Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Top Telly Tips - September (Part The First)

Yo! S'up Keith Telly Topping's many bitches ... ? It would appear to be that time of the month again. But enough about this blogger's own personal problems ... Let us, instead, begin our look back at the first half of this current month's Top Telly Tips - one of rain and not a little misery - as we mean to go on; with a very nice picture of the divine Goddess that is Julia Bradbury to brighten up all our lives. Is everybody that little bit happier now? Good, then let's have some Top Telly previews:

Monday 1 September:
On Coronation Street – 7:30 ITV – Gail is concerned that Tina will uncover her romantic secret. And, will Teresa's naughty and bad poisoning of Jerry be revealed for all the street to see during a family gathering? Meanwhile, Roy discovers that when it comes to the café, Vernon isn't a patch on Becky. Or, indeed, outside the café come to that.

Wor Geet Canny Robson Green sails upon them seven seas, just like Echo & the Bunnymen did through the medium of superior pop music, Except he's in search of the world’s most elusive marine creatures in Extreme Fishing With Wor Geet Canny Robson Green - Five at 9:00 - which profiles 'the hottest fishing destinations around the globe.' Wor Geet Canny Robson embarks on a trip of colossal proportions (it says here) attempting to land some of the wildest sea creatures in the world. His first port of call is Costa Rica, where he will try to realise a lifelong dream of catching 'the fastest fish in the water' (and, one which is a near relative of the deadly piranha at that). The thievin' Geordie bastard! He'll be after the King's Mangoes next, you just watch. Off to Tyburn, with him. Bless him, Wor Geet Canny Robson is pure dead enthusiastic about his subject and the show isn't anywhere near as bad as the - wretched - title might suggest, in fact it's really rather watchable. However, Five clearly believe they've hit on a winning celebrity-hobby theme here so next week we can probably expect Hot Air Ballooning With Jerome Flynn followed by Flower Arranging With Arthur Mullard and Giant Haystacks' Badger Watch.
The Children – ITV 9:00 – is a tense, and rather topical, three-part crime drama starring Wor Geet Canny Kevin Whately and the very excellent Lesley Sharp. When the body of an eight-year-old girl is discovered in a family garden, the complex and emotional chain of events which led up to her death begin to emerge. Six months earlier, three couples embarked on a series of 'exciting new relationships,' blissfully unaware of the tragic consequences in store for all of them.

Tuesday 2 September:
And, we at From The North continue to ask the questions no one else dares to. Today, why can’t you have a bath in the bathroom of most public facilities? I'm against it, me.

Billy fights to save his marriage on EastEnders at 8:00 while Phil comes under mounting pressure from Suzy. That will, no doubt, cheer him up. Max stumbles upon some incriminating evidence, meanwhile Jack, Tanya and girls get back from holiday just as Ronnie reappears. It's unlikely, however, that she's turned up just to see if they've brought her back some tacky souvenir from their trip - like a key-ring or something. Don't you just hate getting cheap-crap like that when people you know have been away on their hols. Bring me a T-shirt or, you know, don't bother with anything, but not a sodding key-ring.

Davina McCall hosts a 'special' (and, this blogger uses that word quite wrongly) live double eviction show of Big Brother at 8:00 on Channel Four. Is anybody actually still watching this crap? The ratings are going down the tube, fast. How fast you may ask? Then, this blogger shall tell you. Faster than Usain Bolt. Faster than Chris Hoy on a bike going down a hill. If you are still watching, and enjoying Big Brother, good on you but you seem to be in a minority of not-a-lot at the moment. Don't blink or you might miss its demise.

This blogger mentioned the beginning of Mutual Friends last week and it's looking pretty good thus far. In case you missed it, this is comedy drama following the lives of a group of old friends – it's a little bit arch at times and has a very middle class view of life but it also has some really funny things to say about relationships in the Twenty First Century. Tonight Patrick tries to help Martin cope with his marital problems by subjecting him to an energetic reintroduction to the life of a single man, with vigorous mountain bike-riding, rounds of golf and marathon computer games sessions - fuelled by a diet of pizza and beer. Sounds like a good Friday night in round this blogger's drum, that. Great cast and quite funny, what more could you ask for?

