Saturday, March 05, 2011

Week Eleven: Maybe You're The Same As Me, We'll See Things They'll Never See

Jezza Clarkson and James May are currently down under with the Top Gear cameras. Expect some nonsense about that in the Gruniad as soon as they find out. The motoring show will shoot a TV special in Queensland over the coming week before its stars (well, two of them, anyway) move on to a huge car convoy between Brisbane and Melbourne. Hamster's busy, seemingly. On Thursday, Jeremy and James took to the track for some scorching hot laps on the Gold Coast. Ahead of a Top Gear Live show at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre pn Friday night, the pair experienced life inside a V8 Supercar at the Norwell track. Clarkson, who said the Bathurst 1000 was his favourite motor race, took to the wheel of a Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore, while May was content to sit in the passenger seat as the five-time Bathurst winner roared around the track. May emerged with a huge grin to say it was one of his best-ever experiences in a motor vehicle, while Clarkson, who nudged Lowndes' Commodore close to two hundred km per hour, described it as the motoring equivalent of heaven. 'It's the most perfect car without getting too technical,' he said.

A BBC1 Comic Relief documentary, which saw four celebrities take up residence in a Africa's largest slum, was easily beaten by the final part of ITV drama Marchlands on Thursday evening. Famous, Rich and in the Slums with Comic Relief, made by Love Productions, provided a window on the Kenyan shanty town of Kibera for an average audience of 3.63m on BBC1 and BBC HD. The documentary featured participation from Lenny Henry and Angela Rippon. Despite a growth of half a million in the audience across the 9pm hour, it still had an audience well below BBC1's slot average of 4.94m viewers for the past three months, according to overnight BARB figures. Famous, Rich and in the Slums was easily beaten by final episode of ITV's really rather decent supernatural drama Marchlands, which had its second highest audience of the series. The story of a haunted house was watched by 5.89m viewers over the 9pm hour, of which just under three hundred thousand watched on ITV HD. An additional two hundred thousand tuned-in on time-shifted ITV+1. The series had averaged 5.76m over its five-part run, above ITV and ITV HD's three-month slot average of 5.56m viewers. Elsewhere, Channel Four's new factual entertainment series, Love Thy Neighbour, got off to a shaky start, only managing to hold an audience of 1.15m over the 9pm hour. It was below C4's three-month slot average of 1.34m. The Studio Lambert-made series, which sees twelve families vie to win a cottage in an idyllic Yorkshire village, attracted an additional one hundred and sixty thousand viewers to C4+1.

Torchwood: Miracle Day writer Jane Espenson has revealed that scripts for the ten-part series are 'almost complete.' The former Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica writer and producer is scripting episodes three, five and seven, as well as co-writing episode eight with comic book author Ryan Scott. Espenson wrote on Twitter: 'It is almost all written! All episodes but last one are in the pipeline at some stage.' Asked if there was any news on a fifth series, she responded: 'No word on next season yet.' Following her work on Torchwood, Magic Jane will be co-writing the pilot episode for a US remake of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) for the SyFy channel. The classic British detective show originally broadcast on ITV from 1969-70 starring Kenneth Cope and Mike Pratt. More recently it was remade by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer for BBC1 in 2000.

Brian Cox has revealed that he thinks science should be a part of popular culture. In an interview with the Radio Times, the physicist and presenter said that he wants a universal audience to enjoy his work. He explained: 'I say science should be part of popular culture. It's far too important not to be.' Cox also mentioned how teenage girls have started attending his personal appearances 'in kind of a pop star way.' He added: 'I've done some signings for the Wonders of the Solar System book recently and a certain percentage of giggling schoolgirls come, which is interesting, because it's a book based on a series about the solar system made by a physics professor.' Yeah. But a sexy one!

And now, for no other reason than yer actual Keith Telly Topping feels like it, here's a large picture of Rose McGowan. Nice. With that out of the way, so - as surely as night follows the day - we arrive at this week's batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Friday 11 March
Tonight sees the return of a new series of Gardeners' World - 8:30 BBC2. And, let there be cheering and banging of shades and hoes throughout the agricultural community as former host Monty Don returns to the fold and presents the horticultural programme from his Herefordshire home. He looks forward to the spring, as do we all, beginning work on his vegetable garden and planting new varieties of hellebore. I look forward to spring for different reasons, admittedly, but we're on the same side here. Meanwhile, croaky-voiced Carol Klein learns about Anglesey Abbey's use of imaginative planting to brighten up the winter months, while Joe Swift and Rachel de Thame offer advice to a green-fingered Dorset woman, whose plot is about to become part of the National Garden Scheme.

Tonight also sees a repeat of Blues Britannia: Can Blue Men Play the Whites? - 9:00 BBC4 - the documentary charting the British love of the musical genre over a twenty-year period from the 1950s. Contributors including yer actual Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Mick Fleetwood and Paul Jones comment on the inspiration provided by American artists such as the God Damn King of the Blues Muddy Waters, and how young white audiences came to love the music, and the increasing international dominance of UK-based performers as the 1970s dawned. Narrated by Nigel Planer. If you haven't caught this one before, as with most of the BBC4's Britannia documentaries it's well researched, has a fascinating collection of archive clips and, by and large, they talk to all the right people. See Reggae Britannia, Soul Britannia et al.

