Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week Twenty One: I Hate The Way You're So Sarcastic, And You're Not Very Bright

A former Scum of the World reporter has claimed that journalists at the now defunct, disgraced and disgraceful odious horrorshow of a newspaper 'regularly made up stories' and 'unethical practices were rife' because of 'a culture of fear' at the tabloid. No shit? The Scum of the World 'making stuff up'? Well, there's a revelation. Graham Johnson, who worked at the newspaper between 1995 and 1997 - part of which period saw it edited by oily smug twat Piers Morgan - claimed that 'many' employees carried out 'illegal operations' and 'fabricated articles' due to 'pressures from the top.' He told the BBC: 'You can't get through the day on a tabloid newspaper if you don't lie, if you don't deceive, if you're not prepared to use forms of blackmail or extortion or lean on people, you know, make people's lives a misery. You just have to deliver the story on time and on budget, and if you didn't then you'd get told off. The News of the World culture was driven by fear, because it's a hierarchy, it's a military operation, it's a seamless operation.' In the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, News International insisted that any illegal activities which may or may not have gone on (or otherwise) at the disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid were only carried out by a single 'rogue' reporter, a story they stuck to for four years before changing their tune. However, Johnson claims that 'many' employees 'regularly' obtained information for stories through the use of unethical practices and journalists would make up stories. 'Almost all stories that you worked on involved the use of private detectives and accessing various records, which were either illegal or confidential,' said Johnson. 'So for instance, medical records, bank accounts, telephone records – this kind of data. It was all a phone call away. Within a few days of working at the News of the World I was given several numbers for private detectives. I fabricated stories about drug dealers, neo-Nazis, people who were selling guns, people who were selling fake documents.' Johnson told the BBC that he 'could not justify' his actions but that the culture at the Scum of the World was 'partly to blame.' When approached by the BBC, News International declined to comment on the allegations. Probably trying to work out how they came blame it all on the vile and odious rascal Hunt, like as not.
George Osborne was dragged deeper into the furore over the Murdoch empire's links to government as it emerged that he 'entertained' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks for a weekend at his country residence as Rupert Murdoch was planning to take over BSkyB. Also present for the weekend at Dorneywood, the chancellor's grace and favour residence in Buckinghamshire, was Brooks's friend, Andy Coulson, the former Scum of the World editor, who at the time was working as David Cameron's director of communications inside Downing Street. Labour said that the gathering, at a time when the government was evaluating how to react to News Corp's eight billion smackers bid for the whole of BSkyB – the biggest in UK media history – 'raised fundamental questions' about Osborne's judgment. News of the weekend gathering will also increase pressure for Osborne to appear in person at the Leveson inquiry, in addition to David Cameron, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt, education secretary Michael Gove and other senior political figures, to answer questions about their links with the Murdoch team. So far, Osborne has been asked only to give written evidence, although his aides said that he would now 'be happy' to appear if asked. One is sure he would be happy. delighted, in fact. Details of the Dorneywood sojourn are contained in a lengthy written statement to the Leveson inquiry submitted by Coulson, who appeared before it on Thursday. Listing his meetings with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks during his time working for Cameron, Coulson said: 'My family and I also spent a weekend at Dorneywood in 2010 as a guest of George Osborne and his wife. Rebekah and her husband were also guests.' Osborne has made public four meetings with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks during 2010, three of them after the May general election. A spokesman for Osborne said that he 'believed' the Dorneywood meeting was one of those already declared by Osborne as having taken place with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks in September 2010. The location was not specified, and it was listed by the chancellor as having been a merely 'social' event. News of the Murdoch plan to take full control of BSkyB first broke in June 2010, with News Corp informing the European commission in early November of its intention to buy the shares it did not already own. Giving evidence to the inquiry on Friday, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said that, after 'briefly' discussing the BSkyB bid with Cameron at a dinner in December 2010, she had a 'more substantial conversation' with Osborne at a restaurant that month. The next day she e-mailed News Corp lobbyist Frédéric Michel saying that Osborne had expressed 'total bafflement' at Ofcom's latest response to the bid. But, she was not asked when in the witness box, about the weekend at Dorneywood or what was had discussed there. Mad Hattie Harman, Labour's deputy leader, said that the revelation raised serious questions. 'When senior members of a government are looking at a bid such as the BSkyB one they have not only to make sure they act impartially but that they are seen to be acting impartially. Spending a weekend together with a senior executive of the company seeking approval for a bid such as this is not acting in a way that will be seen to be impartial.' Osborne's aides claimed that 'no discussions' of the BSkyB bid took place. But, Labour MP Chris Bryant, a prominent critic of News International over phone-hacking, said: 'After all these revelations it feels like there were two halves of a single clan: in the political wing were Osborne, Cameron, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt, and in the media wing were well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, James Murdoch and Andy Coulson. They seem to have been completely blind to the ethical considerations and to have forgotten that in government they are there for the whole country and not just for the clan.' Labour also plans to raise questions about whether the home secretary, Theresa May, sent a message to commiserate with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks after she resigned. In a speech to the Blairite pressure group Progress, Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi renewed calls for the lack of culture secretary to resign over suggestions that he operated 'a secret back channel' to News Corp. Milimolimandi said: 'One of the reasons so many people hate politics so much right now is that they think politicians stand up for the wrong people, not the right people. This is a clear example of that – Jeremy Hunt was standing up for Rupert Murdoch, not for the public interest.' And, taking it up the back channel, as it were. Allegedly.

