Saturday, September 03, 2011

Week Thirty Seven: Back By Popular Demand

The BBC Press Office announcements for the week of 17 to 23 September has the final series of [spooks] starting. 'In the last ever series of acclaimed spy drama [spooks], the team has been left reeling by Lucas North's betrayal, and with Harry Pearce on gardening leave, Section D has a new leader. Erin Watts is acting head and she has brought Calum Reed with her, a brilliant officer and technical genius. However, Harry survives his MI5 employment tribunal and is quickly back on The Grid in the thick of the action. Buried secrets are unearthed when Max Witt, a retired spy and Harry's colleague in Berlin during the Cold War, is found murdered by an unknown assassin. Meanwhile Ilya Gavrik, Russia's foreign ambassador and Harry's opposite number in the KGB for much of the Eighties, has flown into London to negotiate a ground-breaking strategic partnership between Russia and the UK. Harry makes his feelings about the partnership clear, but Home Secretary Towers insists he put a lifetime of animosity behind him and make friends with the old enemy; a request made even more urgent when the killer of Max Witt now appears to be targeting Gavrik. Gavrik is in the UK with his wife, Elena, and they are joined by their son, Sasha, a London-based FSB officer tasked with the security of his family. Elena was Harry's secret asset in Berlin during the Cold War when he got her to spy on her husband. But when Elena reveals he's asked her to spy for him again, Harry realises that someone is pretending to be him. Who is it and, more importantly, why?'
A thirty-year-old man who has been arrested by police investigating the phone-hacking scandal at the Scum of the World is, according to the Gruniad, 'believed to be Ross Hall, a former journalist at the paper who now works for a financial PR firm.' Hall, who worked under the name Ross Hindley until September 2006, is believed to be the man who transcribed the so-called 'for Neville' e-mail that was sent to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. It has become a pivotal piece of evidence in the phone-hacking affair. That e-mail allegedly contained a transcript of messages left on a mobile phone belonging to Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association. The 'Neville' referred to in the e-mail is, the Gruniad states, 'believed to be Neville Thurlbeck, the paper's chief reporter.' The Gruniad claims that there is 'a dispute among senior executives at News International, which owned the paper until it was closed in July, over who knew about the "Neville" email.' The paper's former editor Colin Myler and its lawyer Tom Crone insist that they told News International chairman James Murdoch about the existence of the e-mail in 2008, before the company - specifically Murdoch himself - decided to settle a legal action which Taylor had brought against the paper. But Murdoch denies that he knew about the e-mail. Taylor received an out-of-court settlement of somewhere in the region of seven hundred thousand smackers and agreed not to discuss the case. Hall is the nephew of Phil Hall, who edited the Scum of the World from 1995 to 2000 and is now a PR consultant. The Metropolitan police said a thirty-year-old man was arrested by appointment on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages and perverting the course of justice at a North London police station on Friday. He was later released on bail until January next year. Friday's arrest comes days after the axed Sunday tabloid's former managing editor Stuart Kuttner made a scheduled appearance at a police station to answer police bail. Kuttner was bailed for a second time until September.

The BBC will offer full reruns of the Formula One races that it does not show live next year. They will be shown on demand, through the red button, approximately three hours after the end of the race at the same time as the highlights package goes to air on the main channel, according to reports. If these prove to be correct it will be some solace for the half-a-dozen angry F1 fans who have been vocal with their displeasure at the deal in which Sky will show all the Grands Prix next year and the BBC only ten of the twenty-race calendar, including Silverstone, Monaco and the season finale. When the division of rights was announced at the Hungarian Grand Prix, details were thin on the ground and remain so now. Bernie Ecclestone, who was offering the teams a considerable increase in TV revenue, said it was a 'super' deal and the McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, was confident viewers would not lose out, saying: 'Bernie assured me, and I asked him several times, the deferred coverage will not be highlights, it will be a full race.' However Ecclestone responded at the time by insisting that the BBC would be showing only highlights. 'We'll have to get the full story,' Whitmarsh said, but until now no further details have emerged and, although unlikely to quell dissent from whinging cheapskate alleged fans, a full deferred rerun will be seen as preferable to a truncated package. Of course, they could just get their hands in their pockets and buy a Sky Sports subscription. But, since the majority of these are Gruniad-reading hippie Communists, there likelihood of that is slim. A spokesperson for the BBC said he would not confirm details in reference to reports on prospective coverage at this point but that they would do so in due course.

