Saturday, November 13, 2010

Week Forty Seven: Watch Your Step

The BBC is as well used to China's disapproval as it is of the Daily Scum Mail's disapproval. The BBC's Chinese language service has long been blocked by the repressive scum who run the country (something Jeremy Hunt would rather like to do over here) and, last year, the BBC annoyed Chinese officials by sneaking Kate Adie into the country. Which, to be honest, was something that would've annoyed pretty much any country. But, BBC executives say that they could never have predicted the latest one of their programmes to send Chinese officials on the apoplectic warpath: the corporation's popular espionage drama [spooks]. Several episodes of the latest series, which finished on Monday of this week, have featured Chinese agents engaged in various types of nefarious skulduggery and international naughtiness: trying to kidnap a scientist and threatening to detonate a dirty bomb in London if anyone interfered, working with the Russians to hack an Anglo-US cybersecurity and stealing the blueprint for a genetic weapon. Now, the Gruniad Morning Star claims to have 'learned' that Beijing is so unhappy at these unflattering portrayals of their regime that government officials have ordered TV companies not to co-operate with BBC Worldwide, the corporation's international commercial wing. Officials were thought to be particularly enraged at the timing of the broadcasts, coming as they did so close to David Cameron's state visit to China earlier this week. 'It blows hot and cold for us in China – however, it is usually BBC News or a documentary that causes an issue,' one senior BBC 'source' is alleged to have told the newspaper. 'The issue is always if content strays, or is perceived to stray, into the area of politics. It is the nature of doing business in China. No one would have even thought about [spooks] offending anyone and the timing [with Cameron's trip] is just plain bad luck. It is not the first issue and it won't be the last.' Asked about the row by the Gruniad, the Chinese foreign ministry said it would look into the matter. [spooks] has not been widely viewed in China, with only a few episodes uploaded to video-sharing websites. However, [spooks] devotees may well suspect that the Chinese government has not been glued to the programme since its first episode, back in 2002. If they had stuck with the show throughout its - to date - nine series, they would have realised China is far from the only country to have had its name dragged through the dirt by Section D. Vladimir Putin has not apparently complained about [spooks] continually depicting Russians as double-crossing, back-stabbing, waterboarding, psychotic maniacs – the episodes which raised Beijing's hackles also included a Russian FSB officer-gone-bad. Barack Obama has also apparently turned a blind eye to his countrymen in the CIA being mostly portrayed as a bunch of duplicitous traitors, bossy boots and isolationist numskulls interspersed with the odd good guy. A string of other countries could find cause for complaint in the latest series; there have been assassins from Syria, Colombia and France, and there was also an Israeli negotiator who tried to blow herself and the US president up. The only people who can't complain are the people of terrorist-central Azakstan. And that's because it's fictional. Mind you, Eamonn Holmes has complained to the BBC that he doesn't like being portrayed as a big, fat, lardy sofa eater. Not that this has anything particularly to do with the current story, I just think it's really funny. Anyway, the broadcasting cold war, if it lasts, could - potentially - hurt BBC Worldwide, which handles both the sales of co-productions and BBC programmes. The operation, which made record profits of £145.2m in the year to the end of March, is responsible for selling shows and formats such as Top Gear, Doctor Who and the international version of Strictly Come Dancing. It has been expanding aggressively, not least because of the pressure the BBC faces at home over the licence fee. And China offers enormous opportunities for money-making. BBC Worldwide ran into similar problems last year, when Chinese broadcasters halted dealings following Adie's documentary to mark the Twentieth anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. She had filmed it undercover while on a tourist visa, having previously been refused entry by the Chinese. In that case, BBC sources confirmed they had heard firms were told not to co-operate with BBC Worldwide, but a spokesman added: 'BBC Worldwide has not received any official notification of a ban.' Other media organisations, including Disney and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, have also clashed with the Chinese authorities as they tried to build businesses in the country. Murdoch's Asian satellite broadcaster, Star TV, stopped carrying the BBC World TV news channel in 1994 after protests from officials.