It might not be the cheeriest of times these days, what with the financial crisis and whatnot, but the recession has sparked a golden age of comedy on British television. At least, according to the Gruniad Morning Star. Quite how a bunch of po-faced professional offence takers such as they would know a decent joke if it got up and gave them a haircut is another matter entirely. Commissioning editors have, they not, 'woken up to the fact that viewers want to be entertained by traditional comedies packed with jokes and well-known actors.' Sky is ordering new comedies for all its entertainment networks – Sky Arts, Sky Living and Sky Atlantic – after scoring several comedy successes on Sky1. 'Comedy is definitely something that works well in a recession,' said Stuart Murphy, director of Sky Entertainment. Sky's latest offering, Starlings, starts on Sunday featuring Brendan Coyle and Lesley Sharp. It is about a 'madcap extended family' and is Sky1's ninth new series in as many months. Another show, Spy, about a bumbling father who stumbles into MI5, starring Robert Lindsay, has won actor Darren Boyd a nomination for a BAFTA award this month. Kenton Allen, a former head of comedy for BBC North, whose independent production company makes Rev for BBC2, said: 'For most of my professional life, comedy has struggled to find favour with broadcasters, with only the BBC never dropping its commitment. Now all the four main networks – ITV, the BBC, Channel Four and Sky, plus UKTV – want comedy. That is a once in a lifetime opportunity for comedy. It is a golden age,' said Allen, who estimates that production is double that of five years ago. Elaine Bedell, ITV's director of entertainment and comedy, confirmed that ITV has decided to try its luck again at traditional half-hour sitcoms after a long absence. Its only comedy in the current schedule is the ageing comedy-drama Benidorm, which nevertheless attracts a regular six million viewers. Bedell said: 'Comedy is a very warm place for an audience to spend up to sixty minutes. There is no question people are yearning for it. It can be a ratings gold dust if you get it right.' ITV has also noted the success in America of ABC's Modern Family and the effect that The Inbetweeners has had on Channel Four's ratings and on the profits that it will report tomorrow. 'ITV has deliberately created a new weekly half-hour slot at 8.30pm on Thursdays, where it wants to run family-appealing comedy in place of Coronation Street. Sky is making a big noise in comedy and it certainly helped my case,' noted Bedell. Allen's company, Big Talk Productions, is making The Job Lot for ITV about life in a Job Centre, starring Russell Tovey, and also makes Chickens, about young men dodging the call-up during the first world war. Shane Allen, Channel Four's head of comedy, who is doubling output, said: 'Sky has rolled its tanks on to the BBC and ITV lawns.' He said the new C4 Ricky Gervais comedy, Derek, about an animal-loving care home worker, showed the appetite for 'warmer' comedy - almost certainly the first time that a Ricky Gervais vehicle has ever been described as such. But the pool of top comedy talent is shallow after years of relative neglect, so maintaining quality is a challenge. Bedell said: 'There are fewer accomplished and experienced producers. I hope supply and demand will take effect.' BSkyB is doubling Sky TV's programme budget to six hundred million knicker a year by 2014, and spending on comedy is expected to rise close to the BBC's sixty million quid a year budget spent on its one hundred and twenty hours of comedy. The new competition is challenging BBC1 especially, and pitches for new shows have declined, but it does have a clutch of hits, led by Miranda, Mrs Brown's Boys, Absolutely Fabulous and the soon to arrive Citizen Khan. Cheryl Taylor, the BBC head of comedy, said: 'It's not a crisis for us. It is a challenge. Of course, it impacts on us. We are adjusting, we are making Miranda, Mrs Brown's Boys, Citizen Khan ourselves, in studio, in house, and our commissioning practices have to change. We are fast tracking and thinking ahead.' Toby Syfret, broadcasting analyst at Enders Analysis, is none the less worried about the BBC's ability to supply distinctive public service programmes. 'If Sky gets the writers and off-screen talent. that is a potential threat. Sky is an attractive place for talent to work. Pay television is the least dependent on large audiences and ratings. It doesn't really matter if the audience is low, because they are attracting a subscription (ninety per cent of its income). Once they commission you, they let you get on with it. It is a less structured environment than the BBC.' Two years ago Sky recruited the BBC's comedy expert, Lucy Lumsden, who was responsible for Little Britain and Gavin & Stacey. All of her Sky comedies have immediately been reordered for second series, including the excellent Little Crackers, the risible, dreadful Trollied, Mount Pleasant, Spy, The Cafe, Stella and This is Jinsy, a BBC3 pilot picked up by Sky featuring a daft talent show judged by a dog. Stella, the ten-part series set in Wales, written by and starring the hugely over-rated Ruth Jones, is the channel's biggest hit. Murphy said: 'It's about getting back to writers on a script, not leaving it on a desk for six months. Approaching people. No one had asked Ruth Jones out to dinner. The BBC have a duty to nurture new talent.' However, as Taylor points out, BBC1's hit Mrs Brown's Boys, in which Brendan O'Carroll plays a loudmouthed Irish matriarch, attracted 7.2 million viewers per episode on screening, seven times the best Sky performance, and has massive DVD sales as well. 'For writers and actors, heritage and reputation play a crucial role in these energetic times,' she said.

