Saturday, November 27, 2010

Week Forty Nine: The Television Man Is Crazy Says We're Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks

Just to confirm, dear blog reader, that the icy fingers of winter have truly cometh to The Frozen North. With an almost biblical vengeance. Here's a couple of pictures taken from oot the window of yer actual Chez Telly Topping at Saturday lunchtime. Isn't one just, like, totally beyond glad to be indoors on a day like today?Ross Noble was particularly brilliant on Friday night's Qi this week, dear blog reader, in case you missed it. 'I'd really like to see an act called Rod Hull and Emo!' If you did miss it, catch the XL edition tonight. Clarkson and Davey Mitchell were pretty good too.

The BBC's coverage of Prince William's marriage to Kate Middleton will not fall victim to funding cuts required by the freezing of the annual licence fee, according to a senior corporation executive. Well, thank Christ for that cos we were all so worried that we weren't going to get to see a lot of very rich people wearing silly clothes poncing up and down like they own the place. Which, actually, they do. Jana Bennett, the BBC's director of vision, warned of 'potential delays' to planned series or events because of budget cuts, but said that the royal wedding on 29 April will be given 'due prominence. This will be a big-scale event.' She said that BBC1 will carry the main responsibility of bringing 'everybody together' for the Westminster Abbey ceremony and accompanying celebrations. But, she added that other BBC channels could also play a part, looking at details such as the wedding dress. 'I could see BBC3 doing something like that though they've already got Don't Tell the Bride!' she said. A meeting of broadcasters about covering the event will take place next week and Bennett predicted the wedding could boost the sales of high definition TV sets in the same way the Queen's coronations enticed people to buy their first television in 1953. Bennett admitted BBC TV series and events planned for 2012 onwards could be delayed as a result of the licence fee freeze. She said the corporation will protect the 'scale' of its London 2012 Olympics coverage but other major TV events are likely to suffer. As even an idiot could have predicted when the licence fee was frozen in the first place. What a pity nobody said anything at the time. Oh, wait. The BBC is facing a sixteen per cent funding cut in real terms over six years from next April, as the licence fee is frozen at the annual current level of £145.50, following the hastily negotiated and controversial deal with the government. Budgets for BBC TV channels for the year from 1 April will be set by around next February and will take into account the reduction in funding, Bennett said. She added that the BBC is looking at its finances across the board due to the impending funding cuts. Because, of course, I'm sure most people in this country would sooner the BBC wasted millions of pounds covering the Royal Wedding rather than spent the money instead on, ooo, I dunno, some programmes? Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch in London yesterday, Bennett said the freeze amounted to a loss of around one hundred and forty four million pounds, and comes on top of the deficit created by the projected £1.5bn pension black hole. She added that the BBC is aiming for a 'zero balance sheet' by the end off its charter period in 2017, and executives are looking to see how this could be achieved. More money could come from BBC Worldwide as it has had a good year and is looking to sell off a stake in its magazines business. 'There's a question of how much they are going to contribute,' Bennett said. But she was coy on speculation that she herself might be joining BBC Worldwide, saying 'people talk to me from time to time about jobs. There's absolutely nothing I can tell you now.' She also denied that she has come under political pressure over Panorama's forthcoming investigation into bids for the World Cup in 2018. Bennett also said that The ONE Show is 'in very good health' in spite of presenter Jason Manford's sudden resignation, but that no permanent replacement was imminent. 'People will be interested [in applying] because it's a great show,' she added. She said that despite Manford departing under a cloud after tweeting explicit messages: 'Tweeting isn't banned. The problem is it feels private but it's public.'

