Sunday, May 27, 2012

Week Twenty Three: The Nights Will Blow You Away Cos The Sun Don't Shine

Stars from the world of television are readying themselves for the BAFTA awards on Sunday evening, where contenders in the drama field include Appropriate Adult and Sherlock. ITV's Appropriate Adult, which starred Dominic West as the serial killer Fred West, is vying for the most awards, after receiving four nominations. BBC1 series Sherlock and gritty Channel Four drama This Is England '88 received three nominations each. The awards ceremony in London will be hosted by yer actual Dara O'Briain. In the leading actor category, Dominic West will take on Benedict Cumberbatch, who is nominated for his role as Sherlock Holmes for the second year running, plus John Simm, who is named for his role in Exile and This is England '88's Joseph Gilgun. Last year the best actor award went to Daniel Rigby for his performance as Eric Morecambe in BBC4's Eric and Ernie. Emily Watson is nominated in the best actress category, alongside Romola Garai for The Crimson Petal and the White, Nadine Marshall for Channel Four's Random and Vicky McClure for her astonishing performance as Lol in This Is England '88. McClure won the BAFTA last year for the same role in This Is England '86. During the event artist, presenter and pan-continental national icon Rolf Harris and Sherlock and Doctor Who supremo and El Presidente yer actual The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) will both receive special awards. Harris will be presented with a BAFTA fellowship recognising his 'outstanding and exceptional contribution to television', while Moffat will receive the Dennis Potter BAFTA writers award for 'outstanding creative writing contribution to television.' Five-time BAFTA winner Dame Maggie Smith is nominated in the best supporting actress category for Downton Abbey. She will go up against comedian Miranda Hart, who starred in Call the Midwife, The Hour's Anna Chancellor and Monica Dolan for Appropriate Adult. In the best supporting actor category, Sherlock's best friend and his nemesis will be competing against each other. Last year's winner Martin Freeman, who plays John Watson and cast mate Andrew Scott as the villainous Jim Moriaty, have both been nominated, alongside Joseph Mawle for Birdsong and Stephen Rea for his amazing performance as the hit man Gatehouse in The Shadow Line. Misfits, [spooks], The Fades and Scott & Bailey will compete for the best drama series prize. Appropriate Adult, about the serial killer who was charged with twelve murders committed over twenty years, is nominated for best mini-series. It is up against The Crimson Petal And The White, This Is England '88 and Top Boy. Coronation Street and EastEnders face Holby City and Shameless in the soap and continuing drama category. The prize last year was won by EastEnders. Ceremony host O'Briain is up for best comedy performance for Mock The Week, and will face last year's winner Graham Norton, Alan Carr and previous two-time winner Harry Hill. A new category - reality and constructed factual - has been introduced this year and will be contested by An Idiot Abroad, Don't Tell The Bride, Made In Chelsea and Young Apprentice. And, if you watch any of those, dear blog reader, then you should be effing-well ashamed of yourselves. I'm just sayin' ... Viewers have been voting in the audience award category, with Celebrity Juice, Educating Essex, Fresh Meat, Frozen Planet, Sherlock and The Great British Bake Off competing for public support.

Favourite Loreen has triumphed for Sweden at the fifty seventh Eurovision Song Contest, with her techno club song 'Euphoria'. The former Swedish Idol contestant led the competition from early on in the voting at Baku, challenged only by Russia's novelty act Buranovo Grannies, Serbia and the hosts Azerbaijan. British rubbish entry Engelbert Humperdinck, who opened the contest with his limp and woeful ballad 'Love Will Set You Free', finished a risible second from last. The seventy six-year-old claimed that he 'did the best for my country.' But, his best clearly wasn't good enough. 'I've had many highs in my career and Eurovision has been a wonderful experience,' said loser Bert. 'I want to thank everybody, especially my fans around the world for their words of support. I did the best for my country, the rest was out of my hands.' However, at least the British star was spared the ultimate humiliation of 'nul points.' The crooner, who has sold more than one hundred and fifty million records worldwide - although not many of those in the last thirty years - received twelve points from Estonia, Latvia, Belgium and Ireland. The UK has not won the competition since 1997 and has come last three times in the past ten years. There were crassly over-optimistic hopes for Humperdinck given his alleged 'huge' global fan base, but his draw as first to sing in the contest seemingly proved detrimental. At least, that's our excuse and we're sticking to it. Twenty six countries took part in the final in Azerbaijan's spectacular Crystal Hall, in front of a live audience of some twenty thousand. Up to one hundred and twenty five million typically watch the annual contest on television across Europe and beyond. Loreen racked up a massive three hundred and seventy two points on the leader board, leaving a trail of disappointed contenders in her wake. A combination of points from televoting and national juries decides the winner. Each country awards points to ten competitors based on judges' scores and a public vote, with twelve points being the maximum awarded. 'I love you so much. Thank you for believing in me,' the twenty eight-year-old Swede told her supporters, as she took to the stage to sing one final time. 'I wouldn't have been able to do it without you.' 'Euphoria' has already topped the charts in five countries, including Sweden itself and neighbouring Finland. Cos, they love a bit of hardcore hi-energy whoppin' and spinnin' music do the Finns. Norway had the dubious honour of last place. Bagpipes, blindfolds and water fountains all featured in a typically extravagant contest, as well as the celebrated group of Russian pensioners, who performed 'Party for Everyone', a cross between a traditional folk tune and a dance track, to rapturous applause. Ireland, who were represented by Jedward for the second year in a row, came nineteenth - with forty six points - an unexpected slump on their previous performance in 2011, which saw them come eighth. Their performance of 'Waterline' closed with the twenty-year-old Grimes twins jumping into a fountain in the middle of the stage. Luckily, they did not drown.

