Saturday, December 22, 2012

So You've Finally Got What You Wanted

Friday night saw a thoroughly excellent Christmas Qi episode - with Sarah Millican, Phill Jupitas and, particularly, the legend that is yer man Danny Baker on sparkling form alongside Stephen and - a far more silly than usual - Alan Davies. Maybe, following yesterday's story about his stroppy unhappiness at not getting 'serious acting roles' because he's perceived to be 'that idiot off Qi' Alan is looking for an exit route. Which would be sad but hardly the end of the world. (That was yesterday as well but, as usual, it didn't happen.) If you missed it - Qi, that is, not the end of the world - the XL edition can be seen on BBC2 at 9:45 on Christmas night.
The series finale of Have I Got News For You meanwhile was, sad to report, a bit below the topical new quiz's usual impressive standards. Mainly because guest host Daniel Radcliffe, whilst able to read an autocue, proved to be spectacularly unable to keep a straight face or stop from sniggering whenever he was required to deliver any of the jokes on it. His best moments were when young 'arry his very self went off-script and started talking about the time when his dog really did eat his homework. Allegedly. Having the great Andy Hamilton on the programme with Paul and Ian helped, of course.
Meanwhile, on BBC4, we had the excellent Slade Night. In addition to a rare TV showing of their neglected 1974 masterpiece, Slade in Flame there were also a couple of fine documentaries - including the new Slade At The Beeb - featuring yer actual Nod, Dave, Jim and Don in all their top-gear Black Country grooviness with the top hat and the loon pants. If you missed it, dear blog reader, keep yer mincers peeled for any repeats and, remember, get down and get with it!
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat was a guest on The Simon Mayo Drivetime Show on BBC Radio 2 on Monday. Talking about Doctor Who's continued appeal on Christmas Day, The Moffster said he felt the show's accessibility as a 'shared live viewing experience' was a 'great benefit. Much more so with the Christmas one than with the others, yes, there's a big live audience for it - because, you watch it as a family. Sometimes people actually watch it later, because their family aren't there - people tend to watch it in groups, that's very true of Doctor Who. I think Doctor Who is always a bit Christmassy, it's that kind of show, it always feels substantially madder than every other show, and we're always striving to make it an event - so you have to make Doctor Who even more so when it's Christmas Day. One thing I'd say I think it needs to be more accessible to new viewers, because more people are dragged in to watch Doctor Who on that day than on any other occasion.' Talking about an initially melancholy Doctor in the episode, Steven explained: 'What you need to remember is that the last time we saw The Doctor he had lost the Ponds - he lost Amy and Rory - he lost them to The Weeping Angels, and when you begin this story he's in a terrible place, he's in a right old grump, he's retired from saving the universe, he's having nothing to do with anyone, and although there's a building threat to humanity he's just storming away being a sort of Scrooge.' Ahead of the press screening of The Snowmen on Tuesday evening, Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman popped into the Radio 1 Breakfast Show hosted by Nick Grimshaw. The duo chatted about their recent trip to New York and Jenna's arrival in the show and, later, answered listeners' questions. Matt later appeared on ITV's This Morning, the first time he'd appeared on the show. And, if he has any sense of personal dignity, the last as well. He chatted about his inspirations for the character of The Doctor, the enthusiasm of fans (which he praised), things he kept from the old TARDIS, and - as expected - didn't give any clues as to what to expect on Christmas Day. Enthusing about guest star Richard E Grant, he said: 'He was born to be a Who villain, he pitches it on that perfect level and tone.' The end of the week was rounded off by an appearance by Smudger on The Graham Norton Show, but although this was to promote the Christmas Special, as Matt pointed out: 'As always, I can't tell you anything, this is the tragedy of the show I'm in is that you come on and you can't actually promote it!' Graham mentioned that fellow guests Billy Connolly and Jennifer Saunders had once been suggested as potential Doctors, though the former said this wasn't true and the latter confirmed that she started the rumours herself.
The press screening its very self took place in the evening of 18 December, followed by a question and answer session with Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Otehr Gods Before He), Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman, during which the adventure and the further adventures next year were discussed. As seen in the trailer, The Doctor once again gets a firm and fruit kiss in the mush from his co-star which, of course, lead to half a dozen sexually immature arsewipes on the Interweb to whinge to anyone that was interested (and, indeed, anyone that wasn't) about what a disgusting kerfufflement this was. Or something. Speaking at the Q&A session of their on-screen 'relationship,' Matt said: 'I think always with this show and always with this relationship in this show, it will constantly evolve. And it should. And hopefully over the course of the next eight or nine episodes that we see subsequently to this it will evolve even further. We're excited about next year now and getting into that and actually going, "Well, now we know what we know about each other and the way we work and who we are and all the rest of it.." I kind of likened it to an arranged marriage. Not that I know what an arranged marriage is like. But it's like, "You're married, have chemistry."' On the other hand, Jenna responded: 'I likened it to a blind date. It's like putting two people together. Like, "Oh I know someone you'll really get on with." And then go in to save the world!' The new TARDIS interior was also discussed, with Steven explaining how it came about: 'It was mainly saying to Michael Pickwoad [the production designer], "What would you do with the TARDIS?" But we had a notion because I thought we'd been getting progressively whimsical with the interior of the TARDIS. And I started to think, "Well, why is that? It's not a magical place, it's actually a machine." So we did say "machine" and actually, potentially, as you'll see more spectacularly later, quite a scary place sometimes. We make a lot of use of that. And it's also a lot easier to shoot, I have to say.' Inevitably, the question of where the team would travel to in the TARDIS came up. Matt replied: 'I'd do a few things. I’d go and pick up Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. I'd try and marry one of them. Get them to sing to me. And maybe one of them could do both. And then I'd go and see England win the World Cup in 66. And I'd go and visit some sort of Jurassic age, I think.' Jenna's response was: 'I'd go back to ancient Egypt. I was watching a TV programme – where did the pyramids come from? I'd go find out where they came from. I'd go find out how they were built. And then other than that, maybe New York in the Twenties.' After that, Moffet brought everything right back down to Earth: 'I'm a perfectly happy man. I'd go right here. I don't want to go anywhere. I'm having too much fun to leave. I'd be terrified. Wouldn't you?' Word, my brother, word.