Daybreak presenter Adrian Chiles has conceded that he was 'wrong' in his assumption that the ITV show would be a hit. Chiles left the BBC in order to front ITV's morning show alongside Christine Bleakley, only to endure poor ratings and frequent criticism. He told the Gruniad Morning Star: 'I felt in my water that it was going to be a storming immediate runaway success - I was absolutely sure. And I was completely fucking wrong.' However, the forty three-year-old, who also fronts football coverage for his new employers, has vowed to fight on in order to rescue Daybreak. 'We've only been doing it eight weeks,' he said. 'Who quits anything after that length of time? And it kind of feels like it's getting better already. You feel like it's us against the world at four o'clock in the morning. We're all in this together.'

And so to the next batch of yer Top Telly Tips, dear blog reader:

Friday 3 December
In tonight's Qi - 8:30 BBC1 - Stephen Fry is joined by guests Rob Brydon, Sandi Toksvig, Fred MacAulay and regular panellist Alan Davies on the quiz with a difference. The host asks questions on the topic of Highs and Lows. The XL edition is on at 10:10 on BBC2 tomorrow.

Peep Show - 10:00 Channel 4 - returned last week to some acclaim. On its day it's one of the best comedies on British TV but over recent years it's had more than its fair share of off-days. In the latest episode, the object of Mark's desire, Dobby (Isy Suttie), goes out with a graphic designer, leaving Mark (David Mitchell) no choice but to form a club with Gerrard devoted to winning her over. Elsewhere, Zahra's boyfriend Ben, now back from hospital, offers Jeremy (Robert Webb) the job as head of development for his music website, but things take a turn for the worse when he signs up Super Hans's band Man Feelings.

Arena: Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way - 9:00 BBC4 - is a profile of the award-winning jazz musician, who was born in 1920 and whose career began in 1945 with experiments that became known as 'cool jazz.' The artist's sound marked him as an adventurous and technically accomplished figure of the genre, with songs such as his 1959 crossover hit 'Take Five' still popular today. With contributions by Dave himself and Iola Brubeck, Bill Cosby, Jamie Cullum, Yo-Yo Ma, George Lucas and Clint Eastwood.

Saturday 4 December
After almost three gruelling weeks of trials and tribulations in their insect-ridden temporary home in the wilds of Australia, the three finalists face one last Bushtucker Trial before viewers at home get to decide who will be taking Gino D'Acampo's crown from last year in I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Face On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible, I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want! - 9:25 ITV. Ant and Dec present action from the last day, before chatting to this year's winner and runners-up. Last in the current series which has been, comfortably, the most watched series so far, in many ways the most entertaining and, at the same time, possibly the most disquieting. Which probably says something about something, don't come to me looking for a quick answer on that one.

Sunday 5 December
Operation Mincemeat - 9:00 BBC2 - is a fascinating looking documentary based on Ben Macintyre's book of the same name. Macintyre presents the full story of how Britain deceived Hitler into thinking that the Allies were planning to invade Greece from North Africa in 1943, allowing them to land instead in Sicily - their real objective - with minimal resistance. In part the brainchild of future James Bond author Ian Fleming, the deception had been shrouded in secrecy for over sixty years, but is now thought to have saved thousands of lives and provided one of the decisive turning points of the war. The dead body of a tramp was given a new name, an officers rank and a briefcase containing plans for the fake invasion and the corpse was then floated off the Spanish coast where Nazi spies found it. The ruse was a huge success.

The excellent Any Human Heart continues with its third episode - 9:00 Channel Four - focusing on Logan Mountstuart's years in the New York art world of the 1950s. Kim Cattrall and Richard Schiff are among the familiar faces popping up in the guest cast in William Boyd's sensational adaptation of his own best-selling novel.