Saturday 12 March
Robert Webb continues to flush his, once promising, career down the lavatory as he presents Pop's Greatest Dance Crazes - 8:30 BBC3 - a countdown of the top fifty dance fads. Or, in other words, yet another bloody clip-show example of 'Poll TV' which is so beloved by programme makers looking to waste yet another three hours of our valuable lives. Using archive footage to explore how the choreography for songs including 'Macarena', 'Thriller', 'Vogue' and 'Single Ladies' became worldwide phenomena. Featuring contributions and re-enactments of the moves by a selection of the usual bland talking heads, many of whom you'll have never heard of and some of whom you will actively want to give a damned a good slap to: Mel C, Louie Spence, Rufus Hound, Bradley Macintosh, Katy Brand, Craig Revel Horwood, Richard O'Brien, MC Hammer, Carl Douglas, the Village People, Jarvis Cocker, Suggs, Andrew Stone, Shappi Khorsandi, Lisa Scott Lee and Whigfield. Just pass me the cyanide pill now, please.

Another repeat, but this one's a belter, is Seven Ages of Britain - 8:00 Channel Four. Historian, presenter and total babe Bettany Hughes explores the period from one thousand BC to forty three AD, comprising the Bronze and Iron Ages, which saw Britain engulfed by widespread flooding and the hunter-gatherers forced to abandon their homes and learn new skills. Tribes came into existence and people gave themselves names, picked rulers, used simple coinage and became traders with their continental neighbours. And then, inevitably, a bunch of asylum seeking foreigners turned up and trashed the gaff. I'd love to have seen the Daily Scum Mail on the morning the Romans arrived.

Sunday 13 March
Hang out the flags, the new (final) series of Waking the Dead returns tonight - 9:00 BBC1 - for the first in a two-part story. If you've never seen it before, then you don't deserve to have a television set. In tonight's opening episode, Harbinger, written by the great Ed Whitmore, the team acquires a new member. When brilliant ex-counter-terrorism officer Sarah Cavendish (played by Five Daughters star Eva Birthistle) is foisted on Peter Boyd by his superiors, he is given little choice but to keep her 'out of harm's way.' Sarah matches Boyd in rank and it's the first time he has worked with someone of an equivalent level. Sarah's capabilities means she quickly ingratiates herself with her new colleagues but as her symptoms of post-traumatic stress for a case in her past that went badly wrong, it becomes increasingly apparent there is mounting concern for her welfare. Trevor Eve stars, of course, along with Sue Johnston, Wil Johnson and Tara FitzGerald. And, they're all excellent in it. Continues tomorrow. One of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite dramas, this. It's good to have it back and make the most of it while you can, dear blog reader.

In Wonders of the Universe - 9:00 BBC2 - Foxy Coxy continues his exploration of the origins of mankind by investigating the matter from which everything on Earth is formed. At a Hindu cremation in Nepal, he discusses the faith's philosophy of life as an eternal cycle of creation and destruction, and draws a parallel with the lives of the universe's stars - before revealing why everything on Earth was once a part of something else.

It's all happening at nine o'clock on Sunday, it seems. Tonight also sees the last in the current series of Being Human - 9:00 BBC3 - and an episode, inevitably, called The Wolf-Shaped Bullet. Mitchell (the brilliant Aidan Turner) is trapped by the police, but finds help from an unlikely and untrustworthy source, and Annie finds Lia when she returns to purgatory in her search for answers. But, things are not as they seem. In Being Human, they seldom are. It is, after all, a flat-share comedy-drama-horror about werewolves, vampires and ghosts. You wouldn't expect things to be as they seem, frankly. Meanwhile, George (lovely Russell Tovey) has to decide whether he can stand by his best friend. I think the general consensus of certainly the viewers I've talked to is that the third series has been 'almost but not quite' as good as the previous two. Being Human remains, however, one of the best dramas on British telly and something that should be cherished.

And, still they come. Also a nine o'clock - on Sky1 - is Hawaii Five-0. Former Navy Seal Graham Rivers takes a group of day trippers hostage on the USS Missouri, and McGarret uses his own special forces training to board the vessel and talk him down. It later emerges that Graham is wanted in connection with his wife's murder. Danny, Chin and Kono investigate the case when he protests his innocence whilst Steve tries to get to the hostages before anything too messy happens. And, to satisfy his dear old mucker Mick Snowden, yer actual Keith Telly Topping would like to assure dear blog readers that, indeed, Grace Park's skirt is pretty short in this one. Although, after the bikini episode last week, that may be seen as 'not good enough', frankly.

In this week's Time Team - 5:30 Channel Four - Tony Robinson and the gang embark on one of their most delicate missions to date, as they search for Roman artefacts beneath the graveyard of St Kyneburgha's Church in Castor, Cambridgeshire. With several reports of similar finds in and around the village, speculation mounts that they could discover the remnants of a praetorium - a huge Town Hall-like building which would have dominated the region's skyline during the period. However, as the experts start digging in other nearby locations, they find that not all the evidence points to the same conclusion. Which, again, is pretty much Time Team down to the ground. And, that's why we love it. As previously mentioned, yer actual Keith Telly Topping likes the Roman ones. To be honest, I wouldn't have minded being a Roman myself. Murderously sweeping through the Kent countryside doing a bit of righteous ethnic cleansing on any impertinent Brittunculie who gave me a bit of lip. 'What do you mean, it's your country, who's got the very sharp gladius and the flag, eh? Scum! Get back in yer mud hunt when your betters are in the vicinity.' No, I think I'd've been good at it!