Wednesday 3 September:
Lost In Austen – 9:00 on ITV - looks set to do for the Victorian romance novel what Life On Mars did for the cop show. Disillusioned modern girl Amanda Price 'swaps' her life for that of Jane Austen's celebrated heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. Trapped in an unfolding fiction, Amanda must try to the stop events in the book derailing, as her presence in the characters' lives sets other episodes in motion. Two of this blogger's favourite young actresses star in the lead roles - Jemima Rooper who took the Jenny Agutter part in the last remake of The Railway Children and was then in Hex on Sky - but, we'll forgive her for that - and has grown up all Goth and dangerous and Gemma Arterton who was terrific in the recent St Trinians remake and is also in the forthcoming Bond movie. Alex Kingston, Lindsay Duncan and Hugh Bonnerville also feature (the latter, presumably, hoping that everyone's forgotten Bonekickers already).
On BBC2 at the same time there's God On Trial, a thought-provoking drama about a group of Auschwitz prisoners who demand to know the exact nature of a God who can allow so much suffering to good people. They attempt to settle their dispute by, as the title suggests, putting God on trial, knowing that half of them will be sent to the gas chamber and that they, therefore, have only one day to reach a verdict. Powerful, dignified and emotive stuff with a great cast, lead by Anthony Sher and Rupert Graves.

Lastly a quick mention of the start of a new series of Medium, the popular supernatural US crime series starring Patricia Arquette on BBC1 at 10:45. Sometimes this can be really very good indeed – clever, dark and very scary. Sometimes, though, it's just lumpen, plot-heavy and manipulative nonsense. But the best episodes are certainly worth putting up with a lot of needless tear-jerking for and Patricia herself is great in this.

Thursday 4 September:
The Great Italian Escape – 8:30 Channel Four – is a series following the lives of Richard and Sarah Turnbull, who emigrated from the UK to Tuscany. Nice! The Turnbulls live in a picturesque but rundown farmhouse set in five acres of olive groves in the idyllic hills of Pescia, east of Pisa. This blogger repeats, nice! Richard and Sarah reveal the harsh truth of running their own holiday letting business while helping another family prepare to open the doors of their own lovingly-restored farmhouse. Ah… not so nice. But still, the scenery. And the wine. And the cuisine. And the climate.

Last week's episode of Mock The Week – 9:00 BBC2 – was the best in a couple of years. this blogger is not sure what was most impressive, Hugh Dennis's tale be being knocked off his bike by a white van driven by two Chinese chaps ('Ah, it's him from My Hero. He can fly in that show!') or Frankie Boyle telling hapless Paula Radcliffe to look on the bright side, if she was a racehorse she'd've probably been shot in the head by now. Tonight Wor Geet Canny Luscious Lovely Lauren Laverne joins the teams which would be reason enough to watch this episode even if it was, otherwise, rubbish. Which, fortunately, it isn't. Not even close. Dara O'Briain hosts with his usual casual pithy genius. If you've never seen Mock The Week before ... then where the Hell have you been? It's currently in its sixth season. But, just supposing you've been on, say, The Moon then it's kind of a cross between Have I Got News For You? and Whose Line Is It Anyway? with the bit of Qi thrown in. Skill.

A reality series hosted by Steve Jones, When Women Rule The World – 10:00 Channel Four – sees eight feisty females put in charge of ten macho males and challenged to create their own utopia on a beautiful Caribbean island. In every episode one man will be exiled from the island, with the last remaining man winning thirty grand. How much the lasses get for having put up with him, they don't say. In this first episode the women must decide among themselves who will be their queen - whilst the men, presumably, watch. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, some pointless glake somewhere did, indeed, get paid to come up with the concept for tripe like this. Probably more than you will earn in five years. Makes you think, doesn't it?

