Sunday, November 29, 2009

Week Forty Nine: You Can't Come In Here Looking Like That

Wasn't the first episode of the new series of Qi simply wonderful, dear blog reader? I mean, sticking Stephen, Alan, Dara, Rob Brydon and Davey Mitchell together you'd usually be guaranteed something a bit special. But that was, genuinely, excellent. I also understand that we might not have seen the last of the Qi: XL repeats and that they may return later in the series. What with the recently completed series of Armstrong & Miller and the little cult hit of Miranda on their hands, it's been a good few weeks for BBC comedy.

And, with that in mind, let's have the next batch of Top Telly Tips:

Friday 4 December
Given that it's the final of I'm a Celebrity ... tonight, yer Keith Telly Topping would look, frankly, a bit stupid if he recommended anything that's on on opposite it. So ... Waking the Baby Mammoth - 9:00 Channel 4 - is a documentary all about the discovery of an almost perfectly-preserved infant woolly mammoth in a remote Siberian river, thirty seven thousand years after she died there. Shedding new light on life in The Ice Age, this investigation combines cutting-edge science with intrepid Arctic adventure to explain how and why the mammoths became extinct. Or, you could watch what remains of Ant and Dec's credibility rapidly becoming extinct on ITV instead as they try to convince us that the non-entities in the jungle this year are worthy of our time. Swings and roundabouts, innit?

Saturday 5 December
On a similar theme, Saturday night sees the semi-finals of both The X Factor and Strictly. Once again, therefore, only a brain-damaged moron (or, the victim of a cruel medical experiment) would be crassly idiotic enough to propose that you, dear blog reader, watch anything on opposite. But, yer Keith Telly Topping could never resist a challenge. Thus, in Casualty - 8:20 - Ruth (the excellent Georgia Taylor) gets a shock when a face from her shady past turns up at the emergency department of Holby General. Meanwhile, Adam's suspicions are raised when Sean tries to play happy families and Polly struggles to come to terms with recent events.

Sunday 6 December
Small Island - 9:00 BBC1 - is an adaptation of Andrea Levy's award-winning story of Jamaicans and Londoners involved in the Second World War. It's London, 1948: Hortense joins Gilbert, her new husband, in England where he is lodging with Queenie Bligh. The women have both married in unpromising circumstances. As Hortense remembers her life in Jamaica and the love she had for Michael and his betrayal of her, Queenie also remembers her night of passion with the same Michael when her husband was away at war. Will they uncover the secret they share? Fine cast in this and it's a important historical document of a time when many British people were happy to have West Indies fight a war for them, but wouldn't have them as a lodger in their home. It's on opposite Top Gear and The X Factor, though, which may limit its audience, somewhat. One for iPlayer, perhaps.

Monday 7 December
Man on Earth - 9:00 Channel 4 - is a documentary series in which Tony Robinson examines how our ancestors have handled violent climate change over the past two hundred thousand years and asks what we can learn from them. In the first episode, Tony explains how a small group of our earliest African ancestors were rescued from extinction by global warming one hundred and thirty thousand years ago, as their barren habitat was transformed into a lush forest. Meanwhile, in the Russian steppes, Joy Singarayer discusses how European Homo sapiens adapted to the Ice Age. I do like the way that Tony Robinson has become Channel 4's 'go-to-guy' for much of their historical documentary output (in much the same way as Michael Palin's become the BBC's travel guru almost by default). A necessary lesson to all comedians, this; develop for yourself a hobby which you can turn into a job for your declining years when you stop being funny.

In The Gadget Show: Christmas Special - 8:00 Five - the consumer technology show presented by Jason Bradbury, Jon Bentley and the goddess-like vision of saucy minxiness that is Suzi Perry get all festive on our asses. Jason and Suze compete to see who can find the best gadget gift available to buy this Yuletide season. Elsewhere, Jon teams up with Robert Llewelyn to examine Internet-enabled TVs and Ortis provides some money-saving tips for the forthcoming season of goodwill to all men and some dogs. And, just in case you were wondering there are still seventeen shoplifting days to Christmas.

Meanwhile over in Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - Will Ken risk Deirdre's job in order to stop Peter's bar plan? Also, Kevin sweats as Molly makes a decision and Becky and Claire fast-track the Rovers panto.

Tuesday 8 December
In Coastline Cops - 8:00 ITV - cameras follow the men and women who look after the ten thousands and fifty miles of Britain's coastline. With the stunning scenery, rolling beaches and the whiff of the sea, however, comes a special responsibility from dealing with just about everything from sea-borne terrorist threats to drunken sailors causing chaos (err-lie in the mornin') during Cowes week. In this week's programme, a badly injured man is rescued from a beach in Cumbria and a little girl goes missing in Scarborough.

Now, last year everyone on the Top Telly Tips slot had a reet good laugh at Extreme Fishing With Robson Green for having such a silly title. And then, of course, somewhat typically, it turned out to be an absolutely terrific little show (and very popular too). With this in mind, Robson Green's Wild Swimming Adventure - 9:00 ITV - is a two-part show in which Wor Robson embraces the pursuit of outdoor swimming, visiting the country's lidos, lakes, rivers and seas and meeting some fellow-bathers along the way. In the first episode, Robson returns to the freezing Tyne, in which he swam as a child. (I'm guessing this is upstream, somewhere.) Later, he moves on to more clement waters in the South West including Tinside Lido and Porthowan Tidal Pool. But nothing prepares him for Snowdon's Llyn Llydaw where he teams up with extreme swimmer Lewis Pugh for a truly chilling experience.

Christmas Tales: The Story of the Tree - 10:35 ITV - is a three-part series in which Fiona Phillips examines the phenomenon of various festive icons. Here, she looks at the long and fascinating history of the Christmas tree. Although used as a Christian symbol for hundreds of years, it was not until the Nineteenth Century that Britons began putting them in their sitting rooms. The practice was popularised by Victoria and Albert, who first brought the German custom to Britain. When the craze crossed the Atlantic, retailer Frank Woolworth introduced the concept of decorating trees. Does anybody remember a time, and not that long ago either, when Christmas telly used to start on, like, 21 December or something? Just me then?

Wednesday 9 December
Sad to report that it's a bit of a rubbish night on telly, tonight so I'm starting off with good old reliable [Spooks] - 9:00 BBC1. With Britain on the verge of financial meltdown, Section D must recover over a billion pounds from one of the world's most impenetrable banks or the country will slide into depression. If it's that easy why aren't MI5 doing that shit every week? Anyway, they need vital account information from one of the bank's employees, but have no idea where he is and a team of assassins is out to silence him before Lucas, Ros, Ruth and co can get their grubby mitts on him. Will they find to their asset in time to pull Britain back from the brink? Or, before that naughty CIA madam whom Lucas is knocking off gets the chance to double-cross them. Again.

If you don't fancy that, then you're mad, frankly. But, nevertheless, in the interests of balance in a Horizon special - 9:00 BBC2 - naturalist Sir David Attenborough investigates whether the world faces a population crisis. He reflects upon the impact of a doubling in world population during his lifetime. While much of the projected population growth is in the developing world, it is the lifestyle enjoyed by many in the West that has the most impact on the planet. Sir David examines whether it is the duty of individuals to commit to smaller families and change the way they live for the sake of humanity. Well, that's simple. Kill them. Kill them all. Too extreme, you reckon? Okay, back to the drawing board.

