Friday, September 16, 2011

Week Thirty Nine: How Y'Gonna Make Some Time, When All You've Got Is One Thin Dime?

Future leaders of the BBC will not be paid as much as current Director General Mark Thompson, says the chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten. Thompson, who took up his post in 2004, earned seven hundred and eighty thousand quid last year and eight hundred and thirty eight thousand the year before. One might've expected, perhaps, for that sort of money that every time the BBC is being attacked - as it is on a regular basis - by right-wing thugs and bullies, Thompson might have made himself a bit more visible. Tragically, it was not to be. 'If there is another director general during my time as chairman of the Trust, he or she won't be paid that,' Lord Patten told BBC Hardtalk. Patten said he will 'bear down' on other executive pay at the corporation. Which should be a sight to see, frankly. 'The basic proposal is you cap the average of senior executive pay to the median pay in the organisation,' he said. Asked whether he thought BBC executives were paid too much, Lord Patten said: 'I'm sure they're worth every penny of it but they're not going to be paid as much in the future.' In July the BBC's annual report said it was on target to reduce the senior manager pay bill by twenty five per cent before the end of 2011. The paper stated wages had been reduced by eighteen per cent and on average, new senior managers were paid 8.7 per cent less than the previous post holder. During the interview, Hardtalk's Stephen Sackur asked Lord Patten whether BBC services would suffer once the budget cuts were in place. The BBC has to cut its spending by twenty per cent - equivalent to sixteen per cent for the next five years in real terms - after last year's licence fee settlement. 'I hope it's not going to do serious damage,' Lord Patten said. He admitted the Trust were in talks with senior executives about how they can 'accommodate the BBC' to the new budget. 'But, for heaven's sake, we're talking about the BBC running for the next five years on three and a half billion pounds a year. Plus the income it can raise from its commercial activities. Now we should be able to run a damn good public broadcaster on three and a half billion a year.' He said the BBC would focus on its 'core and most valuable services' such as children, drama, news and factual programmes. 'Those are the things we'll have to spend more money on, we won't be able to spend as much money on sport. I suspect we won't be able to spend as much money on entertainment,' he added. The BBC has reduced its Formula One coverage, which Lord Patten said was 'a painful choice. Everybody who loves motor racing is really cross with us because we did motor racing really well - and we will still be doing motor racing but not exclusively.' When asked whether the BBC's extensive coverage of the Six Nations rugby and Wimbledon were going to remain in place, he said: 'Yes, I very much hope so.'

New details have been revealed for King Charlie Brooker's upcoming drama anthology Black Mirror. The Channel Four show, described as 'a hybrid of The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected,' will focus on the way that technology has changed people's lives. Brooker will write the first two episodes of the three-part run, while the final episode will be scripted by Peep Show co-creator Jesse Armstrong. Rory Kinnear and Lindsay Duncan will star in premiere episode The National Anthem, in which the modern information age creates a huge dilemma for the prime minister. Second episode Fifteen Million Merits - starring Julia Davis, Rupert Everett, Daniel Kaluuya and Jessica Brown-Findlay - will satirise entertainment shows. The hour-long plays will portray a near-future world in which the only way to escape a life of physical labour is to impress judges on the Hot Shot talent show. Armstrong's contribution, which bears the working title of In Memoriam, is set in an alternate reality where all human actions are recorded to a computer system, granting everyone on Earth the power of perfect recall. Black Mirror has been produced by Zeppotron and is expected to be broadcast in late 2011. Charlie is also behind a spoof detective drama, called A Touch Of Cloth, which will be shown on Sky. The show, starring John Hannah and Suranne Jones, is billed as 'an all-encompassing parody of every police procedural ever written.'

Doctor Who's Matt Smith has said that showrunner Steven Moffat truly understands The Doctor. Well, he should do by now, Matt. He's been a fan for forty years and writing for the franchise, in one for or another, for nearly twenty years. Smith explained that Moffat has frequently encouraged him to include bits of his real-life personality while portraying the Eleventh Doctor. 'I think Steven has such a clear take on the show and The Doctor - that's the benefit of having a brilliant writer, he's got such a clear and inventive vision of things,' he told Bang Showbiz. 'Regarding The Doctor, I'd like to think Steven's seen elements of me and is weaving them into his writing. It's a collaboration in the best sense of the word but make no mistake about it - he's the boss.' And, The Lord Thy God as well, remember that bit.

Meanwhile, a bit of gossip from around the 'net. It is claimed that Claire Skinner has signed up to appear in the forthcoming Doctor Who Christmas special. The Outnumbered actress was recently spotted filming on the popular family SF drama's set in Wales. Her role in the festive episode, which has been written by Steven Moffat, is currently unclear as, indeed, is anything else to do with the episode. Some 'sources', including Wales Online, mistakenly identified Skinner as Shameless and Silk actress Maxine Peake. However, a 'source' - one imagines, a different one - has apparently confirmed to the Digital Spy website that it is in fact Skinner who will appear in the Christmas special. In addition to playing Sue on BBC1's Outnumbered, Skinner has featured in episodes of Lark Rise to Candleford and Marple. Her film credits include 1999's Sleepy Hollow and 2001's Bridget Jones's Diary.