David Kermode, the editor of Five News and former boss of BBC Breakfast, has reportedly been appointed the new editor of ITV's struggling Daybreak programme. According to Broadcast, Kermode will take over at the underperforming flop breakfast show after current editor Ian Rumsey steps down in shame later this month. Rumsey, the former head of ITV News, became GMTV editor in May 2010 and oversaw the disastrous transition to the new Daybreak format, presented by greedy failures Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley. However, the show has totally failed to appeal to viewers, leading to a steady decline in its audience against strong competition from BBC Breakfast. ITV even admitted in March that the breakfast show had 'not performed as we would have hoped.' Which is TV shorthand for 'it's shit and nobody's watching it.' The head of Sky News John Ryler informed staff this week in an e-mail that Kermode was leaving after four years in charge of Five News. Ryley paid tribute to Kermode's time at the broadcaster, particularly for having 'banned the cut-away' from Five News reports. Writing on Twitter, Five News's Olympics correspondent Simon Vigar said that Kermode had 'defined Five News for the last four years and transformed the ratings.' From rubbish to 'not quite as rubbish as they used to be.' He added: 'Can he do he same at Daybreak? His record at BBC Breakfast speaks for itself.'

And so to yer actual Top Telly Tips, like.

Friday 9 September
It's a very big comedy night for the BBC with the return of two of their most popular shows. Firstly, Would I Lie to You? is back - 9:30 BBC1. Rob Brydon returns to host the comedy panel show in which celebrities try to deceive their opponents with plausible lies and absurd facts about themselves. Sort of Call My Bluff for the Twenty First Century but without a load of smug gits. Regular team captains David Mitchell - oh, hang on, I said 'without' smug gits didn't I? - and Lee Mack are joined by Rebecca Front, the wretched Jack Whitehall (the smuggest git of them all), Nick Hewer and Miranda Hart. So, one episode of this generally fine series to avoid, I'd've said. Come back next week when, hopefully, it will be a Whitehall-free zone.

Meanwhile, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's world is truly Complete with the welcome return - for a ninth series (not the tenth as the Radio Times claims, unless they snuck one in whilst none of us were looking, or unless 'i' had swapped places with 'j' in the alphabet) of Qi - 10:00 BBC2. Stephen Fry returns with the award-winning comedy panel show. One in which he asks difficult questions to two teams and awards points for not necessarily the right answer but rather the most interesting. In the first episode, the host plays I-Spy with Sandi Toksvig, Lee Mack - who can be seen on the TV more often than The News tonight! - Jimmy Carr and regular panellist Alan Davies. The forty-five minute extended XL edition can be seen on Saturday night at 9:00, followed by, for one week only, The Making of Qi - 9:45 - which provides 'an insight into the production of the popular comedy quiz show' as it approaches its tenth anniversary.

Oh Christ, just when you thought it was safe to come out from behind the sofa, we've got Big Brother: Live Launch - 9:30 Channel Five. With the celebrity version out of the way, Brian Dowling kicks off the twelfth series of the 'classic incarnation,' it says here, spending the next ninety minutes introducing the fame-seeking wannabe individuals who have been chosen to spend ten weeks invading the nation's living rooms - for the select few that last that long, at least. Wretched, hateful and, hopefully, with an audience that makes OK! TV's look enormous by comparsion.

Saturday 10 September
Tonight's episode of Doctor Who - 7:15 BBC1 is called The Girl Who Waited. Amy (the divine vision of lovely loveliness that is Karen Gillan) is trapped in a quarantine facility for victims of an alien plague, one that threatens to claim the Doctor's life within a day. With the Time Lord (Matt Smith) incapacitated, it is up to Rory (Arthur Darvill) to break in and rescue his wife before the medics in charge can administer their Dreaded Treatment. Oh no, not the Dreaded Treatment. However, incarceration brings out very different aspects of his wife's personality. Popular family SF adventure, with this week the voice of Imelda Staunton.