Monday 14 March
Tonight sees the start of a new series of Bang Goes the Theory - 7:30 BBC1 - the popular science show. Liz Bonnin follows two couples undertaking IVF treatment and explores new research which may dramatically increase the success rates of such meddling with nature. Meanwhile, Jem Stansfield sets out to become the first person to go three hundred and sixty degrees on a playground swing, and Dr Yan Wong (funny name, and all) confuses shoppers with the help of a special mirror.

The latest episode of Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - begins when a bitter argument breaks out between Kevin and Sally - what, another one? Predictable. This one occurs at the hospital after Sian reveals that Sophie felt neglected by her parents. Liz makes a surprise return as Steve and Becky struggle to pick up the pieces and Katy stuns Chesney by announcing her plans for the future. Meanwhile, Tina is disappointed that Graeme has a date with Xin.

Dispatches: Britain's Secret Fat Cats - 8:00 Channel Four - tragically isn't a documentary on the subject of obesity in pets. Rather, it's one examining whether the beneficiaries of the Government's spending cuts are in fact private outsourcing companies. In light of a major new report looking at public sector pay, financial journalist Ben Laurance explores the coalition's Big Society policy, and asks what it means for the public and voluntary sectors.

Twenty Twelve - 10:00 BBC4 - is a new six-part series, a spoof documentary which aims to show 'the funny side of planning an Olympics' as it follow the challenges faced by the - fictional - Olympic Deliverance Team, as they set about organising next year's sporting event in London. In the first episode, the marketing team designs a major publicity event to mark one thousand days days until the opening ceremony. But, the clock chosen to celebrate the milestone has a potentially disastrous flaw. Sort of The Thick of It for sports bureaucrats, if you will. Starring and excellent cast which includes Hugh Bonneville, Jessica Hynes, Olivia Coleman and Amelia Bullmore and with narration by the nation's former favourite Time Lord David Tennant. And, real life Olympic head honcho Seb Coe has a cameo as well, which proves that those really running the organising have a sense of humour!

Tuesday 15 March
The opening episode of the documentary series Bible's Buried Secrets - 9:00 BBC2 - as the question Did King David's Empire Exist? Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou, the senior lecturer in the Hebrew Bible at the University of Exeter, examines how archaeological discoveries are changing the way in which many people interpret Christian and Jewish scripture. She begins her journey by exploring the historical basis for the reign of King David, who is depicted in the Old Testament as a teenage warrior who defeated a fearsome Philistine giant Goliath, and is variably revered as a national hero and divine monarch in Israel. I like this sort of thing usually and BBc2 have a terrific track record of making intriguing, questioning, but balanced pieces that neither tread on the toes of anyone's faith but, also, have a bit of proper historical perspective to them - as with that excellent The Star of Bethlehem documentary a couple of years back. This one, apparently, caused some annoyance from a few tight-arsed mouthy conservative Christian groups in the US when it was first shown who got all hot under the collar that anyone would dare to question The Word of the Lord. So, that's an extra reason to watch it, then.

It's the last in the current series of Gok's Clothes Roadshow - 8:00 Channel Four. In which the camp auld queen her-very-self arrives in London for the finale, challenging three women working on the King's Cross Redevelopment Programme to update their wardrobes in time to hit the catwalk. Girlfriend. Meanwhile, Brix Smith-Start (once a guitarist with The Fall and now, seemingly, reduced to this) plans to prove couture fashion's merits by enlisting the aid of leading designer Matthew Williamson - and a Best of British floor-length gown. I have to admit, as somebody who always rather enjoyed a bit of Gok and his over-the-top malarkey on my TV, from the bits I've seen of it the current series has been crap. Times for a makeover yourself, Gok, I reckon. New format needed, and urgently if you're not to become the latest victim of Channel Four's habit of milking celebrity-fronted shows to death. I have but two words for you, pal. Jamie. Oliver. Slippery slope!

Meanwhile, here's an example of Channel Four attempting to find a new format to flog to death; Lily Allen: From Riches to Rags - 10:00 Channel Four. This is a documentary following former pop singer Lily Allen (retired) and her half-sister Sarah Owen as they set about making their dream of running a vintage clothing store a reality. That's the extent of your dream, ladies? My God, your aspirations are pathetic. I dream of untold riches, power over empires and death-ray eyes that can kill a man at fifty paces. Those are proper dreams. Anyway, the programme begins as they come up with Lucy in Disguise, a shop providing couture fashion for those who would not usually be able to afford it. However, retail guru Mary Portas is forced to deliver unpleasant news after a focus group expresses doubts about the concept. Oh God. I mean ... You know ... Yeah. Whatever. And, the really annoying thing is somebody, somewhere within Channel Four thought 'you know what'll be a real ratings winner. A show about Lily Allen with Mary Portas and a focus group.' Jesus, as a race we built the Pyramids, crossed the oceans, invented flight, television, computers and football. We sent men to the moon. We produced Shakespeare, The Beatles, Tommy Cooper and Apocalypse Now. We're humanity and we're better than this, Channel Four, trust me.