Jessie J has been accused of 'snubbing' BBC1's controller after he tried to congratulate her on The Voice's success. The singer allegedly refused to speak to Danny Cohen and left him standing outside her dressing room, the Mirra claims. Mind you, if the Mirra told me black was a colour darker than white, I'd be asking for a second opinion, frankly. The scum tabloid claims that Ms J is, consequently, facing 'being axed' from The Voice, allegedly, after staff allegedly branded her an, alleged, 'diva' who has, allegedly, become 'impossible' to work with. It is alleged. 'Jessie is getting far too big for her boots. Nobody can believe what an impossible diva she has become. It was extraordinary, Danny is the most senior man at BBC1 and The Voice is his baby,' an alleged 'source' has allegedly said. 'He was the man who gave Jessie J a job and turned her into a household name, so nobody could believe it when she left him standing outside in the corridor like a lemon. It was made clear that she was too busy to see him. It's not a smart move to do that to the man who makes the big decisions. Everybody else at the studio was bending over backwards to be nice to Danny, but Jessie didn't seem to care who he was.' Jessie J is previously alleged to have, allegedly, angered producers after allegedly describing elements of the show as 'lame' and admitting that she didn't watch the series after it was recorded. Alleged 'sources' also allegedly criticised the coach, who is said to earn a six-figure sum for her role on The Voice for, allegedly, being unapproachable and arriving late to the studio with a huge entourage. She also told Closer magazine that she would never audition for the show, saying: 'I wouldn't enter myself. I feel like I've worked hard enough to stay here, even if I end up behind closed doors doing make-up. I'll always be around.' The BBC last night insisted that Cohen has a 'good relationship' with all of the show's stars.

Ashleigh and Pudsey have won this year's Britain's Got Talent. The dog dancing act was announced by hosts Ant and/or Dec as the act with the most votes to win by the viewing public, ahead of second-placed singing duo Jonathan and Charlotte. A tearful Ashleigh told Ant and/or Dec upon hearing the result: 'A massive thank you to everyone that voted for us. I'm just proud of Pudsey. Thank you so much.'
Pudsey, himself, didn't say much.

Here's yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 19 May
Team Jessie - providing, of course, that Jess herself hasn't got the old tin-tack by then - and Team Danny take the stage again in The Voice - 6:30 BBC1. They will be first in a group performances with their coaches and then individually - and as with last week, each team will face a double elimination, leaving the mentors with two acts to take through to the semi-final. Waste-of-space Holly Willoughby and Reggie Yates present the show, while Tom Jones talks about all the people he's duetted with and says 'dope' a lot. They'll also, possibly, comment on Becky, Cassius, Toni, Vince, Aleks, Bo, David and Max's performances. The results can be seen tomorrow at 7.25pm.

Grumpy odious bucket of greed and breakfast TV flop Adrian Chiles presents coverage of The Champions League Final between Bayern München and crack Russian side Moscow Chelski FC at the Allianz Arena, where European club football's premier competition concludes for the season. Bayern have won this trophy on four previous occasions, the last in 2001, and they have the advantage of playing at their own stadium against the Blues. Moscow Chelski are looking to win the tournament for the first time in their history, and they need to do so if they are to play in the competition again next season, after finishing sixth in the Premier League this time around behind yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Newcastle. One knows, of course, that it's traditional in such circumstances to want the English (or, in this case, the Russian) side to win. But, this is Moscow Chelski FC we're talking about so, therefore, achtung, baby. With commentary by Clive Tyldesley and the risible, pointless Andy Townsend, and analysis by Roy Keane, Gianfranco Zola and Gareth Southgate. Subsequent programmes are subject to change, unless Bayern get a hat full. So, here's hoping.

