Sunday, September 16, 2012

Week Thirty Nine: It's Good For The Body, It's Good For The Soul

The return of Qi on Friday night and the extended Qi XL on Saturday reminds us all of a few necessary truisms, dear blog reader. That Stephen Fry remains a true national treasure - you're putting the weight back on though, I notice yer actual Fryship. That Alan Davies is one of the great face comedians of the last fifty years. That the divine Victoria Coren should've been on this show years ago; her response to Bill Bailey's little essay on cognitive dissonance was a particularly impressive joy to behold ('Here I am on Qi like you see on the television, sitting, it's quite nice, everybody seems nice, I'm having a nice time. And yet, we've had the question "What did Hitler get right?" Which is exactly what my grandmother told me would happen if I went on television!') Her following description of her anxiety dream before coming on the show ('why was the march hare so important to The Aztecs?') might be one of the show's finest ever moments ('I'm such an amateur, I didn't even Google the answer!') Even Jimmy Carr was on pretty good form, being far less-smug-than-usual ('can you just confirm, this is actually happening and we're not in one of Vicky's dreams!?') although his exaggerated laugh can, still, sometimes make him annoying even when he's being very funny. A marvellous start to the new series.
Meanwhile, Victoria's pain-in-the-bum future husband, the full-of-his-own-importance David Mitchell, has criticised Downton Abbey's second series, calling it 'completely nuts.' Which proves that yer actual David Mitchell his very self - like a broken clock - can sometimes be right. Albeit, not very often. He joined yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch as a critic of the last bunch of episodes of the Lord Snooty drama, after the Sherlock actor recently described it as 'fucking atrocious' (and then, subsequently, claimed he'd been misquoted). 'As autumn approaches, soon it will be time for another series of Downton Abbey, and, frankly, if you think of the downward trajectory that show is on, I dread to think what it will be like,' Mitchell begins in his most recent edition of his webcast Soapbox, as though anybody is in the slightest bit interested in what he thinks, about pretty much anything. Explaining that he found the show's first series 'mildly enjoyable', with 'vaguely interesting characters experiencing vaguely plausible events in a vaguely interesting setting', Mitchell goes on: 'Then the second series came along and it went completely nuts.' He describes it as 'haemorrhaging history', referring to the fact that the series 'whipped us through a whole sodding World War' while still attempting to 'tell the personal stories at the same speed as before. So in one show, you had that chauffeur suggesting a hump to one of the Lord's daughters, and then in the next you get her huffy and slightly aroused reply; which would be fine, except in the story it's supposed to be eight months later. It was as if the First World War was taking place in Narnia.' He continues: 'The plotting went nuts as well. Everything started happening to everybody. It crucially tipped over the line beyond which it's impossible to suspend your disbelief, and you can't help but realise it's just actors saying lies in hats.' Broadening his complaint, Mitchell concludes: 'The thing that really worries me about this is that it didn't make a blind bit of difference to the show's success. The rising ratings for Downton Abbey suggest that properly scripting TV drama has about as much point to it as opening an art gallery for cattle.'

Aided by a more-than-decent lead-in from Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who achieved its highest overnight audience of series so far, a whopping 6.6m for A Town Called Mercy on Saturday, a twenty nine per cent audience share. That's two hundred thousand higher than Asylum of the Daleks two weeks ago and a stunning 1.1m up on the episode in-between, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. It's also more than a million overnight viewers higher than last year's equivalent episode (which had 5.2m). With timeshifts - and bear in mind Doctor Who usually pulls in somewhere between one-and-a-half and two million additional viewers each week through timeshifting - that should easily top eight million. We'll find out in about nine or ten days time when BARB release the consolidated final ratings. Strictly returned for its 2012 premiere with an average overnight audience of eight million and a peak of 9.8m at 7:30pm shortly before the climax - that's slightly up on the equivalent episode last year (which had a 7.6m average) when it was beaten by over three million viewers by The X Factor. This year, the gap was much closer - just six hundred thousand with The X Factor having an average audience of 8.6m across its slot - indeed, The X Factor's peak audience - 9.5m - was actually lower than Strictly's. Once again, ITV's hilarious fiasco game show Red Or Black? continued to provide ratings watchers with plenty of massive belly laughs, Saturday night's two episodes being watched by 3.3m and 3.2m punters respectively. It was soundly beaten in both slots, by Doctor Who in the former and by Casualty (4.7m) in the latter. Match of the Day (3.8m) also won its head-to-head with The Jonathan Ross Show (2.8m). BBC2's night was highlighted by - as usual - Dad's Army (1.9m) and Qi XL (1.6m).