Mind you, the best Channel Five has to offer is Extraordinary Dogs - 7:30. An insight into the work of dogs trained to make effective use of their keen tracking abilities. Includes the story of a Staffordshire bull terrier that assists in research into South Africa's cheetah population, and a New York man whose golden retriever from the charity Guiding Eyes for the Blind has helped him fulfil his dream of becoming a professional musician. Also featured is a Manchester terrier that is able to sniff out poisonous frogs on Australia's Groote Eylandt. Actually, come to think about it, I think I'd far sooner watch this than that Lily Allen thing. At least, in this, you can be really impressed at the remarkable things mere animals can be taught.

Shooting the Hollywood Stars - 7:30 BBC4 - is again, a repeat, but a worthy one. Fashion and celebrity photographer Rankin re-creates a series of well-known images of movie stars and explores the history of his profession in Hollywood. He examines the importance of his craft in holding people's interest in films, and replicates pictures of Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe with the help of stars including Matthew Rhys and Leslie Mann and hair, make-up and costume professionals. With contributions by Jane Russell, Michael Sheen (see right, dressed as Charlie Chaplin), Selma Blair, and the British photographer Terry O Neill.

Wednesday 16 March
Tonight in yer Keith Telly Topping's beloved MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1 - the eight remaining contestants are split into pairs to replicate some of Yotam Ottolenghi's vegetarian recipes. They are then challenged to prepare two waves of service for a group of circus riggers and performers in Peckham. Those who fail to impress Gregg and John face a final task before the judges decide which two aspiring chefs will be leaving the competition. And, several national newspapers will claim that the show is 'not as popular as it used to be' despite the fact that the ratings this year are up on last year. Then they'll pull out some story about some mouthy glake on Twitter who claims they've stopped watching because the show's been 'dumbed down', as though it wasn't exactly Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World previously.

I very much like the look of Leaving Amish Paradise - 9:00 BBC2. Andrew Tait's film follows two Amish families as they leave their roots and community behind. Shunned by their friends and relatives, the outcasts try to get to grips with all the commodities of the modern world, after spending their lives living exactly as their forebears did three hundred years ago. That's if you don't fancy getting stuck into the meat-and-two-veg of MasterChef.

Also on the menu is The Secret World of Whitehall - 9:00 BBC4 - a new series in which Michael Cockerell examines how power really operates in Britain, investigating the work of the Cabinet Office, 10 Downing Street and the Private Office network. Using rare archive footage and interviews with current and former ministers and civil servants, he begins by exploring the role of the Cabinet Secretary at the heart of the government.

If you're looking for something genuinely not dumbed-down as a pre-MasterChef appetiser, may yer Keith Telly Topping heartily recommend the tasty looking Wars of the Roses: A Time Team Special - 8:00 Channel Four. Tony Robinson examines recent archaeological discoveries in the site of the Battle of Bosworth, an encounter which led to Henry Tudor taking the English Crown, and uncovers finds that challenge the traditional interpretation of the events. Of course, he's been there before, only on that occasion he was watching Edmund Blackadder accidentally cut off his uncle's head. 'Oh dear, it's Richard III,' I seem to remember was Baldrick's line. The presenter reveals the opinion of the experts who believe that the confrontation not only was fought in an entirely different place, but also that gunpowder weapons, including large cannons, were used in far greater numbers than previously thought. Fresh horses may be required.

Thursday 17 March
If you've been reading this blog regularly over the past couple of weeks, dear blog reader, then you'll no doubt have been aware of the - seemingly hilarious - goings on that will be detailed in The Big Red Nose Desert Trek - 9:00 BBC1. This Comic Relief documentary follows nine celebrities as they walk one hundred kilometres across Kenya's Kaisut Desert over the course of five days, experiencing temperatures as high as fifty degrees. Ronni Ancona, Crayyyyg Dayyvid, Lorraine Kelly, Scott Mills, Olly Murs, Dermot O'Dreary, Nadia Sawalha, Kara Tointon and Peter White meet people who are losing their sight, and spread the word about an eye care camp where they can receive treatment. Good cause, very worthy. need to say that up front. But, I suspect, the real reason most people will be watching this is to see these people suffer. Never mind red noses, they all had red feet - and, in several cases red bottoms - at the end of it all.

In The End of the World? A Horizon Guide to Armageddon - 9:00 BBC4 - Dallas Campbell delves into the Horizon archivse to find out how scientists have tried to predict the end of the world, from natural disasters to killer diseases and asteroid impact. He asks whether science will be able to save the human race when the apocalypse eventually arrives. A cheerful little subject for the Thursday night in front of the box, you might think.

Tonight also sees the second episode of ITV's new House rip-off Monroe - 9:00 ITV. The neurosurgeon struggles to accept that his wife has left him and tries to find the courage to tell his son the truth about why his marriage ended. At the hospital, Monroe has to deal with the aftermath of a double shooting, Bremner is forced to justify the way she relates to her patients, and Springer meets his match in the form of a fearsome theatre nurse. Drama, starring James Nesbitt, Sarah Parish and Luke Allen-Gale and written by the very excellent Peter Bowker.

