Monday, July 09, 2012

I See No Sense In This Crying

Andy Murray became the first British tennis player to lose in the final of Wimbledon since 1938. Just, you know, for a bit of perspective since the BBC seemed to think that was the only story worth talking about for most of the weekend.
Two of ITV's most recent bywords for crass, dumbed-down, lowest-common-denominator television, Let's Go Gold and Superstar, both got a predictable - but very satisfying - hiding in the ratings on Saturday evening. And truly, dear blog reader, this was glorious in this blogger's sight! It really is moments like this which, however briefly, restore ones faith in the British viewing public and their ability to smell shit at a distance. Let's Go Gold is a programme in which a pair of sporting hasbeens - Rio Ferdinanrd and Freddie Flintoff - and a couple of cuties with fluttering eyelids and the personality of a bucket of sick, pass their utterly worthy opinions on the various doings of ... some people (or something). And, all the while, Vernon Kay arses about like a prat in his usual objectionable buffoonish manner. The opening episode, on Saturday, was watched by a risible audience of 1.7m from 20:30. When seeing that audience figure, on Sunday morning, this blogger laughed and laughed and laughed. Until he stopped. And then he laughed some more. Seldom, in the history of TV, has a programme format not only flopped so spectacularly, but also been given such a massive metaphorical big fat raspberry by the public for the slovenly nature of its construction and goals. 'A pox on it and all who sail in it,' the viewers seem to have said. Bravo. Encore. Prior to that fiasco, ITV had one almost as bad. Superstar, the latest worthless travesy of a vanity project from the gnomish full-of-his-own-importance millionaire Lord Lloyd Webber (his first for ITV) also got a laughably low viewership of 3.3m. Both were thoroughly spanked by BBC1's nine hundred and twelfth reshowing of the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark (4.5m). BBC1 dominated the night with the top seven rated programmes (and nine of the top ten) whilst BBC2's coverage of Wimbledon (which went on, and on, and on, and caused The Hollow Crown to start an hour late) saw the channel leap-frog ITV into second place in terms of audience share. There was a smidgen of good news for Let's Go Gold, however. In that it is - officially - more popular than ITV's dead-on-its-feet SF drama Primeval, the latest episode of which pulled in just 1.59m. Superstar aside, the rest of ITV's odious, banal output entirely failed to break the two million viewer mark: Primeval plunged to 1.59m at 5.30pm, the dreadful You Cannot Be Serious managed just 1.37m at 6.30pm and 1.98m watched You've Been Framed at 7pm. BBC2 managed to beat ITV in peak-time with its coverage of a rare British victory in the mens' doubles final averaging 2.35m between 6.10pm and 10pm. Overall, BBC1 easily topped primetime with 20.3 per cent of the audience share, with its nearest competitor BBC2 averaging ten per cent. ITV languished is a thigh-slappingly piss-poor third place with 9.3 per cent. Could it be, dear blog reader, that ITV have just been given a timely reminder that not all the general public are the brains-leaking-out-of-their-ears morons that ITV seems to believe they are? We can only hope.

The Killing director Birger Larsen has talked about his new BBC show. Murder was shot in Nottingham through a red filter, a move which Larsen said was made as it is 'the colour of blood.' He told the Gruniad Morning Star: 'I don't know Nottingham, so it was a huge surprise to me when I went there for the exterior filming we did. I sensed this hostile vibe.' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping knows exactly what he means having almost gotten his head kicked in down by the Trent on more than one occasion when watching his beloved (though unsellable) Toon visiting Forest. 'It might just have been me, but there was this mean vibe in the streets. I don't know why. They have got two universities there, so I was quite surprised because sometimes having a lot of youth around softens things in a city.' The drama, which was created by Robert Jones and Kath Mattock, the team behind BAFTA award-winning Channel Four series Buried, also uses CCTV, mobile phone footage and actors talking directly to the camera. Larsen said of the mix of creative techniques: 'We did change it a bit and had more of people listening while others talked. But we were all thrown by how well it worked.' Murder tracks the events following the death of a young woman - played by new Misfits cast-member Karla Crome - and the accompanying criminal trial, where the truth of her death is explored.

