Saturday, December 08, 2012

Week Fifty One: See What Tomorrow Brings

Doctor Who's TARDIS will have a new look from this year's Christmas special, it has been announced. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, showrunner for the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama, confirmed the change to the Doctor Who blog on the BBC website. The interior of The Doctor's famous time machine has received a makeover from Michael Pickwoad, the show's production designer since 2010. The TARDIS's refreshed look will then stay for the eight new episodes in 2013 in the lead-up to the show's much-anticipated fiftieth anniversary.
Jenna-Louise Coleman has spoken about her approaching début as the latest Doctor Who companion. The actress previewed her first appearance as Clara in Doctor Who's Christmas special in a new featurette released by the BBC, where she suggested that the series is 'like nothing else' on television. 'It's just so much fun,' Coleman said. 'There's no other show or no other job where you can do some of the things that you get to do. It really is a one of a kind show!' Coleman went on to offer hints about her own plans for Christmas Day, when BBC1 will broadcast The Snowmen. 'On Christmas Day, I will be in a cottage in York with family, curled up on a couch watching,' she said. She added: 'It's not at all nerve wracking - not at all! I'll probably be scrunched in a ball watching [with my hands over my eyes].' Coleman recently said that she doesn't feel like a replacement for Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, who left Doctor Who in The Angels Take Manhattan after two and a half series as The Doctor's companions. 'It's a whole new story, it's a whole new character,' she stressed. 'It changes The Doctor and you've got to go on that journey and also go on your own journey with it, as well.'

There's also currently a very strong rumour doing the rounds that yer actual Sir Ian McKellan his very self will be providing the voice of The Snowmen in the Doctor Who Christmas episode of the same name. Once upon a time I'd've poo-pah'd the virry suggestion as wishful thinking but, I dunno, something about the Den of Geeks website's absolute certainty on this score that makes this blogger think it might, just be true. Time will tell. It usually does.

Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe's pairing in A Young Doctor's Notebook proved an unsurprisingly popular combination for Sky Arts, giving the channel the best viewing figures in its seven-year history on Thursday night. The four-part comedy drama, adapted from Mikhail Bulgakov's autobiographical short stories and featuring the Mad Men and Harry Potter actors playing the same doctor at different stages of his life, attracted an average audience of two hundred and fifty two thousand. Viewing of the first outing of the series, which is made by Big Talk and shown at 9pm as part of Sky Arts's Playhouse Presents, had a five-minute peak of just over three hundred thousand. Or, a fifth of the audience Celebrity Juice normally gets. I'm just saying. This was the biggest audience that the Sky Arts channel has attracted since BSkyB acquired Artsworld in 2005 – the service was rebranded Sky Arts two years later. The previous biggest audience for the channel is understood to be about one hundred thousand punters for another Playhouse Presents production, featuring national heart-throb David Tennant, in April. Over on BBC1, Young Apprentice climbed to 3.28m in the 8pm hour, after which Who Do You Think You Are? with John Bishop investigating his family history had an audience of 4.84m. Meanwhile, a new ITV factual series fronted by Richard Madeley - Meet the Squatters - opened with just 2.42m. MasterChef: The Professionals (2.68m) and Great Continental Railway Journeys were shown on BBC2 during the same slot. Overall, BBC1 topped primetime with 20.9 per cent of the audience share, ahead of ITV's 16.4 per cent.

Clare Balding has been honoured at the Women in Film and Television Awards. The forty one-year-old was presented with the Achievement of the Year prize for her work on the London 2012 Olympic for the BBC and the Paralympic Games for Channel Four. Actress Olivia Colman received the Best Performance award in recognition of her roles over the past year including The Iron Lady, Accused and Twenty Twelve. We Need to Talk About Kevin director Lynne Ramsey was also honoured. There were two other awards for women involved with the Olympics - Tracey Seaward, who produced the Opening Ceremony was presented with the Producer award by the ceremony's director Danny Boyle. And BBC director of sport Barbara Slater picked up the Inspirational Woman award for overseeing all the coverage. Former Lifetime Achievement award winner Julie Walters returned to present this year's award to drama producer Ruth Caleb. Caleb's forty-year career includes producer credits on Pat and Margaret, Last Resort, Bullet Boy and The Last Days of the Lehman Brothers. 'We're so proud that three of our winners - Clare Balding, Barbara Slater and Tracey Seaward - were key players in delivering the most watched TV event in UK broadcasting history, the London Olympics,' Kate Kinninmont, WFTV chief executive, said. 'Every single one of our winners is an inspiration and a role model.'

