Monday, November 01, 2010

But Where It's Goin', No One Knows

Yer Keith Telly Topping really had a rather good Sunday this week, dear blog reader. Doesn't often happen so, when it does, one might as well celebrate the day as it were. Good weekend generally, in fact, but especially Sunday. I mean, quite apart from The Match (see below for further details). There was also, for example, a very good episode of Soccer Supplement, featuring the Torygraph's Henry Winter - a journalist whose views yer Keith Telly Topping always finds thought-provoking and worth listening to - a very entertaining Alice Cooper interview on The Andrew Marr Show and a terrific Roman Time Team episode in the afternoon, which almost ended with Guy de la Bédoyère and site-director Ben Robinson having a full-scale Barney McGrew about what sort of Roman building they'd actually been digging for three days! 'Thankfully the residents of Litlington were welcoming and very interested to know what was under their lawns,' wrote Ben on Channel 4's website. 'Many cups of tea later, the test pit crew's gardening began to pay off. We had found our missing villa. Not only that, but geophysics had pinned down 'Heaven's Walls.' The troublesome antiquarian map, like Eric Morcambe's piano playing, had all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order!' That was followed, later in the evening, by a tremendously moving Last Chance To See special about the almost extinct Northern White Rhino and James May's very enjoyable Man's Lab. All this, a plate of chips, a glass of chilled white wine and a Kevin Nolan hat-trick against the Mackems, dear blog reader. If only I'd found a penny down the back of the sofa it would've been, like, the best day ever. So, when I go into work on Tuesday and somebody asks what sort of a weekend I had, I can - with hand on heart - say: 'I spent Sunday with Tony Robinson, Stephen Fry and James May. It was quite good!' All this, plus I note that Sky are using Paul Weller's 'The Changingman' as the music on their trailers for the new series of House. Quality.

In fact, as alluded to earlier, yer Keith Telly Topping also spent a very nice Saturday night with Paul Merton. Not around the gaff, obviously. It's not fit for guests. However this blogger was, he has to confess, hugely impressed by Paul Merton's Weird and Wonderful World of Early Cinema on BBC2. In this, yer man Paul went in search of the origins of screen comedy in the forgotten world of silent cinema - not in Hollywood, but rather closer to home in pre-first world war Britain and France. Revealing the largely forgotten stars and lost masterpieces of the age, he brought to life the pioneering techniques and optical inventiveness of the virtuosos who mastered a new art form in the early years of the Twentieth Century. With a playful eye and his own immaculate comic sense of timing, Paul combined the role of presenter and director to recreate the weird and wonderful world of early European cinema in a series of cinematic experiments of his own. If you didn't catch it, dear blog reader, you missed a real treat. But, like all the best shows, it is available on iPlayer, so I recommend seek it out. And, after you've finished with that, check out Saturday's Beat Surrender with Doug Morris standing in for Nicky Roberts. Thoroughly sharp.

The a'fore mentioned Stephen Fry appears to have been and gone and got himself into a spot of bother after failing to control his Twitter compulsions. Stephen is currently spending his days at Leavesden films studios in Hertfordshire appearing in the sequel to the Sherlock Holmes movie, in which he plays the detective's older, smarter brother, Mycroft. Whilst filming scenes from the Guy Ritchie-directed movie on Thursday, Fry took time out to snap a few photos from the adjoining set of the forthcoming Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and later uploaded them on to his Twitter page. Ooo, naughty. Among the images were one of Hogwarts school in ruins and another showing the home of Harry Potter’s aunt and uncle, both of which went down a treat with the almost two million million people who follow Stephen's tweet. Or, twats. Or whatever the young 'with it' kiddies call that thing they do with their phones. But, Warner Brothers, who are producing the seventh and final film of the Potter saga, appear to have been somewhat less impressed and the photos soon vanished from the web. Fry later tweeted: 'Oops. I've been sent to the naughty step.' He was subsequently asked by one of his followers if Warner Brothers were being a little too protective of the final Potter film: 'Your words, not mine' he noted. When he arrived for work on Friday, Stephen used his Twitter page to promise: 'Shall be a good boy on set today. Sticks gaffer-tape over camera lens. Heigh ho.' The Sunday Telegraph reported that Stephen appeared to be half-expecting a confrontation with the film company after tweeting the previous week on his way to his first day of filming: 'Warner's publ ppl [sic] haven't told me the rules on tweeting from the set yet, but I expect it's frowned upon.' Depends what you tweet, I guess. 'I'm on the set, it's great. This is going to be fantastic movie and you should all come and see it when it's released,' would probably go down quite well with 'em, I'd've thought. But, rather typically, Stephen seems to have been unable to stop himself describing his every move during the filming for the sequel to last year's Holmes film, including an account of a night shoot and a boat scene.