Yer actual Stephen Fry and Alan Davies, the stars of Qi, met with a teen living with cancer as part of a Make-A-Wish Foundation wish recently. 'Last year, at just fourteen years old, Ted was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer,' said a spokesman for the charity. 'Make-A-Wish recently granted his ultimate wish – to meet the great Stephen Fry! Now fifteen, Ted, who is from County Armagh, has always loved Stephen. During chemotherapy treatment, when he was feeling very low, it was Stephen's autobiography, Qi and Blackadder that helped get him through – they never failed to make him laugh and provided him with a focus away from his illness and treatment. On the day of his wish, Ted arrived at the Qi studio with his family – Mum Dawn, Dad Ian, and younger brother Patrick – to watch the recording of Qi, before being escorted to the Green Room where he was able to meet his idol. Dawn said he was "in awe" when he met Stephen. Ted also met Qi panelist Alan Davies and the series creator and producer John Lloyd.' 'It was an absolute pleasure to meet Ted and an experience I’m deeply humbled by,' said Stephen. 'He’s a very bright young man and a true inspiration.'

The Tudors actress Sarah Bolger has been cast in ABC's fantasy drama Once Upon A Time. Entertainment Weekly report that Bolger has been cast in the role of Princess Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty. The role will recur throughout the second season and is hardly a surprisingly development as the witch Maleficent from the Sleeping Beauty tales has already featured in Once Upon A Time. Actress Kristen Bauer played Maleficent in several episodes in season one and has already stated her willingness to reprise the role in the future. Sarah Bolger will be best known for her role of Mary Tudor in Showtime's overwrought but occasionally brilliant historical drama The Tudors. Bolger played Mary, daughter of King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) and Katherine of Aragon (Maria Doyle Kennedy) from the second season onwards and was promoted to the regular cast of The Tudors for its fourth and final season.

One day while George Entwistle was editing Newsnight, Jeremy Vine reveals in his autobiography (Vine was then one of the presenters, allegedly known as 'Jeremy Paxman's mini-me'), the team saw the alarming message 'Entwistle dead' flashing up on their computer screens. It turned out to be John 'The Ox' Entwistle, The Who's celebrated taciturn bassist. When yer acutal Keith Telly Topping goes, dear blog reader, he wants to go just like John Entwistle. In bed in Las Vegas with a nose full of candy, a bottle of brandy and two hookers. That's entertainment! Meanwhile, in a little-noticed interview on Radio 4's PM when Entwistle was appointed, Jezza Paxman praised the fact that his former boss has 'a sense of humour' and 'reads books' – with 'a bit of an appetite for thrillers by people like Elmore Leonard', he noted, but apparently he reads 'serious history' too. As opposed to frivolous history? Though clearly aware of the perils of appearing toadyish, yer man Jezza also mentioned the fact that the DG-to-be was 'lent on extremely hard during the David Kelly affair' – presumably a reference to BBC executives pushing his science editor Susan Watts to corroborate Andrew Gilligan's 'sexing-up' claim with notes of her own off-the-record briefing by Kelly – and was tough enough to 'withstand that pressure.' The Kelly crisis apart, however, Paxman seemed uncharacteristically at a loss when Eddie Mair asked him 'what did [Entwistle] bring to Newsnight?' 'I can't give you a precise answer to that, I don't think,' Paxo flannelled, sounding just like a badly-briefed minister. 'I mean, we've had a number of really good editors.' If only Mair had hit him with some merciless Paxman-style follow-up questions, Paxman himself might well have ended up on the ropes just like the hapless Chloe Smith.

