Saturday, October 07, 2017

It's Not The Cough That Carries You Off, It's The Coffin They Carry You Off In

This Christmas will see yer actual Peter Capaldi's last outing in Doctor Who. Many have wondered why, after three full series, Peter has chosen to depart now, especially when his latest run has brought such a fresh energy to the popular, long-running family SF drama and a companion he didn't inherit from another Doctor. 'It fills up your life,' the actor said at New York Comic-Con this week. 'You don't have a second where it's not about Doctor Who. It's a nice way to live. I really never wanted to get to a place where I knew how to do this because that's not what being creative is. The actual amount of time we were spending on the show, I realised I was getting the hang of it. And that made me frightened.' He also joined several of his predecessors, including Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith in praising the casting of Jodie Whittaker her very self as the new Doctor. 'I saw what she's done and she's great, so I think it's in really good hands,' he added. 'I'm glad people were moved by the idea of her.'
Idris Elba and Bill Bailey are teaming up for In The Long Run, a new Sky 1 comedy-drama based loosely on Idris' childhood. Created by the Luther star, In The Long Run is set in London in 1985 and follows the Easmon family, specifically Walter Easmon (played by Elba), his wife Evelyn, his friend and neighbour Bagpipes (Bailey), and the couple's son, Akuna - whose passion for music comes from his uncle, Valentine. Executive producing In The Long Run along with Elba is Moone Boy's Gina Carter, producing is Charlie Hanson and directing is Declan Lowney whose previous work includes Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. The sitcom's writers are Claire Downes, Ian Jarvis, Stuart Lane and Grace Ofori-Attah. 'I'm really happy to be in comedy, bringing some joy into a world that needs some laughs,' Elba said of the new show. 'With a great team behind it I look forward to people seeing it.' Jon Mountague, the head of comedy at Sky, added: 'We are honoured to be working with Idris in what is an authentic, perceptive and deeply funny show. In The Long Run will surprise and delight viewers.' As well as Elba's new sitcom, Sky 1 has also announced sitcoms The Reluctant Landlord starring Romesh Ranganathan, and Sick Of It starring Karl Pilkington. So, that one will be well-worth avoiding. Talking about the new shows, Sky said: 'As well as starring, Karl and Romesh will each write these often personal (but always funny) stories that will sit in a new 10pm half-hour slot that's dedicated to edgier and more mischievous comedies. These new British comedies are joining a line-up of shows on Sky 1 from some of the biggest names, including comedy thriller Bounty Hunters starring [worthless, unfunny, lanky streak of rancid piss] Jack Whitehall and Oscar nominee Rosie Perez, and Sick Note - Rupert Grint and Nick Frost's tale of a terrible lie that spirals out of control - both of which have already been slated for the 10pm comedy spot later this year.'
Stephen Mangan's new show, Hang Ups. was already sounding pretty promising, but anticipation has been raised by some of the newly announced cast. The comedy is an adaptation of Lisa Kudrow's EMMY-nominated Web Therapy for Channel Four, and follows Mangan's character Doctor Richard Pitt, as he gives weekly quickfire webcam therapy sessions. Actors that have signed-up include four Game Of Thrones cast members, including Conleth Hill, Charles Dance, Harry Lloyd and Richard E Grant. On top of that, yer actual David Tennant will appear, as will Jessica Hynes and Monica Dolan, The IT Crowd's Katherine Parkinson and Celia Imrie. Also set to play either clients or associates of Pitt are Karl Theobald, Arsher Ali, Paul Ritter, Tolu Ogunmefun, Sarah Hadland, Lolly Adefope and John Macmillan. Mangan will also co-write the scripts for the series, which will see his character's patients 'present an hilarious and outrageous catalogue of neuroses, phobias, issues, anxieties and psychopathies.' 'People are complex and complicated and they lead messy, knotty lives,' Mangan explained. 'We've tried to put some of that all-too-familiar turmoil onscreen and the result, I think, is chaotic, glorious and disturbing.' The series will comprise six thirty minute episodes and will be co-written with Robert Delamere.
Keeley Hawes is joining up with Line Of Duty's creator, Jed Mercurio, for a new six-part BBC political drama called Bodyguard. Hawes will play a Home Secretary, Julia Montague, while Game Of Thrones' Richard Madden will play her police protection officer. 'Bodyguard is such an exciting project. I can't wait to get started,' Keeley said. Mercurio added that he was 'delighted' to be working with the two actors. Madden is probably best known for playing Robb Stark in Game Of Thrones between 2011 and 2013. The bodyguard he plays is an heroic - but volatile - war veteran. Hawes's Line Of Duty co-star, Gina McKee, is also part of the Bodyguard cast. Mercurio said: 'I'm hugely flattered by the superb cast who've joined Bodyguard, led by Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes, both of whom I'm delighted to be working with again.' Filming is now under way in London. The BBC has also announced another new drama based on the Profumo scandal, written by Apple Tree Yard's Amanda Coe. Just in case you're too young to remember either the actual Profumo affair or the 1988 movie, Scandal, based on it, in 1963 it was revealed that the Minister for War, John Profumo, was having an affair with the model Christine Keeler while she was also seeing a Russian naval attache. 'The astonishing story of Christine Keeler and the so-called Profumo Affair is the Salem Witch Trial-meets-OJ Simpson - a perfect storm of gender, class, race and power that resonates into the world we're living in today,' said Coe. No details of the cast have yet been released but filming is due to begin early next year.
Theresa May's speech-writers have been left almost as red-faced as the Prime Minister herself was after it emerged that a pre-briefed section of her - disastrous - keynote conference address closely matched one given in The West Wing. The words used to set out her party's abilities to meet the huge challenges facing the UK were similar to ones spoken by President Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, in the hit US programme, in this blogger's opinion the best TV drama in the history of the medium that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title. It emerged hours before May was due to take to the stage in Manchester to address the party faithful in a bid to get her administration back on track. And, only end up doing a quite stunning impression of Bob Fleming off The Fast Show and then getting handed a P45 by that very unfunny Simon Brodkin chappie. A section of the speech, briefed overnight, had the Prime Minister saying: 'It is when tested the most that we reach deep within ourselves and find that our capacity to rise to the challenge before us may well be limitless.' The line was supposed to be a section of the speech boosting the Tory troops and calling on her cabinet to pull together and 'shape up' in the national interest. But political journalists - many of whom are among The West Wing's biggest fans due to the nature of the drama - felt that they had heard the passage before. In the two-part opener to series four of the Aaron Sorkin-created political drama, Twenty Hours In America, President Bartlet says during a speech: 'Every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless.' Well, you know what they say, if you're going to plagiarise from someone, at least steal from the best. One can't fault May's speechwriters for their choice of what TV dramas to watch (and rip-off) at the very least. As it happened, the day after May's breathtakingly embarrassing performance which has left the, already under-pressure, Prime Minister clinging to her job by her finger-tips, Sky Atlantic broadcast The West Wing series three finale, Posse Comitatus, forty two minutes of the most perfect TV drama ever constructed. Which meant, of course, that the following day - Friday - the episode that the quote in question was ripped from was shown. If only Theresa had waited a few more days, she could have had Martin Sheen up on the big screen behind her and they could have done it as a duet.
