Monday, December 10, 2012

I Like Your Manifesto, Put It To The Test-o

The X Factor live final on Sunday was watched by just under eleven million overnight punters, more than six million less than the equivalent episode two years ago and the lowest audience for a series finale since 2006. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's ITV show, which was won by somebody called James Arthur, apparently, averaged 10.94 million viewers on ITV, a 39.6 per cent share of the audience, between 7.40pm and 9.40pm. The audience was significantly down from the 13.1 million who watched Little Mix win last year's final (and, my, haven't they done well for themselves since). It was also more than six million down on the 17.2 million who tuned in to watch Matt Cardle triumph in 2010 – the ratings high point for The X Factor, which has been running for nine series since 2004. The 2012 final had a five-minute peak of 12.8 million. Viewing of the first leg of the final, on Saturday night, which saw the contestants whittled down to two as Christopher Mahoney was knocked out, slumped to The X Factor's lowest level since 2005. An average of 9.5 million tuned-in on Saturday between 8pm and 10pm, with a fifteen-minute peak of 10.2 million. Strictly Come Dancing's results programme, which was shown at the earlier time of 7pm on Sunday and saw the departure of Nicky Byrne, had an audience of 9.95m on BBC1 and was the night's second most-watched broadcast, while Antiques Roadshow (5.82m) held up remarkably well against the first hour of X Factor. Elsewhere on the channel, Countryfile pulled in 6.66m earlier on at 6pm, and the documentary Rome's Lost Empire interested 3.93m from 8.40pm. After The X Factor finished, viewers deserted ITV like flies leaving shit as Rod Stewart's Christmas posted an audience of just 3.5m in the network's lucrative slot. Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire? preceded the singing contest with 2.83m from 6.40pm.

The BBC has confirmed that Last Tango in Halifax will return for a second series. The romantic comedy - which is currently being shown on BBC1 - stars Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid as two senior citizens who, several decades after they first met, are reunited and find love. Last Tango in Halifax premiered with an overnight audience of 6.16m last month, winning its timeslot, and ratings have remained strong with an average of six million per episode, making the show the fifth most successful new drama series to launch on BBC1 in 2012. Sarah Lancashire, Nicola Walker and Dean Andrews also star in the series, which continues on Tuesdays at 9pm.

In one of the least surprising announcements of the year, the - alleged - BBC1 comedy Me & Mrs Jones will not return for a second series. Writer Oriane Messina confirmed the show's axe on Twitter, blaming the cancellation on 'disappointing audience numbers.' Or, as Ben Miller once noted in Moving Wallpaper about why a particular TV show had been cancelled, 'because it was shit and no one was watching it.' 'We just didn't get the ratings we needed,' Messina wrote. 'Tough time slot didn't help but we know lots of you loved it.' Yeah, that's right, love, blame the time slot. Me & Mrs Jones starred Sarah Alexander as single mother Gemma Jones, with Neil Morrissey, Nathaniel Parker and Robert Sheehan playing the three men in her life. It was about as funny a toe in a knackers. In a message to the show's fans, Messina added: 'Your support has been amazing, making the show trend and being so loyal, thank you. BBC1 is a tough nut to crack.' The series débuted with 3.13m viewers in October, but ratings had fallen to just 1.72m by the final episode. Neil Morrissey - who played Gemma's ex-husband Jason - previously told the Digital Spy website that he believed Me & Mrs Jones had 'the potential' to become a long-running series. 'I think it's got great family appeal and it seems pretty much relevant to what's going on today with parents in that particular age group, trying to [get] their life back together and having choices, dilemmas,' he explained. 'It feels good, so I think the public will latch onto it.' Or, you know, not.