Ever on the frigging ball, the Gruniad Morning Star has noticed - about a year after everybody else in the country - that The X Factor isn't getting as many viewers as it used to. In other old news, apparently, David Tennant is to be replaced as The Doctor by some bloke called Smith.

Which brings us to the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Saturday 15 December
Old Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly enter the ballroom once again to host this year's Strictly Come Dancing semi-final - 6:30 BBC1 - and with a double elimination malarkey on the cards, the remaining five couples will be hoping to pull off their best performances yet as they tackle two dances each. Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell give their verdicts on the routines, but the all-important votes from the viewers will be the thing that decides who will waltz into next week's final and compete for the glitterball trophy. At this point, the five best dancers should be on the dance floor. In theory, anyway. However, the thought processes of the voting public are as mysterious as those of the Strictly judges, who often mark down a performance that's received a standing ovation from the audience at TV Centre. The names on the judges' leader board have gone up and down like a tart's pants in recent weeks, while it hasn't always been those at the bottom ending up in the dreaded dance-off. Popularity with viewers counts as much as perfect footwork, it would seem. So, while we would expect to see, say, Denise Van Outen still in the line-up, this blog is not taking any chances by naming names. The big news tonight is that two celebrities will be tango'd and out of the door because there's only room for three couples in next week's final. The results, as always, are announced tomorrow (starting at 6:50) after we've had another peek through Len's Lens.

Family, colleagues and friends pay tribute to the actor Clive Dunn, who died in November in there, somewhat obviously named, Clive Dunn: A Tribute - 9:00 BBC2. No other character in revered sitcom Dad's Army embodied the bulldog spirit (and silliness) better than Lance Corporal Jack Jones. As played for nine years by Clive Dunn, who died last month at the age of ninety two, Jones was young at heart, intensely loyal and loved by the British public. Co-writer Jimmy Perry based Jonesy on an old soldier he'd known in the Home Guard who was often heard to remark, 'They don't like it up 'em.' Bewigged and moustached, Dunn was only in his forties when the show began, which enabled him to perform enthusiastic stunts. And so convincing was Dunn at quavery-voiced dodderers that the BBC brought him back in 1979 for the kids' sitcom Grandad — also the title of his appalling novelty number-one chart hit from several years earlier.

In the summer of 2002 Cheryl, Kimberley, Nicola, Nadine and Sarah were all unknowns. By December they'd been transformed into Girls Aloud, picked out of thousands of applicants to be in the reality talent show Popstars: The Rivals, and were on their way to their first number one single, 'Sound of the Underground', as story told in Ten Years of Girls Aloud - 9:00 ITV. A lot has happened to them since the pink-n-leather chav-look for their 'Sound of the Underground' video. Structured in three distinctive parts, this celebratory documentary starts with their early days in the band and the ensuing stardom, through their solo careers and personal lives, and then follows the five as they prepare for their reunion tour. Expect lots of glam outfits, pouting and wiggling, plus at least three genuine twenty four carat pop masterpieces ('Call The Shots', 'Biology' and 'Something Kinda Ooooh'). Split into three chapters - The Definitive History, Solo Projects and Back Together Again - the documentary celebrates the band's biggest hits and biggest tits (they're on Kimberley's chest, in case you were wondering) explores solo projects. Such as the fact that Cheryl Cole's divorce was far more interesting than her entire solo career, Sarah Harding's film work and Nicola Roberts' passion for fashion (which is lucky, frankly cos, my God, there's a solo career than never got out of the basement), and catches up with all five a month before they go public with the announcement of their reunion.

Sunday 16 December
A day later than normal, Stephen Fry hosts an extended edition of Qi XL - 10:00 BBC2. Radio 4 presenter and former Communard the Reverend Richard Coles makes his début on the show as he joins Sarah Millican, David Mitchell and regular panellist Alan Davies to answer testing questions about jobs.

