Monday, March 21, 2011

Don't Feel Guilty, Don't Go Crazy, Don't Get Paranoid With Me

From The North wishes to send its - wholly uncynical - congratulations to the international coalition under the auspices of the UN currently engaged in Operation Bomb The Bass over Tripoli. Not so much for the mass slaughter of some - admittedly - very nasty people supporting an extremely thuggish mass-murdering dictator. That's a question for another day and, probably, another very costly independent tribunal in a few years time. But, rather, for kicking off their latest version of, if you will, shock and awe when night-vision cameras can, magnificently, recreate the very colours of the Libyan flag. There's nothing like the start of an air war for providing some memorable television imagery. Of course, the loss of life on a large scale is a bit of a minus point in this regard, I'll certainly go along with that...

Secondly, congratulations also to all of those glake weather forecasters on Friday wittering on about the 'super moon.' And, sincere commiserations to all dear blog readers who expected they'd be able to open their kitchen window sometime in the early hours of Saturday morning and, quite literally, dive into the Sea of Tranquility it was going to be that close. Looked a pretty normal moon to this blogger.Maybe a bit oranger, I give them that.

The latest two-part Waking the Dead story - Care - began on Sunday evening with a perfectly terrifying opening episode. Easily the scariest thing that the series has done in at least a couple of years (probably since the drug-induced nightmares of Wren Boys). And, for a drama with well established near horror-movie credentials as Waking The Dead, that really is saying plenty. The episode was also something of a 'Greatest Hits' of various Waking The Dead's of the past. It was all there - the sinister children's care home setting of Breaking Glass and Mask of Sanity, the repression of memories of abuse-monsters from The Hardest Word and A Simple Sacrifice, the complex inner-family relationships of Walking on Water, Fugue States and Undertow. And, in their creation of The Bag Man, the gripping bogeyman pretensions of Sins and In The Sight Of The Lord. All wrapped up in a clever interwoven plot that - unlike last week's - yer Keith Telly Topping still hasn't managed to fathom out yet. Written by Richard Warlow (author of series six's Double Bind, to which it also bore more than a passing resemblance) and directed with considerable flair by regular Edward Bennett, this was almost a showcase for the popular cold case drama's many strengths. And the acting, as usual, was beautiful. Gosh, this blogger is going to miss this show when it's gone.

Former (three times) prime minister Michael Sheen will voice a character in an upcoming episode of Doctor Who. The Oscar-nominated actor's involvement in the sixth series of the BBC show was confirmed by writer Neil Gaiman - who has scripted the episode. Responding to a report which claimed that Sheen had revealed his involvement during a visit to the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Gaiman wrote: 'It's true.' No details of the Damned United and Frost/Nixon actor's role are currently known. Suranne Jones will also feature in the episode, the fourth of the new series, as a character named Idris. Born, literally, just around the corner from where Doctor Who is made, in Newport, Michael was a member of the West Glamorgan Youth theatre, where he was a contemporary of former Doctor Who showrunner Russell Davies.

Yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite line from Friday's Comic Relief Doctor Who mini-episode, dear blog reader? It was, in actual fact, 'Oh, this is how it all ends: Pond flirting with herself. True love at last.'That Rory Williams, he's a pure dead lucky bloke, so he is.