This week, as dear blog readers may have noticed, yer man Jimmy McGovern has been talking a right load of old shite about a bunch of TV shows that don't feature embittered old Reds ranting about the state of the nation under Thatcherism. Or something. One of his targets was 'US drama' (generally). Cos, you know, why not? Talk is cheap. Anyway, as if to prove a point, two of America's best network crime dramas, Bones and CSI, chose this particular week to produce their best episodes in some considerable time. That's, somewhat, one in the eye from Johnny Foreigner, it would seem James. The Bones episode - The Shallow in the Deep - was a particularly clever and complex little tale with four separate plot stands. It managed to cast a jaundiced eye at subjects as diverse as identity theft, Cougar cruises and America's own, horrific, part in the historic slave trade. It gave all of the regular cast something a bit different to do - especially Cam and, yer Keith Telly Topping's current favourite TV couple, Jack and Angela. The CSI episode - Fracked - was, if anything, even better. A morally ambiguous look at corporate pollution in a small farming town outside Vegas, it was one of those occasional CSI conceits that actually, and accurately, reflect justice in real life. A hapless patsy took the fall, the real scumbags got away with murder - quite literally - and there was nothing the authorities could do to stop it. The final sequence suggests that storyline isn't, perhaps, over and may be revisited again later in the season.

Next week's strikes at the BBC were cancelled after unions agreed to more talks. But, BBC management warned that the corporation has 'not changed its pension reform package in any way.' On Thursday, the National Union of Journalists called off planned industrial action due to take place on Monday and Tuesday so that talks with the BBC could resume. Radio 4's Today programme and BBC2's Newsnight were forced off the air last week due to strike action, prompted by the BBC's proposed changes to its generous final salary pension scheme. After a day of frantic negotiation, the NUJ agreed to cancel further strikes on the proviso that the BBC dropped disciplinary action against three BBC journalists in the US who supported the strikes. The deal was brokered by Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of another broadcasting union BECTU, who is representing the five BBC unions whose members will be affected by the changes - along with the NUJ, Unite, Equity and the Musicians' Union. The BBC and the unions will now meet to 'clarify' certain aspects of the pension proposals. Morrissey wrote to the BBC yesterday asking for it to commit to reopening negotiations with unions if the pension deficit is less than £1.5bn when it is next valued. The actual size of the deficit has been a major point of dispute between BBC management and staff, but there is no indication that the corporation will move on this issue. In an e-mail to staff, BBC director general Mark Thompson welcomed the NUJ's decision to call off the forty eight-hour strike. He said that the move will enable the BBC to 'deliver our news and current affairs programmes and services to audiences here and around the world without interruption or loss of quality.' Thompson said that the BBC will give 'greater clarity about how the pension reform package will work,' including the areas of concern outlined by Morrissey. However, he stressed that the BBC has 'not changed its pension reform package in any way.' Thompson added: 'We cannot afford to revisit the terms of the agreement we reached with the joint unions at the beginning of October and will not do so.'

Therefore, dear blog reader, here's yer next lot of Keith Telly Topping's Top TV Tips:

Friday 19 November
Children in Need 2010 runs of BBC1 tonight from 7:00 till late. Terry Wogan, Tess Daly and Fearne Cotton present coverage of the annual charity extravaganza from the BBC Television Centre in London, hoping to beat 2009's total of more than thirty nine million quid, which benefited hundreds of projects around the country. Early on, The Heaton Horror gets the evening started and Formula One team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button treat some young carers to an unforgettable experience. Westlife perform at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, the cast of Merlin have some fundraising ideas and the Hairy Bikers perform Meat Loaf's 'Bat Out of Hell.' The princess of pop Kylie Minogue - the most famous of the Minogue sisters - also sings and the Saturdays compete against McFly in a pop star edition of Strictly Come Dancing. Viewers will also be treated to a sneak preview of the Doctor Who Christmas special (yay! At last, something that's actually worth watching) and The ONE Show's Alex Jones introduces celebrations from Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, look you, isn't it? Sometime around nine o'clock JLS perform the official Children in Need single 'Love You More' (tragically, not a cover version of the Buzzcocks' classic featured on yesterday's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day and the casts of Coronation Street and EastEnders unite for the first time in a mini episode, which sees Walford's residents turn up in Weatherfield, and the Rovers regulars visit Albert Square. Then, Big Jimmy McBarrowman, och aye th'nooo, hosts a musical fundraiser from Glasgow with a Caledonian flavour, hoots mon, and there's an appearance by the Harry Potter actors. After a break for the Ten O'Clock News, the BBC newsreaders recruit choreographer Louie Spence to create a headline-grabbing routine and there is a Come Dine with Me Dragons' Den special. The Script perform at the Odyssey Arena, Peter Andre delivers a tribute to Michael Jackson and the cast of musical Priscilla: Queen of the Desert put on a show. The Loose Women hosts sing their rendition of a Girls Aloud classic, Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton takes on the role of Baby in Dirty Dancing there is a performance by the stars of Phantom of the Opera. Sometime around about 1am the presenters celebrate the most memorable moments from the past thirty years of Children in Need, plus the grand total raised is revealed.