Sue Barker, Gary Lineker and Clare Balding present this year's Sports Personality of the Year ceremony live from the ExCeL in London - 7:30 BBC1 - where the successor to Mark Cavendish will be crowned from a shortlist of twelve. Those to have been selected by a panel of former athletes, journalists and members of the BBC are Andy Murray, Ben Ainslie, Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy, David Weir, Ellie Simmonds, Jessica Ennis, Katherine Grainger, Mo Farah, Nicola Adams, Rory McIlroy and Sarah Storey. As expected, several of Britain's gold-medal winning Olympic stars are in contention, including Ennis, winner in the heptathlon and seen by many as the poster girl for the games, and Magic Mo, who claimed an unlikely double in the five and ten thousand metres and produced a winning pose, the Mobot, which for many remains the single defining image of the whole shebang. They are bound to face stiff competition, however, not least from Tour De France winner and King of the Mods Bradley Wiggins and US Open tennis champion Andy Murray, with the pair also winning gold themselves at London 2012. And, though he may be the only sportsman not to have featured at either of the games, Rory McIlroy cannot be discounted having won the USPGA Championship, helped Europe to win the Ryder Cup and finished at the top of the US and European Tour money lists. In addition to the main prize, awards will be handed out in categories such as Team of the Year and Coach of the Year, while the Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to a sporting legend, and the Helen Rollason Award will be bestowed upon someone who epitomises courage and has the ability to inspire others. Lineker revealed recently that Des Lynam called the Sports Personality theme tune 'the best laxative known to man.' He has a point. Any live show in front of fifteen thousand punters would make even the most seasoned presenter feel nervous. But this year in particular is likely to have Gary and his co-hosts shaking at the knees as they attempt to do justice to 2012's unprecedented sporting triumphs in little more than two and a half hours. All we need do, thankfully, is sit back and bask in the warm afterglow of an amazing sporting summer one more time.

The Making of a Lady - 8:00 ITV - is a period drama based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's romantic novel The Making of a Marchioness. Impoverished Emily marries her employer's wealthy, widowed nephew Lord Walderhurst for money, rather than love, and the pair move from London to his stately home. Their relationship begins to blossom, but Walderhurst's staff are suspicious of their new lady and her life is put in danger when she fosters a friendship with her husband's nephew and his Indian wife. Treading in the Edwardian footsteps of Downton Abbey, this period drama based on a largely forgotten short novel by Burnett tells the complex story of the genteel, well-educated but penniless Emily (South Riding's Lydia Wilson). Emily always hoped to marry for love but, in order to survive, she accepts a practical if unromantic offer of marriage from the wealthy widower (Linus Roache), the nephew of her snooty employer Lady Byrne (a deliciously camp turn by Joanna Lumley). But it's when Emily strikes up a friendship with a handsome captain and his Indian wife that she finds herself unexpectedly in danger. It's a much darker tale than Burnett's better known The Secret Garden, full of skulduggery, shenanigans, doings and nail-biting twists and turns, while the script by Kate Brooke is more of a psychological thriller than a well-mannered soap like Downton.

Dangerously close to exhaustion, Carrie continues her hunt for Nazir and begins to suspect that there is a mole in the CIA in Homeland - 9:00 Channel Four. Well, to be fair it's a question that has puzzled Homeland fans since the middle of last season. And, it's not as if there aren't plenty of candidates. Remember when that polygraph showed Saul was lying? Remember how he was so keen to sideline Carrie just as Brody's attack was coming to fruition? Then again, it couldn't be wise, good-hearted Saul, could it? Hopefully not, Mandy Patinkin is the best actor in the series. Then there's David Estes, the burly CIA chief played by David Horewood, is a possibility given that he, too, has always been keen to thwart Carrie's best efforts. Or what about his mysterious placeman, Quinn, somewhat suspiciously the only survivor from the Gettysburg massacre? The question of a mole is troubling Carrie as well, but it may already be too late in the day. Roya reveals her true colours under interrogation and Saul finds himself fighting to save his career under unexpected circumstances. Meanwhile, the Brodys struggle to maintain anything close to a state of sanity. Superior US espionage thriller, starring Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Morena Baccarin.

Singers Rachel and Becky Unthank explore more of England's folk traditions, in A Very English Winter - 9:00 BBC4 - a follow-up to the superb documentary Still Folk Dancing After All These Years, which examined traditional dances from spring to harvest. This time, the sisters experience carol singing in a pub in South Yorkshire, molly dancing in East Anglia and a fiery tradition in Lewes, East Sussex.
It's Christmas at River Cottage - 8:00 Channel Four - and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is throwing open his doors to some celebrity friends - comedy stars Kathy Burke, Stephen Mangan and Mark Heap. Hugh takes Kathy out on a fishing trip to catch an alternative Christmas Day main course - perfect for non-meat eaters like her, or anyone fancying a change from turkey. Resident forager John Wright heads to the woods in search of wild mushrooms and oak moss for a seasonal starter, and chefs Tim Maddams and Gill Meller demonstrate how to prepare cocktails, breads and trays of vegetables. Tramping through the fields behind empty-handed forager Wright, Kathy turns to the camera and whispers throatily, 'He's a fantasist! There's nothing here!' But it's not just wild food that Kath doesn't believe in. It's Christmas its very self. Along with Green Wing co-stars Stephen Mangan and Mark Heap, who tower above her, Kathy is at River Cottage to learn its rustic ways and create a hand-made, alternative Christmas feast in the process. To keep his guests on the straight and narrow, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall must control booze rations and try to distract the trio with wholesome pursuits such as the milking of goats.

