Saturday, April 16, 2011

Week Seventeen: I'm Made To Move You Honey, Come Up Two Hours Late

It's just over a week until Doctor Who returns to our screens. Just as fans excitement hits fever pitch, the BBC has released two short clips from episode one, The Impossible Astronaut. In the first, Amy and Rory arrive in Utah and reunite with a Stetson-loving Doctor, but the happy moment is interrupted by another visitor. With a gun. In the second, the Time Lord seems less than pleased with his companions, and has a rather tense confrontation with River Song. You can see both of them here.

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has suggested that John Simm may reprise his role as The Master. The Life On Mars star appeared as The Doctor's arch-nemesis in five episodes between 2007 and 2010. At a recent Doctor Who screening in New York, Moffat suggested that Simm could reappear in a future episode. 'After [his last appearance] he'd been saying, "I think now that David [Tennant]'s left as the Doctor, I would have to leave the Master." He pulled me aside and said, "I didn't mean that! Look at me, I'm fit, I'm okay!"' Moffat also dismissed the suggestion - I think possibly first made on this blog last July as it happens! Look, yer Keith Telly Topping was only joking, guys - that Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch could replace Simm. 'Benedict has to wait in line probably,' he said.

HBO has unveiled plans to develop Neil Gaiman's American Gods for a potential TV series. The Hollywood Reporter announced that the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning fantasy book is currently being adapted for the screen and may go on to become part of the cable network's prime time roster. It was previously thought that American Gods, which centres on a mysterious ex-convict named Shadow and his adventures following the death of his wife, would be developed into a movie after Gaiman hinted last month that he had sold the rights to the book to 'an Oscar-winning director.' It has since been revealed that Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman's production company Playtone is behind the project, though no further information is currently available. Several of Gaiman's other works have already made it to film and TV, including Coraline, Stardust and the forthcoming production of Good Omens.

Comments made by well-known Crystal Tipps look-alike Rebekah Brooks – the chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News International – could trigger a criminal investigation by Scotland Yard, one of its most senior officers confirmed on Friday. About eight years too late, frankly, but, hey what'y gonna do? The fantastically named Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan police's assistant commissioner for specialist crime, wrote to tell MPs on the Home Affairs select committee that the force was examining whether police should begin a full inquiry. It follows Brooks's statement to a Commons committee in 2003 that journalists 'had paid police for information in the past' – which prompted a short inquiry by the Home Affairs committee this year. The committee chairman, Keith Vaz, asked Brooks to explain her statement this year. She replied: 'If, in doing so, I gave the impression that I had knowledge of any specific cases, I can assure you that this was not my intention.' Friday's letter from Dick says that, following the 2003 comments, police plan 'to conduct a scoping exercise to establish whether there are now any grounds for beginning a criminal investigation.' Brooks was editor of the News of the World from May 2000 until January 2003, leaving the post to edit the Sun two months before she appeared before the culture, media and sport committee. She became chief executive of News International, the company that publishes Rupert Murdoch's UK newspapers, in 2009. The unexpected police intervention comes as the twenty four phone hacking lawsuits brought by various politicians and celebrities came together in the high court at a case management conference designed to simplify the swelling number of actions, from people ranging from former lack of culture secretary Tessa Jowell to actor Steve Coogan. Mr Justice Vos told the lawyers present that he favoured a small number of 'test cases' going forward and indicated that the first trials could be held sometime towards the end of 2011 or early 2012. Those were the lawsuits brought by football agent Sky Andrew, former Sky Sports pundit Andy Gray, designer Kelly Hoppen and actor Sienna Miller.

Scotland Yard's renewed investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World has identified that the number of victims is in excess of ninety one people – far higher than previously estimated by detectives, the high court heard on Friday. The publisher of the newspaper has also offered Sienna Miller one hundred thousand pounds in compensation and offered to pay the actresses costs – an offer she has neither accepted nor rejected at this time. Detectives are currently trawling through over nine thousand pages of material seized from a private investigator used by Rupert Murdoch's tabloid to hack into voicemails, a case management hearing to decide how best to handle the flood of lawsuits against the paper heard. At the hearing in the high court, Jason Beer QC, representing the Metropolitan police, gave an idea of the scale of the scandal. Beer said that the number of potential victims is 'substantially' higher than ninety one people. The figure is significant, however. Previously police had said they had recorded a total of ninety one pin numbers – necessary to access a mobile phone's voicemail – in the possession of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator employed by the News of the World. The police counsel told the hearing: 'It is wrong to say that ninety one is the answer, that that is the maximum [number of victims], it may be on a bigger scale.' The court hearing also heard of the offer to Miller, which was designed to reflect the number of times her phone had been targeted. Her case is one of the most advanced of the phone-hacking lawsuits, and arguably the highest profile because of her celebrity. Mulcaire was convicted of intercepting voicemail messages in January 2007, along with the News of the World journalist Clive Goodman. During the course of the original investigation, police seized paperwork and records from Mulcaire, who was employed by the tabloid. Subsequently, John Yates, the Met's acting deputy assistant commissioner, who handled a previous phone-hacking investigation, said that the police had only identified 'ten to twelve' victims. That figure is far lower than the level identified by the fresh investigation team, which is under the leadership of deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers. Yates said earlier this month that he had quoted the figure on at least four occasions because prosecutors had told police they needed to prove not only that voicemail had been intercepted but also that this had been done before the messages had been heard by the intended recipient. So far, twenty four public figures who believe their voicemail messages were intercepted by journalists at the tabloid are suing News International, the UK newspaper arm of News Corp. Many more are expected to come forward after News International apologised to eight victims last week and said it would set up a compensation scheme. Law firm Mishcon de Reya, which is acting for several of the claimants, says it has received an unprecedented number of inquiries since News International published its statement, and estimates there could be 'more than six thousand potential claimants.'