Friday 5 September:
We continue to ask all the questions no one else dares to. Today if, as the Book of Revelation suggests, Armageddon is entirely pre-ordained then what, exactly, is The Devil fighting for if he already knows he’s going to lose in the end? I’m just curious…

Tonight sees the return of Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse for their new sketch show – Harry & Paul, 9:00 on BBC1. The last series wasn’t all that good although they did at least introduce one genuinely brilliant pair of new characters - the Posh Scaffolders - who are back in this series along with many new characters. This blogger saw a clip the other day of a Whicker's World-type sketch where they're on an island inhabited by a tribe of Jeremy Clarksons. It looks like the best thing they've done since that aliens sketch back in 1991! TREEEEEE!
Saturday 6 September:
Thanks to the massive success of Strictly Come Dancing and its several international variants, we now have 'the second annual' Eurovision Dance Contest (BBC1 8:00). Oh, terrific. It's live, from Glasgow which is, of course, the home of the Paso Doble - at least according to Big Bill Connolly. EastEnders' Louisa Lytton and Vincent Simone represent Britain. Graham Norton and Claudia Winkleman host and Len Goodman does the commentary. But, since when was Azerbaijan - one of the other competing nations - in Europe?! Somebody get these people an Atlas.

Sunday 7 September:
Antiques Roadshow – 8:00 BBC1 – isn't a show that this blogger has often featured on his Top Telly Tips but there's an actual reason to watch it now besides the occasionally brilliant bit of cynical humour as somebody is told by one of the experts that the 'absolutely priceless' family antique they have brought along (but couldn't possibly sell … but, just as a matter of curiosity, how much – exactly - is it worth?) is, in fact, a lump of old mass-produced tat. The Thinking Fortysomething's Totty, Fiona Bruce, takes over as presenter. Lovely. A national treasure, indeed.

And, speaking of marvellous and classy mature posh birds, Joanna Lumley In The Land Of The Northern Lights – 9:00 ITV – sees the lovely Joanna travelling to the far North of Norway to see one of the great wonders of nature, the spectacular aurora borealis. This blogger hopes that she has better luck than he did whenheI tried to do the same thing. The travel company he was supposed to be going with went bust and he never got firther than Newcastle Airport. Joanna is charmed by the Norwegian people and their tales of life in the far North, its myths and legends, it's fish ... and their experiences of the borealis itself. She visits the remote fishing town of Å (Eh? No, Å … with an 'a' … and one of them little circle-y things above it), spends a night inside an igloo hotel and meets the reindeer herdsmen of the Sami, Europe's last indigenous people (youmay remember them from the BBC's excellent documentary Reindeer Girls last year) where she receives a snowmobile riding lesson from a four-year-old boy. Sounds utterly tremendous. Mark me down for a night in with a Fiona and Joanna sandwich. And a curry and some wine, obviously.

Lastly, a quick mention of Monday afternoon’s episode of Doctors – 1:45 BBC1 – yes, this blogger know it's on opposite the radio show that he works on and we don’t usually highlight the opposition as it were, but this one is written by one of Keith Telly Topping's best friends and former writing partner, Martin Day. So, if you can't tear yourself away from Alfie on BBC Newcastle for half-an-hour - and, let's face it, who on Earth can? – set your videos or DVD recorders or, you know, them Sky+ things that this blogger doesn't know how to work properly. He's a good writer is Marty, so if you watch nothing else this blogger recommends this week, trust him on this one! Has Keith Telly Topping ever let you down before? Okay, ignore Bonekickers before you answer that question...

Monday 8 September:
We continue to ask the questions no one else dares to. Today, if ifs and ands were pots and pans there'd be no work for tinkers? Eh? Run that one by me again? Surely, if there were more pots and pans in the world then there'd be more guys needed to mend the broken ones? Cause and effect and all that ...

There’s been a fair few shocks in Corrie recently, what with Ken getting busted last week. Tonight Liam is furious when he learns that Carla has become his new partner in the business. I think Alison King, who plays Carla, is just about the best thing in Corrie at the moment. It’s those little sideways glances she keeps giving, as if she's expecting Michael Aspel to jump out from being a pillar with the Big Red Book.

As an alternative to Weatherfield, some of our listening chaps may prefer Top Trumps on Five at 7:30. Robert Llewelyan (ex of Red Dwarf) and Ashley Hames (no, me neither) go head-to-head in a series of challenges based on the popular card game of the 1970s. Tonight, yachts. Yeah, this looks like another rather laddish Top Gear clone with about a fiftieth of the wit and quality. But, it's a rather fun idea and it taps nicely into that kind of gentle nostalgia thing for the 1970s which a lot of TV shows have got going for them at the moment post Life On Mars - this blogger might give this a try as it sounds like his kind of thing.