A man has entered the Guinness Book of Records for his hoard of Daleks. Rob Hull, forty nine, has accumulated five hundred and seven one unique models of the Doctor's enemy over twenty years, which has been confirmed as the largest collection in the world. However, the Doncaster resident doesn't actually watch Doctor Who, according to the Doncaster Free Press. 'I've never been a fan of the show,' he said. 'But I have been enchanted by the Daleks ever since I saw one in a toy store as a child. My mum wouldn't buy it for me, but I swore at that moment that I'd have my own one day.' Hull's five hundred and seventy one models include a six-foot replica Dalek. His wife Dawn, forty three, was less enthusiastic about the collection. She said: 'I hate the bloody things and I've got a feeling this is only going to encourage him.'

And, speaking of soulless animated monsters the vile and odious rascal Hunt has said that it 'may be necessary' to establish whether the BBC's governance provides 'sufficient protection' against any single news organisation having too powerful a hold over the British public. Speaking a day after the vile and odious rascal minister asked Ofcom to review Britain's cross-media ownership rules, and whether it was necessary to set a limit for any one organisation's market share of news, the vile and odious rascal Hunt said at the RTS Cambridge Convention it was 'a very big and difficult issue as to how the BBC fits into all this.' Giving an interview to the Gruniad's Media Talk podcast, the vile and odious rascal Hunt said that it was necessary to take into account the fact that the BBC 'has different governance structures' and the 'question you need to ask is do those different governance structures provide the protection the public needs against one media organisation becoming too dominant.' Research conducted by Ofcom as part of News Corporation's bid for BSkyB concluded that the combined company would have had too large a share of news provision, prompting the regulator to recommend that Sky News be spun-off from the rest of News Corp and its Times and Sun newspapers. However, an enlarged News Corp would still have been smaller than the BBC – with News Corp's twenty two per cent 'share of reference' for news consumption across newspapers and television, compared with the BBC's thirty seven per cent. BBC News output was consumed by eight one per cent of Britons each week, whereas fifty one per cent would have consumed news from either News Corp or Sky each week if the companies had merged fully. The minister also chose his words carefully when asked if he would approve a News Corp/Sky merger in the light of the phone-hacking disclosures at the Scum of the World. He said it was 'not really something I can give a quick answer to,' adding that he would need to consider any phone-hacking disclosures should News Corp try to bid for Sky again. Hunt said: 'The reason that in the end I asked for Ofcom's advice about whether it was advisable to accept the undertakings [spinning off Sky News] was because the phone hacking issues became so large that I thought there was a legitimate question to ask about whether there issues in the corporate governance of News Corp.' He pointed out that he never reached a decision on the subject because the News Corp bid for Sky was dropped in July in the wake of an all-party political revolt prompted by new phone-hacking revelations, but said he would be obliged to consider the subject again. 'Obviously, I would need to be satisfied on all those areas were there to be any future bid on the table,' the vile and odious rascal Hunt added.

And, the only way to follow that malarkey is with some Top Telly Tips:

Friday 23 September
Comedy actress Katherine Parkinson, camp Pineapple Dance mincer Louie Spence, comedian David O'Doherty and Breakfast news presenter Bill Turnbull join team captains David Mitchell and Lee Mack on Would I Lie to You? - 9:30 BBC1 - the panel show, hosted by Rob Brydon. Which is now safe to watch again after the horrible Jack Whitehall's appearance in the first episode of the series. The aim of the game is to hoodwink opponents with absurd facts and plausible lies - like whether Louie makes himself cry before every performance and if David actually is seeing a psychiatrist to cure a strange addiction.

The Old Grey Whistle Test: 70s Gold - 9:15 BBC4 - features archive performances from the classic BBC music series. Or, in other words, all of those clips that you've already seen on about fifteen other compilation shows over the years. Still, anything featuring Elton John, David Bowie, Captain Beefheart, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Curtis Mayfield, New York Dolls, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Brinsley Schwarz, Gil Scott Heron, Blondie, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Jam, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, Cher and Greg Allman, Argent, Steppenwolf, Lindisfarne, Dr Feelgood and Johnny Winter can't be all bad. Whispering Bob Harris presents. And, after the Edgar Winter Band have played that nine minute version of 'Frankenstein', really does say 'amazing!' Watch out, too, for Wilco Johnson inventing Paul Weller's entire arsenal of moves when Dr Feelgood play 'Roxette'.