On the latest Jonathan Ross Show - 9:45 ITV - Sherlock's Benny Cumberbatch discusses the new film adaptation of John Le Carre's novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which is released on Friday and also stars Gary Oldman and Colin Firth. The trailer, if you haven't seen it yet, looks fabulous. Camp comedian and fellow chat show host Alan Carr also drops by to talk to Jonathan about his Spexy Beast tour, and Red Hot Chili Peppers perform 'The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie', the first single taken from their tenth studio CD I'm With You. And, as usual, some wretched, evil lice pondscum at the Daily Scum Mail will find something to complain about. Isn't it wonderful, dear blog reader, than in an increasingly uncertain world, some things remain reliably consistent?

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is loving the chance to catch up on some of the early episodes of Spiral - 9:00 BBC4 - that he missed first time around. A detail of television that life, seldom, affords. In the first of tonight's two instalments, the police delve into the personal life of a businessman who burned to death in his own home. Clement struggles to conceal his friendship with a suspect in the Andrescu case, Gilout's drug habit gets out of control and the mother of a murdered baby is accused of negligence. Followed, immediately, by the next episode.

Sunday 11 September
There's what looks to be another corking episode of Inspector George Gently - 8:30 BBC1 tonight. The detective looks into the suspicious death of old friend and informant China, when he is told conflicting reasons for the man's demise by the coroner and the nurse who tended him in his final few hours. The investigation leads him to the local police station, where it becomes clear the officers are hiding something - and to complicate matters, the disappearance of a teenage boy is also linked to the case. Crime drama, guest starring the great Neil Pearson (who's been absent from our screens for far too long), Dean Lennox Kelly, Christine Bottomley and Mark Benton.

Sunday also sees the conclusion of the two-part Appropriate Adult - 9:00 ITV. Voluntary worker Janet's relationship with Fred West enters a new phase when she makes a series of visits to him in prison, aiming to persuade him to divulge information about other victims and the participation of his wife in the crimes. As the case unfolds, she becomes ever more involved with the suspect - which ultimately proves to have shattering consequences for her at Rosemary's trial. Drama telling the story of how the serial killers were brought to justice, starring Emily Watson, Dominic West, Monica Dolan and Robert Glenister.

Monday 12 September
If there's one thing that the BBC does of which yer actual Keith Telly Topping scowlingly disapproves, it's their casual and frequent sycophantic brown-tongued licking of royalty's collective bottom. Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against the majority of the royals as people, but I think it's a bit of an anachronism that we're in the second decade of the Twenty First Century and we still have the concept of a monarchy alive and well. Anyway, tonight the hardest working ass on TV, Fiona Bruce starts a three-part investigation into The Queen's Palaces - 9:00 BBC1 - with a suitable degree of grovelling that should see her made a dame in the next honour's list no problem. Fiona explores the stories behind official royal residences, which act as family homes and places to conduct the business of monarchy, and charts the evolution of their architecture. She begins with Buckingham Palace and learns about its links to London sewers, its features including state rooms and a home for camels and elephants, plus how its chandeliers are cleaned.

In the welcome return of Doc Martin - 9:00 ITV - the curmudgeonly GP struggles to come to terms with his new role as a father, having planned to resume his career as a consultant in London before the arrival of his and Louisa's as-yet unnamed son. To make matters worse, he begins to have serious doubts about the competency of his replacement Dr Di Dibbs when she misdiagnoses a patient as well as herself. Martin is then dealt a devastating personal blow after hearing his aunt Joan has died. Starring Martin Clunes, Joanna Scanlan and Caroline Catz.

The Truth About Drugs in Football: Dispatches - 8:00 Channel Four - sees Antony Barnett investigating the use of recreational and performance-enhancing substances in the nation's favourite sport. Along the way, he examines football's drugs-testing regime, raises questions about action taken against those found guilty of substance abuse, and highlights some of the many unusual - but perfectly legal - treatments players undergo.

