Sunday, April 25, 2010

Week Eighteen: Let Us Not Forget The General Erection

An average audience of four million viewers tuned in to watch Thursday night's second prime ministerial debate on Sky News. Ratings for the broadcast were well down on the previous week's ITV debate, which attracted an average of over nine million viewers. The debate was screened live on a variety of other outlets, including the BBC News Channel, the BBC HD channel and a later repeat on BBC2. The third and final debate is scheduled for next Thursday on BBC1. Meanwhile, over one hundred people have reportedly complained to Ofcom about various aspects of the debate. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, many viewers criticised the moderator, Adam Boulton, for his treatment of the Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg. Twitter and Facebook groups were set up after the debate to complain that Boulton had unfairly discussed a Daily Telegraph article, which alleged that Clegg had money paid into his personal account to fund an employee's salary. Clegg had declared the money. Viewers claimed that by discussing the article and 'heckling' Clegg, Boulton had broken rule sixty three of the debates, which states that the moderator must not 'criticise or comment on the leaders' answers.' Ofcom, however, does not regulate the debate rules, which were agreed by the broadcasters and parties so complaining to them is pretty pointless. Not that this is something that tends to stop serial whinging. The watchdog - elected, let us remember, by nobody - has confirmed that it has received complaints about the debate but refused to reveal how many. It said that it will investigate the debates to see if any broadcasting code regulations were breached. The ombudsman is already said to be examining SNP and Plaid Cymru's complaints about being excluded from the televised debates. Ofcom has set up a special election committee to investigate the complaints and is expected to publish its findings next week.

And, speaking of complaints, just exactly whose crass idea was it to plaster an animated ident strapline for the forthcoming Over The Rainbow in the middle of tense cliffhanger on last night's episode of Doctor Who? Why, oh why, oh why ... etc? I mean, normally that sort of thing doesn't really bother me. I'm not blind to a broadcaster's right to advertise its own shows wherever and whenever the hell it likes. After all, the BBC makes both these shows in the first place. And, I've seen enough American TV over the years to know this kind of thing is becoming commonplace within the medium. But, if there's one thing that is absolutely guaranteed to piss viewers off - particularly vocal and loud viewers like Doctor Who fandom - it's having a spectacularly important climactic scene of a drama show ruined by Graham Norton's cheeky face scrolling along the bottom of their screen in the middle of it. Please BBC, never do that again - it was stupidly intrusive and, more likely than not, counter-productive. Since, I imagine that in many cases, yer average Doctor Who fan - a collective who seldom need much provocation for a good dose of mass-protest - would have been so annoyed by it that they pointedly didn't watch Over The Rainbow afterwards. On general principle. Make your complaints to the usual place, if you feel strongly about it, dear blog reader. As it happens, I actually did. But, remember, if you do intend to complain then, as always, be polite, don't swear and don't make ridiculous threats about what you'll do if they don't give in to your demands, like, instantly. You want to be the BBC's friend and are writing to them more in sorrow than in anger, etc. Those are the kind of complaints that, just occasionally, get taken seriously. 'If you ever do that to MY Doctor Who again, I'll CHAIN MYSELF TO TEH GATES OF TV CENTA [sic] and I WON'T PAY my TV licence not NEVER again' tends, by and large, not to get it done. Of course, it's also worth bearing in mind that the BBC can - and probably will - give a very low priority to your complaint and not treat it particularly seriously. They do, after all, make the programme in the first place. What, exactly, are you going to do if they ignore your ire? Stop watching? Ultimately, our fandom will always work against us in this regard. No matter what the BBC do to Doctor Who, we'll all still be tuning-in next week. That doesn't mean one shouldn't voice objections if you think something is worth objecting over, of course. Mind you, I say all of this with the obvious proviso that, as per usual, some Doctor Who fans can't even occupy the moral high ground without managing to turn a relatively minor drama into a full-blown crisis. The amount of broadband used on message boards last night to express some peoples 'outrage' and 'disgust' at this 'sickening occurrence' was as over-the-top as most previous Doctor Who-related fiascoes. I don't know about anybody else, but I tend to reserve actual proper outrage for stuff like genocide and torture. Stuff that matters. This, if it was anything, was 'mildly annoying.' There was also, of course, the expected borderline-homophobic slurs about Graham Norton himself - with at least one charming example of humanity stating, on a public forum, that Graham should be 'shot in the face' because this had happened. As though he were, personally, responsible for this ident. He might be a lot of things, but I'm pretty sure Graham Norton isn't an animator. Meanwhile, Matthew Graham, the executive producer of Ashes To Ashes and, of course, a former Doctor Who scriptwriter himself, tweeted: 'I take it everyone else was livid that the Beeb put a gurning cartoon Graham Norton across the exciting cliffhanger climax of Dr Who. Please BBC - you're not a US network, you're so much better than they are. Don't cheapen yourself. The public know what's up next.' Not livid, Matt, I've got far more important things to be livid about. 'Slightly irked', I'll give you! BBC News website today noted that 'the BBC often promotes programmes in this way' and adds that 'the corporation has acknowledged that, in this case, the scheduling was inappropriate.' A BBC spokesman said: 'We apologise for the timing of Saturday night's trail.' There. Happy endings are nice, aren't they?