TV Comedy Highlight(s) Of The Week: The - very welcome, this week of all weeks - return of Have I Got News For You and a series of quite brilliant set-pieces related to the Tory Party conference and, specifically, the soon-to-be-former Prime Minister's calamitous speech. Firstly there was the question of her introducing the concept of 'renewing the British dream.' 'What is the British dream?' asked guest panellist James O'Brien. 'It involves being found naked ... in a queue,' suggested Ian Hislop who was on admirably spiky form when given comic material this potent. There was also Ian's subsequent observation that Boris Johnson 'is always trying to be [like] Churchill. The dog, in the ad.' To which Paul Merton added, with the comic timing we've come to expect from him: 'Ho, yus!' O'Brien noted that, according to a YouGov poll fifteen per cent of respondents actually thought that Theresa May's speech had 'gone well' (as opposed to the other eighty five per cent who, rightly, considered it an absolute train-wreck): 'That can't just be the cabinet ... Which makes you wonder what it would take to lower that number. She could have stood there and melted like The Witch at the end of The Wizard Of Oz. "Twelve per cent think it went rather well!" She's a puddle on the floor. "Ten per cent said they still think it's gone rather well."' To which Hislop replied: 'Are you sure that isn't just members of the Labour Party?' And, to round it all off, there were a couple of superb bon mots from the host, Alexander Armstrong: 'This is the Tory Party Conference and Theresa May's "comeback speech" [which] did actually include a number of important policy announcements, but they were all over-shadowed. I mean, I'm sure JFK did some other stuff in Dallas that morning!' And, even better, the comedy line of the week: 'Thersea May's premiership has been under threat for a while, but this must be the first time that the coughin' itself could be the final nail!' Oh, well played that man!
First-look images from The Grand Tour's second series have been released. In the photos, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May can be seen exploring the mountain ranges of Colorado, stuck in the mud in Mozambique, causing havoc with 'The Queen' in Dubai and enjoying themselves in the Swiss Alps (shortly before The Hamster had his latest crash, obviously).
'Are you telling me that this entire thing, the forgery, the mansion, the hundred and fifty bottles of wine and Blaze's arrest were all an extremely expensive and elaborate ruse so that you could rob him?' 'Yes.' 'Cool!' There was a properly terrific - and very funny - episode of The Blacklist broadcast in the US this week, featuring a meaty villainous guest spot for The Mentalist's Owain Yeoman and James Spader at his pithy best. There's a very good review of the episode, here. And another one, here. Spoilers, obviously, if you haven't seen it yet.
There was also a terrific new episode of Gotham this week. A review of which you can read here.
'So, Keith Telly Topping,' this blogger hears you all bellow like a big bellowing thing, dear blog reader, 'what in the wide, wide world of sport do you make of Star Trek: Discovery, then?' Well, dear blog reader, episode three ... Yeah, not bad. Not bad at all. Not with without flaws, obviously: Jason Isaacs' accent is a wee bit ropey, the ginger lass is very annoying (the point, this blogger suspects) and, given where it takes place in the Star Trek universe timeline, the lack of miniskirts is somewhat disappointing (mind you, you could say that about ninety nine per cent of all TV shows, frankly). But those apart, there's plenty of clear potential on offer. This blogger particularly enjoyed the inclusion of the Tribble. The episode - which seems to have gone down very well with the majority of the show's fanbase - is reviewed, gushingly, here. And, in several hundred other places as well. Use Google dear blog reader, that's what it's for.
Originally planned for an eight episode run, CBS has announced that the first-half of Star Trek: Discovery's first series has been extended to nine episodes. The first 'chapter' of the debut series was initially scheduled to culminate on 5 November but this has now been extended to 12 November, presumably because of all the positive notices that the series has been getting. CBS also noted, in a press release, that Discovery was responsible for record-breaking sign-ups for the CBS All Access service and that 'daily growth in subscribers' is up more than two hundred per cent year-over-year. 'The build up to the show's premiere led us to a record-setting month, week and ultimately day of sign-ups. The second week of the series has also exceeded our expectations and is a credit to the brilliant and dedicated work of the show's entire creative team and cast. We can't wait for fans to see what comes next for the USS Discovery and its crew,' said Marc DeBevoise, the President and COO of CBS Interactive. It's still not as good as Deep Space Nine was at this stage, but nevertheless, it's had more good bits in three episodes than Voyager managed in seven series.
The latest Discovery news is that the role of Spock's mother (and Michael Burnham's foster-mother), Amanda Grayson, has officially been cast. According to, Discovery has welcomed 24 and The Vampire Diaries actress Mia Kirshner aboard for the role. Amanda was first introduced in 1967 in series two of the original Star Trek series in the classic episode Journey To Babel, played by Jane Wyatt. Who, twenty years later, reprised the role in the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (one of the good ones). In the recently rebooted Star Trek movie series, the character was played - briefly, before she got extremely killed - by Winona Ryder. There is no word yet as to whether viewers will see Spock his very self appear in Discovery.
NCIS cult favourite Pauley Perrette has confirmed her plans to leave the top-rated CBS drama after a fifteen year run at the conclusion of the current series, next May. The forty eight year old actress has starred on the series as forensic scientist Abby Sciuto for its entire duration to date, after introducing the character in JAG, from which NCIS was spun-off. Before that she was brilliant in a small role in one of this blogger's favourite movies, Almost Famous. She tweeted the news on Wednesday, attempting to dispel what she called 'false stories' about aspects of her planned exit: 'No, I don't have a skincare line and no, my network and show are not mad at me,' she said. Perrette added that the decision to leave was made last year and told fans: 'I hope everyone will love and enjoy everything Abby, not only for the rest of this season but for everything she has given all of us for sixteen years.'
Meanwhile, NCIS is back in full swing. The series fifteen premiere picked up right where we left off in May with McGee and Gibbs being held prisoner in Paraguay. The two agents managed to escape, but just because they're out of South America doesn't mean that the struggle is over. chatted exclusively with the very excellent Sean Murray - who plays Tim McGee - about what's next for the character. Not only is McGee going to be dealing with the aftermath of what happened in Paraguay, but he's got a baby on the way (well, Delilah has, anyway). In addition, Maria Bello has joined the NCIS cast and Sean was able to give out a few details about her character. Sean also talks about his love of music. Check out the full interview here.
A - brief - review of the latest episode of the popular, long-running US crime drama, Twofer, can be found here. A much longer one, here.
Here are the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Eight programmes broadcast in the week-ending Sunday 1 October 2017:-
1 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 10.79m
2 Doctor Foster - Tues BBC1 - 8.81m
3 The Great British Bake-Off - Tues Channel Four - 8.03m
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.97m
5 Liar - Mon ITV - 7.53m
6 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 6.89m
7 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.53m
8 Doc Martin - Wed ITV - 6.29m
9 The X-Factor - Sat ITV - 6.24m
10 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 6.07m
11 The Last Post - Sun BBC1 - 5.79m
12 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.74m
13 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.56m
14 Victoria - Sun ITV - 5.49m
15 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.27m
16 Cold Feet - Fri ITV - 4.93m
17 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.49m
18 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.19m
19 Ambulance - Thurs BBC1 - 4.13m
20= Bad Move - Wed ITV - 4.02m
20= Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.02m
22 Pointless Z-List Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 3.99m
23 Mrs Browns Boys - Sat BBC1 - 3.83m
24 The Graham Norton Show - Fri BBC1 - 3.81m
25 Match Of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 3.44m
26 Russia With Simon Reeve - Tues BBC2 - 3.29m
27 Safe House - Thurs ITV - 3.26m
28 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 3.10m
