Saturday, December 26, 2009


Thank heavens that Christmas Day is over, dear blog reader. Yer Keith Telly Topping isn't, really, one to embrace the Bah! Humbug! School of Doodah and all that, various occasional manifestations of comedy miserablism aside. I've got no real problems with Christmas, per se. There's normally some good stuff on the telly, at least, and for that I'm always grateful. But, I've never been over much of a big fan of Christmas Day itself, not even when I was a saucepan. Everybody normally eats too much, drinks too much, has a big fight, ends up sulking and, by about five o'clock in the afternoon they're just sick to death of the day and wish to get back to something vaguely approaching normality on Boxing Day. Anyway, in spite of all that this year we had, The End of Time. Which was nice. No, not nice ... wonderful. The scene in the café between the Doctor and Wilf might, just, be my favourite ever in Doctor Who, right up there with 'Homosapiens, what an indomitable species...' and 'I was with the Filipino army during their final advance on Reykjavik' and the 'How shall a man know his Gods?' bit in The Aztecs. When Bernard Cribbins started crying and David joined in, I was well-ready for the flood. And then, when you thought that was as good as it was going to get, there was the sequence in the burned-out factory between Tennant and Mad John Simm that just ached. Some people seemed not to have enjoyed it, of course, that's inevitable. Some appear to have found it too confusing or brash for their sensibilities. I get that. But, I thought it had everything one could want; a resurrection for The Master straight out of Dracula AD 1972 and a bunch of Stig lookalikes with machine guns who are all rubbish shots. And Wilf's reaction to the TARDIS: 'I thought it'd be cleaner!' Perfect. Did anybody else find John Simm in a dress strangely alluring? Just me then...? Hang on. Why does everybody round here look like John Simm, today?

Anyway, onto the ratings: EastEnders was the most watched TV programme on Christmas Day, with just under eleven million viewers watching the brutal (though, thoroughly deserved) murder of Archie Mitchell, according to overnight figures from the BARB. The audience research body found that BBC shows - for the third year running - accounted for nine of the ten most watched programmes of the day, including all of the Top Five. The Royle Family, which had an average of 10.2m viewers, was second, followed by Doctor Who, which was watched by ten million on BBC1. Doctor Who also topped the viewing figures for the BBC HD channel with a further three hundred and forty thousand viewers there. The only ITV programme in the Top Ten was, as with last year, Coronation Street - the sixth most popular show - with just under eight million viewers. Gavin & Stacey, which is of course (mercifully) nearing the end of its final series, was fourth, with 9.2m viewers. It was followed by the charming children's animation, The Gruffalo, which had a well-deserved 8.8m viewers. Keith Telly Topping really enjoyed that one. And, that's about the first thing he's enjoyed which James Corden's been involved in since ... ever. Meanwhile, Catherine Tate: Nan's Xmas Carol attracted 7.1m people - slightly more than the 6.8m who watched BBC News and Strictly Come Dancing, the only BBC show to be beaten by its ITV opposition from two o'clock onwards. Shrek The Halls, which was seen by 5.6m people, was the tenth most popular programme, getting narrowly more than the Queen's Christmas Broadcast. Audiences on the whole were slightly down on last year. It was, by and large, a horrible night for ITV with Emmerdale (5.2m) being well beaten by Doctor Who, Agatha Christie's Poirot (3.7m) struggling against the BBC's big comedy guns and All Star Mr & Mrs (2.9m) having its bottom well and truly smacked by the EastEnders juggernaut at 8:00. BBC2's highlights were repeats of Dad's Army (3.4m) and Blackadder III (2.9) - which both managed to beat All Star Mrs & Mrs in the 8:00 hour - and the final James May's Toy Stories (2.6m) which will, at least, be repeated on Sunday and will hopefully pick up a few more viewers then. It didn't get any better for Channel 4 than the 1.3 million who watched Deal or No Deal: Scrooge or Santa at three o'clock. Overall, BBC1 had a massive thirty eight per cent average audience share during prime time, while ITV struggled to get just 19.3 per cent. BBC2 was third with eight and a half per cent. BBC3 had a strong night in multichannel homes, even outperforming Channel 4 during prime time with an average share of just over two per cent. Doctor Who Confidential, for instance, was watched by five hundred and seventy six thousand viewers in the seven o'clock hour,

Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna were crowned winners of the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special. The former The Bill actress and her professional partner beat the 2009 series champion Chris Hollins, runner-up Tricky Ricky Whittle and former contestants Rachel Stevens, Austin Healey and Gethin Jones. Bastian and Fortuna scored a perfect forty points from the judges after performing a faultless Viennese waltz. Judge Bruno Tonioli praised the pair's 'impeccable' routine and 'supreme beauty,' while Alesha Dixon said that the dance was 'beautiful.' Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly presented the show, which included a special performance by the cast of musical The Rat Pack.

