Sunday, September 11, 2011

Everyday Is Like Sunday

Saturday's overnight ratings produced one of the genuine, twenty-four carat highlights of the TV year thus far - the final, ignominious collapse of Red or Black? into the black hole of oblivion. The seven o'clock Saturday show, of the Cowell 'n' Dec flop had an audience of 4.6m. Admittedly, that was up on the previous two nights where it couldn't even manage four million. But, once again, for a show that ITV had confidently expected to attract audiences at least twice that size, it lost the slot - firstly in the opening fifteen minutes to Strictly Come Dancing's opening show on the 2011 series. (7.6m with a peak of 8.8m at almost exactly the moment that Red or Black? was starting on the other side. You can see professional dancer Brendan Cole indulging in a new regular feature, 'embarrass a pensioner' on your right.) Then, in the rest of the hour Doctor Who (six million for The Girl Who Waited, with a peak of 6.2m) also hammered Red or Black? It was just like the good old days of 2005 all over again - Ant and Dec getting a proper good Saturday night twatting off the TARDIS crew. Nice. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Red or Black? results show an hour later, shed almost half of lead-in audience of 10.6m from The X Factor. Its average audience across the half-hour of 5.8m was boosted, in the first few moments, by a number of X Factor viewers who, it seems hadn't turned over quickly enough. However, from 6.2m watching in the 21:00 - 21:15 quarter, the audience dropped to 5.5m in the next quarter. One felt then that it was a fairly safe bet comical James MacLeod, the Head of Press for ITV wouldn't be issuing any more crowing tweets about Red of Black? on Sunday morning. And, to be fair to him, he didn't. He issued one on Sunday afternoon instead, presumably having taken a bit of time to get his story straight. '12.5 million peak audience (11.9m excl ITV+1) for last night's The X Factor on ITV1. 7.1m peak (6.9m excl +1) for Red or Black?' Ah, so we're back to just quoting peaks are we, Mr MacLeod? If only ITV's advertisers could be so easily fooled by statistics. The BBC's coverage of Last Night of the Proms was watched by 4.3m on average across the two hours, with a peak of 5.7m around 22:45 just as they were starting all the breast-beatingly jingoistic bits that the Tories love so much. And, after that, Match of the Day had an average audience of 3.9m watching The Scum thrash the Notlobbers and the poor Mackems getting a reet twanking off Moscow Chelski FC. BBC2's Qi night had a steady audience of between one and a half and two million most of the evening - the highlight being the just over two million overnight viewers who watched The Making of Qi documentary from 22:45. Still on the subject of 'uge flops, the BBC's Epic Win seems to have managed to stabilise itself and had an audience of 2.4m from 17:30. Not great but certainly better than last week and better than its dreadful audience appreciation index figures suggest it should be getting. Red or Black?, incidentally, finished its seven night run with overnight averages of 4.75m (an audience share of twenty one per cent) for the early show and 5.2m (twenty one and a half per cent audience share) for the results shows. Or, overall, just below five million across the entire fourteen episodes. Simon Cowell, of course, claimed that 'about five million' was what ITV was expecting. Other 'ITV insiders' are singing from a very different hymn sheet. But, even with a five million audience, was it really worth the reported fifteen million smackers plus spent for one week of television which totally screwed up the entire ITV schedule. Equally satisfying, Big Brother recorded its lowest audience yet for Channel Five, pulling in 1.39m for the first highlights show.

Anyway, dear blog reader, things we learned from The Making of Qi documentary. Firstly, something which had been rumoured but, until Saturday night I don't think had actually been publicly confirmed by the BBC, that the tenth ('J') series of Qi has been commissioned by the Beeb. (A group of the Qi Elves were seen having the first planning meeting for it in the documentary.) Also, creator John Lloyd noted that aside from Top Gear, Qi has the longest waiting list for tickets to attend recordings of any BBC show. Elsewhere we also learned that Dara O'Briain (who, deliciously, described the popular intelligence game show as 'cricket to Mock the Week's football') is still a bit narked about that time when he got a point he'd won in a previous series deducted over his answer on the triple-point of water. Then there was Johnny Vegas's marvellous comment 'for those of us who fell through the cracks in school, this is our X Factor!' Oh, and nobody seems to be taking responsibility for the scoring system either. What a marvellous little thing it was.

Doctor Who's Arthur Darvill has revealed his enjoyment at seeing Rory and the Doctor's relationship develop over the current season of the show. Rory was first introduced in season five opening The Eleventh Hour as a minor character, but has since developed into a full-fledged - and much admired - companion of the Doctor. Darvill explained that while the two characters were initially at odds over Karen Gillan's Amy Pond, they have now developed a close friendship. 'I think Rory and the Doctor's relationship has grown so much over the last season,' Darvill told Newsarama. 'They've got a real bond, they've got a real kind of true friendship. I think they've got, you know, a very, very strong relationship, and as much as Rory can be a bumbling idiot at times, I think he's proved to the Doctor and to everyone else around that, when everything starts kicking off [he] can really step up to the plate and deliver.' The actor described the second half of season six as some of the strongest work the three actors have done and promised an 'epic' season finale. Darvill also commented on whether or not future Doctor Who episodes could feature companions from the past. 'Steven [Moffat] is very good at keeping it really separate, but I wouldn't put it past him to put us all together,' Darvill said. 'I mean maybe it would be some kind of strange self-help group to get over [it] and everything with the Doctor. Yes maybe that would be a good episode, just all of the past companions in therapy.'