Alex Kingston's spectacular return to Doctor Who was seen by 6.8million viewers last night, according to overnight ratings figures. The Time of Angels - which also featured the return of fan favourites The Weeping Angels - was watching by around six and a half million viewers on BBC1 and a further three hundred thousand on BBC HD. It was, by a comfortable distance, the BBC's highest-rated show of the day. The second episode of Britain's Got Talent was the day's most-watched programme, averaging 10.26m for ITV in the 8pm hour. Afterwards at 9pm, The Prisoner dropped to a really dismal 1.77m. The latest Over The Rainbow, meanwhile, averaged five million on BBC1 (with a further one hundred thousand on HD), an increase of six hundred thousand viewers on the last episode. So, many that animated dancing Graham Norton ident actually worked for some viewers? Perhaps, we'll never care. Saturday's visit to Casualty brought in 5.52m from 9pm. Overall, BBC1 secured a small victory in prime time, with an average share of 23.7 per cent compared to ITV's 21.6 per cent.

The BBCs' director of television, Jana Bennett, has defended the decision to bring Chris Evans in as the Friday night presenter on The ONE Show. Earlier lat week, Adrian Chiles confirmed that he was leaving the BBC for ITV, admitting that the alterations to the magazine show were part of the reason for his move. The other part being that he'd been holding secret talks with ITV for a couple of years and they were offering him more money than he was currently getting. And, all of a sudden, I feel far-less sympathy with Adrian's position than I did a few days ago! Defending the appointment of Evans, Bennett told the Mirror: 'There can be no doubt that the success of The ONE Show owes much to the partnership between Adrian and Christine. They have enjoyed nearly three years together and I am grateful to Adrian for all his hard work on the show. He goes with our thanks and best wishes for the future. But with change comes opportunity. Going forward we have got some great plans that will build on the current success of the show. On Fridays we will do something a little more entertainment focused with a new hour-long show with Christine and Chris.' She added: 'For the rest of the week the plan is to introduce a co-host who is a good match for the show and for Christine in particular, who has become a real star in recent years. The ONE Show audience is massively important to us and we are building the next chapter of the programme with them firmly in mind.' Bennett also backed Bleakley to remain on the show, describing her as a 'real rising star.'

Two Doctor Who Proms have been announced by the BBC and will take place over the weekend of 24 and 25 July 2010. This will be the second time music from Doctor Who has been featured at the Proms. Founded in 1895, the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts are an eight-week summer season of orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington. Since 1927 they have been run by the BBC. In 2008 a Doctor Who Prom showcased the work of Murray Gold, who has composed the incidental music for Doctor Who since its return in 2005 along with other space -elated pieces of classical music. The 2010 season will follow much the same format comprising a mix of traditional and modern music. The two proms will have the same running order and both will be hosted by Matt Smith and Karen Gillan and feature the London Philharmonic Choir and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

So, on that bombshell, here's yer next batch of Top Telly Tips:

Friday 30 April
Life on Mars fans will love the montage of Sam Tyler's finest moments that invades yet another of Alex's dreams in Ashes to Ashes - 9:00 BBC1. Even better, the weaselly crime squad detective Litton, who appeared in the early Life on Mars episode about the factory siege, forsakes Manchester for Fenchurch East and another showdown with Gene Hunt. He's dismissed by Gene as a 'prancing berk' and there's a lot of macho posturing as the pair eye one another like polyester-clad stags, with the air charged by the pungent whiff of Paco Rabanne. Litton is in the capital, it would seem, in pursuit of a Bernard Manning-like stand-up comic called Frank Hardwick (played by the wonderful Roy Hudd), who's on the run having stolen money from the police widows and orphans fund. But Hardwick turns out to be a pathetic, frightened man in possession of seriously dangerous information. It's a busy episode, this, with the central mystery - just what did happen to Sam Tyler? - becoming even murkier as Gene destroys evidence and becomes all cryptic when questioned by Alex. And the team have their moment in the spotlight during the Opportunity Cops talent show. Watch for an unexpectedly touching scene with Shaz and Ray.

Glee - 8:00 Channel 4 - the musical comedy drama series from the US is currently threatening to take the UK by storm. With its dancing and signing. And stuff. In tonight's - celebrated - episode, Mr Schuester uses Madonna songs for the next assignment in an effort to empower the girls in the glee club and provide them with the inspiration they need to stand up to those disrespectful boys and their naughty bullying ways. Meanwhile, Kurt and Mercedes give Sue a vote of confidence. Which is nice.

Saturday 1 May
And, speaking of musicals, I'm In A Rock 'n' Roll Band! - 9:40 BBC2 - is a six-part series investigating what it is that makes the perfect rock 'n' roll group. The exploration begins with the head, heart, voice and, sometimes soul of the group - the lead singer. Grabbing the glory and dodging the bottles, what drives these attention seeking narcissists and hopefully benign dictators to shimmy and shake their ass and lead the gang? Case studies include Mick Jagger and Liam Gallagher. Essay on my desk first thing on Monday morning. Seriously, I'm all for putting a bit of analysis into what makes music great but this sort of thing can often lead viewers right up their own arses in search of revelation.

After last night's thrilling opening half of the story Doctor Who - 6:25 BBC1 - concludes its study of Flesh and Stone. Surrounded by an army of Weeping Angels, the Doctor, Amy, River Song and their warrior monk allies must escape through the forest vault. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be tense. It's going to be gripping. It's going to have you sitting on the very edge of your seat as you get to roughly the forty minute mark and wonder how long it'll be before Graham Norton's animated head pops up in the middle of a scene to scare the ruddy bejesus out of the kids.

Sunday 2 May
Tony Robinson presents Time Team - 6:00 Channel 4 - as per usual. This week, the team examine a stretch of land around the River Tees, situated near an impressive Roman fort site. Oh, great. I love the Roman episodes. Fascinating people the Romans. Has a form of central heating system two thousand years before we did. And, theirs seldom broke down in the middle of winter. Unlike mine. And, it was bloody cold last winter, I don't know if you noticed, dear blog reader.

Lewis returns - 8:30 ITV - and, with it comes Wor lovely Kevin Whately and Mr Billie Piper solving more crimes of passion and revenge amid Oxford's dreaming spires. After the body of Dr Stephen Black is found on an Oxford tour bus, Lewis and Hathaway are led to Crevecoeur Hall, a sprawling estate where Hathaway spent much of his childhood. Lewis begins to worry that a previous case involving the murder of a ten-year-old girl has begun to affect Hathaway's state of mind, while Hathaway himself seems more interested in the glamorous Scarlett Mortmaigne, the daughter of the owner of Crevecoeur. Then, another body is discovered on the estate and Hathaway's refusal to believe that the family are involved threatens to test his relationship with Inspector Lewis to breaking point.

Modern Masters - 9:00 BBC1 - sees the art critic Alastair Sooke presents the first in a four-part series exploring the life and works of the Twentieth Century's most important artists. He begins with the controversial big-haired Andy Warhol, the king of Pop Art. On his journey to discover more about this most infamous and yet reclusive figures, he parties with Mad Dennis Hopper, has a brush with Carla Bruni, and gets to grips with Marilyn. Along the way he uncovers just how brilliantly Andy Warhol pinpointed and portrayed our obsessions with consumerism, celebrity and the media and then went on to re-invent them. And create one of the greatest rock bands of all time as a side project.