Anyway, Davros, dear blog reader. You must remember him, surely? The evil creator of The Daleks and one of The Doctor's most formidable intergalactic opponents. Although, the Time Lord always manages to beat him. Davros, to be fair, has endured his share of pan-universal struggles over the millennia - being walled up with his creations for a thousand years, surviving The Movellan Virus, having his fingers shot off by Orcini. Et cetera. But now, at least according a quite astonishing piece of total bollocks in the Daily Scum Mail, 'the mutant megalomaniac is at the centre of a very different kind of battle here on Earth.' Because - you're gonna absolutely love this, right - 'a lifelong Doctor Who fan' claims to have 'dreamt up the character when he was just thirteen, and is suing the BBC for breach of copyright.' Okay, firstly, it's 'dreamed' up, not 'dreamt' you ignorant right-wing lice, didn't you people ever go to school? Secondly, why - you might just be wondering, dear blog reader - has this chancer only chosen to speak publicly about this dramatic discombobulation now, thirty six years after Davros first appeared in the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama? Of course, there's a perfectly rational explanation, allow the Mail to explain: According to them, Steven Clark, fifty one, claims that he 'invented' Davros for a competition run by the now long-defunct TV Action comic in 1972. Entrants were asked to 'create a comic-strip villain,' for Doctor Who and Clark claims that he 'invented the name Davros and sent in a drawing of the character along with a handwritten essay called The Genesis Of The Daleks: The Creation Of Davros.' His drawing – a pencil sketch coloured with felt-tip pens – showed, he alleges, a 'half-man, half-Dalek' with an additional eye in the centre of his forehead, a headset, epaulettes, a withered left hand and finger-like switchgear on The Dalek base. Father-of-three Clark, from Ashford in Kent, has now launched High Court proceedings 'to try and prove that the BBC - and its commercial arm BBC Worldwide - have been using the character without his permission for nearly four decades.' He is further 'demanding' - demanding, note - that the Corporation pay damages, or a sum equivalent to the profits generated from the character over the years. And, we can can only presume that Steven's three kids are pure dead proud of their dad. Interestingly, as it happens, something very similar occurred to yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self. He also entered the TV Action competition in 1972 with an idea for a hideous creature with one of the most disgusting faces imaginable. 'Orrible, so it was. Little Keith Telly Topping furthermore suggested that such an abomination against all laws of God and Man could be played by 'that nice Mr Bruce Forsyth off The Generation Game.' And, then thirty odd years later, just look at Strictly Come Dancing and tell me that's a coincidence. Keith Telly Topping also invented EastEnders that very same weekend during a power cut. And he's got the crayon drawings to prove it. Or, he would've had if the candle he was trying to draw by the light of, hadn't set them on fire. And he wrote the script for Life On Mars actually in 1973. But, the dog ate it. Honest. Of course, everybody with half-a-head knows that when the BBC want to commission a Doctor Who story featuring a new monster, instead of employing professional writers and a designers to create the name and the look of the character, they go rooting around through a three year old competition run by a comic to find something a thirteen year old allegedly came up with. Makes perfect sense to me. (This story didn't appear, incidentally, on 1 April edition of the Daily Scum Mail, but rather on 19 March, just in case anybody was wondering if their calender is faulty.) The comic competition, the Scum Mail continues, 'was run independently of the BBC programme' but the judges included the then Doctor, Jon Pertwee, script editor Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts, the series' producer.' Two of whom are now dead and, therefore, can't comment on these astounding claims. Clark, who says that he kept handwritten copies of his entry, didn't win the contest – which had a colour television as top prize – and heard nothing from the judging panel. But three years later, the Scum Mail adds - by which time Mssrs Pertwee, Lettts and Dicks had all left the production to be replaced by Tom Baker, Philip Hinchcliffe and the late Robert Holmes respectively - 'his disappointment turned to anger when he saw a brand new episode of Doctor Who called The Genesis Of The Daleks.' It was actually six episodes, but we'll let them off, because, as they note, the story 'regarded as a classic by fans, introduced viewers to a new villain called Davros.' Clark claims that the character looked 'almost identical' to the one he had sketched. The storyline, written by Terry Nation - who is also now dead and, therefore, can't defend himself - 'did not mirror Clark's essay,' the Scum Mail adds. But, it did 'include reference to other new characters called the Kaleds.' Clark, whom the newspaper notes is currently 'on sick leave from his job in the motor trade', insists these characters, whose name is an anagram of the word Daleks, were also in his competition entry. An alleged 'friend' of Clark is allegedly quoted as allegedly saying: 'Steven was sixteen when the episode was aired. He couldn't believe his eyes when he saw his creation on screen. It was a mixture of emotions. He was excited, confused and angry.' The teenager, who by this time was working in his local branch of Halfords, contacted solicitors but it 'went no further' because, the Mail suggests, 'he had lost the copies of the competition entry.' And, of course, that's the only reason it went no further. However, 'twenty years later,' according to the newspaper he claims that he found them 'hidden in a set of family encyclopaedias.' As 'proof' of this claim the newspaper publishes photographs of two small (seemingly undated) pencil drawings of what is, clearly, Davros - albeit, to these untrained eyes, the drawing looks remarkably like the redesigned 1984 version of Davros from Resurrection Of The Daleks rather than the 1975 version. Clark goes on to claim that he believed 'too much time had passed' for another claim, although over the years he says that he 'sent several letters' to the BBC asserting his rights over the character. What actual replies he received from the BBC to these 'several letters', he doesn't say and neither does the newspaper. 'Experts' the Daily Scum Mail suggest, 'believe that if Mr Clark can prove' his claims, 'he stands to earn tens of thousands of pounds in compensation.' Though they haven't actually named any of these 'expects.' Not even the alleged 'legal source' whom they allegedly quote as allegedly saying: 'He is asking for damages or a pound-for-pound equivalent for all the profits generated by the character since he was introduced to viewers in 1975. The likelihood is that he will go for whichever sum is the largest.' That's if he can prove his claims, of course. There's something really sinister about the way in which the Scum Mail then jump directly from that alleged quote to the following piece of, perfectly accurate, information for its readers: 'Last year, BBC Worldwide identified the huge overseas success of Doctor Who as one of the reasons it had notched up record profits of one hundred and forty million pounds.' Clark, though, claims that: 'The money aspect of it is not my primary motivation.' And we, of course, believe him. 'I am proud of the character I created and I just want my work to be recognised. It would be nice to be finally linked to the character after all this time.' His lawyer, one Richard Kempner, said: 'If they used the drawing, it's only fair that they acknowledge it.' If. A terrifyingly interesting legal word, that. Terry Nation, of course, died in 1997 but Tim Hancock, the agent for his estate, said that he was 'aware' of the claims and is to meet Nation's widow Kate to search the family archives. BBC Worldwide said: 'We have received a claim from Mr Clark relating to matters from the Seventies.' Meanwhile, just to conclude this story, Daily Scum Mail reader Tarquin "Porky" Hooten-Malloy, Eton, felt compelled to comment: 'For goodness sake, is there anything of less importance as to who scrawled out a picture of Davros (whoever he is?) The world is heading for global conflict, the Middle East is in flames, death and destruction in Japan from a Tsunami, radiation spreading over the world - and what do we get? Some fool who thinks that anyone really cares about a stupid drawing. What an attention seeking fool. Lets [sic] be truthful, you are after compensation are you not? Go and get a real job sir!' That was Tarquin "Porky" Hooten-Malloy, Eton, there ladies and gentlemen. Speaking his mind. It's what the Daily Scum Mail encourages, apparently. Yer Keith Telly Topping finds himself strangely conflicted. He actually agrees with something a Daily Scum Mail reader has said. Clearly, the End of Days are almost upon us. It's all to do with this 'super moon', apparently. And Brian Cox. Anyway, it appears that the next step for Mister Clark and his lawyer would be to, ahem, round up the usual suspects. Here they are.And, yes, you can be absolutely certain, dear blog reader, that From The North will be reporting the next, thrilling, twist in this most extraordinary of true stories. I mean, comedy gold like this doesn't come along very often, you've gotta grab it with both hands when it staggers into view.