These consolidated figures, published weekly by the British Audience Research Bureau, include all viewers who watched programmes live and on various forms of catch-up TV and video-on-demand during the seven days after initial broadcast. They do not, however, include those who watched on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via their computers. Don't ask this blogger why, dear blog reader, they just don't. The Sunday night Strictly Come Dancing results episode had a consolidated audience of 9.33 million punters. Given that the ratings for the opening two episodes and the launch show of this years Strictly are all (marginally) up on the equivalent episodes from 2016, with each passing week that exceptionally stupid girl at the Gruniad Morning Star claims, before remember a single episode had even been broadcast, that Strictly Come Dancing was 'in a fight for its survival' are looking more and more ludicrous. As with much else printed in the Gruniad Morning Star, frankly. The X-Factor - which, despite some of its lowest ever audiences this series probably isn't 'in a fight for its survival' either, at least not yet - drew a total of 5.98 million viewers for its Sunday episode. On BBC2, Russia With Simon Reeves aside, Dragons' Den had a total audience of 2.65 million. University Challenge (2.62 million), Gardeners' World (1.98 million) and The Human Body: Secrets Of Your Life Revealed (1.88 million) followed. Saving Lives At Sea was watched by 1.79 million, both This Farming Life and Mock The Week by 1.78 million, Mastermind by 1.76 million, Only Connect, by 1.64 million, Antiques Road Trip by 1.61 million, Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two by 1.59 million, W1A by 1.56 million, The Big Family Cooking Showdown by 1.55 million, The Detectives: Murder On The Street by 1.54 million and Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes? by 1.29 million. Wretched, unfunny waste-of-oxygen Upstart Crow also attracted 1.29 million. Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast was, as usual, for The Great British Bake Off. Gogglebox (2.95 million) and Z-List Celebrity Island With Bear Grylls (2.15 million) followed. Location, Location, Location, Location, Location had 2.05 million, Grand Designs, 1.87 million, First Dates, 1.85 million, both The Supervet and The Last Leg With Adam Hills, 1.74 million and Educating Greater Manchester, 1.69 million. The Great British Bake Off: Extra Slice drew 1.53 million, the third episode of Impossible Dreams, 1.50 million and F1: Malaysian Grand Prix Live, 1.47 million. Channel Five's top performer was Paddington Station, with an audience of 1.50 million. Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away, GPs: Behind Closed Doors, The Yorkshire Vet and the movie Jack The Giant Slayer rounded-off Five's list of shame with audiences of 1.45 million, 1.43 million, 1.42 million and 1.37 million. A Z-List Celebrity Taste Of Italy was watched by nine hundred and forty thousand. Every one of whom should be sodding-well ashamed of themselves. Sky Sports Premier League's top-ten was headed by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies battling draw with the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws (five hundred and ninety two thousand, plus a whopping nine hundred and sixty nine thousand on Sky Sports Main Event). Everton Soft-Centred Toffees home defeat to Burnley had three hundred and twenty two thousand (and four hundred and twelve thousand on Main Event) and Huddesfield's four-nil hiding by the Stottingtot Hotshots was seen by one hundred and ninety four thousand (with two hundred and ninety seven thousand on Main Event). Another game which had a largely audience of the Main Event channel than the dedicated Premier League channel was The Arse Versus West Bromwich Albinos (five hundred and seventeen thousand on the former, one hundred and fifty three thousand on the latter). Live EFL: Queens Park Strangers Versus Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance topped the ratings for Sky Sports Football (one hundred and eighty three thousand) ahead of game between Reading and Norwich City (one hundred and ten thousand, plus twenty one thousand on Sky Sports Mix) and Real Madrid against Espanyol (ninety two thousand). Sky Sports Mix's most-watched list was topped by Live NFL Red Zone with sixty four thousand. On Sky Sports Cricket the channel's highest audience of the week was for Friday's coverage of the final international game of the summer, Live England Versus West Indies ODI with three hundred and three thousand, plus a further one hundred and forty six thousand on Sky Sports Main Event. Gillette Soccer Saturday attracted two hundred and ninety six thousand punters on Sky Sports News HQ, plus two hundred and eleven thousand on the Premier League channel and two hundred and eighteen thousand on Sky Sports Football. Live Malaysian Grand Prix was seen by four hundred and thirty three thousand punters on Sky Sports F1 and an additional thirty three thousand viewers on the Sky Sports Mix simultcast. Live Super League attracted one hundred and twelve thousand viewers on Sky Sports Arena. Sky 1's weekly top-ten was headed by worthless, rancid puddle of festering, fuck-awful horseshit A League Of Their Own, watched by nine hundred and nineteen thousand punters - every single one of whom needs to take a good, hard look in the mirror for any remote signs of common sense. The equally worthless and unfunny The Russell Howard Hour and Stella drew seven hundred and three thousand and six hundred and seventy five thousand viewers respectively. For shame, people of Great Britain, for shame. Zoo was seen by four hundred and fifty two thousand, The Last Ship, by four hundred and fourteen thousand and Duck Quacks Don't Echo by three hundred thousand. Sky Atlantic's list was topped by episode four of Tin Star with two hundred and seventy nine thousand. The opening episode of the much-trailed The Deuce had two hundred and thirty three thousand, Ballers, two hundred and twenty two thousand, Ray Donovan, one hundred and eighty nine thousand, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, one hundred and thirty five thousand and a Game Of Thrones repeat, one hundred and one thousand. On Sky Living, Chicago Fire drew by four hundred and fifty eight thousand whilst Law & Order: Truce Crime had two hundred and thirty seven thousand. How To Get Away With Murder attracted two hundred and sixteen thousand and My Kitchen Rules Australia was seen by one hundred and seventy four thousand. Sky Arts' Meat Loaf: Live With The Melbourne Symphony was viewed by forty one thousand viewers. Elvis: The Final Hours drew thirty two thousand punters. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (six hundred and eighty nine thousand viewers). Foyle's War was seen by five hundred and sixty six thousand. Hornblower drew three hundred and sixty nine thousand. ITV Racing was also seen by three hundred and sixty nine thousand. The Bond movie The Living Daylights - one of the better ones - drew two hundred and eighty seven thousand. ITV2's top-ten was headed by full-of-its-own-importance bucket of spew, Z-List Celebrity Juice, seen by 1.06 million sad, crushed victims of society. Chris & Kem: Straight Outta Love Island had seven hundred and forty three thousand equally bewildered viewers. Heartbeat headed ITV Encore's top ten with sixty thousand viewers, followed by Whitechapel (fifty nine thousand), DCI (fifty thousand) and Vera (forty seven thousand). Worthless, shallow, stinking smear of appalling diarrhoea, The Only Way Is Essex, was viewed by nine hundred and twenty eight thousand of exactly the sort of specimens who enjoy such risible and ugly exercises in z-list-celebrity-by-non-entity on ITVBe. Similarly tripe conceit, The Real Housewives Of Cheshire was seen by six hundred and sixty thousand. Broken Britain in a sentence, dear blog reader. BBC4's list was headed by The Viet'Nam War (eight hundred and ninety one thousand viewers). British History's Biggest Fibs With Lucy Worsley had five hundred and sixty four thousand and the latest episode of Black Lake, five hundred and sixty three thousand. Dangerous Earth drew five hundred and twenty three thousand and Top Of The Pops: 1980 - The Big Hits, five hundred and fifteen thousand. Henry VIII: Patron Or Plunderer? was seen by four hundred and eighty nine thousand and Britain's Lost Masterpieces by four hundred and seventy six thousand. 