The complex trail of clues finally leads the police to a man they believe could be the killer in The Bridge - 9:00 BBC4. Gradually all the pieces to the complicated puzzle are put in place - the clues and evidence in the investigation have led the police to a man who could be the murderer. Now they wait tensely for his next move, which for Martin, who has finally managed to become reconciled with his son August, will turn out to be more personal than he ever could have imagined. Until, of course, the case takes a brutal twist that has terrifying consequences for Martin and Saga. Then, in the final episode of the series, the case reaches a terrifying conclusion as Martin realises he is the killer's final target. He joins his colleagues to search for the villain, but faces a race against time to prevent any further bloodshed. Meanwhile, Saga refuses to let what happened in the garden deter her from her pursuit for justice. Superb thriller, in Danish and Swedish, starring Kim Bodnia and Sofia Helin.

And, we were wondering a couple of weeks ago when the Qi: XL editions of the two recently shown 'new-but-not-new' episodes of Qi would appear. Well, as it happens, yer actual Stephen Fry presents an extended edition of one them at 10:20 on BBC2 this very night. It's the Immortal Bard one celebrating the Cultural Olympiad. Stephen, in his own unique way asks Bill Bailey, David Mitchell, Sue Perkins and regular panellist Alan Davies (all of them wearing very silly costumes) questions about renowned playwright Shakespeare. That's renowned playwright William Shakespeare, in case you were wondering, or thought it might have been renowned playwright Steve Shakespeare.

Sunday 20 May
Tonight's episode of Planet Earth Live - 8:00 BBC1 - is the penultimate update on how all of the young animals are getting on. Yer actual Richard Hammond is still in Kenya - and, probably, still sheltering from the rain - where lion cub Moja and his mother continue to fight the threat of starvation with no pride to protect them. Meanwhile an elephant calf's family is in disarray as its herd has lost its leader. Meanwhile, Julia Bradbury has the latest from Minnesota, where bear cubs Herbie and Fern are relying on their inexperienced mother as they face one danger after another. Plus, there's also updates on the macaque monkeys in Sri Lanka, the grey whales in the Pacific and the otters of the Amazon. Concludes on Thursday.

Coast - 9:00 BBC2 - continues to explore the lifestyles and history of some of the most extreme locations in Britain. Nick Crane visits the Isles of Scilly, Ruth Goodman - on loan from The ONE Show - walks the dangerous path traversed daily by the Branscombe Cliff farmers in Devon, while Mark Horton investigates the Transatlantic Telegraph service, and Hermione Cockburn learns how the fossil of a large sea creature found at St David's Head, Pembrokeshire, shaped understanding of Earth's history. Wither Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) and Doctor Alice Roberts the Goddess of punk archaeology, I hear you bellow, dear blog reader? Don't ask me, pal, I only watch the damn thing.

The investigation into the murder of twenty nine-year-old Niall is made difficult by those closest to him, who seem intent on obscuring the facts, and it is not until the body of a drug dealer washes up on a beach that the dreadful truth begins to emerge in Vera - 8:00 ITV. While coping with revelations of her own, Vera sifts through evidence of the grief, love and addiction that characterised Niall's life as she tries to find out why someone wanted him dead. Guest starring Judy Parfitt (Call the Midwife) and Phyllis Logan (Downton Abbey) alongside Brenda Blethyn. Last in the current series. Ratings suggest another one won't be very long in being commissioned.

Norway Massacre: The Survivors - 9:00 Channel Five - tells the story of notorious mass murderer and Nazi shithead Anders Breivik's killing spree in Norway on 22 July 2011. One hopes that it isn't told in a typically Channel Five tabloidesque way although previous documentaries of this type don't, exactly, inspire confidence that what we'll get will be balanced, thoughtful, and insightful. Anyway, this claims to trace events as they unfolded. Survivors of the Utoya Island massacre and the Oslo bomb blast discuss their experiences, and members of the emergency services recall how they helped the injured. A further personal perspective is provided by a cabbie who drove Breivik on the day of the atrocities - and recalls him as 'a pleasant man' who talked of settling down and becoming a farmer. Oh, so that's all right then. That excuses the murder of seventy seven innocent people, it would seem.

Monday 21 May
When yer actual Keith Telly Topping was at college taking history back in the early 1980s one of his tutors was a dear old chap called Ron Prendergast. One night several of us in the class took Ron out for a beer and did the old 'daddy what did you do in the war?' thing. The story that he told us was one of still raw bitterness of how, as a raw twenty year old he'd gone straight from basic training and arrived in Singapore on 9 February 1942, six days before Arthur Percival's surrender. He spent the next two years in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp. 'I never got to fire a single fucking shot,' he said and recalled that he, and all of his comrades, some of whom didn't survive their internment all, to a man, blamed prime minister Winston Churchill for the 'idiotic' decision to reinforce Singapore as a time when it should have been obvious that it was soon to fall. So, anyway, The Fall of Singapore: The Great Betrayal - 9:00 BBC2 - is a rather fine looking documentary looking back at two military disasters, Pearl Harbour and the fall of Singapore. This allegedly reveals how it was British spies, in the pay of the Japanese, who gave them access to the information which they needed for both operations, thanks to spies who had been working for the country for almost twenty years before the surrender. To make matters worse, the Japanese also infiltrated the heart of the British establishment through a mole, who was a peer of the realm known to Winston Churchill himself.