Meanwhile the National Geographic channel, part-owned by News Corporation, has launched a five hundred thousand integrated marketing campaign to promote Great Migrations, a new series which is narrated by, guess who? Yes, Stephen Fry! It begins on Sunday 7 November. The campaign, planned by Walker Media with creative produced in-house by National Geographic, started this weekend and will run across national press, online and on TV to raise awareness of the natural history series. The national press activity will include adverts in The Times, the Sun, News of the Scum and the Gruniad Morning Star, and the TV campaign will run across a number of Sky channels. The outdoor element of the campaign includes large format ninety six-sheet and digital outdoor formats in London, Manchester and Birmingham, including Ocean's Liverpool media wall.

Strictly Come Dancing pulled in a series high audience of 10.36m on Saturday night, according to overnight ratings figures. The fifth live show of the current series, which saw Ann Widdecombe being, quite literally, dragged across the floor by her partner Anton Du Beke, averaged just over ten million viewers on BBC1 and three hundred thousand on BBC HD from 6.30pm until 8pm. Strictly recorded a combined peak of 11.65m between 7.30pm and 7.45pm. In the equivalent week last year, the celebrity talent show hit a low of 8.43m. Later, the third series of Merlin scored another series high of 5.84m viewers for the episode The Eye of the Phoenix at 8pm, despite being broadcast against The X Factor which performed solidly with a total of 12.22m viewers. The competition's Halloween Week had 11.55m viewers on ITV and six hundred and seventy thousand on ITV HD, with a combined peak of 12.7m between 8.45pm and 9pm for Matt Cardle's rendition of 'Bleeding Love.'

Highlight of the Strictly Halloween special was when Len Goodman and Brendan Cole had a reet rive on at each other. It was a sight to see! The New Zealand professional dancer retaliated when Goodman criticised his 'Time Warp'-inspired jive routine with Michelle Williams for not having enough dance content. 'I'm from a ballroom background and I was bitterly disappointed with it,' said the veteran judge. 'I'm sorry. The first half, I loved because it was proper jive, but then it got caught up in the story of the 'Time Warp and the last three quarters of it was all the 'Time Warp'.' Responding to his comments, Cole replied: 'That was only the last twenty seconds, I made sure of it. I won't have it. We did a proper jive for at least a minute.' A stern-face Goodman was not taking any crap, however, and replied: 'I can only tell you what I saw and what I felt.' Growing more angry, Cole snapped: 'Well then you should go to specsavers.' That's advertising, Bren m'friend. You can't do that on the BBC without adding 'other opticians are available' afterwards. The angry judge then gave the cocky Kiwi both barrels: 'What you want to do Brendan is turn up, keep up and shut up.' Burn! Refusing to be quiet, however, Cole continued: 'You don't want to turn up at all mate.' Speaking to host Tess Daly afterwards, Cole added: 'I made sure that there was enough content in there. There were no lifts and there have plenty of lifts from other people tonight. We did a proper jive and it ended with some 'Time Warp' flair.'