For Daily Torygraph TV reviewer Neil Midgley, each glimpse of Sarah Lund in the latest run of The Killing seems to drag him back to a terrible night of guilt and dread. Midgley recalled last week producing a masterclass on the Danish drama at the 2011 Edinburgh TV festival where speakers were loaned costumes including Lund's first sweater. Afterwards, 'I put the costumes in a carrier bag and went out for lunch with a friend at Harvey Nichols' (well, he is a Torygraph man, after all). Then came shopping, coffee at Jenners, and suddenly 'realising with a terrible lurch that I'd lost the thing.' A night ruined by agony over the possibility of having lost 'this quasi-religious object' was followed by a fruitless return to Harvey Nicks – but the talismanic woolly did turn up at Jenners. It's now, he claims, kept under lock and key in Denmark.

So, for once, instead of waiting to the very end of the day's blog update, let's have yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day somewhat in the middle. And The Sultans of Ping FC their very selves have an urgent message for yer man from the Torygraph, I'd venture. Oh yes.
And now, we return you, dear blog reader, to something approaching normality.

Here's the final, consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty programmes week ending 2 December 2012:-
1 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 10.93m
2 I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) - Sat ITV - 10.74m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 10.17m
4 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 9.28m
5 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.67m
6 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.53m
7 The Secret of Crickley Hall - Sun BBC1 - 7.13m
8 Last Tango in Halifax - Tue BBC1 - 6.78m
9 Merlin - Sat BBC1 - 6.76m
10 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.57m
11 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 6.07m
12 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.27m
13 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.04m
14 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.89m
15 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.86m
16 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.76m
17 Holby City - Tue BBC1 - 4.76m
18 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.65m
19 Supersized Earth - Wed BBC1 - 4.19m
20 New Tricks - Mon BBC1 - 4.11m
Two BBC2 programmes - MasterChef: The Professionals (3.49m) and University Challegne (3.27m) - and one Channel Four show - Homeland (3.22m) - broke the three million viewers barrier.

An unattributed (and, therefore, almost certainly made up) tabloid report suggests that actors on ITV's serials Emmerdale and Coronation Street may strike over proposed pay cuts. Emmerdale is produced by Yorkshire and Coronation Street by Granada both owned by parent company ITVplc which is, according to the Daily Lies, planning to cut on-screen wages by up to thirty per cent. The renegotiated contracts are said to effect how much is paid to actors for repeat fees as well as a cut in payment for each episode appearance. Mind you, this is according to the Daily Lies whose record of true and accurate reportage is somewhat south of the equator. An un-named (and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious) actor on Coronation Street is reported as telling the paper: 'It's come out of nowhere and it's potentially going to decimate our pay. The repeat fees and online fees make up about thirty per cent of our pay. We're all very, very unhappy. There have been several high level meetings with our union reps and they're locked in negotiations with ITV. We've had several meetings with them and they're backing us all the way – but they can’t guarantee it won’t happen.' Some of the key actors on Corrie are said to be 'immune' to the cuts as their contracts are long-running and won't be effected. These include longest serving actor Bill Roache, Barbara Knox, Sue Nicholls and Helen Worth. The nameless alleged actor allegedly also told the alleged newspaper that performers are 'pondering' strike action and added that soap actors don’t earn as much money as the public may think. This is not the first time that wage cuts have been mooted at ITV's premier soaps. In 2008 the Mirra reported that actors on Corrie were to face 'huge pay cuts' in order to 'slash thousands off the show's budget' and in January this year the Sun reported cast were 'considering strike action' of the reduction of repeat fees.

Switch has reportedly been cancelled by ITV2. Nina Toussaint-White - who played Jude Thomas - made the announcement on Twitter on Saturday. 'Bad news. No more Switch!' wrote the actress. Although ,this is obviously some new use of the phrase 'bad news' that this blogger hadn't previously come across. Toussaint-White, Lacey Turner, Hannah Tointon and Phoebe Fox starred in Switch as four flatmates who are also witches. Yes, it was a bit like Charmed. Only not as good. The show was shown for a single six-part series, débuting in October with eight hundred and seventy thousand punters. ITV is yet to officially confirm the cancellation of Switch, which was written by Chloe Moss and Tim Price.