5USA's latest Chicago PD episode was viewed by six hundred and thirty thousand punters, NCIS: Los Angeles by four hundred and ninety seven thousand, Bull by three hundred and fifty nine thousand, Castle by three hundred and fifty three thousand and Longmire by three hundred and seven thousand. On Five Star, Home & Away scored four hundred and seventy six thousand Bruces and Sheilas. Ripper. An Eye For An Eye topped the most-watched programme list of CBS Action (one hundred and twenty nine thousand). Medium attracted eighty one thousand on CBS Drama. For the FOX Channel, American Horror Story: Cult was watched by three hundred and twenty nine thousand. American Dad! had two hundred and forty six thousand and Lucifer, one hundred and ninety one thousand. Murder In The First was watched by one hundred and sixty three thousand viewers. The second series of Private Eyes continued with two hundred and eleven thousand viewers on The Universal Channel, followed by the movie Con Air and NCIS (one hundred and thirty six thousand and eighty four thousand, respectively). On Dave, funny as a geet ugly pimple on the bell-end Taskmaster was watched by six hundred and eighty six thousand very undiscerning punters. Mock The Week was seen by three hundred and fifty seven thousand, the second episode of the surprisingly decent Porters by two hundred and ninety thousand and Have I Got A Bit More News For You, by two hundred and eighty six thousand. Drama's Inspector George Gently attracted four hundred and thirty three thousand viewers and Father Brown, three hundred and ninety three thousand. Death In Paradise was watched by three hundred and sixty seven thousand and Shetland by three hundred and five thousand. Death In Paradise (one hundred and thirty thousand) and Inspector George Gently also appeared in the weekly top-ten of Alibi, headed, as usual, by Rosewood (two hundred and sixty nine thousand). Sony TV's top ten was headed by Just Like Heaven (forty six thousand). Yesterday's Abandoned Engineering continued with one hundred and eighty two thousand, whilst Who Do You Think You Are? also attracted one hundred and eighty two thousand and David Starkey's Monarchy, one hundred and eighty thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Garage Rehab was seen by one hundred and forty six thousand viewers. Gold Divers had one hundred and seventeen thousand, Misfit Garage, eighty eight thousand, Ed Stafford: Left For Dead, seventy eight thousand and From The North fave Wheeler Dealers, fifty four thousand. The latter also appeared in the weekly top tens of both Discovery Shed (forty thousand) and Discovery Turbo (twenty four thousand). Discovery History's Nazis On Drugs headed the top ten with twenty eight thousand and, also, provided any viewers about to start a band with a fantastic idea for a name. Tanks attracted fifteen thousand, as did Codes & Conspiracies. The Reich Underground, Custer's Last Stand and Tony Robinson's Wild West all had fourteen thousand viewers. On Discovery Science, How It's Made was seen by thirty eight thousand. On Quest, Salvage Hunters was watched by four hundred and sixty six thousand. Pick's Warehouse Thirteen had an audience of three hundred and fifty one thousand. National Geographic's list was headed by Air Crash Investigations and Science Of Stupid. They were watched by one hundred and fifty one thousand and seventy one thousand respectively. National Geographic Wild's Snakes In The City was viewed by forty thousand. The History Channel's most-seen programmes were Forged In Fire (one hundred and fifty nine thousand) and American Ripper In London (one hundred and twenty nine thousand). Ancient Aliens on the Military History channel was seen by forty thousand punters and Pirate Treasure Of The Knights Templar by twenty six thousand. Nine-Nine-Nine: Killer On The Line, The Murder Of Laci Peterson, Kids Who Kill and Ice Cold Killers were Crime & Investigation's top-rated programmes with eighty one thousand, eighty one thousand, seventy four thousand and fifty four thousand blood-and-snots-lovers, respectively. Faking It: Tears Of A CrimeCoroner: I Speak For The Dead, Six Degrees Of Murder and Deadly Sins headed Investigation Discovery's list (one hundred and sixty five thousand, ninety seven thousand, seventy nine thousand and fifty eight thousand respectively). GOLD's - seemingly never-ending - documentary series The Story Of Only Fools & Horses had four hundred and fifty two thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers with three hundred and twelve thousand. Your TV's repeat of Bones series six continued with ninety six thousand viewers. On More4, Outlander was the highest-rated programme with five hundred and twenty six thousand. Come Dine With Me had five hundred and four thousand and Nine-Nine-Nine: On The Frontline, four hundred and seven thousand. E4's list was topped by Hollyoakes (eight hundred and eighty eight thousand). The latest episode of Midnight Texas, headed Syfy's top-ten with three hundred and twelve thousand whilst Van Helsing was watched by one hundred and fifty three thousand. The Horror Channel's weekly list was topped by four episode of Star Trek: Voyager - horrible, certainly, but horror? Scotland Yard and Vicious Circle topped Talking Pictures list, with six six thousand and forty eight thousand respectively. The A-Team had one hundred and ninety thousand on Spike. The Thirteen Factors That Saved Apollo 13 was viewed by twenty thousand on Eden, whilst Cosmonauts: The Space Race had nineteen thousand. Pit Bulls & Parloees was the Animal Planet's most-watched programme with twenty six thousand, the same figure as achieved by Doctor Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet. MasterChef Australia on W attracted three hundred and forty six thousand punters. True Crime's Crime Town was seen by fifty two thousand viewers. On True Entertainment, M*A*S*H, was watched by ninety five thousand. Jamie's Super Food drew seventy seven thousand on Good Food. Why, for the love of God, why? TLC's list was headed by Cake Boss (with one hundred and seventy seven thousand). Shameful shat-splat Geordie Shore on MTV was viewed by five hundred and nine thousand total pure glakes whilst equally worthless Teen Mom 2 had two hundred and twenty seven thousand. Helicopter ER was seen by two hundred and twenty one thousand on Really. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated had eighty six thousand viewers on Boomerang. Zoinks! The Civil War topped PBS America's weekly list with twenty one thousand. On Cbeebies, Topsy & Tim was seen by five hundred and forty eight thousand, Go Jetters by four hundred and seventy thousand, Sarah & Duck by four hundred and thirty three thousand and Clangers by four hundred and twenty thousand. Alvinnn!!! & The Chipmunks had one hundred and thirty nine thousand on the Pop Channel. On AMC, Fear The Walking Dead was watched by thirteen thousand. Pawn Stars drew one hundred and thirty eight thousand punters on Blaze. Keeping Up With The Kardashians attracted eighty three thousand viewers on E! whilst Total Bellas had seventy three thousand. The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills pulled in one hundred and sixteen thousand on Lifetime. Top Twenty: Air Guitar Anthems attracted seven thousand on Scuzz. XXX: The Return Of Xander Cage was watched by three hundred and twenty four thousand punters on Sky Cinema Premiere.

Remember the days of The X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing ratings wars? When journalists - if not anyone that actually mattered - waited with bated breath each Sunday morning to see if ITV or the BBC had won the battle for Saturday overnight viewers? When each of the two formats had the power to attract audiences of over ten million? That time, seemingly, has gone - in fact, The X-Factor has reached a new and painful milestone, pulling in almost exactly half as many overnight viewers as Strictly for its latest episode. The BBC's popular dance competition drew overnight ratings of 9.8 million on its blockbuster movie week special this Saturday – peaking at 10.6 million – and with an impressive forty eight per cent share of the available audience, in an episode which included Susan Calman's Wonder Woman dance, Brendan Cole's argument with Shirley Ballas and a top spot on the leaderboard for Aston Merrygold. By rather miserable contrast, The X-Factor ended up with an overnight average of just 4.5 million and another three hundred thousand viewers on the ITV+1 catch-up channel. While The X-Factor has dropped from 6.2 million for its launch episode this series, Strictly is maintaining its overnight level, seeing only a slight fall from 10.2 million. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads claims not to be concerned. One or two people even believed him.

Child sexual exploitation victims may fear coming forward after a courtroom sketch of a grooming victim was shown in Coronation Street, it has been claimed. Albeit, not by anyone that you've ever heard of. The character of Bethany Platt is at the centre of the current grooming storyline. The soap showed a sketch of her being drawn during the trial of her alleged abuser. By law, sexual assault victims are granted anonymity for life. Former chief crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal said that he was 'concerned' about this malarkey and ITV apologised for the mistake. In the long-running storyline Nathan Curtis, played by Chris Harper, was arrested for sexual exploitation and accused of forcing the teenager to have sex with his friends in a series of 'parties.' Afzal said that up to now the programme had been 'a very accurate reflection of a victim's experience.' He added: 'I think it was especially brave before the watershed and it has undoubtedly encouraged victims to come forward. But I'm concerned over their mistake. A court artist must always draw from memory and must not draw victims. We make an enormous play of telling victims that nobody will know who you are. Those victims might pick up the mistake and it might make them uncomfortable and we shouldn't have to do that. We're having to put the genie back in the bottle; we're having to fix something, which should be unnecessary.' A spokesman for ITV said the artist was 'solely used to illustrate the passing of time.' He said: 'We accept this wasn't a true representation of court procedure and we apologise for including it. We repeatedly focused on support for victims throughout the court process, which we hope would encourage anyone watching to recognise the fact they would be in a safe place when giving evidence.' In June, five whinges were made to the broadcast regulator Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - after child grooming scenes involving Bethany Platt were shown before the watershed. The Coronation Street storyline showed three men paying for sex then following the teenager, played by Lucy Fallon, into a bedroom.