There's a new series of 8 Out of 10 Cats - 10:30 Channel Four. Smug Jimmy Carr - usually good in Qi and in small doses elsewhere, otherwise, avoid like the plague - returns with the irreverent panel show, joined by team captains Jon Richardson and Sean Lock. In the first edition, the pair welcome guests including boxer Amir Khan and IT Crowd star Richard Ayoade, who answer questions based on opinion polls carried out around the country to see who best understands what is going on in Britain today.

Saturday 24 September
Now, if only we could all club together and hire Gareth Roberts to write everything that James Corden says then the unfunny talentless berk might, just, be worthy of the oxygen that he consumes. Yes, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's loathed Corden is back in Doctor Who - 7:10 BBC1 - in another one of Roberts' more amusing conceits, Closing Time. As the date of the Doctor's death approaches, in the last few days of his life he decides to pay a visit to his old friend Craig Owens (unfunny talentless berk James Corden). To, you know, see how he's getting on, one imagines. However, when people begin to go missing and a mysterious silver rat appears in a department store, the Time Lord is drawn into an encounter with one of his oldest foes. Popular family SF drama, starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and, sadly, unfunny talentless berk James Corden. Still, it's for one week only.

Back with a bang, the new series of Qi: XL continues - 9:15 on BBC2. This episode is all about Imbroglio. Stephen Fry hosts an extended edition of the quiz with a difference, joined by comedians John Bishop, Frank Skinner (both first time contributors to the show), semi-regular panellist Sean Lock and regular as clockwork Alan Davies. They investigate an imbroglio of issues - confused or complicated matters - and awards points for the most interesting answers.

The 1951 Festival of Britain: Brave New World - 8:15 BBC2 - is, not unreasonably, you might suppose - a documentary exploring how the 1951 Festival of Britain helped the nation to look forward to a brighter future. All this, of course, during a period of post-war austerity, rationing, rickets, whooping cough, diphtheria, bronchitis and smog. Archive footage and personal testimonies reveal how, despite widespread debt and rationing, the event encouraged people to have fun through design and ingenuity.

Now, if you're still watching Big Brother - 9:15 Channel Five - then, 'hello, Mister Desmond.' Highlights of another twenty four hours in the Big Brother house, including coverage of the latest eviction as seen from the point of view of the worthless waste-of-space participants, and the reactions of the other nominees relieved that it wasn't them.

Sunday 25 September
And, once again, Sunday night at nine o'clock becomes one of those slots that TV scheduling occasionally throws up where you just wish you had the ability to chop yourself into three. Firstly there's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved [spooks] on BBC1. Calum is attacked by muggers who take his laptop containing classified information on MI5's undercover agents, leading to a race against time to prevent the next spy on the list from being attacked. Meanwhile, Harry meets Elena at the ballet, but Russian counter-intelligence agents are on her trail, forcing her son, Sasha, to take action to prevent his mother being revealed as a former western spy. Peter Firth, Nicola Walker, Alice Krige and Geoffrey Streatfeild star.

Opposite that, we've also got the massively popular Downton Abbey - ITV. Isobel suggests using Downton as a place of convalescence following a distressing incident at the village hospital. Shell-shocked new valet Lang arrives as William gets his call-up papers, and Carson strives to keep standards high, but suffers a panic attack in front of the family. Lady Rosamund is eager to unearth Lavinia and Carlisle's secret after overhearing them arguing, and romance blossoms for both Edith and Mary. Costume drama, starring Huge Bonneville, Jim Carter, Samantha Bond and Cal Macaninch.

As if the choice between those two isn't harsh enough, then you throw into the mix the start of a new series featuring Stephen Fry and there's going to be tears. In Fry's Planet Word - BBC2 - erudite, witty, casually fragrant Stephen dissects language in all its forms. Journeying from the thousands of years since humans first mastered the power of speech, through the glories of world literature, right up to the cyber world of today with its html codes and texting. He begins by asking why people are so advanced in their levels of communication compared with other species on the planet. He also explores the history of feral children and sign-language, and follows a child learning to speak over nine months.

And, as if having to chose between those three isn't already as difficult as a very difficult thing with difficult knobs on, there's also Fighting on the Front Line over on Channel Four. This is also a new series going behind the scenes with British troops on tours of duty in Afghanistan. Helicopter crews discuss their experiences of life in the warzones of Helmand Province, where state-of-the-art Apache craft launch attacks on Taliban forces from the air, while Chinooks embark on medical rescue missions to try to save troops injured by explosive devices. Fighter pilots share their thoughts about the realities of combat, including the emotional impact of killing.

So, there you go, dear blog reader - four very worthwhile programmes, each in their own way, probably worthy of a bit of your time and they all happen to be on at the same time. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's advice? Watch one of the dramas and record the other, catch Stephen on iPlayer (which, given his love for technology and devices, he'd probably approve of) and hope that Fighting on the Front Line greats repeated as a more convenient time!