Monday 17 December
You thought MasterChef: The Profressionals was finished, dear blog reader, didn't you? Nope, not yet apparently. Because tonight, Michel Roux Jr gives the first of two masterclasses (ore, MasterChefclasses, if you will) in French cuisine, preparing sumptuous dishes close to his heart - with tips and historic notes from his heritage in MasterChef: Michel's Classics - 7:00 BBC1. In this episode, Michel cooks a luxury breakfast of poached egg and salmon nestled in an artichoke heart with fresh truffle, as well as monkfish liver three ways and a braised saffron sweetbreads recipe his mother used to make. The savoury spectacles are rounded off with cream-filled dumplings fried in batter, served with sweet and sharp raspberry coulis. Observing the two-Michelin-starred chef Michel at work is always a delight. Even if you have no intention of ever making a fish terrine that requires you to skim the chlorophyll from liquefied watercress and parsley, watching Michel prepare it is akin to witnessing Michelangelo paint a ceiling. And while he obviously doesn't mean to sound pretentious when he confides that his mum didn't sieve the saffron out of her veal sweetbreads and cream dish, he knows he's sending the countrymen of his father's birth up something rotten when he explains that, in French, 'a touch of cream' means about half a litre!

It's all food tonight, I'm afraid, dear blog reader. Well, it is near Christmas, I suppose and nothing says Christmas like eating until you bowk rich brown phlegm deep into the night. In Nigelissimma - 8:00 BBC2 - yer actual Nigella Lawson travels to Venice to soak up the atmosphere and gain inspiration for dishes for a Christmas party with an Italian twist. Back in the UK, she creates a buffet of tasty nibbles for her guests, preparing a Venetian cocktail served with quick and easy canapés including Parmesan shortbreads and panettone stuffing squares. Mmmm. Finger-licking good. Nigella's take on the traditional roast bird is turkey breast stuffed with Italian sausage and Marsala-steeped cranberries, served with salad and Brussels sprout pasta. Guests are treated to desserts including a marshmallow cappuccino pavlova and a Christmas pudding cake adorned with chocolate chips and pomegranate seeds. When the manufacturers of goose fat, semolina and maple syrup pause to give thanks at Christmas, Nigella (she still has her knockers) surely features in their grateful thoughts. The sales-boosting Nigella effect is particularly powerful in December, and Italy’s economy may benefit as she throws a Nigellissima buffet party inspired by Venice. So, half under water, presumably. Runners and riders for the sell-out top spot include the radicchio used in a crisp 'Renaissance salad', the Italian sausages that, with cranberries steeped in Marsala, go to stuff a turkey breast, and the espresso powder in the cappuccino pavlova. She also makes spelt pasta baked with potatoes. If you’re prone to lifestyle envy - and, let's face it, who isn't? - Nigella's lovely glittery Christmas is guaranteed to bring on an attack. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that they probably had to film it during the summer, when no one wants to see a panettone stuffing square. Still, when all is said and done it's a million times better than anything Sophie Dahl and Rachel Khoo could knock up.

Stephen Fry as a look at technology for the health and fitness market, testing the latest gym gadgets and receiving 'a makeover' from former The Only Way is Essex type person Amy Childs - who uses some weird and wonderful beauty devices in Stephen Fry: Gadget Man - 8:30 Channel Four. Other gadgets on the show include an app which predicts how long people will live, a hi-tech treadmill and a device that claims to make the user slimmer in just thirty minutes. Stephen also attempts to build the ultimate running machine that will enable him to race against double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes.

For Only Connect's many fans, every episode of the politest quiz in the world is a reason to celebrate. Just living on a planet where Only Connect exists is a daily cause for joy for its dedicated audience. But tonight - 8:30 BBC4 - we have a double delight; the series' grand final, which also happens to be its one hundredth episode. The six contestants, and host luscious, pouting Victoria Coren, are all wearing commemorative centenary badges as they paw the ground ready to compete for the understated plastic Only Connect champions' trophy. It's gratifying that the programme's success has suddenly rocketed with episodes routinely winning audiences of around a million punters, quite a feat for a BBC4 show. The final will reward everyone's devotion because it's a corker, and you'll be pleased to hear that those looming leviathans, the Connecting Walls, are absolute stinkers. As usual. By the end, everyone really deserves those glasses of sherry which the divine Ms Coren hands round.

