Tuesday, March 29, 2011

She'll Find The Note I Left Hanging On The Door

The title of fantasy author Neil Gaiman's forthcoming Doctor Who episode has apparently been revealed. SFX magazine claims that the episode, which will be broadcast fourth in the next series, is entitled The Doctor's Wife. A title, interestingly enough, that's been used as a rumoured Doctor Who story name on at least three occasions going back to the 1980s. Once, instigated by the then-producer! Will this be fourth time lucky? Place your bets now, dear blog reader. Former Coronation Street actress - and babe - Suranne Jones will appear in the episode as Idris, previously described by Gaiman as 'an old acquaintance with a new face.' Michael Sheen will voice a character in the episode, which also stars Elizabeth Berrington and Adrian Schiller. Gaiman recently revealed that he is 'happy' with the final version of his script, adding: 'They spent money on this one and it shows.' Oh, for God's sake don't let Trevor Eve hear you say that, Neil, he'll go bastard-well ballistic.

Speaking of good old mad-as-toast Trev his very self, the latest Waking The Dead ended with a spectacularly bonkers and furious-complex second episode. One which - just about - made sense in the end. If you thought about it really hard. And for a long time!

BBC1's Have I Got News For You returns to its natural home on Friday nights at 9pm from 8 April for nine shows over a ten-week period, with a break for the Royal Wedding. The perennially popular topical news quiz will also, for the first time, be broadcast in HD, allowing viewers to get up close and personal with Paul Merton, Ian Hislop and their guests. The first host is deadpan BAFTA-nominated comedian Jack Dee, who will be joined by chat show legend Richard Madeley and Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Jon Richardson. Others lined-up so far to guest host in the new series include Episodes and Green Wing actor Stephen Mangan, award-winning comedian, musician and Black Books actor Bill Bailey and Jo Brand, star of the hugely successful comedy series Getting On. This will be the forty first series of Have I Got News For You.

Ratings time now, dear blog reader. Here's the Top Twenty programmes for week ending 20 March 2011:
1 Coronation Street - ITV - 10.87 million
2 Comic Relief (7pm-10pm) - BBC1 - 10.26 million
3 EastEnders - BBC1 - 9.99 million
4 Twatting About On Ice - ITV - 8.95 million
5 Emmerdale - ITV - 7.84 million
6 Comic Relief (10pm-10:35pm) - BBC2 - 7.53 million
7 Waking The Dead - BBC1 - 7.36 million
8 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 - 6.97 million
9 Six Nations Rugby: Ireland vs England - BBC1 - 6.59 million
10 Push The Button - ITV - 5.95 million
11 Countryfile - BBC1 - 5.87 million
12 Silk - BBC1 - 5.84 million
13 Holby City - BBC1 - 5.79 million
14 BBC News - BBC1 - 5.75 million
15 Waterloo Road - BBC1 - 5.67 million
16 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 - 5.54 million
17 Take Me Out - ITV - 5.50 million
18 Harry Hill's TV Burp - ITV - 5.42 million
19 The Big Red Nose Desert Trek - BBC1 - 5.41 million
20 MasterChef - BBC1 - 5.36 million

Charisma Carpenter has revealed that she was keen to star in new CW pilot Secret Circle. The drama will follow the story of Cassie (Britt Robertson), a young girl who moves to Salem and discovers that she is a witch. In a recent Twitter post, the former Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel star Carpenter admitted that she is disappointed not to be part of the project. 'Sad because Secret Circle pilot I was hoping to test for was a role offered to someone else,' she explained. 'I really was hoping to be a part of that show.' The actress has recently appeared in episodes of Greek, Legend of the Seeker and CSI. She also starred in 2010 action film The Expendables. Natasha Henstridge, Louis Hunter, Thomas Dekker, Phoebe Tonkin, Gale Harold, Shelley Hennig and Jessica Parker Kennedy have all signed up to star in Secret Circle. The pilot will be executive produced by The Vampire Diaries showrunner Kevin Williamson.