The Press Complaints Commission's chair, Baroness Buscombe, has replied to what the Gruniad continues to describe as the 'stinging letter' sent to her on Monday by lawyer Mark Lewis in which he called on her to condemn the News of the World over phone-hacking. 'I feel you mischaracterise my attitude to it,' she wrote. 'As I said to the Independent in February this year, it brings shame upon the whole journalistic profession. I condemn all those at the News of the World who have been involved in it.' Lewis, who acts for several alleged hacking victims, said in his letter that the PCC's role as an independent regulator of the press was 'meaningless,' and that its November 2009 report into hacking was 'not worth the paper it was written on.' In her reply, Buscombe wrote: 'Let me be clear about my position on phone hacking, which has been consistent throughout. It is a deplorable practice, and an unjustifiable intrusion into an individual's privacy. The commission has always said that it is a breach of the editors' code.' She reiterated that the PCC had set up a special phone hacking review committee, which will also examine the commission's own performance. She wrote: 'I have gone on the record as questioning whether the PCC had been fully informed by News International in the past. I have asked this committee to establish the clear position on this. It is evident that News International's latest statement is relevant: they have now publicly acknowledged that their own internal inquiries were not robust. That raises serious questions which need answers.' Buscombe also pointed out that, following News International's announcement last Friday of its 'genuine regret' about voicemail interceptions by its staff, the hacking review committee issued its own statement. She added: 'I believe in following due process: I set up the committee to review material in light of ongoing developments; I want it to do so. I see it as one function of the PCC (as it sought to do in 2007 and 2009) to ensure that phone hacking is, and remains, stamped out across the whole industry. I hope you now understand my unequivocal stance on the subject. As you will recognise, the PCC will not be offering further comment at this stage, while the committee (and indeed the police) are actively considering this matter.'

And now, dear blog reader, for this week's Daily Scum Mail's public scolding of the BBC. The medically-assisted death of a terminally ill man is to be shown in a controversial new BBC documentary on the subject fronted by Sir Terry Pratchett. And, of course, the Daily Scum Mail had a field day with that story. Wax was exploding in their collective ears, so it was. In Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die, the renowned author will follow a British motor neurone sufferer as he carries out an assisted death at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. Pratchett, who was himself diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's disease in 2007, said: 'I am a firm believer in assisted death. I believe everybody possessed of a debilitating and incurable disease should be allowed to pick the hour of their death. And I wanted to know more about Dignitas in case I ever wanted to go there myself.' The author hopes to choose how to end his own life rather than succumb to his condition, but he also acknowledges that the subject of assisted death is complicated for many people on religious, moral or indeed legal grounds. In the hour-long BBC2 documentary, Prachett will meet other people suffering with degenerative conditions who want to control the way they die. He will also compare the legal stances across Europe to assisted death and ask what the future holds for terminally ill people in the UK. The documentary will be broadcast on BBC2 in the summer, alongside a Newsnight debate exploring 'a wide spectrum of views' on the issue. Charlotte Moore, the BBC's commissioning editor for documentaries, said: 'Assisted death is an important topic of debate in the UK, and this is a chance for the BBC2 audience to follow Sir Terry as he wrestles with the difficult issues that many across Britain are also faced with. I hope this sparks a constructive debate that people across the spectrum of opinion can engage in.' Craig Hunter, executive producer for documentary-maker KEO North, said: 'This intensely personal film, by one Britain's best-loved authors, tackles a deeply taboo subject with sensitivity and with Pratchett's idiosyncratic humour. It's a valuable contribution to the increasingly urgent debate as to who determines when and how we die.' According to the Scum Mail - who rounded up a few of the usual suspect rent-a-quote gobshites to try and stir up a bit of trouble - the BBC have 'a pro-suicide agenda.' Although one of their readers clearly believes that it goes far beyond that. 'The BBC have an agenda, and always have,' notes Maureen, Liverpool. 'When they speak about a right to die They mean a right to be killed. Its [sic] killing people we are talking about here, no matter how you try to cover it up, with fancy words its MURDER full stop.' So, that's Maureen, Liverpool, on the BBC's 'MURDER agenda there, dear blog reader. Next, ladies and gentlemen, 'Grandpa, good or evil'?

And so to the next batch of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's Top TV Tips:

Friday 22 April
The Making of Elton John: Madman Across the Water - 9:00 BBC4 - is the remarkable story of the Middlesex-born singer and pianist Reg Dwight. Of his formative years, including his childhood, his first break in the British music business, the long years of struggle and his rise to superstardom on both sides of the Atlantic in the early 1970s. As well as interviews with dear old mad as toast Elt himself, the programme also features the memories of colleagues and collaborators including lyricist Bernie Taupin and Leon Russell, with whom he worked on 2010 CC The Union.

There's a new series of The Million Pound Drop Live tonight - 10:00 Channel Four. Davina McCall presents the quiz show in which contestants can win a million pounds. They are challenged to place large quantities of the cash over trapdoors and face a series of questions, the wrong answers to which will lose them money every time they slip up. Former England cricketer Freddie Flintoff - in the news this week for apparently dissing of the town of Burnley, fact fans! - and his wife, Rachael, take part in the first edition, playing for a charity of their choice. Just so long as he doesn't bring that fat, unfunny clown of a mate of his from A League Of Their Own that's fine by this viewer.

Saturday 23 April
Where else could we possibly start other than the return of Doctor Who - 6:00 BBC1. The Time Lord (Matt Smith) and his companions (Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill) return for more popular family SF adventures. Three envelopes coloured in the TARDIS's distinctive shade of blue summon the Doctor, Amy and Rory to the middle of the Utah desert, where they are reunited with the enigmatic River Song (Alex Kingston). With the mysterious messages still unexplained, the time-travellers agree to investigate further, and their quest takes The Doctor and his friends to 1969 - and an encounter with US president Richard Nixon. First of a two-part story which concludes next week. So, what have we got to look forward two over the next few episodes? Well, there's a high-seas pirate adventure, a story set in a mysterious claustrophobic house written by fantasy author Neil Gaiman, the return of the Cybermen and some 'really big secrets.' Ah, it's great to have it back. That's, of course, followed by Doctor Who Confidential - 7:00 BBC3 - which
goes behind the scenes of filming in Utah, where the crew discusses the search for the perfect movie-style backdrop and the thrills of working in the desert. Back in the UK, the programme explores the creation of the Oval Office set and the return of River Song, featuring interviews with all of the regulars.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's other Saturday night obsession, Spiral - 9:00 BBC4 - is also back for another two episodes. Very popular with all of us here at Il Est Venu Du Nord this one. Le plus grand faible des hommes, c'est l'amour qu'ils ont de la vie. Laure continues to protest that the serial killer remains at large, despite the evidence and opposition from within her own team. La vérité vaut bien qu'on passe quelques années sans la trouver. Meanwhile, Clement defends a young offender with a troubled past and Judge Roban ploughs on with his corruption inquiry - sparing no one in the process. A vaincre sans péril, on triomphe sans gloire. Roban asks CID to take charge of the investigation when new evidence comes to light and Laure is forced to take a back seat as Superintendent Bremor leads the case. Quiconque flatte ses maîtres les trahit. Meanwhile, Pierre goes beyond the call of duty for his troubled client, and Roban's pupil finds himself the target of a blackmailer. Le temps est un grand maître, dit-on, le malheur est qu'il tue ses élèves. Salut.