It's the final episode of The Hairy Bakers on BBC2 at 8:30. Wor Geet Canny Si and Dave get their hands sticky in the world of wedding cakes. They get the lowdown on chocolate in a Yorkshire patisserie and attend sugar-craft lessons. And, if that isn’t enough to give viewers a heart attack, nothing will. Let's have another series from these lads soon.

Tuesday 9 September:
In EastEnders at 7:30 on BBC1 Bradley's efforts to cement his friendship with Callum cause more problems for Stacey. That poor lass, her entire life seems to have been one big problem. Mind you, she certainly lives in the right place if she's looking for a sympathetic shoulder. One wonders, is there some sort of self-help group in Walford? Miserablist Anonymous? Ian Beale would have to be President, obviously (he wanted to be Treasurer, like, but his family is too well known for that).

The National Movie Awards – 8:00 ITV – are hosted by Jimmy Nesibtt; not, necessarily, this blogger's first pick for an erudite British version of Billy Crystal but, hey, let's give the lad a chance. Let's face it, he's in just about everything else on British telly at the moment so why not this as well? Then again, this is ITV, ladies and gentlemen, the network that thought paying Trinny and Susannah millions of pounds was a good idea. The marginally disappointing fourth Indiana Jones movie, The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia! are all up for lots of awards.

And, lastly tonight, something of a first for Top Telly Tips as this blogger is recommending a show which features … yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very selfCall The Cops on BBC4 is very good little documentary series, voiced by Marc Warren from Hustle, about selected British crime drama shows of years gone by – it's made by, basically, the same people who did the excellent BBC4 series The Cult Of … last year. There's already been three or four episodes of this – including a really very good one on Z Cars and an excellent essay on Between The Lines last week. Tonight they're covering The Sweeney – the greatest TV show ever made that didn't have the words 'Doctor', 'West', 'Likely' or 'Vampire' in the title somewhere - and, if you're really lucky, you'll get to see – probably about twenty seconds of – what some fat, ginger Geordie local radio-type person thought about it. SHUT IT! This blogger's sequences, incidentally, were all filmed in Bethnal Green workingmen's club. And, trust me, that is every single bit as rough and desperate a place as it sounds. Note, please, Keith Telly Topping was wearing his best shirt during filming - the tasty little black number he picked up in San Diego which makes him look like Johnny Cash ... when he's been on the cakes for about six months. Incidentally, this blogger would just like to confirm that, unlike Trinny and Susannah, he does not have a 'golden handcuffs' deal with BBC4. Then again, unlike Trinny and Susannah, Keith Telly Topping hasn't been sacked either. Get your trousers on, girls, you're nicked.

Wednesday 10 September:
We continue to ask the questions no one else dares to. Today, is Garth Crooks ever going to ask a footballer a question that isn't half an hour long and, ultimately, rhetorical?

This blogger mentioned Lost In Austen – 9:00 on ITV – on last week's Top Telly Tips and the first episode was pretty much what he thought it would be – and, very good at that. The two girls (Jemima and Gemma – sounds like an upper Middle-Class teenage rap duo that, doesn't it?) are absolutely great in it. And, let's face it anything that awful Alison Graham in Radio Times doesn't like is, usually, worth a few minutes of your time – just on general principle if nothing else. After that wretched woman's snobbish and only semi-literate attack on The Hairy Bakers this week, the Radio Times has just lost a reader of nearly forty years standing. Anyway, back to this - the only downside, really, is Elliot Cowan's Mister Darcy who is … well, a bit wet, frankly. Not a patch on Colin Firth. But otherwise, top quality all the way. Nice to see ITV producing something with two women in it that isn't banal, lowest-common-denominator television about frocks and body image. T&S, please take note.