In tonight's Coronation Street - 8:30 ITV - Kevin refuses to listen to Molly and heads off for his romantic evening with Sally, but she warns him of her plans to come clean about their affair. John faces a dilemma when Fiz urges him to call the police, and as Carla continues her devious scheme, Leanne struggles to resist Nick's advances.

Saturday 20 November
A new documentary series, American Dream begins at 8:20 on BBC2 with an episode called Plenty and Paranoia. This explores the realities behind the national ethos of the United States, which promises that anyone can find happiness and prosperity whatever their social status. Archive footage and eyewitness accounts chart people's experiences of the so-called American Dream, from the eve of the Second World War to the end of US involvement in Vietnam. The American Dream, was a phrase first coined in 1931, which has subsequently become both a national motto and something that is, broadly, mocked by much of the rest of the world. It represents a unique brand of aspiration and optimism which goes to the heart of what it is to be an American. It's a simple phrase, a much misunderstood phrase, but a complex notion whose meaning is sustained and challenged by each successive generation; it contains different - and often conflicting - ideas of freedom, equality and 'the pursuit of happiness' to different people. This series of three programmes looks at American dreams of prosperity, equality and the original dream of a faith-based nation. This first programme features what is regarded as the post-war heyday of the American Dream. After the end of the Second World War, Americans faced a future that seemed not only full of promise but, also, one of danger. The United States had emerged from the war as the world's richest and most powerful nation, and yet its safety and even its existence, were perceived to be threatened from external forces as never before. A sense of economic abundance, the pursuit of consumer goods, a house in the new frontier of the suburbs and what has been described as 'a happiness explosion' for some citizens were decisive elements in shaping the American Dream. But the dream was also influenced by a sense of anxiety about anything then seen as unconventional or - even more contentiously - 'un-American.' There was a wide range of perceived threats, from Communism and atomic spies to the follies of youth and notions of sexual freedom. This series features those who helped foster and sell the dream, those who feel they have 'lived' it and those who challenge or reject the very notion. Through rare archive and eyewitness testimony this series explores the realities behind America's most powerful myth.

In The Armstrong & Miller Show - 9:35 BBC1 - Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller present another batch of sketches demonstrating their own, distinct, brand of humour. In the latest episode, the best debut characters of this third series, the vampires, are at odds - again - with the modern world, another pair of new characters, Phil and Ken, show off their no-nonsense approach to life, Dennis Lincoln-Park manages to destroy yet more priceless artefacts and there is a special report from camp royal correspondent Terry Devlin. And the pilots, of course.

Although Qi itself wasn't on last night because of Children in Need, the good news is that after three weeks with Qi: XL due to BBC2's fascination with a bunch of wrinkly old has-beens(!) the extended editions are back, starting with one of the three missing episodes - Horrible - at 10:05 on BBC2. In which Stephen Fry is joined by comedians Dara O'Briain, Chris Addison, Sean Lock and regular Alan Davies. The host asks questions about all things horrible, as ever awarding points for the answers he finds the most interesting.

Oh, and The X Factor's on as well.

Sunday 21 November
Any Human Heart - 9:00 Channel Four - is a drama based the best-selling novel by William Boyd. Following a heart-attack, Octogenarian Logan Mountstuart decides to put his life in order, and begins trawling through his diaries, which span each decade of the Twentieth Century. As he recalls his days at university in the 1920s, he remembers the complicated process of losing his virginity, before reminiscing about the more serious romantic crisis he faced when forced to choose between his aristocratic wife and the woman he truly loves. Hayley Atwell, Gillian Anderson, Tom Hollander, Samuel West and the great Richard Schiff (The West Wing's Toby) all feature whilst Jim Broadbent, Matthew Macfadyen and Sam Claflin all take on the role of Mountstuart portraying different stages of his ordinary - and yet extraordinary - life. Boyd's four part adaptation of his own epic covers a life lived to the full and a myriad of historical events seen through the eyes of one man. Oscar winner Broadbent heads the all-star cast as the older incarnation of Boyd's literary everyman. The much-admired actor plays the fictional writer through his final years in London in the 1970s and 80s, in abject shame of poverty, unlikely heroism and his not-so-serene old age in 1990s rural France. Matthew Macfadyen takes Logan through middle age from the thrill and heartache of true love and the birth of his first child to scandal in the New York art scene in the 1950s and 60s, via the horrors of war. Newcomer, Sam Claflin embodies the idealism, vitality and naivety of the young Logan, where his lust for life and women truly begins as a student in Oxford and then Paris in the 1920s. Sounds proper excellent, this.