Sunday 24 April
In the latest episode of Time Team - 5:30 Channel Four - Tony Robinson and his intrepid band of fearless archaeologists head to the gorgeous Bamburgh Castle on the Northumberland coast. It's about thirty miles North of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's drum if you've never heard of it. There, they join in with efforts to discover more about the building's early Saxon origins. Members of the Bamburgh Research Project have spent more than a decade combing through the history of the site, which was once home to the Bernician Kings who governed large parts of England, and believe there could be an exciting discovery lurking beneath the castle's lawns. Around eighty graves, most dating from the Seventh and Eighth Centuries, have been uncovered. Graeme Young, the director of archaeology for the Bamburgh Project, said that the cemetery could number up to one thousand burials in total. It was first revealed during a great storm in 1817 that lashed the Northumberland coast and scoured the dunes. But it was then covered up and lost before being rediscovered by the project team in the last decade. Most of the burials which have been unearthed have been male, but there have also been female and child graves. Bamburgh is believed to have been established as a royal power base in 547 by King Ida, who ruled the kingdom of Bernicia, from the Tweed to the Tees.

United - 9:00 BBC2 - is a much-anticipated drama charting the story of The Busby Babes - the Manchester United side who became the youngest-ever winners of the English Football League in 1956. Having won the league again in 1957, the team reached the quarter-finals of the European Cup in 1958 - but disaster struck as they returned from the match in Belgrade, when their charter plane crashed following a refuelling stop in Munich. The Munich Air Disaster claimed the lives of twenty three people, including eight players (four of them England internationals). With manager Matt Busby in a critical condition in a Munch hospital, it's left to his coach, Jimmy Murphy, to try and rebuild a shattered club in a shattered city. Starring David Tennant, Jack O'Connell, Sam Claflin and Dougray Scott.

Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - is having a rare excursion out of Manchester and going on its travels tonight in a special episode for Easter Sunday. Sean heads to London to be reunited with his son Dylan for Easter, and although he is thrilled to bump into former lover Marcus, it becomes clear all is not well between Violet and her partner Jamie. Back in Weatherfield, Eileen plays host to son Todd and his rich new boyfriend, but their plans for a quiet holiday quickly unravel.

Monday 25 April
In the first of three final showdowns on MasterChef: The Final Three - 9:00 BBC1 - the remaining competitors fly to a place where the MasterChef franchise is virtually a national obsession, Australia. There, they learn to prepare Bush food in Queensland with the help of a local guide. If it's Ray Mears, I'm stopping watching right now. Next, they visit the fishing town of Port Douglas, where they are challenged to provide catering services for a wedding, and the first leg ends as they cook a three-course lunch designed by MasterChef's own resident Aussie, John Torode - and inspired by his twenty seven-year career.

There's a fascinating looking Arena film, Produced by George Martin - 9:00 BBC2. This, of course, is a profile (described as 'rich and intimate') of the famous record producer. If the term 'the fifth Beatle' applies to anyone, it has to be Sir George Martin. Born in 1926, George joined EMI in the early fifties after a brief period with the BBC. A talented pianist, and graudate of the Guildhall School of music, by the middle of the decade he was - at the age of just twenty nine - the head of Aritsts and Recording at Parlophone and made a reputation for the label with a series of comedy hits by artists like Charlie Drake, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Rolf Harris and Bernard Cribbins. (It's often suggested that Parlophone was entirely devoid of pop acts before The Beatles but that's actually a fallacy. The label boasted one of Britain's biggest solo-stars of the early-sixties, Adam Faith.) A chance meeting with Brian Epstein in May 1962 – they were introduced by music publisher Sid Coleman - saw George signing The Beatles. He would became, over the next seven years, their producer, musical arranger and vital interpreter of the increasingly experimental and unconventional ideas that they presented him with. As Peter Asher once noted: 'Sometimes George's genius was knowing when to jump in and offer musical advice; sometimes it was knowing when to go down to the canteen and have a cup of tea, letting them get on with whatever they were up to.' Besides his own instrumental contributions (think of any keyboards played on a Beatles record pre-1965 and, chances are, it was George playing it), his innovative and clever arrangements for many songs were revolutionary. George encouraged McCartney's interest in classical music and had his own imagination fired by the complex production ideas that Lennon would challenge him with (listen to 'Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite' and you can, as the alcoholic Scouse wife-beating junkie reportedly asked, 'smell the sawdust'). An articulate, dignified and generous commentator on the extraordinary body of work that he oversaw both with The Beatles and with others (some of his arrangements for Cilla Black during 1964-68 are just as extraordinary as anything he did with the Fabs), George – who retired in 1998 – retains the affection of all Beatles fans. Without him, they would probably still have made it, but their records would have sounded very different. With contributions by Macca, Ringo, Cilla, Michael Palin, Bernard Cribbins and Rolf Harris, as well as George's family this is a celerbation to co-incide with Sir George's eighty fifth borthday. Worth watching, this one, I'd've said.

There's a definite 'use your recording devices wisely' thing going on at nine o'clock tonight as we've also got Derren Brown: Miracles for Sale - 9:00 Channel Four. In this, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite illusionist and master of prestidigitation gets slightly more serious than usual and investigates the reality behind America's faith-healing phenomenon. He chooses an unsuspecting member of the British public who is prepared to adopt the guise of a pastor. The selected person then tries to perform healing 'miracles' in Texas after six months of training, in an experiment to see whether he will be accepted and into certain aspects of basic human gullibility in the face of the unexplained. As with Derren's extraordinary programme on alleged spiritualism a few years ago, this one looks set to be controversial but, also, fascinating.

And, finally for a packed Monday, there's The Suspicions of Mr Whicher - 9:00 ITV. This is a feature-length period drama based on the book by Kate Summerscale. A sleepy village deep in the English countryside. An elegant house belonging to a middle-class family. A three-year-old child abducted from his bed during the night and found in the grounds the following morning, murdered. Was Saville Kent killed by a member of the household? A parent? A sibling? A disgruntled employee? Or was it an outsider, a local with a grudge or a predatory stranger? It is a local scandal that rapidly becomes a national one. Fuelled by sensationalist press coverage, a national hysteria grows. Everyone has a theory and wants to know what had really been going on in that secluded Wiltshire mansion. The public cry out for answers, for an arrest. But the local constabulary, it seems, haven’t a clue. Inspector Jack Whicher is part of the newly formed Scotland Yard detective department and travels to Wiltshire to investigate the crime. With no material evidence and only the inept local police force to help, he faces the unenviable task of solving a case in which members of the grieving family are the main suspects. Starring The Raging Bullring himself Paddy Considine, along with Peter Capaldi and Emma Fielding. Sounds excellent. So, there's four things you probably want to watch all on at the same time. Some bastard in scheduling wants shish-kebabing for that!