There's a lovely piece by the divine Victoria Coren in this week's Observer on The trolls who love brainy TV: 'Picture, in your mind, an Internet hate campaigner. I'm assuming that he's hunched over a keyboard, in a stained pair of tracksuit trousers, fragrant with beer and a faint uric tang. He's panting slightly from excitement at his own naughtiness as, having logged into a blog or forum under an anonymous name, he is busy typing "YOUR A FAT BITCH" and "DIE SUCKA" in relation to work colleagues, ex-girlfriends and people he's seen on TV who, despite the optimistic vocative case, will never read it. Funnily enough, he's got the TV on at the same time. What's he watching? It's not University Challenge, is it?'

A Miss Universe contestant has been reprimanded by pageant bosses after allegedly 'going commando' at official appearances. Catalina Robayo, who is competing as Miss Colombia, has been warned to 'dress more appropriately' in future. Pictures of the twenty two-year-old wearing a short red dress without underwear at a recent pre-show event were splashed on the front page of a local Brazilian newspaper and, of course, went viral on the Internet. As dear blog readers can clearly see - after a bit of digital touching. 'Colombia had to be spoken to and told she needed to wear underpants as what she was doing was totally inappropriate,' a 'source' allegedly told FOX News. 'People have been pretty upset by it; there have been photos and media appearances where she has completely had her crotch out.' Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organisation, added: 'There were several girls in short dresses which is a little concerning, but when I saw the picture on the front page of one of the local papers, I was very, very surprised. Our supervisors talked to all of the contestants about dressing appropriately, and one of our PR people spoke to her and, apparently, she said she was wearing underwear. But regardless, it created quite a stir here for a few days.' One can well imagine.

Residents in Minnesota have protested about plans to rename a local street called Stoner Avenue. Bemidji City Council had planned to give the area a new identity after the repeated theft of street signs in the last ten years, according to MSNBC. The structures are believed to have been stolen by young people attracted by the humorous drug connotations of the name. However, Stoner Avenue residents this week successfully appealed the council's proposition, complaining that they did not want to update their addresses on driving licences and other important documents. The city has instead agreed to explore new street sign designs which will hopefully combat the prolonged crime spree. They are also contemplating suggestions from locals to install video cameras. An average of fifteen Stoner Avenue street signs disappear each year, with approximately twenty thousand dollars having been spent on replacing them over the last decade.

Oscar-winning Hollywood actor Cliff Robertson has died at the age of eighty eight. He played a young John Kennedy in the biographical 1963 film PT-109 and won an Academy Award in 1968 for his performance in Charly as a mentally disabled man. Robertson remained a popular TV and film actor from the mid-1950s onwards. He later found a new generation of fans as Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man movies. His secretary said he had died in New York of natural causes. 'My father was a loving father, devoted friend, dedicated professional and honourable man,' his daughter Stephanie Saunders said in a statement quoted by Associated Press news agency. 'He stood by his family, friends and colleagues through good times and bad. We will all miss him terribly.' Robertson was born in 1923 in Los Angeles, the son of Audrey and Clifford Parker Robertson. He attended Antioch College in Ohio and worked as a journalist for a short time. Based on the award-winning book Flowers for Algernon, 1968's Charly saw Robertson play mentally disabled bakery worker Charlie Gordon - the subject of an experiment to increase human intelligence. He starred in the film opposite Claire Bloom. 'The year you win an Oscar is the fastest year in a Hollywood actor's life,' he noted soon afterwards. 'Twelve months later they ask, "Who won the Oscar last year?"' In 1972, Robertson made his debut as a director on JW Coop, a film he co-wrote and starred in as an ageing rodeo cowboy. In 1977, Robertson discovered that his name had been forged on a ten thousand dollar cheque although it was not money that was due to him. He also learned that the forgery had been carried out by Columbia studio head David Begelman. On reporting the matter to the authorities he, inadvertently, triggered one of the biggest Hollywood scandals of the 1970s. Robertson subsequently found himself blacklisted for several years by the major studios because of his - unintentional -involvement in the scandal before he finally returned to movies in Brainstorm (1983). In 2002, Robertson was cast as Peter Parker's uncle Ben in Sam Raimi's adaptation of Spider-Man. Despite being killed in the first film, he appeared in flashback in the two sequels. His other movies included Picnic (1955), Autumn Leaves (1956), The Girl Most Likely (1957), The Naked and the Dead (1958), Gidget (1959), Sunday in New York (1963), the classic war film 633 Squadron (1964), Devil's Brigade (1968), Too Late the Hero (1970), Three Days of the Condor (1975), Obsession (1976), Star 80 (1983) and Malone (1987). Robertson's television appearances included the well-remembered Twilight Zone episodes A Hundred Yards Over the Rim in 1961 and The Dummy the next year followed by guest starring roles in such series as the NBC medical drama The Eleventh Hour (1963). In 1958, he portrayed Joe Clay in the very first broadcast of Playhouse 90's Days of Wine and Roses, in what some critics cite as the superior version of this poignant story. Other network appearances included The Greatest Show on Earth (1963), ABC's Breaking Point (1964) and the ABC Stage 67 episode The Trap Of Gold (1966). In the same year, he also played the incompetent cowboy supervillain Shame in four episodes of Batman. A keen pilot, Cliff was also awarded the 2008 Ambassador of Good Will Aviation Award by the National Transportation Safety Board Bar Association in Alexandria in 2008 for his leadership in and promotion of general aviation. Robertson was married to the actress Dina Merrill from 1966 until 1986. They had one child, a daughter called Heather, who died from cancer. He is survived by his daughter Stephanie, from his previous marriage, to Cynthia Stone.