Tuesday 13 September
Earlier this year, the BBC decided to end their long-running (and very popular) crime drama series Waking the Dead, to general viewer outrage (not least from yer actual Keith Telly Topping who always loved that show). However, it must be noted in the strict interests of fairness that pretty much the main reason why they did so was that they, quite simply, could no longer afford Trevor Eve's pay packet - a reported million quid per series. So, instead, we get a (cheaper) spin-off, The Body Farm - 9:00 BBC1. Tara FitzGerald reprises her Waking the Dead role in this forensic crime drama. Doctor Eve Lockhart is one of Britain's leading forensic pathologists and runs a state-of-the-art forensic research facility called The Body Farm with her business partner, Mike Phillips. Theirs is the only facility in the country using real human body donors to examine the complex and fascinating journey the body goes through as it decays and returns to the earth. When Eve gets a call from Detective Inspector Craig Hale asking for her help to investigate an unusual crime scene, she sees an opportunity to bring much-needed funding to The Body Farm, but her decision to work with the police on real crime scenes will take her team out of their comfort zone. The team includes Rosa Gilbert and Oscar Traynor, who are both gifted young scientists but their previous experience is strictly academic. They quickly discover that dealing with real people who are suffering in the aftermath of crimes is a lot messier than they expected. Eve and the team encounter a crime scene in a derelict tower block which is both disgusting and fascinating. Human remains are splattered all over the walls of a small flat. They soon find evidence that local teenagers have been using the tower for wild parties. The team begin to suspect that the human remains are connected to the attempted suicide of a young girl weeks before. Keith Allen - considerably cheaper than Trevor Eve it would seem - co-stars, along with Mark Bazeley, Wunmi Mosaku and Finlay Robertson. Executive producer is Trevor Eve. No, really! Some people just can't stop making money, it would appear. Good on ya, Trev, you're an inspiration to us all in these tough financial times.

Having spend most of last winter being parodied, rather amusingly let it be said, by Xander Armstrong and Ben Miller, in their latest series Hairy Bikers Meals on Wheels - 9:00 BBC2 - Wor Si King and Dave Myers set out to revive the home delivery network which has seen a significant decline in usage in recent years. The duo head to Welwyn Garden City, the birthplace of Meals on Wheels, before moving on to Surrey where they help a council with its ailing service. This a four-part series sees the jolly pair turn their attention to this unfashionable aspect of British life and attempt to revitalise what they found to be a distinctly flagging service. Simon tried to access a Meals on Wheels service for his ailing mother in his native North-East a few years ago, only to find it just wasn't available. 'I lost my mum about two years ago,' he says. 'She was a fabulous cook and got great joy from food, and that doesn't stop just because you’re older. We tried to plug into the Meals on Wheels system but it just didn't work for us for various reasons,' he recalls. 'Fortunately, my family lived close by so we were able to drop in and cook Mum the food she wanted to eat – but not everyone is in that position.'

Tonight also sees the return of the wretched 71 Degrees North - 9:00 ITV. Paddy McGuinness and Charlotte Jackson take over as hosts for a second run of the challenge set in Arctic conditions, with one contestant being eliminated after a vote each week. The ten celebrities - one or two of whom you may have even heard of - setting off are actors Martin Kemp, John Thomson and Sean Maguire, Loose Women panellist Lisa Maxwell, skeleton racer and Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams, TV presenter Angellica Bell, Crimewatch host Rav Wilding, TV gardener Charlie Dimmock, former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella and 'celebrity hairdresser' Nicky Clarke. No, really. This isn't the punchline of a Mad Frankie Boyle joke, this is really happening. Hateful.

In Missing Millions - 8:00 ITV - husky voiced Melanie Sykes and Paul Heiney reunite people with forgotten investments, from pensions and life insurance to shares, dividends and money put aside for a rainy day. Genealogist Nick Barratt and the team join the search for recipients who did not know they were entitled to a windfall and bring them the good news. The programme begins in Morecambe, Lancashire, where a thirteen thousand smackers savings plan has been sitting unclaimed for twenty years.

Wednesday 14 September
The staff and pupils from the award-winning Waterloo Road - 7:30 BBC1 - return for a fresh term. Ruling the roost is new headmaster Michael Byrne, brought in by the education authority to turn the school around. But he has his own demons, having been attacked by a knife-wielding pupil at his last school - and when the boy is acquitted of attempted murder, the aggrieved teacher vows revenge. The old staff have their noses put out of joint when the head also introduces his own team of high-achieving teachers, while brothers and new pupils Phoenix and Harley have a shocking start to the day when they discover the death of their nan. Alec Newman, Jaye Jacobs (Holby City's Donna) and Alex Walkinshaw (The Bill's Smithy) all join the cast.