Olympics mainstay Gabby Logan reminds us of the lighter side of London 2012 in an irreverent countdown, Olympics 2012: Fifty Greatest Moments - 8:30 BBC3. Mixed in with lots of Team GB highlights are some forgotten gems. Remember the collective gasps of 'Oooh!' as the German diver Stephan Feck 'back-flopped' off the Aquatics Centre diving board? Or when South African dad Bert le Clos's delight at his son, Chad, winning swimming gold bubbled over live on air? From Her Majesty's startling Opening Ceremony entrance to Usain Bolt's impersonation of the Mobot, this top fifty lost revels in London 2012's curiously British comedy as well as its entirely British drama. Logan is joined by three-time Olympic medallist Louis Smith to present a countdown of memorable moments, including the glory of 'Super Saturday'. With contributions from the likes of Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis, Jimmy Carr, Reggie Yates, Andy Murray, Tom Daley, Magic Mo Farah, Gary Lineker, Cherry Healey (eh?) and Mel C.

Tuesday 18 December
The historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologist Peter Ginn return to Manor Farm in Hampshire to recreate the conditions that prevailed in rural Britain during the Christmas of 1944 in Wartime Farm - 9:00 BBC2. Peter calls upon crafts expert Colin Richards to help brew some improvised potato beer, while Ruth comes up with innovative presents for children and ingenious festive decorations made from scraps. Following in the footsteps of many wartime farmers, they transport their gifts, food and beer on a vintage steam train to Chislehurst Caves, where they discover what Christmas was like for some of the fifteen thousand people who sheltered there. Plus, Ruth cooks a yuletide meal from recipes and guidelines issues by the government and the Women's Voluntary Service. In December 1944 Britain attempted to celebrate its sixth – and, as it turned out, last – Christmas under wartime conditions. For Ruth and Peter Ginns (no Alex this time for some reason), this means a trip to bomb-ravaged London with lots of jolly morale-raising items such as improvised decorations and presents made from scraps of material and paper. As food was getting even scarcer, it's time for one of Ruth's infamous austerity dinners. A glut of carrots is to blame for a feast that, as well as the boiled carrots that accompany a stuffed rabbit, includes candied carrots, carrot fudge and carrot cake. Peter's contribution is to brew a vat of potato-based beer that smells vile but, judging by the faces of those using Chislehurst Caves as emergency accommodation, lifts their spirits perfectly.

When he's not courteously helping Mary Berry to lift heavy bowls of Christmas pudding mix during this festive baking session, Paul Hollywood behaves like a naughty boy, cheeking his indulgent Auntie Mary or pestering her to lick the bowl. She's, like, 'no Paul, you can't lick the bowl, flush the chain like everybody else.' Oh yes. The old ones are usually the best. Anyway, they demonstrate how to make a number of festive favourites in The Great British Bake Off Christmas Masterclass - 8:00 BBC2 - including mince pies, Christmas pudding and a traditional yuletide cake. The judges also reveal recipes for some tasty new treats for the holiday season. They're a terrific double act, listening attentively to each other's step-by-step guide to their recipe and then exclaiming with delight at what eventually comes out of the oven. Much of this is traditional stuff (a yule log, mince pies, Christmas cake), although they finish with an unconventional treat that Paul likes to serve on Boxing Day: a Chelsea bun containing leftover turkey and stuffing with cranberry sauce. A word of warning to any Hollywood lovers out there: try to stay calm as Paul, kneading a lump of dough, explains why he likes to use his hands. It's pure filth.

The year is 1993 and twelve-year-old Jason Manford is scared. No, he hasn't been doing naughty texting, that hasn't been invented yet. Rather, he is embarking on his first trip away from home - to hospital. The reason? For a circumcision, no less. As if it couldn't get any worse, a fellow patient is trying to get her hands on him and a nurse is making eyes at his dad. But then he meets Judy, resident babe of the children's ward. Can he bag his first kiss? Jasse himself stars in his own short tale, with Ellis Hollins as his younger self in the latest Little Crackers - 9:00 Sky1.
Wednesday 19 December
Snow Babies - 8:00 BBC1 - is a documentary following all manner of baby animals born in some of the coldest and harshest places on Earth. Ah. Bless. And, yes, that's exactly the reaction the production team are hoping for, dear blog reader. Cameras follow the ups and downs of plucky emperor penguins, snow monkeys, polar bears, arctic foxes, reindeer and otters to find out what it takes to survive the first year of life in a world of snow and ice, with a little help from family and friends. David Jason narrates the cute wild cast's preparations for their first winter as they follow their survival instincts and learn new skills. A baby polar bear needs to keep up with his mum, an infant emperor penguin must learn to strike out on his own, and a reindeer calf has to run with the herd to avoid the unwelcome attentions of wolves and eagles.