Tuesday 26 April
The three finalists arrive in New York where John Torode and Gregg Wallace send them to three of the city's finest restaurants to prepare luncheon in MasterChef: The Final Three - 9:00 BBC1. There's an awful lot of globetrotting being done for this final on my licence fee. Not than I mind, you understand dear blog reader. In fact, so long as it keeps the BBC from producing another series of The Ludicrous Ms Dahl, I'm all for it. So, luncheon in the US ... that'll be burger and chips, then. Not, perhaps, the most testing of tasks. Anyway, back in the UK, the amateurs are gathered at Coworth Park in Berkshire to cook a three-course menu designed by two-Michelin-starred chef John Campbell for a group of leading chefs, including Tom Kitchin and Michael Caines. The contest, which an average of around four and a half to five million viewers have followed with an a kind of appalled fascination, of course, concludes tomorrow.

In the final episode of A History of Celtic Britain - 9:00 BBC2 - Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) concludes their journey through ancient history by focusing on the legacy of the Romans. If anybody say 'the aqueduct', there'll be trouble. Scottish Neil digs beneath a London tower block (well, I'm suspecting he doesn't do it on his own, he'll probably have some help), examines building work from a large arena stadium and investigates the remains of an African woman who lived in York eighteen hundred years ago. And what did they give us in return? Apart, obviously from irrigation, central heating, sanitation, the roads, medicine, education, law and order, public health and the wine. Last in this fascinating and highly watchable series.

There's a new series of the very popular The Secret Millionaire - 9:00 Channel Four. Sean Gallagher, who made his fortune by setting up his own IT recruitment agency, heads for Middlesbrough to work with the founders of epilepsy awareness charity Abbie's Love. He hopes that by throwing himself into its fundraising efforts, he can finally come to terms with the grief he has struggled with since his only sister died as the result of a seizure.

We've got a royal wedding in a few days time, you might have noticed, dear blog reader. When Kate Met William: A Tale of Two Lives - 9:00 ITV - looks into the romance between Prince William and Kate Middleton, featuring a glimpse into the bride-to-be's upbringing in the Berkshire countryside and the couple's fateful meeting at St Andrews University. The programme reveals how their relationship has been played out in the public eye, and includes interviews with former school and university friends, as well as royal watchers such as Jennie Bond, Romilly Weeks and photographer Arthur Edwards. Narrated by Juliet Aubrey. Now some people, of course, think that the royal family are a crass anachronism; a completely pointless and, in some ways dangerous, hangover from days of privilege that should have been done away with decades (if not centuries) ago. They regard this wedding as a huge and colossal waste of time and, more importantly, money (at least a portion of which is being paid for by you and I as tax payers, dear blog reader) and that, at a time when this country is suffering from its worst financial situation in nearly a century, it is an obscenity that 'bread and circuses'-style pageantry is being enacted on this scale for what? The marriage of two young, very rich, people. Some people feel that way. As for yer actual Keith Telly Topping, I don't care, frankly. I've got more important things in my life to worry about than nonsense like that. There may be some truth in some of those views but, let's face it, you're all getting a day off work, so what's the problem? What more do you want, you peasants? Next ...

Wednesday 27 April
And so, dear blog reader, we come to the end of a road well travelled. MasterChef: The Final Three - 9:00 BBC1. The remaining contestants are encouraged to 'push culinary boundaries' as they face one final challenge in their bid to be named this year's champion. They must produce three dishes which showcase their skills and demonstrate everything they have learned during this long and entertaining process, before John Torode and Gregg Wallace decide who deserves to lift this year's trophy. Husky-voice'd queen of the voice-over India Fisher will be on hand to put the winner's achievements into context. And then, thankfully, we can all have a little break of a few weeks before Celebrity MasterChef returns and we go through the whole damn thing again! And then, some people will try and tell you that there's a God ...

As mentioned earlier, you might have noticed that there's a royal wedding happening later this week. Giles Coren and Sue Perkins certainly have. In Giles & Sue's Royal Wedding - 8:00 BBC2 there Supersizer odd-couple (a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping, as it happens) stage their own royal-style wedding, assuming the roles of prince and princess-to-be. Which, given the fact that Giles is already married and Sue is, you know, 'not the marrying kind', has the potential for some comedy hijinx. They don period costumes - as they did in their very amusing Supersizer series - and draw inspiration from past royal couples, and prepare a lavish banquet featuring dishes from historical nuptials, including the Queen Mother's favourite Eggs Drumkilbo.

Thursday 28 April
In 2009 the BBC announced that they were working on a prequel to John Suillivan's massively popular sitcom Only Fools and Horses, set in the early 1960s when Del Boy was a teenager and Rodney still just a twinkle in his mother's fancy man's eye. It would feature the Trotter's parents and younger versions of many Only Fools regulars like Grandad, Boysie, Denzil and Trigger. Provisionally entitled Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Chips the title was eventually shortened to Rock & Chips and a ninety minute pilot was produced and shown in January 2010 to a massive audience of over eight million viewers. Thing is, unfortunately, it wasn't very good. Like the other Only Fools spin-off The Green Green Grass, some of it was quite funny but most of it simply wasn't a patch on the show it was spun-off from. I mean, not even in the same stratosphere. The BBC themselves seemed to sense this. Having initially announced a series of six episodes, this subsequently became two further 'specials', the first of which was broadcast around Christmas and, as if to prove a point, had an audience two-and-a-half million lower than the first episode. The second, The Frog and the Pussycat is on tonight - 9:00 BBC1. Freddie's arrest threatens his dream of sailing away and beginning a new life with Joan. Meanwhile, Del falls in lust again, and the girl's parents throw an engagement party they will never forget. Starring Nicholas Lyndhurst, Kellie Bright and James Buckley.