Meanwhile over on Sky1 at ten o'clock, there's the real thing. A blue-collar worker breaks out in a severe rash caused by caustic chemical exposure, and as House and his team treat the man, they discover that he has led his wife to believe he is still maintaining his once-lucrative real-estate career. Meanwhile, Cuddy wants House's support when she is honoured at a charity event, but his attendance is threatened when his patient's battle to survive causes him to question his own life and career.

Now for the news: Lucy Griffiths has won a lead role in upcoming CW zombie project Awakening. The pilot, written by William Laurin and Glenn Davis, will follow two rival sisters as they struggle to survive in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Deadline reports that Griffiths will play Jenna, the elder sister who works as an attorney in the New York City public defender's office. The actress previously played Marion in the BBC's Robin Hood and has also appeared in episodes of Lewis, Collision and Sea of Souls. I've always wondered why it is that, in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, people always bother to struggle. Isn't that too much like hard work? I mean, why not just get bitten, and then try to change the system from within. It's much easier, and less zombies have to die in the long-run. Anyway ...

The BBC has reported banned a University Challenge team from using a kettle as their mascot. The Daily Torygraph reports that four contestants from Goldsmiths brought the appliance with them to protest about the police tactic of 'kettling' at student demonstrations. James Hayward, the campaigns officer at Goldsmiths students' union, explained: 'The whole protest was over the police use of kettling. It is not a tactic that works, forcing people into one area during a protest and not allowing them to move. There were people laughing in the audience. The presenter, Jeremy Paxman, immediately cottoned on to the joke and found it very funny.' However, a spokesperson for the studios where University Challenge is filmed confirmed that the team had not been allowed to display the kettle. The representative said: 'Teams are allowed toy mascots, but it was deemed not appropriate to have the kettle.' Spoilsports!

Cheryl Cole will return as a judge on the UK version of X Factor after landing a new deal, according to a press report. The Daily Mirra claims that Simon Cowell 'arranged' a 'secret' big-money contract for the Girls Aloud singer after failing to secure her a role on the US version of the reality show. 'Cheryl is thrilled about the new deal. She thought her days on the UK X Factor were behind her but the money is too good to refuse,' a 'source' allegedly told the paper. 'This is Simon's way of making it up to Cheryl for not landing her the US X Factor gig. She was convinced Simon had pulled all the strings to get her on the judging panel but it's been a disaster. Now Cheryl will make twice the money she was on last year.' The insider continued: 'Simon has told her he's going to look after her and he has a lot of surprises in store for this year's show. He's going to shake things up dramatically and make some big changes. He wants the new format to be much edgier and Cheryl will play a major role in that. She's going to be returning with a bang and with Simon no longer appearing on the show he's banking on Cheryl to stir things up.'

Bill Clinton has reportedly turned down a guest role on NBC's 30 Rock. The show's production team were hoping to include an appearance from the former president in the upcoming one hundredth episode, according to the New York Post. An 'insider' alleged: 'They hoped he would appear next week to shoot the episode. They included him on the call list, but it didn't happen.' Series creator and star Tina Fey apparently wrote directly to Clinton's advisor Doug Bang to discuss an appearance. However, a representative for Clinton claimed that the former president was not made aware of the request. 'The request was made and immediately denied without asking him,' they said.

BBC medical drama Casualty has been filming on-location in Peterborough for a 'spectacular' stunt scene, reportssuggest. Film crews for the programme have been shooting at the Nene Valley Railway over the past few days, although exact details of the storyline in question are currently being kept under wraps. Speaking to Peterborough's Evening Telegraph newspaper, series producer Oliver Kent commented: 'It was a shoot involving a couple of teenagers and a train - and it being Casualty, it is safe to say that it doesn't go well. This is a big spectacular storyline we have been building up to.' He added: 'Nene Valley is the best spot for this, as there are not many locations where you can film so close to the tracks. We filmed here a few years ago, so we know it very well.'

The conclusion to EastEnders' baby swap storyline has now been filmed. Earlier this week, Jessie Wallace shot scenes which saw her character Kat Moon reunited with baby son Tommy following weeks of anguish. At the beginning of this year, Kat and husband Alfie suffered a devastating experience as they believed that they had lost Tommy to cot death. However, Ronnie Branning (Samantha Womack) had swapped their healthy child with her dead son James after being left grief-stricken following his sudden passing on New Year's Eve. The climax to the storyline is understood to take place after Tanya Branning and Greg Jessop's wedding next month. While exact details are still unknown, Wallace and Shane Richie - who plays Alfie - have been pictured filming at a hospital with the baby. According to the Sun, Kat and Alfie head off to the hospital seeking a check-up for Tommy after discovering that he is still alive. Furious over Ronnie's desperate act, Kat apparently vows to kill her if she ever sees her again. A source told the newspaper: 'These are scenes viewers have longed to see. They were extremely emotional for everyone but it was the right outcome to the story.'