Having learned that her daughter, Caroline, is a lesbian, Celia is shocked and judgemental. 'What will folk think?' she demands of her fiancé, Alan. They'll be 'pointing and saying things' as we discover in the final episode of Last Tango In Halifax - 9:00 BBC1. As Sally Wainwright's clever, multilayered drama ends, what started out as a dreamy courtships saga appears to have hit some very choppy waters when Alan (Derek Jacobi) decides he doesn't like this new homophobic side to Celia (Anne Reid). Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) isn't too enamoured of it, either: 'You're going to die lonely and bitter,' she yells at her mother when the pair trade cruelties in a major domestic row. Celia reacts badly to John's revelation that Caroline is gay and makes no attempt to accept her daughter's new partner, leading to a bitter argument. Worse still, Alan is saddened and embarrassed by her behaviour, prompting him to call off the wedding at the eleventh hour. At the farm, Gillian invites Robbie over for dinner, intending to make a go of it with him. Wainwright's drama also stars the great Nicola Walker and Dean Andrews.

Feeling all jingly? The year's most important pop chart has changed immensely since its unofficial start sixty years ago, when well-varnished crooner Al Martino spent nine weeks at the top with 'Here in My Heart'. With sombre moods and charity pleas represented alongside all-out, exuberant silliness and real quality, there's an argument for the idea that the annual Christmas number one reflects the changing national mood. The Christmas Number One Story - 9:00 BBC2 - is a documentary exploring sixty years of British Christmases by way of the songs the public put at the top of the most important chart of the year. And, a lot of them were total crap. The programme looks back through the decades at the personalities and circumstances that gave rise to the festive number ones. With contributions by some of the artists involved, including Rolf Harris, Saint Noddy Holder OBE, yer actual Roy Wood, some of Boney M, Johnny Mathis, Midge Ure, Shakin' Stevens, Cliff Richard, Jason Donovan and Alexandra Burke, as well as from odious risible Pete Waterman, the Reverend Richard Coles, Tony Blackburn and Edith Bowman. A guaranteed Jimmy Savile-free zone.

Thursday 20 December
There's not one but two vintage episodes of Top of the Pops on BBC4 tonight - 7:30 and 8:00. And neither of those are presented by naughty old scallywag Savile either. In the first, sensational Tony Blackburn presents an episode from 8 December 1977, featuring music by Generation X, Hot Chocolate, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Bonnie Tyler, Graham Parker & The Rumour, The Banned, The Bee Gees, Paul McCartney and Wings and Bing Crosby. Then, guest host yer actual Elton John introduces an episode broadcast a week later, on 15 December and featuring music by Carl Douglas, The Emotions, Darts, John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett (they were really free, apparently), The Dooleys and Julie Covington. Plus, Legs & Co perform a - spectacularly silly - dance routine to Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers' 'Egyptian Reggae.' You'll never look at a camel the same way again.

In Adam Hills Stands Up Live - 10:00 Channel Four - the Australian comedian, who presented the Paralympics entertainment series The Last Leg, returns to Channel Four in a one-off stand-up show recorded at The Lyric Theatre in London's West End. The performance combines the comedian's trademark laid-back anecdotes with audience participation.
It's the final of Young Apprentice - 8:00 BBC1 - and just four candidates remain, all eager to get their hands on the twenty five thousand knicker investment into their business future. To stand any chance of doing so, they have to win the last challenge, which involves creating a new brand of sportswear - thinking up a name, a logo and a viral video to get their product noticed. Industry insiders will decide which has the most potential to go global - and from that team, Lord Sugar-Sweetie will choose this year's Young Apprentice. Last in the current series.

Friday 21 December
As usual, Friday night is comedy night on the Beeb with Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1 and Qi - 10:00 BBC2. In the former Daniel Radcliffe proves that he can read an autocue by taking an, ahem, spell (if you will) as the host. Ian Hislop and Paul Merton are joined by Andy Hamilton and ... someone else to take a look back at the week's news. For the purposes of merriment and japery. Over on Qi, Stephen Fry hosts a (slightly early) Christmas edition featuring, as usual, Alan Davies, plus Sarah Millican, Phill Jupitas and Danny Baker.

Ant and Dec, Holly Willoughby, Phillip Schofield, the Curious Orange Christine Bleakley and gurning boorish oaf Paddy McGuinness are all involved in Text Santa - 8:00 ITV. And if that fact, in and of itself, isn't enough to persuade you to watch something else then, frankly you're a lost cause.