There's a great piece by Charlie Brooker in the Gruniad on the subject of crass Internet critque that's well worth a few moments of your time, dear blog reader.

Alan Alda will appear in the upcoming season of The Big C, it has been announced. The Emmy Award-winning M*A*S*H and The West Wing actor will star as Atticus Sherman, an oncologist that Cathy (Laura Linney) visits in an episode of the second season. The Big C, which revolves around a housewife whose life is changed by a cancer diagnosis, was renewed for a further thirteen episodes last September. Its debut episode delivered the highest premiere ratings for a Showtime series in eight years. Creator Darlene Hunt recently teased that the sophomore run would see Cathy being more open with discussing her illness, adding: 'Hopefully you can expect lots more laughs and cathartic tears.'

The News of the World has revealed that its computers have retained an archive of potentially damning e-mails, which hitherto it had claimed had been lost. The millions of e-mails, amounting to half a terabyte of data, could expose executives and reporters involved in hacking the voicemail of public figures, including former deputy prime minister John Prescott, actor Sienna Miller, and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, claimed the Gruniad. The archived data is likely to include, the newspaper suggests, exchanges between the most senior executives, including former editor Andy Coulson, who resigned as David Cameron's media adviser in January, as well as three former news editors – Ian Edmondson, Greg Miskiw, and Neville Thurlbeck – implicated in the affair by paperwork seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was on the News of the World's payroll. Edmondson was sacked in January. Miskiw and Thurlbeck were interviewed by police last autumn. No charge have yet been brought against any of them. Coulson and the three former news editors have all denied involvement in criminal activity. MPs on the home affairs select committee are likely on Tuesday to ask about the e-mails to John Yates, acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan police, when they question him over allegations he misled parliament in evidence he gave about the number of hacking victims originally identified by Scotland Yard. Yates told the committee six months ago the Met had only identified 'ten to twelve' individuals in a 2006 inquiry because the Crown Prosecution Service advised it to adopt a narrow legal definition of what constituted an offence. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, has said that prosecuting counsel never adopted this narrow definition. Several News of the World journalists have since been linked with phone hacking after victims began legal battles, raising questions about why Scotland Yard failed to conduct a more comprehensive inquiry. Only one reporter, former royal editor Clive Goodman, was convicted of a crime along with Mulcaire. Both men were sentenced to jail terms in January 2007. No other reporters or executives were questioned by the initial police investigation and only Goodman's computer was seized. Only a series of high court cases brought by Sienna Miller and others have forced the Met to make available the material seized in a 2006 raid on Mulcaire's home, including his handwritten notes. But the disclosure of the existence of internal e-mails from 2005 and 2006, when Mulcaire was at his most active, could reveal the full extent of phone-hacking at the paper and the identities of those involved. In a ruling on Friday, a high court judge ordered the News of the World to make them available to the growing list of people suing the paper. Justice Geoffrey Vos, in charge of the hacking cases, ordered 'rolling disclosure' to all claimants on Friday; hundreds of thousands of e-mails will now be handed over to alleged victims. Parts of the first tranche, which contains up to eight thousand e-mails, will be passed to Sienna Miller's legal team in April. Lawyers acting for Sky Andrew, the football agent who is also suing the paper, will then receive all the News of the World e-mails in which Andrew is mentioned days later. News Group told the high court it is close to completing a search through archived e-mails it claimed had been lost when transferred to India by its IT provider; its lawyers formally apologised to the court for previous claims that the archive was not available. David Sherborne, for Sienna Miller, added that it remained 'mysterious' that the editor of the Scottish edition of the News of the World, Bob Bird, had given evidence on oath at the trial of Tommy Sheridan last year that the e-mail archive had been lost on the way to India. News Group also admitted a work computer used by Edmondson had been destroyed before Christmas. They agreed to provide detailed information about its destruction to computer specialists advising Sienna Miller. Computers used by other News of the World journalists have also been replaced or disposed of, but News Group's lawyer, Anthony Hudson QC, said the data they contained had been copied and retained. Sherborne told the high court on Friday that evidence of 'a scheme' between News Group and Mulcaire to hack into Miller's mobile phone had been recovered by the Met during the raid on his home. It included an agreement to provide 'daily transcripts' to the paper and monitor the activities of the actor's friends and associates, Sherborne said. Further disclosures have been ordered by Vos. They include a copy of an e-mail sent to Mulcaire asking him to target a 'wish list' of seventeen professional footballers. News International maintains that it, collectively, had no idea what was going on, and that it will take tough action against any employee who is found guilty of wrongdoing.