Kirstie's Homemade Christmas - 8:00 Channel 4 - is a series in which the sometimes fluffy and lovely but more-often fire-breathing bitch-queen of Location, Location, Location Kirstie Allsopp shares her tips for a magical hand-crafted Christmas. Again, it's December 9 for God's sake. Couldn't this have waited a couple of weeks? Kirstie prepares presents for her family and friends, enlisting the help of some of the UK's most talented crafts people to prove that a visit to the High Street can be avoided when looking for stocking-fillers. Not if you want it to be a Terry's Chocolate Orange it can't. I don't think that you can knock one of them up using sticky-backed plastic, actually. Which proves that this is, essentially, Blue Peter for grown-ups. Kirstie also flexes her negotiating muscles by taking a trip to Goldbourne Road market in London to look for the best second-hand gifts.

Thursday 10 December
In deepest Borneo, a remarkable young Frenchman called Chanee is combining his love of music and his passion for gibbons. Which Keith Telly Topping isn't sure is entirely legal but, never mind. These magical singing apes of the rainforest are in danger of extinction and to help save them, Chanee has set up a rescue centre, and become the world expert at matchmaking gibbons, a story told in Natural World - 9:00 BBC2. Only when a pair has successfully bonded can they be released back into the wild. To increase awareness of the gibbons' plight, Chanee has created his own radio station, Radio Kalaweit.

Dermot Murnaghan hosts a celebrity special of the show where a new team of challengers take on probably the greatest (and certainly the smuggest) quiz team in Britain in Celebrity Eggheads - 6:00 BBC2. The Eggheads are made up of the country's top quiz champions, including Are You an Egghead? winner Pat Gibson. Can a team of Antiques Roadshow experts featuring Hilary Kay, Paul Atterbury, Eric Knowles, Mark Allum and Lars Tharp triumph over the general knowledge Goliaths and win the cash prize for their charity, or will it roll over to the next show?

In EastEnders - 7:30 BBC1 - Tony's trial descends into chaos. Bradley makes a huge admission to Stacey, and Max's world begins to crumble. And, finally, there's always good old reliable Qi - 9:30 BBC1 - where Stephen Fry guides guests Liza Tarbuck, Phill Jupitus, Sean Lock and Alan Davies through the world of games.

And, so we come to the weekend's Top Telly News: David Tennant's final two episodes of Doctor Who - featuring John Simm and former James Bond Timothy Dalton in a cast of thousands - will air on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, the BBC has confirmed. Provisional schedules for the Christmas period released on Friday suggest that The End Of Time, Part One will broadcast at 7.30 on BBC1 on Christmas Day, sandwiched between the two episodes of EastEnders. Part Two, in which Tennant's Doctor will regenerate into Matt Smith, will air on New Year's Day. The hour-long episode will also go out at 7.30, following that day's episode of EastEnders and, also, ahead of the last ever episode of Gavin & Stacey. So, a day of celebration all round, then?

Tennant's predecessor in the role, Christopher Eccleston, has signed up to play John Lennon in a new BBC drama. The one-off BBC4 production, titled Lennon Naked reportedly will chronicle the life of the former Beatle - and junkie Scouse wife-beater - between 1967 and 1971. Christopher Fairbank, Naoko Mori, Claudie Blakley, Rory Kinnear, Michael Colgan, Andrew Scott and Allan Corduner will also feature in the biopic. 'Securing Christopher Eccleston to play John Lennon is further testament to the calibre of drama on BBC4,' said BBC drama commissioning controller Ben Stephenson. 'The Women We Loved season currently on air is attracting record audiences and the channel is steadily building a reputation for portraying some of this country's best loved icons.' BBC4 controller Richard Klein added: 'BBC4 is the place where dramas look to explore that space between artists' public works and private lives, shedding light on the artistic process while offering intelligent entertainment.' When The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein died unexpectedly in 1967, it was a turning point in John Lennon's life. The film focuses on the turbulent and intense period of change that followed, and how John was haunted by his troubled childhood. The film also reveals the impact of re-establishing contact with his long lost father, Freddie, and the events that led John to shed everything both personally and creatively – from divorcing his long-suffering wife Cynthia, to changing his name and ultimately calling time on The Beatles. Meeting Yoko Ono was the catalyst for this new era and the film explores the development of their extraordinary relationship. Together they experimented with both the musical and artistic avant garde - which, remember, the man himself had described just a year earlier as 'French for bullshit' - but in doing so become outsiders.

Meanwhile, Lennon's old oppo, Paul McCartney has confirmed reports that he is 'in talks' to appear on this year's X Factor. The ex-Beatle is rumoured to be performing in the reality show's final episode, with the remaining contestants performing songs by his former group. McCartney told the Sun: 'It's something we are talking about. Dermot [O'Dreary] is a lovely man who I know very well. He's full of energy and keen for me to do it. We're seeing if we can make it work. I've been watching on and off with my family. Sometimes it throws up someone brilliant like Leona Lewis. Other years have not been so good.' Regarding the recently-eliminated John and Edward, Macca added: 'It's impossible not to like them. They're a great couple of lads. But let's be honest, they were never going to last much longer in the show. They had to go.' Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the man who wrote 'Hey Jude' speaking.

As you may have heard - because there seemed to be little else in the news for about twenty four hours - Ricky Whittle was arrested on suspicion of assault. The Holloyaks actor and Strictly Come Dancing competitor was reportedly involved in an incident in Liverpool, the Daily Mail alleged. A Merseyside police spokesperson said: 'A twenty nine-year-old man from Billinge, Lancashire, was arrested on suspicion of assault. He remains in custody where he will be questioned by officers later today. The arrest follows an incident in which took place in Duke Street, Liverpool City Centre, in the early hours of Friday morning. The incident involved a collision with a male pedestrian.' It is believed that the other party involved was thirty four-year-old photographer Steve Farrell. Whittle was subsequently released and seemed unaffected by the palavar in last night's episode in which Natalie Cassidy and Vincent Simone became the latest couple to be voted off. The ex-EastEnders actress found herself in the bottom two after only scoring a combined total of thirty three points for her rock 'n' roll routine and Viennese waltz. Whittle, and his partner Natalie, joined her in the dance-off after they only earned forty points for the same routines. Laila Rouass and Anton Du Beke scored fewer points than Whittle, but fared better in the public vote. Meanwhile, Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna topped the judges' leaderboard with a score of forty one points for their Charleston and group dance. After Cassidy and Whittle performed for a second time, all four judges chose to save Whittle. 'I will miss my little Natalie so much,' added head judge Len Goodman afterwards. Cassidy thanked the judges and hosts, Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly, commenting: 'I have had such an amazing time. It was a dream come true.' The actress and Simone both cried after the audience and judges gave them a standing ovation for their farewell dance.

Johnny Vegas has revealed that he turned down the chance to compete in Strictly Come Dancing because he was too busy. The thirty eight-year-old comedian was originally tipped to take part in the BBC1 celebrity series, but was absent from the line-up when it was announced. Speaking to Digital Spy website, Johnny confirmed that the BBC had contacted him about taking part and that he was quite keen, but that he had other projects which took precedence. 'They made some enquiries but to be honest, it's such a big commitment to do the show and I really was just so busy with other things and I just know health-wise... Well, would it be good for ratings - me keeling over?!' He added: 'I know how tiring it is and it's not something I have time to do at the moment, but it's nice to be asked! I think they were looking for this season's John Sergeant and I think they thought they'd found that in me!' Johnny went on to say that he would turn down any offers to appear on ITV's I'm A Celebrity...: 'No! No, no, no! The idea of being on TV twenty four hours a day and people seeing the real me... No!'