Monday 3 May
A couple of week ago yer Keith Telly Topping highlighted the opening episode of Blitz Street - 9:00 Channel 4. And, I'm glad to report that it was just what you'd expect from Channel 4's pop social history crew - intelligent, relevant, revealing and bloody well-made. To commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Blitz, this series gives volunteers experience of various aspects of life during wartime through reenactments of air raids. This episode focuses on the summer of 1944, as British hopes for an end to the war were raised by news of the D-Day landings. However, just days later Hitler sent over the first of his new secret vengeance weapons, the V1, a jet-powered pilotless rocket packed with a powerful form of explosive containing RDX.

FlashForward - 9:00 Five - is, despite having almost no-one watching it (either in the US or over here) moving along very nicely and being really rather intriguing as it heads towards the end of the series. In tonight's episode, Olivia receives some disturbing news from Gabriel. (Which will, no doubt, see Sonya Walger doing a bit more 'acting' that makes it look as though she's suddenly developed piles. And she was so good in Lost as well, it's such a shame.) And lovely lesbian Janis (Christine Woods) continues to work as a mole. That's not right. I'm sure someone, somewhere is busy working on a lengthy Internet essay about the dead/evil lesbian conspiracy. And, in this particular case, they're probably right!

There's a Countryfile's Spring Special at 6:30 on BBC1. The divine Goddess that is Julia Bradbury ... and Matt Baker head off on a trip through the New Forest, to celebrate the height of Spring. After catching their lunch in the seas off the Hampshire coast, Julia spends the night under the stars in a geodesic dome - the last word in camping chic. No news on where Matt spends the night. One hopes it was in a tent next door! The next morning, the pair discover how to record the Spring dawn chorus for posterity. Meanwhile, John Craven finds out what truly seasonal food is available in Spring.

Meanwhile, one of Julia's worthy predecessors for the - often unwelcome - role as The Thinking Man's Totty, Joanna Lumley in on the final part of her journey in Joanna Lumley's Nile - 9:00 ITV. In Southern Sudan she flies over the world's largest swamp, the Sudd. And in the town of Juba she finds that a fragile peace process has brought about a re-emergence of beauty pageants. From Juba, Joanna heads into Uganda, where she follows the White Nile up to the famed Murchison Falls. Finally she meets a modern-day adventurer who shows her a recently discovered new source of the Nile high in the mountains of Rwanda - four thousand one hundred and ninety nine miles from her starting point.

Tuesday 4 May
Luther - 9:00 BBC1 - is a new, and rather fine-looking crime drama series. Idris Elba, best known for his performance in the award-winning HBO series The Wire, now finds himself on the other side of the law as John Luther, a near-genius murder detective whose brilliant mind can't always save him from the dangerous violence of his passions. In the opening episode Luther, back from suspension, must solve a seemingly perfect double murder and work out how, and by whom, it was committed. Outside of work he is trying to win back his wife, Zoe, now that he finally seems to have got his life back on track. She, however, has moved on and has a new man in her life: Mark, who is the antithesis of Luther. Will Luther be able to save his fractured marriage as well as solve the crime? In addition to Elba, it stars The Prisoner's Ruth Wilson, Steven Mackintosh, Indira Varma, Paul McGann and Saskia Reeves. The creator and writer, Neil Cross, is an acclaimed suspense novelist and was lead writer for the last two series of [Spooks]. This looks great.

In Theo's Adventure Capitalists - 8:00 BBC2 - Dragon's Den regular Theo Paphitis follows the fortunes of brave and bold British companies trying to expand in three of the world's most dynamic emerging markets - India, Brazil and Vietnam. While Britain is still stuck in a recession, these economies are booming. There couldn't be a better time than now for British businesses to seize these opportunities in some of the world's fastest-expanding but risky markets - but how easy is it going to be? Small, but very rich, Theo always reminds me of one of those Velociraptor's from Jurassic Park. They look harmless but they'll strip the flesh from yer bones in seconds.