India's cricket team's horrorshow of a tour of England continued as the hosts clinched the one-day series as a gripping fourth game ended in a rain-affected tie at Lord's. The tourists seemed set to secure their first win over England - at any level - this summer after posting a challenging 280-5. Ravi Bopara scored a magnificent ninety six, and with help from Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan and a splendidly aggressive Graeme Swann guided England to the brink of victory. But with the rain falling and England needing eleven to win from the last seven balls under a third downpour ended the match. Both teams were guilty of using delaying tactics as a confusing final few overs saw both sides in pole position at different points in proceedings. England were ahead of the required rate going into the penultimate over but Swann was run out by Munaf Patel and then Bopara caught was on the boundary before the rain fell again and the umpires brought the players off the pitch. There then followed a delay before the match was finally declared a tie. And although the result was a probably a fair one, it was a shame that such a genuinely entertaining encounter should end in such damp circumstances. Despite missing out on a century, Bopara's brilliance ensured England head into Friday's final match in Wales with an unassailable two nil lead in the five-match series with one tie and the first game at Durham having been washed out with no result possible. The tourists have suffered a truly miserable summer, coming second best in all forms of the game (beaten four nil in the test series and also losing the sole Twenty/20 game), but they showed commendable fighting spirit after being put in on a bowler-friendly surface. The tourists, no doubt mindful of their poor start to the third one-day international at The Oval earlier in the week, began cautiously on a green pitch. Ajinkya Rahane and Parthiv Patel barely played an attacking shot in the opening seven overs but accelerated in spectacular fashion with Patel pulling James Anderson for six. A combination of fine attacking strokes and unlucky bowling - particularly from Steven Finn who was recalled in place of Jade Dernbach - put the tourists in a strong position. Stuart Broad made the breakthrough with a full delivery that trapped Rahane lbw and the Nottinghamshire paceman followed that up in his next over by having Patel sky a catch to Bopara. Not to be outdone, Broad's county colleague Swann was soon in on the act, taking two wickets in his first over. First Swann outfoxed Virat Kohli, who edged behind to wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter, and he then took a smart return catch to get rid of Rahul Dravid. Swann's miserly bowling (two for eight in his first four overs) put the game firmly back in England's favour and after thirty three overs India had only reached one hundred and twenty eight for four. But Mahendra Dhoni (seventy eight not out) and Suresh Raina (eighty four) did not panic and rebuilt the innings steadily. Skipper Dhoni laid the platform, curbing his attacking instincts and allowing Raina to play the more fluent knock, before they both cut loose in the final ten overs, bludgeoning the ball to all parts in scoring one hundred and nine runs. Dhoni demonstrated his class with a second successive half-century, hitting three sixes - the highlight of which was clubbing Swann for a huge maximum over midwicket. Raina smashed a massive six off Broad as all the bowlers took some serious punishment in an entertaining spell that saw the pair post the best fifth-wicket stand for India against England in one-day internationals. Broad's stint ended in doubly painful circumstances, as he was unable to complete the final over after pulling up with an injury to his right arm. England's response started badly, with both Kieswetter and Cook both falling to RP Singh with just twenty on the board. Jonathan Trott soon followed, playing on to Praveen Kumar as he looked to up the run rate during the powerplay overs, but Ian Bell and Bopara set about rebuilding the innings. Bell's lovely and fluent knock ended when a rare rash shot saw him attempt to loft Ravindra Jadeja towards long off and he was well caught. Ben Stokes quickly followed Bell back to the pavilion but Tim Bresnan's fine twenty seven from twenty two balls gave England renewed hope. Then the rain - or the threat of it - took over. With the clouds gathering England did their best to get ahead of the required rate and Bopara, helped by a timely Swann cameo, did a wonderful job of doing so before that forty ninth over which saw India claim two wickets. The tourists thought they had done enough to win but eventually found out they had fallen just short and now go to Cardiff on Friday for the final match of their miserable tour knowing they are simply playing for pride.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, having spent today doing nothing except watching cricket, football and formula one, yer actual Keith Telly Topping reckons that, sadly, Morrissey was right. But then, that's not unusual, he was right about a lot of stuff.