Friday, November 05, 2010

Week Forty Six: Ready, Steady, Gone!

Harry Hill has revealed that his award-winning comedy show, TV Burp, was almost cancelled soon after it first began. The comedian and presenter told Buzz magazine that his ITV show initially failed to impress 'network bosses' and struggled to secure a permanent regular slot in the schedules. Hill also claimed that the channel had wanted to change the show's name after it was deemed 'too offensive' for viewers of a delicate disposition. 'Those were dark days,' he confessed. 'They made a mistake one year and put it on after 6pm and the ratings did really well. Then we started winning awards and ITV realised they couldn't change the name. The relationship has been brilliant ever since.' Hill also revealed that he has a 'get-out clause' in his contract. 'Watching TV is all-consuming. I always get sloshed on the last Sunday before it starts as I know it's the last time I'll be able to do it for months,' he admitted. 'I've got a get-out clause after each one, in case it gets too much or the show becomes crap.'

The producer of Red Dwarf: Back to Earth has confirmed that a new series of the cult SF sitcom is currently in development. Craig Charles previously announced that two more series would begin filming in January 2011. However, Andrew Ellard told Last Broadcast: 'Latest word is that the deals are being done and they'll be in a position to start prepping before the end of the year. But I think it's just one series of six episodes right now.' Responding to those earlier comment by Charles, Ellard said: 'He didn't confirm [the revival] so much as mention the call he'd had regarding his own availability!' Ellard also dismissed rumours that a Red Dwarf movie was still in development. 'The TV revival on Dave seems to be the new life for the show now' he suggested. 'The film script was great, though, and I really hope it gets released one day. It was a reboot so most of what was great about it wouldn't adapt easily to the TV series. But it'd make a knockout graphic novel.'

Matt LeBlanc has admitted that it was strange playing himself on Episodes. The series focuses on an English couple who sell their successful television show to an American channel. The network president asks for LeBlanc to be given the lead role. 'I play myself, Matt LeBlanc, but it's not really me,' LeBlanc told Entertainment Tonight. 'I guess the best way to describe it is [it's] the public's perception of a celebrity.' He added: 'It was a little strange, because some of the things [Matt] does [on the show] are not so nice, but there's my name. I'm, like, "Wait a minute, I wouldn't do that!" So it was a little bizarre, but all in all it was fun.' LeBlanc also revealed that he is pleased with the series, saying: 'It's a really fun idea. There have been shows about a show before, but this one seems to have a fresh twist on it.'

The BBC has confirmed that the long-running cookery programme Ready Steady Cook has been 'axed' after almost sixteen years. Because it was shit, basically. Although, obviously, they didn't say that. But, I did. Anyway, the Gruniad Morning Star reports that the move was made to axe the Ainsley Harriot-fronted show as the BBC further attempts to 'freshen up' their daytime schedule and remind people that it's not just repeats of Murder, She Wrote. And, to hopefully axe Ainsley Harriot his very self. With an actual axe if possible. Bless 'im, he is an annoying chap, there's no doubt about it! No new series of the programme will be made and repeats will end early next year. 'After fifteen years, twenty one series and nearly two thousand episodes, Ready Steady Cook has hung up its cooking aprons. I'm proud of the show, which will go down in history as the longest running cookery show on TV,' Liam Keelan, the BBC's head of daytime said. 'BBC Daytime is constantly looking at ways to innovate and refresh our programme formats and, while the series has been hugely popular on BBC2, it was felt that Ready Steady Cook has been taken as far as it could.' He continued: 'This will help make way for new cookery shows including The Hairy Bikers' Cook Off, as well as more drama like Moving On, The Indian Doctor and Land Girls, and current affairs programming, which I really want to be at the heart of Daytime. Ready Steady Cook fans will, however, still be able to enjoy repeats of the show as they will continue to be broadcast for some time yet.' Harriot added: 'I feel privileged to have been part of the Ready Steady Cook family for the past fifteen years. I am immensely proud of its success as the longest-running cookery show on British television and will always look back on it with the fondest of memories.'

Here's yer next batch of them old Top Telly Tips:

Friday 12 November
It's the one hundredth episode of Qi - 8:30 BBC1 - tonight (sources vary but last week's was announced as the ninety ninth so we're probably on safe-ish ground). And, it includes one of the most extraordinary line-ups that they've ever had on a single show - bringing together the talents of two of the most outstanding comedy mavericks this country has produced in the last three decades at least. Bill Bailey and Eddie Izzard appear (in the case of the latter, for the first time on Qi since the show's pilot episode in 2003) along with the genuine broadcasting legend that is Danny Baker (get well soon, Dan - your country needs you). I mean, that's a once-in-a-lifetime cast if ever there was such a thing. And, course, Alan Davies. Sorry Alan, but in that line-up you must feel a bit like Ringo Starr! Meanwhile, the Brian Epstein of the outfit, if you're following this metaphor to its curiously logical end, Stephen Fry (back on Twitter now, in case you were wondering, the auld drama queen that he is!) asks all the important questions on the topic of the week. Which, this week, is Home and House - or House and Home if you prefer - and awards points for those answers he finds the most interesting. Come on, you all know the format by now, it's only - by a comfortable margin - the best show on television and one that, in a very satisfying way, fulfils all of the BBC's three public service commitments: To educate, to inform, and to entertain. But, sad to report, despite the quality of all that, the Qi: XL edition for this episode still isn't on tomorrow. Because BBC2 are having a night of Neil Diamond instead. Seriously, you couldn't write comedy funnier than that.

In the conclusion of the two-part documentary David Attenborough's First Life - 9:00 BBC2 - the naturalist travels to Burgess Shale in Canada's Rocky Mountains, where he explores how evolution gained pace once creatures developed mouths and mobility. Because, let's face it, someone has to. In fifty years of broadcasting, Sir David Attenborough has travelled the globe to document the living world in all its wonder. Now, in this landmark series, he completes his journey by going back in time to the very roots of the tree of life, in search of the very first animals. In Scotland, he reveals that one of the smallest fossils found holds the secret to how animals began surviving on dry land, and explains the bloom of life during the oxygen-rich Carboniferous period. These remote and fascinating creatures are brought to life as never before with the help of cutting-edge scientific technology and photorealistic visual effects. From the first large predators to the first legs on land, these were creatures that evolved the traits and tools that allow all animals, including ourselves, to survive to this day.

It's the final episode of the current - seventh - series of New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1. The episode is called The Fourth Man; Retired DI Frank Patterson presents the team with information regarding the getaway car used in a thirty-year-old safety deposit box robbery. They discover the former detective not only wants to convict the suspected thief of the heist and murder of his three colleagues, but also prove that a high-ranking officer was involved in the plot - jeopardising the future of Sandra's UCOS unit. Guest starring the great Phil Daniels. And with, of course, the regulars - Amanda Redman, James Bolam, Alun Armstrong ... and Dennis Waterman and his ruddy awful theme song.

Saturday 13 November
BBC2's highlight of Saturday evening - Neil Diamond marathon notwithstanding - is a repeat of the 2009 documentary Return of the Goodies - 8:00 BBC2. In which, lovely Tim Brooke-Taylor, the genius that is Graeme Garden and that wretched little Communist Bill Oddie present a tribute to their 1970s comedy series. Breaking into their old office to reminisce about their rise to fame, they recall how, for three or four years in the mid-1970s, they were the heroes of every eleven year old in the country! Celebrity fans contributing to the fun include Rolf Harris (presumably the one that didn't make it 'over to the other side' when they featured a plague of Rolf Harrises in Scatty Safari in 1975), Huw Edwards, Martin Freeman and Ronni Ancona. Good stuff, this. A reminder of a time when Bill, actually, used to be funny. No, I was surprised as well.

There's yet more Huw Edwards on BBC1 at 9:10 when the BBC's premiere newsreader introduces the annual Festival of Remembrance evening, presenting coverage of the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance. Which, as you probably know, pays tribute to all victims of war and conflict. The programme features music by the bands of the RAF and Royal Marines and the voices of Hayley Westenra, the Soldiers and Kerry Ellis as well as a performance by the big-haired guitarist Brian May. Oh, come on. These people survived everything that Hitler could throw at them, do they really need to face the horror of Brian May as well? Leave them alone. The lesson is read by the Earl of Wessex. Hopefully, it will include the solemn pledge never to invite big-haired guitarist Brian May to one of these ever again.

Sunday 14 November
We've got the return of the classy historical crime drama Garrow's Law tonight - 9:00 BBC1. A passionate believer in social and legal justice, as a defence counsel Garrow's desire is to change the law and revolutionise the proceedings of a criminal trial forever: to give defendants the representation in court that they had never previously had, at cost not only to their innocence but also their lives. His championing of the poor and his onslaught on the corrupt reward-driven criminal justice system makes him some powerful enemies. But he is also his own worst enemy - falling in love with Lady Sarah Hill, who is married to a powerful MP. Professionally and personally, William Garrow is a man who cannot resist confronting the status quo. The barrister is asked to prosecute the captain of a slave ship - but worries that his clients are more concerned with money than justice. However, the impassioned testimony of a former captive persuades him to investigate further, and he soon becomes outraged by the brutality of the trade. Meanwhile, Sir Arthur is convinced Lady Sarah has committed adultery with Garrow, and vows to ruin them both, damn and blast their eyes. Drama, starring an excellent cast which includes Andrew Buchan, Alun Armstrong - who is so good as Garrow's mentor John Southouse, Lyndsey Marshal and Rupert Graves.