Andrew Marr revisits John Kennedy's narrow victory in the 1960 American presidential election and assesses the way in which it has shaped present-day politics in JFK: The Making Of Modern Politics - 9:00 BBC2. He analyses the roles that money and media manipulation played in the Kennedy campaign - including dark rumours of Mafia involvement - and explores the extent to which JFK avoided specific policy details to appease the electorate, before asking whether his triumph led to politics becoming a matter of style-over-substance. On both sides of the Atlantic, John Kennedy continues to be invoked by today's politicians in the hope that some of his magic might rub off on them. Now, fifty years after Kennedy's election, Andrew asks whether JFK's legacy has, in a way, tarnished politics ever since. The US election campaign of 1960 was the making of modern politics – and not necessarily in a good way, either. The manipulation of the media, the use of vast amounts of money to swing the vote and the dumbing down of the issues to spoon-feed the electorate soundbites were all aspects of Kennedy's 1960 election campaign. Now, they're an everyday occurrence in politics all over the world. Andrew examines in detail exactly what Kennedy actually stood for, and how the candidate got that message across via the medium of television. He goes in search of the substance that has long been obscured by the fascination with the Kennedy style, his showbiz and, of course, his horribly untimely death. He also examines how Kennedy embodied the hopes of a nation, and asks whether modern politics demands inspirational leaders rather than politicians bogged down in the details. Kennedy's soaring rhetoric set a high standard that people today yearn for politicians to reach.

If you missed it earlier this year, the late Alan Plater's last, brilliant, television play Joe Maddison's War is repeated tonight at 9:00 on ITV3. It's 1939, and Newcastle shipyard worker Joe Maddison (Kevin Whately) feels past his prime - too old to serve in the war alongside his son, who is beginning his RAF training. A few days later, when his wife leaves him for a young naval officer, Joe finds himself without purpose and in need of a new challenge - so he and best friend Harry (a great performance by Robson Green) decide to join the local Home Guard unit. The decision is one which leads Joe on something of a journey of self-discovery and teaches him lessons in heroism, friendship and love. This moving feature-length drama also stars Derek Jacobi, Melanie Hill, Trevor Fox and John Woodvine, authentic location work on Tyneside and beautiful period feel. One of the best bits of TV drama of the year, and a worthy epitaph for one of the finest scriptwriters of his - or any other - generation.

Monday 22 November
The Trip - 10:00 BBC2 - really is turning into something of a little cult classic. The first episode suggested we might have a sleeper hit on our hands but the slow-burn is rapidly becoming a roaring fire. When actor Steve is commissioned by the food supplement of a Sunday newspaper to review half-a-dozen restaurants, he decides to mix work with pleasure and plans a trip around the North of England with his food-loving American girlfriend. But, when she decides to leave him and return to the States just days before he's due to set off, Steve is faced with a week of meals for one. Not quite the trip he had in mind. Reluctantly, he calls his friend Rob, the only person he can think of who will be available to accompany him. Rob, never one to turn down a free lunch (let alone six) agrees, and together they set off for a culinary adventure. Over the course of six meals at six different restaurants in and around the Lake District, Lancashire and the Yorkshire Dales, this ultimate odd couple find themselves debating the big questions of life over a series of culinary delights. In this episode, Steve and Rob visit Hipping Hall near Kirkby Lonsdale as they continue their culinary tour.

Alan Yentob reveals how Roald Dahl's storytelling ability evolved, earning him a place as one of Britain's most original and popular writers in Imagine: Fantastic Mr Dahl - 10:00 BBC4. This documentary features contributions by Roald's widow Felicity, his first wife the actress Patricia Neal, his children Tessa, Theo and Ophelia, his grand-daughter the ludicrous Ms Sophie Dahl and his illustrator Quentin Blake. Part of BBC4's The Art of Arts TV week.