Michael Apted continues the documentary 56 Up - 9:00 ITV - which catches up with a group of Britons whose lives have been chronicled since the age of seven. Having last spoken to the cameras in 2005, the participants return to discuss the highs and lows of getting older, reveal whether they have achieved their ambitions at the age of fifty six and reflect on their appearances in previous instalments of the landmark series.
It's all social history documentaries tonight, dear blog reader. Nothing wrong with that, of course. A repeat, but a very worthwhile one, is Timewatch: The Last Day of World War One. Broadcaster Michael Palin tells the story of how the First World War ended on 11 November 1918, and reveals that soldiers continued to be killed in battle for several hours after the armistice had been signed. Recounting the events of the days and hours leading up to the eleven o'clock ceasefire, Palin tells the personal stories of some of those last troops to die.
Roundhead or Cavalier - 9:00 BBC4 - is an investigation into whether the divisions created during the English Civil War in the Seventeenth Century are still evident in modern British society. Of course, wasn't it the great Jeremy Hardy who noted that the English Civil War was one of the most important events in shaping our nation probably in its entire history and yet, these days, hardly anyone seems to know much about it apart from the haircuts of those involved: 'One lot looked like Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen, the other lot like The Grumbleweeds so it all kicked-off big style!' It's been retold as a simple political division between merry-making, privileged Cavaliers and methodical, disciplined Roundheads, but there was much more to it as this engagingly different history programme shows. Don't be put off when it skips through the facile lowlands early on, it soon serves tasty chunks of history and opinion. The idea is to play off the two sides and their supporters so we get potted histories of the Civil War and Oliver Cromwell. The result is a fascinating and frustrating film that's full of clever ideas. Although it ducks as many questions as James Murdoch at the Leveson Inquiry, the programme manages to stay ahead of expectations and find relevance in contemporary Britain.The programme explores how the Royalists and Parliamentarians' differing attitudes to democracy, monarchy and individuality influenced the lives of Britons for centuries afterwards, and features contributions by Lord Snooty Julian Fellowes, AS Byatt, Philippa Gregory and faceache, horrorshow (and drag) Ann Widdecombe. No 'common people', though. Narrated by Helen McCrory.

Tuesday 22 May
Martha appears at a court martial to represent Army captain Ed Ryan, who has been accused of disobeying an order that resulted in the death of a nineteen-year-old private in Silk - 9:00 BBC1. Meanwhile, Clive is offered some exciting prosecution work by notorious QC Caroline Warwick and Billy warns him to keep his relationship with solicitor George Duggan on a strictly professional level. Maxine Peake, Rupert Penry-Jones, Neil Stuke and Phil Davis star, with a guest appearance by Matthew McNulty.

Following a professional hit at a law firm, Catherine suspects Ceressus has hired a team of assassins to eliminate anyone who knows of its activities in CSI - 9:00 Channel Five. She fears she may be in the firing line along with her best friend Laura. Crime drama, guest starring Annabeth Gish (Brotherhood), with Marg Helgenberger.
Harlots, Housewives & Heroines: A Seventeenth Century History for Girls - 9:00 BBC4 - sees the cult figure of funny-faced Lucy Worsley (and her really rather endearing lisp) examining the lives of women in Restoration England. Lucy discovers how some of these women were able to thrive as British society started to move into the modern age - even if the attitudes which prevailed remained largely medieval and misogynistic. She begins by profiling Charles II's mistresses, including actress Nell Gwynn, royalist Barbara Villiers and French spy Louise de Keroualle, and explores the extent to which they were in control of their own destinies.
In next week's second episode Lucy explores the ordinary as well as the extraordinary lives of women in the home. This was an age when respectable women were defined by their marital status as maids, wives or widows. If they fell outside these categories they were in danger of being labelled whores - or at worst, witches. While history has left many women voiceless over the centuries, Lucy discovers that in the Restoration a surprising number of women were beginning to question their roles in relationship to their husbands; their position in the home; their attitudes to sex and - most importantly - the expectation to produce children.

Highlights, if there are any, from the first series of the comedy panel game The Matt Lucas Awards can be seen at 10:35 BBC1. In this Matt Lucas - who used to be funny many years ago when he was working with Vic and Bob but now, not so much - invites guests to make nominations for imaginary awards including Dullest Pastime, Ghastliest Holiday Destination and Smuggest Nation of People. About as bad as it sounds, frankly. Featuring contributions by Matt's mum Diana and musical sidekick David Arnold. Last in the series.