On BBC2 at the same time there's what looks to be another great bit of drama after last week’s tremendously moving God On Trial. A Number stars Rhys Ifans – who was so good as Peter Cook in that ITV biopic a couple of years back - playing several marginally different roles (a bit like Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts & Coronets) in a story about a man who discovers he is, actually, one of several clones created by his father, played by the great Tom Wilkinson.

Also, this blogger feels it is only fair that since we featured the Olympics so much, we should also give a mention to the nightly Paralympics The Games Today show which is on BBC2 at 7:00 each evening. Especially as we've got the Bladerunner himself, Oscar Pistorius out breaking world records on an almost daily basis.

Thursday 11 September:
We continue to ask the questions no one else dares to. Today, why didn't Anita Harris ever have that unsightly mole on her top lip removed by cosmetic surgery during the 1970s? Surely she had enough money since she appeared on just about every episode of The Two Ronnies. And, of course, she was on The David Nixon Show too. Why didn't David just get Sooty to wave his wand and go 'Izzy wizzy, let's get busy' and make it disappear? Perhaps we'll never care.

One of this blogger's favourite documentary stands, Cutting Edge returns with what looks to be a thought-provoking piece at nine o'clock on Channel Four. Tania Head was thought to be one of only nineteen people who survived the World Trade Centre attacks at or above the points of impact. However, in 2007 it was revealed that on 11 September 2001 she was, actually, on holiday in Spain and, upon her return to the US faked her miraculous escape to authorities, friends and family. The film asks why she lied, speaks to genuine 9/11 survivors, Head's therapist and the family of the genuine dead hero whom she claimed had saved her life asking how the deception affected them. Interesting subject and it looks to be quite sensitively handled.

There’' a new series of Secret Diary Of A Call Girl on ITV2 at 10:00. Let's hope yer actual Billie The Piper has managed to sort out which accent she's doing this time; it should be the vaguely posh one here - and on those rather good Philip Pullman adaptations - and the mockney one when she's doing Doctor Who. Remember that, love, cos you seemed to forget last time. Alternatively, on BBC3 at 10:30 there's a rather curious comedy sketch show called The Wrong Door which - from a brief glance at two episodes - can occasionally be quite mad-brilliant but, more often than not seems to be just weird for weird's sake. It's probably worth half-an-hour of your time though just to see what you think of it, as some previewers – one or two of whose opinions this blogger, actually, respects - are calling it the next League Of Gentlemen or Little Britain. Neither of which Keith Telly Topping was that big a fan of when they started, interestingly enough!

Friday 12 September:
We continue to ask all the questions no one else dares to. Today has anyone noticed that horror movies are always full of people 'struggling to survive A Zombie Apocalypse.' What's the point of that? Why not just get bitten and then try to change the system from within? It's much easier and less zombies have to die in the long run.

Keith Telly Topping highlights Harry & Paul - 9:00 BBC1 - last week and, to be honest, it was more in hope than expectation as the pair's last two series really haven't been up to much. Well, forget that, last week's episode was just about the best thing they've done since their mid-1990s heyday. In particular there was a football-manager sketch with Paul Whitehouse giving his half-time team talk in about eight different languages (including a Swahili tribal song) which had me rolling on the floor, laughing like a veritable cliché. The Princes of Comedy have returned from their long and bitter exile, dear blog reader! Let there be rejoicing throughout the land!

Strictly Come Dancing is back on BBC1 for the next fifteen weeks – you might have noticed dear old Len Goodman on The ONE Show on Monday plugging it. And, getting somewhat flirty with that saucy little minx Christine Bleakley who is, of course, one of the contestants in the forthcoming series (much to Big Grumpy Adrian's obvious amusement). Other celebs donning their dancing shoes include Gary Rhodes, Phil Daniels ('Oi!'), rugby player Austin Healey and Jodie Kidd. Place your bets. Brucie and Tess introduced as ever.

It’s also the Live Winner's Finale of Maestro on BBC2 (8:00). Please note, this previewer did suggest - right back at the start - that Goldie and Sue Perkins looked to be the best of the competing bunch and they we're two of the three finalists. Remember that when Sue's conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra and earache-inducing soloist Lesley Garrett (who always sounds to Keith Telly Topping like a hamster has just run up her arse when she's squealing ... sorry, 'singing') in front of an audience of thirty thousand at The Proms in the Park. No pressure, Suze.