Matt Smith unsuccessfully auditioned for The Inbetweeners prior to landing his forthcoming Doctor Who role. The show's chief writer, Iain Morris, has revealed this week that Smith made it down to the final two in the audition process for the part of Will, but that he was turned down because of his good looks. Simon Bird subsequently got the part. Who is, it has to be said, hardly an 'Ug' himself! 'We auditioned literally a thousand people - including Matt Smith,' Morris told Digital Spy. 'And, I'm sure Dominic Cooper at one point too! [Matt] was brilliant - down to the last two for Will, I think. I thought he was a bit too dashing! That's why he'll be brilliant in Doctor Who - he's got something sort of heroic about him.'

Jeremy Clarkson has admitted that he was recently breathalysed by police following 'a small car crash.' However, Jeeza claimed that the incident, which apparently happened while he was filming scenes for a forthcoming Top Gear episode, was not a result of him being under the influence. Speaking on this week's episode of Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, he said: 'We were filming last week, I had a small car crash, the police said, "We have to breathalyse you." The cameras were on; I thought, "What if..." [But] I was completely fine.' The Top Gear presenter, who was cleared of a motoring charge in 2007, added that he is, contrary to perception, actually quite a cautious driver: 'I'm a dawdler, I haven't been stopped for years.'

The shadow culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, this week ruled out ripping up the BBC's royal charter and licence fee agreement, saying that this could threaten the corporation's impartiality and ability to hold politicians to account. Pretty much what this blog has been saying vfor the last six months, in other word. In an apparent u-turn on earlier - outrageous - comments by Hunt and his Conservative colleagues about their plans for the BBC when the party wins next year's general election, he said that a future Tory government would not impose a freeze on the licence fee before it is due to be reviewed in 2012. He added that it was important the BBC should not operate under the threat of its funding level being reviewed on a year-by-year basis which, he said, would threaten its impartiality. 'We will respect the principle of multi-year [funding] settlements,' Hunt told a Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference in London. 'That's not to say when there has been a sudden deterioration in the economy the BBC should not do the decent thing and waive the rise in the licence fee.' Earlier this year Labour and Lib Dem MPs voted against a Tory motion in the House of Commons to reject this year's three pound annual increase in the licence fee, freezing the charge at £139.50. Hunt said that he still thought it was wrong that the BBC should get an inflationary rise in the licence fee at a time when there was no inflation. Asked what sort of funding settlement the BBC could expect under a Tory government in 2012, Hunt said: 'It would be wrong for an opposition party to go into any sort of detail.' Well, that hasn't stopped you making your mouth go before, sir - why the sudden change? 'I haven't had any representations from the BBC or any discussions about what level the next licence fee should be. All we have said is that in the current climate we think it would be very difficult to ask for an increase in the licence fee. The reason for that is partly the economic situation… and partly there is a growing imbalance between the income going into the commercial sector and the BBC.' Hunt said the Conservative party still had 'serious reservations' about the BBC's governance and regulatory body, the BBC Trust, but added he had 'no plans to tear up the BBC charter.' The shadow culture secretary had said in an interview last month that he was 'looking into whether it would be appropriate to rip up the charter in the middle of it or whether one should wait.' The BBC's current royal charter, the ten-year agreement with the government that sets out the corporation's public service remit and the scope of its activities, is not due to expire until the end of 2016. 'We have no plans to tear up the BBC charter. We do have some serious reservations about the way the BBC Trust operates. We did look at the BBC charter but we concluded we can achieve some of the things we want to achieve under the existing charter structure. Others will have to wait until it comes up for renewal. We have no plans to touch the BBC's charter,' he said. He said the BBC Trust, which replaced the board of governors in 2007, had not worked because of confusion over its regulatory role and as the corporation's sovereign body. 'If fails from the BBC's point of view. If you are running an organisation of twenty three thousand people you need a board that you can turn to for advice when you go through a difficult patch,' Hunt added. 'I think [BBC director general Mark Thompson] would find his job a lot easier if he had a non-executive chair that was on his side. That [change] could be done without a change in the BBC's charter.'

Chris Evans will return to our TV screens as holiday relief for Adrian Chiles on The ONE Show. 'In 2008 Chris Evans was contracted to fill in for Adrian when he was on holiday,' a BBC spokesman said. 'His move to host the Radio2 Breakfast Show... means he will now be able to fulfil that commitment,' he added. A well-known TV personality, Evans' previous return to ITV in 2005 with magazine show OFI Sunday proved to be short-lived, lasting just six episodes. 'People ask me if I want to go back to TV and I'm not sure it's there to go back to,' Evans told the most recent issue of The Word magazine. 'TV is just an invention, and all inventions eventually become obsolete.'

Actress Joanna Lumley is to join the cast of the final series of the BBC drama Mistresses, it has been announced. The sixty three-year-old will play Katie's bossy mother in the series, about the lives of four female friends. Lumley, who spearheaded the Gurkha's campaign for the right to live in the UK earlier this year, said she was 'thrilled' to be a part of the show.

Michael McIntyre has defended his fellow stand-ups Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle after both were recently criticised for aspects of their material. Boyle was rebuked by the BBC Trust last month for 'humiliating' jokes about the swimmer Rebecca Adlington whilst Carr was attacked for a one-liner about amputee soldiers. McIntyre told BBC News: 'They're telling jokes to their audience. It's the media that's transporting the joke to people who get upset. [They are both] great comics, who have their audience who go for those kinds of jokes. There's got to be room for everybody. Everyone's got to do their own thing. You need all sorts of different styles of comedy, people like different things.' On the subject of the 'charming and lovely' Jon Culshuw's impression of him, McIntyre added: 'I haven't seen it, I can't bear to do it. People keep telling me it's an honour, but is it? Do you remember when you were at school when people would take the mickey and mimic you. Well, people didn't think it was an honour then, so why is it an honour now? I suppose it is kind of cool. My Mum thinks he's brilliant, but then again she is getting on, and I think she thinks it's me.'

The UK's export of TV programmes made nine hundred and eighty million pounds in 2008, an increase of twenty five per cent on the previous year, new figures have revealed. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, Midsomer Murders and other established formats including Strictly Come Dancing fared well, according to industry body PACT. Asia and Australasia's uptake of UK programmes increased, with Eastern Europe and France also areas of growth. However, co-productions between UK companies and foreign counterparts suffered in 2008, falling by twenty eight per cent. PACT council member Chris Bonney said the overall success was due to the UK continuing to produce 'innovative and entertaining shows that are loved across the world.' Bonney acknowledged that programme makers find themselves in 'a challenging economic situation' and international business is vital to their survival. Sales of original episodes of UK TV programmes went up by twenty per cent during last year, while sales of merchandising leapt by sixty six per cent. The adaptability of UK formats around the world and the growth of digital platforms in the last year were also identified as 'opportunities for increased sales.' The US, meanwhile, remains the most lucrative market for UK programming. In recent years, UK TV exports have enjoyed increased business, with other notable successes during this time including Shaun The Sheep and Dancing On Ice.