Wednesday 23 May
Hitler's Children - 9:00 BBC2 - is a documentary exploring how the descendants of several prominent members of the Nazi regime, including military commander Heinrich Himmler and Hitler's right-hand man Hermann Goering, coped - and continue to cope - with the weight of their ancestors' crimes against humanity. The programme asks whether, with such tarnished family names, it has been possible to move on in life.

A professor feels humiliated when her Internet dating video is leaked onto a website and watched by her students in Lewis - 8:00 ITV. The next morning she is found dead, the victim of what appears to be a straightforward suicide. However, Lewis is not convinced and digs deeper, identifying several suspects including the site's founder. But as he and Hathaway get closer to the truth amid a rising death toll, they find their personal and professional lives dredged up online for all to see. Guest starring Roxanne McKee (from Game of Thrones) and the great Toby Stephens - whom, one imagines, will be playing the villain since he usually does! - with Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox.

Richard Bacon and David James count down the most inspirational, ridiculous and surprising incidents from the past twenty-plus years of the European Football Championships in Euros' Most Shocking Moments - 10:00 BBC3. They include England's warm-up game against Aylesbury in 1988, Stuart Pearce scoring his penalty against Spain in the Euro '96 quarter-final, and the Germans later winning the trophy at Wembley. Kuntz. All of them. With contributions from Frankie Cocozza (who?), Reverend and The Makers (no, me neither), Ricky Norwood (still nothing, I'm afraid), Jaap Stam (who remains an ugly man ... damn good centre half though), Peter Schmeichel, Uri Geller, Alan Smith and Stefan Kuntz. I say, steady on.

Brennan and Booth uncover a bitter, century-old war between two families when a corpse is discovered, with biological evidence that suggests the deceased had two different ages in the latest episode of Bones - The Family In The Feud - 9:00 Sky Living. The duo believe the murderer is the head of a mining company keen to access the victim's land, but another suspect emerges in the form of a mysterious blonde. Meanwhile, Brennan struggles to find day-care for baby Christine.

Thursday 24 May
Richard Hammond and Julia Bradbury present the final round-up from Kenya, Minnesota, California, Sri Lanka and the Amazon, in Planet Earth Live - 8:00 BBC1 - revealing how the lions, elephants, bears, macaque monkeys, otters and meerkats have been getting on, and looking ahead to see what the future holds for these young creatures.
The Eiger: Wall of Death - 9:00 BBC4 - is an in-depth examination of the mountain in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland, which at thirteen thousand and twenty five feet, is one of Europe's most notorious peaks, especially its infamous north face. The documentary explores its history and provides testimonies of those who have climbed its forbidding slopes and the people who live in its shadow.

Scott Mills and Sara Cox present coverage of the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest - 8:00 BBC3 - from the Crystal Hall in Baku, Azerbaijan, which gives UK viewers their first chance to vote in this year's competition. Many pundits have tipped Swedish singer Loreen to take the title with her dance anthem Euphoria, but she must first secure one of the ten qualification spots available from tonight's heat. Others with high hopes of earning a place in Saturday's final include Serbian Eurovision veteran Zeljko Joksimovic, who finished second in 2004, as well as Norwegian star Tooji and Turkish singer-songwriter Can Bonomo. Joan Franka is aiming to be the first Dutch act to make the final since 2004, while Slovakian rock singer Max Jason Mai and flamboyant Georgian Anri Jokhadze are among the outsiders worth keeping an eye on. Watch out, too, to see if the Moldovans have been on the very hard drugs again this year as they were two years ago with the silly hats and the girl on the unicycle playing a trumpet. The programme also features interviews with some of the acts who have already qualified, as well as Engelbert Humperdinck's first impressions of Azerbaijan's capital. 'Full of Azerbaijanis,' I'm guessing.

Jimmy Savile presents an edition of Top of the Pops from 12 May 1977 - 7:30 BBC4 - featuring performances by Honky, Blue, Trinidad Oil Company, Simon May, Martyn Ford, Mud, Billy Paul, Dr Feelgood, Barbra Streisand, 10cc, Kenny Rogers, Deniece Williams, and dance troupe Legs & Co. As it happens. No Shu-Wuddy-Wuddy, however. Tragic. Tune in for the next episode, however, and you'll be watching The Jam's 'effervescent new forty-five.'
And the world would never, quite, be the same again.

Friday 25 May
Team captain David Mitchell is joined by newsreader Huw Edwards and comedienne Wor Sarah Millican, while his working class oik counterpart Lee Mack welcomes popular TV presenter and actor Bradley Walsh and actress Josie Lawrence in Would I Lie To You? - 8:30 BBC1. Host Rob Brydon oversees proceedings as the contestants try to hoodwink their opponents with absurd facts and plausible lies about themselves on the comedy panel show.