Mel B: It's a Scary World - 10:00 Fiver - as you might expect from the stupid title, is a new reality series following the hectic and over-pampered lifestyle of the world's best known Jimmy Saville impersonator, the former Spice Girl Melanie Brown. Seven years of living in Los of Angeles have done nothing to dilute thirty five-year-old Mel's broad Yorkshire accent. She still sounds, frankly, like some common Leeds docker screaming obscenities at the opposition fans at Elland Road. Though, bless her, she's got ideas above her station - as anybody who saw her flouncing around the gaff like she owned the place in Seven Days on the Estate will recognise. She originally came to LA for a holiday, decided to stay, got hitched to Stephen Belafonte three years ago and has been here ever since. In this tawdry excuse for 'entertainment' (and, I use that word quite wrongly) cameras follow Mel, her husband, and their daughters Angel and Phoenix as Mel juggles life in the limelight and raising her kids in what is, frankly, little short of a creepy vanity project. 'I've been there, seen it, tried everything, and now I'm happily married,' Mel gushes. Before adding 'Now then, now then, as it 'appens, let us listen to the music of Sho-Waddy-Waddy.'

It's been a while since we mentioned The Gadget Show - 8:00 Channel Five - on Top Telly Tips. Tonight, Ortis Deley pits cutting-edge technology against years of training as he and survival expert Myke Hawke race to escape from a remote island. Remember, dear blog reader, one day you may have to do the same. Jon Bentley uses a digital camera to produce a film that matches the quality of a production by BAFTA-nominated director Will McGregor. And the Goddess-like Suzi Perry competes against Tommy Walsh in a decorating challenge. Jason Bradbury attempts to beat British go-karting champion Mark Litchfield with a remote-control car, and Pollyanna Woodward uses a hi-tech ball in a contest against ten-pin bowling professional Hayley White.

Tuesday 23 November
The Foods That Make Billions - 9:00 BBC2 - is a documentary created by the team behind The Money Programme, revealing how big businesses is capable of transforming simple commodities into highly profitable brands. Why do many British households have a packet of a well-known brand of cereal in their kitchen cupboard? How did the UK go from a country content to drink water straight from the tap to one that buys two billion litres of bottled water every year? And how did Britons end up eating five times more yoghurt now than they did thirty years ago? The Foods That Make Billions is a three-part series which seeks to tell the story of how three basic commodities – water, cereal and yoghurt – evolved to become some of the richest and most successful industries in the world. It also explains how brands such as Jordan's, Yakult and Perrier have entered our cultural heritage and national lexicon. The first film – Liquid Gold - provides an insight into the fiercely competitive bottled water industry, which has become simultaneously emblematic of an age of plenty in the West and the consumer's desire to purchase health-conscious products.

In tonight's episode of Holby City - 8:00 BBC1 - when Hanssen warns Connie that cuts still need to be made on Darwin, he puts Elliot in the firing line, as the medical drama continues. Connie can't save him because of his bumbling ways, and Elliot is complicit in holding back the truth from a patient whose child has died. Jac feels that she has to be indispensable in order to impress Hanssen. But her attempts fall flat as she takes a patient's life into her own hands by making the wrong choice in theatre, resulting in a patient having to wear a stoma bag. Penny and Michael encourage Frieda to come back on to the day shift permanently. She's reluctant about working with smooth operator Michael. Can he persuade her to go back to AAU after she helps crack a difficult medical case?

If ever a presenter had the perfect name for a cookery show, it's Amanda Lamb. Street Market Chefs - 7:30 Channel Five - sees Amanda heading for Bristol, where she challenges professional chefs Jonny Evans and Ron Faulkner to incorporate locally-grown mushrooms into impressive two-course meals, with the rest of their ingredients made up of items bought from the city's award-winning farmers' market. The judges are former England rugby player Gareth Chilcott, Clifton Club head chef Doug Bonar, and Holly Aurelius-Haddock, editor of culinary magazine Flavour. So, essentially, it's The Hairy Bikers only without the bikes.

Wednesday 24 November
Still on the subject of food (and, hey, why not?) Jimmy's Food Factory - 8:00 BBC1 - is a science series in which farmer Jimmy Doherty asks what really goes into supermarket food. And, the general public ask 'do we really want to know?' Mind you, it's given Harry Hill some prime material for TV Burp over the last few weeks. In the latest episode of the series, Jimmy focuses his efforts on goods that provoke polarised opinions, beginning with yeast extract. He then sets out to create his own chewing gum, finds out how the glossy exterior of chocolate is achieved, and meets a fellow farmer who is harvesting onions that do not make cooks cry when chopped. Now, I like onions, dear blog reader, but I also like the fact that they make me blub like a girl when I'm cooking with them. Which is best ... ?