Sailor and writer Tom Cunliffe takes a voyage through the history of British seafaring in The Boats That Built Britain - 8:30 BBC4. No ship has ever made a more important discovery than The Matthew. In 1497, Italian-born explorer John Cabot left Bristol on this little boat and three thousand miles later landed in what we now know is North America (specifically Newfoundland). His discovery would change Britain, its dream of empire and, indeed, the world forever. Cunliffe sails The Matthew for himself and finds out just how this incredible little rigger made a journey into the perilous unknown and came back to tell the story. I love stuff like this although there is a danger for the viewer that, in watching it, you might just learn something. And that would never do in this Twenty First Century landscape of lowest common demoninator brain-soup television for people an attention span of seven seconds.

Wednesday 5 May
Waterloo Road - 8:00 BBC1 - the school-based drama series has been on a really good run of late. In this episode, Finn pushes Chris to breaking point, while Sam and Bolton become closer when they end up in trouble. Like I say, really rather impressive for the last few weeks albeit, the use of music to underline just about every single point of the drama does get a bit annoying after a while. That something they've seemingly picked up from US drama. I've noticed Holby City starting to do it a lot as well.

Another show that I didn't expect to enjoy but which has taken me by surprise is Out of the Frying Pan - 7:00 BBC2. As previously discussed, this series follows The Restaurant runners-up James and Ali as they take on six challenging fine dining 'events.' They have spent the last nine months training under Raymond Blanc - now they are ready to step out of the professional kitchen and into the real world. Here, the pair are called up to Sandhurst to cater the prestigious Commissioning Dinner for nearly three hundred officers, cadets and squaddies, all sitting in their own mess. Can they deliver a regimental dinner to remember or will it be off to the glasshouse with the pair of 'em and put 'em on a charge?

We can't forget my mother's favourite TV show in the whole wide world, Midsomer Murders - 8:00 ITV. Death stalks the leafy rural bridal paths of Midsomer yet again when two couples vanish without trace from the village of Monks Barton, amid rumours of witchcraft and hauntings. Ooo ... it's big and it's hairy and I be a'feared of it. Anyway, flamboyant psychic Cyrus LeVanu clashes with the pompous cleric, Wallace Stone, as a body is found, while several other villagers seem to be caught up in a stolen antiques racket. Can Barnaby and Jones discover the secret of Barton Woods and find the killer? Of course they can. There, that's saved you the trouble of watch, you can spend the hour doing something more constructive instead. Like watching paint dry.

Thursday 6 May
In Britain's Greatest Machines - 8:00 Five - dear old Chris Barrie explores the pivotal moments in Britain's recent engineering past, revealing the key decades and discoveries that forged a nation. And, again, we have an example of great TV comedian who's discovered a hobby to make a presenting career out of as a fall back just in case he stops being funny. And, he's very good. A sort-of slightly toned-down Clarkson if you like.

A straight cross between Time Team and Waking The Dead, History Cold Case - 9:00 BBC2 - sees professor Sue Black and her team at the Centre for Human Anatomy and Identification at the University of Dundee using modern forensic science techniques to shed light on the lives of our forebears. Their aim is to, quite literally, reveal the person behind the skeleton in question. In this episode, an apparently African skeleton, unearthed near a medieval English monastery close to Ipswich, pushes the team to their limits. The historical trail points to new evidence about British ancestry, and the tragic truth about his death adds an unexpected twist.

Finally it's election night, of course. Channel 4's Alternative Election Night - from 9:00 - is an alternative and allegedly irreverent take on election night coverage hosted by David Mitchell (I'd vote for him), Lauren Laverne (I'd definitely vote for her) and Jimmy Carr. Whom I wouldn't vote for even if he were the only name on the ballot paper. With contributions from Charlie Brooker. Who should be voted King, never mind Prime Minister. Broadcasting live in front of a studio audience and providing up-to-date reports as the results filter in, the programme also features special pre-recorded material from Channel 4 shows You Have Been Watching, Fonejacker and Come Dine with Me. However, If you want to watch the real deal, as it were. Election 2010 starts on BBC1 at 10:00. David Dimbleby and his team present the results of the closest election for a generation. With reporters across the country, they bring viewers the intrigue and excitement as it happens. Paxman interrogates the winners and losers, that sour-faced killjoy Emily Maitlis and Jeremy Vine will use the latest graphics technology to analyse the results, Fiona Bruce is on hand with the latest news and a bit of outrageous flirting and Andrew Neil holds a special event at the London Eye in the shadow of Parliament with an array of top guests. And, may God have mercy on us all. Tomorrow, we wake up to choas whatever happens. Remember, kids, no matter who you vote for, The Government always gets in.