Sir Bobby Charlton: Football Icon - 9:00 BBC2 - is a look back at the career of the former Manchester United and England footballer, who survived the Munich Air Disaster to become an iconic figure in the sport. Archive footage reveals how Charlton became famous for his long-range goals for club and country, and his contribution in winning the European Cup and World Cup during a period of glory in the 1960s. And for his invention of the comb-over, admittedly. Including contributions from Sir Alex Ferguson, Gordon Banks, Eusebio and Bob's brother Jack Charlton. I remember once hearing someone discussing Jack and Bob's relationship. The point was raised that whilst Bobby is generally regarded as an almost saintly figure, Jack is someone who rather divides opinion both within the game and outside. 'Well, Bobby's not his brother's keeper,' someone said. 'No, he was a centre forward,' came the reply. It was left to yer actual Keith Telly Topping to point out that, if we're being strictly accurate, at least in modern footballing parlance Bobby was, in fact, 'not his brother's "just behind the front two."' You learn something new everyday on Keith Telly Topping & His Top TV Tips dear blog reader.

It was inevitable, I suppose that in the week of the royal wedding, Channel Four would get in on the act with My Big Fat Royal Gypsy Wedding - 9:00. Thos documentary goes behind the scenes of an Irish traveller couple's big day, following a team of wedding planners challenged to organise one of the most lavish ceremonies of its kind. The film offers an insight into everything from the enormous dresses to highly decorated cakes as the bride and groom hope their special day will fulfil their every dream. Isn't it curious? When the last series of this documentary was being shown, to huge audiences, press reports indicated that near enough every gypsy in the country was in the process suing Channel Four for something or other - usually 'making me look silly.' And yet, oddly, the network can still, seemingly, find plenty of travellers who are perfectly willing to appear in the show.

Lastly it's the finale of Ten O'Clock Live - 10:00 Channel Four. The light-hearted current affairs show, with David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr, Charlie Brooker and Lauren Laverne hasn't, exactly, set the world alight. The four presenters are fine (although I'm still trying to work out exactly what Wor Luscious Lovely Lauren's role in the dynamic is ... and I think she is too) but our hopes that this was, essentially, going to turn into a British version of The Daily Show were, sadly, misplaced. Bits of it are like Screenwipe, bits of it are like Eight Out of Ten Cats and bits of it are like That Mitchell & Webb Look. Which, to be honest, we should all probably have known from the beginning. Anyway, the hosts are joined by guests from the worlds of politics, science and culture for debates, interviews, topical comedy, investigations and opinion pieces. Will we get another series? Your guess is as good as mine, dear blog reader.

To the news: Stephen Fry has said that he is 'prepared to go to prison' over so-called the Twitter joke trial. Fry was appearing at a benefit gig for Paul Chambers who is appealing to the High Court against his conviction for 'sending a menacing communication.' Chambers tweeted: 'Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week... otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!' Fry argued that Chambers' tweet was an example of Britain's tradition of self-deprecating humour and banter. Chambers' case has become something of a cause celebre on Twitter, with thousands of users reposting his original comments in protest at the conviction. 'This [verdict] must not be allowed to stand in law,' Fry said, adding that he would continue to repeat Chambers' message and face prison 'if that's what it takes.' Among the other comedians lending their support to the fundraising evening were Al Murray, Rufus Hound, Katy Brand and Father Ted writer Graham Linehan. Linehan told the audience: 'We've got this incredible tool and we should fight any attempt to take it out of our hands.'

Reality television is pushing documentaries to the 'periphery' of the schedules, according to Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald. Speaking at the inaugural BBC documentaries lecture Shrinking Cameras, Expanding Worlds in London on Thursday evening, Touching the Void director Macdonald said that in the 1980s and 1990s the format was 'must-see' television for viewers. 'Now viewing figures are down. Why? There are the occasional [documentaries] which are events. But when Modern Times was on it was must-see. Maybe it is because of the rise of multichannel and reality television that people get their fix of reality in other ways than documentaries, they are on the periphery,' he added. 'The important thing is the BBC, Channel Four, Sky and others make room for a few really, really good documentaries and Storyville etc. continue to exist and be funded.' He said he believed the BBC documentaries commissioning editor, Charlotte Moore, would disagree with him. Moore responded: 'I'm not sure they are quite [on the periphery]; Gypsy Wedding got around eight million, that's more than EastEnders.' Actually, it isn't, but that's beside the point. Macdonald went on to say that despite the rise of smaller digital cameras and YouTube he was 'reassured' to find that documentary-makers have not been put out of work. 'Despite the onslaught of new technology I don't think any more good films are around. That's because there are not more good filmmakers,' he added. 'With the rise of self-shooting, I find it quite reassuring as we thought of ourselves as being an endangered species.' Macdonald, who is currently working on a project about Bob Marley and whose latest documentary project, A Day in the Life, is out this summer, added: 'We should not confuse having a Flip camera with making a documentary.' His documentary credits include the extraordinary One Day in September, while he has also directed movies including The Last King of Scotland, State of Play and most recently The Eagle.

The BBC is to lose a quarter of staff from its comedy department in the corporation’s latest round of redundancies. In total fifteen of the sixty two-strong department will lose their positions, with grades affected including personal assistants, assistant producers, script editors, production managers and producers. It is understood that no senior grades will be affected by the cuts, and jobs are only going from the London base. Radio comedy is unaffected. This is the last department within the BBC's in-house Vision Productions team to be told of redundancies. Across the entire team, one hundred and eighty seven jobs have been lost. The layoffs are the result of existing efficiency savings, such as the five-year five per cent reduction, and the two-year two per cent licence fee freeze. They are not part of the Delivering Quality First process, which is identifying savings of a further twenty per cent. Consequently none of the Vision Productions departments are immune to further redundancies when DQF starts being implemented from next year. Would the last person left working for the Beeb please turn off the light. Mark Freeland, head of comedy, applauded the team's recent successes such as Miranda, Mrs Brown's Boys, Twenty Twelve, The Thick of It and Come Fly With Me, as well as Comic Relief. 'BBC in-house comedy has had an outstanding and award-winning few years,' he said. 'Our content has been a credit to all the people who have worked so hard to create it, on screen and off.' Comedy controller Cheryl Taylor stressed the cuts did not mean the BBC was retracting from the genre. 'The BBC continues to take comedy very seriously indeed,' she said. 'We have enjoyed an amazing year in terms of awards and critical acclaim and continue to nurture new writers and performers across all four platforms as well as support and promote established names.' In February, Vision Productions' chief creative officer Pat Younge claimed the cuts would have minimal on-screen impact, saying they focused on 'areas where we have become unproductive - skillsets we held onto, hoping they would come back into fashion, or people we hoped would come up with the ideas that would secure the commission.'