With the schedule for the first quarter of 2013 announced, speculation continues over which stories will be released over the course of the rest of the year in the lead-up to Doctor Who's Fiftieth Anniversary in November. The currently confirmed stories include the final two complete adventures Terror of the Zygons (in June) and the as-yet unscheduled The Mind of Evil - both particular favourites of yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self. Particular the bit in the latter where The Brigadier turns up looking like Bicycle Repair Man. Also confirmed is a special edition release of 1970's Inferno - another huge favourite of this blogger. Especially the bit on the Australian showing of the opening episode when, as the title's rolled at the end of the episode the Aussie continuity announcer noted that 'Doctor Who and the Green Man' would be back tomorrow and that viewers could get a great range of Doctor Who merchandise from their local ABC shop, but 'probably not a Green Man.' That was brilliant. TV history in the making. Producer Dan Hall reported in September that four special edition DVD sets were on the way (all of them, rather typically, DVDs which yer actual Keith Telly Topping bought the 'non-special editions' of some years ago) and with Peter Davison's The Visitation recently revealed this completes those initial commissions (the others being February's The Ark in Space and March's The Aztecs - the latter being, possibly, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite ever Doctor Who story ever. Bar none). Ah, The Aztecs. 'How shall a man know his Gods?' 'By the signs of their divinity.' 'But, what if thieves walk amongst the gods?' 'Then, indeed, how shall a man know?' Masterpiece. At least one additional (currently unnamed) special edition has now been commissioned, though whether this would be released next year has yet to be confirmed. What's the betting, however, that when it is released, that'll also be one that this blogger already has. With regard to animations, though there have been no formal announcements post January's The Reign of Terror, Hall had explained that stories with a maximum of two episodes missing were being considered as commercially viable: stories meeting this criteria are The Crusade, The Tenth Planet, The Underwater Menace, The Moonbase and The Ice Warriors. Of those, sound designer Brian Hodgson indicated in June that he had recorded a commentary for The Moonbase (and possibly The Underwater Menace), and Frazer Hines told the audience at the Dimensions convention that he had recorded a documentary for The Ice Warriors alongside Sonny Caldinez - the latter story also had a trailer passed by the BBFC on 5 December, suggesting that this adventure might well be out sometime next year. The BBFC have classified extras for The Ark in Space special edition, currently scheduled for the 18 February; as well as a brand new 'Making Of' documentary, the release will also include the Omnibus version of the story, originally edited for a repeat broadcast on BBC1 on 20 August 1975. The BBFC have classified extras for The Aztecs special edition, currently scheduled for the 11 March. As previously reported, this release contains the recovered Galaxy 4 episode Air Lock, and the extras reveal that reconstructions of the missing episodes (originally planned for The Time Meddler DVD) will also be presented on this release. In addition, a 1969 episode of the archaeology series Chronicle has been included which looks into the history of Mexico at the time of the Spanish conquest. Slated for June next year, extras for The Terror of the Zygons DVD release were classified by the BBFC back in July; one of the items passed was a 'director's cut' of episode one, of which more details are now known. Originally filmed but then cut from the final edit due to 'grading issues,' the opening scene with The Doctor, Sarah and Harry arriving in Scotland by TARDIS was discovered among the collection of the story's film editor Ian McKendrick, consisting of partial colour, partial black and white footage and a soundtrack. The clip, lasting around a minute and a half, has had the monochrome sections colourised for the DVD by Stuart Humphryes, who also worked on the colourisation of episode one of The Mind of Evil. The finished scene, which also includes its incidental music as composed by Geoffrey Burgon (featured on the CD soundtrack of Terror of the Zygons and The Seeds of Doom released in 2000), has been incorporated back into episode one and viewers will be able to select which version of the episode they wish to watch. As Restoration Team member Steve Roberts puts it: 'It's an awfully good scene. And, of course, one that hasn't been seen before - a couple of minutes of brand-new Tom, Lis and Ian action from one of the most highly regarded stories in the show's history!' Meanwhile, since original classification a couple of new developments have been announced for the two-disc release. Firstly, a contemporary interview conducted by the regional BBC news programme South Today was recently rediscovered, and fortunately there has been time to include the three minute item on the DVD. Roberts also reported that the late inclusion of the above has meant that it should be possible to include a thirty five second clip from Disney Time, presented by Tom Baker in character as The Doctor, onto the DVD as an Easter Egg.