As mention in a previous blog, Saturday morning saw the Olympic Torch Relay commence on Day Eight of its travels around the United Kingdom, kicking off from outside the Norwegian Church at Cardiff Bay - with a familiar face to take on the mantle of bearer. yer actual Matt Smith was up bright and early to play his part in the celebratory journey, and spoke on BBC Breakfast about how he felt on his latest role and the crowd that gathered to cheer him on: 'It's a great privilege to be involved, I can't quite believe that people have actually turned up, I thought I'd just be carrying it around, waving to the ducks! I'm thrilled that so many people have come out, and it's really nice that the weather's nice - well done weather. I just think it's a wonderful thing anyway, I think the Olympics, the build up, the sense of national focus, with the Euros as well, I'm really excited about the summer of sport that we've got ahead, and I think things like this are just wonderful. And the Jubilee. I'm way into this whole sense of national coming together, street parties and things like this. It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime things, and for me personally to have the privilege of carrying it. It's one of those rare opportunities that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the fact that I play the Doctor.' When asked about his predecessor's carrying the torch before (David Tennant had the job in the 2006 episode Fear Her), Smudger commented 'I'm pleased I got my turn!'

Yer actual Frank Skinner has become a father for the first time at the age of fifty five. The comedian, writer, broadcaster and Room 101 host welcomed a son, Buzz Cody, with his girlfriend Cath Mason on Friday. From The North sends its warmest congratulations to the happy couple. Frank announced the news on his Absolute Radio show. According to the Daily Scum Mail, Frankie explained that he had named his new child, who weighed in at nine pounds at birth, after the US astronaut Buzz Aldrin, adding: 'Now I know celebrity types get condemned for giving their babies unusual names. So this is the name that I went for. He's called Buzz. B-U-Z-Z. If you're my age, obviously he's after Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon. For you youngsters listening, yes, it's that puppet from Toy Story.' Frank also described Buzz's birth, saying: 'Cath was already in mighty labour when we arrived. We had the exciting five o'clock drive across London with me very worried about her and slightly worried about the upholstery. I'm just glad he's out and he's well and his mother is okay and all that.' It's been a good year for Frank what with his beloved west Bromwich Albinos finishing safely mid-table in the premiership and his excellent BBC4 George Formby documentary earning rave reviews.

EastEnders 'bosses' have, apparently, confirmed that the character of Ben Mitchell will be bowing out from the soap later this year. The troubled teenager makes his departure from Walford at the end of his current storyline, which has seen him attempting to cover up his guilt in murdering Heather Trott. Joshua Pascoe, who plays Ben, is expected to film his final scenes during the summer. On Friday, it emerged that Pascoe had been arrested and bailed in connection with an alleged sex assault. However, reports suggest that it was always the plan for the sixteen-year-old to leave EastEnders as a natural conclusion to the Heather story. Discussing the plotline, an EastEnders spokesperson told the Daily Lies Sunday: 'It will come as no surprise to the viewers of EastEnders that the character of Ben will be departing Walford when the truth finally emerges.' Meanwhile, an alleged 'show insider' allegedly said: 'Joshua was always going to leave at the end of his current contract due to his storyline. There was no way Ben could stay on the Square long-term after killing Heather. But how it all comes out is a closely guarded secret.'

And, so to yer actual Top Telly Tips:
Saturday June 2
It started twelve weeks ago with such high hopes and, despite a drop in viewing figures towards the end, the BBC will probably still be more than happy with the performance of The Voice. Waste-of-space airhead Holly Willoughby and over-excited Reggie Yates present as the final four contestants perform for the last time in The Voice - 7:20 BBC1. Tom Jones, Jessie J, and Danny O'Donoghue sit around in their massive chairs knowing that they have now done all they can to turn their raw talents into superstar singers. Or, more likely, people who will have one hit and then end up in the same bargain bin as Shayne Ward, Leon Jackson and Jail MacDowell. Then the result is announced, revealing which coach has won as their act is crowned The Voice.