Monday 26 September.
'No, not another bloody cookery show, Keith Telly Topping,' I hear you squeal dear blog reader. Well, yeah, sorry. But, don't blame me, I didn't cook it. After all what can you do - the people have spoken. And the public gets what the public wants. Apparently. Paul Weller said that. Home Cooking Made Easy - 8:30 BBC2 - is a new series in Lorraine Pascale (no, me neither) uses her alleged 'culinary expertise' to demonstrate how delicious meals can be cooked at home. Well, you open the tin, stick the contents in a pan and turn the ruddy gas on, I've always found, there's no great mystery to it. She begins with roasted butternut squash soup with chilli and ginger, and cracked black-pepper pasta with pancetta, mushrooms and Parmesan sauce. Other dishes include chocolate marshmallow brown-sugar fudge and five-spice baked ribs with sticky honey sesame sauce. All of which sounds great but, you know, how about some food that normal people eat, not middle-class Gruniad readers in Islington? Is that too much to ask?

Meanwhile, Fiona Bruce is still after that place on the New Year's Honours List by trawling around The Queen's Palaces - 9:00 BBC1 - looking for who knows what? Skeletons in the cupboard? Something nasty in the nursery? The People's Gold hidden under the floorboards in a small closet under the stairs? Perhaps we'll never care. This week, Fiona licks into the past of Edinburgh's Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is located close to the dormant volcano Arthur's Seat. Events in the royal residence, one of the smallest palaces in Britain, have determined the futures of England, France and Scotland, and it was the last place in which a royal prince challenged the right of an English king to sit on the throne. And read the paper whilst doing so. Fiona also discovers objects including the Darnley jewel, which features numerous hidden messages, and the needlework of a doomed queen. Last in the series of ostentatiously rubbing wealth in our faces until we puke.

Ortis Deley - back in something approaching his comfort zone after his horrors in Daegu - and Pollyanna Woodward cook fun fast food with the latest kitchen gadgets, then come up with some finger-licking snacks to tempt the hungry fans at a music festival in the latest episode of The Gadget Show - 8:00 on Channel Five. One person who was, no doubt, delighted by his mate Ortis's headline-making inability to present a live sporting event was Jason Bradbury. If for no other reason than it might have, momentarily, made a few people forget about his own contribution to TV Hell, Don't Scare The Hare. Jason himself connects up a medieval castle to find the best way of getting the Internet throughout an entire home. Meanwhile, the divine Goddess of all telly, ever, Suzi Perry reveals her five favourite camera accessories and Jon Bentley visits the Italian city of Pisa, where he hopes the latest translation apps will help him speak the language.

Tuesday 27 September
The Body Farm - 9:00 BBC1 - got off to a satisfyingly okay start. It's, essentially, exactly what most people thought it would be, a cheaper version of Waking The Dead. A body is found dead in the water and identified as thirty five-year-old Connor Ryan, a crew member aboard a small fishing trawler. However, Hale is not only concerned with the cause of the man's death - he also needs to know what happened to the other two people on the boat, who have mysteriously disappeared. Tara FitzGerald and 'I cost considerably less than Trevor Eve, me' Keith Allen star in the forensic crime drama, with David Harewood and Joe Duttine.

When you've got a new series with a title like Superior Interiors with Kelly Hoppen - 8:00 Channel Five - you just know that it's going to be rubbish. This is a 'makeover show' - because, of course, there aren't enough of those of TV already - in which interior designer Kelly Hoppen transforms viewers' homes. Whether they ask her to do so or whether she just does it anyway, whilst they've popped out to the shops - is something that we'll have to watch to find out. First up are Theresa and Vince di Martino from West Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, who want to rid their garage of all its junk and breathe some life into it, creating 'a stylish space for socialising.' But their list of specific requests is long and their budget is limited, leaving Kelly with a daunting task ahead.

It's the final episode of Seven Dwarfs - 9:00 Channel Four - which yer actual Keith Telly Topping recommended back at the start of the series and which has turned out to be one of the undiscovered gems of TV this year. Tonight's last in the series is a profile of twenty six-year-old Ryan Webb, who is performing in pantomime for the first time, but knows most of his fellow actors through a shared appearance in a Harry Potter movie. Although he plays drums in a rock band, Ryan is one of the shyest members of the group, but his new girlfriend, Amy, and his housemates slowly help him build his self-confidence. Finally, as the pantomime reaches the end of its run, the dwarfs reflect on the experience, before the programme-makers catch up with them eight months later to see how their lives have changed since.