Another returning favourite, if you like seeing people eating worms for a dare I suppose, is I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Face On TV Again ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long as Possible, I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want Me Too - 9:00 ITV. The sick Z-List-studded 'survival challenge' (allegedly) gets under way as this year's lucky contestants begin their 'ordeal' in the Australian jungle. Which, please remember, they volunteered for in exchange for cash and the change to get their smug boat-races on TV. Just a thought. After leaving behind their loved ones and home comforts on the other side of the world for up to three weeks, the famous faces start out on their journey to camp, knowing that they face a set of daunting challenges in the worm-eating department but that winning the thing might see them get a lucrative series of job offers on the panto circuit just like Christopher Biggins. Ant and Dec present, guffawing like a pair of cackling school-age hyenas at the antics of these pathetic, narcissistic clowns in what is, essentially, the Twenty First Century's equivalent of bear-baiting. So, bag of popcorn, a glass of wine and put your feet up for a very entertaining evening, dear blog reader.

It's the final part of James May's Man Lab - 9:00 BBC2 in which James concludes his quest to save mankind from itself and its indolent, foppish ways. Taken quite a bit of stick from newspapers like the Gruniad - of course - this one. Which, immediately, makes it okay in my book. Anything that annoys those stinking, buttocks-on-the-fence hippies as much as it annoys the Daily Scum Mail must be doing something right. Outnumbered and Mock The Week comedian Hugh Dennis takes on a wallpapering challenge, the Man Lab orchestra prepares for its debut concert at famous London church St Martin-in-the-Fields, and the experts build their own cinema, complete with popcorn and a Wurlitzer organ. The team also constructs a sky rocket that would make NASA proud (or, possibly not), two men settle a twenty five-year-old quarrel by duelling with sabres, and James uses modern technology to help a man on his first date. He'll be having a go at solving the Middle East problem next, mark my words. And, frankly, he couldn't do any worse than many who've tried.

Also concluding tonight is thorne: scaredy cat - 9:00 Sky1 - the David Morrissey vehicle which has been pretty entertaining if a bit obvious and Waking The Dead-lite in places. Martin Palmer escapes police custody during a car crash, and, reunited with fellow killer, Stuart Nicklin, the dangerous pair continue their murderous spree apace. Tom Thorne, meanwhile, orders Chen (Sandra Oh) off the case when he learns of her drug problem, but desperate to make amends, she decides to track the pair alone. Oh, silly girl. Cos, of course, that always ends well whenever anybody tries it in a crime drama, doesn't it?

Monday 15 November
- 9:00 BBC1 - is a new series from the pen of the great Jimmy McGovern. And, the star of two of McGovern's previous triumphs (Cracker and Hearts & Minds) Christopher Eccleston appears in this, the first of six dramas, each of which focuses on an ordinary person who finds themselves in the cogs of the criminal justice system. Plumber Willy, played by Eccleston, struggles to remain faithful to his wife and decides to confess his indiscretions, but the announcement of his daughter's engagement foils his plans. Mounting wedding costs and the discovery he has not been paid for his last job cause him to panic, until he finds something on the back seat of a taxi that could be the answer to all his prayers - or the beginning of his downfall. With Pooky Quesnel, Joanna Higson and Emma Stansfield. Future plays in this series will feature the likes of Mackenzie Crook, Juliet Stevenson, Peter Capaldi, Andy Serkis and Marc Warren.

Yer Keith Telly Topping is also delighted to report that Miranda is back tonight for a second series - 8:30 BBC2. The titular joke-shop owner lacks motivation following Gary's departure for Hong Kong, but eventually decides to move on and sets about getting fit and losing weight. However, first she has to negotiate lunch with the girls, and a sushi restaurant spells trouble. Comedy, starring the extraordinary talent of Miranda Hart - described a couple of weeks ago as 'Britain's funniest woman,' by the Daily Torygraph. The series is based on Hart's semi-autobiographical writing and followed a TV pilot and the BBC Radio 2 comedy, Miranda Hart's Joke Shop. Described as an 'old-fashioned' sitcom when it first started, it received good reviews - although yer Keith Telly Topping his very self slagged it off, sight unseen, and was forced into a humiliating climbdown by week two! And Hart won the 2009 Royal Television Society award for comedy performance, for her role in the first series. It doesn't matter what Miranda attempts in life, whether it's dating or simply dealing with her overbearing mother (a great haughty performance by Patricia Hodge), she always seems to fall flat. Sometimes, quite literally. Let's hope this series is as good as last year's.