In what is, quite frankly, one of the most important moments in the history of Western Civilisation for the last fifty years, Stephen John Fry and James Hugh Calum Laurie OBE reunite for a ninety minute TV special to mark the thirtieth anniversary of their partnership in Fry and Laurie Reunited - 9:00 GOLD. For younger dear blog readers who may well be wondering what Doctor House could possibly have to do with that nice man who hosts Qi, makes all those programmes about endangered species and turns up occasionally as Gordon Gordon in Bones, a short history lesson. The pair first met amidst the dreaming spires of Cambridge in 1980. One of them went on to become a world class actor, writer, best-selling author and renowned wit. The other one's Stephen Fry who managed to foist Twitter on the world. Thanks, Steve. The programme sees the former double act reminisce about their friendship, careers and sketches. Thirty years ago this autumn, Fry and Laurie met for the first time at Cambridge University, introduced by their mutual friend Emma Thompson, and comedy history was made. Throughout the programme, Stephen and Hugh open up, revealing fascinating insights into their friendship, and take a look back at their work together - and apart -interspersed with hilarious clips from their careers. Filming reveals some funny insights into the duo: Fry and Laurie have completely different memories about how they first met - although they do both concede they were introduced by Thompson. The pair remain great friends to this day and their careers have intertwined frequently over the years from Jeeves And Wooster to Blackadder to their joint comedy showcase, A Bit Of Fry & Laurie which ran on BBC1 and BBC2 for four series between 1989 and 1995. They started working together as students at Footlights, and their May Week Revue - The Cellar Tapes, won the first ever Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival in 1981. The show was subsequently recorded and transmitted by the BBC in 1982. And, it's hilarious if you ever get the chance to see it - Stephen looks about fourteen! From there, they worked on a number of shows together including, most notably, Saturday Live. Stephen reflects: 'I am delighted to be given the opportunity to retread the thirty years Hugh and I have known each other and worked together. It was a great joy reminiscing about our times together and I hope GOLD viewers enjoy watching us grow older.' UKTV's director of commissioning Jane Rogerson says 'Watching Hugh and Stephen reminisce over their thirty year friendship is heart-warming, funny and very special' whilst GOLD channel head Paul Moreton added: 'We are so proud that Stephen and Hugh have chosen to come together on television for the first time in fifteen years to create a new show exclusively for GOLD. This fantastic special follows in the footsteps of the hugely successful Fawlty Towers and Blackadder specials which also brought together Britain's comedy royalty.' Well, it's not fifteen years since they've worked together, for a kick-off, Paul. Hughie appeared in the first episode of Qi as recently as 2003. This is part of an evening of their programmes which also features an episode of A Bit of Fry & Laurie, one from Blackadder Goes Forth, and the Bambi episode of The Young Ones. When Stephen, playing Lord Snot, looks about twelve!

Caribbean Cops - 10:00 Channel One - was shot on location in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and St Lucia, and was designed to capture the drama behind policing these holiday destinations and keeping the islands safe for the kind of chaps alluded to in 'Dreadlock Holiday.' Probably. Throughout the series, cameras followed each of the islands' local police forces in their battles against international drug smuggling, gun crime and homicide, as well as other crimes directly linked with the tourist trade. In this episode, the law-enforcement officers of St Lucia are called to act when a tourist is caught red-handed trying to buy cannabis in a pub on the island.

Thursday 25 November
If you've never seen the much-repeated Fearne and ... Paris Hilton before then you've got another chance, tonight at 9:00 on ITV2. But, I wouldn't bother, frankly. It's shit.

It's an hour-long episode of EastEnders tonight - 7:30 BBC1. Ryan persuades Kat to let him visit Stacey, but Janine takes increasingly desperate measures to keep her husband to herself. The past comes back to haunt Zainab when she meets her first husband, who is none other than Afia's father, and a devastated Ian ends up in Glenda's arms following Jane's latest revelation. Meanwhile, The Vic's charity auction has a surprising outcome for Alfie.

In Live at the Apollo - 9:30 BBC1 - leading members of the stand-up circuit share their light-hearted views on modern life in this show recorded before a packed house at London's Hammersmith Apollo. Tonight, 8 Out of 10 Cats star Sean Lock introduces Liverpool's finest, the omnipresent John Bishop.