Or, if you're odd, you may prefer The Nation's Favourite ABBA Song - 9:00 ITV. Not that there's anything wrong with ABBA, of course, it's just that this show sounds, frankly, wretched. Kate Thornton narrates a countdown of the group's most popular hit singles, as voted for by the British public. Topping the chart with 'Waterloo' in 1974 (not their debut single, despite what the Radio Times might try to convince you), ABBA went on to reach the number one spot another eight times during the 1970s and early 80s. This one-off programme discovers the stories behind all twenty five of ABBA's top forty chart entries and reveals which one is the nation's favourite. Bet it won't be 'The Day Before You Came', that's for certain. Featuring new interviews with band members Bjorn Ulvaeus and Frida Lyngstad, who recall the height of their fame and how they carried on performing and writing music despite the breakdown of marriages within the group. ABBA fans including Robin Gibb, Nicole Scherzinger, Dermot O'Dreary, Terry Wogan, Louis Walsh and Joe McElderry also contribute. McElderry? He's only about twelve! Oh God, this is going to be a horrorshow of obscene proportions.

Many of the people featured on that can also be seen an hour earlier on The X Factor - 8:00 ITV. Viewers have been voting over the past twenty four hours and now the remaining acts find out the results, as Dermot O'Dreary announces which of them will make it through to next week's final. Plus, the stars of hit American show Glee make their debut on live British TV with a performance on stage. Will the heart-stopping excitement never cease?

Monday 6 December
In Kirstie and Phil's Perfect Christmas - 8:00 Channel Four - nauseatingly twee and annoying Tory Kirstie Allsopp and her slightly less annoying mate Phil Spencer demonstrate how to celebrate the festive season 'in style,' it says here, providing tips for securing the best decorations and presents, and advice on laying on the perfect food and drink for family gatherings as well as New Year soirees. Which, I'm sure, will go down really well on council estates up and down the land where nobody has any money because of the spending review. Thanks Kirst and Phil, you lovely people, that's just what we need, a reminder of lots of rich middle-class people with nice teeth having a soiree or several. This episode focuses on preparing a children's Christmas party. Why anybody with an ounce of dignity or self-respect would want to watch this sick exercise in lording it, I have no idea. Continues for the next three nights as well. Joy.

It's the last episode of The Trip - 10:00 BBC2. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon visit Bolton Abbey and eat breakfast at the Angel Inn at Hetton in North Yorkshire. On the journey back to London from their culinary tour of the North, they stop off at Steve's parents' house. This has been a great series and, to think, it started off with relatively low expectations. Which is odd when you consider the talent involved but Coogan had been stuck in not particularly good movies for a while and Brydon's undoubtedly talents, too often, seemed to be used in quiz shows. They play, essentially, exaggerated versions of themselves in this clever, witty, beautifully shot, rather gentle and bittersweet partly-improvised comedy. Two actors take a trip across the north to a bunch of restaurants that one is reviewing for the Observer. Along the way, they listen to Joy Division, single Kate Bush songs, swap Michael Caine and Sean Connery impressions and bitch, constantly, about the inadequacies of each others careers. On paper it sounds as dodgy as hell. In execution, it's easily the best thing either man has done in years. Coogan, in particular, is at his very best as a vain, full-of-himself, rather cheap and bitter man who doesn't value friendship. Brydon's character is a shade less stark but he gets most of the best lines. Whether The Trip could sustain another series is debateable, but the first series will be remembered for years to come.

To celebrate the soap's fiftieth anniversary, four of its former actors battle it out in the culinary competition for the chance to win one thousand pounds for charity in Come Dine with Me: Coronation Street Special - 9:00 Channel Four. Julie Goodyear, Ken Morley, Tupele Dorgu and Philip Middlemiss take it in turns to host dinner parties that feature bawdy humour, a male slave in an animal print thong, and boys in drag.

But, if you like Corrie then you don't want to watch that, it'll be embarrassing and rubbish. What you actually want to watch is Coronation Street: The Historic First Episode - 8:00 ITV. A chance to see where fifty years of TV history began, as ITV shows the first-ever episode of the soap, originally broadcast on 9 December 1960. Newcomer Florrie Lindley takes over the Corner Shop, while siblings Dennis and Linda cause headaches for their mother, Elsie Tanner. Among the cast are Doris Speed as Annie Walker, Violet Carson as Ena Sharples, Patricia Phoenix as Elsie Tanner, Jack Haworth as Albert Tatlock and a young William Roache as Kenneth Barlow.