For my next Nostradamus-like prediction, the 4:40 at Chepstow will be won by a horse. Probably.

Sunday 14 September:
On Sunday, the Beeb and ITV go head-to-head in the 'Classy Costume Drama' department. The BBC's offering is a four-part adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Tess Of The D'Urbervilles starring the gorgeous Gemma Arterton – currently giving it the works at swooning in Lost In Austen and soon to be a Bond girl in Quantum Of Solace. Will she be as maddeningly alluring in this as Nastassja Kinski in the Roman Polanski version? Let's watch it and find out.

Alternatively on ITV there's the return of David Suchet in Mama Telly Topping's second favourite show (after Midsomner Murders of course) Agatha Christie's Poirot. Or, if a bald Belgian solving crime isn't your bag, you could watch Robert DeNiro and Jean Reno crashing into every car in Paris in the movie Ronin on Five. Spoiled for choice, really…

Monday 15 September:
We continue to ask the questions no one else dares to. Today, has anyone ever never met a poor bookmaker? This blogger backed a horse at twenty-to-one. It came in at ten-to-four. Nah, lishun 

Corrie’s had some heartbreaking moments over the years – from Elsie Tanner leaving and the deaths of Harry Hewitt, Alf Roberts and Mike Baldwin to Len Fairclough chinning Ken Barlow for being a stuck up know-all … Actually, that wasn't heartbreaking at all. Anyway tonight, get ready for another one as Mel puts job before family and arrests her mother for attempted murder after overhearing Jerry Copper's Narking on her. Mind you, that Teresa, she makes Cilla Battersby look like Florence Nightingale by comparison.

Dispatches – 8:00 on Channel Four – is usually good at scaring the pants off people and tonight in What's In Your Wine? a nation of pretentious tipplers with be reaching for the spit-bucket as Jane Moore investigates how a significant number of reds and whites are enhanced by sweeteners. And, how some of the Champagne region's most select vineyards use chemical fertiliser instead of, you know, horse shit. Well, that's the last bottle of Möet this blogger will be buying. He’ll stick to the finest Krug in future.

President Hollywood – 9:00 BBC4 – looks at the parallels between the current US Presidential race and various TV and movie depictions of American politics over the years, specifically one of this blogger's favourites, The West Wing. (The greatest TV show ever made that doesn't feature the words 'Doctor', 'Sweeney', 'Likely' or 'Vampire' in the title.) Or, if you prefer something less, you know, good there's Ross Kemp On Gangs on Sky One which sees Risilbe Ross investigating drug-gangs in Belize. Is it too much to hope that the authorities will arrest him on general principle and keep him there 'helping the police with their enquires' for a year or two so we don't have to put up with any more of this appalling nonsense for a while?
Tuesday 16 September:
In EastEnders - 7:30 BBC1 - Max makes a shocking revelation to Tanya. Yes, he really is a slaphead. Well, face it she had to find out sooner or later, I mean, it was getting harder and harder to cover up.

Hollyoaks – 6:30 on Channel Four – is the one soap we tend not to cover very much on Top Telly Tips. Because, frankly, there's not all that much to say about it. It's just kind … there, you know? The actors and plots aren't bad, but they are both rather forgettable. However, there's a wedding tonight – Calvin's marrying Carmel (no, me neither...) – and soap weddings are usually quite popular. Remember though, in Soapsville, there's no such thing as happily ever after.

There's a very special occasion on the first Later … With Jools Holland of the new season (9:00 BBC2), Paul McCartney and Youth – ex of Killing Joke – have collaborated on a couple of rather nice ambient dance CDs as The Firemen. Tonight they're making what this blogger thinks is their first ever live appearance. And lastly, if you haven't got to go to work tomorrow and fancy staying up way beyond The Midnight Hour, the BBC are showing one of the greatest comedy movies ever, Pete and Dud in Bedazzled. Watch Peter Cook at his one hundred per cent Mod-coolest as The Devil singing the title song and understand, instantly, where Radiohead got pretty much all their ideas from.
Wednesday 17 September:
We continue to ask the questions no one else dares to. Today, why is it that in Cinderella, when everything the Fairy Godmother changed reverts back to their normal state at midnight, the glass slipper doesn't? Flaw in the plot, that. A proof-reader should have picked that up on first draft.