Ant and Dec have claimed that Peter Stringfellow would be their dream contestant on I'm A Celebrity... The duo said that the sixty nine-year-old club owner had been on the top of their wish list for the jungle reality show for a number of years. Would they let him in if he was wearing trainers, however? it's a question worth asking. Ant told the Sun: 'Towards the end of a series we go out for a few beers and, literally, write our wish list on a beer-mat. We often can't read it in the morning, but George Takei was one of our beer-mat suggestions. So was Biggins, and Jimmy White.' He added: 'We've got a new wish list already, Sally Morgan Star Psychic, Mr T, Gary Coleman. The name that tops it every year though is Peter Stringfellow and we think we're very close to getting him.'

Katie Price has reportedly told her ex-boyfriend, Alex Reid, to leave her alone in a face-to-face exchange in Australia. Price previously split from Reid on the phone hours after leaving the I'm A Celebrity ... jungle on Monday morning. According to the Mirror, Price later told Reid: 'It's fucking over, Alex. Once I make up my mind I stick to it. There is no way back. What the fuck are you doing here anyway? You've had a wasted trip. Just fucking leave me alone. You totally ignored my feelings and I cannot forgive you for that.' Katrina Edwards, a friend of fellow I'm A Celebrity ... contestent Sabrina Washington gleefully told the paper: 'When she was told Alex was here, let's just say Katie was not happy. The poor woman.' A source close to Price added: 'Katie felt she owed it to Alex to hear his side of the story. She let him talk but nothing he said changed her feelings. I'm A Celebrity ... cleared her head and made her realise that the relationship wasn't what she needed. It's tough for Alex to take, but the relationship seems to be over.'

And finally, Laila Rouass has revealed that she is inspired by The Muppet Show. Metro reports that the Strictly Come Dancing contestant particularly likes Miss Piggy. 'My inspiration is coming from Miss Piggy, actually,' she told the newspaper. 'She's one of my heroes. I love her.' So, especially for Laila, the Muppets have redone Bohemian Rhapsody. And, they've done it so much better than the original!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The War Of Mariah Carey's Bog-Roll (The Sequel)

Yer Keith Telly Topping - along with the legend that is Alfie Joey - spent most of yesterday in a BBC Comedy Extra event at the Live Theatre in Newcastle dear blog reader. It was really good. Genuinely fascinating (and very encouraging) stuff, both in terms of stuff that we're going to be pitching in the short, medium and longer term. And, I got into a very interesting discussion about what constitutes 'good' ratings for a BBC1 sitcom. And, the short answer was 'a lot less than you might think.'

Horrible Kate Garraway has reportedly been 'spoken to' by the producers of GMTV after she claimed that Mariah Carey was 'a diva' in Garraway's New! magazine column earlier this week. According to the Daily Mirra, the show's co-host was 'not even present' in the studios when Lorraine Kelley conducted the interview with Carey and was, subsequently, 'misinformed' about Carey's demands by a - nameless (and, therefore, probably fictitious) colleague. Garraway had claimed that Carey requested two minders to carry the singer to a chair and that she had 'brought her own toilet paper' to the studio. Carey's spokesperson completely rejected Garraway's claims as a 'gross exaggeration.' An alleged 'source' allegedly told the Mirra: 'What Kate claimed wasn't true and it has caused big problems backstage. The huge entourage was actually a choir and musicians used by Mariah. When stars come to be interviewed on GMTV they don't expect this. Kate has been carpeted by bosses and told it cannot happen again. It looks bad for GMTV to be linked to these sort of comments about a guest.' An alleged - though, again anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'source' allegedly 'close' to Garraway allegedly added: 'She was misinformed and is mortified by what has happened. She has apologised to Mariah and her bosses and will make amends in her column next week.' Keith Telly Topping isn't sure, exactly, what Garraway expected to happen when she sneering told a magazine's readership intimate details about the alleged toiletry requirements of a guest on the show which she presents in the style of a crawly school sneak, dear blog reader  But, this blogger is prepared to stick his neck out here and suggest that if extreme anger and possible repercussions weren't foreseen by her, then Garraway would appear to be not half as clever as apparently she thinks she is.

The public can expect a 'smaller BBC' after the analogue TV signal is switched off in 2012, director general Mark Thompson has said. Speaking at a Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference in London, Thompson was outlining plans for the BBC's strategic review next year. He said there would be 'reductions in some kinds of programmes and content,' including web services. However, he promised more money would be spent on original British content. 'Expect to see a further shift of emphasis in favour of key priority areas: The best journalism in the world, high quality programmes and services for children, content of every kind that builds knowledge and shares music and culture and a long-range commitment to outstanding British drama and comedy,' Mr Thompson said.

Richard Curtis has announced who will play Vincent Van Gogh in his upcoming episode of Doctor Who. The writer had previously revealed that his episode would feature Vincent Van Gogh 'stabbing a monster.' Curtis told Bullz-Eye: 'We've got a brilliant guy playing Van Gogh - which is who it's about - who you should look up on YouTube. He's a guy called Tony Curran, who really could not look more like [him]. He's a wonderful actor who was in this brilliant movie called Red Road that came out, a rather serious movie. But he's going to be great. I've had a lot of fun. We start to shoot in about a month.' Curtis added, concerning his interest in the show: '[I] enjoyed it a lot when I was young, probably drifted away in the middle years and then, of course, it was stopped. I've watched pretty well every episode of the new manifestation, because there's so little family TV, so few times when you can sit down with the whole family and everybody get something out of it. So I'm a serious new convert.'

Stephen Fry has been voted the fantasy dinner party host of choice, according to a survey by after-dinner mint brand After Eight. The poll, which asked members of the public whom they would most like to see host a dinner party that they were attending, saw Fry gaining twenty two per cent of the votes. Also at the top of the list were X Factor judges Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell, Barack Obama and Joanna Lumley. What a fabulous world we live in, ladies and gentlemen, where more people would like to have dinner with Cheryl Cole than the President of the United States. At the bottom of the poll were Terry Wogan, Strictly Come Dancing host Bruce Forsyth, politicians David Cameron and Gordon Brown and husband-and-wife television presenting team Richard and Judy.

Coronation Street's producer, Kim Crowther, is stepping down from her position after two-and-a-half years in the job. She will be replaced by the former Doctor Who series producer Phil Collinson in the second half of next year, just a few months before the show's fiftieth anniversary celebrations. Crowther joined Coronation Street in November 2007, succeeding Steve Frost as the soap's effective showrunner. Collinson will begin working at Corrie's Manchester home, Granada Studios, from March to allow for a substantial handover period, before he officially takes office in the late summer. He will work alongside Weatherfield's executive producer Kieran Roberts.

Mathew Horne has encouraged fans to enjoy the final series of Gavin & Stacey instead of worrying about it coming to an end. Can Keith Telly Topping just point out that he isn't, actually, worrying about that or anything remotely like it. Celebrating, might be a slightly more accurate term.

Ali Bastian reportedly injured her foot on Monday during rehearsals for Strictly Come Dancing. According to the Daily Mail, the actress should be allowed to perform this weekend once a doctor makes a decision tomorrow. But, she has missed a significant amount of training time for her Charleston with partner Brian Fortuna and, therefore, needs viewer sympathy. A source said: 'She has badly bruised her foot during training and has been ordered to rest. She is going back to the doctors tomorrow and they have advised that she should be fine to dance on Saturday.'

The England regional news consortium will be based in the North East regions of Tyne Tees and Border, the government has confirmed.

