Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week Thirty Nine: Frying Tonite

This morning, dear blog reader, yer Keith Telly Topping did a five mile round trip to Heaton sorting office (and, stood in a queue that wasn't far short of a mile long) to pick up his review copies of The Fry Chronicles and Howard Sounes' new McCartney biog, FAB. Reviews, as ever, of both on the radio slot and on the blog, once I've got my shit together and actually read the pair of them! I should noted that the publicity blurb with The Fry Chronicles is particularly fun, however. Stephen is described as 'an award-winning comedian, actor, presenter and director.' No mention of him being a writer as well - despite it then going on to list his four novels and the previous volume of his memoirs. 'His legion of fans tune-in to watch him host the popular quiz show Qi each week, as well as his documentaries on subjects as varied as manic depression, disappearing animals and the United States of America.' You forgot to mention the fact that he's in Bones as well. You'll get death threats, mark-my-words! Bless 'em, they try. Oh, and speaking of Qi, really good opening episode - and, very encouraging overnight ratings figures (4.4m on BBC1 and BBC HD). And, I'd like to suggest that everyone, without exception, whenever they see Wor Ross Noble in the street, ask him to say 'Toblerone-Rolo-Combo.' You know, just for a laugh...

Bill Roache cried after watching The Road To Coronation Street, a star of the drama has said. And, to be honest, I'm genuinely not surprised. David Dawson, who was quite magnificent as the Coronation Street creator Tony Warren in the one-off BBC4 drama, told how the veteran actor - who has portrayed Ken Barlow since the soap's inception in 1960 - couldn't help weeping as he saw the play at a special screening. 'We watched the drama together - Bill is a lovely man and had tears in his eyes at the end,' Dawson told the Sun. 'You forget it has been fifty years of his life and a little bit of it is being shown on the screen.'

Simon Cowell has 'waged war' on Strictly Come Dancing, according to people who are described as 'sources.' Yes, of course he has. Meanwhile, back in the real world ... The X Factor judge is apparently 'furious' that the rival Saturday night programme has secured Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow to perform on its first live show on 2 October. Well, how very dare they? Does anybody actually take this overgrown school bully seriously? That is, of course, if there's so much as a ounce of truth in this story. Which, there may or may not be. I wouldn't like to comment on that. According to the Mirror, Cowell has told fellow producers to 'do whatever it takes' to ensure that X Factor beats Strictly in the ratings. Which it will, by about two to three million each week so, what's he worried about? A 'source' whom the paper claims is 'close to Cowell' (so, that'll be either Cowell himself, or Sinitta, then) allegedly said: 'This was like waving a red flag in front of a bull for Simon. He's a perfectionist. He wants to be the best and he hates to lose.' Well, he'd better start learning then, because sooner or later it's going to happen. However, a Strictly 'insider' allegedly added: 'Getting Robbie and Gary on is just the start of an incredible series we've got planned. We are more than ready to show what we're made of.' Sequins. Probably.

Former Stig and now just plain old Ben Collins has described being enigmatic test driver on Top Gear as 'the best job in the world.' And, now you're not doing it because you got greedy. Tragedy, mate. Collins was named as the mysterious figure earlier this month when the BBC failed to prevent him from releasing an autobiography. Speaking on This Morning, Collins explained that working on the show was 'great fun' but he had chosen to take on a new challenge. Referring to his decision to release a book, he said: 'It was a very stressful time personally, and thinking, "Was it the right thing to do?" But I knew in my heart that it was. It was time to move on and freedom of speech was something I believed in.' Plus royalty cheques and advance payments, of course. Don't forget them. However, Collins described the show's presenters as 'very talented' and joked that he wants to return to the programme in the future, saying: 'I would like to take the Popemobile around the Top Gear track, if they'll let me back.' I think there's probably about as much chance of the Pope driving the Popemobile around the Top Gear track as there is of you being allowed back there, matey-boy. Collins also revealed that he hopes there is a Stig 3, adding: 'It could be a him or a her.' It could. But it won't be you.