Giles and Sue Live The Good Life - 9:00 BBC2 - of course sees the writer Giles Coren and comedienne Sue Perkins begin to question whether the rewards of a self-sufficient life could ever outweigh the hard graft. Things get off to a farcical start with the arrival of mischievous pigs, and deteriorate even further as the duo make their own wine and pickled eggs. Sue says that she is 'mostly vegetarian,' only very occasionally eating meat, whereas for Giles the ideal pig would have four legs and a body made of chops. 'Mostly I don't worry,' he says. 'I want them to have a nice time, but only so they taste nice.' Sue adds, 'It's important to talk about the food chain, but we're the sort of people who want to eat the pig while understanding that you have a responsibility to them.' In the midst of all this, the broadcaster John Humphrys stops by to share his experience of cattle farming in Wales, and cook Sophie Grigson tries to expand the pair's culinary repertoire.

Tuesday 16 November
The Family - 9:00 Channel 4 - is a new series of the BAFTA-nominated observational documentary returns, this time focusing on the Adesinas of Hackney, east London. The opening programme introduces Nigerian-born parents Vicky and Sunday and their children Ayo, Julie, Olu and Ola. With everyone living under the same roof for the first time in six years, tensions begin to rise, and the family tries to bridge the gulf between the two generations ahead of Sunday's sixtieth birthday party.

In Turn Back Time: The High Street - 9:00 BBC1 - the traders look forward to an easier task as they re-fit their shops to fit the standards of the 1930s, when government regulations were introduced reducing their working hours. And cheap sugar means lots of sweets, confectionary and cake. But these are no museums. The shops are serving modern-day customers who are used to the products, pace and convenience of Twenty First Century shopping. However, nostalgia boosts sales for the grocers who are now selling a large range of recognisable Thirties brands. Meanwhile, the dressmaker has to sell Thirties glamour to the town, the butcher has good old British beef and the Edwardian bazaar is now a toy shop, reflecting the shopkeepers' target customers – children as nostalgia boosts sales. But it's far from plain sailing; the bakers find themselves running a cake shop but cakes are definitely not their forte and rivalry builds between the grocers and the butchers undermining the community spirit of the high street. At the end of the week the shopkeepers have worked together and pull out all the stops for Empire day – a day for children – but can they persuade a whole new generation of the joys of the traditional high street? MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace oversees proceedings as the head of commerce.

The latest episode of the superb Getting On - 10:00 BBC4 - sees the troubled backwater of the health service (female medical ward B4) playing host to another dose of every day nursing. Matron Hilary is busy spreading his Icing The Cake initiative, with limited success. Pippa is primping herself for a lunch appointment with consultant, Peter Healy, while Den and Hilary have a tricky matter to deal with and Kim embarks on a vendetta. Comedy drama, starring Ricky Grover, Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine, and Peter Capaldi.

Wednesday 17 November
ITV's schedules are dominated by Live International Football: England v France - 7:30 onwards. Coverage of this evening's friendly clash at Wembley Stadium, between two nations rebuilding following poor World Cup campaigns. And when we say poor ... well, let's put it this way, England's World Cup campaign was an unqualified success compared to what happened in the French camp. While England suffered an earlier exit than expected at this year's tournament in South Africa, France were arguably the biggest disappointment of all, failing to win a single match and facing a full-scale player revolt against their coach Raymond Domenech. This will be the twenty eighth time the two countries have faced each other, with the last encounter in 2008 resulting in a 1-0 win for France in Paris, courtesy of a Franck Ribery penalty. That match was the first defeat suffered by Fabio Capello as England manager, and also saw David Beckham represent his country for the one hundredth time. The coverage is presented - badly - by Adrian Chiles, with 'expert' analysis laughably provided by Danny Murphy and Marcel Desailly. And, best of all for the comedy minded, commentary by The Chuckle Brothers - Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend. Oh no, not them again.

So, as ever, we seek to bring you some alternatives to the footie (although, to be honest, that's exactly what yer Keith Telly Topping'll be watching). Kicking off with Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention - 7:30 BBC1. The duo examine the world of domestic novelties, including a makeshift mill constructed by a young inventor from Malawi. There is a visit to inventor Trevor Baylis, a look at a collection of vintage tea-makers, former engineer and code breaker Tony Sale revives George the Robot, and science reporter Jem Stansfield meets an A-level student with a home-made fridge built out of scrap metal originally designed by Einstein. Narrated by Ashley Jensen. I must admit, yer Keith Telly Topping was rather disappointed with the opening episode of this series - it was, essentially, a bunch of science clips strung together with a vague narrative thread of having Wallace and Gromit, sort of, there in the background. Inoffensive, certainly, but ultimately neither one thing nor the other. Still, it got some very good ratings figures so, hopefully, if the majority of the audience haven't been put off we'll mark this one down as a qualified hit for the Beeb.

