Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Twenty Two Days Of Christmas: To Hull And Back

Steven Moffat was a guest (alongside Matt Smith) on Friday afternoon on BBC Radio 5Live's Richard Bacon Show, during which the question of the potential Hollywood Doctor Who movie being made came up yet again. The Moffster responded: 'David [Yates] was talking a little out of turn, there; a very, very brilliant director but, the film as described by him, of course we're not going to do that. A film that contradicts the television series, it would be a heathen thing to do. I would be 'beheaded' [for allowing] such a thing! It would be wonderful to do a Doctor Who film, but when and if we did - and hopefully we will be doing it - it will be very much an offshoot of the television series and we'll be part of it, and it will star the television Doctor, of course - anything else would be heresy!' The first commandment, there, from The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He). Moffat also rebutted crass and ignorant criticism from those who accuse his Doctor Who of being 'too complicated' - as though such a conceit could, possibly, be a bad thing in a TV landscape dominated by lowest-common-denominator nonsense and programmes made for an audience with a seven-second attention span. Moffat claimed that the reason his shows do so well is because they challenge a 'clever' audience. 'The assumption that the audience is intelligent has paid off hugely for us, not just on Doctor Who, but on Sherlock,' he told Bacon. 'I'm doing two shows that assume the audience is reasonably smart, and they're both doing incredibly well. Maybe the news is that people are clever,' he added. Smudger agreed with his boss - stating that children he's met have no problems understanding the stories - and suggested the show has far fewer complaints of this nature stateside. 'People take from any series what they want,' said Matt. 'In America they embrace the complexities, because it has that kind of science-fiction culture where they like all those hidden meanings, messages and all the rest of it.' And good news for Who-lovers of the world, it looks like the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama has now broken in America big time. '[Doctor Who] is the most downloaded show in the whole world, above Glee, above Mad Men,' said Smith excitedly. Check out, also dear blog reader, Ian Burrell's rather thoughtful profile of The Moffster his very self in the Independent. 'When the chance came to write for a revitalised Doctor Who, Moffat pushed himself forward. A dedicated "Whovian", he claims to remember watching the first Doctor, William Hartnell, who quit the TARDIS when Moffat was four. But some of those who admired Coupling were scornful of his decision, recalls Gatiss, who is also a Doctor Who writer. "I remember people throwing up their hands in horror at the notion of Steven writing for Doctor Who," he says, pointing out that Terry Nation, the inventor of the Daleks, had also been a scriptwriter for Tony Hancock.' Fine article, but a tip, Ian. Nobody, but nobody (except a few Americans) actually uses the word 'Whovian.' Because it makes you sound like a dickhead. That is all.

Stephen Fry - sporting a 'tasche than makes him look uncannily like General Melchett - has said that he plays a 'very gross figure' in Peter Jackson's upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit. The actor told the Digital Spy website that his Master of Laketown in the two-part film recalls Jackson's earlier work in movies like Bad Taste and Brain Dead. 'He was a shlock, gore director of the highest quality and wit,' Fry said of Jackson. 'My character is an opportunity for sheer grossness. He had me eating testicles. Gross appetites. I mustn't give too much away but I've got a bald cap and then on top of that a really bad combover wig and this wispy moustache and wispy beard and horrible blotchy skin and disgusting fingernails. And generally speaking a really unappetising piece of work. And a coward to boot and very, very greedy.' The Hobbit will be divided into two parts and released as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on 14 December 2012, and The Hobbit: There and Back Again on 13 December 2013.

Comedy highlight of the week, dear blog reader, was the fact that Nick Hewer was so dryly amusing on Friday's Have I Got News For You that he almost (almost, but not quite) managed to make up for that unfunny arsehole Jack Whitehall's presence in the episode.
Sue Perkins also helped!

Alexander Armstrong has launched a one million pound appeal to safeguard the future of the Lit & Phil in Newcastle, the largest independent library outside of London of which he is president. 'I'm quite fanatical about this place because this is one of the reasons why the North East has taken off as a huge centre, philosophically and scientifically. There are so many fabulous things about this place, it was a very important centre for scientific research. That's the philosophical side of it because they didn't really call it science in those days, it was natural philosophy.'
Xander also spoke lovingly about Doctor Who when asked about his forthcoming appearance in the Christmas episode. He said that he believes it's been 'taken to a new level' since it returned to British screens six years ago. Armstrong told the BBC: 'It's something I've always wanted to be in and there really isn't another show like Doctor Who. The heritage of it is amazing and when the BBC got it going again it suddenly took on a whole new life. It has all the charm and ingenuity of the first incarnation but it also has Russell and now Steven's really current TV brains behind it, people who are so literate in really good television that gets you thinking. With Christopher, David and now Matt, this Doctor Who has kind of gone nuts. I mean my Doctor Who when I was young was Tom Baker, I loved Tom Baker, everyone did, but the Doctor these days has taken on a sort of rock star status.' This year's Christmas Special stars Claire Skinner, Bill Bailey and Arabella Weir alongside Armstrong and current Doctor Matt Smith.