And, so to the news: David Tennant has signed up to star in a new BBC drama about Manchester United. United is expected to focus on the football club's side the 'Busby Babes', the youngest team to win the Football League, and the 1958 Munich air crash which killed eight of them and ripped the heart from the team. Tennant has signed up to play the team's coach, Jimmy Murphy. The cast also includes Jack O'Connell, who played Cook in Skins. He will take on the role of Bobby Charlton, while Pirates Of The Caribbean actor Sam Claflin will appear as the gifted Duncan Edwards. The film is said to draw on interviews with the survivors of the air crash and their families. The drama also focuses on the way Manchester coped with the aftermath of the tragedy. BBC North director Peter Salmon said: 'This was a tragedy that touched the lives of many people in Manchester both directly and indirectly. With its superbly talented cast and powerful script, I am proud that BBC North is supporting this project.'

A 'guinea pig' for this year's I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Face On Television ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible, I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want Me Too! reportedly wet themselves during a run-through of one of the challenge planned for the series. I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here Now! presenter Caroline Flack told Metro that the incident occurred when producers were testing a bushtucker trial. Flack said: 'We're filming the show this week with stand-ins. We throw people in the jungle who are guinea pigs and we run all the trials as if it’s real. Someone actually wet themselves on one of the trials yesterday. That's how testing they are going to be this year. They are more extreme. They have to get more extreme otherwise it just becomes the same. The eating trials just make me want to throw up already with what they have to eat. There is one that is so disgusting - it's worse than kangaroo balls.' She added: 'I think the way they enter the jungle this year is pretty tough. I think that was proven with the test people. I think the line-up is brilliant. You can never tell before they go in. When they announce it, it's about the name. But when they go in it is about the relationships. You never know what is going to happen.'

Sheryl Gascoigne is reportedly the highest-paid individual taking part in this year's series of 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 Me To! According to the Sun, Gascoigne will be paid ninety five thousand quid to enter the Australian jungle, and 'bosses' hope that she will 'reveal all' about her relationship with footballer Paul Gascoigne. She was married to him. They divorced. What's to tell? Sheryl revealed that she originally turned down an offer to take part in the show, said to be worth twenty five thousand smackers, but reconsidered when the money was increased due to other celebrities pulling out. 'ITV made me an offer I couldn't refuse,' Gascoigne added. 'I said "no" earlier in the year and then they came back to me and said, "Somebody is jittery, will you come in and we will give you X amount?" When I picked myself up from the floor I was like, "Yep, okay." The financial pull has been big.'

Fiona Bruce has said she wants to stop wearing short skirts on television. In a blow to her legions of male fans, the BBC newsreader has claimed that it may be 'time to stop' putting on revealing outfits for Children in Need song-and-dance numbers. She complains that the hemlines have gone 'up and up' in recent years to the extent that on one occasion she was left sporting 'a pelmet.' Yes. It was very nice. Bruce, the presenter of flagship BBC programmes such as the News At Ten, Crimewatch and Antiques Roadshow, has appeared in several routines on the annual telethon that may have helped her win the title of Rear of the Year 2010. For 2006’s fundraiser she squeezed into a gold catsuit in homage to a poster for the James Bond film Live and Let Die, while the following year she donned fishnet tights to appear as Velma Kelly from the musical Chicago. In 2008 she and her fellow female newsreaders appeared as ABBA in Lycra catsuits and platform heels, and last year they got together again in their most risqué dance routine yet, gyrating to Beyoncé songs. But in a magazine interview, Bruce admits to worrying about what the BBC's wardrobe department has in store for this year's appearance in the chorus line, and whether it might entail having to wear 'dental floss' as underwear.

Two acts will be eliminated from this weekend's X Factor, it has been claimed. According to the Daily Scum Mail, show producers hope that the decision will ease fans' anger over last week's controversial decision to send home Treyc Cohen instead of Katie Waissel. Cohen lost a two-to-one majority vote on the panel after Cheryl Cole refused to choose between her two acts in the bottom two. It has been claimed - though not confirmed - that Waissel would have lost the public vote had the decision gone to deadlock. A 'source' allegedly told the newspaper: 'Simon [Cowell], in his own inimitable way, may say something - or tease Cheryl. He is most upset that viewers feel they cannot trust the show.' On the subject of earlier reports that a fifth guest judge might be added to the panel after a focus group suggestion, the alleged insider added: 'We have these focus groups during every series and have done them for years. This was one of the ideas, but it is very unlikely there will be a fifth judge this week.'