Moving on to this week's Top Telly News: Ugly Betty star Eric Mabius has reportedly joined the cast of new BBC show Outcasts. The eight-part series, which is being penned by [Spooks] writer Ben Richards, is set in 2040. It follows a group of people who are living on a newly-discovered planet after a biological disaster on Earth. According to Deadline, Mabius will play the vice-president of the evacuation scheme. Filming on Outcasts is expected to begin in South Africa next month.

The BBC has announced it has won the rights to show the 2010 Commonwealth Games from Delhi in October. The Games, which get under way from 3 October, will be available across TV, radio, online, iPlayer, mobile and new media outlets across the UK. 'We're delighted to have exclusive rights for the UK,' said BBC Sport's head of major events Dave Gordon. 'The Games mark another step for athletes across the world as they prepare for the 2012 Olympics.' Gordon added: 'We have a rich history of covering the Commonwealth Games and are looking forward to bringing the best of the action to the UK public.' The Commonwealth Games, which include many Olympic sports like athletics, cycling and swimming, were last held in Melbourne in 2006.

An episode of Eggheads featuring a team of Conservatives has been postponed. The team, named the Con Artists, included members of the Torbay Conservative Club Quiz League. The episode was due to air following a party political broadcast from the Conservatives on 13 April. However, the Sun reports that BBC executives decided to replace the episode with a celebrity edition because the episode would be too 'politically sensitive' so close to the general election. The group's captain Linda Dilley explained: 'The BBC rang me at about a minute to six to say that as they had just aired a Tory election broadcast, they couldn't put us on. They said they'd call when they had a new date - I'm assuming after the election. We were all sat down with drinks and TV recorders at the ready when they called. We had friends and relatives over the country tuning in.' Dilley also said that she fears the episode will never be broadcast for continuity reasons as the prize pot builds up each time. 'The BBC asked us months ago if any of us were politically active and I assured them we weren't,' she added. 'We're all just in the quiz league.' A spokesperson for the BBC said: 'In line with guidelines, an edition of Eggheads which features a team associated with a political party will be shown after the election.'

Jana Bennett has admitted that she cannot rule out scheduling clashes for Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor this year. The corporation's annual ballroom contest repeatedly went head-to-head with ITV's talent show in 2009. Their battles came after the BBC decided to move Strictly from its usual early evening slot to later in the schedule. At the time, BBC bosses were criticised for putting the two shows in competition with each other. BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons was among those who claimed that the corporation should not engage in competitive scheduling. However, speaking to the Mirror, Bennett insisted that hit programmes have 'always gone head-to-head' as there is 'only so many hours' to broadcast shows. She commented: 'I can't promise there won't be overlaps next series, we don't seek to go head-to-head for the sake of it. But we also have scheduling restrictions that dictate what we can show and when. Programmes like The Lottery, Match of the Day and early evening drama like Doctor Who have to go out at certain points in the night. That said, we had very few viewers say the scheduling was a problem. Many people decided what they wanted to watch in advance or used home recording systems.'

Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher reportedly 'tore up' a tiny London club, Islington's Garage - with a capacity of just six hundred - to launch the latest offering from The Modfather. Weller debuted a string of thumping new songs from his Wake Up The Nation CD on Wednesday night. Then his old mate the former Oasis geezer, Noel pitched up and the pair performed the Gallagher-penned 'Mucky Fingers' as well as Weller's own 'Echoes Round The Sun.' Gripping renditions of a string of classics including 'Wild Wood' and a final triumphant airing of the vintage Jam hit 'Start!' concluded a special night. According to the Sun's reviewer, Alan Davies was among a whole posse of punters who queued up at the North London venue's stage door to get The Modfather's autograph after the show. Absolute beginners.

