval adventure, The Last Dragonslayer, based on the first of Jasper Fforde's series of novels. It will co-star Ellise Chappell and The Royle Family's Ricky Tomlinson and be shown on Sky 1 at Christmas. Tim Roth will appear with Christina Hendricks in a ten-part 'contemporary take' on the western genre, Tin Star, written by acclaimed screenwriter Rowan Joffe. The Sky Atlantic series is set in the Rocky Mountains and described as 'an epic revenge thriller.' Julia Stiles, Matt Damon's co-star in the Bourne movies, heads the cast for Sky Atlantic's Riviera, a ten-part thriller set in the South of France created by Oscar-winning writer and director Neil Jordan and based on an idea by former U2 manager, Paul McGuinness. Stiles plays a widow whose billionaire husband is killed in a yacht explosion, only to find that his fortune was built on crime, double-dealing and murder. She proves herself more than capable of filling his shoes. Elsewhere, Dawn French will appear in a four-part drama, Delicious, for Sky 1, set in Cornwall and described as 'a compelling story of love, heartbreak, food and female friendship.' Downton Abbey producer, Carnival Films, will make Jamestown, an eight-part Sky1 series about the first British settlers in America, starring Max Beesley, Jason Flemyng and Dean Lennox Kelly.
The government is considering "forcing" the BBC 'to sell off its fifty per cent stake in UKTV,' which owns ten channels including Dave and Gold, and which is valued at about five hundred million knicker. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, the lack of culture secretary, is 'understood' to be keen to see BBC Worldwide sell its stake in UKTV, a joint venture with US pay-TV broadcaster Scripps according to the Gruniad Morning Star. Scripps has previously had a five hundred million pound offer to take full control of UKTV, which was strenuously rebuffed by the corporation. Over the last two years it 'has been known' that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Treasury 'have looked several times' at whether to 'force' the BBC to divest its UKTV stake, the Gruniad claims. A sale of the stake would be a considerable blow to the corporation, as UKTV provides about a third of BBC Worldwide's profits. In turn, BBC Worldwide's commercial activities give almost two hundred and thirty million knicker annually back to the licence fee-funded BBC and the organisation pledged to provide one billion notes over five years from the 2014-15 financial year. Selling the UKTV stake would knacker this source of funding, which is increasingly critical to the BBC as it is forced to make big cuts to cope with taking on the seven hundred and fifty million smackers annual cost of providing free TV licences for people aged over seventy five. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale is currently involved in negotiations with the BBC over a new royal charter and is expected to publish his proposals in a White Paper next month. The Sunday Times first reported that the government was 'revisiting' the potential sale of the UKTV stake, as well as proposals to supposedly top slice one hundred million quid from the BBC budget to allow some children's programmes and local news to be made by 'outside suppliers.' The BBC said that the UKTV stake and the other proposals were 'not the focus of any discussions' it has had with the government. 'While the BBC has not seen any drafts of the White Paper, these proposals do not reflect the discussions we have had with government on its content,' said a BBC spokesman.

Jonathan Pryce has criticised the British Government for attacking the BBC. The actor revealed that he thinks the state is 'trying to destroy' the broadcaster and says that the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's own views may be to blame. 'This culture secretary now, I don't understand his political drive,' Pryce told Newsweek. 'It's kind of a personal vendetta.' He added: 'The independent companies didn't choose to make Wolf Hall - the BBC did."' Pryce also criticised the government's cuts to drama, music and arts education in British schools, arguing that future generations of talent won't be given the same opportunities as those before them. 'You can't punish the Middle Classes for going to drama school - you need to punish the education system and the associative governments for devaluing the arts,' he said. 'When the arts are taken out of the syllabus, people are not going to know what it's like to value the theatre. For a lot of young people, the image of actors who are celebrities is stronger than theatre as a viable art form.'