Comedian and action transvestite Eddie Izzard and County Durham-born Olympic athlete Charlie Spedding are among those to be honoured by Sunderland University. Eddie is to receive an honorary doctorate of letters as part of a week-long series of graduation ceremonies. Spedding, who won a marathon bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics, is to receive an honorary fellowship. Also to be honoured are 'pitman painter' Norman Cornish and ITN news reader Alastair Stewart. Eddie is one of Britain's best-known comedians and has won two Emmy Awards during his career. In August 2009 he ran forty three marathons in fifty one days for Sport Relief, raising £1.85m for the charity. Ferryhill-born Charlie Spedding won the London Marathon in 1984 and went on to win a bronze medal in the Los Angeles Olympics. He remains the English record holder for the marathon. Norman Cornish, also from County Durham, will receive an honorary doctorate of arts in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the arts, and in particular, his support of the mining community. He began working in the mines in 1933, aged fourteen. At fifteen he joined the famous Pitman's Academy and began painting and drawing, eventually becoming a celebrated artist. Aged ninety two, he continues to chronicle the everyday lives of the people of Spennymoor, where he lives. University vice-chancellor Prof Peter Fidler said: 'Our honoraries have all made highly significant contributions within their fields. They will inspire our graduates as they celebrate their academic success and embark on their careers. We look forward to welcoming them and are proud to pay tribute to them.'

David Guetta, Calvin Harris (without Orville) and The Stone Roses topped the bill during a wet second day at T In The Park. Heavy rain fell on the site for much of Saturday as Tayside was put on flood alert. Festival goers had to negotiate vast areas of mud in and around the arena. The Stone Roses headlined the main stage, preceded by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. DJs Guetta and Harris, currently two of the biggest names in urban dance, apparently, headlined different stages at Balado Park. Harris said: 'I've not been back to Scotland since Christmas. I miss the accent, I miss the people, I miss the food.' His set in King Tut's Wah Wah Tent included 'We Found Love', his collaboration with Rihanna, as well as Swedish House Mafia's 'Save The World' and Daft Punk's 'Around The World'. David Guetta played a hit-filled set on the Radio 1/NME stage. Earlier in the day, Emeli Sande performed for the first time at T. The twenty five-year-old from Aberdeenshire told Newsbeat: 'I've played a lot of rainy and windy gigs so I expected it to be like this. Welcome to Scotland. To play here is something I've always dreamed of doing,' she said. 'To have my friends and family here and to come back to Scotland it's a really big deal.' The heaviest rain came down in the early hours of Saturday morning leaving a deluge in some parts of the campsite. The mud got so bad for teenage couple Ryan Cameron and Laura Gale that they decided to leave the festival. Pfft. Lightweights! In't yer actual Keith Telly Topping's day, at Glastonbury, we had mud that made Passchendaele seem like Blackpool beach with the tide out. And then we had to sit through an eight hour set by Santana. The kids these days, they know nowt! 'We had a river running through the middle of our tent,' said Laura. 'There was water up to our knees.' Probably best to wear wellies, in that case. Other artists to appear during Saturday included Jessie J, Ben Howard and Two Door Cinema Club.

Is this 2012's first example of the familiar curse of Olympics advertising, before the Games have even begun? Jeanette Kwakye, a one hundred metre finalist in Beijing, failed to win a team place last week after injury-blighted preparations, but by that time Ariel was already running its full-page adverts ill-fatedly showing her in Team GB kit. The myriad brands who've signed deals with the likes of Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis and Chris Hoy must be anxiously wondering have we put the mockers on them?

The Scum midfielder Ryan Giggs has been named as Great Britain captain for the Olympics. The thirty eight-year-old is one of three over-age players selected in Stuart Pearce's eighteen-man London 2012 squad. Craig Bellamy, Giggs's fellow Welshman, was also chosen along with Sheikh Yer Man City and England defender Micah Richards. Despite much media pushing - and plenty of whinging when he wasn't included - David Beckham has been considered surplus to requirements. A Team GB tweet read: 'Stuart Pearce confirms Ryan Giggs will captain the Team GB football squad.' Giggs, a winner of twelve Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues, will be competing at his first international tournament. Because he's Welsh and they never qualify for anything major. Great Britain launch the tournament against Senegal at Old Trafford on 26 July before meeting United Arab Emirates at Wembley on 29 July and Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium on 1 August. Giggs, who retired from international football in 2007, revealed in a recent interview that it 'would be nice' to represent Team GB as he had never experienced tournament football. 'Obviously, everybody is excited about it, about the Olympics coming to London and coming to different parts of Britain,' said Giggs. 'I've spoken to Stuart Pearce but I think the majority of players have. It would be nice to be involved in a tournament atmosphere because I've never experienced that.'