Finally, over six months after it should have been shown, six months after it was, briefly, available of iPlayer and a couple of weeks after it turned up on BBC HD, the Idleness episode of Qi XL is shown tonight - 9:20 BBC2. As usual, Stephen Fry hosts an extended edition of the quiz with a difference, joined by comedians Ross Noble and Dara O Briain, Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson and regular panellist Alan Davies. He asks questions on the subject of idleness, and awards points for the most interesting answers. Maybe next time some odious louse at the Gruniad Morning Star decides to run one of their regular anti-Clarkson rants, the BBC will not to act like a bunch of spineless loathsome cowards and cancel anything Jezza happens to be appearing in that week and lie curled up in a ball in the corner saying 'please don't hit me any more.' Either that or, you know, punch them.
ITV's big show of the night is The Greatest Footie Ads Ever - 9:00. Sounds effing risible, as with most things ITV - the network that once produced The Avengers - pass off as 'entertainment' these days.

Tonight also sees the conclusion of the beautifully-acted by hugely depressing Sebastian Bergman - 9:00 BBC4. The profiler tries to get his life back on track after making a surprising discovery, and sets about seeking treatment for his sexual addiction. He is also determined to rejuvenate his career, and insists Stockholm police allow him to help them catch a serial killer. Swedish crime drama, starring Rolf Lassgard.
Sunday June 3
After eleven weeks of over-enthusiastic wine-tasting, serving slop as gourmet food, sticking legs on suitcases and boardroom backstabbing, the remaining candidates gather for a four-way battle to determine who will set up in business with Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie, and receive a quarter of a million quid cash injection to get their new company off the ground in the final of The Apprentice - 8:30 BBC1. Their final task is an old favourite - the interview stage - in which the hopefuls are grilled about their CVs and business plans by the full-of-his-own-importance peer and his trusted associates, including former assistant Margaret Mountford. Once the winner is announced, it is over to The Apprentice - You're Hired studio, where Dara O Briain talks to the main players about this year's series, with the help of Denise Van Outen, comedienne and Loose Women presenter Jenny Eclair and retail entrepreneur Jo Malone. Last in the current series. Or, if you prefer something with a bit more class to it, Coast - 9:00 BBC2 - continues its journey round the British isles, and beyond. With Scottish Neil and his lovely hair.
A young soldier in Afghanistan is blown up by an IED in Helmand Province. His devastated comrades come home, but after a drunken night out, one of them is found with a gun in his hand and his brains splattered over the wall. It looks like a clear and obvious case of post traumatic stress-related suicide, but pathologist Billy Cartwright (reining in the darker side of his humour, for once) thinks otherwise. So, who would want to murder a respected war hero? In Vera - 8:00 ITV - the detective investigates a suspicious death in an army barracks, aided by Joe and an enthusiastic member of the military police. Although the demise of commanding officer Dev initially looks like suicide, a case for murder is quickly established and the team's first task is to find a motive. Sensing a connection to Ollie, a soldier killed in Afghanistan, Vera interviews the victim's loyal comrades and Ollie's grieving family, discovering a traumatic event that nobody wants to talk about. John Duttine (Heartbeat) guest stars alongside Brenda Blethyn, David Leon, Jon Morrison and Paul Ritter. Last in the present series and postponed from its originally scheduled transmission date of 13 May due to real-life circumstances in Afghanistan.

Vince Fryer is shot in an alleyway, prompting the team to track down the culprit, who subsequently opens fire on Max (Masi Oka) in Hawaii Five-0 - 9:00 Sky One. Later, Chin Ho is forced to choose between saving colleague Kono, who is being held hostage on a boat, and his wife Malia (Reiko Aylesworth), but both women find themselves in life-threatening situations. And McGarrett makes a stunning discovery. Crime drama, starring Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park, Terry O'Quinn and Tom Sizemore. Last in the current series.
Monday June 4
Looking for something to watch as an excuse to avoid the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert on BBC1, dear blog reader? Then, allow yer actual Keith Telly Topping to suggest The Battle of Britain - 9:00 BBC2. Actor Ewan McGregor and his brother Colin, a crack RAF pilot, retell the story of the 1940 air battle which proved to be a major turning point in the Second World War. The pair get hands-on experience of flying period fighter aircraft across the skies of England, giving Colin an opportunity to contrast his training in modern combat techniques with the skills required to master the Spitfire's less sophisticated technology. The duo also meet some of those who participated in the conflict itself.