There is now such a blur between film and TV that if any actor remains 'snobbish' about the small-screen medium, 'it is their loss,' yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch has said. Benny said that actors 'could not afford to be snooty' about what work they took on. 'The lines are so fine, they are beautifully blurred now between what big and small-screen is, unless you're talking about something which is episodic,' he said. 'If you give it enough air and space, it [TV] can feel cinematic, but I think those terms are so beautifully intertwined now that you can’t always separate cinema and television. Fuck it, it's acting. If it's good material, it's good material. The opportunity to do good work is there whatever the medium – radio, television or film or stage.'
Doctor Foster author Mike Bartlett has revealed that there was originally another ending to the drama. To recap, this week's finale ended with the disappearance of Gemma and Simon's son Tom, who'd had enough of his warring parents and decided to run away. The episode 'divided viewers', according to several media outlets, which actually means that a few dozen malcontents had a whinge about aspects of it on Twitter – some of whom thought Simon deserved a bigger comeuppance. But, in the original draft, the ending was even more peaceful for the Foster family. 'The ending of the show unfolded as I was writing it,' Bartlett told Radio Times. 'In the plan, he's [Tom] in the car at the end. They go back to her house and get a new kitchen and try to build a life. It was only when I went to write it that she goes back to the car and he's not there. But that happened very organically from what he has been through, I think. Tom's not a little child any more, he's going to make his own choices. And so, hopefully, it's one of those ones which you don't see coming but when it happens you look over the whole series and realise this has been coming the whole time. I was so involved in Gemma and Simon's story that's all I was thinking about when writing it. It sounds mad, this. But she comes out of the hotel and he's not there. That's the moment you look for as a writer, when the characters start telling you what they are doing rather than you telling them.'
Pushing Daisies was cancelled far too early in this blogger's opinion - and, he's right - but showrunner Bryan Fuller has revealed that he's 'desperate' to bring it back in some form. He admitted that he thinks the series was 'a little ahead of its time' and could have lasted much longer than two half-series if it had premiered today rather than a decade ago in 2007. 'Now what we're celebrating in television is the identity of niche as a demographic that can be explored in different stories,' he said. 'That would have been a more fertile soil for Pushing Daisies to grow in,' the producer also told Vanity Fair. 'I still would love to do Pushing Daisies as a Broadway musical. I'd love to see it return as a mini-series for Netflix, Apple, or Amazon, or whoever would pick it up. I love these actors. I love Lee Pace like a brother. I love Anna Friel like a sister. Chi McBride is such a wonderful ball of light that can only be matched by Kristin Chenoweth's ball of light.'
We know that ITV's hit crime series Unforgotten will be returning for a third series soon, but it's also now heading over to the States, too. According to Deadline, ABC is set to broadcast a remake of the popular series, which will feature a whole new cast, crew and even name. Suspects - as it's now known by American fans - will blend 'a cop drama procedural' with 'a multi-generational soap,' with 'an intelligent, driven female' as its lead. Sounds horrendous, as do all US remakes of British shows - a small sub-genre that with about two exceptions over the years, has a virtal one hundred per cent failure rate. The original version, fronted by Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar, follows Detective Chief Inspector Cassie Stuart and Detective Inspector Sunil Khan as they unravel the truth behind historical murder investigations. And, it was - and still is - very good. Fortunately, we can still expect to see Nicola and Sanjeev back on our screens, as confirmed earlier this year, but any future beyond that is in doubt.
One of the stand-out episodes of American Gods first series was the flashback A Prayer For Mad Sweeney and viewers could be getting more like it. At the American Gods panel at New York Comic Con, Pablo Schreiber said that there's 'a big change' in series two of the Starz drama, which is set to feature more episodes that focus solely on one character. 'I know that we're going to have opportunities for all of the cast to have their own, like, sort of standalone things where you really get to focus on one character for an entire episode,' he said. When we will get those new episodes remains to be seen though as it was revealed back in July that a broadcast date hasn't been set in stone. 'It's a difficult show to do, a lot of people to wrangle, so I can't tell you exactly when the next season is going to be on the air. We're actively pursuing making sure we get it as soon as possible,' explained Starz executive Chris Albrecht. Shadow Moon himself, Ricky Whittle, has already been talking about what God he wants to see in series two. 'We're so obsessed with aesthetics and what we regard as beautiful,' he said. 'The fact that no-one ever sends a photograph to each other without putting a filter on it. Without editing it. So what would the God of Beauty be like? And how would he or she perceive the world?'
Game Of Thrones' Liam Cunningham has suggested that series eight will be delayed until 2019, but may also feature the longest-ever episodes. The final series of the popular fantasy drama is potentially being pushed to 2019 to hand showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss and an all-star group of directors the chance to give Game Of Thrones the finale it deserves. '[The episodes are] definitely going to be bigger and what I hear is longer,' Cunningham told TV Guide. 'We're filming right up until the summer. When you think about it, up until last season we'd have six months to do ten episodes, so we're [doing] way more than that for six episodes. So that obviously will translate into longer episodes.'
Twin Peaks fans - and this blog's readership should be full of them - be advised, the NME's website has splendid interviews with Sherilyn Fenn, Michael Horse and James Marshall which you can have a gander at here.
Christopher Eccleston and Andrew Scott are among the big names who will be joining Anthony Hopkins in BBC2's all-star King Lear adaptation. Emma Thompson and Jim Broadbent will also feature in the drama, which begins shooting later this month. Based on William Shakespeare's tragedy and directed by Richard Eyre, King Lear follows the eponymous ruler (Hopkins) who presides over a totalitarian military dictatorship in a fictional present-day England. Thompson, Emily Watson and Florence Pugh play Lear's three daughters Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. In addition, the cast includes Tobias Menzies, Anthony Calf, Jim Carter, John Macmillan and Karl Johnson. The project is a co-production between the BBC and Amazon Studios. Amazon Prime Video has US and German rights and will also broadcast the drama in the UK after its first showing on BBC2.
Steve Coogan and Sienna Miller have received hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages from the publisher of the Daily Mirra, Sunday Mirra and Sunday People after it - finally - admitted to hacking their phones and covering up the unlawful activities of various members of its staff. The settlements for Coogan and Miller were confirmed at the high court on Tuesday, as were the settlements for the TV presenter Jamie Theakston, former EastEnders actor Michael Greco and Michelle Mellor, the wife of the actor Will Mellor. Coogan appeared at the high court for his settlement to be confirmed in front of Mr Justice Mann. The amount of damages was not revealed in court and is confidential, but Coogan confirmed afterwards that it was 'a six-figure sum' and the scale of it 'will make Mirror executives blush.' It is thought to be one of the biggest ever payments related to naughty and illegal phone-hacking. Speaking outside court, the actor and comedian said that the outcome was 'vindication' for him and that most of the payment would 'go to good causes.' Coogan described the behaviour of Mirra Group Newspapers as 'a disgrace' and an 'insult to the memory of Hugh Cudlipp [the former editor of the Daily Mirra].' He also called for the second part of The Leveson Report into the British press to take place so that the allegations of hacking at MGN could be properly scrutinised. 'It is my view that editors and executives, such as Sly Bailey, Piers Morgan, Paul Vickers, Tina Weaver and Richard Wallace, have not yet been subjected to proper scrutiny, taking into account what has emerged since the first half of the inquiry,' he said. 'The second part of the Leveson inquiry must find out who hacked, who knew about it and who covered it up or turned a blind eye. The Leveson inquiry must be completed now as the government has promised.' The vile and odious Morgan, Weaver and Wallace edited MGN titles during the periods covered by the allegations, while Bailey was chief executive of MGN's parent company, Trinity Mirra and Vickers was the legal director. They have all denied being involved in any of that there phone-hacking or having knowledge of it, no siree, Bob. Mind you, most of them spent several years denying that any phone-hacking had taken place at the Mirra and we now know that wasn't true or anything even remotely like it so quite why we should trust their claims of ignorance into wrongdoing now is another question entirely. Lawyers representing MGN said in court that it 'acknowledges that Mister Coogan was the target of unlawful activities and that these activities were concealed until years later.' They added: 'It apologises to Mister Coogan for its wrongdoing over a decade ago and for any articles that were the product of unlawful activity and for the concealment of these activities. MGN apologises to Mister Coogan and accepts that he - and other victims - should not have been denied the truth for so long.' David Sherborne, who was representing Coogan, said that the comedian had identified sixty two articles in the Daily Mirra, Sunday Mirra and the People that he alleges came from hacking his voicemail, unlawfully obtaining personal information from third parties, or surveillance by private investigators. These articles caused 'enormous distress and significant damage to Miter Coogan's relationships with those he wrongly suspected had leaked the private information or who believed he was the cause of their private information being made public,' Sherborne said. The barrister added: 'Mister Coogan is clear that if Trinity Mirra had conducted a proper investigation at an early stage then the unlawful activity could have been stopped and prevented the enormous distress and damage it caused its victims, their family and friends.' Trinity Mirra has put aside more than fifty million smackers to cover the costs of the hacking scandal, including compensation payouts and legal fees. It has already settled dozens of cases, including a batch of forty four in April that included former Newcastle United and England football manager Kevin Keegan, the writer and formerly jailed perjurer Jeffrey Archer, the actress Patsy Kensit and the former Home Secretary Charles Clarke. Sadie Frost, the actress and fashion designer, received a record payment from MGN of two hundred and sixty grand in 2015. However, this settlement is understood to have been surpassed since then by several payouts which have not been made public. This includes the settlement for Elizabeth Hurley, which was confirmed in May. Hurley alleged that MGN published fifty eight separate articles between July 1998 and March 2007 that include information that had been obtained unlawfully. Miller was targeted 'extensively' by MGN journalists from at least 2003 onwards and received 'substantial damages,' according to her lawyer.