And, so to the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips, like:

Friday 24 September
And, already, we're back to Qi - 8:30 BBC1. Yeah, whatever. It remains, by a comfortable distance, the TV show that this blogger most looks forward to when it's on because, quite simply, for the thirty minutes that I'm watching it (or, the forty five minutes that I'm watching Qi: XL) I feel like an intellectual. And I'm not. For that reason, if nothing else, it gets my vote. Stephen Fry is joined tonight by everyone's favourite Supersizer Sue Perkins, the great Bill Bailey, the far-less-annoying-than-he-used-to-be Gyles Brandreth and regular Alan Davies for the quiz with a difference. Brandreth's first appearance since series one back in 2003. As always, the host asks questions - this time on parts of the anatomy that begin with the letter H - awarding points for the answers that he finds the most interesting. Which, if you've never seen the programme before sounds either dull, or bizarre, or both. Trust me, if you have never seen Qi before, then you're a lost cause and should, probably, go out and kill yourself with a hammer. Sorry, but that's the way it is. Sometimes, in life, you have to be cruel to be kind. Nick Lowe said that. And he knew what he was talking about.

After being released from jail, a notorious paedophile called John Davies admits to the abduction and murder of a child twenty five years previously. Suspicious of his motives, detectives reopen the unsolved case in an unusual attempt to prove his innocence, reinvestigating the boy's disappearance while on a demonstration with his left-wing activist parents in New Tricks at 9:00 on BBC1. Guest starring Adrian Schiller from Being Human and former Miss Moneypenny Samantha Bond and with, of course, Amanda Redman, James Bolam and Alun Armstrong. And, the little fellah who sings the theme tune.

Saturday 25 September
In Stephen Hawking's Universe - 8:00 Channel 4 - Mad Frankie Boyle's favourite physicist and cosmologist considers the possibility of time travel, taking a look at the prospects and pitfalls of journeying through the fourth dimension and asking whether tiny worm holes could hold the secret to travelling back in time. He also investigates how, by building a spaceship capable of achieving velocity close to the speed of light, humans might travel to the distant future and become masters of time itself. All sounds rather deep and intense but, as usual it's worth watching pretty much anything that involve the savant-like Hawking, mainly because he is a once-in-ten-generations mind with an ability to express outrageous, complex concepts in reasonably simple and understandable terms. But, also, because he sounds like K9.

There's two episodes of The X Factor on this week, the first tonight at 7:30 on ITV. In these the successful contestants from the past five weeks of auditions head to London for the Boot Camp stage of the competition. More than two hundred hopefuls will be put through their paces in choreography, vocal coaching and styling sessions at the Wembley Arena, under the watchful - not to mention greedy - eyes of Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and, in the absence of bed-ridden Cheryl Cole, guest judge Nicole Scherzinger of The Pussycat Dolls. Dermot O'Dreary is on hand to see who makes it through to the next stage - and to provide a shoulder to blub on for those who will be heading home. Continues tomorrow at 7.45pm.

Sunday 26 September
In the latest episode of Inspector George Gently - 8:30 BBC1 - a young woman's body is found in a seemingly idyllic Northumbrian coastal village in 1966 and the subsequent investigation leads Gently and Bacchus to suspect her estranged husband is responsible for the killing. Well, you know what they say, most crimes are domestic. However, they soon come to realise that her disturbed and dysfunctional family is hiding an even more shocking secret. Aye, there are parts of Northumberland where that sort of thing goes on to this day. We tend not to talk about it. Although, the webbed-fingers and big ears often give the game away. Starring Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby and with a guest cast that includes Daniel Casey from Midsomer Murders, Shaun Dooley out of Married Single Other and who was so good in The Road To Coronation Street last week, Paul Kaye and Still Game's Greg Hemphill.