The Lighthouse Stevensons - 9:00 BBC4 - is a rather fine documentary about a great engineering dynasty which suggests that Scottish lighthouses are far superior to any others. As the author of Kidnapped and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson was known and celebrated across the world, but his family – who pioneered the building of lighthouses across Scotland – were the people he himself admired. He once wrote with pride: 'Whenever I smell saltwater, I know that I am not far from one of the works of my ancestors.' This documentary charts the work of the Lighthouse Stevensons over the course of generations from the late 1700s to the early 1900s, creating lighthouses on some of the most storm-lashed and inaccessible outcrops of Scotland imaginable. Stunning aerial photography of many of the locations demonstrates that creating these buildings would be a difficult job now, never mind two hundred years ago. The family tradition was started with Edinburgh man Thomas Smith, who installed his first light on Kinnaird Castle, near Fraserburgh, in 1787. He passed the baton on to his son-in-law Robert Stevenson, who founded a dynasty of lighthouse engineers including sons, Allan, David and Thomas (father of Robert Louis), and in turn David's sons David Alan and Charles and finally Charles's son, another David. Lighthouse aficionados prepare to celebrate the two hundred years since the first light was lit on the famous Bell Rock Lighthouse, near Arbroath, on 1 February 1811. Built before the age of steam, on a rock that was submerged much of the day, the Bell Rock light was an engineering masterpiece and the wonder of the age. Regarded as the first major project for Robert Stevenson (in tandem with John Rennie), it is a fitting backdrop in the documentary for an interview with author of The Lighthouse Stevensons, Bella Bathurst. Members of the lighthouse service, who lived by the strict rules established by the Stevensons, speak of them with affection despite the risks to life limb, sanity and family life. It's interesting to hear, though, that lighthouses were not always welcomed by the local residents. The supply of free timber and other goods washed up after a shipwreck was curtailed by the Stevensons' good works. Denis Lawson - put on BBC4 opposite his nephews Ewan and Colin on BBC2 at the same time, now that's a family dilemma! - tells the story of Nineteenth Century engineer Robert Stevenson and his family, who have been credited with taming the Scottish coastline by constructing the famous Bell Rock lighthouse.

World's Most Extreme Airports - 7:35 Channel Five - is a feature-length documentary highlighting the treacherous conditions at 10 of the world's most dangerous airports. Airline pilots and staff face a constant battle to ensure a smooth and safe operation as they deal with a number of challenging obstacles, including unpredictable weather, tough terrain, high-rise buildings and short runways with sheer drops.

Tuesday June 5
A prisoner is killed during an escape from a high-security van, and driver Michael Ward and his firm are held responsible in Silk - 9:00 BBC1. Martha is called in to represent Ward, but when his company's legal team fail to support him, it becomes clear he will have to stand up for himself or become the fall guy. Clive struggles to convince Fatima Ali she is not responsible for her brother's death, while Billy bends to pressure from Micky and investigates Caroline, digging up a few hidden truths. Shaun Evans (Endeavour) joins the cast alongside Maxime Peake, Neil Stuke, Rupert Penry-Jones and Frances Barber.

Liz Bonnin explores the transit of Venus, an event which takes place just after 11pm this very night and wont happen again for more than a century. Liz offers a rare opportunity to see the planet passing across the face of the sun in a Horizon special - 9:00 BBC2. Liz explains why the orbits of Venus and Earth mean they are only aligned twice every century, and investigates what studies of Venus have revealed about life on Earth. Joined by solar physicist Dr Lucie Green and oceanographer Dr Helen Czerski, Liz will reveal everything that to know about the transit of Venus, delving into its past and finding out how the transit is being used in our hunt for life on distant planets hundreds of light years away. She explains why the transit of Venus is such a rare event and reveals how Venus and Earth's orbits mean that the planets are only aligned twice every one hundred years. Liz also explores dramatic new evidence that life on Earth can be supported even in a cloud and finds out how Venus is transforming our understanding of the extremes of life on our planet. Also in the programme, Dr Lucie Green charts the incredible story of Captain James Cook's dramatic 1769 voyage to successfully record the transit for the very first time. They knew that if they reached Tahiti in time to observe the transit they would achieve something scientists had been grappling with for centuries - a figure for the size of our solar system. Then at the SETI Institute in California, Lucie finds out how Venus has transformed our hunt for exoplanets and our search for alien life. Dr Helen Czerski discovers what Venus has to tell us about life on Earth. Although Venus and Earth both exist in the so-called 'Goldilocks Zone' - theoretically able to host liquid water and support life - the two planets differ dramatically.

In Martin Clunes: The Lemurs of Madagascar - 9:00 ITV - the Doc Martin star travels to the island to meet conservationists trying to save its declining population of lemurs. He learns about efforts to protect the greater bamboo lemur, one of the world's twenty five most endangered primates, and finds out how rice cultivation is threatening the habitat of another rare breed. He then heads to the nature reserve of Betampona hoping to track down lemurs bred in captivity, which were flown from America to Madagascar between 1997 and 2001 to expand the gene pool.