The government is not trusted by a majority of voters to protect the BBC during the forthcoming renewal of its charter, according to a poll that shows 'most people' view the corporation as 'the most impartial and reliable news broadcaster' in the UK. A YouGov survey for the campaigning organisation Thirty Eight Degrees found that 'distrust' of the government about its BBC reform plans is strongest among those aged over sixty, the group most likely to be Tory supporters. The poll, the first of its kind to look at attitudes to the BBC among older voters, found that sixty two per cent of over-sixties are 'suspicious' of government intentions, more than double the twenty seven per cent who say they 'have faith' in ministers to 'make the right decisions.' The findings will raise increasing doubts among many Tory MPs about the political wisdom of meddling with an organisation seen by many of the party's voters as a cherished part of British life. Of all those questioned, sixty one per cent said that the 'quality' of the British media would deteriorate if commercial advertising were introduced on the BBC, against just eight per cent who think it would bring improvements. In March the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale announced plans to give the government power to appoint most of the members of a powerful new board that would run the BBC, sparking heated debate about whether the corporation could possibly remain independent of political control. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale wants to abolish the BBC Trust, the corporation’s governing body, and create a new unitary board with responsibility for the broadcaster's day-to-day operations – a suggestion strongly opposed by many at the BBC and elsewhere. There have also been reports that the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale is 'looking at plans' which would mean the BBC having to hand some of the public money raised from the licence fee to other broadcasters to fund some of their programming as part of 'a radical reform agenda.' David Babbs, executive director at Thirty Eight Degrees, which is heading a campaign to protect the BBC, said: 'The BBC is a national treasure. But its future is at risk. Any government that damages the BBC will be on the wrong side of the British public. John Whittingdale’s proposed reforms are going down like a lead balloon with key groups of target voters.' Among all voters, the poll found fifty three per cent 'do not trust' the government with the future of BBC news, local radio and coverage of sporting events. When asked which broadcasting organisation they thought was most likely to 'produce balanced and unbiased' news reporting, fifty six per cent put the BBC first against fourteen per cent for ITN News, thirteen per cent for Sky News and thirteen per cent for Channel Four News. Labour has recently accused ministers of trying to 'intimidate' the BBC as part of a wider attempt to limit scrutiny of its activities. Shadow lack of culture secretary the potentially vile and odious rascal Eagle said that its changes to the BBC should be viewed alongside plans to cut Labour party funding, weaken trade unions and curtail the policy work of charities as proof that the Tory party was 'committed to trying to ensure it wins the next election by skewing the political landscape for their own party political advantage.' Mind you, Labour seem to be doing their own bit to ensure a Conservative victory at the next general erection by electing Jeremy Corbyn as its leader. Ministers have suggested that a long-awaited White Paper on the future of the BBC will be delayed until after the referendum on the UK's membership of the EU on 23 June. The current BBC charter is due to expire at the end of this year but could be extended. The vile ad odious rascal Whittingdale has previously denied that his review of the BBC is ideologically driven. 'I'm a huge admirer of the BBC,' he claimed. One or two people even believed him. 'Every ten years the BBC's charter expires and that's the right time that we should look at what the BBC does, how it's financed, how it's governed and consider whether or not changes should be made,' he said last year.

A decision over an injunction taken out by a - still nameless - celebrity to keep an extra-marital relationship of his partner's out of the media will be announced at 'a later date', the Supreme Court has said. The celebrity - known in court only as PJS,albeit whose apparent identity has been widely circulated on the Internet, and published in both the US and Scotland - is appealing against an appeal court ruling lifting a ban on him being named in the media in England and Wales. The Supreme Court said that the hearing was 'over' and it would 'reserve judgement.' An injunction granted by the Court of Appeal remained in force, it added. Earlier this year, the Sun On Sunday wanted to publish an account of the man's partner's alleged extra-marital activities, but he argued that he had a right to privacy and took legal action. The partner was referred to in court as YMA. On Monday, three Court of Appeal judges ruled that the injunction should be lifted. Lawyers for News Group Newspapers, publishers of the tabloid, had successfully argued that the ban should go because the man has been named in articles abroad and his identity could be found on the Internet. If you know where to look. Which this blogger does not, incidentally, just in case you were going to ask. Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger announced at the conclusion of Thursday's legal argument that the court would 'take time to consider this matter.' The panel of five justices would give their decision 'as soon as we can,' he added.

The BBC is to open the iPlayer to partners for the first time, starting with arts content including the Royal Shakespeare Company's latest production of Richard II starring national heartthrob David Tennant. The BBC has teamed up with arts organisations including the British Film Institute, Shakespeare's Globe, the Royal Opera House and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to launch an online festival marking the four hundredth anniversary of the bard's death. The six-month schedule of digital content, part of an initiative called Shakespeare Lives that includes TV and radio programmes, will also feature the BFI's Sir Ian McKellen-fronted production Shakespeare On Stage, Screen & Elsewhere. The digital festival is being co-curated by the British Council. The move to allow third-party content on the iPlayer stems from a pledge made by Tony Hall, the corporation's Director General, last September to create a new 'open' BBC based on partnerships. The 'open' initiative is part of a major reshaping of the BBC designed to respond to the government's attempt to curb the scale and scope of the corporation as it faces royal charter renewal. 'For the first time, the BBC will be showcasing the great talent we have in our leading cultural institutions on BBC iPlayer,' said Hall. 'It's another step towards an open BBC – something we all believe in. This weekend [23 April] we are experimenting live with digital formats like never before. Alongside a fantastic line-up on radio and television, we're hosting a digital festival, shaped with partners, to bring their creativity to millions here and the world over.'