Tuesday 7 December
In Can You Keep a Secret?: Tonight - 7:30 ITV - Mary Nightingale charts the rise of super-injunctions, asking to what extent they protect individual privacy and to what extent they simply exist to limit press freedom. The programme speaks to journalists and well-known figures, including former motor racing chief Max Mosley, who have been at the heart of the biggest newspaper stories in recent years.

Natural World Special: Panda Makers - 8:00 BBC2 - is a documentary shot over the course of two years, providing an insight into work at Chengdu Research Base in central China. Once on the brink of extinction, giant pandas now appear to be set for a period of relative prosperity (unlike humanity). The programme details how workers at the sanctuary hope to breed three hundred pandas as part of an ambitious conservation project, the final aim being to introduce them back into the wild. A captive breeding programme unparalleled in its ambition and the degree of technological innovation involved. Narrated by David Attenborough, this time follows the pandas and keepers over a twenty four month period to see how they're getting on.

Fifty Greatest Plastic Surgery Shockers - 9:00 E4 - as the title might suggest, dear blog reader, features a countdown of the fifty most dramatic cases of plastic surgery, featuring the rich, famous and weird devotees of cosmetic procedures from around the world. Not forty nine. Not fifty one. Just, fifty. The programme uses groundbreaking digital techniques to show viewers how the world's most famous faces would look if they decided to age naturally instead of letting some maniac with a knife near their boat-race. It also features interviews with Jackie Stallone, Pete Burns, Cindy Jackson, Jodie Marsh and Erik Sprague, alias The Lizard Man. Just what we all need, eh, two hours of self-inflicted disfigurement masquerading as entertainment.

Wednesday 8 December
In the latest episode of Edwardian Farm - 8:00 BBC2 - it's January and, the heroic trio struggle to keep afloat during the harsh winter. As the climate forces farmers to become more resourceful, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn work in a Cornish mine a few hundred yards from the farm, and experience for themselves copper mining, once the major source of Morwellham Quay's wealth and made it one of England's busiest ports. Meanwhile, Ruth visits Honiton, where she learns the art of lace-making. at one time, half of the inhabitants of east Devon were involved in lace-making as their main source of income.

After months of planning and more leaks than the Titanic Coronation Street - 7:00 ITV - reaches an episode that's been talked about more than the Middle East. Ashley and Nick struggle to free Peter before the roof of the Joinery collapses. Meanwhile, one resident - and, if you've been watching, you'll know exactly whom - desperately tries to cover his tracks amid the devastation and pregnant Fiz gets caught in the crossfire. Oh, and, just in case you hadn't heard, watch out for that tram. What tram? Splat! Continues tomorrow.

If you didn't catch Lennon Naked - 10:00 BBC4 - earlier this year then it's repeated tonight. This is a rather fine drama focusing on the most turbulent and intense period of John Lennon's life, chronicling the beginning of his relationship with Yoko Ono, which ended his first marriage, and the re-establishment of contact with his estranged father, Freddie. The story also follows the events that led to the end of The Beatles - a popular beat combo on the 1960s, you might've heard of them - and Lennon's subsequent move to America in 1971. It's got a great cast, starring Christopher Eccleston, Christopher Fairbank and Torchwood's Naoko Mori. And it also, thankfully, doesn't follow the Saint John of Strawberry Fields route and try to portray the alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie as some kind of Gandhi figure that the more ludicrous parts of his fandom try to suggest he was. Instead, it gives a portrait of a rather mean and confused individual, someone badly flawed but with a likeable streak that would surface occasionally. Because, Eccleston - in a magnificent performance - plays Lennon as somebody you wouldn't mind having a pint with but whom you'd hate to be related to.