All In The Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry - 10:00 Channel Four - sees the artist explores modern British tastes, trends and lifestyles, exploring what they reveal about different sections of society - before creating a series of six tapestries presenting his view of Twenty First Century life in the UK. Sounds a fascinating idea. But, there's a catch. Grayson begins by 'experiencing' working-class life in Sunderland, where he attends a meeting of custom-car enthusiasts, visits tattoo parlours and gyms and heads out for a night oot on the toon with a group of local women. Crikey. In Sunderland? Rather you than me, matey! During his trip, he discovers that flamboyance plays a large role in the region's culture and confronts snobbish attitudes to working-class taste. He also invites the people he meets to visit him in London to give their opinions on the artworks he has created. Now, I'm never too sure about this kind of 'life-swap' TV, because it often has the potential to be massively patronising even if the intentions of those taking part are entirely honourable (see, for instance, last year's most curious TV moment, Geordie Finishing School For Girls). My usual first question with regard to programmes of this type is 'who is this actually for?' Because, frankly, if it's a show that exists primarily to try and teach Southerners that it isn't all grim oop north then a pox on it and all its works. We, who live there, know that. Nevertheless, I'm always prepared to give this sort of thing at least the opportunity to overcome my prejudices whilst it tries to overcome those of others. Good luck, Grayson. Genuinely.

Wednesday June 6
The fortunes of six London streets since the Victorian era, recalling a series of maps started by 'social explorer' Charles Booth in 1886, recording the social class and lifestyles of the capital's inhabitants by a system of colour-coding in The Secret History of Our Streets - 9:00 BBC2. First up is Deptford High Street, which in Booth's time was dubbed the Oxford Street of south London but is now one of the city's poorest shopping areas.

A visiting American academic delivers a controversial speech, with many audience members worried his ideas could be used to target ethnic minorities in Lewis - 8:00 ITV. So when he is found hanged the next morning and Dr Hobson quickly discounts suicide, Lewis and Hathaway realise they have many suspects - from the local anti-racism activist who was first in voicing her disgust at the professor's beliefs to the women who had bombarded him with threatening e-mails. But then another body turns up and the case takes on a new dimension. The living legend that is David Soul and Patrick Baladi from Mistresses guest star. Last in the current series.

Booth and Brennan intervene in the case of Christopher Pelant, a suspect in two of their murder cases, urging the judge to keep him in jail in the last episode of the current - shortened - season of Bones - 9:00 Sky Living. When a new body is discovered they are determined to prove him guilty, but the evidence suggests a victim also had a link to Brennan, placing her in the frame. Watch out for another great performance by Ryan O'Neill as Tempy's father.
Dan Walker is in Poland to present a Football Focus preview of the European Championship, which gets under way on Friday and is being hosted by the Poles and Ukraine - 10:45 BBC1. Alan Shearer interviews England striker Wayne Rooney, who is suspended for the first two matches, and the assembled guests assess the chances of tournament favourites Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. And, if he doesn't get the answers he's looking for, expect someone to get a trademark elbow in the face.
Thursday June 7
The science behind inventions that changed the way people lived in the 1950s, transforming drab, black-and-white post-war Britain into a Technicolor world of the future in The House the 50s Built - 9:00 Channel Four. Engineer Brendan Walker reconstructs a house, demonstrating how each innovation for the home contributed to social change in the wider world. The first programme focuses on the kitchen, where free-standing cupboards, mangles and larders were replaced by fitted units, twin-tubs and refrigerators - and the all-important food processor. Contributors include Maureen Lipman, Fay Weldon, Kevin McCloud and Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway.

Destination Titan - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary following the work of British scientists involved in preparing a space probe to travel to Saturn's largest moon - a two-billion-mile journey that was to take seven years. The film explores the sacrifices involved in the project, and the scientists talk about their hopes for the probe, and their thoughts on its landing.
The latest Playhouse Presents - 8:30 Sky Arts 1 - is The Man, Sandi Toksvig's drama starring Hayley Atwell. A young banker visits a hotel to meet some clients but ends up receiving a horrifying lesson in how the world really works from a trio of power-brokers. With Zoe Wanamaker, Stephen Fry and Stellan Skarsgard.

It's quite possible that you'll feel like a gawping poverty tourist by the end of the first episode of a timely repeat of Call the Midwife - 9:00 BBC1. This hugely popular Sunday night drama from Heidi Thomas took the country by storm earlier this tear. Set in 1957 and centred on a convent of midwives in London's grim docklands, by turns chirpy and yet occasionally stilted, Call the Midwife features Jessica Raine as Jenny Lee, a posh girl who answers her calling to be a midwife. Expecting a 'small, private hospital,' she finds a building full of smiling women in wimples presided over by yer actual Jenny Agutter. There are birth scenes, so expect plenty of screaming and Casualty-level mishaps. Initially daunted by her new colleagues and surroundings, Jenny slowly finds her feet and is given her first case - the care of a woman pregnant for the twenty fifth time. Raine stars in this 1950s-set drama based on the best-selling memoirs of Jennifer Worth, with Pam Ferris and Judy Parfitt.