The video and animation team at Manchester's Code Computerlove has created a video for Penguin UK, celebrating the bestsellers from the last year produced by group subsidiary Michael Joseph. Authors such as Stephen Fry, Dawn French and Jeremy Clarkson appear in the piece, which was crafted for Penguin Publishing Group’s annual sales conference. Penguin's Jessica Killingley said the publisher had opted for video work to communicate its achievements as 'we wanted to showcase our successes in a way that conveyed the enthusiasm and energy that we'd all felt whilst working on the titles.' Code says that it is producing an increasing amount of video and animation work for clients. The agency team is led by Wini Tse, the firm's creative partner and co-founder. He commented: 'The majority of the video work we produce is for websites, to improve conversion or enhance the user experience, but this project utilised our motion graphic capabilities beyond the web. This was a great brief and a fantastic brand to work on.'

Amy Adams, the three-time Oscar nominee, has been cast as Lois Lane in the new Superman movie. Adams, thirty six, will star opposite British actor Henry Cavill, twenty seven, who will play the Man of Steel. 'There was a big, giant search for Lois,' director Zack Snyder told the Los Angeles Times. 'We did a lot of auditioning, but we had this meeting with Amy Adams and after that I just felt she was perfect for it.' Adams was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress this year for her role as Charlene Fleming in boxing drama The Fighter. She was also nominated in the same category for her role as a young nun in Doubt, and for the 2005 film Junebug. Other credits include the 2007 Disney hit Enchanted and Julie & Julia in 2009. The new film, Superman: Man of Steel, due for release in 2012, will be the sixth big screen instalment in the series. Lois Lane has previously been played by Margot Kidder and Kate Bosworth (and, on TV, by Teri Hatcher and Erica Durance). Several big Hollywood stars were said to have been interested in taking on the role in the new movie. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane will play Superman's adoptive parents.

He is mocked by his Top Gear colleagues for being Cap'n Slow but James May actually came to a full stop this week when a thief tried to steal his ten grand motorbike. The passionate motorcycle enthusiast earned his nickname on the hit BBC2 show for his careful driving style - and his habit of getting lost on most of the adventures he shares with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond. But he was forced to call the RAC after a thief attempted to steal his Daytona Triumph 675R – worth nine thousand eight hundred smackers – from a busy London street by breaking the ignition on the bike according to the Daily Scum Mail. May only bought the bike recently, sources at Triumph confirmed, and he had only picked the motorcycle up the previous evening. A 'source' close to May allegedly told the Scum Mail: 'James was furious, someone tried to steal the bike by breaking the ignition. James had only picked the bike up the previous evening.' The presenter has long been a motorbike aficionado and in January he said: 'I used to buy a new bike every year to take advantage of the VAT situation. Utter bollocks of course, because I lost loads of money on each one.' The Truimph is a nice addition to his current collection of a Yamaha XJR1300, Moto Guzzi V11 Sport and a 1978 Guzzi California. May bought the bike after giving it a glowing review, in which he said: 'The bike is reassuringly stable – driving hard out of bumpy corners has the bars fluttering gently but nothing more – yet agility is improved. It's a great track bike and riders buying one for regular circuit excursions will be delighted. But as with the previous version, the Daytona really excels on the road.' Despite his nickname, May actually broke the world land speed record for a production car on Top Gear. He took a Bugatti Veyron to its top speed of two hundred ansd fifty three mph, which is nearly one-third of the speed of sound at sea level, later on taking a Veyron 16.4 Super Sport edition to two hundred and fifty nine mph. You need a bit of this, James.