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self, meanwhile, remains somewhat totally blown away by Saturday night's Doctor Who episode, dear blog reader. The magic of A Town Called Mercy remained even after a second viewing in the early hours of Sunday morning once yer actual Keith Telly Topping had got his review of the episode written. And, despite not having ventured onto Gally Base, only Facebook yer actual Keith Telly Topping must say he is rather shocked - shocked, he tells you - to find that some people didn't like it as much as he did. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping would normally say at this juncture 'well, it takes all sorts to make a world' or some such other banal cliché about us all living together, side-by-side, in mutual harmony, like, on pianos. But, this is one occasion where yer actual Keith Telly Topping is definitely right and everybody of a contrary opinion is definitely wrong. Just, you know, for perspective. Normal service will probably be resumed next week.
And, on that controversial bombshell, dear blog reader, here's yer actual Top Telly Tips in the area:-

Saturday 22 September
Earth is invaded by millions of sinister-looking black cubes in the latest episode of Doctor Who, The Power of Three - 7:30 BBC1. Well, it makes a change from The Daleks, I suppose. But, what is their sinister and naughty purpose and who sent them to do their nefarious skulduggery? Why, isn't it obvious? Yer actual Bradley Walsh, surely? To find out if this is the case - and, this blogger is guessing it is - The Doctor is forced to play a waiting game, so moves into Amy and Rory's gaff. But, soon - and perhaps inevitably - he drives them up the wall with his malarkey and his doings. What is it that they always say about house-guests being like fish? After three days, they smell. Steven Berkoff, Mark Williams and Jemma Redgrave guest star.

In the latest Qi XL - 9:00 BBC2 - yer actual Stephen Fry his very self presents an extended version of the quiz, and unleashes a batch of fiendishly puzzling questions to test the general knowledge - or ignorance - of Jo Brand, Liza Tarbuck, Sue Perkins and non-girl regular panellist Alan Davies, who reveal what they know about topics including jelly, jam and juice.
The Thick of It - 9:40 BBC2 - sounds rather good tonight. Peter reluctantly spends a very long weekend at a remote country house hotel with Stewart, who is holding a seminar on creative thinking as part of a bid to reinvigorate the party - with no phones, computers or ties allowed. Back at the office, Glenn continues to toil on the Fourth Sector project, as Fergus and Adam have a meeting with an attractive young economist who wants to start a bank. However, everyone's plans are thrown into disarray when a shocking story hits the headlines. Guest starring the excellent Sylvestra Le Touzel.

Sunday 23 September
Andrew Marr's History of the World - 9:00 BBC1 - sees the journalist (and his astonishing lugs) examining seventy thousand years of human history, tracing the global migrations that followed man's early beginnings in Africa and the agrarian and urban developments that led to the first civilisations. Marr considers extraordinary hand prints found in European caves, contemplates the ingenuity required to invent devices that are still with us today and reveals how everyday life in ancient Egypt bears more than a passing resemblance to that experienced by characters in a contemporary soap opera. With spectacular images, compelling characters and incisive narration, this is an epic journey through human history and the story of the world we live in today, featuring dramatic reconstruction, documentary filming around the world and cutting-edge computer graphics.

A horror writer gets a surprising reaction after he tries to scare the Dragons into backing him, and two Mancunian sisters who met with rejection when they appeared on the show in 2005 get a second chance to impress the panel in the latest Dragons' Den - 9:00 BBC2. Duncan Bannatyne, Hilary Devey, Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis also pass judgement on pitches for children's backpacks, wearable luggage and an unusual vending machine. Presented by Evan Davis. It's all blokes with big ears on TV tonight, it would seem.