The Daily Lies has been accused of printing fictional stories by a disgruntled reporter who has resigned in protest at what he says is the tabloid's 'hatemongering' anti-Muslim propaganda. In a resignation letter addressed to the paper's proprietor, Richard Desmond, the reporter said he was moved to leave after the Lies gave sympathetic coverage recently to the far-right English Defence League. Richard Peppiatt admits to producing a number of entirely fictional stories about celebrities during his two years working at the tabloid, a practice which, he implies, was sanctioned by his editors. The reporter, who was once made to dress up in a burqa, now accuses the paper of inciting racial tensions and Islamophobia. 'You may have heard the phrase "the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil sets off a tornado in Texas,"' Peppiatt wrote in his letter to Desmond, which - somehow - ended up on the desk of somebody at the Gruniad Morning Star. 'Well, try this: "The lies of a newspaper in London can get a bloke's head caved in down an alley in Bradford." If you can't see that words matter, you should go back to running porn magazines.' Desmond's media empire has, indeed, included pornographic magazines and adult TV channels. Peppiatt tells him in his letter: 'The weight of your ownership rests heavy on the shoulders of everyone, from the editor to the bloke who empties the bins.' Peppiatt, who handed in his resignation this week, said the 'incendiary' suggestion that the EDL was planning to field election candidates was known to be an exaggeration. 'But, further up the newsprint chain it appears a story, too good to allow the mere spectre of reality to restrain, was spotted,' he wrote. The EDL story is one of a number of prominent articles published by the Lies recently which, Peppiatt claims, were wholly 'made up,' including some of his own. The reporter was recently involved in stories claiming Rochdale council had spent tax payer's money on 'Muslim-only squat-hole loos.' In fact the toilets were neither paid for by the local authority nor were they Muslim-only. 'I was personally tasked with writing a gloating follow-up declaring our postmodern victory in "blocking" the non-existent Islamic cisterns of evil,' Peppiatt wrote. The Press Complaints Commission later ruled the story was 'inaccurate and misleading.' The reporter also quotes Kelly Brook, who recently complained about the number of fabricated stories she reads about herself on the Internet. She said: 'There was a story that I'd seen a hypnotherapist to help me cut down on the time I take to get ready to go out. Where do they [journalists] get it from?' Peppiatt wrote: 'Maybe I should answer that one. I made it up. Not that it was my choice: I was told to.' He said he had 'plucked' the story about Brook's experimentation with hypnotherapy from his imagination, adding: 'Not that it was all bad. I pocketed a one hundred and fifty pound bonus.' In a list of 'my other, earth-shattering exclusives' for the Lies, Peppiatt also recalls producing articles about Michael Jackson, Robbie Williams and Katie Price which, he said, had no factual basis. He also admits making up a story suggesting that Matt Lucas was on suicide watch following the death of the comedian's former civil partner. Lucas took the Lies to court over the story, winning substantial damages in the process. Peppiatt criticises the Lies's editorial judgment in his letter, accusing it of hypocrisy and of 'arranging the day's news based on the size of the subjects' breasts.' He adds: 'On the awe-inspiring day millions took to the streets of Egypt to demand freedom, your paper splashed on: JORDAN … THE MOVIE. A snub to history? Certainly,' he writes. 'An affront to Journalism? Most definitely.' As a young reporter desperate to make his name in Fleet Street, Peppiatt concedes that he took to his commissions 'with gusto,' but now, he says, he questions the ethics of what he was required to do, suggesting that he was at times promoting an anti-Muslim agenda. 'On order I dressed up as John Lennon, a vampire, a Mexican, Noel Gallagher, St George (twice), Santa Claus, Aleksandr the Meerkat, The Stig, a transvestite, Alex Reid. When I was ordered to wear a burqa in public for the day, I asked: "Just a head scarf or full veil?" Even after being ambushed by anti-terror cops when panicked Londoners reported "a bloke pretending to be a Muslim woman," I didn't complain. Mercifully, I'd discovered some backbone by the time I was told to find some burqa-clad shoppers (spot the trend?) to pose with for a picture [with me] dressed in just a pair of skin-tight M&S underpants.' Peppiatt's letter concludes by criticising Desmond himself for not providing greater resources. 'When you assign budgets thinner than your employee-issue loo roll there's little option but for Daily Star editors to build a newspaper from cut-and-paste jobs off the Daily Mail website, all tied together with gormless press releases. But when that cheap-and-cheerful journalism gives the oxygen of publicity to corrosive groups like the EDL it's time to lay down my pen.' The Daily Lies, of course, rejected Peppiatt's claims, implying that he may 'hold a grudge' against his employer after being 'passed over' for several staff positions. '[Peppiatt] refers to a Kelly Brook story – in fact he approached and offered the newspaper that story, vouched for its accuracy, and then asked for and received an extra freelance fee for doing so,' the statement said. The Lies also claimed that Peppiatt had been warned by senior reporters after suggesting he would make up quotes. 'Regarding the allegations over the paper's coverage of Islam, he was only ever involved in a very minor way with such articles, and never voiced either privately or officially any disquiet over the tone of the coverage. For the record, the Daily Star editorial policy does not hold any negativity towards Islam and the paper has never, and does not endorse, the EDL.'

Karl Pilkington has alleged that he was offered the chance to go on I'm Z-List Former A Celebrity ... The Idiot Abroad host, who is currently promoting the second series of The Ricky Gervais Show, said that putting up with the other contestants was what put him off signing up for the reality show. I think it was actually slightly more likely that his terminally stupid 'act' would be found out if he was to feature on a TV show as invasive as that. 'I am not a fan of spiders, but I don't think anyone is,' he said. 'My main worry is being stuck with whoever else is there. My worst nightmare would be to see Ricky [Gervais].'