Downton Abbey - 9:00pm ITV is yer actual proper costume drama. From ITV? Surely some mistake? Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville lead an all-star cast in this drama - written by Oscar-winner Julian Fellowes - about the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them in an Edwardian country house. It's 1912: The Titanic has gone down, taking with it Lord Grantham's heir, James Crawley, and his son, Patrick. So who is the new heir? Britain is apparently placid but is teetering on the brink of the First World War and, also looming is the Jazz Age when every certainty will be ripped to shreds and the Big Young Things will begin their age of frivolity. Big risk for ITV this, they've never had much of a reputation for costume drama since they stopped making Upstairs Downstairs.

There's also a very welcome repeat of Alex Higgins: The People's Champion - 7:00 BBC2. This very well-received documentary looked back at the often controversial life of the two-time world snooker champion, who died in July aged sixty one after a long, and horrific, battle with throat cancer. The Hurricane was widely regarded as one of the most naturally gifted players in the history of his sport, mesmerising spectators and TV viewers with his trademark quick-fire displays. With contributions from members of Alex's family as well as snooker giants Jimmy White, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Steve Davis, Dennis Taylor and Ray Reardon. Another well-known Irishman, James Nesbitt narrates.

Monday 27 September
DCI Banks: Aftermath - 9:00 ITV - is a two-part drama, starring Stephen Tompkinson and based on the novel by Peter Robinson. Inspector Alan Banks investigates the most difficult case of his life when five girls go missing but only four bodies are found. Chief suspect Marcus Payne is in a coma, and the ambitious DS Annie Cabbot from the Professional Standards department pursues Banks in an effort to find out why. Andrea Lowe and Charlotte Riley also star. One of the few things that ITV have been successful at over the last few years has been crime drama (Whitechapel, Collision, Unforgiven, Law & Order: UK). Whether this one is up to those sort of standards we'll have to watch to find out although frankly it's about time that an actor as talented and funny as Tompkinson got himself a part in a show in which is isn't usually acted off screen by a) lions and giraffes or, b) Dervla Kirwan.

Horizon: Back from the Dead - 9:00 BBC2 - reckons that death is not, necessarily, the end. It sounds like a bold claim, but it seems that doctors have developed a pioneering technique of extreme cooling that can be used to 'bring people back from the dead.' In this documentary, Dr Kevin Fong meets the physicians who developed the cryogenic procedure, finds out how it could revolutionise intensive care and meets some of the patients who have, quite literally, been brought back from the brink.

It doesn't seem five minutes since the last series of MasterChef finished and, already, we're into MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:30 BBC2. In this, lovely Gregg Wallace has to do without the aid of his usual oppo John Torode but, instead, has the hatchet-faced sous chef and Ms Whiplash-lookalike Monica Galetti and, the great Michel Roux Jr on the judging panel in the culinary challenge as four contestants face an elimination round. The three best cooks are then shown how to prepare cardoon gratin with bone marrow (haven't got a clue what that is but it sounds nice), before being given just sixty minutes to re-create the dish. After assessing their efforts, the judges select two chefs to go through to the quarter-final. You know the score by now. Last year's version of this was, actually, the point where I turned from being a casual, though usually entertained, viewer of the MasterChef franchise into a very definite fan so, hopefully, this one will be just as rewarding.

In [Spooks] - 9:00 BBC1 - Beth Bailey (Sophia Miles) is thrown in at the deep end on her first operation with Section D when she is tasked with protecting an influential oil baron whose life is under threat. However, Harry and Lucas are suspicious (aren't they always?) and, after launching a secret surveillance operation on the magnate's mansion, they discover that he is planning an attack using a deadly nerve agent, with potentially disastrous consequences. I'd like to see an attack using a deadly nerve agent that has only potentially slightly ticklish consequences, personally. Given what the word 'deadly' actually means. Anyway, as usual, the divine Ruth (Nicola Walker) will say something pithy and reflective, Lucas will brood a lot and Harry will get all sarky with someone in authority. Predictable, but always brilliant!