Jimmy Carr hosts the second of three irreverent quizzes on decades gone by, Big Fat Quiz of the 90s - 9:00 Channel Four. Phill Jupitus, the odious and wretchedly unfunny Jack Whitehall, Alan Davies, Claudia Winkleman and Denise Van Outen demonstrate how much they remember about the 1990s. Celebrity guests include Wolf from popular TV game show Gladiators, broadcaster Michael Buerk, pop star Chesney Hawkes he is the one and only) and comedy duo Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.

Monday 24 September
The body of a missing computer expert turns up in a hospital morgue under a false name, so the team reopens the investigation into his disappearance in New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1. The dead man worked for the Metropolitan Police, giving him access to a great deal of sensitive information - added to which, he was in contact with a group of online hackers. But he died of natural causes - so why was his body hidden, and by who? As the seasoned detectives unravel the mystery, Brian struggles to accept Steve as the new UCOS member, forcing Esther to intervene. Guest-starring the excellent Sarah Smart (most recently in Wallander) and Alex Jennings, with Alun Armstrong, Amanda Redman and Denis Lawson. And Dennis Waterman. Who sings the theme song.

Bernie Fineman and Mario Pacione scour scrapheaps, wastelands and backyards to find classic cars in need of restoration in the appropriately named Classic Car Rescue - 8:00 Channel Five. As well as locating the parts that can bring the vintage wrecks back to life, they learn about the stories behind the machines and reveal why they occupy an important place in automotive history. The duo begin by working on a Jaguar E-type, a sports car that set new standards in design and performance during the 1960s. The programme also features a chance for viewers to win the restored car.

Three friends with hearty appetites square off against a trio of mathematicians in the competition challenging contestants to make connections between things that initially do not appear to be linked in Only Connect - 8:30 BBC4. Presented by yer actual Victoria Coren her very self.
Any march hares which appear are there purely by accident.

Nigella Lawson - she has her knockers - presents a guide to Italian cookery, demonstrating how to create traditional and exciting meals using ingredients that are widely available in most supermarkets in Nigellissima - 8:30 BBC2. Nigella says: “'hen I went to live in Italy when young, I said I'd do anything but clean lavatories; as a chambermaid in Florence, that is what I ended up doing! But I also learned about real Italian food, and by the time I'd left I had found my spiritual and gastronomic home. I wanted to make a series of my sort of Italian food, inspired by the ethos and the ingredients but fused with the way we live our lives, here, in the UK. I care about ease and accessibility, but I care most about passion and taste and it is these crucial Italian factors, I want to bring to the table and the television.'With her passion for Italy and Italian cooking - she lived and worked in Florence before reading Italian at Oxford - Nigella's mouth-watering dishes have their roots in tradition but take us into fresh territory; knowledge worn light of touch but full on taste. She begins by preparing Sicilian pasta with tomatoes, garlic and almonds, a family feast of tagliata and Tuscan fries, and a fiery egg dish designed for late-night parties. Mouth-watering. And, the food's not bad either. So, if you'd like a good old poke around in Nigella's pantry, this is probably the very show for you.

Tuesday 25 September
Country girl Denise Lovett arrives in a booming Victorian city to work at her uncle's drapery shop, only to discover it is close to collapse following the opening of a nearby department store in BBC1's much-trailed new costume drama series The Paradise - 9:00. Struggling to make ends meet - and, not particularly wanting to go on the game - she takes up a job in the bigger business, and soon falls in love with its grand trappings - as well as its grand owner, the ambitious John Moray. Lark Rise to Candleford writer Bill Gallagher's adaptation of Emile Zola's 1883 novel, stars Joanna Vanderham, Sarah Lancashire, Emun Elliott and Matthew McNulty.