Animal Madhouse - 8:00 Channel 4 - sees vets Catherine Henstridge, James Creasey, Paul Manktelow and Martin Gabbutt treat sick animals with the help of nurses Gemma Boughey and Catherine McVeigh, including an elephant undergoing a pregnancy ultrasound, an aggressive tortoise, and an excitable dog. Plus, a group of overweight pets enters the Animal Madhouse Fat Camp. Narrated by Shobna Gulati.

In The Apprentice - 9:00 BBC1 - the remaining candidates head to Pinewood film studios in Buckinghamshire, where they are challenged to create immersive personal movie experiences that give consumers a chance to star in their own feature films. Both teams stretch their creative muscles and put together car races, rollercoaster rides and encounters with sharks, before visiting Westfield shopping centre in London to promote their creations to the public. Followed, as ever, by the fantastically dry Dara O'Briain on The Apprentice: You're Fired! immediately afterwards on Beeb2. This week, he's joined by one of his Mock The Week oppos, Andy Parsons, the business investor Colin Wilkinson and, for some obscure reason, Carol Vorderman, for an interview with the show's freshly rejected candidate. Who reveals what it is really like to be in the firing line. Or, at least, their version of what it's like, anyway.

Thursday 18 November
The Beauty of Diagrams - 8:30 BBC4 - is a documentary examining diagrams, not unreasonably, beginning with one of the most famous in history - Leonard Da Vinci's masterwork Vitruvian Man. The piece, drawn in Milan in the 1480s, combines the artist's passions for anatomy and the mechanics of the human body as well as geometry, and also illustrates an ancient architectural riddle set out over fifteen hundred years earlier by the classical writer Vitruvius. A puzzle which still fascinates experts to this day. The mathematician Marcus du Sautoy - whom dear blog readers may well remember from a couple of excellent Horizon programmes he did with Alan Davies on the subject of making maths relevant - explores the stories behind some of the most familiar scientific diagrams.

It's the last in the current series of Reggie Perrin - 9:30 BBC1. The Perrins clash at a wedding as they deal with the revelation of Nicola's affair with David. Reggie needs to devise a plan to stop the chairman from selling Groomtech, and considers the alternative solution of disappearing for good. Comedy, starring Martin Clunes and Fay Ripley. Probably the last episode for good I reckon as the ratings have been decidedly average. Unlike the series it's remaking, it won't be missed.

Autumnwatch 2010 - 8:30 BBC2 - as usual sees Chris Packham and Kate Humble track down vast flocks of roosting starlings, using cutting-edge technology to uncover the secret of their aerial displays and get inside the roost. With wildlife massing in vast numbers, there is a guide to the best spectacles of the season, while in Wales, Iolo Williams explores the mysterious life of the sea trout.

Beeny's Restoration Nightmare - 8:00 Channel 4. The -seemingly permanently pregnant - property expert Sarah Beeny takes on the biggest challenge of her career as she tries to save Rise Hall in East Yorkshire from ruin. And wrack. You know, let's big it up a bit. Sarah, and her husband, Graham Swift, have lived in the stately home for the past ten years and plan to transform it into a wedding and events venue in just nine months. On a shoe-string budget, they must tackle ninety seven rooms with rising damp, an acre of leaking roofs and a third of a mile of corridors. Of course, the fact that Sarah's husband is - very clearly - human and not a bicycle pump, sadly negates one of Dara O'Briain's finest ever one-liners on the subject of how, because episodes of Property Ladder are sometimes filmed out of order, Sarah's frequent state of pregnancy sees her bump appear to go up and down between sequences. In fact, Sarah and Graham are the - no doubt very proud - parents of four boys, and not a brood of elephants as some of you might have believed from watching previous series of Help! My House is Falling Down.

And so to the news: The twenty third James Bond movie has reportedly been scheduled for a cinema release in November 2012. According to Bloomberg, studio MGM - which filed for Chapter Eleven bankruptcy earlier this week after rejecting a takeover bid from Lionsgate - is close to a buy-out from Spyglass Entertainment. Under the proposed agreement, MGM's four billion dollar debt will be extinguished and production on The Hobbit and the 007 series will continue. The studio is looking for a partner to split production costs on the next Bond before eventually retaking full ownership of the property. From 2012, the spy series is expected to release new instalments every two years. Daniel Craig is likely to return as the British secret agent, while it is unknown if director Sam Mendes will come back to the project.