Dara O'Briain has no plans to follow in the acting footsteps of fellow comedians Ricky Gervais and Russell Brand. Dara told the Belfast Telegraph that he believes he would only be able to act as himself. 'Why would I want to act? I can only do one voice,' he said. 'I once read for a part of an Irish comedian, but that would just be me playing me, or a friend of mine. So there is no danger of me acting.' Dara admitted he would feel too self-conscious if he was acting in front of the cameras. 'I would be really aware of what I am doing with my arm, where I am standing. I genuinely feel that if I do act, my left arm would float up towards the ceiling in the scene, and what about getting the words right?' he added. He has no nerves ahead of presenting the film awards for the third year, which take place in London. 'This is the most glossy and star-studded, and there is always an impressive line-up of people,' he said. 'Actors are charming people so you can't get too nervous. The host is the Z-lister in the room, and they don't care about you. But the high point was when Gwyneth Paltrow told me I was better-looking in real life. I have that now printed in neon on a T-shirt. It's those normal moments with celebrities.'

The conclusion to Coronation Street's John Stape storyline will see the character commit suicide, a tabloid report has claimed. According to the Daily Lies, a plot twist on the Weatherfield soap will see the ex-convict end his life this summer. 'Sources' allegedly say that John will be driven to the shock decision when an incident at Underworld leads to fresh building work at the factory, where he hid the body of Colin Fishwick in July 2010. Fearing that Colin's remains will be uncovered, John apparently decides to end his nightmare by taking his own life. Exact details of how he will commit suicide have not been revealed. Colin's sudden death at the Stape house last summer sparked a long-running saga for John. After concealing Colin's body in the factory because he did not want his identity theft to be revealed to police, John was relieved when builders unwittingly covered the corpse with fresh concrete. However, John later had to deal with the increasingly deranged behaviour of his co-conspirator Charlotte Hoyle. In the soap's fiftieth anniversary week, he finally snapped and attacked her with a hammer, leaving her in a critical state before her life support machine was later turned off in hospital. More recently, John was involved in the death of Colin's mother Joy Fishwick after befriending her amid his guilt. Graeme Hawley, who plays the character, recently said that he would like John to strike again in order to break Corrie's murder record.

Jerry Seinfeld was disappointed when a judge threw out a 'ridiculous' lawsuit against him - because he was looking forward to 'fighting the system' like his hero Lenny Bruce. The comedian was caught up in a legal battle after chef Missy Chase Lapine filed suit against him for mocking her during an appearance on David Letterman's chat show in 2007. Seinfeld was adamant his remarks were covered by free speech as detailed in the First Amendment of the Constitution, and he was relishing the prospect of a legal battle similar to legendary stand-up comedian Bruce's clashes with authority in the 1960s over his obscenity-laden routines. But the case was dismissed by a judge in New York last month because, he said, it was clear Seinfeld was joking during the interview. Seinfeld told The Sunday Times Magazine, '[Lapine] sued me for defamation of character which is, of course, ridiculous. But I really wanted to go to court. I wanted to invoke the First Amendment, have my Lenny Bruce moment, fight the system, say you can't tell me what to say. I felt edgy.'

Liam Gallagher has said he believes Twitter 'is rubbish.' And, for what it's worth, yer actual Keith Telly Topping agrees with him. Althoguh, probably for different reasons.

Star Trek fans have the opportunity to get their hands on a piece of SF history as a prosthetic ear worn by Leonard Nimoy as Mister Spock goes under the hammer. The veteran actor wore the distinctive pointed ear to play his famous character in the 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The iconic memento has been carefully preserved for more than thirty years and is now set to be sold off at an auction of Hollywood memorabilia next month. Dan Levin, a spokesman for Premier Props, the company behind the sale, said: 'This ear was kept by the prop master from the film. It was carefully wrapped up which is important because silicone latex can deteriorate. Spock's ears are an iconic part of Star Trek and fans across the world would love to own it - we've already had lots of bids.' The auction will take place in Los Angeles on 2 April.