Dislocated bones, bad backs and dodgy knees are the reward for this year's Strictly Come Dancing contestants as they head to the final. Denise Van Outen dislocated a rib during rehearsals this week, whilst Olympic gymnast Louis Smith says that he will need a knee operation after the contest ends. 'That'll be the Cuban heels,' he joked at a press conference on Friday. Kimberley Walsh and Dani Harmer are also in the final, which is broadcast from 18:30 on BBC1 on Saturday. Girls Aloud singer Walsh also dislocated a rib in preparations for the semi-final. 'When you've got to do anything that stretches, it's like you've been winded,' she said. 'So laughing, coughing, sneezing anything. very painful.' Smith, who is the bookmakers' favourite to lift the glitterball trophy, claimed that his biggest worry was 'doing my back in and just collapsing on the floor on live TV. Not being able to move, with the music still going.' Harmer, however, said she was 'in perfect health' going into the final. Despite the injuries, the celebrity contestants are in high spirits - with a slightly hysterical end-of-term atmosphere infecting the backstage area. The dancers spent Friday morning watching each other rehearse. A fumbled routine by Harmer and her professional dance partner Vincent Simone proved to be the source of much hilarity. 'A lift went wrong,' said Simone, 'in the right way.' Pressed for details, Walsh explained: 'The way they're supposed to end the routine is the normal version, and they ended slightly x-rated.' 'It'll be all right on the night. If not, we'll style it out,' added Harmer. 'It'll be okay, right?' added Simone. 'If I end up on top of her, it's a happy ending.' Smith, meanwhile, was being cajoled by his competitors for not wearing a shirt during his show dance. 'The music's quite contemporary and the dance is quite a contemporary dance,' he claimed. 'It doesn't make sense to do it in baggy trousers and shoes, so we've gone with tight trousers. And it doesn't make sense to have a top on, as well.' The female competitors insist that they will remain fully clothed, but Pasha Kovalev, who partners Walsh, observeed: 'The girls as usual, they all have short dresses. Skinny, tight. Nothing is hidden.' 'We're all a bit delirious,' added Walsh. Saturday's final will see all four couples perform a show dance and a repeat of one of their earlier routines, chosen by the judges. The show takes a break for an hour at 19:50. When it returns later in the evening, one contestant will be eliminated, and the remaining three will be allowed to perform their favourite dance from the show's fourteen-week run. Van Outen believes that she will be the one to go out early, having been 'in the bottom two for two weeks.' But, she maintains, that means 'less pressure' in the final. 'We've got nothing to lose,' she said. 'We know what it feels like to be almost walking home. I've already pre-booked my cab.'

ITV is to make a post-watershed comedy drama Great Night Out starring Waterloo Road's Will Ash, Ricky Tomlinson, Susie Blake and Coronation Street's Lee Boardman. The six-part series has been filmed on location in London and Stockport and due to be shown in early 2013. Each hour-long episode follows four mid-thirties mates as they enjoy a weekly boys' get-together in Stockport. As they help each other through romantic, work and family crises, they invariably create much bigger problems to solve. Executive Producer Jimmy Mulville says, 'I hope we have done justice to the brilliant scripts and wonderful cast. This is a laugh-out-loud comedy about friendship, love and Stockport!' The series was written and created by Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni with Jonathan Harvey and Steve Turner.