Nick Clegg has said people should not 'write off' the Lib Dems despite the party slumping to sixth place in the Barnsley Central by-election. What, not even 'sod off the Lib Dems'? The party finished behind UKIP, the BNP and an independent candidate as its share of the vote dropped to just over four per cent. Labour, which won the poll comfortably, with turnout was down to thirty six per cent, said that the Lib Dems had 'paid the price' for a series of broken promises in government. And, indeed, for making themselves part of a government that hardly any of the people who actually voted for them at the last election wanted. But Clegg said that his party would prove its critics wrong. The Lib Dems slipped from second place in last year's general election to sixth in Thursday's poll - which was triggered by the conviction of the constituency's disgraced former MP for expenses fraud. Labour held the seat with a slightly increased majority of eleven thousand seven hundred and seventy one, with UKIP doubling the share of the vote it gained in May to beat the Conservatives into third place - one of the eurosceptic party's best-ever by-election results. The BNP came fourth with one thousand four hundred and sixty three votes. Which would appear to prove that there are at least one thousand four hundred and sixty three racists in Barnsley. That as distinctly opposed to the two thousand nine hundred and fifty three Little Englanders who voted UKiP. Independent candidate Tony Devoy came fifth, beating the Lib Dems by over two hundred votes. An 'English Democrat' got five hundred and forty votes - half of the Lib Dem's total whilst Howling Laud Hope for the Monster Raving Loony Party got one hundred and ninety eight votes. And, to be honest, if I'd lived there he'd've been the chap this blogger would've gone for. At least he's honest about what a knobcheese he is. UKIP leader Nigel Farage heralded the party's performance, saying they were the 'real winners' in Barnsley Central. Which, they were in every respect other than that they came second. So, not so much the real winners as the real runners-up. Second. As Buzz Aldrin so rightly noted on The Simpsons, 'it comes right after first.' 'We've shown our potential in European elections by getting big scores in the past and now we're doing it in first past the post Westminster elections,' he said, seemingly under the misaprehension that under three thousand is a big score or anything even remotely like it. 'We are delighted though I have to say but not completely surprised. Because just over the last month, whether it's votes for prisoners, car insurance for young women, annuities for old men, increasingly our Parliament is seen to be completely impotent.' The by-election is the second since the coalition government took power last May, with Labour also winning the previous contest in Oldham East and Saddleworth in January. The BBC's political correspondent Ross Hawkins said the result would be a real concern for the Lib Dems ahead of May's English council elections although it remained to be seen whether the slump in their support was a one-off protest vote or a sign of a wider trend. Former MP Eric Illsley held Barnsley Central with a majority of just over eleven thousand in last year's general election but he resigned his seat after pleading guilty to falsely claiming fourteen thousand pounds in parliamentary expenses. He was later jailed for a year. Remember, dear blog reader, if you were to take every single politician (or would-be politician) in Britain at the moment, put them all in a bag and beat the bag, hard, with a stick (covered in dogshit) you would hit somebody who really deserved it. Don't vote for them, dear blog reader, it only encourages them.

Downing Street's new press chief Craig Oliver is reported to be 'playing hard to get' with Westminster hacks, according to the Daily Express Hickey column. Blimey, with Alistair Campbell, all you had to do was say nice things about Burnley and you could have your wicked way with him any day of the week. Asked politely this week for his mobile number by a senior lobby journalist, Oliver apparently replied: 'You can reach me through the switchboard.' Ouch. It's only Oliver's first week in charge, but are Westminster writers already clamouring for the ghost of Coulson past?

A Dutch navy helicopter crew have been shown on Libyan state TV after being captured while attempting to evacuate two foreign citizens. The TV showed the three-strong crew, their Lynx helicopter and weapons, saying they had entered Libyan air space 'in breach of international law.' Of course, so did the SAS earlier in the week but the Libyans, it would appear, didn't catch them. Dutch officials say that the helicopter was captured on Sunday near Sirte while trying to fly out two Europeans. Talks are under way to free the crew, who are two men and one woman. They had landed near Sirte, a port city in central Libya under the control of government forces, to carry out a 'consular evacuation,' the Dutch defence ministry said. An armed Libyan unit captured them along with the two evacuees - a Dutch national and another, unidentified European - who were later released by the Libyan authorities and left the country. The Dutch defence ministry has been in contact with the crew who were 'doing well under the circumstances,' a Dutch spokesman said on Thursday. They had flown into Libya from the Dutch warship Tromp, which is anchored off the coast. Footage shown by Libyan TV, shows the three crew members sitting in an office with Libyans and sipping canned drinks. A helicopter with Dutch naval markings can be seen parked on sand as gunmen cheer and wave their weapons around it. When a heavy machine gun and belt of bullets are displayed, an on-screen caption in Arabic says: 'According to the [Saudi-backed] broadcaster al-Arabiya, this helicopter was sent to rescue people, but we can see something else here. The helicopter flew into Libyan airspace and landed in Sirte without any permission from the authorities and this is in violation of international law.' Assault rifles, dollar notes, notebooks, pistols, mobile phones, bullets and ammunition, military-fatigue body armour, inflatable life jackets and a Sony digital camera are also shown off in the video. Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that the Dutch national whose evacuation the crew had been trying to complete was handed over to the Dutch embassy and is now back in the Netherlands. He had been working for the Dutch engineering company Royal Haskoning. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said news of the crew's capture had been kept quiet initially to assist the talks on their release. 'It is terrible for the crew of the Lynx helicopter,' he said. 'Everything is being done to make sure the crew get home.' The Tromp, which was initially to have taken part in an anti-piracy operation off Somalia, headed for the Libyan coast on 24 February.