Comedian Richard Herring says that his worst heckle came from a fourteen-year-old boy, who told him: 'The sleeves of your jacket are slightly frayed.' The comic conceded: 'Sharp eyes and a heckle which seemed to suggest my whole life was worthless. Genius.'

Monroe ended on Thursday evening with an overnight audience of four million and a series average of 4.7m in overnights. That average is pulled up somewhat by the large audience the medical drama got for the debut episode - excluding that the series' averaged 4.5m across the next five episodes. Just for some context, it had an average better than every other new six-part weekly ITV drama series launched in recent years, apart from Downton Abbey and Law & Order: UK:
8.7m - Downton Abbey
5.9m - Law & Order: UK
4.7m - Monroe
4.3m - Married Single Other
4.2m - Honest
4.2m - Demons
4.1m - Identity
3.0m - Harley Street
2.6m - Echo Beach
2.6m - Rock Rivals
2.4m - Britannia High
1.8m - The Prisoner

Former EastEnders actress Michelle Collins and Taggart's John Michie have joined the cast of Coronation Street. The pair are to appear in the roles of Stella and Karl, a couple who will take over the Rovers Return in the summer. Corrie bosses made the announcement exclusively on Facebook on Friday morning following their recent promise to share big news with the soap's online fanbase. Speaking of her casting, Collins commented: 'I am honoured to be joining the cast of Coronation Street. The show has been part of my life since I was a child so to become a part of it is extremely exciting.' Michie added: 'My mum is from Rochdale, my wife is from Grimethorpe - they are both northerners and huge fans. I am from even further north so it is the only soap for me.' A new era for The Rovers will begin when Steve McDonald brings Stella into the business as bar manager after a string of rows with his wife Becky leave the pub's future in jeopardy. Steve is hoping for a quieter life with Stella in charge, but he later gets more than he bargained for when she moves in her husband, Karl and their feisty daughter Eva, who has not yet been cast. Sparks are expected to fly between Stella and Becky as she makes her mark at the pub with a no-nonsense attitude. However, her personality soon starts to go down well with the punters. In a further twist, Stella is hiding a dark secret and news of her past has been tipped to have 'shocking consequences' for some of the street's most-loved residents. Corrie's executive producer Kieran Roberts said: 'I'm thrilled to be welcoming John and Michelle to the cast of Coronation Street. As Robbie Ross in Taggart, John has kept viewers on the edge of their seats for the last ten years. Karl is a very different character for him, though, and the ladies of Weatherfield need to watch themselves as this sexy charmer will quickly make his presence felt. Michelle's acting credentials are first class with more than a decade leading some brilliant and memorable drama series.' Collins and Michie will begin filming at Coronation Street next month and appear on screens for the first time in June.

Ex-EastEnders actor Des Coleman has been cleared of threatening a driver with an imitation firearm during an alleged road rage incident. The forty five-year-old, who appeared in the BBC soap as Lenny Wallace from 1996 to 1999, was accused by Darren Hunter in May 2010. However, a judge at Huntingdon Crown Court ruled that the story had been manufactured and should never have come to court. Criticising the prosecution, the judge told Coleman that he had been 'completely exonerated,' while the court heard that Hunter, who had previous convictions for road-rage incidents, had tried to sell his story to a national newspaper. Coleman was fired by the BBC from his position as a weatherman for East Midlands Today after he used an appearance to comment on the claims, telling viewers: 'You cannot believe everything you see or read.' Speaking after the ruling, he said: 'Facing seven years in prison from a story that is completely fabricated from somebody who wanted to extort money from you, I am relieved. I have a smile in my heart and a positive attitude and I will move on.' The father-of-four continued: 'I'm annoyed because of the damage this caused. This has put a huge strain on my family. We will get through it. But it'll take a lot longer to build back my reputation. And it's all because some guy made up a story about me.' In a statement, the Crown Prosecution Service said: 'The police had been alerted to an allegation that the defendant had pulled a gun on the victims during a road-rage incident. The matter was investigated and sufficient evidence was identified at that time to bring charges against Desune Coleman. The matter was kept under review and the police and CPS continued to make exhaustive inquiries regarding the credibility and reliability of the evidence relied upon to substantiate the charge.' It concluded: 'Material was identified which undermined the case for the Crown and assisted the defence.'

A senior BBC editor who worked on the Ten O'Clock News and Newsnight was reportedly sacked for waging a campaign of homosexual harassment against a junior colleague, an industrial tribunal has heard. Jonathan Steer is said to have bombarded a former BBC picture editor, referred to just as 'Andrew', with e-mails and late-night phone calls discussing their 'sexual chemistry' after they had dinner together in 2008. The Central London Employment Tribunal heard the victim was terrified that Steer, who posted messages under pseudonyms including Sir Richard Lionheart, would turn up at his home late at night, reports the Torygraph. In his testimony to the tribunal, Andrew said: 'I started to worry about what Jonathan might do and when this would all end. I was starting to think that he might turn up at my home. I was concerned that if he did turn up and did something awful then no-one might know what had happened.' Andrew apparently later received another message from Scott Bainbridge, claiming to be Steer's best friend, who said that Steer had feelings for him and asked if he could let him down gently if the feelings were not reciprocated. The tribunal was told that 'Scott Bainbridge' was actually another identity used by Steer. Steer, who suffers from bipolar disorder, was given a written warning by the BBC after a disciplinary meeting in July 2009. He returned to work several months later, but started e-mailing Andrew again in April 2010, leading to his dismissal last November. After losing his appeal against the dismissal, Steer allegedly sent a letter to Andrew's parents referring to an HIV test. Steer is now claiming disability discrimination against the BBC due to his bipolar condition, along with unfair dismissal. He told the tribunal that he could not recall sending the messages to Andrew due to his mental state, and attacked the BBC for not making allowances for his disability. 'Having depression with bipolar is a very dark experience and that fear, sadness and loneliness will live with me forever,' he said. 'These managers continually referred to their duty of care towards Andrew which is as it should be, but I also believed that they had a duty of care towards me and that they failed me.'