Hip-hop superstar Eminem reportedly wants to join The X Factor as a guest judge. Oh, great, that'll sort the men from the boys. According to the Sun, the controversial rapper is a big fan of a show and believes that he could join Simon Cowell on the panel. Eminem said: 'No disrespect to the current judges but you need people who are global, platinum-selling stars.' I think you'll find that is, actually, disrespectful to the current judges, Marshall. Albeit very funny. And, factually accurate as well!

The Broadcasters' Audience Research Board has outlined a new TV ratings system which is to be introduced next year and which could trigger an increase in viewing figures. Coming into force on 1 January 2010, the new ratings system includes a more representative geographical design, along with a completely new viewing panel. In a trial run of the panel in five thousand one hundred homes during a four-week period up to 8 November, BARB reported that channels were found to have a four per cent higher rating compared to the existing arrangement. As broadcasters continue to struggle under a tough advertising market, the increased ratings could provide a boost to their fortunes in 2010. If only 'on paper.' While unveiling the new system, BARB chief executive Bjarne Thelin claimed that it will provide the TV industry with 'gold standard currency. Much of the new system is similar in concept to the current one, but there are important changes, including a completely new viewing panel - so there will be some differences in the output,' he explained. 'In a parallel-run assessment, overall viewing to BARB reported channels is around four per cent higher, comparing the new panel to the existing panel.' BARB - jointly owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, Sky and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising - said that the new system is not a radical overhaul, but rather a refinement of the operation already in place. When implemented next year, it will cover three hundred itemised channels and a selection of minority channels grouped as 'other viewing.' The new panel is designed to give a better representative of the UK population, including more accurate ethnic profiles and a greater understanding of multi-platform homes. A new regional map will ensure that there are no overlapping territories and full coverage of catch-up viewing on Virgin Media and Sky will be factored into ratings figures. Programme viewing via non-TV on-demand platforms will still not be included in the ratings, but Thelin said that a test panel to cover specific PC and laptop viewing could be created in the future. 'While BARB 2010 won't be a radically different service at the outset, flexibility for the future has been created by changes in structure and methodology. We have our eye on the future and know the service will keep on developing,' Thelin said. 'BARB has to be completely satisfied with any techniques before we can consider incorporating them into the core service - we will continue to ensure the integrity of the core service, and to maintain the integrity and clarity of our data.'

Residents of the street which helped inspire the Mr Benn stories have clubbed together to pay tribute to the classic children's character. Festing Road, in Putney, became famous when the illustrator David McKee lived there in the late 1960s and made it Mr Benn's home address. On Saturday, an engraved paving slab will be laid outside the house where McKee created the iconic cartoon. McKee has also revealed that he has just signed a new Mr Benn movie deal. Mr Benn's adventures always began when he visited a magical fancy dress shop. The shop's changing room was a portal to another world which reflected Mr Benn's chosen costume. The stories are best known through the thirteen TV episodes that were first broadcast in the early 1970s, and have often been repeated. McKee, who now lives in France, will be attending Saturday's celebration party. 'I'm very fond of Mr Benn,' McKee told the BBC. 'When you create a character, it's very much like your children - you have to give them a certain amount of attention and a certain amount of liberty as well.'

The BBC's My Story is a major new campaign giving ordinary people the chance to have their true-life stories turned into a book. The BBC are looking for remarkable true-life stories from ordinary members of the public and from all walks of life. Fifteen stories will feature in a major five part TV series. Five people will also win a book deal with Harper Collins and a cash advance of twenty big ones. Nice. This is not a writing competition, however, so you don't even have to be good at writing to take part. The five winning stories will be ghostwritten by the publishers and each of the five winners will have their name on the cover of their own book. This competition is open to everyone over the age of eighteen who doesn't have a current publishing deal. It doesn't matter who you are or where you come from, all that matters is that the story is true and based on your own life or your family's life. All people have to do to enter is go to the website based at, and click on the Add Your Story icon. Or you can write to My Story, c/o PO Box 65655, London W12 2BG. The closing date for entries is 16 December 2009. Get writing.

ITV has taken full control of GMTV after buying Disney's twenty five per cent stake in the breakfast broadcaster for a fee of somewhere in the region of twenty two million pounds. Which, presumably, means that it's somebody at ITV whom is currently putting Kate Garraway over their knee for a damned good hiding. The network now plans to more closely integrate GMTV's breakfast-time programming with its day-time lineup. 'GMTV is the gateway to the ITV day and a perfect fit with ITV's existing day-time programming,' said ITV chief operating officer John Cresswell. Which is another way of saying if you like Jeremy Kyle, you're going to love this. 'It represents an exciting opportunity to create a highly complementary day-time schedule offering great programming from 6am to 6pm.' GMTV has held the national Channel Three breakfast-time licence since 1993, when it outbid the incumbent TV-am for the slot. Prior to today's move, ITV owned seventy five per cent of the broadcaster.

The BBC has dropped plans to broadcast a ballet inspired by impresario Sergei Diaghilev this Christmas – after discovering that it features a deformed Pope who rapes nuns. Yeah ... that's probably wise. The corporation said in October that it would televise In The Spirit Of Diaghilev from Sadler's Wells as part of a season of ballet programmes. The production comprises four acts - each by a groundbreaking choreographer - and was commissioned from Axiom Productions on the basis of 'a broad outline' rather than a detailed breakdown of each. At the time, BBC4 controller Richard Klein said it was 'the combination of one of the most inventive and musically exciting ballet scores being performed by one of Britain's foremost dance groups.' But when performances began in mid-October it emerged that one of the acts, Eternal Damnation To Sancho And Sanchez by Javier de Frutos, centres on 'a group of horny priests and a fictional hunchback Pope, who rapes eunuchs and pregnant nuns.' There were 'prolonged discussions' at the BBC about whether to air the performance and risk offending viewers or effectively censor it because it was unsuitable according to Broadcast magazine. In the event, the BBC has opted for the latter and will air three of the acts on 18 December, but has dropped de Frutos' work altogether. A BBC spokesman denied there was any disagreement over the decision. He said the performance contained material unsuitable for the pre-watershed slot for which it was commissioned and that the BBC was unwilling and unable to edit the performance. 'We're not able to show it after the watershed because the scenes in this work are particularly strong. Even in a post-watershed slot it would not be possible to show the work in its entirety. As is often the case with performance pieces the programme was commissioned before the final details of the work were established.'

Five has announced plans to screen season of CSI repeats as part of their Christmas line-up. Actually, they didn't call it that, they said 'a CSI special' in the press release but, that's basically what it amounts to. Introduced by William Peterson, Grissom's Greatest will feature sixteen of the iconic character's best episodes. Also planned is two-hour festive special Most Shocking Celeb Moments Of The Year, which will look at celebrity stories which have shocked in 2009 - including Katie Price's I'm A Celebrity... exit. Other programmes in the schedule include a screening of Michael Jackson's thirtieth anniversary concert and a back-to-back screening of the first ten episodes of FlashForward, which will go out on one of the digital channels. Five's channel controller Richard Wolfe said of the line-up: 'Christmas on Five is all about over-indulgence - draw the curtains, put an extra log on the fire, crack open the big tin of Quality Street and gorge yourself on our shamelessly entertaining festive fayre.' Sounds lovely, actually (and, terrifyingly, not that dissimilar to a normal Christmas in the Telly Topping household). But then, please remember, Richard is also the man who commissioned Live From Studio Five. So, you know, his opinion - on anything - has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