John Cleese appeared in a wheelchair for the filming of The Graham Norton Show. According to the Sun, the Monty Python's Flying Circus legend is having a second operation on his knee after his joint gave way. Having been escorted onto the programme by host Graham Norton, Cleese joked: 'Old age isn't for sissies.' He also bizarrely revealed on the programme that he ate dog during a recent trip to Hong Kong. 'Dogs are delicious. I asked the waiter what was in the dish and he said "poodle." Next day I saw a poodle in the street and my saliva glands were going,' he explained.

BBC business programme Working Lunch will no longer be broadcast from the end of July, it has been announced. Current affairs digest GMT with George Alagiah will replace the show in its early afternoon slot on BBC2. There are also plans for new business programmes to go out at the weekend on the BBC News Channel and BBC 5Live. Head of 'Newsgathering', Fran Unsworth, said closing the show was a 'difficult decision' because the team worked were 'so creative and passionate. We hope to do everything we can to continue serving the audience reached by Working Lunch.' A BBC statement added: 'The size of the Working Lunch audience has suffered a slow but steady decline since 2001. A re-launch in October 2008 has failed to reverse the audience decline which now appears to be stable. 'It's always sad when a programme reaches the end of its life cycle, but our business coverage has never been about one programme.' Working Lunch began in 1994 and has been presented by a selection of well-known names including Adrian Chiles, Paddy O'Connell and Adam Shaw. Chiles left Working Lunch in 2007 to work on The ONE Show on a full-time basis.

Hole In The Wall has reportedly been cancelled after two series. The critically scorned Saturday evening programme proved to be something of a minor cult hit with viewers after its launch in 2008 in a sort of -so-bad-it's-brilliant way. But, its second series last year failed to match the ratings of the first. A BBC source told the Sun: 'There's still a lot of affection for Hole In The Wall, but bosses thought it was time to try something else.' The news is a second blow for Anton Du Beke, who started out as one of the show's team captains before being promoted to its presenter for series two. He was recently tipped to lose his job as a Strictly Come Dancing regular. 'Anton won't be happy. It's an astonishing fall from grace,' the insider added. 'Just six months ago he was being talked about as the next big thing at the BBC. Now it looks like he could be left with nothing.'

Britain's Got Talent would cause controversy by showing 'totally inappropriate' acts this week. That is, according to the Mirror on Friday who stated that a topless fire-eater and a woman being spanked while reading Shakespeare were likely to anger viewers. it's always so nice for viewers to be told what emotions a TV show should produce in them before it's been shown, isn't it? Saves them the trouble of thinking for themselves. Psychologist Professor David Wilson said: 'Children are vulnerable to modelling behaviour and seeing an act like this is essentially giving them permission to do it themselves. In no context is a man hitting a woman entertainment. It’s normalising the behaviour that men should be able to hit women.' However, a show insider insisted: 'It is meant to be more panto than sexual.'

More than forty British performers have reportedly signed a letter calling for voters to save the BBC on polling day. The plea denounces plans to cut the licence fee and claims that opposition politicians have a 'cavalier attitude towards the BBC's independence.' Peter Kay, John Barrowman, Peter Capaldi and Romola Garai are among those who backed the call, as are Catherine Tate, Meera Syal, Stephen Merchant, Terry Jones, Sam West, Hugh Bonneville and Harriet Walter. According to the Observer, the letter highlights an explicit threat to disband the BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust, by the Conservative shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and calls the corporation the 'most important cultural organisation in Britain and an indispensable part of our society.' While the Conservatives don't mention any plan to freeze the licence fee, they have pledged to give the National Audit Office access to its accounts for the first time. The BBC's supporters fear this proposed scrutiny would amount to direct government control. The Labour party's manifesto says the current government is determined to 'maintain the independence of the BBC, the most admired and trusted broadcaster in the world' whilst the Lib Dem manifesto says the party plans to keep the BBC 'strong, free from interference and securely funded.' The protest letter, also signed by Sir Richard Eyre, Stephen Frears, Harry Enfield, Charlie Higson, Eddie Izzard, Robert Webb, Stephen Mangan, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Jo Brand, urges voters to think about the consequences 'for this cherished part of our national life.'

Victoria Beckham has declared that she cannot be bothered to try and make people like her. That's probably wise.