Channel Four has given the greenlight to a programme inspired by the online forum Mumsnet. Broadcast reports that the show, which has a working title of The Bad Mums' Club, will be created by Studio Lambert. It will see mothers joining forces to offer support and parenting advice to each other on a range of issues relating to different age groups. Dominique Walker, the channel's factual entertainment commissioning editor, said: 'Modern mums are increasingly turning to peer-to-peer networks such as Mumsnet for support and advice and it is exactly the resource that this programme will utilise - the combined experience of mums across the UK.' Meanwhile, Studio Lambert chief executive Stephen Lambert added: 'We think there is a real appetite for authentic transformational television that draws on the collective wisdom of ordinary people with rich life experience.' Exact details on the number of episodes or when the show will be broadcast have yet to be confirmed. Earlier this year, Mumsnet co-founder Justine Roberts denied that the group had demanded changes be made to EastEnders' controversial baby-swap plot.

The BBC Trust has for once shown a smidgen of backbone to justify its existence and dismissed a complaint from TalkSport about Radio 5Live's news output. But, typically, they also said that the matter 'raises some significant and valid questions' ahead of a planned review of the station. Last year, the UTV Media-owned TalkSport complained to the Trust that 5Live was failing to meet the requirement in its service licence for seventy five per cent of its output to consist of news. TalkSport claimed that only forty five to fifty six per cent of 5Live's output was news, with many items falling outside of the remit, such as 'entertainment-based interviews' with the likes of comedian Alexander Armstrong and listener-generated features. The commercial station escalated the complaint to the Trust after being dissatisfied with the response from BBC management. Published this week, a report by the Trust's General Appeals Panel found that 5Live was 'compliant with its commitment that news represents around three-quarters of output each year.' The Trust also rejected TalkSport's complaint that 5Live's sports coverage was not meeting the commitment in its service licence to cover minority and secondary sports. However, the governing body noted that the complaint 'raises some significant and valid questions about what constitutes news on 5Live and how broadly an individual "news" programme on 5Live should go in its delivery of news.' The Trust also said that the current service licence for 5Live 'does not provide clear commitments as to the frequency and range of coverage of minority and secondary sports.' Next week, the Trust is scheduled to launch a review of 5Live and 5Live Sports Extra, which will focus on 'addressing these issues and providing greater clarity.' The review will evaluate options for imposing 'a more nuanced method of monitoring the proportion of news output' on 5Live compared to the current system, which counts the whole of Richard Bacon's afternoon show as news. It will further investigate the coverage of minority and secondary sports on 5Live. Scott Taunton, managing director of UTV Media, whinged: 'The appeal findings leave us in no doubt that the BBC Trust has major questions about 5Live's provision of continuous news and a home for minority sports, and that it wants to see - through the licence review - a significant tightening of its remit in these areas. I'm particularly pleased that the BBC Trust has recognised the potential flaws in BBC management's methodology for measuring the percentage of 5Live's output which is news.' This, ladies and gentlemen, from a man whose station employed Andy Gray and Richard Keys. Enough said. This is not the first time that TalkSport and 5Live have clashed, as in October 2009 the Trust 'partially upheld' a complaint from the commercial station about the way in which the BBC Executive secured radio rights to FA Cup coverage. After an investigation, it was found that the BBC had breached its own competition guidelines when acquiring the rights and had also failed to properly assess their value. Last month, the Trust gave 'a clean bill of health' to the BBC's sports rights team, but Taunton claimed that the verdict failed to address the BBC's overall dominance in the sports radio market.

Channel Four is reported to be receiving pitches from independent producers for a new soap to replace Hollyoaks in its 6.30pm slot. However, Channel Four hotly denied that the soap, part of its regular schedule since 1995, is under threat. They also said that the spin-off Hollyoaks Later will return to E4 and that for the next year it regards things with the soap as 'business as usual.' The pitches to Channel Four's chief creative officer, Jay Hunt, for a Hollyoaks replacement appear to be unsolicited, but are stimulated by her brief to be radical, shake things up, and boost ratings. Hollyoaks' relaunch last autumn has been judged successful by Channel Four's drama team, despite the cull of established characters, which left some regular viewers confused. And the fact that audience figures stayed, broadly, the same. Rumours about the future of Hollyoaks have been circulating for some weeks within the industry, but it is unclear whether those are just aimed at destabilising the soap, which represents a tempting, estimated fifteen million pounds-a-year contract for production rivals to win. Hollyoaks is made by Liverpool-based independent producer Lime Pictures. Paul Marquess, who formerly ran The Bill and Brookside, was brought in by Lime Pictures to revamp the soap last summer, but left abruptly earlier this year after a clearout of established characters. The soap is now being overseen by the executive producers at Lime Pictures, Tony Wood and Carolyn Reynolds.

Jerry Seinfeld has criticised the upcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, describing it as 'absurd.' During an interview on Daybreak to promote his one-off stand-up show at London's O2 arena, the comedian expressed frustration at the notion of the royal family receiving special treatment. 'It's a circus act, an absurd act,' he said. 'You know, it's a dress-up. It's a classic English thing of, "let's play dress-up." Let's pretend that these are special people. "Okay, we'll all pretend that." That's what theatre is. That's why the British have the greatest theatre in the world. They love to dress up and they love to play pretend. And that's what the royal family is: it's a huge game of pretend. These aren't special people - it's fake outfits, fake phony hats and gowns.'

A 'dirty dancing' lollipop lady has been relegated to Britain's Got More Talent because she is 'too rude' for the ITV show, it has been reported. Producers decided that sixty five-year-old Lorraine from Coventry was 'inappropriate' for the mainstream audience and have shifted her to the sister show, which broadcasts afterwards on ITV2. According to the Sun, Lorraine was foul-mouthed backstage after she was criticised by judge David Hasselhoff, describing the Baywatch actor as 'a wanker.' On stage, she told the panel: 'I'm a wild woman. I'm the dancing queen. I'm sixty five and I wear all the young men out. When I'm dancing I'm on another planet. It's all about the hip action. I've got the energy of three people. I know that for a fact. I'm like a volcano waiting to explode.' More Talent host Stephen Mulhern was left to calm Lorraine down after she was rejected by the judges, but she responded to his words by saying: 'Men try to get in my knickers but I can't be arsed.' An ITV 'insider' allegedly told the newspaper: 'Lorraine really is something else. We liked her energy but her act was a bit filthy for a mainstream audience. We thought it best to inflict her on Stephen over on ITV2.'