Meanwhile, in a truly extraordinary development, William Shatner guest-hosts Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1 - the satirical current affairs quiz, with regular team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton joined by panellists the great Charlie Brooker and and the equally great Andy Hamilton to poke fun at the week's news. Don't miss this one or you might never find another one like it.
In The Great British Story: A People's History - 9:00 BBC2 - Michael Wood explores the nation's past, working with local communities to tap into their extraordinary knowledge and archives. He begins with the period spanning the end of Roman times to the coming of the Anglo Saxons in the eighth century, travelling round the country to a communal dig in Suffolk, reading Roman letters on Tyneside, viewing Dark Age sculptures in Govan, Glasgow, and seeing the earliest manuscript of Bede's History of the English, written in 731.

And so to the news: FOX has ordered a pilot of hit ITV quiz show The Chase. Host Bradley Walsh will reportedly film a US version of the programme next week, when FOX will fly American contestants to the UK studios. Producers hope Walsh will follow in the footsteps of the vile Jeremy Kyle, the odious Piers Morgan and the nasty Anne Robinson to become a big name Stateside. Unlikely, since Bradley actually seems quite a nice bloke. 'This is the big time for Bradley now. It could be huge,' an alleged 'source' allegedly told the Sun. Which probably gives you an idea of how much faith to put in this 'source', dear blog reader. 'Telly is a big deal in America and they love Brits - look at Anne Robinson, Piers Morgan.' Yeah. Poor, sad, deluded people. The Chase sees four contestants work as a team to amass as much wonga as possible, before battling against a quiz genius known as The Chaser to take the money home. It has not yet been decided if the UK Chasers - Mark Labbett, Shaun Wallace, Anne Hegerty and Paul Sinha - will star in the US version.

When John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, ordered beef served between slices of bread about two hundred and fifty years ago he probably did not think that his request would become a global convenience meal. The story goes that the Earl asked for the particular serving so that he could eat while continuing to play cards and his friends asked 'to have the same as Sandwich', according to the British Sandwich Association. The first written record of the sandwich was in 1762 and the Kent town of Sandwich, which is the earldom of the Montagu family, is celebrating the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the meal. Sir Edward Montagu, a prominent naval commander, became the first Earl of Sandwich when he was offered a peerage in 1660. Steve Laslett, one of the organisers of the Sandwich Celebration Festival, said Sir Edward chose the title because 'at the time Sandwich was the premiere sea port in England. When he was offered the earldom he could have chosen Portsmouth but he chose Sandwich - today we could be eating a Portsmouth.' So long as it's a ham, cheese and onion toasted Protsmouth, I couldn't care less, frankly. Laslett added: 'The fourth earl was a complex character. He's First Lord of the Admiralty three times but he was a bit of a lad and he did stay up all night playing cards on many occasions.' Foodsmith Sam Bompas said the Earl of Sandwich was eating with his fingers 'when cutlery was de rigueur. Eating of record at the time was service á la française where all the food went on the table at the same time and there was an elaborate ritual of carving, aided by troops of servants,' said Bompas. 'What you have with the sandwich is the shock of informality. He was a daring man to eat in such a way coming from his social background.' Bompas added that he found it odd that the sandwich did not exist before the Earl of Sandwich ordered meat between slices of bread. 'Other people were probably eating in that way anyway but they were people who weren't written about,' he said. The common people, in other words. Scum the likes or you and me, dear blog reader, rather than the Nobs. Some things, it would seem, never change. Over the weekend the East Kent town hosts sandwich-making competitions and re-enactments of the moment the fourth Earl of Sandwich asked for the food in bread. Sandwich Celebration Festival organiser Mandy Wilkins said it had had interest from around the world, including America, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, France and Russia. But, not the Federated States of Mirconesia so it's not right round the world, is it? Wilkins said: 'The sandwich is a global food and Sandwich, our town, is just a little town full of medieval buildings. It's bizarre that such an important food item should be named after us.' On Sunday the Eleventh Earl of Sandwich hosts a lunch in Sandwich. John Montagu said: 'I am delighted to wish a happy two hundred and fiftieth birthday to the sandwich. My ancestor, the fourth earl, could never have imagined that his simple invention would spawn a multi-billion dollar industry, employing hundreds of thousands of people in this country.' According to the British Sandwich Association the industry employs more than three hundred thousand people in the UK and has a commercial value of over six billion knicker. Montagu added: 'My favourite sandwich is a traditional one: roast beef and hot horseradish on freshly baked bread.' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's is tiger prawns and chicken with thick butter in half a Gregg's stottie, personally. But then, yer actual keith Telly Topping is one of 'The Common People' and, thus, the Nobs don't want to know.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Newcastle United's manager Alan Pardew has been named the Premier League manager of the season, while Sheikh Yer Man City's captain Vincent Kompany has taken the players' prize. Newcastle are currently fifth in the league and targeting a Champions League place in Sunday's final game at Everton. 'It's been a magnificent achievement by everyone at this club,' said Pardew. Kompany has been a key man in City's defence as they close in on their first title since 1968. On Sunday's final day of the season, leaders City host Queen's Park Strangers knowing victory should see them clinch the title because of their superior goal difference to neighbours The Scum. Newcastle cannot finish lower than fifth this season, meaning they will end the campaign ahead of both Moscow Chelski FC and 'top six club' Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws. They are aiming to overtake The Arse and Stottingtot Hotshots to the third and automatic Champions League spot. Pardew added: 'The pinnacle of the game is the Champions League. To actually be competing for it is more than we imagined. To have that opportunity [of Champions League qualification] is something that doesn't come along very often, and we want to try to grasp it.' Pardew took over The Magpies in December 2010 following the sacking of the popular Chris Hughton, when the team was in mid-table in the Premier League having been newly promoted from the Championship - they eventually finished the season in twelfth place (although, but for surrendering a three goal lead against West Bromwich Albinos on the last day of the 2010-2011 season, they would have been eighth. Pardew has taken the club to the verge of Champions League qualification this season, with his signings, particularly strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse and French midfielder Yohan Cabaye, proving influential. Kompany took the players' award for his performances in a Sheikh Yer Man City defence which has conceded just twenty seven goals in thirty seven games, helping them to establish a superior, and potentially decisive, goal difference of eight in comparison to The Scum. City have kept seventeen clean sheets this season and their winner in the crucial 1-0 win over United at the end of last month was scored by Kompany. The Belgian international tweeted: 'I'm really grateful but I must say straight away that I wish I could share this award in particular with my defensive partners. They are all incredible - Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, Joleon Lescott - and those not on Twitter. The prize is theirs!'