Subsequently, Tina O'Brien became the fourth celebrity to be eliminated from the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing. The former Coronation Street actress and her professional partner, Jared Murillo, found themselves in the bottom two alongside Felicity Kendal and Vincent Simone, after failing to pick up enough viewer votes with their Halloween-themed Argentine tango. Upon hearing the news, O'Brien expressed her regret that the public hadn't seen the same amount of potential in her as the judges.

X Factor judges Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh have reportedly complained about the 'loud and overused' backing tracks used by some of the acts belonging to Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell. It has been claimed that backing tracks are produced for some of the performances, featuring vocals sung by professionals that the finalists sing on top of. The backing tracks are sometimes played at such a high volume that it can be difficult to disassociate the two different vocals. Walsh and Minogue were reportedly angry with last week's performances by One Direction and Cher Lloyd in particular. According to the News of the Scum, a 'source' said: 'Louis and Dannii are furious. In their view the backing vocals on acts mentored by Cheryl and Simon are much louder and stronger than their acts. The public should be voting on who is the best singer, not who has the best production and backing vocals.' A show spokesperson responded: 'Acts are always treated fairly. Chorus vocals simply depend on the arrangement of the song being performed.'

Hollywood director George Hickenlooper, who won an Emmy in 1992 for the documentary film Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, has died at the age of forty seven. The film-maker died of apparent natural causes in Denver, where he was attending a film festival, his cousin John Hickenlooper said in a statement. 'We are devastated,' said John, who is also the mayor of Denver. 'George's passion for life, zeal for people and unquenchable curiosity enriched everyone who had the fortune to know him.' The director was in Denver for the premiere of his latest work Casino Jack, a political thriller starring Kevin Spacey and Kelly Preston. The festival, which starts on Wednesday,'"will be dedicated in its entirety to our friend George Hickenlooper,' said the festival director Britta Erickson. Hearts of Darkness (1991) was a fascinating and well-received documentary about the making of Francis Ford Coppolla's Apocalypse Now which George co-directed with Fax Bahr. It won several awards including the National Board of Review award for Best Documentary and was a critical sensation when screened at the 1991 Cannes festival. His other films include Factory Girl, Dogtown, Mayor of the Sunset Strip and the documentary Hick Town, based on footage shot while he followed his cousin around during the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have hosted a mock political rally in Washington DC. The event was announced on Stewart's The Daily Show last month as a reaction to FOX News pundit Glenn Beck's 'Restoring Honor' rally, in which the right-wing news anchor and berk urged his supporters to 'turn back to God' and 'return America to the values on which it was founded.' And think of the children. Probably. The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear opened with an introduction from Stewart, who was quickly interrupted by Colbert, shown on a video screen from within his underground 'fear bunker.' After being convinced by Stewart to join him above ground, Colbert rose from under the stage in a device similar to the one used to allow the trapped Chilean miners to escape earlier this month. Several celebrities joined the pair onstage, including the musician Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, Ozzy Osbourne, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow. Jeez, that sounds like a meeting on minds! Colbert also awarded one of his 'Medals of Fear' to 'Anderson Cooper's tight black t-shirt,' explaining that when CNN's Cooper 'shows up on your front yard, you know something terrible has happened in your community.' As the rally drew to a close, Stewart's message turned more serious as he urged the crowd to resist fearmongering, and said that while some may label America as fragile and torn by hate, 'the truth is, we work together to get things done every damn day.'

The future of the ITV2 reality show The Only Way Is Essex has reportedly been threatened after fears that local gangs are putting the cast in danger. The news comes after Mark Wright's bar, co-owned by Jack Tweed, was subject to an arson attack just hours after the show filmed a Halloween party at the venue. The Daily Lies Sunday claims that 'sources' believe the attack was carried out by 'jealous enemies,' while others have suggested that the fire was started by 'gangland figures' demanding protection money. So, 'jealous enemies' or 'gangland figures' - there's only one way to sort this out ... Wright said: 'We've never had to pay protection cash to anyone. I honestly haven't got a clue why it happened. But I certainly won't be quitting the show over it. We'll come back stronger and do the [bar] launch again next week.' A 'source' described as being 'close to producers' Lime Pictures told the paper: 'This is being taken very seriously. Obviously someone could have been gravely injured or even killed in this attack. Bosses were shocked. It's a very popular show and it would be a massive shame to cut it with just three episodes to film but the safety of the cast is paramount.' It's a very popular show, is it? Beg to differ with you bro. It gets ratings that makes Daybreak's look impressive.