Channel Four's chief executive has criticised Channel Five for 'carpet-bombing' its schedule with 'copycat' programmes of its hit documentary series Benefits Street. David Abraham defended the controversial Channel Four show, which he claimed he had found to be 'illuminating, moving and important' but which most normal people found to be an appalling example of poverty porn. But, he whinged about Channel Five which he said 'despite their denials' were still running copycat versions of the show. Recent Channel Five programmes have included Big Benefits Handout and Benefits By the Sea: Jaywick, based in the Essex coastal town which is officially the most deprived place in England. Plus Inside Buckingham Palace about another lot of benefit scroungers. Frankly this blogger despises both of them for their efforts to demonise the working classes and thinks they should both stand in the corner and have a good hard think about what they've done instead of snitching each other up to teacher for copying their homework. Abraham said: 'There were sequences and episodes in [Benefits Street] that I found to be illuminating, moving and important. What I found unfortunate, frankly, was the degree to which Channel Five in particular then just carpet-bombed the schedule with "me too" versions of that programme which, despite their denials, are continuing to commission and run. That added a dimension to this that I could not have predicted. The original programme, the care with which it was made, the integrity of the programme makers, I would stand by wholly.' Abraham, speaking at The Voice Of The Listener & Viewer conference on Tuesday, added: 'As is always the case when there is a quite understandable debate that then escalates into the national press and consciousness, the tone of the debate can be quite different to the tone of the programme.' Another Channel Five programme, On Benefits & Proud, first ran on Channel Five in 2013, three months before Benefits Street started on Channel Four. A Channel Five spokesman declined to comment.
Romania has been expelled from The Eurovision Song Contest after its national broadcaster failed to pay outstanding debts dating back to 2007. The European Broadcasting Union claimed that the Romanian public service broadcaster, Televiziunea Romana, owes sixteen million Swiss francs. The EBU described the action to exclude Romania from next month's contest in Sweden as 'regrettable.' Romania has never won the contest, but came third in 2005 and 2010. The EBU had called on the Romanian government to make 'satisfactory arrangements' to repay the debt by Wednesday of this week. The organisation regards the Romanian State as 'legally obliged' to underwrite TVR's debt. 'It is regrettable that we are forced to take this action,' said EBU director general Ingrid Deltenre. 'We are disappointed that all our attempts to resolve this matter have received no response from the Romanian government. In recent weeks the EBU has taken note of the Ministry of Finance's suggestion that TVR may be placed into insolvency proceedings which may in turn lead to a profound restructuring of the broadcaster. The EBU is a not-for-profit association which represents seventy three public service broadcasters in fifty six countries. The continued indebtedness of TVR jeopardises the financial stability of the EBU itself.' The Romanian broadcaster will also lose access to other EBU member services, including the Eurovision News and Sports News and the right to broadcast specific sporting events. Romania first took part in the annual music competition in 1994, and has participated in every final since the introduction of the semi-finals heats in 2004. Ovidiu Anton was due to perform 'Moment Of Silence' at this year's contest in Stockholm in 12 May. Now there will be only silence. The singer confirmed the news on his website: 'Dear friends, I have finally received the official communication. I am trying to smile and not get carried away, but it is unfair. I am still the same honest artist, same fighter that won fare [sic] and square both from the jury and from the public's vote, but yet, I have to declare I have been "defeated" By whom? Why? Fair? I don't know how to put it nicely, so I abstain.' 'Moment Of Silence' has already been included on the official CD for this year's contest. The EBU said it would keep the digital download of the song available for download and streaming, as a courtesy to the artist. 'To take an act out at such late stage is of course a little disruptive, but it will not negatively affect the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest in any other way,' said Jon Ola Sand, executive supervisor of The Eurovision Song Contest. 'It is, of course, disappointing - it's disappointing for the artist, for the fans, and for the viewers in Romania and all over Europe. But we have to stay firm on this decision, and I believe it was the right decision. And then we will have to see for 2017, and onwards, how this situation develops.' This is not the first time that a country has been barred from taking part in Eurovision. Greece was disqualified from the 1982 contest for entering a song that was based on a national folk tune, and therefore not an original song. More recently, Georgia's entry in 2009 was disqualified by the EBU for supposedly containing political lyrics.

The outgoing editor of The Archers has revealed that Thomas Hardy's novel Tess Of The D'Urbervilles partly inspired its contentious and highly-acclaimed domestic abuse sub-plot. The novel, of course, tells the sorry tale of a milkmaid who murders a man who, it is implied, raped her in her sleep. Interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House on Sunday, Sean O'Connor said that he was also influenced by the Victorian play Gaslight. He said that Archers abuse victim Helen should triumph. 'I do believe that soap-opera has some sort of moral responsibility and I do believe that, in the end, Helen should triumph,' he said. Gaslight, by Patrick Hamilton, is about a man who psychologically abuses his wife by trying to convince her that she is losing her mind. Speaking of the influence of Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, O'Connor said: 'You see how this woman who starts off as a virginal milkmaid becomes a vengeful murderess. What you get, in every chapter, in infinitesimal ways, is finding out why she does it. That's what we've sort of done in the past nine hundred episodes of The Archers.' In an episode broadcast on 3 April, listeners heard Helen (played by Louiza Patikas) finally stab her husband, Rob (Timothy Watson) in front of her young son Henry. The storyline has been building up for the best part of two years, with Rob's behaviour escalating from controlling emotional abuse to actual physical harm. O'Connor said that the storyline had 'at least another twenty years to go' but, by the end of the story, 'there will be some sort of redemptive conclusion.'