BBC4's new comedy, Bob Servant Independent, follows the trials and tribulations of Bob, played by Brian Cox (no, not that one, the other one), in the Scottish town of Broughty Ferry. Cox said: 'As a Dundee man I am very excited to be in this comedy set in Broughty Ferry. With the comic writing skills of fellow Dundonian, Neil Forsyth, and the audacious spirit of Bob Servant it captures the very essence of the unique East Coast humour.' The series also features Jonathan Watson, Pollyanna McIntosh, and Rufus Jones and will be broadcast on BBC4 in early January. In the storyline the Scottish town of Broughty Ferry doesn't know what's hit it. The sudden death of the sitting MP results in a by-election that could change the political map of the UK. Bob Servant has been waiting his whole life for this level of attention and he's willing to do anything to keep it. Bob sells himself as a man of the people but doesn't really like people. He also has absolutely no understanding of the political process and uses the by-election campaign as a heaven-sent opportunity for self-promotion. As the series progresses, Bob has an increasingly fractious relationship with the favourite to win the seat, a slick professional politician called Nick Edwards (Rufus Jones).
Hugh Grant has accepted 'a substantial sum' of love-er-lee wonga after settling his legal claim over the Scum of the World phone-hacking scandal, his solicitor says. The actor was one of the victims of the illegal doings which led to the closure of the newspaper last year by its publisher News Group. News Group settled twenty two other cases earlier in December. Grant's solicitor, Mark Thomson, said in a statement: 'Hugh Grant has today settled his claims for damages and other legal remedies arising out of the unlawful activities of News of the World journalists and others over a number of years. News Group Newspapers have agreed to pay him a substantial sum by way of damages.' Thomson also said the actor had 'instructed us to donate all of his damages plus an additional payment from him to the Hacked Off campaign for a free and accountable media. A statement in open court will be made shortly in the new year,' he added. The disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World was shut down by owner billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch in shame and ignominy following the revelation that the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler - and other victims of crime - had been hacked. The scandal also led to the establishment of The Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, an MPs' inquiry and the launch of three police investigations into alleged widespread phone-hacking, corruption and other nefarious skulduggery and naughty shenanigans. Grant - who is a high-profile member of Hacked Off - has been one of the leading voices in the campaign for stricter regulation of the press. He gave evidence to The Leveson Inquiry and said at the time that it had become 'extremely fashionable' to hate him and journalists were 'entitled to their opinion.' However, he criticised press intrusion and what he called 'lazy reporting. There has been a section of our press that has become allowed to become toxic over the last twenty or thirty years and its main tactic is by bullying and intimidation and blackmail,' he claimed. Meanwhile, some one hundred UK editors and publishers, including the Sun's Dominic Mohan and the Daily Scum Mail's editor the odious and disgusting Paul Dacre, have been meeting to discuss proposals for a new independent press regulator - as recommended by Lord Justice Leveson in his report.

A management consultant has won sixty five grand in 'aggravated libel' damages over a Daily Scum Mail claim that he won Scotland Yard contracts through 'cronyism' – a story former Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Ian Blair has said contributed to his decision to resign. Andrew Miller brought high court proceedings over a front-page story in the Daily Scum Mail on 2 October 2008 – the day Blair resigned after three-and-a-half years running the Met. In a preliminary judgment in 2011, high court judge Mr Justice Tugendhat ruled that the article meant that there were, at the date of publication, 'reasonable grounds' to suspect that Miller was a willing beneficiary of improper conduct and 'cronyism' because of his friendship with Blair in respect of the award of a number of Met contracts to his company worth millions of pounds of public money. Daily Scum Mail publisher Associated Newspapers denied libel, contending that the article was 'substantially true' or that the action was 'an abuse of process.' But, giving her ruling on Friday, after a hearing in May, Mrs Justice Sharp said Associated's defence of justification – that the claim made in the article was true – had failed, and she could find 'no basis' for concluding that Miller's continuation with the claim was an abuse of process. 'I have already said I regard the allegation made by the article as serious. It was very prominently published to many millions of people,' Sharp added in her judgment. 'I am in no doubt that Mr Miller had suffered considerably as a result of its publication; and was very distressed and hurt by it. There was substantial aggravation in my view. This is also a case where a significant award is required to vindicate Mr Miller's good name.' In his 2009 autobiography Policing Controversy – serialised in the Scum Mail's sister title the Scum Mail on Sunday – Blair recalled of his departure from Scotland Yard: 'I was quite calm in that it somehow felt appropriate that the finally decisive factor in my decision should be a set of untruths in the Daily Mail. I drafted my resignation statement on the train.' Blair said after Friday's high court ruling: 'I am pleased by this judgment. The allegations of impropriety involving Mr Miller's friendship with me were always without any foundation.' The judgment is particularly embarrassing for the Daily Scum Mail at a time when the newspaper industry is in talks with the government about devising a new system of press regulation following the publication of the Leveson report. Sharp said that she had decided to take the relatively unusual step of awarding 'aggravated damages' because of factors including the Daily Scum Mail's failure to contact Miller before publication, the prominence of the article on the paper's front page, and its failure to publish an apology, correction or retraction, despite admitting to a number of errors in its story. During cross examination, Miller told the high court: 'Nobody from the Daily Mail had the courtesy to contact me before they wrote something that trashed my reputation.' The judge also took into consideration Associated persisting with its justification defence, accusing Miller of abusing the legal process by continuing with his action, and its 'lengthy and tenacious' cross examination of the claimant. 'Mr Miller was evidently extremely angry about and upset by the article and the effect it had on his reputation: it had been "trashed" as he described it, by an article which contained ghastly insinuations, and was nasty and devious,' Sharp said.