Planet Dinosaur - 8:30 BBC1 - is a documentary bringing to life the giant predators and strange beasts that roamed Earth almost one hundred million years ago, focusing on some of the new species discovered over the past two decades. Unless, of course, you believe that the world was created approximately seven thousand years ago. In which case, this programme probably ain't for you. The series starts in North Africa, where two of the world's biggest predators once battled for supremacy. At thirteen metres and seven tonnes, Carcharodontosaurus was a huge beast, a gigantic lizard-like carnivore with shark-like teeth more than six inches long. It was an efficient hunter that would slash at its prey until it bled to death. But the discovery of an upper jaw in Morocco revealed an even bigger carnivorous killer – Spinosaurus. Four metres longer than Tyrannosaurus Rex, Spinosaurus is thought to have been one of the biggest killers to ever walk the Earth. But unlike the meat-eating Carcharodontosaurus, Spinosaurus mainly ate fish, living and hunting almost exclusively in the water. Narrated by John Hurt - no dinosaur, he.

Doomy-voiced Kevin McCloud revisits the transformation of a derelict mill cottage in Northumberland into a contemporary family home, the longest-running project ever featured on the programme in the first of a new series of Grand Designs - 9:00 Channel Four. Stefan Lepkowsky and Annia Shabowska began work in 2006, and their ambitious plans involved restoring the Georgian building, reconstructing a watermill and adding a steel-and-glass atrium, but their budget of two hundred and fifty thousand smackers was woefully inadequate.

Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1 - tonight focuses on comedian Alan Carr. Alan explores his family's connection to football (his dad, Graham, was a legendary player and manager at Northampton and is now head scout for Newcastle) and his grandfather's brief brush with fame. And, he tries to uncover the truth behind a mysterious name change on his mother's side. When the comedian finds out the truth after a series of twists and turns, it results in a surprising discovery. Including how two of his ancestors were involved in a notorious pit disaster in Northumberland in the 1860s.

Thursday 15 September
And so we come to the end of a long, long road well travelled, the final episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day - 9:00 BBC1. The Torchwood team travels across the world on a final desperate mission - but it seems that the Three Families are unstoppable, unless a terrible sacrifice is made. Conclusion of the SF thriller, starring John Barrowman and Eve Myles, with Mekhi Phifer, Bill Pullman and Alexa Havins. To be honest, yer actual Keith Telly Topping has, for the most part enjoyed the series but it's gone on a bit too long. This would've made a brilliant six or seven part series but, at ten episodes, the last few weeks have seen it starting, somewhat, to drag. Which is a shame as the acting had been, for the most part, splendid and the concepts on which the series was based are really clever. Much of the public criticism of the show ('I don't like it any more, it's gone all American!') has been, frankly, moronic and the sort of nonsense that would be dismissed out of hand as ludicrous if applied to any other form of drama than SF. So, we'll mark this one down as a noble attempt to do something a bit different that has, partly but not fully, succeeded. Whether we'll get another series, I suspect, depends pretty much entirely of Russell Davies and whether he wants to do more.

Now, dear blog reader, if you've ever planned to motor west, then you're probably advised to take my way that's the highway that's the best. In Billy Connolly's Route 66 - 9:00 ITV - the comedian fulfils a lifelong dream of travelling along the world's most famous highway on his motor-trike and, indeed, gettin' his kicks on it. The Big Yin turns Easy Rider and follows a lifelong dream as he makes the iconic two thousand four hundred and eighty eight mile journey from Chicago to Santa Monica. Beginning in the Windy City, Bill goes to the top of the Willis Tower, America's tallest building, before visiting the home of Abraham Lincoln in Illinois and meeting the state's champion pie-maker. Going off-route, Billy heads to Amish country, where he takes a horse-drawn buggy ride, and then talks to two women in St Louis whose homes were recently destroyed by a tornado. If you don't know where he's going after that, consult The Nat King Cole Trio. Great excuse for a TV show, it must be said. And yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self has done a bit of the LA end of the road (that beautiful bit around Barstow and Kingsman). I have to say, also, that I'm somewhat minded of The West Wing episode in which Ed shows Sam a report on a study of Route 66. 'Which tells us?' asks Sam. 'Condition and traffic flow of America's oldest trans-continental highway' he's told. To which, he replies, 'Anything in there I don't get from the song?'