Meanwhile, just in case you're not familiar with The Archers, here's a potted history in under four minutes by the excellent Jake Yapp who takes listeners through sixty five years of Ambridge life in a remarkably short-but-concise way.

Richard Wilson is reviving his popular One Foot In The Grave character Victor Meldrew for a one-man show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The actor has decided to step back into the grouchy pensioner's shoes after a positive response to a sketch he performed at a charity event last year. 'I did a one-off fundraising show at the Sheffield Crucible,' he told The Scotsman. 'I played Victor in the first half, using one of David Renwick's scripts, then did a question and answer session as myself in the second. I can't tell you how much the audience loved it. I had such a good time we decided to take it to Edinburgh. I loved doing it, so I guess I must miss acting.' Wilson's Edinburgh show will follow the same format at Assembly's Roxy Central venue from 16 to 28 August.
If you were watching BBC Breakfast on Monday morning you may have seen Benji the Corgi along with his owner, Mary Davies, whose stud was used to father the Queen's corgis. What you won't have seen, though, was Benji 'had a little dribble on the sofa,' according to presenter Dan Walker. He tweeted a picture of the 'seepage' after the event. As they say, the hazards of working with children and animals ... It's like the elephant who pissed on the floor on Blue Peter all over again.
A drug dealer has been ordered to hand over thousands of pounds he claimed that he had won on TV game show Deal Or No Deal. Karl Rose admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply. He must forfeit twenty five grand under the Proceeds of Crime Act after Warwickshire Justice Centre rejected his claims that the majority of the cash was from the show hosted by Noel Edmunds. The twenty nine-year-old, from Coventry, won twenty thousand smackers on the Channel Four programme in May 2009, West Midlands Police said. Rose was arrested in September 2014 when almost half-a-kilo of ganja was found in a car owned by an accomplice, police said. Officers searched Rose's home and found cannabis, worth almost five grand, and twenty five thousand four hundred and eighty knicker in cash. Detective Constable Greg Ashfield said: 'We found plenty of evidence showing that Rose was actively dealing drugs and that the cash we found in a holdall was money derived from selling cannabis. Incredibly, he asked us and the courts to believe he kept game show winnings from five years earlier just lying around his house.' Rose and three other men were handed twelve-month prison sentences, suspended for eighteen months, after they all admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply in November. They were ordered to carry out one hundred and fifty hours of voluntary community work. News on what sentence Noel Edmonds is likely to get for hosting Deal Or No Deal is not known at this time.
A man in southern Germany took a strong magnet to a lake to try and find his lost key - but what came up on the end of his line would have offered a much more exciting way of opening his door. The man had taken to the waters of Lake Waginger in the Bavarian Alps, last Friday to try and find his key armed 'with a magnet on a home made fishing rod,' the police reported. When the twenty eight-year-old felt a weight on the end of his line, the man must have thought he was in luck. But, he get more than he bargained for as, when he pulled up his catch, he found a rusty hand grenade stuck to the magnet. 'It was a live hand grenade from the Second World War,' a police spokesperson said. The man was quick to react. 'He responded very well and immediately dropped the grenade back into the water,' the police spokesperson said. Police munitions experts secured the explosive device shortly afterwards and defused it. It is still quiet common, seventy one years years after the end of the war, for unexploded munitions and ordinance from the era to be found in Germany. Most often unexploded bombs are turned up during building work in the major cities, discoveries which sometimes lead to whole neighbourhoods being temporarily evacuated. Earlier this month police had to be called in when a student at a school in North Germany brought a seventeen-centimetre shell into class which he had found in his family cellar.
An Ashington couple were reported to be 'exceedingly cross' after discovering a mouse had tucked in to their cake. Lorraine Armstong had bought the Mr Kipling Battenberg cake from ASDA, in Ashington, on 14 April. But, when husband her Graeme tried to cut a slice, he noticed - to his abject horror - that a rodent appeared to have chewed through the packaging and into the cake. Armstrong, who is medically retired, was shocked, and stunned and took the Battenberg straight back to the shop the same day. He said: 'I picked it up to have a piece of cake and I saw a round hole in the packaging. It was a good three centimetres deep and the whole end of the cake had been eaten away. I was pretty disgusted and went straight back to ASDA.' The Armstrongs were given a replacement Battenberg, but told the Evening Chronicle that they felt their complaint had 'not been taken seriously' and returned a couple of hours later to give the supermarket 'a piece of their mind.' Or minds, actually. Unless they've only got one between then. Which is unlikely, frankly. ASDA eventually gave Mrs Armstrong, who runs a toy resale business, a voucher for flowers. But, she said: 'I haven't even collected them because I don't want flowers!' Armstrong warned that rodents in the supply chain 'could have serious health consequences.'