Friday June 8
Team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton are joined by TV presenter and the thinking man's crumpet Victoria Coren and comic actor Greg Davies on the satirical current affairs quiz Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1. Last in the current series which has reminded us, once again, if any reminder were necessary of just how important and brilliant a show this is. There's not too much wrong with British democracy when we've got Have I Got News For You to laugh at those who really deserve being laughed at.

The Punk Britannia documentary - 9:00 BBC4 - reaches the pinnacle of the punk era, 1976 to 1978, exploring how bands including The Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks helped spread the genre's popularity around the UK. But their controversial lifestyles divided opinions and brought predicted fury from the establishment and the tabloids. The Roxy nightclub in London's Covent Garden proved a hot spot for bands including The Jam to gain support, but The Pistols' split in 1978 proved a blow to the future of punk rock. With contributions by John Lydon, Mick Jones, Paul Weller and Sioxsie Sioux. Narrated by Peter Capaldi.

Michael Wood's history of Britain reaches the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest, asking what life was like for the Anglo-Saxon peasantry in the decades following 1066 in The Great British Story: A People's History - 9:00 BBc2. To find out he joins the excavation of a castle at Mount Bures, Essex, and a community dig in the Suffolk village of Lord Melford. Moving on, he looks at the beginnings of trade and industry in Bristol, Wales and the Black Country, explores the battle for rights enshrined in the Magna Carta and considers how the nation was affected by the Barons' War and Scottish War of Independence.

And, of course, tonight also sees the start of the European Football Championships. The BBC have the opening match, Poland v Greece (kick-off 5.00pm). Gary Lineker presents coverage as the joint hosts face the 2004 champions in this Group A clash at the National Stadium in Warsaw. Despite being the first competitive contest for Franciszek Smuda's side since October 2009, Poland's passionate home fans will be expecting them to put in a stirring performance, but a victory in this encounter is far from assured. The Greeks finished at the top of their qualifying group ahead of Croatia, and have the greater pedigree in this competition. The most recent meeting between these nations was a drab 0-0 draw in an international friendly in March 2011, but a repeat of that seems unlikely, as both sides will be striving to improve upon their performances at Euro 2008, when neither managed to progress to the knockout stage. With commentary by Steve Wilson and Mark Bright, and analysis by Alan Hansen and Lee Dixon. Later on, we have Russia v the Czech Republic (kick-off 7.45pm) on ITV. So, the coverage of that will, as usual with ITV, be shite. Grumpy breakfast TV flop Adrian Chiles presents the second match, as the remaining teams in Group A meet at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw. Having performed so admirably four years ago when they reached the semi-finals under the tutelage of Guus Hiddink, Russia will be hoping that fellow Dutchman Dick Advocaat can prove as inspiring. They begin their third consecutive appearance at the European Championships by facing the Czech Republic, who have qualified for every staging of this tournament since the birth of their nation, following the split of Czechoslovakia. Their record since then has been mixed, failing to make it through the group stage on two occasions, but finishing as runners-up at Euro 96 and reaching the semi-finals in Portugal eight years later. With commentary by Peter Drury and Jim Beglin, and analysis - or lack of it - by Roy Keane, Gareth Southgate and Patrick Vieira.