For the show's producers, it is nothing less than a magnificent controversy. Muhtesem Yuzyil, or Magnificent Century, a lavish prime time TV soap opera about Suleiman the Magnificent and Hurrem, the slave who became his powerful wife, is as admired in Istanbul as it is reviled. Suleiman ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566 at the height of its glory and is still revered as Kanuni, or Lawgiver. This has led to the series attracting a wave of protests from irate viewers and even government officials. Critics said it was disrespectful to the sultan because it showed him drinking alcohol – banned in Islam – and womanising with concubines in the harem. They have also complained that its scriptwriters take liberties with historical events and depictions of royal lives. However, despite warnings from the government media regulator – or perhaps because of them – ratings for the weekly show remain sky high. After receiving what it said were more than seventy thousand complaints when the drama first aired in January, Turkey's Supreme Board of Radio and Television, known as RTUK, said that Show TV, the channel broadcasting the series, had wrongly exposed 'the privacy of a historical person' and owed the public an apology. Even the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who leads Turkey's Islamist-rooted government, weighed in, calling the programme disrespectful and 'an effort to show our history in a negative light to the younger generations.' Dozens of egg-throwing protesters chanted 'God is great' outside the Show TV studios and descendants of Suleiman vowed to produce a series of their own to set the record straight. A word to all of our own persistent BBC-whingers, that's a proper protest!

Filming on the two Hobbit movies has begun following months of delays caused by funding problems, a row over actors' wages and surgery for its director, Peter Jackson. Shooting is taking place at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand. Production on the films, starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, is expected to take up to two years. The first is due out in late 2012.

Snoop Dogg has reaffirmed his desire to land a cameo role on Coronation Street. The rapper has often spoken of how much he enjoys the ITV soap and has even previously suggested appearing as a new love interest for long-standing character Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride). In a new interview with the People, the rapper, with the hippin' and the hoppin' claimed that he is currently 'in talks' for a guest appearance. He explained: 'My people have spoken with the producers and it will be something that happens. I would love a cameo, man. The show is just so real. But they have to find the right character for me. I don't want to make a cameo for the sake of making one. They have some hot writers on Corrie and I want them to come up with a character for me that everybody is going to remember.' Snoop added that he was impressed by the soap's dramatic fiftieth anniversary episodes last December but was disappointed to see the character of Ashley Peacock killed off. He said: 'I thought maybe it was the wrong decision for the producers to kill him off. Those tram scenes were crazy. Everybody loved Ashley, so for me it was a bad choice. It's not easy in the US to watch Coronation Street but it can be done. It's one of my favourite shows.'

Marcus Brigstocke is to join the cast of The Railway Children when it returns to the London stage this summer. The comic will play stationmaster Albert Perks Perks – the role originally played by Bernard Cribbins in the 1970 film adaptation – in the award-winning theatre production. He will join the show when it returns to the disused former Eurostar platforms at Waterloo Station from 19 June to 4 September. The show will again feature a real steam train borrowed from the National Railway Museum in York and the Old Gentleman's Saloon Carriage used in the original film. Last year, Brigstocke made his musical theatre debut, playing King Arthur in the tour version of Monty Python's Spamalot.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day was a real groundbreaker in the late 80s. Featuring a cunning crossover of shoegazing indie-rock and rap, and Toni Halliday's soaked-in-vinegar vocals, this is Curve.