Former The Apprentice contestant Daniel Lassman has 'slammed' the show (that's tabloidese for 'criticised' only with less syllables and therefore, far more understandable to the people who read this bollocks), claiming it is 'fake' and that scenes are 'manipulated' by the production team. The Essex-born 'businessman' appeared on the series in 2014 and was called back into the boardroom a total of four times before getting the tin-tack by Sir Alan Sugar-Sweetie. But, instead of his business acumen, Daniel claimed that it was actually his willingness to 'play the game' by getting into arguments that kept him in the competition - a suggestion that the show has strongly denied. 'The whole situation is manipulated into storylines,' Daniel told the Sun. 'I really believe that. I once had an argument with Felipe [Alviar-Baquero] for not letting me sell something. A producer held up a sign, written on a bit of paper, that said, "Remember Daniel, Lord Sugar told you it's about sales. Make sure Felipe knows about it" – with loads of exclamation marks. I took that as they wanted me to argue. I just went with it and let them manipulate me to stay in the show longer.' A spokesperson from The Apprentice told the Digital Spy website in response to the claims: 'We strongly disagree with the claim that storylines are in any way scripted or manipulated.' One or two people even believed them.
Have you ever gone out of the house with your fly undone or your skirt tucked into your knickers, dear blog reader? If you have, you might want to consider yourself lucky because one poor chap really ballsed up his sporting moment as he completed Slovakia's oldest marathon with, quite literally, everything hanging out on live TV. You can have a watch of Jozef Urban's, ahem, wardrobe malfunction here. It really is quite a sight if you're into that sort of thing.
Plans to stop rain delays at cricket matches by covering pitches with a giant mesh tent are being discussed by the sport's governing bodies. The Torygraph claims that an American company has approached the MCC and the English Cricket Board with the idea. The transparent mesh could be held up by wires attached to floodlights and a hot-air balloon in the centre. An ECB spokesman told the BBC that they were looking into 'new technologies' but did not confirm any specific plans. But the new MCC chief executive Guy Lavender said that they are 'in conversation' with ECB chief executive Tom Harrison into how they can 'partner-up' on the research. Testing is at a very early stage and the technology is believed to be 'at least two years away' from becoming a reality, with issues such as safety in high winds and water run-off to be considered. 'There are an enormous number of technical challenges and issues, but that's not to say we shouldn't look at it seriously,' Lavender told BBC Sport. 'It's certainly not something that's going to be viable initially but I think we have a role here at MCC to investigate and look at new technologies. It's signalling our intent to think about new innovations and new technologies that can keep the game being played. This is the start of a journey of seeing what's practical and what's possible.'
An 'unfortunate error' in subtitling led to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United being described as 'black and white scum' during the BBC's Match Of The Day 2 programme. Commentator Guy Mowbray said that Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws' Daniel Sturridge had scored five goals against the Magpies in previous games during last weekend's one-all draw at St James' Park. But, allegedly, software allegedly confused the word 'comma' - spoken by a subtitler - and put 'scum' into the on-screen text. Although, quite how even a machine can confuse 'comma' with 'scum' is a question probably well worth asking. The BBC claimed, very unconvincingly, that the error was 'spotted and corrected' immediately. Which it obviously wasn't since football writer Paul Brown spotted it and tweeted a screenshot from the show on Sunday evening, saying 'MOTD2 subtitler evidently not a Newcastle fan.' During the commentary, Mowbray said: 'Sturridge has scored in all four of his previous Premier League starts at Newcastle. For The Reds against the black and whites, he boasts five goals in five appearances.' Football commentary is re-voiced for subtitles by someone known as a 'respeaker.' A BBC spokeswoman said: 'Our live subtitling service is normally very accurate and makes our content much more accessible, but there are times when unfortunate errors occur. On this occasion the error was spotted and corrected immediately.' One or two people even believed her.
Harry Kane's injury-time winner secured England's qualification for next summer's World Cup with victory against Slovenia on Thursday - but this was a display designed to dampen any sense of expectation or excitement amongst England supporters. Kane, England captain for the night, bundled in Kyle Walker's cross for his eleventh goal in twenty two international appearances to finally break down Slovenia's stubborn resistance as they looked likely to hold out for a point at Wembley. It meant manager Gareth Southgate can now start planning in earnest for Russia but could not cover up the cracks in a piss-poor England performance which was lifeless, uninspired and thoroughly mediocre. Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling almost broke the deadlock before Kane made his breakthrough, the hosts were also grateful to much-criticised keeper Joe Wankhands Hart for some crucial interventions. England and Southgate have,nevertheless, achieved their main goal. It was not, however, achieved in a manner that will start alarm bells ringing for any likely future World Cup opposition. Elsewhere in the group, Scotland kept their qualifying hopes alive in dramatic fashion as a late Martin Skrtel own goal gave them victory over ten-man Slovakia at Hampden Park.
Meanwhile, Slovakia's head coach Jan Kozak has claimed that his side were 'subjected to underhand tactics' during their unsuccessful trip to Scotland. The Slovaks had Robert Mak sent off early on in their World Cup qualifier at Hampden. When asked about the red card, Kozak 'hinted at a wider issue' around what was a must-not-lose match for the Slovaks. 'To be honest, since our arrival in Scotland there have been too many coincidences,' he said. 'I'm too experienced to believe in coincidences but I won't say any more.' He was then asked if he was talking about his team's baggage being delayed at Glasgow Airport, and he replied: 'That's how it started.' He then refused to answer any more questions on the issue.