Senegal have omitted Newcastle United's Papiss Cissé and Demba Ba from their squad for this month's Olympic Games. The Senegalese federation had been in talks with Newcastle, who were loathe to release Cissé, in particular, in the pre-season with an Africa Cup of Nations next January. Everton striker Magaye Gueye and West Ham United midfielder Mohamed Diame have been included in the squad. Diame, twenty five, is one of the squad's three over-age players, along with Dame N'Doye, twenty seven, and Papa Gueye, twenty eight. Magaye Gueye's inclusion is unexpected since the twenty one-year-old has previously represented France at youth level and has yet to appear for Senegal. However, the Senegalese federation has told BBC Sport that clearance has been received from FIFA to allow Gueye's switch of nationality. Both FC Copenhagen striker N'Doye and Diame played in this year's Africa Cup of Nations, when the Senegalese crashed out in the first round without a win despite being tipped by many to lift the trophy. If they are to qualify for next January's finals in South Africa, the Teranga Lions must beat Côte d'Ivoire over two legs in the final round of 2013 Nations Cup qualifying. Senegal open their Olympic campaign against Great Britain in Manchester on 26 July, before moving to London to face Uruguay at Wembley three days later. The first-time qualifiers conclude their Group A campaign when taking on United Arab Emirates in Coventry on 1 August.

Red Bull's Mark Webber beat Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in a close battle to win the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday. Alonso led much of the race from pole position, but Webber benefited from a different tyre strategy to chase the Spaniard down after the final pit stops. Webber passed Alonso into Brooklands with four laps to go and held him off to the flag. Wbber's Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel took third ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton struggled to eighth and team-mate Jenson Button was tenth was as Andy Murray was getting his hiding at Wimbledon. Makes yer proud to be British, doesn't it? The McLaren's lack of pace on the high-speed sweeps of Silverstone two weeks after it struggled on the slow-speed Valencia street circuit is a serious concern for Hamilton's title hopes. He is now fourth in the championship, thirty seven points behind Alonso, whose lead over Webber has been cut to thirteen points. Vettel is third, twenty nine points behind Alonso. McLaren, who started the season with what appeared to be the fastest car, seems to have been left behind by Red Bull and Ferrari, who have both improved their cars dramatically in recent races. Alonso and Webber fought a private battle for victory, which was decided by tyre choices. Ferrari chose to start Alonso on the hard tyre - as McLaren did Hamilton - while Red Bull went for the more conventional choice of softs. The decision meant that after the final pit stops Alonso was on the soft tyre and Webber on the hards, which turned out to be the better race tyre. Webber closed a four-second deficit in eight laps and Alonso was helpless to fend off the Red Bull as Webber passed him around the outside of the Brooklands corner at the end of the DRS overtaking zone. The Australian became after Alonso only the second driver to win two races this season. He said: 'I've had a few [wins], but this one is taking a little bit to sink in. It didn't look like a spectacular race between us initially, but it was one - pacing the stints on the tyres, Fernando starting on the harder tyre. After the first stint Fernando had I thought he was in good shape to close the win out. But it came our way and I am absolutely over the moon, absolutely rapt. I had a single opportunity to pounce and I wasn't going to let that slip. Fernando, with the front-left tyre, if you lose balance around this place, the speed is very high in that [second] sector and it's very hard for the driver to do something. It was obvious he was pushing as hard as possible but the balance wasn't with him.' Alonso said: 'The victory was quite close today, but Mark was much quicker in the last laps and he deserves the victory. But I am very proud of the progress Ferrari have made in the last few weeks and we are now fighting for victories in the last few races.' The threatened rain never came, and the race took place in rather balmy sunshine. As Alonso and Webber battled at the front, Vettel, who slipped back from fourth on the grid to fifth behind Massa on the first lap, made use of an early first pit stop to pass the Brazilian. Nevertheless, it was Massa's most impressive race for some time, and it was a timely performance as Ferrari consider who will partner Alonso at the team next year. The Lotus drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean were fifth and sixth, while Michael Schumacher, whose Mercedes faded from its third-place grid slot, passed Hamilton in the closing laps to take seventh. Williams driver Bruno Senna and Button took the final points places.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a little twenty four carat classic from The Stone Poneys.