Police had to be called in after a quarrel over sausages spiralled out of control at Daimler's Annual General Meeting last week. It is well known that Volkswagen serves up some of the best currywurst in all of Germany in its canteens. In fact, in 2015 the car manufacturer sold more sausages than cars. But the bangers served by rival Daimler - parent company to Mercedes - can't be all that bad either, if the reaction of shareholders at Wednesday's AGM is anything to go by. The situation was already tense during the morning's Q&A session between board and shareholders, after news emerged earlier in the day that Deutsche Umwelthilfe (the German Environmental Help service) was taking legal action against the luxury car-maker. When it came to the lunch buffet, though, the company was sure it had everything adequately covered. Twelve thousand five hundred sausages had been bought for the five thousand five hundred attendees - easily enough for two each. But, one greedy shareholder, who had clearly never heard of The Prisoner's Dilemma, took such a liking to the wurst that he slyly packed a few extra ones into his bag. Unluckily for the chap concerned, a fellow shareholder spotted this and let him know, in no uncertain terms, what she thought of it. The resultant verbal exchange got so ugly that the company decided to let the authorities sort it out. 'We called in the police to mediate,' Manfred Bischoff from the board of directors said in a statement to German media. The woman who spotted her fellow shareholder smuggling the sausages reported him to the police for 'insulting' her. Bischoff warned that next year there could be consequences. 'Either we need more sausages or we're going to do away with them completely,' he said.
A man who has eaten sausages and chips every day for the past twenty two years is begging for help to change his diet. Father-of-two Daniel Pennock claims that he ate 'all sorts of food' when he was a toddler but, when he turned four years old, he refused to eat anything other than sausages and chips for his evening meal. He says that he gets physically sick when any other food come near his lips, apart from bread, crisps, apples, bananas and sausage rolls. So, banana sarnies might seem to be the first step towards a solution. Pennock, from Wakefield, said that his strange habit had cost him relationships and made him gain weight. No shit? He said that he has never eaten out at a cafe or restaurant in his life. Not even sausage and chips? Well, that's just wrong. Pennock, a lifeguard who wants to become a personal trainer, has asked for 'professional help' with his diet. 'I don't eat anything apart from junk and I'm fed up,' he said. 'I don't think I have ever eaten a vegetable in my life. I do eat bananas and apples, but if anything else gets near my mouth it makes my physically sick. I have sausage and chips every day and I have done for twenty two years. I've tried eating other things, but I just can't keep them down. I want to get it sorted out, once and for all - not just for me, but for my family.' Pennock currently lives alone; his daughter Aleigha and son Kai live with a former partner. He said that he eats the same thing every day: toast for breakfast; a crisp sandwich or sausage roll for lunch and then three or four Lincolnshire sausages with oven chips and two slices of bread for dinner. He even has sausages on Christmas Day, but with roast potatoes instead of chips. 'I've racked my brain and asked my parents to work out how all this started, but it's a mystery,' he claimed. 'I thought, maybe, I might have choked on something when I was young, but my mum says no.' After visiting his doctor, he was diagnosed with 'selective eating disorder,' and his weight went up to nineteen stone. His gym workouts have brought his weight down to sixteen stone, but he is still suffering. 'My son is running around and playing football and I'm tired out. I've got no energy,' he said. 'People say "you're fussy or picky" but I've tried to eat other things. I have tried chicken before, but I was actually sick before it got to my mouth. I have tried pinching my nose, but I feel sick just thinking about it.' Pennock has found a specialist in London for treatment, but is saving up for the three hundred quid sessions.
Three years of Greater Manchester Marathon times have been declared invalid after a discovery that the course was three hundred and eighty metres too short - a mistake affecting over twenty four thousand runners. An error in measuring the course before the 2013 event was 'not corrected' for the 2014 or 2015 races, the Association of UK Course Measurers (for there is such a thing) said in a statement. UK Athletics will, therefore, no longer recognise times from those races. The error was corrected in time for this year's race, held on 10 April. The mistake meant that the course was fifteen yards short of twenty six miles between 2013 and 2015 - a true marathon distance is twenty six miles, three hundred and eighty five yards. Marathon courses are measured using a bicycle fitted with a counter to calculate distance by the turning of the wheels. AUKCM said that 'an accredited measurer' had ridden the course in this way in 2013, but indicated there had been 'an error' in the calibration of the bicycle wheel. The organisation said: 'AUKCM regret the error in measurement and the effect it has on runners' times. Significant errors in measurement are rare - our procedures are designed to find them at the reporting or checking stages.' Which, one is sure, will be of great consolation to all of those people who ran twenty six miles for nowt.