The Reverend John Bishop is alleged to have 'stunned' his audience this week when he 'lost his cool' with a fan he believed had insulted Bishop's family. Because, clearly, whoever made this claim asked every single one of them and they all gave the same reply. Some of those at the Scouse stand-up comedian's show in Southport Theatre described the, normally mild-mannered, comedian's outburst as 'a bit excruciating' and 'a meltdown.' But, not 'stunning.' How curious. Bishop eventually regained his composure and apologised, though several punters subsequently claimed that they were surprised by the uncharacteristic intensity of the comic's response. The actor Kent Riley was one of several in the audience who wrote about the gig on Twitter. 'I went to see John Bishop and he lost it an threatened to quote "twat [the] fuck out of you" to an audience member who heckled him.' Stuart Wright, from Liverpool, said: 'Weird experience at John Bishop tonight. All really funny up until the point he lost it with a heckler and threatened to kick their teeth in.' Michael Hill tweeted: 'Still bemused by John Bishop losing his rag on stage last night. Bizarre and a bit excruciating. Killed atmosphere yet still a great show.' Neil Illing from Preston said: '[I have] never seen a comic have a meltdown. If you want an audience to participate don't get offended by their replies.' So, that's four punters who've commented then? And not a single one of them appears to have used to word 'stunned' anywhere within those comments. Anybody else get the feeling this 'audience was left stunned' line is just tabloid arse-wipe? Just me then? After the gig, Liverpudlian Bishop also used the social network site to apologise to the audience, saying: 'I hope my rant towards the idiot didn't ruin for everyone else.' An hour later, he added: 'To clear things up I mistook a comment as an insult to my mum so lost my temper a bit. I was mistaken but the rest of the gig was lovely.' The incident came when the comedian, who recently completed his first prime time BBC1 show, asked the audience for suggestions of words and phrases that might be on the corporation's list of the words viewers found most offensive. Someone at the front shouted something which Bishop took personally. And, I think, given the comments above many of us can probably guess exactly what that was. Oh, dear. If ever there was a classic set up for a Whitehall Farce-style misunderstanding, bellowing 'muddafugga' at a comedy gig was, probably, it! Bishop's publicist helpfully added: 'John misinterpreted what he had heard and thought it was a direct insult towards his family. He took great offence which he expressed towards him. However, he did apologise there and then, and also shook hands with him after the show, which cleared up the misunderstanding.' Bet that sequence doesn't get repeated the night that John and his crew records his current tour DVD.

And, still on the subject of comedians in a bit of bother, Jason Manford has apologised after it was revealed that he exchanged a series of messages with a female fan on Twitter. The ONE Show host is said to have shared a number of 'racy' and 'sleazy' messages with twenty two-year-old Debra McNamee over the social networking site. And this is why, dear blog reader, yer Keith Telly Topping avoids Twitter like a dose of the plague. Because it's so open to nonsense like this. According to the Sun, who just love this sort of thing, the married comedian begged McNamee to send him photos of herself topless, and then described in detail how he had performed a sex act over the pictures. McNamee said: 'When I first sent a message to him I thought he would never reply. Famous people never do and I was surprised when he got in touch.' McNamee apparently sent her first message on 22 October and shortly afterwards began to receive replies from Manford. 'At first he just asked me about my dog and what I was up to and things like that,' she recalled. 'But after a while it started to get a bit more flirty. When he thought no-one would know, he started getting more and more racy in what he said. I think he was bored on tour and thought he'd never get found out. He'd ask me for photos and then tell me how excited he was by them. He asked me if I could keep it secret and he told me I looked sexy.' The paper alleges that McNamee 'gave in' to Manford's requests on 28 October and sent him a picture of herself posing in a lace bra, as well as one of her topless. As you do when someone you don't know asks you to send such things. I mean, that's so understandable, isn't it? 'It made me feel good, but I was quite shocked about what was going on,' she added. But, you still sent them anyway? Okay. 'It was very different from how he seems on the TV and on stage. I'm a big fan of his and I think I just got caught up in the excitement of tweeting someone so famous.' Manford - a father to twin daughters - said: 'I can see now that what started out as a bit of messing about and having a laugh on Twitter has been misjudged and I'd like to apologise to anyone that this has offended as that was the last thing I ever intended to do.' A 'source' added: 'Jason is deeply sorry and horrified at the upset he's caused his family and his wife. He's had a meteoric rise to fame and it's clear now the stardom has gone a little bit to his head. His wife and the BBC bosses will be rightly furious about his behaviour.' The twenty nine-year-old stand-up lives in Cheshire with his wife Catherine, who is currently expecting the couple's third child.

Tracy-Ann Oberman has signed up to star in Friday Night Dinner. The new Channel 4 comedy, which features Inbetweeners actor Simon Bird and Green Wing's Tamsin Greig, focuses on two brothers who visit their parents every week for a traditional meal. Oberman has now signed up to play Aunt Val in an episode of the show. Oberman previously played Chrissie in EastEnders and has had roles in shows including Doctor Who, Mistresses and Robin Hood.