Former Celebrity Big Brother contestant - and user of vile racially prejudicial insults - Danielle Lloyd has reportedly called off her wedding to the footballer Jamie O'Hara following a series of arguments.

Yer Keith Topping, as mentioned above, had a thoroughly entertaining afternoon on Sunday watching the Tyne-Wear Derby, dear blog reader. In which his beloved, though still unsellable, Magpies defeated 'them lot from doon the road' 5-1 in what was, by the end, a bit of a hiding. What a pity, however, that Darren Bent scored that goal for Sunderland right at the end, thus robbing newspaper sub-editors everywhere of the chance to use Wey-Aye Five-Oh for a headline on Monday morning! For anyone who believed that Chris Hughton might struggle to survive much longer as a Premier League manager - and, if anyone can work out exactly where that rumour actually started, let me know, because yer Keith Telly Topping is pretty convinced it didn't originate anywhere within a twelve mile radius of Tyneside - or who imagined that Big Titus Shambles really had re-invented himself as an ultra-calm and reliable Premier League quality centre-half with the Black Cats it was an assumption-challenging sort of afternoon. St James Park was near its fifty two thousand capacity as the one hundred and forty first league meeting between two of British football's oldest, and bitterest, local rivals took place. Sunderland's Newcastle-born manager Steve Bruce return to his 'beloved' St James' Park, his words not mine, and the club he supported as a boy (something which he occasionally mentions in interviews, you might have noticed) accompanied by a squad of players who, as observed in their pre-match coverage, 'also spend much of their time on Tyneside - living there, socialising there, attending police stations and magistrates courts etc.' Now, now - we've got one or two of those ourselves! Those who subscribe to the view that a four-four-two formation represents 'yesterday's men' in football terms or believe that Shola Ameobi was a Premier League striker with an uncanny ability to miss the barn door from three feet, were also in for a disquieting afternoon as preconceptions were thoroughly shattered just as emphatically as Sunderland's seven-match unbeaten league run. Mike Ashley, Newcastle's much-hated owner, is unlikely to think about sacking Hughton after his side dramatically exorcised the memory of a series of recently disappointing home performances at the expense of their fiercest rivals. Although, with that buffoon Ashley and his guffawing non-entity of a sidekick, Derek Llambias in the boardroom, you can never be too certain about pretty much anything. Hughton - keeping the four-four-two system that worked so well in United's win at West Ham last week - saw his tactical plans pay-off and Big Titus experienced a torrid return to Gallowgate being thoroughly terrorised by both Ameobi and Andy Carroll before getting himself sent off for a pointless hack on Carroll when the latter was through one-on-one with Simon Mignolet early in the second-half. By that stage, however, the game as a contest was all but over. Ameobi scored twice, once from a penalty in first-half injury time, whilst a resurgent Kevin Nolan registered a memorable hat-trick, United's first in a derby match since Peter Beardsley scored a memorable one on New Year's Day 1985. Small wonder then that, in the away dug-out, Steve Bruce, a Walker lad and childhood United fan (has he mentioned that recently?), but one who - allegedly - twice turned down the chance to become manager at St James', endured possibly the most uncomfortable afternoon of his tenure in charge of Sunderland. What a shame. Ironically it was Hughton looked the more nervous of the two as he shook hands with Bruce before the kick-off. He need not have worried. At the end of a manic first-half featuring lots of blood and thunder, some downright tasty tackling, precious little midfield possession but a considerable amount of excitement over the kind of football the English league used to specialise in, United were three goals to the good. Sunderland were, perhaps, the better side for the first quarter of an hour but, once United's midfield - and particularly the impressive Joey Barton on the right - began to get the ball down and knock it around - the home side grew in confidence and strength. The first goal arrived on twenty six minutes when Barton's corner was headed on in