Piers Morgan has fought back at his detractors, including the bloggers who 'want him dead.' In an interview with the Daily Mirra, Morgan also laughed off criticism from Larry King, whose show he took over in January. He said: 'The things these bloggers say about me - most seem to want me dead, thrown off Beachy Head with the lemmings - simply make me laugh. I don't take any notice.' This particular blogger would like to assure the vile and odious Morgan that I have no wish to see him dead or anything even remotely like it. Off my effing TV screen, certainly. Which, since he's now in the US, he's nicely accomplished. Please stay there as long as you can, sir.

Mr Men author Adam Hargreaves has created a new character called Little Miss Princess in time for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Two titles about the 'kind-hearted' princess who 'lives in a castle with turrets and a moat' have been written, Egmont publishers have announced. One of the books follows her attempts to get to a wedding on time. Little Miss Princess and the Very Special Wedding will be published in April. The first title, Little Miss Princess, is published on Monday coming. Princess is the first new Little Miss character since 2003 when Little Miss Whoops was published. Hargreaves said he 'thoroughly enjoyed' writing the stories. 'She's an inspirational and fun character that girls of all ages will connect with. Of course I am hopeful that this will also put me in good stead to pen the next royal biography.' Egmont's managing director David Riley said 'We are delighted to be publishing this new Little Miss character in such a significant year. We look forward to celebrating both the Mr Men's fortieth anniversary and the Royal Wedding with our two Little Miss Princess titles.' The Mr Men and Little Miss series have been hugely popular with over one hundred million copies sold worldwide. Little Miss Middleton's opinion on the - nude - character as, are yet, unknown.

A referee reportedly sent off thirty six people during an eleven-a-side football match in Argentina. According to Sky News, a brawl broke out in the second half of the game between Victoriano Arenas and Claypole, which Claypole were leading 2-0. Referee Damian Rubino's post-match report stated that he sent off all of the players, substitutes, coaches and technical staff at the game after fans joined the fighting on the pitch. Whether he sent off any fans cannot, at this time, be verified. Claypole manager Sergio Micieli said: 'Most players were trying to separate people. The ref was confused.' However, his opposite number Domingo Sganga claimed that the Claypole players 'wanted to kill' him. Sganga is reported to have begged the police to lock the players out of the dressing room. The previous record for sendings off in one game was recorded in Paraguay in 1993 when twenty players were shown a red card by referee William Weiler in a match between Sport Ameliano and General Caballero.

Lastly for the news, in the week that has seen Rupert Murdoch getting the government to do, just exactly, what he wants them to, this blogger is somewhat drawn to the Gruniad's Steve Bell and his take on the story.Yeah. What he said.

And so, dear blog reader, to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day. Since Liam's about to unleash his Beardy Eye upon the trembling world and Noel's still holed up somewhere working on his first solo LP since What's The Story Morning Glory?, yer actual Keith Telly Topping reckons it's just about time for - frankly, rather lengthy - reminder of some necessary facts. A reminder about just why it was that, despite all the fights, the numskullism and the occasional lack of original riffs, Oasis, were worth it all. 'We put this festival on with a lot of love, you bastards ... well, you can go to Hell!' For a start, because they rhymed 'supersonic' with 'gin and tonic'.Because of Whitley Bay, Loch Lomand, Glastonbury and Wembley. Because of Maine Road in '96 and me and our Graeme nearly getting killed in the Mosh Pit during 'The Swamp Song'. For 'Roll With It' and 'Some Might Say' and 'Live Forever'. For Definitely Maybe and What's The Story? and then bits and pieces from each subsequent CD. True Be Here Now's hard work if your nose isn't full of Charlie but stick will it, there's some good tunes on there fighting to get out. And for Bonehead on the cello.For Knebworth. For 'Acquiesce', and 'Hello' and 'Step Out'. For 'Morning Glory' and 'Bring It On Down'. For making it in America and then totally blowing it in the most beautifully British way imaginable! For Don't Look Back In Anger' and Sally, still waiting. For 'Slide Away' and 'Round Are Way'. For 'Talk Tonight' (on The White Room with Paul Weller) and 'Married With Children' and 'It's Better People'. For 'all your dreams are made of Strawberry Lemonade.' For 'Cigarettes and Alcohol' and 'Headskrinker'. For 'Listen Up' and 'take me to the top of the world/I wanna see my crime.' For all the nights when we all really were rock and roll stars. And for never stopping producing absolutely brilliant little singles. And for 'I Am The Walrus' at Earl's Court and 'Cum on Feel The Noize' on Top of the Pops ('you know my singin's out of time/but it makes me money!') For 'Fade Away' and 'Half A World Away'. 'I was lost/I was found/But I don't feel down.' They could infuriate you, frequently. They could do daft things better than pretty much any band in the history of rock and roll. But, you forgave them their glakery because when they were good, by Christ, they were stunning. And, when they split up, the world suddenly became a rather more boring place, dear blog reader. Where were you while we were getting high?