Wednesday 28 September
Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer help new parents Lucy and David search for a home in Surrey where they can raise baby Evie in the latest episode of the once-essential-but-now-merely-annoying Location, Location, Location - 8:00 on Channel Four. As usual, they've found themselves a nice middle-class couple from the Home Counties with good teeth who've got more money than sense, inflated ideas of their own importance, unrealistic expectations and, frankly, the sort of lifestyles that shouldn't be allowed in these tough times of austerity and The Big Society. Anyway, this pair of chancers are - the pre-publicity tells us - determined to 'be picky' with their eight hundred and fifty thousand smackers budget. You ought to try up t'North, Lucy and David. For that sort of money you could buy, ooo, Lancashire. Meanwhile, back in the land of well off people with 'that's not a real jbo'-type jobs in Berkshire Kelly and Emma are looking for their first home together, and when tears flow it becomes apparent there is more invested in the hunt than just money. There may be some foot-stamping too. Which is always good for a laugh. Once again, the programme spectacularly fails to try and find a two bedroom council flat for Gary, a sheet-metal-worker from Gateshead and his heavily pregnant teenage girlfriend, Tracey. Because, like everybody else in television, Channel Four doesn't believe that anything worthwhile exists north of Watford and south of Iceland.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping watched the opening episode of the new series of Waterloo Road - 7:30 BBc1 - and was, actually, rather impressed with the way the episode was structured, the quality of the writing, acting and direction and the general tone of the drama. Still doesn't mean I'm going to be going out of my way to watch every episode, like, but at least it does mean that whenever I catch the last fifteen minutes of an episode because it's on just before something else I want to watch, I'll at least have a buggering clue about whom everyone actually is. Anyway, tonight new headmaster Michael (Alec Newman) continues his mission to shake up the school by appointing his old student friend Linda Radleigh as Head of English. However, the newcomer soon has her hands full keeping an eye on Emily, who sneaks out of school to see her sister on the day she is released from prison. Meanwhile, Chalky's crush on Janeece prompts him to join Jez's lunchtime fitness club and Michael tries to get closer to Sian over a late-night drink. The excellent Sarah Hadland (Miranda's Stevie) joins the cast.

Having just completed the latest series of Shooting Stars - 10:00 BBC2 - probably its best in three or four years, the BBC have decided to go straight into a repeat of the last one. Which is jolly good news for anybody who missed it first time around. Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer present the comedy quiz show. Fellow Northern funnyman Ross Noble and TV chef James Martin are on Ulrika Jonsson's team, while Jack Dee is joined by Hollywood actress Brigitte Nielsen and former Coronation Street baddie Graeme Hawley. Brigitte gets a shock when Vic tries to woo her and James finds himself removing his trousers.

Thursday 29 September
Shirley - 9:00 BBC2 - is a much-anticipated biopic of the great Shirley Bassey, charting the singer's early career, from her humble roots in 1930s Welsh Wales - where she was born the youngest of eight children to a mixed-race couple - to the start of her rise to international stardom in the early 1960s. Shirley dreams of success when a London agent plucks her from singing in the clubs and grooms her into a solo performer fit to take on the world. But the future star is hiding a secret - she is Cardiff unmarried teenage mother - so is persuaded to hand her daughter over to her elder sister while she works night and day to achieve her dream. Ruth Negga (best known for Misfits) stars, with Lesley Sharp, Charlie Creed-Miles and Henry Lloyd-Hughes.

In Bobby Troup's '(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66' the songwriter claims that 'Oklahoma City is oh, so pretty.' Tonight, Big Billy Connolly gets the chance to see if there's a grain of truth in such an allegation in Billy Connolly's Route 66 - 9:00 ITV. The comedian joins ranch hands on a cattle drive to Oklahoma City before heading into Texas, where he visits the ghost town of Glenrio and Devil's Rope Museum. In Los Alamos, New Mexico, he meets two men who helped create the atomic bomb and attends a rodeo in Arizona. Driving off-route, Billy ends the episode in Monument Valley, where he talks to a Navajo medicine man. This is the point in the song, incidentally, there geography goes out of the window - you get to Flagstaff and then you have to go backwards to get to Winona (inserted, one imagines, simply because it rhymes with Arizona!) before carrying on to Kingsman, Barstow and San Bernadino.