And so it came to pass that there was darkness upon the land. But, then, John Nettles left leaving a nation of octogenarians heartbroken and got replaced by that bloke from The Life of Riley who, frequently, got acted off screen by the dog from the Every Home Needs A Harvey advert. As darkness covers Midsomer Stanton during a total eclipse of the sun (and, you didn't think another one was due in Britain until the next century), amateur astronomer Jeremy Harper is killed by blow to the head with a meteorite, a fiendishly different sort of case for the coppers of Midsomer Murders - 8:00 ITV. Barnaby and Jones are called in to investigate, and the duo discover that intrigue, sexual tension and academic rivalry are rife among the local stargazing community. Murder mystery, guest starring Maureen Lipman and Kenny Ireland, with Neil Dudgeon and Jason Hughes.

The Boy Who Can't Forget - 9:00 Channel Four - is a documentary investigating superior autobiographical memory, a condition which enables people to remember an extraordinary amount of their lives. Academic Giuliana Mazzoni and eight-time world memory champion Dominic O'Brien assess a twenty-year-old British student who appears to possess remarkable powers of recall, and scientists discuss possible physical and psychological reasons for the phenomenon. The programme also features an interview with American school administrator Jill Price, the first person to be diagnosed with the condition, who reveals how not being able to forget has affected her life.

Frank is eager to become involved in a project to construct a luxury holiday complex in Hafjell with businessman Julius Backe, and volunteers to put a bit of pressure on an environmentalist who owns land essential to the development in the latest episode of the genuinely surprising Lilyhammer - 10:00 BBC4. Meanwhile, Geir Tvedt is concerned about the lack of security measures in place for a prestigious cross-country skiing event, in which the chief of police and a senior government minister are taking part. Oddly likeable comedy crime drama, starring Miami Steve Van Zandt (yes, the guitarist out of The E Street Band as well as a very fine actor). In Norwegian and English. If you haven't seen this latest import for the lands of the ice and snow, check it out. Borgen, it isn't, but it might just be oddball enough to find an audience.

Wednesday 26 September
Made over two years ago but delayed until now for copyright reasons, Room At The Top - 9:00 BBC4 - is the first in a two-part drama, based on John Braine's classic 1950s novel about an ambitious Yorkshireman trying to realise his social aspirations in post-war Britain. Qualified accountant Joe Lampton (Matthew McNulty) leaves behind a working-class background when he moves to affluent Warley, where he joins the amateur dramatic society, hoping to find a better class of woman. He encounters Alice Aisgill (Maxine Peake), who sets him up with the daughter of the town's richest man, but Joe's hopes of marrying into the middle-class lifestyle he craves are threatened by his and Alice's passion for one another. The two-part drama was made nearly two years ago by Great Meadow Productions and should have been shown in April 2011 but had to be shelved at the last minute until a copyright dispute between the estate of the late author, John Braine, and Remus Films could be settled. Jenna Louise Coleman and Kevin McNally also star.

Coronation Street star William Roache has, of course, played Ken Barlow since the soap began in 1960. He learns about his family's entrepreneurial past and discovers the cafe his grandmother Zillah Waddicor ran on the site of Alton Towers in the 1920s and 1930s was a far more ambitious business than he had been led to believe, and learns about the challenges she faced in her personal and professional lives in the latest episode of the genealogy programme Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1. Bill also delves into the story of his great-grandfather James, a trader who dealt in some highly unusual wares in late 19th-century Blackpool.

Controversial from the moment it was announced, is Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial - 10:00 Channel Four. Jon Snow and Christian Jessen present the first of a two-part study into the Class A drug's effects on the brain, as volunteers including actor Keith Allen and novelist Lionel Shriver take MDMA - Ecstasy in its pure form. Scientists David Nutt and Val Curran explore the short- and long-term consequences for users and the potential side-effects.
Supposedly very popular with students although, personally, this blogger thinks it's about as funny as a kick in the knackers, The Revolution Will Be Televised concludes its six episode run tonight, 10:00 BBC3. Mind you, to be fair, this blogger is probably not the intended audience. He's an adult, for a kick-off. Dale Maily (ho, bleedin' ho) visits Gay Pride in London in search of answers about homosexuality, while James and Barnaby explain the changes to the NHS made by former health secretary Andrew Lansley in the health and social care bill. Plus, the Google Home View team invades people's houses and the Barclays Casino opens at Canary Wharf. Performed by Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubenstein, a smug pair of 'look at us, aren't we clever?' posh boys. No, lads, you're not.