Daybreak producers are apparently considering whether to change the name of the programme in a bid to win back viewers. Yeah, that's probably the answer to the missing millions of viewers - they don't like the name. Wouldn't have anything at all to do with the fact that many people really dislike its greedy, disloyal presenters of course. Not in the slightest. The ITV breakfast show, which took over from GMTV in September, has struggled to compete with BBC Breakfast in the ratings, and channel chiefs are said to be locked in 'emergency meetings' on the programme's future. A source told the Sun: 'High-level meetings have been held about what to do to halt the crisis. Changing the name has been discussed. It would cost a fortune but if it gets people to tune in then it would be worth it.' With a view to a possible rebranding, staff on the show have also reportedly been instructed to answer telephones with the term ITV Breakfast.

Matt Baker has revealed that he is suffering from motion sickness preparing for his Viennese waltz on Strictly Come Dancing. The Countryfile host admitted that the training was taking its toll on him this week, because of the notoriously difficult spins involved in the routine. 'I'm feeling sick. Honesty, it's just terrible,' he told It Takes Two. 'It's so sickly. Even now, just thinking about it, I'm feeling sick. There's a lot of spinning involved and twirling, and the whole room is constantly moving, even when you stop.' Last week, Vincent Simone helped Felicity Kendal prepare for the Viennese waltz by giving her training on a roundabout with his baby son. Meanwhile, Baker confessed that he felt slightly 'deflated' last weekend when he slipped down the leader board to third place after making a few errors in his Argentine tango. 'You do feel a little bit deflated afterwards, because you know that you could have done so much better,' he said. 'You want to go out and match [the others] and we had a few issues.' Baker and his professional partner Aliona Vilani scored thirty four points for their routine last Saturday, but fell behind Scott Maslen and Natalie Lowe, and Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev, who picked up the first ten scores of the series.

X Factor bosses have axed 'Big Band Week,' according to a report. It will be the first time since 2006 that the theme - which sees the hopefuls perform with a full orchestra - has not been included. The Sun claims that the move favours finalists including Cher Lloyd and One Direction. 'While Big Band would suit Rebecca Ferguson or Wagner Carrilho, it could be a death knell to One Direction or Cher, whose main talent is rapping,' a 'source' allegedly told the paper.

Katie Waissel has refused to rehearse ahead of this weekend's X Factor live show, it has been claimed. According to Metro, the contestant is also upset at the song chosen for her to perform on American Anthems week. A 'source' allegedly told the newspaper: 'She doesn't like to rehearse. She won't sing the song they give her, either. Right now, Katie is refusing to practise at all and says she would just prefer to go on stage and sing a song first pop.' They added: 'It's not ideal after she publicly broke down after escaping the bottom two again last week. She's been told she needs to do a lot of work. After she was turned into the show clown last week, she is not having fun behind the make-up and insists her raw voice on the night is all she needs.' Yesterday, it was claimed that Waissel could be asked to leave The X Factor after allegedly delaying the video shoot for the show's charity single.

Steve Coogan is making another attempt to break into American TV – this time by teaming up with his Hollywood friend Ben Stiller. Coogan is starring in new half-hour comedy called Documental, which is being piloted for the HBO network. He will also be an executive producer alongside Stiller and Justin Theroux, who co-wrote the 2008 movie Tropic Thunder, in which Coogan and Stiller appeared together. According to the Deadline industry website, the new show stars Theroux as a documentary director who tracks down his idol, an equally inept filmmaker played by Coogan. The pilot will be filmed in London. Coogan also appeared alongside Stiller in the Night At The Museum movies.

Boris Johnson was booed by fans at the 100 Club this week due to his inaction over a threat to the venue. The spiralling costs of living and working in London take their toll everyday. Rents are continually rising, with many long regarded institutions forced to pack their bags and head for pastures new. One of London's oldest music venues, the 100 Club has stood at the forefront of innovation for sixty years. Originally a jazz club, it became home to a bustling London R&B scene in the 1960s. Later, the venue was had vital role in the early punk scene. Still a sought after venue, rising rents and business rates mean that the 100 Club could close by Christmas. Fans have appealed for help, with many big name musicians responding in support of the venue. Bobby Gillespie recently labelled it 'the best room in London' and his sentiments were echoed by Alan McGee, Ronnie Wood and more. However Johnson's failure to act has seen the London Mayor endure criticism. A protest at the venue on Wednesday saw the politician heckled after a lightly worded statement from his office was read out. Music critic David Quantick read out the letter, which drew a hostile reaction from the crowd. Johnson wrote: 'The mayor understands the importance of the 100 Club in providing a platform for emerging talent and established artists from across the genres,' the statement began, before going on to call the 100 Club 'an essential part of London's post-war music scene with its own remarkable story. Unfortunately, the Greater London Authority has no statutory powers to intervene in commercial rental costs.' Rival politician Ken Livingston was quick to issue his own statement, claiming that in the future the Greater London Authority would be able to support such campaigns through the use of planning laws.