Tuesday 28 September
Alan Davies has been on TV more often than the news of late, what with his fine Teenage Revolution on Channel 4 and his regular appearance on the new series of Qi. In Whites - 9:00 BBC2 - a comedy set in the kitchen of a country house hotel, we follow the less-than-sizzling head chef Roland, played of course by Davies, whose early ambition to win a coveted Michelin star has been thwarted by a lack of zest. And, by his long-suffering second-in-command Bib (Darren Boyd). Roland is in the process of writing a book, and when he learns that a publisher will be dining in the restaurant, he sets about showing his worth as a top-quality cook. With hilarious consequence, no doubt. Also starring Katherine Parkinson and Stephen Wight. Now, I've got to say first up that the last time somebody tried doing a comedy set in a restaurant kitchen it was Lenny Henry's Chef and it was bastard dreadful. So, you know, no pressure Alan! And, if this one goes tits up it no use trying the old 'don't blame me, I didn't cook it,' route either. However, I do like Davies as an actor (are we ever going to get another proper series of Jonathan Creek?) so, you know, best wishes and all that.

It's a big comedy night for BBC2 as, immediately after Whites at 9:30 we've got the new series of Harry & Paul. In which, as usual, Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse give us another collection of comic creations. Some of their creations this time around include a band of ageing rockers the Silver-Haired Beatles, a corrupt Italian politician Gabbatore, a dysfunctional south London family the Benefits, and a shifty modelling agent Mike Noughts. Old favourites the Dragons' Den panel also return to run the rule over a new pudding supplement.

The Born Free Legacy - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary marking the fiftieth anniversary of the first publication of the book Born Free. That, of course, told the story of how husband and wife naturalist team George and Joy Adamson raised a female lion cub, Elsa, before releasing it back into the wild. The programme explores the impact the work had on the public's perception of wild animals, charting how Joy Adamson's memoirs about the experience were adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster. Includes contributions by David Attenborough, the movie's star Virginia McKenna, Desmond Morris and Tony Fitzjohn. I did like Born Free. It had a very good theme tune for a kick off.

Meanwhile tonight Sky One are showing Batman and Robin. Now, I know what you're going to say, dear blog reader. 'That is, quite possibly, the single worst film ever made. Bar none.' To which I can only reply, 'Alicia Silverstone in a schoolgirl outfit, what's not to love?'

Wednesday 29 September
Highland Emergency - 7:30 Channel Five - follows the work of the emergency services in the Highlands, including the police, ambulance, mountain rescue, coastguard and ski patrol teams. As they, you know, help some clueless glakes doing something that they probably shouldn't when they get stranded or wrecked get down off the mountain or, out of the sea, before they freeze to death. Personally, I'd leave them up there so, it's probably a really good thing that they, and not I, are in charge of emergency rescues.

Fearne and ... Craig David - 9:00 ITV2 - sees the blonde Fearne Cotton continue her depressingly banal series of reportage on the livestyles of the rich and talentless as she heads to Los Angeles and Miami to catch up with singer and comedy icon Crayyyyyg Davyyyyid. In this 'revealing programme,' it says here, Fearne finds out how Crayyyg Dayyyyyvid feels about Leigh Francis's Bo' Selecta! impersonation of him. Not that warm, I'm guessing. Personally, I find 'em pee-yer-pants funny. Particularly the last one where Leigh had Crayyyyg Dayyyvid working in a call centre! Fearne's nosy questioning also probes into the truth about Crayyyyg Dayyyyvid's sexuality and whether Crayyyyyg Dayyyyvid is, in fact, living in exile in America. Exile from what, you may well wonder, dear blog reader? The kestral?