Thursday 27 September
Homefront - 9:00 ITV - is a drama following four women related to soldiers serving in Afghanistan. Tasha's world comes crashing down when her husband is killed in action, while his mum Paula is desperate for someone to blame. Officer's wife-to-be Claire sets a date for her wedding before fiance Pete returns to duty, and Louise receives an anonymous picture message from Camp Bastion suggesting that her husband Joe has been unfaithful. Starring Claire Skinner, Nicola Stephenson, Antonia Thomas and Clare Higgins.

A couple from the Midlands arrive at the airport to meet their daughter, but are horrified to discover she has returned from her gap year with a new husband - a travelling hippie called Cuckoo who is now their son-in-law. That's the set-up for a new sitcom, Cuckoo - 9:30 BBC3. Sounds piss awful, frankly, and the couple of clips from it this blogger has seen haven't, exactly dispelled that notion. Although it does feature Greg Davies, who usually manages to enliven whatever he's in to a vague level of being 'occasionally funny.' However, major minus point; it's also got silly little Helen Baxendale - who usually makes me want to smash in my telly rather than watch her, even in shows I enjoy like Dirk Gently - along with Andy Samberg and Tamla Kari. So, fair warning to the production team, you've got fifteen minutes to entertain yer actual Keith Telly Topping, then if you've not managed it he's switching over to a repeat of Qi on Dave.

In the latest Mock The Week - 10:00 BBC2 - Him & Her star Joe Wilkinson, Stand Up for the Week's Josh Widdicombe and the best gag merchant currently on the circuit, the surreal Milton Jones join Dara O Briain and regulars Hugh Dennis, Andy Parsons and Chris Addison for the satirical current affairs quiz.

Friday 28 September
Historian Pamela Cox explores how Britain's domestic servants lived and worked in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries in Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs - 9:00 BBC2. She begins by examining how the concept of service was perceived in Victorian society. She investigates the relationships between families and those they employed, discovers how power hierarchies developed, and learns why having domestic staff could pose problems for middle-class households.

And so to the news, dear blog reader, and we start - where else? - with
The number of lawsuits against News International over Scum of the World phone-hacking continues to mount, with more than forty new claims filed by individuals including Sarah Ferguson, former footballer Tony Adams and Joanne Lees, whose boyfriend Peter Falconio was murdered in Australia. Others filing claims for Scum of the World phone-hacking damages and mucho wonga ahead of Friday's deadline for new civil actions set by the high court judge presiding over the process include former Labour cabinet minister Geoffrey Robinson, Uri Geller and ex-EastEnders actors Leslie Grantham and Tamzin Outhwaite. They have been joined by former Boyzone singer Keith Duffy, Joe Royle, ex-manager of Everton and Manchester City and Tony Woodley, formerly joint general secretary of the Unite trade Union. Friday's new claims bring the total number of fresh civil cases against News International since it paid out to fifty eight victims earlier in the year to one hundred and twenty one. More claims are expected to be lodged at the high court in London on Friday but will not be made public by court documents until Monday. Hugh Tomlinson, QC, representing phone-hacking victims, told a high court case management conference earlier this month that in addition, one hundred and twenty four phone-hacking claims have been accepted into the News International compensation fund. He said he believed the total number of new claims will be 'somewhere under three hundred.' Ferguson, Prince Andrew's ex-wife, former England and Arsenal captain Adams, are among the most high profile of the latest batch of alleged Scum of the World phone-hacking victims. Lees, who had a difficult relationship with the press after her boyfriend Falconio was brutally murdered while they were travelling in the Australian outback in 2001, is one of a number of victims of crimes that the paper allegedly targeted. Hugh Grant and Charlotte Church's local priest, Father Reardon, are among thirteen other claimants who have filed lawsuits this week. Others who have filed damages claims in the last week include TV presenter Chris Tarrant, ex-Oasis manager and Creation Records founder Alan McGee, another former EastEnders actor, Sid Owen, Darren Day and the Labour party's regional organiser for London, Hilary Perrin. A further sixty eight claims were filed by the beginning of September from individuals including Cherie Blair, footballer Wayne Rooney, Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell, David Beckham's father Ted, John Major's former daughter in law Emma Noble and a witness in the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial, Lily Colvin. In January and February this year, News International settled fifty eight Scum of the World phone-hacking cases out of court. Those who received damages included celebrities such as Jude Law and Sienna Miller, and crime victims Sara Payne, the mother of murdered school girl Sarah Payne, and Shaun Russell, whose wife and daughter were killed in a hammer attack in a country lane. Mr Justice Vos, the high court judge overseeing the new round of civil actions, had originally pencilled in February as the date for these cases to go to trial, but this has now been put back to some time after May because of a potential clash with criminal proceedings involving former News International executives, including well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, who was chief executive and the prime minister's former 'chum' Andy Coulson, who was the editor of the Scum of the World when much of the alleged hacking allegedly took place. All of those so far to come before the courts have denied the charges.