Misfits has reportedly been renewed for a fourth series. The E4 drama has been given the go-ahead to begin work on new episodes before its third series has been concluded, according to Broadcast. Misfits follows a group of young people in community service who are coping with the problems which come with having various superpowers. The third series - which saw Joe Gilgun join the show to replace departing cast member Robert Sheehan - will end on Sunday night. Matthew McNulty, who first appeared in last year's Christmas special as Seth, has also become a recurring star in the show. The news comes after reports in October that Gossip Girl and The OC creator Josh Schwartz is developing an American remake of Misfits.

Channel Five has dropped its bid to take the fifth high definition channel slot on digital terrestrial television next year, throwing Ofcom's plans for the slot again 'into disarray.' In October, it emerged that Channel Five was considered the frontrunner to acquire the fifth HD channel slot on DTT, essentially Freeview, after Ofcom closed its deadline for applications. However, the regulator this week said that the Richard Desmond-owned broadcaster has now dropped plans to launch Channel Five HD on Freeview in April 2012, despite the channel already being available on Sky and Virgin Media. Mainly, because Five had sod all worth putting on an HD channel to justify the outlay, no doubt. A clearly irked Ofcom said that the spare capacity will now be handed back to the BBC, and it will be up to the corporation to decide the future of the additional HD network. 'Ofcom has been notified by Channel Five Broadcasting Limited that it does not wish to proceed with its application for the fifth HD capacity slot on digital terrestrial TV at the present time,' said Ofcom in a short - and terse - statement. 'Subject to any future Ofcom decision to re-advertise the slot, the capacity will remain with the Multiplex operator BBC Free-to-View Limited and can be used by it for BBC services or services provided by a third party via a commercial arrangement.' Freeview HD currently offers four HD channels - BBC1 HD, the BBC HD Channel (due to turn into the BBC2 HD under BBC plans), ITV HD and Channel Four HD - but a fifth channel is scheduled to launch in April next year. This latest development with Channel Five bears similarities to the last time that the broadcaster was supposed to launch its HD network on Freeview. After Channel Five failed to meet Ofcom's requirements for launch of Channel Five HD in March 2010, the capacity was handed back to the BBC, which enabled the surprise launch of BBC1 HD in October that year. The BBC now faces another dilemma over what to do with the spare capacity. It could maintain carriage of the BBC HD channel to provide an outlet for HD content from BBC3 and BBC4, or it could launch an entirely new network, possibly one dedicated to HD sport in time for the Olympics. Alternatively, an agreement could be reached with ITV, Channel Four or another third-party broadcaster to bring a different HD channel to Freeview.

A man has allegedly spent thirty hours driving on the M25 after getting lost. Dennis Leighton, eighty two, was heading to his daughter's home in Windsor from his residence in Swanley, Kent when he 'struggled with directions.' The pensioner set off on his journey on Monday at 7.30pm. A number plate-recognition camera caught Leighton in Dartford on Tuesday at 11.20am, but he was then reported as a missing person when he vanished afterwards. He was found in the early hours of Wednesday by police six miles from his daughter's house. In a somewhat 'dizzy and confused' state, no doubt. A police spokesman said: 'He had been driving around the south of the country, predominantly on the M25 but had also gone on to some A-roads in the area. He had stopped to catch up on some much needed sleep - we think in a motorway service area - before setting off again.'

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's Twenty Two Days of Christmas, dear blog reader. Christmas 1986 was a very strange time for yer actual Keith Telly Topping. A week earlier he'd just broken a metatarsal in his left foot on Byker Bridge at two o'clock in the morning during a rather ill-advised 'coming home at 2am, drunk, from a party' type malarkey. So, yer actual Keith Telly Topping had his actual foot in an actual plaster and was on actual crushes. Not a particularly cool look, it must be said. Still, in one area, it was a time of great joy in the Telly Topping household because one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite groups in the whole wide world at the time was at number one in the UK charts. Just six months earlier, yer actual Keith Telly Topping and some of his chums had had a brief kick-around with the self-styled Fish City Five in the car park at the Riverside, on Melbourne Street. The Housemartins were a band yer actual Keith Telly Topping saw five times during a fifteen months period from late 1985 to early 1987 and, each time, they played a bigger venue (the University, Ikons, the Riverside, the Mayfair and, finally, the City Hall), the only time in his life when yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been able to actually watch a band he liked go from almost total obscurity to the very toppermost of the poppermost charts in such a short space of time. So, here you are, dear blog reader, before Paul ran off to The Beautiful South, before Norman became a Fat Boy, before Stan became a literary icon and before Hughie's tragic run-in with the law. The fourth best band in Hull. Adopt a Housemartin. And every woman, every man, join the caravan. Of love.