Veteran comedy writer Ray Galton has revealed that he punched a writer in the face for suggesting that he took pleasure in Tony Hancock's decline. The eighty-year old was hurt by the way he and his Hancock's Half Hour co-writer Alan Simpson were portrayed in BBC4's 2008 Curse of Comedy season. In the Hancock And Joan episode – which covered the comic's alcoholism and affair with his best friend John Le Mesurier's wife – the writers were seen smirking at Hancock's live show at the Royal Festival Hall in 1966, when he was well past the peak of his powers. However, Simpson insists they never attended the performance, saying: 'We didn't have the chutzpah to go. We thought: see this man die a death?' he added. 'We couldn't do that. But in the dramatisation, the actors came in with smug looks on their faces and sat down. They were meant to be us. You could see they were thinking: Go on, let's see him die a death now.' Galton added: 'When I met the author, I lost my temper and hit him.' David Walliams – who was interviewing the writers for The Times along with Matt Lucas – asked: 'Where did you hit him?' 'In the face,' Galton replied. Walliams added: 'Depicting you wanting Tony to fail. I think it's a big slur on you.' Lucas added: 'I don't care that people need to make drama. I don't think it's acceptable.' Hancock And Joan was written by Richard Cottan, who was nominated for a BAFTA for his script. His credits also include the Kenneth Branagh crime series Wallander, the acclaimed Thatcher biopic Margaret and the series Men Only.

Bob Newhart has signed up to guest star in NCIS. According to Entertainment Weekly, the actor will appear in an episode of the show in January. He is expected to play a character called Walter Magnus, a former medical examiner who comes out of retirement. Walter is said to be a 'shrewd, eccentric nostalgic' who is extremely charming. Something reportedly surprises Ducky (David McCallum) and the others in the episode.

Ali Larter has said that she thinks the reality TV depiction of New Jersey is 'terrible.' The former Heroes actress, who is originally from the area, said that she does not recognise the representation of the state that is shown in Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Larter told E!: 'I've seen a couple of them and I feel like it's such a terrible depiction of our lovely Garden State.' She added that the characters portrayed in the shows do not reflect her experiences growing up in the area. 'Yeah for sure, there's definitely some guidos in New Jersey, but where I grew up it's like the cranberry bogs, the forests, and the farm. Going apple picking and rolling green hills,' she explained. 'I adored growing up in New Jersey, so for me, I just think it's so beautiful and amazing.'

Sky Sports will this weekend launch a marketing campaign to promote The Ashes, focusing on its multiplatform coverage across TV, mobile and online. This winter will mark the first time that an Ashes series in Australia has been broadcast in high definition, as well as the twentieth anniversary of the first Ashes tour being shown live in the UK and Ireland by Sky. Launching in print and outdoor, Sky's advertising campaign features cricket commentators Sir Ian Botham, David Gower, Shane Warne, Nasser Hussain and David Lloyd looking exhausted and dishevelled, indicating that live coverage will be available for UK viewers prepared to stay up through the night due to the time difference. For anyone not keen to stay awake for the live coverage, highlights will be available on Sky Sports, Sky Mobile TV, and web TV platform Sky Player. A mini-site detailing the available coverage options for The Ashes has been launched on the Sky Sports website. The first Ashes Test will get underway at The Gabba in Brisbane on 25 November, with England defending the urn after beating Australia two-one in the 2009 series. 'The advertising [campaign] is a light-hearted twist on the sheer breadth and flexibility of The Ashes coverage Sky customers can enjoy. Live coverage will not only be in fantastic HD, but live on mobile and online too,' said Sky Sports marketing manager Joel Keoghan. 'For those who don't stay up through the night, there's on-demand highlights of each day's play available for subscribers on Sky Anytime and Sky Player. So no matter where you are, or what the time is, you never need to miss the action.' The advertising campaign, produced by The Brothers And Sisters agency with media planning handled by Mediacom, will also run on-air, on radio and online. Last week, it emerged that ITV had submitted a late bid to broadcast highlights of The Ashes tournament, safeguarding the coverage for terrestrial television.

Lastly, a very special treat for the weekend, the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which - for one time only - features not only the record with one of the greatest duel-guitar riffs in the history of the Rickenbacker 325, God bless its little cotton socks ... Oh, Rigno, get off that exercise bike and get back on yer drums. ... But, also, the record that influenced the greatest duel-guitar riff in the history of the Rickenbacker 325, God bless its little cotton socks. Sound.