Some very sad news now. Bass guitarist Donald Duck Dunn, who played with Booker T & The MGs, has died in Tokyo aged seventy. The MGs, a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping, were the house band for Stax Records during the 1960s, and Dunn can be heard on, literally, hundreds of songs such as Otis Redding's 'Respect' and Sam & Dave's 'Hold On, I'm Comin' as well as The MGs own hits like 'Soul Limbo' and 'Time Is Tight'. He was in Japan for a series of concerts, and had played two shows on Saturday night. His friend and band mate Steve Cropper, said Dunn had died in his sleep. 'Today I lost my best friend,' Cropper wrote on his Facebook page. 'The World has lost the best guy and bass player to ever live.' Miho Harasawa, a spokeswoman for Tokyo Blue Note, the last venue Dunn played, confirmed he died alone early Sunday. She had no further details. Born in Memphis on 24 November 1941, Dunn started playing bass at the age of sixteen. 'I tried the guitar but it had two strings too many,' he famously wrote on his website. 'It was just too complicated! Plus, I grew up with Steve Cropper. There were so many good guitar players; another one wasn't needed. What was needed was a bass.' Dunn met Cropper in high school, where the two formed their first band, The Royal Spades. After changing their name to The Mar-Keys, they scored a regional hit in 1961 with the instrumental 'Last Night'. In 1964, Cropper invited Dunn to join The MGs, by then already the house band for Stax Records. Dunn's distinctive grooves underpinned dozens of hit records for the legendary Stax label - including 'Soul Man', 'Walking The Dog', 'Sweet Soul Music', 'In The Midnight Hour' and 'Try A Little Tenderness' as well as The MGs own work. Dunn also performed on recordings with Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Albert King, Neil Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett, Guy Sebastian, Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Roy Buchanan and Arthur Conley. He joined the MGs in 1964, replacing their original bassist Lewie Steinberg, to form what most fans consider to be the band's classic line-up with Booker T Jones, Steve Cropper and drummer the late Al Jackson. The MGs were also one of the most harmoniously integrated groups in soul music, since Cropper and Dunn were white and Jones and Jackson were black. Dunn said it was, simply, never an issue and that his three colleagues were, also, his best friends. 'We were recording almost a hit a day for a while there,' Dunn said. 'But I never knew how popular that music was until I came to England with Otis Redding in 1967.' That tour, which also featured Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd and Arthur Conley, was feted by Britain's rock royalty - many of whom had been influenced by the Stax house band. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, John Mayall, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend, and The Beatles all attended shows and, according to legend, The Beatles sent limousines to pick up the Stax crew each night after the shows. In return, Booker T & The MGs covered the entire Beatles' Abbey Road LO. Their version was called McLemore Avenue, which was the address of the Stax studio complex, and the cover mimicked the Fab Four's famous zebra crossing photo. The band later provided backing for the John Lennon solo song 'Beef Jerky'. In his later career, Dunn played himself in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers, and its 2000 sequel. The MGs were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and Dunn received a lifetime achievement Grammy award in 2007. Here's Booker, Steve, Al and Don doing a really powerful version of 'Green Onions' on British telly in 1967.

Which brings us to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. This one's for everyone with an inflated sense of their own importance. Including this blogger.