Another Mitchell will send shockwaves through Albert Square in the New Year when Archie's secret son makes a surprise appearance in EastEnders. Despite not knowing his father, Danny - played by soap newcomer Liam Bergin - will arrive in Walford to attend Archie's funeral and curious to see his big sisters. As Ronnie (Samantha Janus) and Roxy (Rita Simons) have a blazing argument, he interrupts them, but they're dismissive of his presence. However, when Roxy states that they've just buried their dad, Danny retorts, 'I think you might have buried mine, too.' The Mitchell sisters are shocked and stunned by his response as they stare at the brother they never knew existed. Described as a 'loveable rogue,' Danny is said to be something of a charmer with an eye for the ladies, while guys instantly see him as competition in the alpha male stakes. Danny's father Archie (Larry Lamb) met his maker during yesterday's episode when a mystery assailant bonked him him over the bonce with the Queen Victoria bust which had featured so prominently in all of the trailers for the episode. All of which now, suddenly, make sense. Personally, I hope Ian Beale did it. If only cos it'll mean he's likely to be banged up which will give him something to be really miserable about. It might have been a bit of a grime subject matter for a Christmas Day episode - the really funny bit about him giving Janine a one-way ticket to Gdansk, notwithstanding - but then, when you think about it, somebody usually gets murdered in Albert Square at Christmas, it's how they set their watches in Walford. Anyway, tragically, Archie went to his grave knowing nothing of his son's existence, as his ex-wife Glenda (Glynis Barber) fled when she discovered that she was pregnant. Speaking of his forthcoming role, Bergin said: 'The first time I walked into Albert Square and saw the Queen Vic was a very special moment and I'll have that memory forever. All of my on-screen family have made me feel very welcome from the first moment that I met them and I am enjoying every minute working here.' The BBC soap's executive producer Diederick Santer commented: 'Liam is a fine young actor, and a proper East Londoner, who I've been keen to bring into EastEnders for quite some time. His character Danny Mitchell is something of an enigma.' He teased: 'Is he simply their kid brother, keen to get to know his exciting big sisters? Or is there something else that he's after?' If wouldn't be Easties if it wasn't the latter, would it?

The motoring show and particular favourite of yer Keith Telly Topping Top Gear was yesterday named as the nation's favourite television programme of the decade. The BBC2 series, which was completely reinvented in the early years of the decade, topped a poll commissioned for Channel 4 for a programme due to be broadcast next week. Called, with utterly staggering originality, The Greatest TV Shows of The Noughties. Can't do them for false advertising under the Trades' Description Act there. Top Gear was first broadcast in 1977 but BBC bosses grew tired of the show's format and decided, in 2001, that it needed to be refreshed. Many of the show's then-presenters defected to Five for the new Fifth Gear show, but by 2003 Top Gear returned with a line-up of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and (from the second series of the new show) James May and went from strength to strength thereafter. The show fought off tough competition from Doctor Who, The Office, The Simpsons and Qi to top the chart for Channel 4's show. When asked to comment Richard Hammond said: ''I could never say what the reason is for Top Gear doing so well since we started it, but I think there's always a sense that we'd still be doing it even if the cameras weren't here and that makes it real.'