And so to the news: The threat of a Christmas strike at the BBC has been averted, after the successful resolution of a dispute about compulsory redundancies. On Friday the National Union of Journalists said it has settled its dispute with BBC management over job cuts at the Asian Network, which has lost half its staff, with several cases of journalists now being redeployed to other posts within the corporation. Last month the NUJ opened a ballot for industrial action among its members at the BBC after it emerged that the corporation has been hiring outside staff rather than redeploying those facing job losses. The ballot resulted in 70.3 per cent of BBC NUJ members who voted calling for strike action, while 84.1 per cent also voted for industrial action short of a strike. The BBC had previously signed up to an agreement offering those at risk of redundancy other posts within the corporation, but the NUJ claimed that some managers have not been implementing the deal. 'We do not want to see licence-fee payers' money being spent on redundancy pay for members when there are jobs in the corporation for them to go to,' said Sue Harris, BBC national organiser for the NUJ. 'It is vital that the BBC management makes sure that its deployment system works, so we do not lose experienced journalists and presenters because local-level managers are not making it work.' Harris warned that while this specific issue has been resolved there is 'a clear mandate' for strike action over the issue of compulsory redundancies in other parts of the BBC. Areas where staff remain under threat of compulsory redundancy include BBC News, the World Service and BBC Scotland. 'This [mandate] is crucial for the battle ahead as the BBC management's cost-cutting scheme, Delivering Quality First, rolls out,' Harris said. 'We have a number of potential redundancies in other departments across the BBC and we will be working to resolve them – or else we will be prepared to take action.' The BBC Scotland NUJ chapel is due to meet on Monday to consider plans for action if management fails to redeploy staff currently at risk of redundancy. Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ general secretary, called for a 'moratorium' on all cuts until the BBC 'emerges from the Savile scandal.' [The BBC] 'needs to take the opportunity to halt the assault on frontline journalism and put in place measures to shore up news and current affairs before it is too late,' she said.

The Pollard inquiry into BBC executives' handling of the axed BBC Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile is to be published in the week of 17 December. A source close to the inquiry said the review, which has not yet finished taking evidence from key BBC figures, is likely to be completed on 17, 18 or 19 December. The BBC is expected to publish the report in full shortly after its completion. Headed by former Sky News boss Nick Pollard, the investigation is looking into whether there were management failings in the BBC's handling of the aborted Newsnight probe in late 2011 into alleged sexual abuse by Savile. The inquiry was due to report in mid-November but has been overwhelmed by the 'vast amount of evidence' being 'assessed.' Former director generals George Entwistle and Mark Thompson have been interviewed in the Leveson inquiry-style process by Alan Maclean QC, who represented Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell during the Hutton inquiry. Most of the interviews with BBC staff have already taken place at the London offices of law firm Reed Smith, but those close to the Pollard review said it may be necessary to call witnesses for further evidence before the report is concluded. Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, told MPs last week that 'disciplinary action' against BBC staff would be outlined later this month, if either the Pollard inquiry into the abandoned Newsnight report or a second inquiry into the same programme's botched Lord McAlpine story last month found that such action was necessary. Jeremy Paxman, Newsnight's best-known presenter, Kirsty Wark, another programme veteran and Helen Boaden, the BBC's 'recused' director of news, are among those who have given evidence to Pollard, as have the reporter and producer at the centre of the storm about the cancelled Savile film – Liz MacKean and Meirion Jones.

Twatting About on Ice bosses have reportedly axed eight professional skaters in a bid to improve the show. Although, sadly, not with an actual axe. The reshuffle means that Frankie Poultney, Nina Ulanova, Matt Gonzalez, Brooke Castile, Jodeyne Higgins, Sean Rice, Lukasz Rozycki and Alexandra Schauman will not be returning for the new series. An alleged 'source' allegedly told the Sun: 'Dancing on Ice is heading for its best year ever. Every single aspect is being improved.' Well, not 'every single aspect' because you've still got the Curiously Orange Ms Bleakley as one of the presenters. The news means that many of this year's alleged celebrities will have brand new skating partners. The line-up reportedly includes Pamela Anderson, Anthea Turner, Coronation Street's Samia Ghadie, former EastEnders actor Matt Lapinskas, gymnast Beth Tweddle, The Only Way Is Essex person Lauren Goodger, rugby player Gareth Thomas, singer Dionne Bromfield and Joe Pasquale. Five of the new skaters have been named as Robin Johnstone, Jenna Harrison, Andy Buchanan, Olga Sharutenko and Michael Zenezini.