Quite possibly the single worst television format in the history of the planet was The Ludicrous Ms Dahl, shown on BBC2 last year. In which Sophie Dahl ponced about like a glake wittering on about rubbish that nobody gave a damn about and generally wasting everybody's time. It's been a very long time since yer actual Keith Telly Topping was rendered quite as impotently angry and appalled by any television programme. It was difficult to work out what it was that made it so dreadfully bad. Was it the sickeningly smart-alec title? The thoroughly nauseating full-of-her-own-importance host herself? The quite disgustingly smug and self-congratulatory nature of the show? It could have been any of those things, frankly. I think what most offended my sensibilities was a question I kept on asking myself over and over as this abomination continued for six excruciating weeks. Who was this for? What was the average, 'normal' (and I do use that word carefully) viewer supposed to gain from this peek into Sophie's posh little world of la-di-dah? The show was hated by critics, Giles Coren's opinion of it being: 'This Sophie Dahl show - what a crock of bogus, mendacious shite. What a sickening sham. The BBC should be fucking ashamed of itself.' Whilst Charlie Brooker on You Have Been Watching went further: 'My over-riding feeling when watching it was that I wanted a man with a cricket bat - covered in shit - to come in and smash the whole fucking place up!' Unbelievably, despite the programme losing half of its audience over the six weeks and getting audience appreciation index scores that make Daybreak's look almost respectable in comparison, the BBC said they were actively looking for a new format for Ms Dahl. I resigned from the human race in protest but I don't think it did much good. Well, in The Marvellous Mrs Beeton, with Sophie Dahl - 8:00 BBC2 - the waste-of-space woman is back. Dahl explores the life and times of the woman who created the original domestic bible, Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, first published in 1861. And, a woman who actually had to work for her living. Sophie prepares recipes from the book, examines her childcare advice and home remedies, and even throws a full Victorian dinner party. She also discovers how one woman shaped the idea of what a home really is, and reveals the numerous personal tragedies behind Mrs Beeton's starchy public persona. I think it's a sodding outrage that so much as a single penny of my licence fee money is being spent on this worthless fraction of a woman. A pox on this programme and every single person involved in its production.

When TV Goes to War - 8:00 BBC4 - sees screenwriters, soldiers and historians discuss fictional depictions of war on British television. The programme explores the logistical and dramatic difficulties of portraying the realities of combat on the small screen, assesses the importance of historical accuracy in military dramas, and discovers why war has often provided comedy writers with bountiful material. Featuring contributions by Stella Rimington, Alan Bleasdale, Antony Beevor, Jimmy Perry, Ian Curteis, Col Tim Collins, Robert Lawrence, Max Hastings and Greg McHugh.

And, so to the rest of the news: The chief executive of broadcasting giant Discovery Communications warned the government on Thursday against making regulatory changes that could leave the American company at a disadvantage compared with its UK competitors. David Zaslav told the RTS convention in Cambridge: 'To be able to keep investing in this market we are looking for a level playing field and a light touch.' Discovery invests two hundred million smackers a year in the UK. Its twelve UK channels include the Discovery Channel and it co-produces documentary series such as Planet Earth and Blue Planet with the BBC. Zaslav said: 'We create a lot of value in this market, we consider it our home. We've been working with minister Hunt. We've expressed some of our hopes that this continues to be a great market for us and we are very optimistic that it will continue to be.' Although he delivered his warning in coded language, sources close to the company, which has annual profits of $1.6bn and revenues close to four billion dollars last year, said it is 'concerned' about comments made by the vile and odious rascal Hunt in a speech he delivered on Wednesday evening in Cambridge. The lack of culture secretary said that he wanted to use a new communications bill to 'remove some of the regulatory requirements that public service broadcasters' including ITV and Channel Four currently have to meet. That could lead to strict rules on standards and decency being relaxed or the loosening of the arrangement which limits the amount ITV can charge advertisers, which is known as CRR. The government wants to publish a draft communications bill by April 2013 and pass the legislation by the end of the current parliament in 2015. Discovery believes that could have an adverse effect on its own UK business. 'Any tweaking can have a large knock-on effect,' said a company source.