a crowded penalty area by Ameobi. Despite striking the dropping ball with his back to goal from an almost horizontal position, Nolan somehow flicked it over his shoulder and above Phil Bardsley into the roof of the net at the Gallowgate End. Sunderland's defensive record has been much improved this season but they regressed to some bad habits from the days of yore when conceding the second, eight minutes later. Their backline was all over the place as Andy Carroll - who had a splendid game up front - collected a blocked Jonás Gutiérrez effort with a wild scissor kick. It broke in the box and fell for the unattended Nolan, marginally onside, who had time to not only bring the ball down but recover from a slightly dodgy first touch before coolly shooting his sixth goal of the season. Bruce immediately brought his thirteen million pound Ghana striker, Asamoah Gyan off the bench as, with Ahmed Elmohamady withdrawn, he switched from four-five-one to four-four-two, a significant tribute to Hughton having won the tactical battle for the opening stages. Within minutes, though, Bruce's side were three down, Ameobi scoring clinically from the penalty spot after Nedum Onuoha tripped Gutiérrez as he surged into the box. It got worse for Sunderland early in the second half. Bramble, the former Newcastle centre-half, and looking every inch the lumbering plank he appeared to be for much of his time at Gallowgate, marked his return to Tyneside by being shown a straight red card for sending the accelerating Carroll crashing just outside the area. And, how the crowd enjoyed that after some of the comments Shambles had made about Newcastle supporters since he left the club. Quite rightly referee Phil Dowd judged Bramble had to go. Dowd himself had a decent, if a bit erratic, game being authoritative but at least communicating with the players unlike many of the more stand-offish referees. He did, however, make something of a rod for his own back early on by dishing out three or four pointless yellow cards which meant that, the longer the game went on, he had to carry on in the same manner. The game was tough and physical but never nasty and, of the nine yellow cards that accompanied Bramble's red it was probably only a late tackle by Cheik Tiote, an annoyed Lee Cattermole having a swipe at Jose Enrique and, late on, a cynical foul by Michael Turner on Carroll that actually deserved their cautions. I was particularly unimpressed by Danny Simpson being shown the yellow card for a tackle in which he missed Gyan by some feet but played the ball into touch. It appeared that it was Gyan's outraged reaction to a perfectly fair tackle which then got Simpson booked. That sort of thing - players getting fellow professionals booked or sent off by either feigning injury or reacting angrily to perfectly legal tackles is - I must admit, something which makes yer Keith Telly Topping's blood boil, so it does. Cattermole had been in a running battle with Nolan all match and Bruce, perhaps wisely, decided to take the booked Subnderland captain off and replace him with John Mensah. The Ghanan centre-back's first contribution was to bring down Carroll just outside the area from which he was lucky not to join Cattermole in the book. He was soon cautioned, however, for making his mouth go following a bit of handbags with Nolan before a corner. Ameobi volleyed a fourth goal after a Carroll header rebounded off the bar before creating the fifth himself by nodding on a corner from which Nolan completed his hat-trick. Although Darren Bent claimed a late goal it proved no sort of consolation to Bruce or his players who will probably feel like spending the coming week indoors with the curtains closed. And, the only disappointed people will be those sub-editors previously mentioned. The win lifted Newcastle above their local rival in the Premier League table to seventh. Can we stop the season now, please, that'll do yer Keith Telly Topping.

Lastly for this week, the latest in yer Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day series. And, trust me, this one is another god damn twenty-four carat classic. The first release from the one of the most important record labels the British industry ever produced.'Security's so tight tonight, they're ready for a tussle/Gotta keep your backstage passes, cos the promoter has the muscle!' Power pop! And, here's Nick and Rockpile performing it on The Kenny Everett Video Show in 1978.