Start Your Own School - 7:00 BBC2 - is a programme in with the 'forthright journalist and author' (for which read 'full-of-his-own-importance and never short of an opinion, on anything, journalist and author') Toby Young leads a group of parents as they attempt to institute Britain's first so-called 'free school' in West London. Filmed over nine months, the documentary reveals the group's trials and tribulations as they struggle to meet their ambitious self-imposed deadline in the face of some fierce opposition - not least from those who fear the project will do little more than reinforce old class divisions. Now, it should be noted that the last time Toby Young voiced an opinion about a subject that concerned television that I am aware of, it was to a ridiculous puff-piece in the Daily Scum Mail in which he described Sophie Dahl's wretched and puke-inducing excuse for a cookery show earlier this year as 'a ratings success.' Which it wasn't. Not even a little bit. Not even close. So, I'm probably going to advise here that all dear blog readers - and, indeed, other viewers - take pretty much anything that Toby has to say - on pretty much any subject - with more salt than is probably good for you.

Thursday 30 September
And, speaking of The Ludicrous Ms Dahl, one of the most voiced criticism about the format of that nauceous little excuse for a show - other than the fact that it was twee beyond words and, you know, shite - was the obvious notion that Dahl's style of presentation was little more than pale parody of Nigella Lawson's. So, it's not with a little relief that the BBC have cancelled Sophie's ass out of there faster than you can say ratatouille and, tonight, we've got a new series of Nigella's Kitchen - 8:00 BBC2. Mmm-mmm-mmm. Finger lickin' good. Now, I know she has her knockers, this lasss, but let's be fair, Nigella Lawson demonstrates fast and feel-good meals for every occasion better than just about anybody else on television. Way better than Jamie Oliver. A million miles better than Sophie Dahl. Anyway, she begins the series with roast seafood, small pasta with salami, chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake and Thai chicken noodle soup, as well as an old family favourite - Mother's Praised Chicken. Food pornography for the masses, ladies and gentlemen. And, there's nothing whatsoever, wrong with that.

I mentioned the other day that Alan Davies seemed to be on TV more often than the news. Rob Brydon, on the other hand, is on it more often than the Test Card. Would I Lie To You?, his own chat show, not to mention all those repeats of Gavin & Stacey on BBC3. In The Saint and the Hanged Man - 9:00 BBC4 - Rob inveistgates a holy inquiry in Hereford in 1307, called by the Catholic Church to determine whether a dead bishop was actually a miracle worker who should be made into a saint. The case comprised several alleged miracles, most notably the resurrection of a hanged man. Featuring drama reconstruction and original animation to reveal how a papal court used all the instruments of the legal process.

In Coronation Street - 8:30 ITV - Tina feels emotional after visiting Joe's grave, but David misreads her signals and reacts violently when she rejects his advances. But, then again, David Platt always reacts violently to unexpected plot-points in Corrie. I'm half expecting one time to find him having murdered the milkman because he turned up half-an-hour late, or something. Meanwhile, Trevor's incompetence causes a fracas at the factory, leading Nick to tell Carla he wants to dissolve their partnership. And, poor old put-upon Sally is furious to discover that naughty Sophie has been expelled from school. For being naughty. Sally Webster, when she's angry is not someone you'd want to naughtily cross in a hurry. Can she get naughty Sophie back on the straight and narrow? After delivering Molly's baby, is there no end to what that lass can't achieve?

To the news, now and the BBC has confirmed that it has commissioned a full series based on comedy pilot Life's Too Short. The project, written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who aren't anywhere near as funny as they think they are, is a fictional account of the life of dwarf actor Warwick Davis. 'I am absolutely thrilled that the BBC has greenlit the first series of Life's Too Short,' said Davis. 'For me, it is my dream acting job. I will be collaborating with the very best in the business.' Co-creator Gervais joked that the series will be 'another naturalist observational comedy, dealing with everyday problems, human foibles and social faux pas, but with a dwarf.' Yep. Nice to see Gervais' idea of 'a joke' is up to his usual standards. BBC executive Mark Freeland added that the commission is 'an incredibly exciting' prospect. 'Warwick Davis has done it all,' he said. 'Blockbuster movies, books, but [he has] never starred in a comedy series on BBC2, written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. That's about to change.'