Dawn … Gets Naked (9:00 on BBC2) is a series which sees journalist Dawn Porter exploring the nature of all things female. Tonight, Dawn spends some time with a group of naturalists and then visits a burlesque show (well, we've all done it) to discover more about body image and our seeming reticence to get our kit off with other people watching.
In an attempt to change reserved British attitudes towards the concept of nakedness Dawn organises what she hopes will be 'Britain's ultimate female falsh mob.' Well, mark this blogger down as a potential viewer for that, ladies and gentlemen. Anything, in the cause of progress.
If nakedness isn't your bag, Channel Four have decided to get in on the current trend of 'bringing back successful formats from the past cos they can't think of anything new to make that doesn't have the word "celebrity" in it' with the documentary series The Family. This is, of course, a revival of the groundbreaking and hugely influential 1974 fly-on-the-wall series about the Wilkins family of Reading without which, we'd never've had ... well Big Brother, for one. The 2008 victims, sorry volunteers, are the Hughes family from Canterbury. Get ready for eight weeks of traumas, tantrums and tears. Should be good.

Or, you may prefer David Suchet – whom we talked about last week in relation to Poirot – on Who Do You Think You Are? (9:00, BBC1) as the actor embarks on a trans-European quest to solve some mysteries in his family history. Always involving and seldom anything less than fascinating, this show. This blogger thinks that's the one for him, tonight.

Thursday 18 September:
We continue to ask the questions no one else dares to. Today, vanilla essence is black and yet vanilla ice cream is white. What's that all about?

ITV yet again comes up with easily the best TV show title of the week by a street and a half - Ann Widdecombe Versus Girl Gangs at 9:00. Now, this blogger reckons his money is going to be on the girl gangs. I mean, Big Fat Ann is a pretty formidable lady in any ten-rounds-type-situation but, let's face it, the longer it goes on there's more of them than her and ... Oh, apparently, this blogger is reliably informed that this isn't some variant on Celebrity Wrestling which he'd imagined it to be but, rather, it is 'a serious study of some of Britain's problems through the eyes of a concerned citizen.' Or, through the eyes of Mad-As-Toast former Tory MP and faceache Ann Widdecombe, anyway. Ann's solution to this problem, of course, appears to be 'give them all a jolly good smacked bottom.' Mind you, that would seem to be Ann's solution to most things. Both in politics and, indeed, in life: You know, industrial relations, foreign policy, how to deal with drug addicts, boundary disputes with your neighbour, queuing up at the Post Office for a stamp with all the stinking doley Scum, how to show waitresses in restaurants who's the boss, the problem of uppity TV previewers taking the piss, et cetera. What on Earth goes on in that decidedly odd woman's head? Our artist's impression merely speculates upon one possible scenario, dear blog reader. The truth is, perhaps, far stranger.

If, on the other hand, you fancy a rather more serious TV investigation into something that affects us all - and that isn't the product of the darker corners of the brain on a ludicrous former Tory MP - Cutting Edge (9:00 Channel Four) follows a month in the life of an ambulance and its crew as they try to achieve their target of reaching seventy five per cent of life-threatening calls within eight minutes. The paramedics on-board must deal with everything from binge drinkers to suicide attempts and hoax calls. Nobody tell Ann Widdecombe, please. There's no telling who might end up over her knee begging for mercy in such circumstances.

Northern Eye is a great little series tucked away in a stupidly late slot (11:40, ITV). Tonight's episode is a tribute to the late Tyneside comedian the Little Waster himself Bobby Thompson. 'Ah got in a taxi in London; ah sez t'the bloke "Waterloo." He sez "The stayyyyshon?" Ah sez "I’m ower-late for the battle!"' Tremendous. Hey, Tyne Tees, can you think about putting stuff like this on a bit earlier when people other than insomniacs and burglars can actually see it. You know, normal people. With jobs and everything.

Top Telly Tips will return later in the month.