So, England are there - and so are the holders Germany and the 2010 champions, Spain - but a World Cup place for the other home nations hangs in the balance before the final group qualifying matches. Wales can still win their group, Northern Ireland are guaranteed a top-two finish and Scotland have the chance to finish second in their group, which may well seal a place in the play-offs for Russia 2018. But coming second and staying in contention are not necessarily the same thing. Meanwhile, three-time runners-up the Netherlands face a desperate battle to go through, Argentina are in serious trouble and Syria are in a play-off to keep their unlikely World Cup dream alive. Despite two defeats against Germany in Group C, second-placed Northern Ireland have more points than some group leaders. Seven clear of the Czech Republic in third, they are guaranteed a top-two place as they look to reach their first World Cup since 1986. A play-off place looks likely and will be sealed by a draw in Norway, or other results going their way. 'Please don't take me home,' sang the fans as Wales marched to the semi-finals of Euro 2016. Now, they want to cheer them in a second World Cup, with their only previous finals appearance coming in 1958. On Friday, Wales won in Georgia in Group D, but the Republic of Ireland also picked up three points to set up a huge meeting on Monday between the sides. The winners in Cardiff will finish at least second, with a draw enough for Wales. Leaders Serbia lost on Friday night to a last-minute Austria goal, meaning either Wales or the Republic could earn automatic qualification if Serbia slip up. Eight of the nine European runners-up go into a two-legged play-off for four places at next year's finals. That means the runner-up with the fewest points will miss out. That unfortunate position is currently occupied by Bosnia-Herzegovina, although plenty can change over the coming days. It is important to note that results against the bottom side in each group do not count in the final play-off standings. The ranking of second-placed teams in the qualifying groups is determined by the highest number of points. If teams are equal on points, positions are decided by goal difference, goals scored, goals scored away from home and fair play points. They may be three-times World Cup runners-up but the Netherlands are in a real scrap to reach next year's tournament. The Dutch are in third place in Group A, behind France and Sweden and will be out if they fail to at least match Sweden's next result. Surprise Euro 2016 quarter-finalists Iceland, the smallest nation to qualify for a major tournament when they reached Euro 2016, are in pole position to win Group I after a fine win in Turkey on Friday night. Portugal, while sure of at least making the play-offs, face a critical final match at home to Group B leaders Switzerland on Tuesday as they aim to make up a three-point deficit. Syria remain in contention for the World Cup despite the odds being stacked against a nation that is in the middle of a six-year war. The team have no funding because of sanctions and play their home games in Malaysia, a nine thousand-mile round trip. But they made it through to a play-off against Australia, with Omar Al Somah's late penalty earning them a first-leg draw on Thursday. The return leg takes place in Sydney on Tuesday. The winner will face a CONCACAF side in another two-legged tie the following month for a place at the World Cup. It seems almost inconceivable that Lionel Messi will not be at football's biggest tournament, but his Argentina side are in serious danger of missing out. The two-time champions, who have not missed the World Cup since 1970, are out of the group qualifying spots after a goalless draw with Peru on Thursday. Only the top four in South American qualifying are guaranteed a place in Russia and Argentina are sixth with one game left. Argentina must win their final qualifier in Ecuador to claim at least fifth spot, which sets up a two-leg play-off against New Zealand.
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique was jeered by fans as Spain qualified for next summer's World Cup with a comfortable three-nil home win over Albania. Pique said before the game that he would not be driven out of the national team by fans opposed to his public support for the Catalonia independence referendum. Jeers rang out from Spain fans each time the thirty-year-old touched the ball in Alicante. Goals by Rodrigo, Isco and Thiago sent Spain through with one match to spare.
Côte d'Ivoire's Seydou Doumbia is facing two months on the sidelines after injuring himself whilst diving trying to win a penalty for his Portuguese club, Sporting Lisbon. He is set to miss The Elephants' final two 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Mali and Morocco. Côte d'Ivoire's Belgian coach Marc Wilmots confirmed that Doumbia had torn a tendon. Doumbia - whose disastrous loan spell with yer actual Keith Telly Topping beloved (though unsellable) Magpies a few years ago is the stuff of legends. Really bad legends - was shown a yellow card for diving and then limped off the pitch during Sporting's European Champions League loss to Barcelona. The twenty nine-year-old went down on the edge of the area as he tried to go past Gerard Pique and then stayed on the ground needing treatment from the Sporting medical team. He was substituted minutes before half-time. Crystal Palace Nil's Wilfried Zaha and Toulouse's Max Gradel both missed out on the latest Côte d'Ivoire squad due to injury. Since The Elephants squad was named Adama Traore, Jean Michael Seri and Gervinho have also had to withdraw with injuries.
So anyway, this moron with a gun in Vegas, dear blog reader, according to media reports his local gun shop is, reportedly, called 'Guns & Guitars'. Jesus, that's part of an Eddie Izzard routine, isn't it? Incidentally, just in case anyone grabs the wrong end of the stick and starts beating about the bush with it, this blogger is most certainly not attempting to find humour in the death of fifty odd unfortunate people and the injuring of hundreds more. Rather, he is - properly - aghast at the thought of a man who, seemingly, decided that he'd grab a business opportunity and open a retail outlet selling two such, apparently disparate, items; an instrument which plays music and brings nothing but pleasure to the world and another instrument that sprays about molten lead and, you know, kills people. Just a thought.
Welsh novelist Cynan Jones has won the BBC National Short Story Award for 2017 for his work The Edge Of Shoal. He was presented with the fifteen thousand smackers prize at a ceremony in the BBC's Radio Theatre in London on Tuesday, beating four other writers to the award. Judge Jon McGregor said that it was 'genuinely thrilling' and fellow judge Eimear McBride called it 'as perfect a short story as I've ever read.' Jones is from Aberaeron and is the author of five novels. Jon McGregor, who was one of the judges, said: 'It's an exhilarating, terrifying, and life-affirming read. A stunning achievement, and a deserved winner of the prize.' Jones has had a number of short stories broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and in The New Yorker and also scripted an episode of the acclaimed crime drama Hinterland. He became the twelfth winner of the prize, which was first awarded in 2006. All stories are less than eight thousand words.

Good old psychotic misanthrope Morrissey has been in the news this week for some rather ugly, seemingly supportive, comments he made about UKiP's arch-nutter Anne Marie Waters during a live broadcast on 6Music. Not unsurprisingly, Twitter melted in the aftermath. Not just social media either, the Gruniad Morning Star's full-of-his-own-importance Stuart Heritage wrote an impassioned, rather sneering but fundamentally valid piece entitled Morrissey Fans Are About To Give Up On Him – Johnny Marr, Please Stage An Intervention. See, some of us have been saying this since, ooo, about 1988. Mind you, if this blogger was yer man Heritage, he'd be looking forward to becoming Morrissey's latest pet peeve. Remember when Johnny Rogan had the temerity to write a book about the former Smiths singer and Morrissey promptly 'issued a fatwah'?
On Thursday, the legends that are Mick and Cath Snowden were in Th' Toon for to see that there Mike Peters who used to be in The Alarm and, before that, Keith Telly Topping spent a couple of very civilised hours in The Bacchus drinking (in this blogger's case non-) alcoholic beverages and talking 'bout fitba and rock and/or roll music. Which was nice.

Purchase of the week at Stately Telly Topping Manor.
The singer-songwriter Tom Petty has died in California aged sixty six. Tom was found unconscious and in cardiac arrest at his Malibu home early on Monday. He was taken to hospital, but could not be revived and died later that evening. Sadly, his death was prematurely reported by some media outlets during the afternoon, although the initial reports were retracted after the Los Angeles Police Department announced that it had inadvertently indicated his death without confirming it. Tom's death was confirmed later in a statement released on behalf of Tom's family that he died at the University of California-Los Angeles' Santa Monica hospital.
      When Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers released their first, eponymous, LP in 1976, few could have imagined they would go on to become one of America's biggest touring bands. They were a scrappy, gritty 1960s-influenced garage band, initially lumped in with the burgeoning New York and London New Wave scenes. But Petty, the son of a Florida insurance man, had an uncanny knack for melody that turned the band into one of the biggest acts of the 1980s. Songs like 'Free Fallin', 'Running Down A Dream' and 'American Girl' (the final song on that debut LP) have become standards. They are so integral to the fabric of popular music that Sam Smith unintentionally lifted the melody for 'I Won't Back Down' on his breakthrough single, 'Stay With Me'. Ever the gentleman, Tom refused to take Smith to court and declared he had 'no hard feelings' towards Smith. 'All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by.' He was eventually given a co-writing credit on the song.
