Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Preaching To The Convicted

Things that yer Keith Telly Topping noticed from watching TV last night: Number one - in a recurring series of several thousand - The Delicious Miss Dahl doesn't get any better, does it?

And so to the latest episode of Lost - Happily Ever After - a thing of absolute joy with one surprise return after another. Desmond! Charlie! Daniel! Penny!!!! (I thought she'd gained an American accent and married into the FBI.) What we had here was, essentially, one of the most cunning episodes of the entire series - a (sort-of) sequel to a whole bunch of previous (often non-sequitar) pieces of this most complex and opaque of jigsaws - Man of Science, Man of Faith, Flashes Before Your Eyes, Through The Looking Glass and, most obviously, Live Together, Die Alone. And some answers - yer actual, proper, honest-to-God answers. Not many, but a few. We have, I think, in this episode seen the beginning of the end. And it was every bit of mad-brilliant as what's gone before. Next week, we're back with Hurley.

It's always nice to see crassly amateurish and ill-informed ratings analysis getting slapped down by the cognoscenti. The Gruniad Morning Star's article covering Saturday's ratings has been given a damned good kicking in the comments section of the newspaper by readers for a) being just about the only people in the entire broadcasting world to try and put a negative spin on Doctor Who's extraordinary opening night figures and b) not even using the right figures in the first place to do this. It's always vastly amusing when that happens. Note, they have since, swiftly, re-edited the article to include the missing HD figures, but they've still retained the wholly misleading headline and subheading. Pfft. Bloody Communists.

The actor and political activist Corin Redgrave has died at the age of seventy. His widow, Kika Markham, confirmed his death yesterday. Corin, a member of the Redgrave acting dynasty, was the son of Sir Michael, brother of Vanessa and Lyn and uncle of the late Natasha Richardson. 'We will miss him so very much,' said Markham. 'He died very peacefully [and] surrounded by his family.' Redgrave, who fell ill on Sunday morning, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000 and had suffered a heart attack at a political meeting in 2005. His most famous role came in 1994 movie Four Weddings and a Funeral, where he played Andie McDowell's husband, Hamish. Recent TV credits included appearances in episodes of [Spooks], Shameless, Foyle's War and Trial And Retribution. After studying at Cambridge University, Redgrave began an acting career on the stage. His first screen role came in the Oscar-winning A Man For All Seasons. The actor is survived by his daughter, Jemma, and sons, Luke, Harvey and Arden.

Some good news for fans of Lie To Me - the eagerly-awaited return of the second half of series two of the Tim Roth vehicle will begin on 7 June in the US. Expect Sky in the UK to begin picking up new episodes shortly thereafter.

TV science guru Brian Cox is to front a new series for the BBC, it has been revealed. The former D:Ream keyboardist and nuclear physicist's recent BBC2 programme Wonders of the Solar System proved a huge critical and commercial hit with viewers, but his screen future appeared uncertain after Brian spoke of plans to return to teaching. However, a BBC spokesperson told the Mirror that Cox ('the professor credited with "sexing up science"' according to the paper) has now been persuaded to do more TV and is to star in a new four-part series provisionally called Universal, which will examine the natural laws of the universe. Cox is expected to start working on the project next month and the show will begin its run in early 2011. Writing on Twitter at the weekend, the forty two-year-old told fans: 'Thank you all for your support for Wonders. It means a lot to me and it means a lot to our team at BBC science.' Think nothing of it, Brian, it was pleasure to watch from start to finish. The Mirror piece itself, incidentally, is quite fun although it would've been a lot better if Mark Jefferies, the author, hadn't insisted on calling Brian 'Prof Cox' throughout. Another example of a tabloid too scared to use a word with more than two syllables, it would seem. Which is ironic when you consider the subject matter it was dealing with.

MasterChef finalist Alex Rushmer has claimed that the challenges in India which aired on Monday were 'insane.' The twenty six-year-old food writer stated that the temperature during the three days of tasks in the Rajasthan desert was 'brain-meltingly hot. There were so many different things to contend with. Not only the heat,' he told the Digital Spy website. 'Cooking up on those hills was insane - we had to have rehydration stops and be slathered with sun cream. We were obviously never in any real danger, but I think that's as tough as it got. However, for the adrenaline rush and sheer experience of going to India - it was all definitely worthwhile.' Alex's fellow finalist Dhruv Baker described the conditions on the show as 'viciously hot. It was incredibly tough. But also incredibly rewarding. It's one of those things to look back on as an amazing experience,' he said. Tim Kinnaird, thirty seven, added: 'India was just incredible. Every single second of the trip was overwhelming. The challenges and filming themselves were mind blowing. It's only now that we can take it in really when we watch it back with our families. That's as much as India the country as the cooking itself.'