A journalist has been arrested by police investigating alleged corrupt payments to public officials. The forty three-year-old was held at a South West London police station at about 09:00 on Saturday after he went there by appointment. Scotland Yard said the man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt and suspicion of conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office. Police said the arrest was the result of data provided by News Corporation's Management Standards Committee. It is the forty seventh arrest as part of the Metropolitan Police's Operation Elveden, which is investigating allegations of inappropriate payments to police and public officials. Supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, it is running alongside Operation Weeting, the probe into phone-hacking. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'It relates to suspected payments to a public official and is not about seeking journalists to reveal confidential sources in relation to information that has been obtained legitimately.' The MSC was set up by the company to conduct internal investigations relating to allegations of wrongdoing at its newspapers. The arrest comes just days after a serving member of the armed forces and his wife, from Surrey, were also arrested and bailed in connection with Operation Elveden.

Files detailing police cover ups over the Hillsborough disaster were given to the Crown Prosecution Service fourteen years ago, it has been claimed. Alun Jones QC said the CPS chief needed to explain 'why his office did absolutely nothing.' Jones led a private prosecution for manslaughter against police officers. Meanwhile, a complaint against police chief Sir Norman Bettison has been referred to the police watchdog. Sir Norman said he 'welcomed' the step. Writing in the Independent newspaper, Jones said the Hillsborough Family Support Group launched the private prosecution against Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield and his deputy Bernard Murray - who were supposed to be 'in charge' when ninety six Liverpool fans died on 15 April 1989 - because of the Director of Public Prosecutions's failure to act. Jones wrote in the newspaper: 'We furnished the DPP, and Attorney General, with an analysis demonstrating the gravity of the conspiracy, but also proving that critical evidence of non-police witnesses had been withheld from the DPP and coroner in 1990. We showed how the tampering exercise was organised. I was clear that crimes of perverting the course of justice had been committed, but not by whom, and it was beyond the power of the families to investigate.' The prosecution failed in 2000. A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman told the paper: 'The Crown Prosecution Service was approached in 1998 by both parties to the private prosecution and asked to take it over. At the time we concluded we would not intervene and the private prosecution went ahead. We provided documentation to the Hillsborough Independent Panel about the reasons behind this decision in 1998 and the panel has made no criticism of the CPS or the DPP over this.' The decision to refer a complaint involving West Yorkshire Chief Constable Bettison to the Independent Police Complaints Commission was taken at a meeting on Saturday of the police authority's special committee. Chairman of the special Committee Richard Baldwin said: 'It is important the facts are fully established and evidence considered from other sources before any further decisions are taken. The IPCC, as an independent body with a statutory duty to uphold the police complaints system, is best placed to conduct such investigations.' Bettison, who was with South Yorkshire police at the time of Hillsborough, said he welcomed the step and added: 'It is time this moved into a more formal and legal inquiry, where it can be considered, analysed and fully assessed.' On Friday he grovellingly apologised for 'any upset caused' by his statement the day before that Liverpool fans' behaviour made policing at the Hillsborough tragedy 'harder than it needed to be.' He weaseled that his role was never to 'besmirch' the fans and said that the Liverpool supporters were 'in no way to blame' for the disaster. Yes, mate, we know. We've known that since 1989. The police were. Flags at Sunderland's Stadium of Light flew at half-mast on Saturday as a mark of respect to those who died at Hillsborough. The home side took on Liverpool in the club's first match since the findings of the Hillsborough panel were released. The game ended in a 1-1 draw and Liverpool's poor start to the season continues.