Nighty Night creator Julia Davis has criticised over-cautious broadcasters for trying to 'sanitise' comedy. She said too many meddling executives were diluting the visions of talented writers, 'crushing originality.' Earlier this year, the BBC buried a sitcom pilot that Davis made with Jessica Hynes called Lizzie and Sarah, broadcasting it at the uncommerical time of 11.45pm. Now, in an interview with actors' newspaper The Stage, Davis complained: 'I think commissioners are trying to sanitise everything. Instead of letting people be creative, they try to tell them comedies have to have certain elements, which crushes any originality. In America, they have teams of writers and they really respect what writers bring.' Indeed they do, Julia. They also cancel shows after two episodes if they're not getting enough viewers. If only ITV had taken that US-style approach with Daybreak. Where's a bit of precision American-style shock and awe when you really need it? 'Here, you go through so many processes, with lots of executives getting involved, and there are so many people it just gets confused,' she added. Well, if you think America is the big-style Land of Plenty, Jules, I suggest you get yerself over there pretty sharpish. Make sure you let us know how you get on. I'm positive you will.

Elvis Costello has stated that he is unsure if he would allow his songs to be featured in a future episode of Glee. Speaking to The Associated Press, the singer and songwriter admitted that he has mixed feelings about allowing his songs to be licensed for movies and television. 'I'm not a big fan of shows where the stage directions are "Fill the arena with water and now release crocodiles,"' he said. Blimey, yer Keith Telly Topping would be. If such a show existed. Wor Declan continued: 'I don't know about Glee, I haven't seen it. Sometimes if a beautiful song could be heard by a broader audience because it's attached to a show, that's okay. My songs are in movies. Sometimes they live a little longer than the films that they're in, but that doesn't matter, either. It's whether you're really hearing it or if it's just being played. That's the difference.'

Wayne and Coleen Rooney have been branded 'neighbours from hell' after complaints were made about noise from a recent party. The couple threw their son Kai a first birthday party at their Cheshire mansion over the weekend. However, two complaints regarding the noise at 1am were received by Cheshire East council. 'The noise was absolutely disgraceful,' one neighbour who did not wish to be identified told the Daily Lies. 'Only a thug would make a racket like that. It was on a school night, too, when many youngsters were due back in classes after half term. The music was absolutely blaring out and it was like a giant rave. There was heavy rap music and it was just dreadful.' They continued: 'We assumed when he was having a party for his one-year-old son it would have packed up by 7pm so all the families could go home. Yet it went on until 1am. How on earth his son managed to sleep through it is beyond me. We were certainly kept awake by it.' Another resident fumed how 'thoughtless' it had been for the party to be held on a Sunday night. 'This is supposed to be a genteel village but it was like Ibiza and Ayia Napa combined - on a noisy night,' they said. 'Obviously he thinks he is some big-shot with all his millions.' Well, technically, I suppose, purely in financial terms, he is, mate. 'But on this occasion he's been no better than a neighbour from hell on a sink estate.' Rachel Bailey, a Cabinet Member For Safer And Stronger Communities from the local council, said: 'We have received two complaints regarding a noise disturbance at a property late on Sunday.' That'd be those two, then? 'Our officers have spoken to both complainants and the matter is being dealt with as part of our standard procedures.' Fellow Tory councillor Thelma Jackson insisted that Rooney would 'be treated like everyone else who lives in the area - footballer or otherwise.' Rooney's spokesperson added: 'Wayne and Coleen took every precaution to make sure that the noise on Sunday was not excessive. They had a noise monitor running for the duration of the party. Of course, they are sorry if anyone was disturbed, although they are surprised as there were only about thirty guests present at the time of the complaint.'

Newcastle United footballer Andy Carroll wants a date with X Factor judge Cheryl Cole, it has been reported. Speaking to the Sun newspaper, Carroll described Cole as his 'dream woman' and said that he thought they would have plenty in common as they are both from the North-East. So's Jimmy Nail, mate, do you want your turn with him as well? Mind you, to be far, she also got arrested for beating somebody up in a night club so, you know, maybe you're right. 'With all she's been through I think what she really needs is to return to her roots and get herself a good down-to-earth Geordie boyfriend,' the England under-twenty one international striker is quoted as saying. 'If I can get her out for a dinner date I'm sure I could convince her I'm the one for her.' Oh, for Christ's sake. Hey, kidda, just concentrate of how you're planning on getting past Arsenal's defence on Sunday, never mind The Heaton Horror's defences. And, I don't think a bunch of flowers will work with Gaël Clichy either.

And, thus we come to today's exciting episode of yer Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This one is the best thing to come out of Lincoln since the Romans finished building the Fosse Way. A little slice of pure pop perfection from 1968. And here they are on Beat Club performing it.
They might have won Opportunity Knocks - true story! - but The Casuals were still only one-hit wonders. Ah, but, what a hit. And I mean that most sincerely, folks!