Ekaterina Ivanova is reportedly planning to appear on Celebrity Big Brother. Ivanova, who ended her relationship with Ronnie Wood earlier this month, could earn one hundred thousand pounds for taking part in the reality series, the Sun claims. A source for the programme told them: 'Ekaterina is just the type of feisty character we want on the show. She's also very high profile and will no doubt have some great gossip about what life was like living with one of Britain's biggest rock stars. I've no doubt Ronnie will come in for some stick. She'll also appeal to younger viewers as she's quite the style icon. And I'm sure a few older male fans will seek her out.' yes, that sounds like just the sort of thing a television professional would tell a tabloid newspaper. So, that was the Sun's Big Brother 'exclusive.' Most other papers went for a story with a somewhat different angle in relation to the franchise. That the producers of Big Brother had been criticised for targeting amputee soldiers to appear in the next series. According to The Times, Veterans' charities 'condemned' Endemol after they attempted to recruit wounded servicemen and women to appear in the eleventh series of the reality television show. An e-mail sent to the Army Benevolent Fund from the programme makers said: 'As well as the open auditions we always cast the net far and wide. I'd like to politely enquire if any of your members would be interested in BB11?' An ABF spokeswoman, Annabelle Fuller, said: 'We're a charity, not a selection box for bad TV programmes. The people we help are often vulnerable.' Endemol reportedly asked the charity for case studies of soldiers who had been made homeless or severely wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq. Fuller later wrote on her blog: 'How heartless do you have to be to think that putting a homeless person in a house where they face a weekly eviction vote is a good idea?' Gotta say Annabelle, love, it's about a million miles away from being the sickest thing that's ever been dreamed up regarding this show. In a joint statement, Endemol and Channel 4 said: 'Big Brother aims to cast the net far and wide to ensure that a diverse range of people get the opportunity to audition and take part in the programme.' Oh, so you're making this a case of anybody who doesn't like this idea is a bigot, are you? That's novel. I'm almost impressed. Almost, but not quite. 'Many different groups and organisations have been approached as they have strong networks within more isolated communities and can help to spread the word about the dates of open auditions,' they continued.

Actor Charlie Sheen spent much of Christmas Day in a police cell after being accused of domestic violence. Officers arrested the forty four-year-old Platoon and Wall Street star on Friday morning after an emergency call from a house in the ski resort of Aspen, Colorado. An ambulance went to the house, but no-one was taken to hospital. Police said that the Two and a Half Men actor was suspected of assault, menacing and criminal mischief. 'Menacing'? Is that an actual thing? He was subsequently released on eight thousand five hundred dollars bail. Sheen is, of course, the son of former-President Martin Sheen and the brother of actor-director Emilio Estevez. He was married in May 2008 to Brooke Mueller Sheen, a property investor who gave birth to the couple's first children, twin boys, in March.

A former Playboy model fainted in court after being found guilty of assaulting a woman in the washrooms of a Brighton nightclub. Glamour model Louise Glover, had physically attacked the woman whom she believed was attempting to seduce her husband. After being convicted of a vicious attack on Maxine Hardcastle, the twenty-six-year-old slumped to the floor in the courtroom at Hove Crown Court. Hardcastle is the daughter of the musician Paul Hardcastle. When Glover regained consciousness, she burst into tears and then proceeded to verbally abuse the judge, Charles Kemp, who demanded that she calm down. The former Playboy model of the year was informed that the judge would consider all sentencing possibilities, including a stretch of stir, when her hearing resumed on 4 February. After a jury deliberated for one hour, Glover was found guilty of carrying out an assault occasioning bodily harm. During the model's trial, the court heard how she hit the head of Miss Hardcastle against a toilet rim as many as ten times and had even tried to stuff the victim's head down the lavatory. Oh ... I'm having a horrible flashback to secondary school here. Anyway, the violent attack was said to have left Hardcastle covered in blood and her face sustained severe bruising. She also had scratches to her arms and legs and lost some hair. It emerged during court hearings that Glover had believed the victim had 'looked at her husband' in a Brighton nightclub. Glover claimed that she had simply been defending herself.

And, finally, television's first weather presenter George Cowling died on Christmas Eve, following a short stay in hospital. Cowling, eighty nine, had presented the first televised forecast from the BBC's Lime Grove Studios on 11 January 1954. He had joined the Met Office in 1939 as a meteorological assistant for the RAF and went on to work as a forecaster in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. He appeared on the BBC until 1957 and remained with the Met Office until his retirement in 1981. In the days before satellite images, Cowling's main tools were pencils - and a rubber - for analysing the charts and a pair of dividers for measuring isobar spacing to give wind speeds. In order to get the graphics to the BBC, he had to transport a large bundle of rolled charts across London to the studios at Shepherd's Bush. In February 1957 he was promoted to RAF Bomber Command and subsequent postings included Singapore, Malta, Bahrain and Germany. He also worked as a senior instructor at the Met Office College and as principal forecaster at Heathrow Airport. In his biography for the BBC Weather website, he recalled a studio visit by Princess Margaret. Cowling warned her he had 'bad news' for viewers, with frost forecast. The Princess said: 'That's good news - I love the cold weather.' Stumped for something to say, the weatherman eventually replied: 'Perhaps ma'am, you don't suffer from frozen pipes like the rest of us!'