A man in his sixties has been arrested on suspicion of sexual offences, the Metropolitan Police have said. The man, from London, is being questioned at a South London police station following his arrest at 06.45 on Monday morning. That would've been something of a rude awakening, one imagines. Officers from Operation Yewtree - set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile allegations - made the arrest. But Scotland Yard said that it was 'not connected' to those allegations made against the late BBC presenter himself. Operation Yewtree is the Met's investigation into allegations, some dating back decades, which have arisen since Savile was accused of abuse. The operation has three strands. One is looking specifically at the actions of Savile and the second strand concerns allegations against 'Savile and others.' The separate third strand relates to alleged complaints against other people unconnected to the Savile investigations. The man is the seventh person to be questioned - and, the sixth to be arrested - as part of the operation which has thirty officers and has already cost the tax payer around two million quid. If it comes to trial, Savile himself will presumably be dug up and forced to plead for his life. The other high-profile names arrested in connection with the investigation are the self-styled 'PR consultant' Max Clifford, the (alleged) comedian Freddie Starr, the hairy cornflake Dave Lee Travis and former TV producer Wilfred De'Ath, all of whom absolutely deny any wrongdoing. Gary Glitter, who was also arrested, but has not yet made a statement.
Harriet Harman has rejected suggestions that Labour's plan to give the most senior judge in the country the power to certify a new press watchdog would interfere with the industry's freedom of expression. The deputy Labour leader defended the new draft bill on press regulation and said that the system the party was proposing would 'guarantee' press freedom. Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping couldn't give a stuff about that and would like to see the entire press industry flushed into the gutter along with all the other shit. But, I realise that's not a view held by everyone so, you know, schtum. Labour's draft bill calls for the lord chief justice to 'assess' whether the new watchdog is set up correctly and to consider every three years thereafter whether it continues to be fit for purpose. 'There needs to be some guarantee in law, so it won't slip back,' Mad Hattie told Andrew Neil on BBC2's Daily Politics on Monday. She said the lord chief justice would merely have a role every three years and 'would not be dealing with any complaints about the press.' She was commenting as the Tories dismissed Labour plans for a Leveson law published on Monday as 'lacking in detail' as they prepare to produce the government's draft bill on press reform. Labour's six-clause bill, which it says also enshrines freedom of the press into law, will be considered at cross-party talks on Thursday. The government's own attempt at drafting legislation, which Conservatives said would 'show a press law was unworkable,' will also be produced in time for the meeting. Neil put it to Mad Hattie that placing judges in charge of press freedom would be the worst thing parliament could do because history is littered with attempts by the judiciary to inhibit the free press. These included the Spycatcher case when the courts issued a gagging order to stop newspapers reporting the contents of the book written by former M15 agent Peter Wright. When newspapers desisted, contempt of court proceedings were issued although these were eventually dropped. Throughout this time, the book could be reported in Scotland and books were being secretly brought into the UK privately from the US and Australia, making a mockery of the ban. Harman insisted this kind of power could not be given to the lord chief justice: 'All we are doing is setting up a body, have it verified and have in three years' time the sense that the press know that they have got to keep going with what they are doing and not slip back.' She agreed that bloggers such as Paul Staines, could remain outside the system but said there would be 'carrots' such as reduced libel costs for those who join the new watchdog proposed by Leveson and supported by Labour. The Tories also accused Labour of 'doing a U-turn' after rejecting a role for Ofcom as the verifier of the new press regulator, something the opposition party supported in the hours after the Leveson report was first published late last month.