The Gruniad Morning Star has announced that it is raising the price of its weekday and Saturday editions by twenty pence from 12 January 2013. So, that's just one more reason not to buy the loathsome full-of-its-own-importance hippy Communist scum toilet roll. Trust yer actual Keith Telly Topping on this one, dear blog reader, Andrex Supersoft is far cheaper in the long run. And kinder on yer bum.

Over the years, TV tastes may have changed, but it appears that the British public has always had an insatiable desire for a dose of Sir Bruce Forsyth at Christmas. The Radio Times looked at TV listings on Christmas Day in 1952, 1972, 1992 and 2012 and discovered that Brucie has been appearing in a 25 December spot for over forty years – 1972 to present. Top of the Pops can match that, but the only Christmas Day 'performer' who can better it is ... the Queen, who has been delivering a Christmas speech since 1957.
Cannabis 'makes pain more bearable' rather than actually reducing it, a study from the University of Oxford suggests. Plus, it gets you stoned off yer tits too. Which, whilst having little or no medicinal value, per se, is, nevertheless, really good fun. Err ... or so this blogger had heard. From ... other people. Anyway, using brain imaging, researchers found that the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis reduced activity in a part of the brain linked to emotional aspects of pain. But the effect on the pain experienced varied greatly, they said. The researchers' findings are published in the journal Pain. The Oxford researchers recruited twelve healthy men to take part in their small study. Participants were given either a fifteen mg tablet of THC (delta-nine-tetrahydrocannabinol) - the ingredient which is responsible for the high - or a placebo. The volunteers then had a cream rubbed into the skin of one leg to induce pain, which was either a dummy cream or a cream that contained chilli - which caused a burning and painful sensation. Each participant had four MRI scans which revealed how their brain activity changed when their perception of the pain reduced. Michael Lee, lead study author from Oxford University's Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, said: 'We found that with THC, on average people didn't report any change in the burn, but the pain bothered them less.' MRI brain imaging showed reduced activity in key areas of the brain that explained the pain relief which the study participants experienced. Lee suggested that the findings 'could help predict' who would benefit from taking cannabis for pain relief - because not everyone does. 'We may in future be able to predict who will respond to cannabis, but we would need to do studies in patients with chronic pain over longer time periods.' He added: 'Cannabis does not seem to act like a conventional pain medicine. Some people respond really well, others not at all, or even poorly. Brain imaging shows little reduction in the brain regions that code for the sensation of pain, which is what we tend to see with drugs like opiates. Instead cannabis appears to mainly affect the emotional reaction to pain in a highly variable way.' Mick Serpell, a senior lecturer in pain medicine at Glasgow University, said the study confirmed what was already known. 'It highlights the fact that cannabis may be a means of disengagement for the patient, rather than a pain reliever - but we can see that happen with opioids too.' The study was funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research Oxford Biomedical Research Centre. A spokesperson for the Friends of Mary Jane Society was asked for a comment but, merely replied that he didn't have time because he was 'off to buy some Kit-Kats.'

Meanwhile, here's the funniest thing, ever, in the entire history of the Internet. He certainly got The Horn.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, big surprise, it's The Jam again (look, I'm having 'a thing' this week, all right? I don't just throw these things together, you know?) Anyway, here's an every day tale of obsession , sexual power games and stalking.