Timeshift: The Picture Postcard World of Nigel Walmsley - 9:00 BBC4 - looks at the history of postcards in Britain, charting the popularity of those depicting scenes from places as diverse as holiday resorts and motorway service stations. The programme explores the development of postcard etiquette and examines how the medium provided an important means of communication in the days before the invention of text messages and e-mails.

And finally there's our regular looks at Top of the Pops: 1976 - 7:30 BBC4. Tonight, the beard of Despair, Noel Edmonds, introduces an episode from 26 August 1976 - when it was bloody hot - the final week in which Elton John & Kiki Dee's Don't Go Breaking My Heart topped the chart. Manfred Mann's Earth Band perform their future top ten hit 'Blinded by the Light', and the show also features Acker Bilk, Cliff Richard, Robin Sarstedt and Gallagher & Lyle, as well as dance routines by Ruby Flipper.

And so to the news: Ofcom has said that the best option to guarantee that ITV and Channel Five continue delivering news and their other public service broadcasting commitments is to renew their licences. But the regulator also admitted that it does not have the power to stop broadcasters cutting back on PSB programming if they want to. The admission came on Friday as Ofcom published its government submission on options for renewing Channel Three and Channel Five licences, which expire at the end of 2014. Ofcom said that the three options given to the vile and odious rascal Hunt, the lack of culture secretary, give him the 'choice between stability and disruption' by either maintaining the status quo and renewing the existing licences or tearing them up and rethinking how, and in what form, public service TV content might be delivered in future. Ofcom said that the first option, that of renewing the existing licences with the same broadcasters for another decade, is probably the best bet if viewers want to continue to see PSB content on TV. 'In the medium term licence renewal is the approach most likely to ensure the continuing delivery of the key public service objectives of supporting investment in original programming and news provision,' Ofcom said in its thirty six-page submission to the vile and odious rascal Hunt. However Ofcom notes that there is a 'high degree of uncertainty' surrounding the commercial sustainability in a volatile UK broadcasting market of a licence running for ten years from 2014. Ofcom's commercial PSB licences give holders benefits which have historically been financially very valuable, primarily reserved access to broadcast on strictly limited terrestrial spectrum and more recently on digital terrestrial TV, or Freeview. Licensees are also guaranteed prominence in the digital TV electronic programme guides. In return broadcasters have had to guarantee delivery of a range of PSB content, such as national and regional news for ITV licensees, and investing in original UK programming. However, broadcasters such as ITV have vigorously lobbied, and Ofcom has concurred, that the value of the PSB licences are less than the cost of delivering PSB programming that is often expensive to make and delivers low audiences. The PSBs have already moved to cut back on some of their obligations – under former executive chairman Michael Grade ITV threatened to pull out of regional news altogether – despite the sanctions at Ofcom's disposal to punish licence breaches. 'It is uncertain whether the regulatory enforcement mechanisms currently in place would be sufficient to prevent licensees from seeking to pare back delivery of public service content in the future in response to unfavourable market conditions,' said Ofcom. The media regulator admitted that 'some form of agreement' would have to be reached with broadcasters to make sure PSB content was delivered 'until the mid-2020s' – meaning some reduction in obligations agreeable by both sides. This option might also allow parliament to amend the structure of Ofcom broadcast licences covering the UK to look at options such as the creation of a separate licences for Channel Three in Wales and Scotland, which is covered currently by three licences (Border, owned by ITV plc, and STV and Grampian, owned by STV). The second option is to cancel the existing PSB licences and retender to the market for the next period from 2014. This would give the government a chance to rethink what obligations should be included in the new licences and may also encourage the emergence of new players beyond the traditional PSBs. 'A decision by the secretary of state to block licence renewal would lead to an award process that could lead to the development of new and innovative forms of public service content and drive efficiency,' said Ofcom. Analysts at Citigroup said that such a move could lead to companies including Facebook and Google investigating the potential advantages of PSB provision. However, Ofcom also notes that it will be difficult for government to change or modify the existing PSB obligations and that it is 'unclear' what new bidders would be interested. Nevertheless Ofcom says that the second option 'remains a credible possibility.' The third option is to extend the existing licences to allow for public service broadcasting to be given 'full consideration' in the next communications bill, due before the next general election in 2015. Ofcom said this would allow parliament to assess what the PSB licences should cover in light of the remits of both Channel Four and the BBC, as well as initiatives such as the vile and odious rascal Hunt's plans for a new network of local TV services. 'For instance, developments in the provision of local TV services in the next few years may lead parliament to reassess the continuing need for English regional programming on Channel Three,' Ofcom said. This option would also allow the government to 'clarify and tighten' the regulation around prominence of PSB channels on the EPG 'to create additional public service value.' However, Ofcom admits that forcing the existing PSBs to continue delivering on licence obligations they find loss-making may lead them to 'consider becoming a fully commercial UK-wide broadcaster.' The media regulator admits that ITV for one is set to find the costs of PSB status outweighing the benefits before 2014. 'In those circumstances, it may not be possible to secure a replacement licensee given both the high fixed costs of providing a fully regional service with the existing range of obligations and the short term nature of any licence that Ofcom would be able to offer,' said the media regulator.