And, still on the subject of MasterChef, all of the finalists have claimed that Gregg Wallace is 'hilarious' to work with. Wandsworth-based Dhruv said that Wallace 'never stopped cracking jokes' on set, which kept the contestants' spirits high during the tougher challenges. 'Gregg is very relaxed, but he is also hilarious. He's constantly cracking jokes and not many, which can be repeated for TV or press,' he told the Digital Spy website. 'That good cop, bad cop, or possibly bad cop, worse cop routine [with John & Gregg] works really well,' he joked. Paediatrician Tim added: 'Gregg, if he didn't have a TV career, he'd be a pretty successful stand-up comedian.' And, that's another thing - have you noticed every night India Fisher breathlessly referring to Tim as 'children's doctor, Tim.' Come on, guys, the vast majority of us know that a paediatrician isn't somebody who interferes with kids but, rather, somebody who makes them well again. Try using the proper word and educating the half-a-dozen members of your audience that, seemingly, don't!

Meanwhile, John Torode has laughed off claims that he does not get along with Wallace. Reports have surfaced recently - on the Internet, mainly, which probably gives dear blog readers an idea of how seriously to take them - suggesting that the pair were not on speaking terms. This was apparently sparked by them not often appearing in the same camera-shot on the show. 'Gregg and I are always in the same room,' Torode told the Sun. 'If we had somewhere else to go it would be brilliant! Anybody who has been in the competition at any stage knows that Gregg and I are constantly together. We sit on that sofa at right angles to each other and every so often he says "Get your shoe off my leg, you bugger." We also have various positions for our glasses so we don't mix them up. He drinks still water and I drink fizzy.' He added: 'Of course, there is going to be disagreement between us. Every so often there has to be and if there wasn't it would be crazy. What I do with my life and what Gregg does with his, and how we view the contestants, are very, very different things. But you end up with two judges who are very experienced at seeing how people work and whether they can make it. There has to be a bit of give and take.'

And, finally, there's a very good blog piece by Stuart Heritage at Media Guardian on his perception of the strengths and weaknesses of this year's MasterChef. 'This time however, Gregg Wallace and John Torrode have been judging contestants on their overall ability – and if that means putting four chefs through to the quarter finals instead of two, or sending everyone home at the first opportunity, then that's what they've done. The benefit has been twofold; not only have the best chefs been allowed to naturally rise to the top, but viewers have also been kept guessing. And on a show where you can accurately predict the moment where India Fisher will say "The contestants have now been on their feet for six hours" to within a twelfth of a nanosecond, this is an important achievement.' Yeah, I pretty much agree with all of that. I have to say, though, the Gruniad Morning Star doesn't half attract some opinionated twats to its comment section! Check 'em out, they're hilarious - some of them seem to be really full of sense of their own importance. Top-quality comedy.

A Touch of Frost has unveiled an alternative ending for Detective Inspector Jack Frost. ITV has shown Sir David Jason's character dying in the last scene of the long-running drama on its website. The clip sees Frost suffering a heart attack after receiving minor injuries from a car collision. However, in the real ending, his sidekick George died whilst Frost lived happily ever with his new love Christine Moorshead. Jason was allowed to choose his alter ego's fate in the final scene of Monday night's finale, which capped a seventeen-year-long run on ITV.

Crew working on the set of Desperate Housewives have reportedly expressed doubts about Nicollette Sheridan's assault accusations against the show's creator Marc Cherry. The actress alleged that the writer-producer struck her in the face, and is now suing both him and the network for assault and battery. However, multiple programme staff have since told TMZ that they have no knowledge of any such incident taking place. While one source acknowledged that there were 'verbal tiffs' between Cherry and the drama's actors, they cast doubts over the affray because Cherry is 'for the most part, a good guy [and] very professional.' Another anonymous employee flatly refuted the allegations, saying, 'Nothing like this ever happened,' before adding that they 'never saw anything questionable or negative.' A further insider, who has worked on all six seasons of the programme, insisted: 'It's something that would have been discussed had it happened.' It's to be hoped, for Cherry's sake, that when or if the case comes to court, a lot of these anonymous sources make themselves known publicly because, frankly, if they don't then their comments are about as reliable as a chocolate fireguard.