The row between STV and ITV has intensified yet again, after disagreements over whether the latter is providing its licensees with a clean feed of programmes. STV director of broadcasting and regulatory affairs, Bobby Hain, claimed that ITV was 'invading STV's territory' with its constant on-air references to ITV, and digital channels such as ITV2. Hain added that the right to a clean feed went back to the 'strong regional roots' of ITV. 'You only have to watch at the weekend to see the amount of references and competitions in programmes to ITV services,' he said. 'As an STV viewer, you should be able to have a relationship with us that is built around the licence, and it should be free from ITV messages and ITV promotions. It's certainly our view that much of the promotion for ITV properties is a breach of the clean feed.' Hain added that STV was reserving its position but was prepared to fight for its entitlements. ITV, however, dismissed Hain's claims, a spokesman saying he was 'inaccurately describing the clean feed obligation as one which entitles STV to receive a transmission feed entirely free of references to ITV. It's important to make clear that it actually requires ITV to provide a feed which is as clean as it was at the time the merger undertakings were given – in short, containing no increase in such references,' he said. Earlier this year, ITV introduced separate end-credit captions for the website on Coronation Street and Emmerdale, and agreed to limit references in the ITV News to References to were also taken off the credits. Hain said STV would continue to opt out of ITV dramas to diversify its schedule. The broadcaster has passed on the Christmas dramas An Englishman in New York (cos, hoots mon, there's nae Scots that that), Mr Eleven and Sleep With Me, and is said to be 'still deciding' whether The Prisoner will be shown next year. Presumably working on the assumption that 'they'll never understand it in Greenock.'

Adam Godley has reportedly landed 'a recurring role' on FOX's Dollhouse. According to Entertainment Weekly, the series has recruited the British actor 'for a multi-episode stint.' Well, it can't be that multi-episode, there's only about nine left.

Beat the Star has been dropped from ITV to make way for new entertainment formats. The entertainment show, which was co-produced by Ant and Dec's Gallowgate, and Zodiak's Diverse Production, has run for two series on ITV since April 2008. An ITV spokesman confirmed: 'We have had two successful series of Beat The Star but we will not be commissioning a third series.' For which, read, 'we have had two seasons of Beat The Star but we will not be commissioning a third. You do the math.' The show, hosted by Vernon Kaye, pitted celebrities against members of the public in a series of challenges. The show was originally based on the German format Schlag Den Raab and the first series was filmed in Cologne. The last seven-part series aired in an early Sunday evening slot in April and May this year and averaged around four million viewers. Gallowgate has already been commissioned to make the new six-part family challenge show Push The Button for 2010, which will be hosted by McPartlin and Donnelly.

Twenty Twenty Television, the production company behind The Choir and The World's Strictest Parents, has made two senior management appointments in specially created posts. The Shed Media-owned producer has hired former Windfall Productions head of development Emily Roe as head of specialist factual development. Chief executive Tim Carter said: 'We have experience in specialist factual, especially in history with shows like That'll Teach 'Em for Channel 4, and we want to get back to this. There are also more opportunities now because factual is being looked at in a different way. It's broader because factual and features commissioners are looking at specialist factual more, such as the BBC specialist features department. It also helps that [Emily Roe] has good relationships.' Roe's credits include the Channel 4-National Geography co-production Inside Nature's Giants and Surgery Live!, also for Channel 4. Joining Roe at Twenty Twenty is Dominic Barlow. He was the producer on the current BBC1 period drama Garrow's Law, and has now been appointed as its full-time head of production with responsibility for drama, factual, children's and digital. Carter said: 'With Garrow's Law alone, [Barlow] has proved he can provide value for money. In the current commissioning climate, that is invaluable across our output.'

Channel 4 is considering charging viewers to watch new programmes online before they air on TV as part of plans to break down the barriers between the schedule and on-demand viewing. The move comes as the government's Digital Economy Bill is set to update C4's remit by enshrining a duty to promote digital services and to exercise editorial control over on-demand services. Kevin Lygo, director of content and television, told The Media Festival last week that some staff were 'terrified' the move would affect ratings for the first airing of new programmes, but that the broadcaster needed to adapt to changing viewing habits. 'Why shouldn't we, on shows like Skins or The Inbetweeners, The IT Crowd or Peep Show, put the first episode out [online, for free] and then say, "You can watch the next two episodes now for five pounds or ten pounds?"' Err ... because nobody will pay it? Just a wild stab in the dark. Lygo said there had been 'huge debate' internally about Skins' online premiere, but that it had paid off in the end without substantially eating into viewing figures for the first broadcast. Channel 4's head of new media, Jon Gisby, said the move was one of several plans to offer 'different windows' for viewers' convenience. He said C4 wanted to build on initial success with selling shows to download on iTunes during the thirty-day catch-up window when they were free to view on 4oD. 'At some point, the linear schedule will live alongside a range of viewing options and we have to be ready,' said Gisby. Details of C4's plans come as law firm Olswang and You Gov's annual convergence survey found that one-in-three people are willing to pay for catch-up TV online even when it is free elsewhere. And, if you believe that, dear blog reader, then you'll probably believe anything. The first batch of Channel 4 shows debuted on YouTube's new Shows section last week and the broadcaster plans to add its entire 4oD catch-up to the site in the new year. Separately, former Discovery Networks International vice president of strategy and digital media Keith Underwood has joined Channel 4 as head of commercial strategy.

Yesterday has commissioned a John Nettles-fronted documentary about the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands during the second world war. During the whole of 2010, Yesterday will broadcast a range of programming about the importance of 1940 in modern history under the banner The Spirit Of 1940. Nettles will co-write and present The Channel Islands At War about the German invasion and subsequent occupation of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark. Due to premiere next year, the three hour-long programmes will feature Nettles meeting islanders who experienced the occupation, and also visiting places where evidence of the war can still be seen. For the anniversary campaign, Yesterday has also commissioned Optomen Television's Ration Book Britain, in which What To Eat Now presenter Valentine Warner will explore the food that kept Britain alive during wartime. 'These two commissions give us the perfect opportunity to unearth and capture personal insights that are becoming rarer and rarer, to create two captivating programmes that really add another dimension to recognised historic events such as the occupation of the Channel Islands and rationing,' said UKTV's Jane Rogerson. Yesterday's Adrian Wills added: 'With its massive line-up of significant events such as Dunkirk, food rationing and Churchill becoming Prime Minister, 1940 is arguably the most important year in British history. And one that we believe defined the British spirit for many decades thereafter.'

ITN has signed a ground-breaking deal with China's biggest commercial broadcaster, Shanghai Media Group, which will see ITN archive material transformed into a number of new documentaries. Under the deal, ITN will provide footage on topics ranging from the Chinese-Japanese war, Chinese fashion in the 1920s, the history of Shanghai and the former Portuguese colony in Macao. SMG's internal production units will use the archive as a base to make a range of new programmes for the broadcaster. ITN sales manager, Neil Meadows, said it that the deal was 'hugely significant' in terms of revenue. He added that the deal made SMG one of ITN's top twenty international clients. 'We've had three core focus areas for our international expansion in new territories this year: Broadcasters, education and corporate. Following our deal with the Foreign Language Teaching and Research press earlier this year, this is another box ticked and we're hoping to seal a corporate deal before the end of the year,' he said. ITN already co-produces the daily lifestyle programme The Cool Edition for SMG's English language channel ICS, which features a round-up of what's "cool" in England and China. The agreement was brokered by the media company IPCN, which most recently sold Endemol's Italian studio format The Best Years Of Our Lives to the same broadcaster. Managing director Rebecca Yang said: 'We have built a strong relationship with SMG at a variety of levels. This deal is just the beginning of a long-term and prosperous co-operation.'