E4 has announced its latest schedules, confirming new shows from the hugely unfunny Noel Fielding, Cardinal Burns and The Midnight Beast, among others. Fielding's new show, Luxury Comedy will be broadcast in January, and is described as 'a psychedelic character based comedy show, half filmed and half animated.' So, a load of old toss in other words. Kasabian's Sergio Pizzorno will provide the music, and The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade makes an appearance. E4 say the show is 'in the tradition of Spike Milligan and Kenny Everett but completely modern at the same time.' So, a load of old toss in other words. And Fielding said: 'Television needs a madman - I just want to blow people's minds.' So, a load of old toss, in other words. 'Internet sensation' The Midnight Beast – best known for their online parody of Ke$ha's 'TikTok' – will also launch their series in January, which mixes sitcom and music. It features band members Stefan Abingdon, Dru Wakely and Ashley Horne alongside a host of comedic guest stars, who are depicted as wannabe musicians struggling to make it. January also sees the launch of the first TV show from sketch duo Cardinal Burns – Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns – who were snapped up after being spotted at the Edinburgh Fringe. Channel Four's comedy editor Fiona McDermott has said: 'Quite simply, Cardinal Burns are one of the funniest sketch duos around. Delightfully clever, imaginative and silly, theirs is a brand of comedy that is perfect for E4.' Recurring characters include Office Flirt, New Guy and Phil and Terry the Cockney Midgets, with other sketches taking a behind-the-scenes look at street artist Banksy and a parody of The Hills featuring three young girls on a fashion internship. Also in E4's autumn schedules is Chris Addison's Show & Tell, which each week features three up-and-coming comics. Comedians lined up to appear include James Acaster, Susan Calman, Roisin Conaty, Elis James, Nick Helm, Maeve Higgins, Joe Lycett, Celia Pacquola, Tom Parry, Chris Ramsey, Josh Widdicombe and Joe Wilkinson. PhoneShop, written, directed and produced by Phil Bowker, returns for a second E4 series in November. The cast includes Tom Bennett, Andrew Brooke, Emma Fryer, Javone Prince and Martin Trenaman. And the youth channel has also snapped up American sitcoms Two Broke Girls, about two waitresses trying to make it big in New York, New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel as the quirky flatmate of three single men and Happy Endings, about what happens to a couple's group of friends when they split up.

A theatre has banned comedian Jim Davidson from performing his new show at the venue because of previous 'rude' behaviour towards staff. In an e-mail, which Davidson posted on his blog, Norwich Theatre Royal's chief executive said colleagues had been 'publicly insulted' by him in 2004. Peter Wilson also said Davidson had 'arguments over figures' and 'refused to accept policy on wheelchair users.' The comic responded saying the comments were 'crazy' and 'ridiculous.' Davidson performed instead at Great Yarmouth's Britannia Theatre in August. On his blog entry on Thursday, the fifty seven-year-old comedian said: 'I have been asked by many people in Norfolk why I do not play the county's most prestigious theatre as they think I am snubbing the town in favour of Great Yarmouth. You will see from the reply I have received from the Theatre Royal below, that this is not the case. If you have any comments I suggest you make them known to the theatre directly.' I think I will. 'Well done, Theatre Royal.' There you go. Wilson confirmed he had sent the e-mail to Davidson and said he had 'no intention' of inviting him back for future live performances. In the e-mail, Wilson said an assessment form filled out by the theatre after Davidson's previous appearance on 15 August 2004 stated the comedian was 'very rude to staff. Arguments over figures, drinks etc, and personal comments that are not acceptable.' Wilson also said the show report showed Davidson had 'publicly insulted and demeaned my front of house colleagues, offensively queried the house returns and refused to accept our policy on wheelchair users.' The e-mail added: 'I'm sorry of course that your many fans - and I'm not for a moment questioning your popularity as an entertainer - have to travel to catch your act. But I prefer not to have you in our theatre because there is not a single person here who finds this sort of behaviour acceptable. If asked by the people of Norwich, I will be more than happy to make public our specific objections.' Known for his controversial remarks, in 2003 the comic called the people of Great Yarmouth 'fat and ugly' in a BBC TV interview.