Previously unseen Morecambe And Wise footage is to be broadcast in a new retrospective on the comedy heroes. The families of both Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise have opened up their archives for the series, which will air on the GOLD channel from November. Producers at North One Television have secured enough rare material to fill five hour-long programmes, mixed in with 'talking heads' commentary from the likes of Chris Tarrant and Hugh Dennis. The show will be voiced by avid Morecambe and Wise fan Victoria Wood, who was involved in the acclaimed 2010 TV biopic Eric and Ernie. Announcing the show, UKTV's chief executive Darren Childs said: 'We have been working for a long time with the estates and families of Morecambe and Wise and discovered lots of never-before-seen and never-before-broadcast content. There was so much that we've managed to get five episodes out of it.' North One previously made The Unforgettable Ernie Wise, which was shown on ITV on New Year's Day. Eric Morecambe's personal archives have been plundered for several books in the twenty eight years since he died, including his son Gary's 2009 well received biography You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone, which included unseen family photographs; and the 2006 anthology Eric Morecambe Unseen, which included extracts from his diaries, notebooks and photo collection. Another book, Eric Morecambe: Lost And Found, again by Gary Morecambe, is due out later this month. It includes 'notebooks, sketches, skits, musings, interviews and rare photographs' as well as interview transcripts.

Channel Four has ordered full series of Dallas-style spoof Bad Sugar and a second run of prank show I'm Spazticus. Both programmes featured in last month's Funny Fortnight season, celebrating thirty years of comedy on the channel, and the newly ordered episodes will be broadcast next year. Channel Four says further commissions from the season will be announced over the coming months. Bad Sugar is written by Peep Show creators Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong and stars Julia Davis, Olivia Colman and Sharon Horgan as members of a dysfunctional, wealthy mining dynasty family, The Caudwells. The writers said: 'We're looking forward to spending 2013 writing for the three funniest women in Britain, while the producers stockpile mink stoles, shoulder pads and hairspray.' Nerys Evans, acting head of comedy at Channel Four, added: ‘We're delighted to announce a series of Bad Sugar, not only with the brilliant writing talents of Sam and Jesse but also starring the country's most ridiculously talented comedy cast.

American stand-up Jim Gaffigan is to make a sitcom loosely based on his life. The CBS network has ordered a pilot from the comic and Peter Tosh, who wrote the movie Analyse This and created the Dennis Leary firefighter series Rescue Me. According to Hollywood industry website Deadline, the show will revolve around a man who lives with his wife and five kids in a two-bedroom New York apartment. Gaffigan is just about to become a father for the fifth time. The news follows announcement that Gaffigan is writing a family book due out in June 2013. Meanwhile, the NBC network has bought an untitled sitcom from Ellen DeGeneres' production company, about a thirty two-year-old single woman who suddenly becomes convinced that she is doomed to die alone.

New York City's Department of Health has approved measures to ban jumbo fizzy drinks. The new law will mean that sugary drinks larger than sixteen ounces cannot be served in restaurants, cinemas, stadiums and arenas, Metro reports. Soft drink companies including Pepsi and Coca-Cola opposed the prohibition, saying that consumers should be free to select the size of drink they want. The purpose of the ban, proposed initially by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is to fight obesity. 'This is the single biggest step any city has ever taken to curb obesity, certainly not the last step that lots of cities are going to take,' Bloomberg claimed. 'We believe it will save many lives.'

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, today, features this, another extract from the Ariel Bender book of licks.