Justin Lee Collins' first show for Five under his two-year golden handcuffs deal will be strip scheduled across the Christmas period. The game show Heads Or Tails will run for eleven consecutive nights in mid-December with contestants competing to win one million pounds on the toss of a coin. The Eyeworks UK series includes a celebrity special with Denise Van Outen and Coronation Street's John Thomson competing to win the million for their chosen charities. Richard Woolfe - remember him? - said 'I'm hugely excited that we'll be showing Justin Lee Collins' first Five show this Christmas.' As excited as you were to get Ian Wright to front Live At Studio Five, Richard? 'Heads or Tails is a completely absorbing and unashamedly feel-good game show which will have all the family playing along at home.' Or, you know, not.

Rogue Traders presenter Matt Allwright is to front a peak-time BBC1 consumer travel show designed to expose the worst of the tourist industry. The Secret Tourist is a four episode series by Outline Productions in which Allwright will investigate the experiences of aggrieved British holidaymakers and identify some of the poorest resorts and hotels abroad. Each week, a family of holidaymakers will go undercover to investigate their accommodation and report back. They will be helped by environmental health expert Lisa Ackerly. The investigation will cover all the tourist facilities on offer, from testing the swimming pool water to sampling the food and swabbing the rooms. Allwright will then confront the hotel management with the findings, in his best Rogue Traders style. That's Rogue Traders for you, dear blog reader. Doing its best to shag up Britain's small businesses. I'm sure their mums are all very proud of them. In addition, reporter Carole Machin will explore what else can go wrong elsewhere in the chosen resort and will collect evidence of companies' bad practices before confronting those responsible. The Secret Tourist will also reconstruct - in a wholly believable way, no doubt - scenarios in which tourists are approached by con artists and will reveal the techniques they use to part holidaymakers from their cash. The series was ordered by BBC commissioning editor for features and formats Jo Ball, who should be ruddy well ashamed of herself. The series is scheduled to air in late spring 2010.

The team behind Come Dine With Me and Britain's Best Dish are to produce two new factual formats for ITV's daytime schedule. Controller of popular factual programmes, Jo Clinton-Davis, and director of daytime and factual programmes, Alison Sharman, have ordered the five part series Auction Party and Country House Cooking Contest (also five episodes) for the channel's 2010 schedule from ITV Studios' factual department. Come Dine with Me creator Nell Butler will executive produce both programmes. Auction Party will challenge members of the public to make a big cash profit by hosting a live auction in their living room. With a budget of five hundred pounds and the help of auction expert Tom Keane, each host sets out to find locally acquired antiques, modern collectables and family treasures to sell. Country House Cooking Contest will see Michelin-starred chef John Burton Race help six amateur chefs create challenging dishes to be served up at formal black-tie dinners, drinks receptions and shooting parties at glamorous rural homes. The best chef will be awarded one thousand pounds. Clinton Davis described the commissions as 'original and smart' shows which 'blend factual entertainment, aspiration and rich and engaging take-out.' The commissions follow the success of the third series of Britain's Best Dish. ITV Studios factual controller Tim Miller said: 'Both of the new shows are anchored in proven popular territory – cooking and auctions – but they also feel fresh and exciting. They both have a clear and simple proposition with entertaining and surprising twists.'

Endemol UK has become the country's biggest independent producer after completing the purchase of Tiger Aspect and Darlow Smithson Productions for around thirty million pounds. Endemol UK chief executive Tim Hincks said: 'It was a quick process because that was how IMG wanted it… There is lots to be worked out. We want the management [of Tiger and DSP] to say how we can help. We are not buying something that requires surgery. This is not a fire sale.' Hincks, who stressed that he was not talking about IMG's original acquisition of the two producers in 2006, added that the market has changed since the earlier period of deal-making. 'We didn't take part in the frenzied consolidation at that time – who was it good for? Buyers overpaid and it put huge strain on management. But this is the right time and the right deal.'

Erin McNaught had to undergo emergency surgery earlier in the week after severing her finger in a motorbike accident. The model and Neighbours actress - who played Sienna Cammeniti in the Australian soap - fell on a dirt bike that she was riding and reportedly got her hand trapped in its spinning wheel. McNaught's spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph: 'An electronic dirt bike fell on her. She is having a major operation to reattach the finger, reconnect nerves and blood vessels in the finger that were severed in the accident.'

Home and Away producers have reportedly revealed that they are considering a return to the UK. Director Cameron Welsh wrote on the Australian soap's website that he would love to film some episodes in British again. 'I was fortunate enough to be involved in the last shoot and I know everyone who went along had a great time,' he said, adding: 'We'd be open to shooting anywhere in the world if the storylines permitted.' The Summer Bay cast, who celebrated the show's twenty first anniversary earlier this year, have decamped to the UK before, including a stint in Shropshire in the 1990s.

A first edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species has been sold for over one hundred thousand pounds after it was found in a family's toilet. The auction of the influential 1859 work was timed to coincide with the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of its publication. Margaret Ford, director and head of books and manuscripts at Christie's, said: 'We are thrilled to have seen so much interest for the book leading up to the auction where clients competed in the room and by telephone, with an anonymous telephone bidder winning the battle and acquiring it for one hundred and three thousand two hundred and fifty pounds.' The book, one of one thousand two hundred and fifty first-edition copies, was reportedly bought by the Oxford-based family for a few shillings around forty years ago and kept in a bookcase in a guest toilet in their home. According to the auction house, the previous owners' son-in-law realised the importance of the book when he spotted a picture of its spine at a Darwin exhibition.

Brian Blessed is to star as Henry VIII in a series of sketches called Henry 8.0, from Monkey, for BBC Comedy's on-line platform Comedy Extra. Set in the present day, Henry is alive and well and living in a suburban semi with his long-suffering wife, Catherine Parr. Shot from the perspective of his webcam, the sketches show Henry addicted to the internet and have him do battle with on-line shopping, downloading music as well as internet dating. Keith Telly Topping actually saw the first one today at the event I was attending. And it's very good. Brian Blessed said: 'When I got the scripts I just wanted to do it immediately. It's completely magical and original.' Written by Mark Davison and Glen Long, Henry 8.0 starts on-line on Thursday 26 November. The show was commissioned by BBC executives Simon Lupton and Martin Trickey. Lupton said: 'We thought this was a terrific idea which was very sharply written and well observed. There really was only one person who could play Henry and, fortunately, he shared our enthusiasm and agreed to do it. Monkey have done a great job and we are thrilled to have Brian and these pieces on Comedy Extra.'