Cheryl Cole has filed a lawsuit against the producers of The X Factor USA for the salary which The Heaton Horror claims she is owed. The greed bucket singer (and drag) has sued the American singing contest's makers Blue Orbit Production to the tune of $2.3 million. And that's a lot of wonga in anybody's book. Cole was - spectacularly - given the tin-tack by the FOX network only a few weeks after filming started for the first season of the Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads talent show. The Girls Aloud singer, who was formerly a judge on the UK version of The X Factor, had a pay-or-play contract for two seasons, meaning she would be compensated even if she was released early from her contract, according to Deadline. Which, of course, she was. She received $1.8 million for the first season and is now seeking her two million smackers fee for the second season, plus 'additional damages' to cover 'wardrobe, housing and living expenses.' Cole's complaint was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

A school in Australia was forced to evacuate after a girl brought a hand grenade in for a show and tell. The eleven-year-old thought that the grenade was a fake, because it didn't have a pin, according to the Daily Torygraph. However, the grenade was discovered to be from the First World War. The police bomb squad removed the device and cordoned off the area around the Hunter Christian School in Newcastle, New South Wales. Headmaster Boyd Allen recounted the evacuation process to a local news station, and added that the girl would not be punished for her actions. 'She's bewildered, embarrassed - I tried to make her aware she's not in trouble,' he said. 'She's a sweet young lady from a lovely family. She understood it to be a dummy hand grenade that had been deactivated, there was no firing pin, just the body of the grenade.' The weapon is currently being investigated by Defence Force experts and will likely be destroyed.

The former Hawkwind guitarist Huwie Lloyd Langton has died, aged sixty one, after a two-year battle with cancer, the band has announced. 'It is with immense sadness that we have to let you know our great friend of many years and fellow musician Huw Lloyd Langton passed away peacefully last night,' the band said on its website on Friday. Huwie played on Hawkwind's eponymous début LP in 1970. A particularly bad drug experience around the time of the band's appearance at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival was partly the reason for Huw leaving later in the year before the recording of In Search of Space in 1971. 'Because the band was psychedelic, it attracted people who were into substances,' Huw told the band's biographer Ian Abrahams in Hawkwind: Sonic Assassins. 'Hence, the members of the band, because they were surrounded by people who took substances started taking them as well.' Huw rejoined the group in 1979 and played with them for most of the next decade. 'Huw had been bravely fighting cancer for a couple of years, but was determined not to let the battle affect his day to day life,' said the Hawkwind statement. 'He continued to play his guitar, laugh, joke and share the great love he had in his heart, with all who knew him. As he wished, he was at home when the time came, with his ever strong and loving wife Marion at his side. Huw was one of the great guitarists with an individual style and character. He is gone but never forgotten by any of us. He will live on in our music and in our hearts.' Born in Harlesden in 1951, Huw was still a teenager when he joined first Hawkwind. He attributed his decision to follow a musical path to his Welsh mother who, he said, 'always liked singing and dragged me and my sister off to chapel whenever she could.' His earliest professional work was as a member of Winston G, with whom he toured in Europe, but it was while he was working for Ivor Maraints' Musicentre in London's West End that Dave Brock and John Harrison recruited Huw to replace Hawkwind's original lead guitarist, Mick Slattery, who had decamped after cutting their first demo. Marrying Marion Chamberlain in 1971, Langton spent the 1970s moving between various roles. He taught music at a Streatham Comprehensive, worked as a session musician for artists such as Leo Sayer, and joined 'the supergroup Widowmaker, whose membership included Mott the Hoople's Aerial Bender and The Love Affair vocalist Steve Ellis, and who released two LPs. Huw remained in contact with Hawkwind, filling in for them on a handful of instances and, later, during his second stint in tha band, formed his own off-shoot, The Lloyd Langton Group, in 1982. He continued to make guest appearances with Hawkwind and played solo support slots on tour and at the annual Hawkfest. In August 2009, the guitarist played an acoustic set at Hawkwind's fortieth anniversary concert at Porchester Hall. One of his last appearances was in August in Sidmouth with his friend Dave Brock, in aid of the Devon Air Ambulance. Unknown to his fans, for two years Langton had been fighting throat cancer. He is survived by his wife of thirty years, and regular songwriting partner, Marion.
One of the world's longest-running bands, Hawkwind have undergone countless changes of personnel and musical styles over the years based around the one ever-present member, Dave Brock. Former members and collaborators have included Motörhead's Lemmy, science fiction author Michael Moorcock, radical poet the late Robert Calvert, electronica pioneer Dik Mik, saxophonist Nik Turner, violinist Simon House who later played with David Bowie, amply-endowed dancer Stacia Blake, the artist Barney Bubbles and ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker.

So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's Huwie's first single with the Hawks. And a twenty four carat British psyche masterpiece.