Durham police have been called in by the new commissioner of the Metropolitan force to review the ongoing phone-hacking inquiry, Scotland Yard confirmed on Thursday. Bernard Hogan-Howe made the decision to ask for another force to examine the evidence gathered in Operation Weeting when he was appointed acting deputy commissioner of the Met in the summer following the departure of assistant commissioner John Yates and commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson. His role on this appointment was to take charge of the Operation Weeting inquiry and it was revealed on Thursday that he had decided as a result of the sensitive nature of the investigation that a review should be carried out. The Gruniad says that it 'understands' the review was not commissioned as a result of the arrest of a fifty one-year-old officer on the inquiry on suspicion of leaking details. The officer remains on police bail on suspicion of misconduct in a public office. Talking to the Evening Standard on Thursday Hogan-Howe said: 'I have asked another force to have a look at the inquiry to reassure us we are going in the right direction and I think we are.' Scotland Yard added: 'We can confirm that the Metropolitan police service has asked an outside police force to conduct a review of Operation Weeting. A review of this kind is considered best practice in a sensitive inquiry of this nature and was instigated by Bernard Hogan-Howe as acting deputy commissioner during the summer. The review team is led by Durham chief constable Jon Stoddart who will report to the Metropolitan police service in due course.' A spokesman for Durham police said: 'The Metropolitan Police Service has requested that an independent review of Operation Weeting be undertaken and we can confirm that Jon Stoddart, chief constable of Durham constabulary, has agreed to undertake the review. The review team will be taken from a number of forces outside the MPS.' Operation Weeting was begun in January and is investigating claims into the Scum of the World phone-hacking scandal. The senior detective leading the phone-hacking inquiry, deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers, told the home affairs select committee in July that there were four thousand possible victims of phone hacking listed in the pages of private investigator Glenn Muclaire's notebooks. She said these individuals were being contacted 'as quickly as possible.' Akers's investigation team consists of forty five officers, many of whom have been seconded from homicide teams. Akers is also overseeing a separate investigation into alleged bribes of police officers. This is being shared with the Met's directorate of professional standards and overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Dom Joly has called in police after an Internet troll apparently made death threats against his children. A Twitter account was set up called @deathtojolykids, which posted a photo of the comedian's family with the caption: 'The tall one looks like she has cancer I'm concerned. Does the short one have downs?' One additional post read: 'So ur [sic] kids dead of cancer yet or what faggot?' The comic, who has an eleven-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son, said that he has made a formal report to Cirencester police, where he lives, and said he was 'very impressed' with their prompt response. In a series of tweets the forty three-year-old said: 'Police have been contacted, I have screen grabs, I'll let u [sic] know what happens - you can arrest someone who issues a death threat - which you have. I will have you arrested, trust me.' Later, he added: 'OK formal report made to police - can't wait until they track him down.' Joly added that it was 'very easy to trace his IP address' - which it is - and warned the troller, 'You need to read the news my friend - up to sixteen months prison.' After claiming to receive an e-mail from the troller, Joly tweeted: 'Thank you for your e-mail, the contents of which have been logged under incident number 374/14/9/11, and forwarded to area for follow-up.' The Twitter user then apparently taunted the comic by saying the police 'can't do anything' about it: 'What police u [sic] don't even know what jurisdiction to notify Mr Internet detective.' The Trigger Happy TV presenter's response to Internet trolls has provoked further insults. One user who calls himself Mickey McChin has been instrumental in goading the comic, whom he describes as a 'sad little has-been comedian' with particularly inflammatory language, and admitted: 'I was being intentionally insulting to provoke a reaction.' And, you've seemingly got one, matey. Joly said: 'It's cunts like Mr McChin who go on about this sort of stuff being "banter" that encourage people making death threats to kids.' McChin himself denies setting up the @deathtojolykids account, which was suspended shortly after Joly announced that he'd contacted the police.

Channel Four has commissioned a second series of its antiques programme Four Rooms. Channel Four has green-lit a new eight-part series of Four Rooms, the specialist factual formatted series that offered people a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sell to four of Britain's top dealers in art, antiques and collectibles. The series proved compelling, suspense-filled viewing, with members of the public bringing an eclectic mix of items to the dealers, including a Banksy wall and a mummified mermaid. The show also launched four experts; Emma Hawkins, Andrew Lamberty, Jeff Salmon and Gordon Watson and was presented by Anita Rani. The series is again commissioned by Specialist Factual Commissioning Editor Tanya Shaw, who said: 'Four Rooms was a completely new and unique proposition to bring to our audience. It's the first time that antiques and collectibles have been covered in a prime-time, 8pm slot and I'm thrilled with the work the team did in sourcing incredible items from around the country. The series covered art, modern social history and design - all through the prism of commercial reality. These aren't insurance valuations; the dealers have to put their money where their mouth is. We're delighted to get cracking with a second series of Four Rooms. We will be building on the excitement and anticipation generated by series one, and sourcing even more amazing and wonderful collectibles for our team of dealers to bid on. With everything from a stuffed polar bear, to a Banksy Wall and a Concorde nose in last series, we're going to leave no stone unturned in the hunt for the unusual, but ultimately, collectible' said John Comerford the Executive Producer.

Sky One has ordered two more series of the vastly unfunny supermarket alleged 'comedy' Trollied. Shame on them.

The actor John Barrowman has criticised the Catholic Church in Scotland for its recent attacks on gay marriage. The Scottish government is currently considering proposals to legalise gay marriage in the country. In recent days several prominent members of the Catholic Church in Scotland have been critical of the proposals. Phillip Tartaglia, Bishop of Paisley, claimed Scottish voters would not forgive the SNP government for legalising gay marriage. Cardinal Keith O'Brien went even further in his attacks on the proposal labelling gay marriage as 'grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.' Well indeed. One could argue that so is buggering choirboys into silence and it's rather dangerous for the Catholic Church, of all people, to get into a stone-throwing contest on the subject of sin. Perhaps they should, instead, concentrate on reading Matthew 7:1. 'Judge not, lest ye be judged.' Wise words, there, from Saint Matthew the Tax Gatherer there. And, speaking of wise words, Torchwood actor John Barrowman, who was born in Scotland, has spoken out against the churches attacks. In an interview with the Herald newspaper he said: 'That's not being Christian at all. In fact, I think it's evil. Being gay is not, as they claim, against the laws of nature. I was born this way. And there's a reason I was born this way. I didn't decide to wake up gay one morning.' He added 'If two people love each other enough and want to call what they have a "marriage," regardless of their sex, shouldn't we let them do that? Otherwise, we're in The Dark Ages again.' The actor also reminded the Church of its own ill practices - brought to light in more recent years. 'I'd like to remind the church many of their own practices were kept a secret for many years and for them to turn round and attack someone who wants to be married is quite incredible. I think they'd be advised to remain quiet.'