A man accused of trying to rob a supermarket in Portugal got stuck for eleven hours with his trousers down after they slipped off as he attempted to get free. Shop owner Antonio Oliveira arrived at work to find the unnamed twenty two-year-old lodged in the gap with his legs and bottom facing the street, Sky News has reported. Oliveira said: 'He lost the support on the inside and also on the outside because he could hardly touch the floor with the tips of his toes. He had his bottom out, it really was a bad day for him.' An Almancil resident added: 'Half in, half out, the poor guy wanted to move and couldn't, and without trousers. The things people do.' Only, they probably said it in Portugaleese.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Mariah Carey allegedly asked for 'two burly men' to help lower her onto the GMTV sofa during her appearance on the early morning show earlier this week. The singer was also said to have brought 'her own private toilet roll' to the studio. At least, this is all according to the show's co-host, Kate Garraway. 'I've heard a lot of rumours about her being a diva over the years and, guess what? It turns out it's all true,' an excited Garraway snitched like a proper stinking Copper's Nark in her column in New! magazine. 'Mariah was very nice [but] the amount of people she had in her entourage was hilarious. They outnumbered the entire GMTV crew! She had one person to walk in front of her backwards at all times in case she fell over.' That, actually, sounds like a responsible precaution to Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader. I've often wondered how Mariah Carey manages to walk in a straight line without falling over. But, let this also be a lesson to anyone who intends to go on GMTV any time soon - it might be an idea to get a written prior agreement which confirms your right to privacy in the toiletry habits department.

House star the divine Lisa Edelstein has revealed that she is hoping for Cuddy and House to get together in the series. Ah, nice to know there's a 'shipper on the cast as well in several million in the audience. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the forty three-year-old actress, who plays Lisa Cuddy on the FOX show, also praised her co-star, Hugh Laurie, for his dedication to the show. 'Their timing just really sucks,' she said. 'As soon as he was emotionally prepared to give [a relationship] a shot, she kind of gave up. But I'm rooting for them.' Discussing the long hours the cast work, she added: 'I never doubted what Hugh was going through every week. You get up at 4am on Monday, you work fourteen hours every day, and you have no life basically. But it's a hell of a lot better than working in a coal mine. I don't think Hugh ever forgets his good fortune, and I certainly don't.' Yeah, I don't think, by and large, you find many Old Etonians down coal mines, chuck. Merchants banks, possibly.

Scott Bakula has revealed that an issue over ownership rights is likely holding up a relaunch of his popular SF series Quantum Leap. The Emmy-nominated actor played Sam Beckett on the NBC show from 1989 to 1993. He recently told Moviehole that a rumoured Doctor Who-style reboot of Quantum Leap will not happen any time soon. 'There's a big, long, complicated paper trail in terms of ownership - it was bought by different studios. Barry Diller bought it… that's the world of Universal Television. And if Universal TV gets bought, it'll get even more complicated,' he added.

Former Coronation Street actress Suranne Jones has ruled out a return to the Weatherfield soap for its fiftieth anniversary. The thirty-year-old, who played Karen McDonald between 2000 and 2004, was rumoured to be interested in reprising her role in time for the ITV soap's golden anniversary next December. She subsequently said that a return 'unlikely' and has now completely ruled out any possibility. She told the Lancaster and Morecambe Citizen: 'I wouldn't go back to Corrie. I think you should move on. I'm even reluctant to say "never say never" because I definitely don't want to.' She added: 'I love Coronation Street and the people but I don't miss it. I like the variety I can do now. I am a bit greedy like that.' Earlier this month, Kevin Kennedy claimed to have discussed a potential return with the show's producers, while another former Street star, Angela Griffin, recently stated her interest in being part of the anniversary.

FOX has unveiled its 2009-10 mid-season line-up, confirming the return dates of shows including 24 and American Idol. A special extended event is scheduled for Sunday 17 January including a preview of the DC Comics-inspired Human Target at 8pm, followed by the much-anticipated return of 24, which will premiere between 9pm and 11pm. House and 24 will then be paired Monday evenings starting 25 January. The series finale of Dollhouse is scheduled to air Friday 22 January, then Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares will take over the slot the following week.

Five will follow Liverpool's Europa League campaign when they enter the knockout stages of the competition next year. The broadcaster had the first pick of matches in every round of the competition all the way to the final in Hamburg, which will also air live on Five. Liverpool are moving into the competition having crashed, embarrassingly, out of the Champions League – Europe's premier club competition - at the group stage on Tuesday night. A one-nil win over Debrecen in Budapest was not enough to secure progress as Italy's Fiorentina beat Lyon to eliminate the Merseyside club.

The BBC iPlayer will be trialled to a select group of Freesat viewers from 7 December, the corporation has announced. Participants in the trial will initially require a code to access the BBC iPlayer but the service should be more freely available by Christmas. The trial is designed to work on Humax HD set top boxes, currently owned by one-in-three Freesat viewers. ITV Player will also launch in beta, or trial form, early in 2010. Moving the BBC iPlayer from a computer to a TV platform had been a challenge said Rahul Chakkara, head of TV platforms at the BBC. 'The hardware of set top boxes and Internet Protocol Television is constrained,' he told BBC News. 'Set top boxes don't have the same processing power or memory as a typical PC. The software inside the boxes was really made for broadcast.' The BBC iPlayer will continue to roll out across different devices as they become connected to the Internet, he said. A broadband connection is essential for the service to work on TV. Freesat is currently in seven hundred and fifty thousand homes in the UK and has experienced considerable growth this year, attracting more new customers than Sky in the past two quarters.

Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks is to embark on one of its darkest storylines this Christmas when one village resident is exposed as a child killer. Next month, pole dancer Loretta Jones - played by Melissa Walton - is forced to face old demons when her former best friend Chrissy (Amber Hodgkiss) suddenly arrives in the village. Her evident panic and unease is quickly explained when Chrissy reveals that she and Loretta killed a child when they were both twelve years old - and they have been living under new identities ever since. Deeply concerned that her secret is about to be exposed to the rest of the village, Loretta - whose real name is Joanna Norman - attempts to force Chrissy out of her life again. A show source told the Sun: 'We appreciate the episodes deal with a sensitive subject but it has been thoroughly researched. The drama is about how Loretta reacts to Chrissy's arrival back in her life and how she copes with all the memories coming flooding back.'

Lloyd Daniels' grandmother Joan Morgan has said that she is unhappy with Louis Walsh for criticising her grandson on The X Factor. Walsh has repeatedly said that Daniels is 'out of his depth' on the programme and later suggested that he should have been in the bottom two on Sunday's results show. Morgan told the South Wales Echo: 'I'm so pleased for Lloyd and think he really deserved to go through and not be in the sing-off as he really improved this week. But what Louis said was mean and totally unnecessary. Lloyd is only sixteen and still developing as a singer. I thought he was more confident and comfortable this week. The judges said so.' You so don't want to upset the grannies, Louis. They're just about the only friends you have left.

An actor was filmed attacking police and stealing a baton during a violent protest against George Bush's presidential visit last year, a court heard yesterday. George Anton, who has appeared in a number of films and TV productions including The Bill, was first videoed punching a woman officer in the face as she and colleagues struggled to contain Stop the War demonstrators. They had been ordered to prevent the protesters marching on Downing Street where the US leader was being entertained by the Prime Minister. London's Southwark Crown was told that as blood poured from PC Sharon Finch's nose Anton allegedly told her: 'What's the matter? Didn't your mother play with you as a child?' David Durose, prosecuting, claimed the forty five-year-old - who once played a detective constable in a police drama series - then lashed out at one of her male colleagues manning barriers blocking off Whitehall before snatching a baton from a third officer. The barrister said footage of the incident was subsequently studied by police staff who recognised the protester 'as an actor in a television series.' Apart from The Bill, Anton has also appeared in dramas such as Two Thousand Acres of Sky, Soldier Soldier and A Touch of Frost. In the dock with him is fellow demonstrator George Orton, thirty five, of Camden. Both deny violent disorder on 15 June 2008.

Alex Reid mum believes that Katie Price 'seemed very cruel.' And, you've only just realised this, yes?