A sixth-form student from Essex has passed his driving test at the first attempt, despite hitting a deer during the exam. Tom Lo, seventeen, has told Radio 1's Newsbeat that he was 'about ten minutes into the test' when the animal ran across a road in front of his car. 'I was picking up speed because it was a sixty miles per hour zone and all of a sudden I see a deer in front of me. So I hit my brake but unfortunately the deer was killed,' he said. It happened on a road near Colchester. 'I pulled over after the incident and my driving instructor had a look at the car and checked the deer.' In that order, presumably. 'He said there was nothing we could do and that it wasn't my fault, so I was told to continue my test.' Tom's driving instructor, Robert Jezierski, said that Tom was 'pretty quiet' after being told he'd passed his test. Although, probably not as quiet as the deer. 'Most pupils, when they've finished the test and they're told that they've passed - they have a big smile and put their thumbs up. But Tom just sat there quite quiet, obviously in shock at what had happened and a bit worried what I was going to say about the car. It wasn't that bad, though.' Except for the deer. 'It cracked the number plate and there's a split in the front valance that goes along about three inches. But it was very fortunate, the amount of damage.' Albeit, not fortunate for the deer. Just saying.
The US state of Utah has become the first to declare pornography 'a public health risk' in a move which its governor says is to 'protect our families and our young people.' The bill does not ban pornography in the mainly Mormon state. However, it calls for greater 'efforts to prevent pornography exposure and addiction.' One group representing the adult entertainment industry attacked what it called 'an old-fashioned morals bill.' Pornography, the bill claims, 'perpetuates a sexually toxic environment' and 'is contributing to the hypersexualisation of teens and even prepubescent children, in our society.' Further steps must be taken to change 'education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level' against what it calls an epidemic, but it does not suggest how changes should be implemented. The bill was signed by Republican Governor Gary Herbert, who said the volume of pornography in society was 'staggering.' Which reminds this blogger of that exchange in the opening episode of The West Wing: 'Show the average American teenage male a condom and his mind will turn to thoughts of lust.' 'Show the average American teenage male a lug wrench and his mind'll turn ...'
Workers aged over forty perform at their best if they work three days a week, according to economic researchers. Something this blogger has been trying to tell the Job Centre for years with little success. Their research analysed the work habits and brain test results of about three thousand men and three thousand five hundred women aged over forty in Australia. Their calculations suggest a part-time job keeps the brain stimulated, while avoiding exhaustion and stress. The researchers said this needed to be 'taken into consideration' as many countries raise their retirement age. And, the irony of all this is that this news arrives mere weeks after this blogger started working four days a week. Typical.
The Who's Roger Daltrey has confirmed a much-rumoured 'mega-festival' featuring his band alongside Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. The promoters of the annual Coachella festival are reportedly behind the three-day event in the US this October. 'What a great weekend it will be,' Roge told BBC 6Music. 'They're all going to be there, on the one spot, at the one time. It's amazing really. It's amazing we're still here!' The historic festival was initially reported by the Los Angeles Times over the weekend, but neither the acts nor the promoters had confirmed the event. It is expected to take place on the weekend of 7 to 9 October at the Empire Polo Field in Indio, California, where Coachella took place last weekend. The line-up is also expected to include The Rolling Stones and Roger Waters ex of The Pink Floyd. It will be the first, and possibly last, time the artists - all Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees - have shared the same bill. 'We have to face it, we are [at] the end of an era,' Daltrey told 6Music's Matt Everitt. 'We're the last of our generation. You can see from reading the obituaries lately that we [rock stars] don't make old bones very well, do we?' The LA Times said that Dylan and The Stones were expected to open the festival with back-to-back performances on Friday 7 October, with McCartney and Young playing the following night and Waters and The Who concluding proceedings on 9 October. 'I don't think any of us cares who goes on first,' said Daltrey. 'We've never worried about that. The music is all so different, that's not going to matter at all.' Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar said: 'If you just look at it at face value, a bill like this doesn't exist anywhere else on the concert landscape. There are a lot of festivals, but nothing quite like what's being planned there. I expect it will resonate nationally - and internationally.' The Who are currently in the middle of their fiftieth anniversary world tour, which hits the Isle of Wight Festival on 11 June. Dozens of dates were postponed last year when Daltrey contracted viral meningitis. 'I got terrible headaches, then I fell over. It was touch and go there for a few days,' Daltrey said. 'I'm doing all right. I don't think I'm one hundred per cent but I'm singing better than I've ever sung in my life, so that's a good result."
The comedian, singer and writer Victoria Wood has died after 'a short, but brave' battle with cancer aged sixty two. Her publicist said that Wood 'died peacefully at her North London home with family' on Wednesday, adding her family were 'asking for privacy.' Wood's older brother, Chris, said that her death had 'robbed us of one of the brightest talents of our generation.' Wood found fame in the 1980s and was best known for her BBC sketch show and the sitcom Dinnerladies. Personally, this blogger was never the world's greatest fan of Victoria's comedy but, I know that a lot of dear blog readers are so, From The North notes her passing with some sadness.