And so to the news:
Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats were sucked deeper into the controversy over News Corp's planned takeover of BSkyB on Saturday as evidence submitted to the Leveson inquiry revealed close party ties with Murdoch executives. In an e-mail submitted to the inquiry by Fred Michel, the man who is now News Corp's chief lobbyist claims he attended a fundraising ball for Clegg's leadership campaign in 2007. The Observer says that it 'understands' Michel was referring to a Lib Dem champagne ball at the Park Lane hotel in September 2007. A spokesman for Clegg said Michel, who was not employed by News Corp at the time, had not given any money to the Clegg campaign and insisted that there had only been one fundraising event for Clegg's leadership, at someone's home. However, the e-mail on 3 November 2010 suggests that Michel, who has played tennis with Clegg and lives near him in Putney, had been linked into the Lib Dems for several years and was close enough to them to be on guest lists. In the e-mail, seeking a meeting with Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, Michel wrote to the minister's adviser Julia Goldsworthy: 'Dear Julia, I hope you're well. We met at a fundraising dinner for the Lib Dem leadership election with Ian Wright.' Wright, a senior executive at the drinks firm Diageo, bankrolled Clegg's successful campaign and even deposited directly into the now deputy prime minister's personal account. The lavish event was staged a month before the then Lib Dem leader, Menzies Campbell, resigned – although it was a period in which the leadership of the party was being openly talked about and Clegg was being punted as a likely successor. Clegg has repeatedly claimed that – unlike the Tories and Labour – his party has remained at arms length from News Corp and its executives. At prime minister's questions in April, when David Cameron told the Commons that 'hand on heart, we all did a bit too much cosying up to Rupert Murdoch,' the deputy prime minister, who was sitting next to him, was seen to mouth: 'No we didn't.' Other evidence submitted by Michel seems to call that into doubt. Text messages between Clegg's chief spin doctor Lena Pietsch and Michel, handed over to Leveson, show Pietsch in close contact with Michel in late 2010 and early 2011 when he was heading the News Corp lobbying operation in support of the BSkyB bid. In January 2011, shortly after the Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable had been removed from responsibility for the bid and replaced by the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt, Pietsch 'entertained' Michel in Downing Street. Michel texted back to Pietsch saying: 'Thank you for such a nice catch-up by the Rose Garden. We should do it more often.' During his evidence to Leveson, Michel suggested that members of Clegg's staff had been helpful and reassuring when Cable – known to have reservations – was in charge of scrutinising the bid. According to Michel's e-mails, Tim Colbourne, a Clegg aide, advised the News Corp lobbyist that he should try to get Labour to support the bid as this would convince Cable to back it. Questioned over whether this conversation had really occurred, Michel added: 'Well, if I put it in the memo, it's because it was discussed at the meeting. I understand that from a Liberal Democrat adviser it might not be comfortable to be reminded that it was discussed, but we definitely discussed this.' Michel added that Colbourne had also agreed that Clegg's office would 'insist on the need for Vince to meet with us once Ofcom's report published.' Michel told the inquiry: 'I think we had an agreement that that was a good idea. That's what I remember.' According to a memo sent to Cameron by the vile and odious rascal Hunt in March 2011, Clegg 'reined in' the then energy secretary, Chris Huhne, who was 'apoplectic' about the government's decision not to refer the BSkyB takeover to the Competition Commission and accept undertakings in lieu. The memo, dated 17 March 2011, one of the vile and odious rascal Hunt's fortnightly updates for the prime minister, said: 'I did hear that Chris Huhne was apoplectic and advocated going to the media to criticise it – but partly because Don Foster was on-side Nick reined him in. The point to make to Nick (which I have also made to Chris) is that if I had referred it to the Competition Commission it would almost certainly have been judicially reviewed by News Corp as being unreasonable, given that Ofcom and the OFT had given it the all clear.' A Lib Dem spokesman insisted on Saturday that there was 'no evidence' of Lib Dem ministers, advisers, or staff doing 'anything inappropriate' at any stage. Earlier this month Clegg told Radio 4's The World at One: 'The one thing I am very proud of as a Liberal Democrat leader both individually, personally, and as a party, is that we have never been in anybody's pockets. The idea that we could in any way be in the Murdochs' pocket – I mean, have you looked at the coverage in the Murdoch press about the Liberal Democrats over the last several years? It is just farcical.'

David Cameron and the vile and odious rascal Hunt face 'huge' questions over their handling of News Corporation's BSkyB takeover in the wake of the latest evidence to the Leveson inquiry, Ed Milimolimandi has said. The Labour leader said this week's disclosures provided 'yet more' evidence that the vile and odious rascal Hunt should not have been given responsibility for the deal. He cited in particular the publication of a memo in which the vile and odious rascal Hunt made private representations to Cameron supporting News Corp's bid to take full control of BSkyB. The document, sent just weeks before the vile and odious rascal Hunt was given quasi-judicial oversight of the bid, expressed concerns that referring the bid to Ofcom could leave the government 'on the wrong side of media policy.' Milimolimandi, speaking in Afghanistan where he has been visiting British troops and holding talks with the president, Hamid Karzai, said: 'From what I have seen from the material I have read on this, I think we have got yet more evidence that Jeremy Hunt wasn't the right person to be taking forward the decision about the BSkyB bid. He wrote a memo to the prime minister for the bid four weeks or so before taking charge of it and I think it really calls into question David Cameron's judgment about why he appointed him in the first place to take over this bid. Here is somebody who was an advocate within government for the bid, so there are huge questions for David Cameron to answer. And there are yet more questions for Jeremy Hunt to answer. I mean, why did he tell the House of Commons that he wasn't intervening in this issue when he wasn't responsible for it when, in fact, he was? There are just a whole series of mounting questions and we do need answers.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt is also facing embarrassment over disclosures about his personal dealings with the News Corp lobbyist Frédéric Michel, whom he addressed as 'daddy' and 'mon ami' in dozens of text messages. In exchanges released at the inquiry on Friday, Michel responded with flattering, and sickeningly brown-tongued comments about the lack of culture secretary's 'stamina' and 'great' performances in TV interviews and the Commons. The vile and odious rascal Hunt also assured Michel, then European director of public affairs for Rupert Murdoch's media empire, there was 'nothing u [sic] won't like' in an upcoming speech. At least sixty seven texts were sent between the two men from 21 June 2010 until 3 July 2011, the period when News Corp was seeking to take over the satellite broadcaster BSkyB. On Friday Cameron defended giving the vile and odious rascal Hunt responsibility for the decision on News Corp's takeover bid. 'I don't regret giving the job to Jeremy Hunt. It was the right thing to do in the circumstances, which were not of my making,' he said. The vile and odious rascal Hunt was given the role after the business secretary, Vince Cable, was stripped of the responsibility over comments made to undercover reporters. The prime minister told odious lard bucket Eamonn Holmes on ITV's This Morning: 'The crucial point, the really crucial point, is did Jeremy Hunt carry out his role properly with respect to BSkyB and I believe that he did.' Of course, the reason he chose to go on This Morning was he didn't dare go on Newsnight and face questioning for, say, Paxman.