Sports presenter Clare Balding's official complaint over a review in the Sunday Times which mocked her sexuality has been upheld. In July, she complained to the Press Complaints Commission over AA Gill's review of her new TV show, in which he called her 'a dyke on a bike.' The paper defended its columnist on freedom of expression grounds. The PCC ruled that some of the words were used in 'a demeaning and gratuitous way.' Balding took exception to Gill's review of her show, Britain By Bike, claiming his comments were irrelevant to the programme. In a statement released after the judgement, Balding said she was 'delighted' with the verdict. 'It was important for me and, crucially, for millions of other people quietly going about their work, to make the point that we deserve to be judged on our ability to do our jobs and not on the basis of our race, religion, gender or, in this case, sexual orientation. I would like to thank all those who offered their support via e-mail, letter and Twitter - they gave me the strength to stand up and be counted. I hope that this decision shows we are moving on from the days when derogatory comments about a person's sexuality were regarded as clever or funny.' The newspaper argued the term 'dyke' had been reclaimed by various groups as an empowering, not an offensive, term. The paper also drew attention to two organisations, which are both called Dykes on Bikes. The groups represent an American lesbian motorcycling movement and a UK-based cycling movement, whose members had reclaimed the word 'dyke.' It argued that an individual's sexuality should not give them an 'all-encompassing protected status.' A spokesman for the newspaper declined to comment further. The PCC ruled that the use of the word 'dyke' in the article - whatever its intention - was a 'pejorative synonym relating to the complainant's sexuality.' The context was 'not that the reviewer was seeking positively to "reclaim" the term, but rather to use it to refer to the complainant's sexuality in a demeaning and gratuitous way.' As such, it represented a breach of the Code. Stephen Abell, director of the PCC, said: 'Freedom of expression is a key part of an open society and something which the Commission has defended robustly in the past. While the commentator is clearly entitled to his opinion about both the programme and the complainant, there are restraints placed upon him by the terms of the Editors' Code.' It said the clause was 'very clear that newspapers must avoid prejudicial, pejorative or irrelevant reference to an individual's sexual orientation and the reference to Balding plainly breached its terms.' Balding told the PCC that she was not demanding special treatment, but just wanted to be treated the same as everybody else. The presenter has also asked for the newspaper to apologise which, at this time, they have yet to do. However, seeing smug AA Gill taken down a peg or two is always worthwhile. Good on ya, Clare.

Stephen Fry - yes, it's him again - has said that 3D will 'revolutionise' television in a video guide to Sky's new 3D channel. The author (and all of those other things his publicity blur did mention) and self-confessed technology enthusiast has produced a short film in association with Sky, which takes a humorous look at 3D TV. On 1 October, Sky will launch Europe's first 3D channel to Sky+ HD customers on its top-tier television pack, with the opening weekend featuring live coverage of the 2010 Ryder Cup. In the short film, Fry said that '3D TV is no longer a gimmick and its poised to revolutionise the way we watch television.' The Qi host discussed the 'active' and 'passive' glasses that are supported by Sky 3D, but said that the competing technologies do not represent a 'format war' like VHS and Betamax in the 1980s. As the Sky 3D channel will be compatible with existing Sky+ HD receivers, Fry also noted that all timeshift functions will be available on the channel. In a statement, Fry said: '3D TV in the home is going to be the next exciting chapter in television history and I'm delighted to be able to offer a little clarity on the subject. 2010 has been a triumphant year for new and innovative technological developments, which is great news for all of us, not just technophiles like myself.' Sky's director of TV product development Brian Lenz added: 'Stephen's guide is a great, simple "one-stop" video that will help provide some understanding around 3D television and show viewers how simple it is to become 3D ready.' Stephen Fry's guide to 3D TV is available now to watch on the 3D section of Sky's website.