Guy Hamilton, who directed four James Bond movies - including three of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourites - has died aged ninety three. Sir Roger Moore tweeted that he was 'incredibly saddened to hear the wonderful director Guy Hamilton has gone to the great cutting room in the sky. 2016 is horrid.' Guy directed Sir Roger in his first two Bond outings, Live & Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun. He also directed Sir Sean Connery in Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever. A hospital on the Spanish island of Majorca - where Hamilton lived - confirmed to the Associated Press that the film-maker had died on Wednesday. Guy's other films included epics like The Battle Of Britain, Force Ten From Navarone, Evil Under The Sun and The Mirror Crack'd,another particular favourite of this blogger. Hamilton was born in Paris, where his father was a press attache to the British embassy and spent much of his youth in Canada and France. He began his career modestly at the Victorine Studios in Nice, working for Julien Duvivier on Untel Père Et Fils. When the Germans invaded he left for London and worked in the film library at Paramount News before serving with the Royal Navy. Resuming his career in the late 1940s he worked as an assistant director on They Made Me A Fugitive (1947), Mine Own Executioner (also 1947) and Anna Karenina (1948), the last of which Duvivier directed in Britain. Guy also assisted Carol Reed on three classic post-war movies, The Fallen Idol (1948), The Third Man (1949) – in which he stood in for an absent Orson Welles in some of the long shots – and Outcast Of The Islands (1951). On the latter film, having divorced from his first wife, the actress Naomi Chance, he met and married the Algerian actress Kerima, who was making her screen debut in Reed's adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel. 'The trick, I discovered, was not to be an assistant director, but to be the director's assistant,' he noted later. 'There are certain things the director is not interested in doing and you have to cover for those, while watching very carefully for the things he cares passionately about. In this way, you become very valuable to him, because you sense his needs.' In 1951 Hamilton worked on John Huston's The African Queen, after the rigours of which he felt confident enough to become a director himself and assured the producer Alexander Korda that he could complete a film in three weeks. His mentor Reed advised him to make a comedy thriller: 'That way if it is only half thrilling and only half amusing, you'll still have a success.' The result was a brisk, third screen version of Edgar Wallace's The Ringer (1952), generally considered the best adaptation of the writer's work. It was good enough for the producer Ivan Foxwell to offer Guy The Intruder (1953), starring Jack Hawkins. Hamilton and Foxwell were near contemporaries, sharing a military background and strong ties with France. After their successful joint debut they made The Colditz Story, Manuela and the engaging A Touch Of Larceny, with James Mason. Although Guy enjoyed script involvement he maintained that he held 'no ambitions' to write or produce and enjoyed working for those who had 'a hands-on approach to production.' Of these early films, the most intriguing was Manuela, a melodrama about a ship's captain who falls desperately in love with a mixed-race stowaway. Sometimes known as The Stowaway Girl, it was written by Hamilton and Foxwell and was dominated by Trevor Howard's intense central performance. It was unusual in being a British film explicitly concerned with the destructive power of sexual passion, its makers describing it as 'an attempt at a continental film.' Thanks to his critical and commercial success, especially with the claustrophobic drama set in Colditz Castle and the fluent, superbly-acted version of JB Priestley's An Inspector Calls, in 1959 Guy was offered a prestigious film based on George Bernard Shaw's The Devil's Disciple. It was something of a poisoned chalice, since shooting had also begun under Alexander Mackendrick, who had made Sweet Smell Of Success with its producer-star Burt Lancaster. However, on their new venture the director had fallen out with Lancaster and the equally egotistical co-star, Kirk Douglas. Guy survived both the fraught production and the clash of egos, describing it as 'a decently paid chore.' The end result was stodgy, enlivened only by an over-the-top performance from Laurence Olivier. It failed both critically and commercially. Despite that setback, Guy was offered further internationally financed projects, including a mildly satirical war film, The Best Of Enemies (1961), starring David Niven and the Italian actor Alberto Sordi and a pedestrian courtroom drama, Man In The Middle (1964), with Robert Mitchum. The latter served to distract from The Party's Over (1965), which had been shelved by Rank, following censorship problems because of an orgy scene involving necrophilia. When it was cut and belatedly released, Guy completely disowned it. He could afford to since he had, by then, made Goldfinger. He came to Bond as producer Cubby Broccoli was an old friend. 'He said "how would you like to make Goldfinger?" I said "I would absolutely love to," because I had a very clear idea of what I would like to do and how I'd like to go about it and it was a very happy experience.' Guy said that many people thought there was a formula for making a Bond movie but he didn't believe that. But, he added, that the key to Bond's survival was 'anyone to do with Bond is not lazy.' 'I work very hard, I drive people very hard,' he admitted. He was at the helm at the golden age of Bond movie and oversaw when the role passed from Sean Connery to Roger Moore in 1973 with Diamonds Are Forever and Live & Let Die remaining two of this blogger's favourite movies, both with a wonderfully sleazy view on early 1970s America and both benefiting from witty, sharp and thrilled-packed scripts by the late Tom Tom Mankiewicz. In 1966 Guy also directed Len Deighton's Funeral In Berlin, with Michael Caine as the more proletarian secret agent, Harry Palmer. Speaking about his style of directing Guy said that he wanted 'value for money. In the making of Bond films we are some of the meanest toughest film makers. If we spend a million dollars it had better be up there on the screen.' Guy worked in the pre-production of The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), but parted company with the franchise to direct Force Ten From Navarone (1978), starring Harrison Ford. Guy was originally chosen to direct Superman: The Movie but, due to his status as a tax exile, he was allowed to be in England for only thirty days. Production had moved at the last minute to Pinewood Studios after Marlon Brando refused to work in the original chosen location, Italy. The job went to Richard Donner, although Guy was, reportedly, paid in full. In his later career, Guy directed two more films, Remo: Unarmed & Dangerous (1985) and Try This One For Size (1989), a Franco-American production. In the late 1980s, Guy was also reportedly approached to direct Batman (1989), but declined. For nearly forty years Guy and his wife, Kerima, lived in Mallorca.