FOX has ordered four additional episodes of drama series Bones. Female lead Emily Deschanel confirmed in March that she is expecting a child with her husband David Hornsby. As a result, the show's thirteen-part seventh season was originally intended to be broadcast in two parts, with six episodes airing from 3 November and seven more planned for broadcast in the spring. New spin-off series The Finder - starring Geoff Stults and Michael Clarke Duncan - was planned to fill the winter gap. However, executive producer Stephen Nathan has now confirmed to TV Line that four extra Bones episodes have been ordered, though it is currently unclear when they will bec shown. 'It's a very odd situation we're in,' he said. '[FOX] has scheduled us for thirteen episodes, but they want as many episodes as we can produce.' He continued: 'We're constructing the season so that the finale is episode thirteen, and then there will ultimately be four more episodes that we can play with. [FOX] could run them on a different night, they could run them in the summer, or they could hold them for fall [2012].' Nathan added that the four new episodes will be standalone. 'Because the show is centrally episodic, and we know what's happening with Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan, we can do four great episodes that are almost like a mini-season,' he said. 'It's weird, and it's a challenge, but we'll do it.'

Psychoville will not be returning for a third series, creator Reece Shearsmith has announced. But he did confirm that he and collaborator Steve Pemberton are working on another idea – although it' still in its early days. He broke the news via Twitter, saying: 'There really will be no more Psychoville. But Steve P and I have "something else" for you. Only in our minds at the moment.' Although critically acclaimed, Psychoville's second series, which was broadcast in May and June this year, struggled in the ratings. It opened with 1.14 million viewers but by the middle of the series it had lost almost half of those, struggling on with just six hundred and sixty thousand. The first series in 2009 averaged 1.4million viewers. In response to one fan, Shearsmith added yesterday: 'Sadly, no one watched it.'

Coldplay have been voted 'the best festival headliner of 2011,' in an online poll conducted by BBC 6Music. And, if ever there was a reason why 6Music should've been shovelled into the bin when the BBC wanted to a year ago, dear blog reader, there it is. This, remember, is supposed to be the station that 'is the heir to John Peel's legacy,' according to some glake or other when they were trying to save it. They'll be playing Sting and Annie Lennox next, mark my words.

A pregnant woman laughed so hard during Alan Carr's live show that she went into labour. Her waters broke just before the interval of his Spexy Beast tour in Brighton on Monday night, and she was rushed to hospital, where she later gave birth to a healthy baby girl. In the interval, Carr tweeted: 'An audience member has gone into labour during my Spexy Beast show! Pass me a hot towel and tongs I'm going in! Sending love to u and bump.' The woman, called Tessa, had visited the toilet several times during the first half, but couldn't hang on until the end of the show. She said: 'I had the baby at 12.30am and would've needed more than hot towels and forceps. So annoyed we missed the show, I hung on as long as I could but Alan would've had to been good at catching if I stayed. That man shouldn't be so funny!'

Martin Scorsese's profile of the late Beatle George Harrison is to have its UK premiere in Liverpool. George Harrison: Living in the Material World will be screened at the city's Foundation for Art and Creative Technology on 2 October. The film was made in collaboration with Harrison's widow Olivia and follows his life from his upbringing in Liverpool. It includes interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Yoko Ono. Scorsese said: 'Like so many millions of people, I first came to know George through the music, which was the soundtrack of our world. George was making spiritually awake music, we all heard and felt it, and I think that was the reason that he came to occupy a very special place in our lives. So when I was offered the chance to make this picture, I jumped at it.' Chris Peters, general manager of Picturehouse at FACT said: 'FACT is over the moon to be bringing Liverpool audiences the premiere of George Harrison: Living in the Material World in the city where George's story began. A spiritual and musical journey, the documentary places the imaginative and inspired eye of one of cinema's greatest filmmakers on one of the world's most influential men, and Liverpool audiences should expect a deeply moving and touching experience.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, what's needed, clearly, on a day like today is Gary Numan singing a Drifters song. Tasty. From the Living Ornaments '79 tour. Ultravox's Billy Currie provides the - stunning - solo. Far better than his duet of the same song with Leo Sayer. 'Baby!'