Thursday 9 December
Fifty years ago today, a new drama started on Granada that was expected to last thirteen episodes. Who would've predicted it would come to this? Coronation Street Live - 8:00 ITV - is an hour-long live episode of British television's long-running drama and a celebration of The Mother of All Soaps. Horrific news is delivered to loved ones in the aftermath of the first viaduct crash to hit Weatherfield since 1967, and a someone makes a final wish before death. A traumatised Gary relives his Afghanistan nightmare and a crushing discovery is made as Sally risks everything to save a friend. Followed immediately by Coronation Street: Fifty Years, Fifty Moments giving viewers the opportunity to come down from the buzz of the live episode with an hour of gentle nostalgia.

Or, you may prefer The House That Made Me - 9:00 Channel Four - which actually sounds like a really good idea for a TV show. Four famous figures take an emotional trip back to their teenage homes, which have been meticulously re-created by social historians and design experts into how they remember them. Hopefully, with the permission of the people who now live there, of course. In the opening episode pop star Boy George is the first to undergo the immersive experience, returning to the house that he grew up in as part of a large working-class Catholic family, a place which holds some difficult memories. And, to his family's second residence, where he reminisces about the sitting room and bedroom that he shared with his brothers. Sounds really rather good although I should, I suppose, clue you up on the fact that Michael Barrymore is one of the other people involved in this series which might be an episode that's a bit harder to like.

In My Father, The Bomb And Me - 9:00 BBC4 - the broadcaster Lisa Jardine explores the implications of her late father Jacob Bronowski's secret wartime bombing research and experience of the atom bomb. She also examines how his work played a part in the story of science in the Twentieth Century. Part of the Tools of Science season.

And so to the news: Ofcom has revoked the four adult channel broadcast licences owned by Bang Channels and Bang Media for 'numerous and repeated breaches' of standards. In July, the media regulator fined the two broadcasters a total of over one hundred and fifty thousand pounds for repeatedly airing adult material for 'the sole purpose of sexual stimulation.' Well, isn't that the sole purpose of adult material? Call me an old square if you like, but I kind of thought that was the point. Footage included simulated masturbation and oral sex, including close-ups of genital and anal activity. Sounds like a Saturday night round my place, frankly. But anyway ... The fine followed a series of rebukes from Ofcom for Bang Channels, which operates the bouquet of three Tease Me channels on the Sky platform, and Bang Media, which owns and operates the Tease Me TV service on Freeview. The media regulator noted that, despite the imposition of statutory sanctions, the two broadcasters had 'demonstrated a disregard for their licence obligations, including their obligation to comply with the [Broadcasting] Code.' Ofcom found a further nine breaches of its guidelines in material broadcast on the Tease Me TV channels between 9 and 16 November, representing an 'unprecedented' level of transgression by a broadcaster. As financial penalties do not appear to deter Bang Channels or Bang Media, Ofcom has decided to revoke their licences after judging them not to be 'fit and proper persons' to hold the status of licensed operators in the UK. Fair enough. And, err, Rupert Murdoch and Richard Desmond are? Okay, just checking. 'In reaching this view, Ofcom has been mindful both of its duties to ensure that viewers are protected from harmful and offensive material and of the need to ensure that the freedom of expression of broadcasters is respected,' said the watchdog. 'In this case, the actions of the licensees have gone well beyond what is considered acceptable under the Broadcasting Code or the BCAP Code.' It added: 'The Licensees have not responded to any other regulatory action and Ofcom considers that it must act promptly in accordance with its duties. Ofcom is therefore revoking all the licences held by the licensees with immediate effect on the basis that they are no longer fit and proper to hold those licences. Should the licensees continue to provide a relevant regulated television service they will be guilty of a criminal offence under section 13(1) of the 1990 Act.'