Now, here's a little reminder to yer actual Keith Telly Topping that there are, contrary to Oscar Wilde's view, some things in the world worse than being ignored. Those well known lovers of liberty and freedom the chinese secret police have arrested prominent writer Ran Yunfei for challenging the ruling Communist party, according to 'people close to the blogger' as quoted in the Gruniad. Ran, a writer and magazine editor from south-west Sichuan province who had been detained without charge for more than a month, was formally arrested on the charge of 'inciting subversion of state power,' Wang Yi, a Christian activist in Sichuan and a friend of Ran said. Ran, forty six, was detained by police in Chengdu on 20 February as unrest across the Middle East generated online calls for similar 'jasmine revolution' protests in China. The charge of inciting subversion was also used to jail Liu Xiaobo, the dissident who won the Nobel peace prize, which infuriated Beijing. 'Basically, it's the crime of expressing your opinions,' said Wang, formerly a legal scholar. 'In this case, too, the prosecutors will probably use essays that Ran has published on the Internet.' Nobel laureate Liu has been serving an eleven-year sentence since 2009 for co-writing the Charter 08 manifesto, which calls for sweeping political reform and is seen as one of the boldest challenges to Communist rule in recent years. The Chinese authorities are seeking to stifle any potential challenge to their power before a party leadership handover in late 2012. Wang said Ran's wife received the arrest notice on Monday, although it was dated last Friday, the day a court sentenced another leading dissident in Sichuan, Liu Xianbin (who is not related to Liu Xiaobo), to ten years in prison for urging democratic reform. Rights campaigners said that long sentence could augur tough punishment for other detained activists. The arrest was confirmed by another person close to Ran, who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution for speaking to foreign reporters. Police also searched Ran's home in February and confiscated his computer, according to Reporters Without Borders. Ran's formal arrest could culminate in a trial and a maximum prison sentence of five years. The authorities have detained dozens of lawyers, bloggers and dissidents in what rights groups say is China's harshest crackdown on dissent in recent years. More than one hundred activists, many of them active on Twitter and blogging sites, have been detained, subjected to monitoring and intimidation by the security forces or have gone missing since late February, particularly after the online calls for 'jasmine' gatherings, according to Amnesty International. Prosecutors could order further investigations of Ran and it could be up to four months or more before his fate becomes clear, Wang said. He and others familiar with Ran said they did not know specifically what triggered the arrest. 'The government on the one hand prevents freedom of the press and disallows the free flow of information, and on the other hand conceals the truth,' Ran wrote on his Twitter account on 14 February. 'It's no wonder that rumours are prevalent under these circumstances.' Horrifying, if predictable. As DISCLAIMER (A SLIGHT RETURN) on the right hand side of this blog notes, yer Keith Telly Topping's 'opinions, political and spiritual beliefs, the choice of which TV shows I like and dislike, which newspapers and books I chose to read and, indeed, which football team I have the misfortune to support are my own and expression of them is my goddamn right within a free and democratic society. (Which, for all of Britain's faults in other areas in 2011, it just about still is.) If you disagree with any of these opinions, then please do feel free to start your own blog and say whatever's on your mind to your own dear blog readers. That is what blogs are for, after all. I encourage everyone to use those freedoms - which many brave men and women have struggled, suffered and died to attain and then maintain over the years - to express your opinions upon whatever subjects you desire and whenever you see fit in a public forum. Within - of course - the boundaries of the law as it currently stands. Please remember there are, sadly, many parts of the world where citizens do not have similar liberties and who would probably love the opportunity to enjoy some of the freedoms that we in the West, all too often it would seem, take for granted.' Cases like the above remind us, forcefully, why freedom of speech is important. Because, as with many other things in life, oftentimes you don't notice it until you've lost it.

And finally, the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day features a real twenty four carat classic from Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb. Diamond.