Born in Gainesville, Florida in October 1950, according to legend, Tom decided to devote his life to music after shaking Elvis Presley's hand as a ten year old. In the summer of 1961, Tom's uncle was working on the set of Presley's film Follow That Dream in nearby Ocala and invited Tom to watch the shoot. He instantly became an Elvis fan. His friend Keith Harben had a collection of Elvis singles and Tom traded them for his treasured Wham-O slingshot. Like many other boyish American rock and roll aspirants, he began working on music in earnest after witnessing The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. 'The minute I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show - and this is true of thousands of guys - there was a way out. There was the way to do it. You get your friends and you're a self-contained unit. You make the music. And it looked like so much fun. It was something I identified with. I had never been hugely into sports. I had been a big fan of Elvis, but I really saw in The Beatles that here's something I could do. It wasn't long before there were groups springing up in garages all over the place. If you talk to any musician my age, I think we'd all tell you - especially the American ones - that night had a profound effect on the rest of [our] lives. And I thank them for that. I still think The Beatles [made] the best music ever and I'm sure I'll go to my grave thinking the same thing. I don't think you could have another moment like that, because of the innocence of the audience. That doesn't exist anymore. It was just a really great time to be alive, to be a teenager, and to experience that.' He also recalled: 'Change happened so fast once The Beatles hit. I went to see a band in Gainesville and it was The Escorts, Gregg and Duane Allman's first band. They were already pretty good, but what knocked me out was their hair - it was already long! This was only a few weeks after The Beatles played.' Aged seventeen, Tom dropped out of school to join Mudcrutch with future Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. The band learned their craft by listening to pop radio, he once told NPR. 'When I was fifteen or sixteen, we used to sit in the car and try to write the lyrics down as the song was playing,' he said. 'We'd assign each person a verse. Sometimes you'd wait an hour for it to come on again so you could finish it off.' They practised the hits of The Yardbirds, The Be-Atles, The Rolling Stones and The Byrds - all of whom one can find traces of in the music of The Heartbreakers, along with the Americana of The Band and Credence Clearwater Revival. One of Tom's first guitar teachers was Don Felder, a fellow Gainesville resident, who would later join The Eagles. In the early 1970s, Mudcrutch moved to Los Angeles in the hope of scoring a record contract. They succeeded, and released a single - 'Depot Street' - but the band fell apart soon after. It wasn't until 1975 that they reunited - after Petty heard a demo that Campbell and Tench were working on with Ron Blair and Stan Lynch. The Heartbreakers were duly formed and the quintet released their self-titled debut a year later. With its jangly Rickenbacker guitars it seemed somewhat out of step with much of the contemporary US music scene and the record tanked in the America at first, but the band gained something of a cult following in the UK, where they were the support act for Nils Lofgren and where 'American Girl' was a minor hit single. 'The American Girl is just one example of this character I write about a lot,' he noted. 'The small-town kid who knows there's something more out there, but gets fucked up trying to find it. I always felt sympathetic with her.'
Within a few months, The Heartbreakers was headlining its own tour and the LP entered the chart on both sides of the Atlantic. Their second LP, You're Gonna Get It!, marked the band's first Top Forty record and featured the singles 'I Need To Know' and 'Listen To Her Heart'. But it was their third LP, Damn The Torpedoes, that cemented the band's reputation. Featuring their first bona fide hit singles, 'Don't Do Me Like That' and 'Refugee', the record went triple platinum in the US. Rolling Stone magazine praised the record for capturing the 'sound of a live band playing,' and neatly summarised Petty's appeal. 'If Bruce Springsteen was tracking down the specifics of place and a particular class experience, making little movies in song, Petty was making music that, on the surface, seemed far less ambitious. But he created modest scenes that listeners could identify with in deep, lasting ways.' That became his stock in trade - calmly searching lyrics that resonated with millions of Americans. His craftsmanship won the admiration of former heroes like Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison, with whom he formed The Travelling Wilburys at the end of the 1980s. 'The great thing about The Wilburys was that none of us had to take the heat by ourselves,' he recalled. 'I was just a member of the band. Nobody felt like he was above anybody else. We had such a good time.' The project was a necessary antidote after a turbulent couple of years. In 1986, right before he set off on a world tour with Dylan, Tom's house in California burned down in an apparent arson attack. He managed to escape with his wife and children, but most of his belongings were destroyed. 'It's very hard to even believe that someone wants to kill you,' he later recalled. 'It's a very hard thing to go through. The interesting thing is how many people called and confessed the next day.' Firefighters were able to salvage the basement recording studio and the original tapes stored there, as well as Tom's beloved Gibson Dove acoustic guitar. His signature grey top hat, however, was destroyed. Petty later rebuilt the house with fire-resistant materials. He accepted the experience could have inspired the lyrics to his next hit single, 'I Won't Back Down'. 'I felt really elated that they didn't get me,' he told NPR. 'I survived.' That song came from his debut solo CD, Full Moon Fever. Incredibly, it was initially rejected by his record company, MCA, who said they 'didn't hear a hit.' 'I was hurt so bad,' the singer said - but he put the LP to one side and put his energies into The Travelling Wilburys. Six months later, he brought the LP back to the label - unchanged - and they relented and released it. Full Moon Fever went on to become the biggest-selling record of his career, certified five times platinum in the US, thanks largely to the opening song, 'Free Fallin'. Petty's most enduring song, it was written and recorded in just two days. The lyrics tell the familiar story of boy who leaves his hometown to experience the thrill of the city, breaking the heart of his Elvis-loving 'good girl' in the process. It's 'a very good song,' Petty once said. 'Maybe it would be one of my favourites if it hadn't become this huge anthem.' Tom followed up Full Moon Fever with Into the Great Wide Open - a Heartbreakers LP produced, like Full Moon Fever, by ELO frontman and fellow Wilbury, Jeff Lynne. It included the infectious number one single 'Learning To Fly', while the video for the title song starred Johnny Depp and went into heavy rotation on MTV. The 1990s gave Tom another platinum-selling solo CD - Wildflower - and an excellent Heartbreakers Greatest Hits collection (a big hit in 1993).
But, unbeknownst to the public, he was battling an addiction to heroin during this period - which also saw him divorce his wife of twenty two years, Jane Benyo. 'Using heroin went against my grain,' he told biographer Warren Zane. 'I didn't want to be enslaved to anything. So I was always trying to figure out how to do less and then that wouldn't work. Tried to go cold turkey and that wouldn't work. It's an ugly thing. Really ugly. I fear that if I talk about it, people will think, "Well, I could do it and get off." But you can't. Very few people do.' Once clean, his recording career picked up again - culminating in a high-profile Super Bowl Half-Time show in 2008. The Heartbreakers, meanwhile, became a festival staple, showing up the younger acts at Bonnaroo and the Isle of Wight with their quiet mastery of rock and roll. Just this summer, Tom made a long-overdue return to the UK, headlining a one-off concert in London's Hyde Park, where he was joined on stage by Stevie Nicks, who branded Petty 'my favourite rock star.' Petty had accepted that time was catching up with him and could not foresee further giant tours in future. 'We're all on the backside of our sixties,' he told Rolling Stone. 'I have a granddaughter who I would like to see as much of as I can. I don't want to spend my life on the road.' The show was intended as a celebration of The Heartbreakers' fortieth anniversary, but now serves as the band's UK swan song.
Those recent concerts found the group roving across their entire career, featuring songs from their debut such as 'American Girl' and 'Breakdown' and pieces from their latest CD, Hypnotic Eye, which was their first to become a US number one. They ranged through landmarks such as 'Refugee', 'Don't Come Around Here No More' and chart favourites such as 'Mary Jane's Last Dance' and 'Learning To Fly'. Toward the end, Petty shared affectionate stories of the band he'd toured with for four decades. 'I've probably spent more time with these guys than I have with my family,' he said. But this quiet, unassuming rock legend wouldn't have had it any other way - whether or not success came calling. 'Do something you really like and hopefully it pays the rent,' he once told Esquire. 'As far as I'm concerned, that's success.' Tom is survived by his second wife, Dana York Epperson, whom he married in 2001, his daughters Adria and AnnaKim from his first marriage, his stepson, Dylan, from Dana's previous marriage, his brother, Bruce and a granddaughter, Everly.