As previously mentioned, yer Keith Telly Topping and Mama Telly Topping have recently been having a full rewatch of the last series of Lost - which we actually completed this very afternoon. But, seemingly, we're mere amateurs. A hardcore group of fans have recently spent four days in a London cinema watching all one hundred and twenty one episodes of the SF show back-to-back. Around one hundred fans began the marathon session on Monday at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square - complete with sleeping bags and pillows. But only twenty one were left when the final episode screened in the early hours of Friday morning. Short breaks were taken every four hours, and paramedics were on-site in case of Sawyer-related accidents. Donna Lalek said she had 'no concept of time any more.' Which, given that show was abvout different timelines is probably rather fitting. Speaking to the BBC a few hours before the end, she said: 'I feel absolutely fine - still enjoying it. There's good camaraderie. Most people are still into it - some are starting to get a bit tired. But everyone's still in high spirits.' The bank administrator took a week's holiday take part in the event. 'Before Lost I was perfectly normal, so I've never done anything quite like this before - most people think I'm absolutely insane.' She said that she had managed to grab some sleep while the episodes were screened. 'It's really confusing. I don't know if it's night or day.' Now you know how Jack, Kate, Hurley and all the rest felt, sweetheart!

Johnny Depp, currently filming Pirates of the Caribbean 4, was snapped with several cuts and grazes on his hands and face as he left the C London restaurant in the capital's Mayfair with his friend (and screen-father), Rolling Stone Keith Richards this week. Currently filming the fourth Pirates Of The Caribbean movie in Buckinghamshire's Pinewood Studios, the forty seven-year-old's battered and bruised look sparked speculation that he had been injured on set while performing his own stunts. His representatives, however, have already laughed off the rumours, explaining that his gashed eyebrow, cross-shaped cheekbone cut and grazed knuckles were merely make-up. The fourth instalment apparently sees Captain Jack and Barbossa, played by Geoffrey Rush, embark on a quest to find the Fountain of Youth. But they are soon confronted by Ian McShane's Blackbeard and Penelope Cruz's character Angelica, a mysterious woman from Sparrow's shady past.

A school assembly in Watertown, New York was reportedly interrupted by the sounds of pornography playing over a public address system last Friday. The incident occurred during a 'get acquainted' event designed to let grade seven-to-twelve pupils meet new principal Lisa Parsons, 7 News reports. Parsons described the 'unfortunate incident' as 'shocking.' She added that it had 'upset people' and that she is 'deeply concerned about the children.' The student responsible for the 'prank' has reportedly been identified and, while Parsons claimed that no action has been taken, other sources suggested that he or she (but, probably he) had been expelled.

And finally, yer Keith Telly Topping has been thinking about the future of broadcast. I've decided that when I eventually get around to solving world peace and have the leaders of nations round to my gaff (they'll have to bunch up, obviously, it's only a one bedroom flat with two chairs and settee) and I tell them how to achieve a harmonious world (I could tell you, dear blog reader, but I'd only have to kill you afterwards) I'm then going to charge them ninety nine billion, two hundred and sixty one million and sixty three pounds for my services. They can split the cost between them. Which, I think, is reasonably fair - I mean, imagine the savings they'll make on weapons procurement for a kick off. Then, when all that's sorted and I'm, like, the richest man on the planet, I entend to make Mr Cameron an offer that he can't refuse and buy the BBC from the government. I'll then scrap the licence fee and put the organisation in a trust that will be, legally, protected from any further government interference for so long as I, and my heirs, have the money to pay for it. And, bearing in mind the interest that ninety nine billion quid sitting in a long term account will accrue, I'm guessing that's not going to be for quite a long time. And then ... I'm going to ban any and all mentions of the Daily Scum Mail anywhere on the Beeb - from local radio right up to Newsnight. I'll also ban every single employee from not only contributing to it but, also, from buying it. If they want war, I'd give them a sodding war. They've got six hundred thousand readers each day. I'll have twenty million viewers and listeners. We'll see who gets sick of the ensuing propaganda onslaught first. But, it'll be them, trust me. Anyway ... then I woke up ...