David Baddiel is to take the drug Ecstasy on a live TV show, it has been reported. According to the Sun, the forty seven-year-old comic will take the Class A substance, as medics examine its effect on the brain, including euphoria and reducing anxiety. The experiment will be part of a Channel Four series called Drug Live, which will be hosted by newsreader Jon Snow and Embarrassing Bodies presenter Dr Christian Jessen. Politicians, policemen and those who support the medical use of MDMA – which could be used to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder – will also appear on the show in July.

Maroon 5 and Ed Sheeran will perform on the final of The Voice. Host Reggie Yates confirmed the astounding, world-shattering news on the BBC show's official blog. 'Wowzers. Oh my days. Oh my wowzers. Just a few words to express how I feel about what I'm about to tell you. Shall I shut up and tell you? Yep, fair enough,' he wrote. 'So it's with great pleasure and big plate of wowzers (sorry, need to stop saying wowzers) that I reveal the performers for next Saturday's live final are drumroll ED SHEERAN AND MAROON 5! Hold tight for song info. Exciting.' No. Not really. Maroon 5's Adam Levine serves as a coach on the US version of The Voice. Meanwhile, Cheryl Cole has vowed to sing live when she performs on The Voice semi-final this weekend alongside Kylie Minogue. Well, there's always a first time for everything, one supposes.

Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has released an 'official video statement' on reports that Britney Spears walked off The X Factor US set. Rumours emerged earlier this week that the singer left her judge's seat after a hopeful contestant butchered her hit song 'Hold It Against Me'. However, the thirty-year-old later denied the incident and claimed that she is having 'the best time' as a judge alongside Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, Demi Lovato and LA Reid. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has now released a video via TMZ insisting that reports of a walkout are untrue. In the video, which also features Lovato, he says: 'I'm Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, I'm on the panel. There have been no walk-offs on the show.' Right. So, there you have it.

A classical music presenter on BBC Radio 3, Petroc Trelawny, has reportedly been arrested in Zimbabwe for not having a work permit. Trelawny was compering at a music festival in Bulawayo when he was detained, said the Zimbabwe Vigil pressure group. Trelawny, who presents Music Matters, In Tune and Live in Concert, is now in custody in the Zimbabwean capital Harare. He was arrested on Thursday. Trelawny was not attending the event, organised by the Zimbabwe Academy of Music, in any BBC capacity. A spokesman for the corporation said: 'We are aware of the situation and hope it will be resolved as quickly as possible.' Trelawny has been visited by the British Ambassador Deborah Bronnert. Rose Benton, co-ordinator of Zimbabwe Vigil, said: 'He was apparently the only musician without a work permit and that is why they arrested him.'

The former airbase at Machrihanish on the Kintyre peninsula has been sold for one pound, BBC Scotland has learned. The buyer is a company owned and controlled by local people, who hope the site can help reinvigorate the local economy near Campbeltown. The former RAF station, which was owned by the MoD, was a strategically important site during the Cold War. The Machrihanish Airbase Community Company wants to attract businesses to the areas and create jobs. The one thousand acre site includes Campbeltown Airport and a wind turbine manufacturing facility. BBC Scotland claims that they have signed long leases and will not be affected by the sale. The Machrihanish base was used to house one of only three US Navy Special Warfare teams in the world, as well as an American Seal commando unit and Royal Marines. Since the military pulled out in the mid-90s, much of the site has been largely empty. BBC Scotland revealed recently Machrihanish is one of a number of military facilities in Scotland where there could be radioactive contamination. It is understood the MoD could still be responsible for cleaning up any dangerous substances found there.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. The sun's still shining so, here's Oasis.