Damian Lewis - who was so good when presenting Have I Got News For You the other week - has signed up to star in a new BBC1 thriller. Stolen focuses on Lewis's character Detective Inspector Anthony Carter, who works in the human trafficking unit. The story follows Anthony as he tries to save three children who have been smuggled into the UK. The show's executive producer Sita Williams said: 'We have wanted to make this film for a very long time, and I'm delighted that the BBC has commissioned it - to bring this subject to a wider audience.' Lewis has previously starred in shows including Band Of Brothers and Life. Stolen has been written by Stephen Butchard, who also penned Five Daughters, House Of Saddam and Vincent.

The Xtra Factor host Konnie Huq is to front a week-long documentary series next month on Current TV that will 'get behind the headlines that shook the nation.' The seven-part series, titled Shocked Britain, has been produced using archive news footage from ITN Source of the most shocking murders, deaths, crimes, terror attacks, celebrity scandals, disasters and headlines of the modern age. Running every night at 9pm from Christmas Day to New Year's Eve, each hour-long show will feature insight from cultural commentators such as Andrew Gilligan, Francis Wheen, Paul Gambachini, Toby Young, Georgina Bailey, Michael Fish and Margaret Beckett MP. The first programme will deal with the terror attacks of 2005. 'Shocked Britain will document the news that has shaped our lives,' said Lina Prestwood, director of content at Current TV. 'It includes archive footage that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as you relive the moment you saw the second plane hitting the tower on 9/11, stood frozen to the spot watching the Boxing Day Tsunami, or ran out of fingers counting Tiger [Woods]'s increasing "conquests." Viewers will remember where they were, who they were with and how they felt during some of the most extraordinary and memorable moments of modern times.' ITN Source head of sales Simon Wood added: 'ITN Source are delighted to partner with Current TV on Shocked Britain, a compelling new series which provides the perfect platform for us to demonstrate the full breadth of our content and newsgathering capabilities.' Co-founded by former US vice president Al Gore, Current TV broadcasts a mix of commissioned shows and user-generated content. The channel launched in the UK and Ireland in May 2007 on Sky channel 183 and Virgin Media channel 155. Rumours that there will be a spin-off show, Stunned Britain which will talk to celebrities about where they were when they first heard about the show Shocked Britain cannot, at this time, be entirely discounted.

Neil Morrissey was reportedly 'almost handcuffed' after a drunken rant on a British Airways flight from Australia to London Heathrow. The Men Behaving Badly actor was travelling from Singapore, where he had connected from an earlier flight out of Australia. He was down under as a guest panellist on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity and it was on the second flight that he allegedly began to swear at fellow passengers. According to a British Airways 'source,' the actor yelled at other passengers: 'Travelling Club is fucking great, mate! Free fucking wine! All you can fucking well drink!' Can't fault the accuracy of his statements thus far. Eventually, he fell asleep, the cabin crew attempted to involve the captain after imploring Morrissey to 'cool it.' The actor's spokesperson blamed the behaviour on his 'fear of flying' and because he had consumed several drinks before boarding. British Airways also released a statement confirming the incident, and said that it would not be 'taking any further action' against Morrissey. So, in other words, this is a complete non-story. It's always unwise to get too excited about any story that begins with a statement that someone was 'almost' anything. That - ultimately - means that they weren't. In 2004, Morrissey was detained and questioned by US Customs for being 'rude and drunk' at Los Angeles Airport after a Virgin Airways flight. But then, we've all done that.