His death aged just thirty nine, after a life blighted by drink and poverty, deprived the literary world of one of its most beautiful and original voices. Now the BBC and screenwriter Andrew Davies are to tackle Dylan Thomas's last days in a TV biopic to mark the centenary of Thomas's birth. A Poet In New York will be a seventy five-minute film about the time Thomas spent in the US during October and early November 1953, with a location shoot planned. Made by fellow Welshman Griff Rhys Jones's production company Modern TV for BBC Wales, the drama is intended to be shown on BBC2 on 27 October 2014, one hundred years to the day since the birth of the writer best known for his radio 'play for voices' Under Milk Wood, as well as his poems about mortality And Death Shall Have No Dominion and Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night. Davies, one of the UK's most prolific and successful screenwriters, with credits including Pride and Prejudice, House of Cards, A Very Peculiar Practice and Bleak House (not forgetting Educating Marmalade, of course), told the Gruniad Morning Star that Toby Jones was a candidate for the part of Thomas, which has yet to be cast. Jones has portrayed several real life figures including Truman Capote, Karl Rove and Alfred Hitchcock. But Davies said he needed to finish the script before a decision was taken. 'I don't think we can get someone who looks like him – he was so distinctive. The voice is impressive too – but oddly he doesn't sound Welsh. I think he had elocution lessons when he was younger.' The film will include flashbacks to Thomas's earlier life including scenes in Laugharne, his home in Carmarthenshire for the last four years of his life. But the focus will be on his final days, when Thomas left his fiery and heavy drinking wife, Caitlin, to travel to New York to oversee the production of Under Milk Wood at the Poetry Centre in Manhattan. The cash-strapped poet had agreed to the project to fund a proposed trip to Hollywood where he was due to collaborate with the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, one of his many admirers, on an opera. But what might have been a triumphant new departure in his career turned into a requiem for a man whose life had spiralled out of control. Instead of concentrating on his work, Thomas continued his excessive drinking and reignited a love affair with Liz Reitell, the assistant of American poet John Brinnin. On 5 November 1953, Thomas fell ill while drinking with Reitell at a Manhattan bar and slipped into a coma, dying four days later. Reportedly some of his last words were: 'I have had eighteen straight whiskies, I think that's the record.' However this anecdote, like the true cause of his death, is the subject of much debate. Caitlin, whom Thomas met in London in 1936, dashed to his New York bedside. She collapsed in hysterics and had to be straitjacketed and admitted to a mental hospital when he died. Davies told the Gruniad that having read 'a number of books' about his last days he believes Thomas 'drank himself to death.' He said: 'The way it looks to me it is as if he was on a half intended self-destruction. He was in a desperate state – he was hugely in debt to the Inland Revenue and he was finding it impossible to do his creative work. I think when he was in Wales he was a fairly moderate drinker – he drank beer but I think when he went away he went wild, and drank whisky.' However, while Davies believes Thomas did not eat for ten days before his death, he is certain that he could not have drunk eighteen whiskies in one go and suggests that an ill-advised morphine injection Thomas was given shortly before his demise 'did not help him.' He added: 'I find myself in sympathy with all the characters in the story. Dylan was so unable to look after himself and he was such a fool, apart from also being a genius. Caitlin was such a passionate uncompromising woman and he put her in an awful situation. He never had enough money to bring up the kids. I feel real sympathy too for Liz who looked after him, and put up with his drinking. And Brinnin was in love with Dylan a bit. He was a bit of a super-fan and there is a sense that Dylan took him a bit for granted.'