Ever fancied owning your own Batmobile? Well, your wish may be about to come true if you've got six hundred and twenty thousand dollars to spare. Casey Putsch of Putsch Racing in Ohio builds, restores and prepares racing cars for a living. He is now offering a custom-designed vehicle described as 'the world's only turbine-powered bat car' on e-Bay. The description says that the one-off item is street registered in the United States, has a 'perfect reliability record' and is 'ready to be enjoyed by an enthusiast.' The Hollywood Reporter notes that it is a replica of the Batmobile driven by Michael Keaton in the 1989 Batman movie. It can run on petrol, diesel or jet fuel and even includes a centrally-mounted, 3G-enabled iPad. Built in five months, the Batmobile has ojust under two thousand miles on the clock and the sale - which closes on 5 September - is open to buyers worldwide. It's not the first unusual vehicle that's been auctioned this year, either - the British Ministry of Defence listed decommissioned aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal on its own auction site Edisposals in March.

Kinks singer Ray Davies has used his band's hit songs to write a musical play tracing the last sixty years of cultural and political life in the UK. But while bands such as ABBA and Queen have had their music turned into hit West End shows, Davies' production will be performed by school pupils. Students from John Ruskin School in Coniston, Cumbria, will perform Child's Play for the first time on Sunday. They will be joined by two musicians at the Southbank Centre in London. The soundtrack will feature Kinks songs plus some from Davies' solo catalogue, including 'All Day and All of the Night', 'Waterloo Sunset', 'Dead End Street' and 'Do It Again'. The teenage actors will portray three couples from different social classes who deal with events ranging from the death of Princess Diana to the global financial crisis. The show 'provides a commentary on the aspirations and disappointments through the decades of modern Britain, since the Festival of Britain in 1951,' according to producers Grizedale Arts. This weekend sees the climax of the Southbank Centre's celebrations to mark the anniversary of the festival. Davies worked with the venue in June when he curated its annual Meltdown festival. He has previously composed the music for various stage productions, including Chorus Girls, Eighty Days and Come Dancing, based on the Kinks song of the same name. Child's Play will also be performed in Coniston as part of Grizedale Arts' plans to revitalise the Coniston Institute, a former miners' institute and community arts and education centre.

An Isle of Wight radio station has claimed a donation from Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards helped get it back on air. Angel Radio broadcast a plea for help to pay for a two thousand pounds transmitter for its Newport operation after it was damaged in a storm in July. Station director Bev Webster said after the broadcast a cheque for three grand arrived from the musician. The island station relies heavily on listener donations. The plea for help was also broadcast on Angel's commercial sister station, based in Havant. Richards has a house in the Witterings area of West Sussex, in the station's broadcast area, but it is not known whether the sixty seven-year-old had been listening to the broadcast. The cheque, which the station said was sent from Richards' accountant in London, arrived along with scores of other donations from listeners. Webster said: 'I opened the envelope and nearly had a heart attack. It said it was a donation from Keith Richards. We looked at one another and said, "could it be the Keith Richards? Is there any other Keith Richards?"' Webster said she wrote a letter of thanks after confirming with the accountant that the cheque was from the Rolling Stones guitarist. Station manager Tony Smith said the extra money would pay for radio licences. He said: 'It's always a struggle. My Havant station can take advertising but the Isle of Wight isn't allowed to because of Ofcom rules so they rely on donations.' Angel Radio, which plays nostalgic music from 1900 to 1959, began broadcasting as a pirate station in 1993.

And so to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Here's the Pet Shop Boys. With a little help for Sir Ian McKellan.