ITV is reportedly considering a major acquisition of an independent production company to bolster its struggling programme producer ITV Studios. Adam Crozier, the chief executive of ITV, wants to foster a 'creative renewal' at ITV Studios to help the production arm generate more hit shows, such as Dancing On Ice and Channel Four's Come Dine With Me. Crozier's five-year transformation plan for ITV involves fifty per cent of its revenue eventually coming from sources other than TV advertising to reduce its dependency on the often fickle income source. Last week, ITV hired Hat Trick co-founder Denise O'Donoghue to lead commercial strategy at ITV Studios, working with former Channel Four director of television Kevin Lygo in the division's new senior management team. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, senior ITV executives are now considering options for a major acquisition to enable ITV Studios to grow much more quickly. Industry 'sources' claim that potential targets of 'appealing size and scale' include All3Media, the maker of shows such as Midsomer Murders, Hollyoaks and Peep Show. ITV has not yet made an official approach for an acquisition target, but it is thought to be actively looking at possible deals in the UK and abroad. One source said: 'There is a general corporate understanding that acquisitions will be part of whatever happens in the content area. They will look at all of the sizeable options but you can't base a strategy simply on buying a big company and Crozier knows that. There is a lot of pressure on ITV Studios at a corporate level.' Another source allegedly added: 'An acquisition of All3Media would solve problems for ITV Studios giving them increased turnover, profits and it will diversify ITV's revenue base and critically could drive formats that will sell overseas. Acquisitions have to be part of achieving the aim of doubling revenues from ITV Studios to more than one billion pounds.' Last week, Crozier said at a conference in Barcelona that ITV was 'cash rich' and would actively consider major investments to unlock new revenue streams.

John Cleese was reportedly given a lift home by the police earlier this week, after he was mobbed by fans outside London's Old Vic theatre where he had been hosting the 24 Hour Plays Celebrity Gala. His car didn't show up, so Cleese ended up surrounded by autograph-hunters, paparazzi and 'common people' which, his spokesman said 'started to get a bit out of control.' Particularly the common people, because, you see, they simply don't know their place. A police car pulled up to find out what was happening, and then offered to give him a lift home. Because, of course, the police don't have anything better to do in London of an evening the provide lifts to bewildered pensioners.

OIly weasel Max Clifford has suggested that Gillian McKeith can only blame herself for how she is being perceived by the public. McKeith has faced criticism from her I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... co-stars and the press for allegedly faking several collapses on the show. Clifford, McKeith's former publicist, told the Independent: 'She's become public enemy number one. I'm actually starting to feel a bit sorry for her, but she's got nobody to blame but herself. People had largely forgotten her for the last two years, and she obviously saw this as a way to get herself back on television, where she thinks she belongs. The opposite has been achieved - unless, that is, she plans to make a programme about how to faint in public.' Asked if McKeith could turn around public opinion and win the show, he added: 'When Kerry Katona went into the jungle, her first few days were very iffy, and she turned it around into a huge success. So can it be done? Yes. Is Gillian capable of doing it? I'd be absolutely astonished.' Regarding the end of their business relationship, Clifford confirmed: 'We parted company about two years ago, because her husband thought he could do it instead.'

The owner of a Venezuelan television channel opposed to the government of the rotter Hugo Chavez (and his really small penis) says that he is seeking political asylum in the United States. Globovision president Guillermo Zuloaga fled to the US in June after the Caracas government issued a warrant for his arrest on fraud charges relating to his car dealership business. Zuloaga said the charges were trumped up, as were allegations of his involvement in a plot to assassinate Chavez. The Venezuelan president has waged a long-running campaign against Globovision.

The Twitter one-liner of the week, this week, is from Viz Top Tips: 'PARENTS. Save money on presents this year by simply telling your children Father Christmas doesn't exist and to grow up.' Sound advice.