A written statement from Lord Lucan's sister suggesting that another man was at his house around the time of the murder of the family nanny has been uncovered. Lady Sarah Gibbs told police at the time that the Lucans' young daughters talked about a 'boyfriend' at the home, the BBC's Inside Out has learned. The Seventh Earl of Lucan vanished after the death of Sandra Rivett in 1974 and an inquest subsequently found that he murdered her. Lots. His brother Hugh Bingham has called for the evidence to be looked at afresh. In the statement from November 1974, Lady Sarah said that her four-year-old niece, Lady Camilla Bingham, told her of a mystery man who sometimes slept in 'nanny's room and nanny sleeps with us' and sometimes slept in 'mummy's - she's got a gigantic bed.' Lady Sarah, who died in 2001, said in the statement: 'We were talking about home, that is Forty Six Lower Belgrave Street and Camilla said the boyfriend always stays upstairs while we have lunch until we ring the buzzer. I said to her "What's his name?" She said "I don't know, he hasn't told me his name." I said "Where does he live?" She said "He lives in the house with us."' When asked whether the man was the boyfriend of Lady Lucan or of the nanny, Lady Sarah said: 'I wouldn't know, I'm assuming she meant the nanny because Frances [ten-year-old Lady Frances Bingham] referred to the boyfriend when I told her that the nanny was dead.' Lord Lucazade himself claimed later in a letter that on the night of the murder he had witnessed a man fighting with his estranged wife, Lady Lucan, in the basement of the family home but the man fled. No one believed him. Speaking from his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, Bingham told Inside Out South East that he was annoyed the witness statement was not presented at the 1975 inquest into Rivett's death. The jury found that Lord Lucazade had extremely murdered the nanny. Bingham added: 'It is certainly the first time that I've heard of a second man established in the house.' Bingham called for the evidence the BBC uncovered to be investigated. 'I'm encouraged by the idea that there is a fresh source of evidence and that I feel wants to be given a fair hearing and this seems to me to be one way of achieving that. Let us hope that now with the way in which the evidence seems to be gathering, there is a chance that maybe the inquest result could be set aside. If that happened then the warrant of arrest would fall away and my brother's situation would be restored to the normal situation of a man innocent until proven guilty.' Neil Berriman, who discovered in 2004 that Mrs Rivett was his birth mother, has backed calls for the claims in the witness statement to be investigated. Berriman, from Haslemere in Surrey, said: 'As far as I'm concerned, [Lord Lucan] murdered my mother - and if he never murdered my mother and if there is another murderer I need to get to the bottom of it.' Retired Detective Sergeant Graham Forsyth, who witnessed Lady Sarah's statement, told Inside Out he believed Rivett may have had a boyfriend who sometimes stayed over at the house. He did not think the man was traced because the police believed Lord Lucan was the murderer 'as was subsequently found at the inquest.' Lord Lucan's estranged wife, Lady Lucan, has not commented on the witness statement. The new evidence came to light after Inside Out South East was handed three boxes of notebooks, diaries, tapes and address books found by the daughter of the late Detective Chief Inspector David Gerring, a key detective in the Lucan case. The documents also reveal that the police believed Lucan may have visited a Scottish estate in the late 1970s and could have been in Mozambique up to 2002. Lord Lucan, born Richard John Bingham in 1934, has not been seen since the day after Sandra Rivett was found murdered. His car was later found abandoned in Newhaven, East Sussex. The peer was officially declared dead by the High Court in 1999. Since his disappearance at the age of thirty nine there have been more than seventy alleged sightings of him in countries across the world including South Africa, Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands. And, at least one unconfirmed rumour that he's been playing up front for Hartlepool United.

It's the season to be jolly and, also, for leaving it would seem. And, the trend is for media leaving parties to resemble American comedy 'roasts' with the departed being ritually slaughtered by their soon-to-be-former colleagues. This went well enough at Channel Five, where (Broadcast reports) outgoing programme supremo Jeff Ford was ironically lauded by his ex-spinner Paul Leather for boldly gambling on buying CSI ('watched by a mere thirty million in the US') and told the defining moment of his career would remain buying the duff Friends spin-off Joey. However, reportedly at the farewell party for BBC Worldwide boss John Smith, laddish elements in the video compilation jokily sketching his career – apparently including a The Only Way is Essex-related gag about Worldwide executive Jana Bennett, who is leaving too – led to 'protests' from some guests, and to those responsible 'joining the rather long list of BBC staff currently in the doghouse.' Or, so claims some louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star. So this may well be agenda-soaked lies.