The hugely popular and acclaimed musician and songwriter Prince has died at his home in Minnesota at the age of fifty seven. Police were called to 'a medical emergency' at Prince's Paisley Park estate on Thursday after Prince was, reportedly, found unconscious in an elevator. Prince postponed two performances from his Piano & A Microphone Tour on 7 April at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, stating that he was 'battling the 'flu.' He performed a replacement concert on 14 April. Following the show, early the next morning whilst flying back to Minneapolis, his private jet made an emergency landing at Quad City Airport in Moline, Illinois, so that he could seek medical treatment. Representatives stated at the time that he had suffered from 'bad dehydration' and had been fighting influenza for several weeks. Prince became a global superstar in the 1980s, with a string of ground-breaking LPs such as 1999, Purple Rain, Around The Word In A Day, Parade, Sign O' the Times, Lovesexy, the soundtrack to the movie Batman, Graffiti Bridge, Diamonds & Pearl, The Black Album and The One With The Weird Symbol For A Title. He sold more than one hundred million records during his career in which he mixed musical styles as diverse as funk, soul, rock, jazz, ambient, and psychedelic pop with effortless ease and quality. Born Prince Rogers Nelson in 1958 he was a prolific writer and performer from a young age. A singer, songwriter, arranger and multi-instrumentalist - in particular, a superb guitarist - Prince recorded more than thirty LPs during his prolific career. He also built a reputation for secrecy and eccentricity, once changing his name to that unpronounceable symbol (or, alternatively, 'The Artist Formerly Known As Prince') and having frequent spats with his record company (for a time he took to appearing on-stage with the word 'slave' written on his face). In 2004, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which said that he 'rewrote the rulebook.' A musical prodigy from a broken home, Prince famously wrote, arranged, produced and played almost all of the instruments on his numerous hit records. The Wee Man in the Purple Trousers's golden patch really came with his first band The Revolution. With them, he wrote more than two-dozen rock-dance classics in a sustained ten-year flurry of activity during the late 1980s and early 90s. These included '1999', 'Purple Rain', 'Little Red Corvette', 'When Doves Cry', 'Raspberry Beret', 'Kiss', 'Sign O' The Times', 'If I Was Your Girlfriend', 'U Got The Look', 'I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man', 'Batdance', 'Alphabet Street', 'Gett Off', 'Cream', 'Sexy MF', 'My Name Is Prince', 'The Most Beautiful Girl In The World' et cetera. At the same time, he also wrote 'Manic Monday' for The Bangles, 'I Feel For You' was covered by Chaka Khan and 'Nothing Compares 2U' was dramatically reinterpreted by Sinead O'Connor. In the studio he was unstoppable, recording and releasing huge volumes of work recorded at his Paisley Park complex, but the magic really happened on stage where he would often play shows lasting up to four hours. Over the years Prince was romantically linked with many celebrities, including Kim Basinger, Madonna, Vanity, Sheila E, Carmen Electra, Susanna Hoffs, Anna Fantastic, Sherilyn Fenn and Susan Moonsie. Prince was engaged to Susannah Melvoin in 1985. When he was thirty seven, he married his twenty two-year-old back-up singer and dancer Mayte Garcia on Valentine's Day 1996. They had a son named Boy Gregory in October 1996, who was born with Pfeiffer Syndrome and died a week later. Prince and Mayte divorced in 1999. In 2001, Prince married Manuela Testolini in a private ceremony; she filed for divorce in May 2006. Prince became a Jehovah's Witnesses in 2001 following a two-year-long debate with his friend and fellow musician Larry Graham. Prince said that he didn't consider it a conversion, but rather a 'realisation". It's like Morpheus and Neo in The Matrix,' he explained. He attended meetings at a local Kingdom Hall and occasionally knocked on people's doors to discuss his faith. 'Sometimes people act surprised, but mostly they're really cool about it,' he said. Prince was also a noted vegetarian, the liner notes for his CD Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic featured a message about the cruelty involved in wool production. In 2016, Prince announced that he was writing a memoir, tentatively titled The Beautiful Ones. His name was Prince, dear blog reader, and he was funky.

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