Gordon Burns is to stand down from BBC North West Tonight after nearly fifteen years presenting the programme. The sixty eight-year-old presenter announced he is to leave in September when he will take up a new role hosting a Sunday morning BBC radio show. Aziz Rashid, head of BBC North West, paid tribute to Burns describing him as a 'unique talent' and 'a broadcasting phenomenon.' No decision has yet been taken on appointing his successor. Burns said: 'It will be a great wrench to leave the programme I have been proud to present for nearly a decade and a half. I've enjoyed it enormously and I regard it as a real privilege to have been in the homes of people across the North West for so many years delivering the news to them.' Nationally, Burns is best known for presenting The Krypton Factor which ran on ITV for eighteen years. Since he became the face of BBC North West Tonight in 1997, he has interviewed seven British prime ministers and picked up the Royal Television Society award for Best UK Regional Presenter on five occasions. Rashid said he was 'a unique talent. Gordon's contribution to the success of North West Tonight has been phenomenal. He has navigated millions of viewers through the issues that matter across the region.' David Holdsworth, controller of BBC English Regions, said: 'The word "icon" can be over-used - but not in this case. Gordon Burns is synonymous with regional broadcasting and viewers in the North West have adopted him as one of their own. He will be a hard act to follow.'

A website mocking the under-achievements of footballer Fernando Torres has received more than nine hundred thousand visitors. Torres moved from Liverpool to Chelsea for fifty million pounds in January, despite a last minute hitch when it looked as though Torres's wife would not be able to agree personal terms with John Terry, but he has yet to score for his new club, despite playing for more than six hundred minutes. was, it seems, started by one Nick Miners, a thirty eight-year-old Liverpool supporter, and comprises of one page with the word 'No' in a large font. Heh! Witty! The website has attracted nearly eighty thousand Facebook 'likes'. Miners said: 'I thought it would be a bit of fun [but] it's gone totally crazy, beyond anything I expected.' The website has also spawned a spin-off created by another football fan. Unlike the original Torres page, features the word 'Yes' in large red text with 'twice, actually' underneath. This is in reference to Andy Carroll, the Liverpool striker who was bought from yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still tragically unsellable) Magpies for thirty five million smackers as a replacement for the departed Torres in January.

And, speaking of expensive flops, former X Factor winner Joe McElderry has been forced to move home to his mum's gaff after reportedly being 'ditched' by Simon Cowell's record label Syco. The nineteen-year-old landed a massive record deal with the label, a division of Sony BMG, after he won the ITV talent show contest in 2009 but after just sixteen months, he's been told it is not being renewed. A 'pal' allegedly told the Daily Scum Mail: 'Joe is devastated. His mum has been comforting him. He believed he could have a great music career. Although he is still on Syco's books, his deal runs out in about a month and it won't be renewed.' The singer, who came out as gay last year, has now left his 'swanky flat' in West London and moved back into his mother Eileen's terraced home in South Shields. Where, presumably, he'll feel right at home since virtually everybody else in the town is unemployed. During the show, McElderry was mentored by Cheryl Cole and beat Olly Murs to clinch the X Factor crown. But after his victory, which was watched by nearly twenty million viewers, he became the first winner of the show not to get a Christmas number one single. An Internet campaign to prevent X Factor from claiming the top spot, saw Rage Against The Machine's 'Killing in the Name' beat McElderry's 'The Climb'. His second single, 'Ambitions', only charted at number six, while his third, 'Someone Wake Me Up', sold an embarrassing seven thousand copies. Ironically, the chap McElderry beat, Murs, also signed to Syco and has had a highly successful year. McElderry released his debut CD Wide Awake last October and you can find it in bargain bins in most good record shops and some very bad ones as well. He is now, apparently, 'set to support fellow X Factor contestants Jedward at a free concert in Lisburn, County Antrim.' Which might, possibly, be the most embarrassing thing of all to come out of this whole fiasco. A 'source' at Syco allegedly said: 'Simon gave Joe the best chance possible of success by making sure he worked with some of the world's top producers. Joe's a lovely boy and it is a pity it did not work out, but no one can say Simon and his staff did not try to make it work.'

Another X Factor failure, Stacey Solomon, has offered her thoughts on the new reality show Sing If You Can, which starts on Saturday. On her hosting duties with Keith Lemon, the I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here winner defended the show following claims that Vernon Kay quit because it was 'too daft.' The singer told Buzz: 'It's just a light-hearted, fun show, not life or death. It's hilarious and it is raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.' Recalling her most embarrassing moment, Solomon divulged: 'I was performing on stage in Southend-on-Sea recently and these knickers suddenly brushed past my face. That was such a distraction, and I started giggling. They were a very nice pair of knickers, but I didn't keep them afterwards.' Jesus, intellectual content of a mollusc, that girl.

Are You Being Served? actor Trevor Bannister has died, aged seventy six. His brother confirmed that Trevor died following a heart attack earlier in the week at his allotment in Thames Ditton. Bannister was best known for his role as Mr Lucas in the popular BBC department store sitcom. His co-star Frank Thornton, who played Captain Peacock, told the BBC: 'He was a very good friend over a long time. We often met with him and his wife - he was recently at my ninetieth birthday celebrations in January and that was the last time we saw him. We shall miss him sorely.' Bannisters's television CV spans five decades through roles in shows such as The Avengers, Keeping Up Appearances, Z Cars, The Tomorrow People and The Saint. He also appeared on three occasions in Coronation Street, most recently playing a dodgy solicitor for the Baldwin family in 2006. His most recent role came in the final series of The Last of the Summer Wine. The Wiltshire native did two years of National Service before attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. He is survived by his second wife Pam and three sons Simon, Timothy and Jeremy.

Jamie Oliver has suggested that 'bureaucracy' in the Los Angeles school system made the production of Food Revolution's second season 'a nightmare.' Well, don't make any more then, baby. That way, everyone's happy.

And finally, today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, dear blog reader, has woke up one mornin' with a taste of Dem Blues. Starting off in Chicago in 1955 when Muddy Waters married elements of Bo Diddley's 'I'm A Man' and Willie Dixon's 'Hoochie Coochie Man' to create one of the most influential songs of all time. (Apart from anything else, it's provided The Rolling Stones with not only their name but, also, most of the riffs Brian Jones played for the next six years). From Muddy, to Big Joe Turner and a song that always seems to bring out the best in those that cover it. Arthur Alexander, born in Sheffield, Alabama, was one of the biggest stars to arise out of the American country soul scene. Massively influential in the early 1960s where, it seemed every white British beat group covered at least one of his songs (including The Beatles and The Stones). 'Anna', 'You Better Move On', 'Soldier of Love' and 'A Shot of Rhythm & Blues'. Genius. We'll end in Georgia, with Uncle Ray and one of the most infectiously danceable records ever made by anybody. 'Tell ya momma, tell your pa/I'm gonna send y'back to Arkansas!'