After the Sun had a go at predicting the Christmas Day schedules earlier in the week (with such questionable results), now it's Digiguide's turn to try the same thing:-
06:00 Breakfast
09:00 The Sarah Jane Adventures
09:50 Shaun the Sheep
10:00 Christmas Day Eucharist
11:00 Film: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
12:25 Film: Madagascar
13:45 BBC News
14:00 Top of the Pops
15:00 The Queen
15:10 The Gruffalo
15:40 Film: Shrek the Third
17:00 BBC News
17:25 Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
18:25 Doctor Who
19:30 Eastenders
20:30 The One Ronnie
21:20 The Royal Family
22:20 Come Fly with Me
22:50 BBC News
23:00 Christmas Message from Arch Bishop of Canterbury
23:05 Film: Starsky and Hutch
06:00 CITV
08:05 Film: The Little Polar Bear
09:25 CITV
09:40 Family Film of the Decade
10:40 Film: Santa Claus
12:45 ITV News
12:55 Film: Miracle on 34th Street
15:00 The Queen
15:10 Film: The Grinch
17:10 ITV News
17:30 You've Been Framed at Christmas
18:00 Emmerdale
19:00 Coronation Street
20:00 The Cube Celebrity Special
21:00 Benidorm
22:15 ITV News
22:30 Film: Bridget Jones's Diary
That looks a touch more likely than the Sun's effort, although I'm still not sure about some of it; they've got EastEnders down as one sixty minute episode rather than two thirty minute episodes as it usually is on Christmas Day.

David Cameron says that he is frustrated at the timing of a Panorama probe into FIFA, but said it will not affect England's 2018 World Cup bid. The BBC programme investigating world football's governing body will be broadcast on 29 November - three days before the vote on 2 December in Zurich. 'Is it frustrating that Panorama's doing this programme a few days before? Of course it is,' Cameron told the BBC. 'But it's a free country. I think FIFA will understand.' England 2018 bid chief executive Andy Anson had, ridiculously, accused the BBC of being 'unpatriotic' in airing the programme so soon before the vote as though the concept of patriotism is, in any way, a factor in the exposing of wrongdoing which is what Panorama claim they have evidence of. With a recent Sunday Times investigation into world football's governing body also resulting in two FIFA officials being banned while four others were suspended, the British media were feared, by some, to be 'harming' England's hopes. Although if the allegations about some of FIFA's top brass are true and can be proven then the question of whether the prime minister of this country should be quite for keen to hang out with them and lick their collective chuffs in an effort to get them to award this country the tournament is something which, I dare say, a few voters might have something to say about. Be careful what you wish for, baby, it might just come true. David Cameron, for example, has been photographed during this process happily shaking hands with Sepp Blatter. If, as Andrew Jennings suggests in Foul! Blatter really is as bent as a nine pound note, and if the BBC can prove that - all very big 'ifs' admittedly - then what, exactly, does that say about David Cameron's own credability? Panorama defended its decision to broadcast the programme as being in the 'public interest.' A BBC spokesperson stated: 'Panorama has a reputation for strong, independent and probing investigative journalism. The findings of the Panorama investigation into FIFA will be in the public interest.' And Cameron was keen to emphasise the positives of the British media. 'I think we also have to try and convince them [FIFA], yes we've got a robust and independent media, but our media love football and when it comes to the World Cup,' added Cameron who will be part of a thirty-man delegation in Zurich next week trying to win votes. 'In terms of audience, in terms of the press coverage around the world, actually the media will give it a fantastic boost here in this country.'

And, lastly on today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day what might, possibly, be my own desert island single (although, obviously, I'd quite like to take a large waterproof box full of about two hundred of them in the event of any sinkage). The song, of course, is one of Bowie's very best, that's undeniable. But, for me, it's the way that Ian Hunter inhabits it that makes this clarion call to arms to de youf such a great record. The characters in it are given life, so you actually know Wendy who's nicking clothes from Marks and Sparks and Freddie getting spot from pulling stars off his funky little boat-race. Damned dark (the opening line is about suicide), almost Stalinist in its punk-style dismissiveness of the past ('my brother's stuck at home with his Beatles and his Stones') and with a chorus that, essentially, puts two fingers up to everyone not with it and tells them to get out the way. 'I'm a dude, dad!' See, the early seventies wasn't all fifteen minute guitar solos and jazz festivals full of horrible spotty drop-out kids on drugs running around naked and fucking in the bushes!