Sunday, December 02, 2012

Week Fifty: That's Gonna Bring Us All Salvation

What several tabloids have been - gleefully - describing as 'a crisis' at The X Factor has now, seemingly become a full-blown disaster after Saturday night saw yer actual Strictly Come Dancing - for the ninth week in a row - giving the Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads' talent contest a damned good pants-down hiding in the overnight ratings. Strictly had an overnight audience of 9.89m viewers for its latest episode, a near forty two per cent audience share and with a peak of just over eleven million punters at 19:50. By contrast, The X Factor had its lowest overnight audience figure for near five years, 7.75m (with a peak of 8.62m at 21:20), around five million viewers down on the equivalent episode from two series ago. The final of 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), which ended with yer actual Charlie Brooks being crowned The Queen of the Jungle, was ITV's best performer of the night with 9.44m (peaking at 10.22m around 22:15). On BBC1, Merlin maintained a steady 5.53m for its latest episode, whilst Match of the Day was watched by 3.49m. ITV's early evening schedule was, once again, a complete fiasco with The Golden Rules of TV (1.53m), You've Been Framed! (2.21m) and odious, risible Take Me Out (a mere 2.69m). The latter two received a sound thrashing from BBC1's Pointless Celebrities (4.9m from 18:00). On BBC2, Dad's Army was watched by 1.27m, Attenborough: Sixty Years In The Wild had an audience of 1.45m and Qi XL was seen by 1.46m (including those watching the BBC HD simultcast).

Television is turning its attention to the industrial working class as an antidote to recent period drama focusing on upper-class glamour. The BBC is looking to adapt Elizabeth Gaskell's Victorian novel Mary Barton, the story of a young woman trapped in the appalling housing conditions and social inequality of Nineteenth Century Manchester. Heidi Thomas, the creator and writer of the BBC1 hit Call the Midwife, is working on the draft script of the first episode for BBC Wales. Call the Midwife has been the biggest new BBC drama hit for a decade, and this is encouraging a move towards bolder social realism. Thomas said: 'I think it is important the working classes have their story told and history brought to life. I am keen to see that on screen. The novel is all about the rights of workers, how they organise, the start of trade unions, the life experiences of the very poor. It will shine a light on where we came from, compared to how we live now. It is important not just to make period dramas which are visually appealing. This is close to my heart. I do like a muscular, Victorian novel, something heavyweight. My own family background consists of agricultural labourers from rural Wales and Suffolk, who moved to Liverpool in the 1840s, and lived in the Garston area.' Mary Barton was the first novel by Gaskell, wife of the Reverend William Gaskell, a prominent Manchester Unitarian minister and charity worker, who used her writing as a critique of society and to promote social reform. Published in 1848, with the subtitle A Tale of Manchester Life, it was set between 1839 and 1842, when Friedrich Engels was researching his seminal book, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844. The Gaskells lived in an elegant, stucco villa, but Engels described one of the slums close to their house. Mary Barton is the daughter of John Barton, a mill worker who questions the extreme inequalities in wealth around him and joins the Chartist movement. Mary attracts the attention of two men, Jem, from her background, and Harry Carson, the son of a rich mill owner, who offers escape but is murdered, making Jem a suspect. Mary Barton is not the first of Gaskell's novels to be adapted for television. In 2004 the BBC turned North and South, the story of middle-class Margaret Hale, who is forced to settle in a Northern industrial town, into a mini-series. And Thomas, to great success, adapted Cranford for the BBC in 2007, from Gaskell's gentler, observational novels about life in a small Midlands town. Thomas depicted life in a small terraced street of Liverpool in 1920 for a BBC period drama, Lilies, also screened in 2007, based on the tales of her Liverpudlian grandmother. She has written a Call the Midwife Christmas Day special, which will run at 7.45pm to avoid a clash with Downton Abbey at 9pm. Within minutes, it shows a woman giving birth on the seat of the only lavatory in her tenement. It progresses to a story about an elderly tramp, Mrs Jenkins, who wanders around, half-starved, in lice-ridden rags. When she is spotted hovering around the babies in prams at the clinic, she is driven away. It transpires that she is drawn to babies because her five children all perished in the workhouse when she became a widow in 1912. Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine), the young midwife, researches her story, and takes her to the unmarked paupers' grave. She is later shown helping to make costumes for the nativity play organised by Chummie (Miranda Hart). Philippa Lowthorpe, the episode's director, said: 'It is just a tragedy, but in the spirit of Call the Midwife they do find a resolution to her sorrow. Our audience do invest a lot in the show.' Another grim theme of the episode shows a young pregnant teenager giving birth on her own in a deserted basement, and then leaving the baby on the steps of the convent, where he is rescued and eventually reunited with the mother and her parents. In a related development, after the Secret History of Our Streets became a surprise hit for BBC2 this year, BBC1 controller Danny Cohen, unveiling his future programme for 2013 last week, said that Paul O'Grady was making a series about the history of the working classes. 'It is something he feels passionately about,' Cohen said.
Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi has set David Cameron a Christmas deadline to back a new law to regulate the press, saying he will 'pull the plug' on cross-party talks if the prime minister has not signed up to it by then. In an interview with the Observer yer actual Milimolimandi says Cameron has 'one last chance to show leadership' and back the proposal by Lord Justice Leveson for a new independent system of regulation backed by statute. If he cannot be persuaded, Milimolimandi says Labour will 'commit its energies' to rallying support for a Commons vote in January that could see the prime minister defeated by an alliance of Labour, Liberal Democrats and Tory rebels. Cameron, under pressure to take action in the wake of Leveson's report is expected on Tuesday to urge editors that they must act swiftly to set up an independent press watchdog. Milimolimandi said he would not allow the prime minister, who told the Commons last Thursday that he was 'instinctively against' legislating on issues of press freedom, to try to stall on such an important matter in order to curry favour with newspaper editors and owners who opposed a new law. 'I think there is huge urgency,' the Labour leader said. 'We're not going to let these talks become a smokescreen for inaction and just be used as a way to run this into the ground, hoping people forget all about it, and hoping the fuss dies down. So in the next two to three weeks we have got to have a resolution. Are we going to ahead with legislation? If we can't reach agreement on that then we will put a vote to parliament. If the cross-party talks have nowhere to go and we can't reach agreement we have to go to parliament.' Cross-party talks on a way forward began last Thursday after Lord Justice Leveson delivered his findings. Cameron's rejection of the a key element of the plan incensed victims of phone-hacking who refused to meet the lack of culture secretary on Friday in protest. In the interview, Milimolimandi said he had 'reservations' about how elements of Leveson's plans might hinder investigative journalism and day-to-day relations between reporters and their sources, including politicians and the police. But, on the need for statutory backing to ensure an independent press regulation system that could deliver proper redress to those wronged by newspapers, he was uncompromising. Milimolimandi praised Nick Clegg and Tory MPs who had defied their leader. Cameron, he said, had showed 'a lack of leadership' thus far but had three weeks to change his mind. 'He promised that the victims' voices would be paramount but now he has betrayed that promise by rejecting the report before the ink was dry. He needs to realise that if he continues on the course he has set – having pretty much rejected the judge's recommendations – he faces the prospect of trying to defy the will of the people expressed through parliament, too, if it votes to implement these recommendations. It is not leadership to do as you are told by a powerful lobby. David Cameron has one last chance to stand up for the victims and show the leadership needed – which he has conspicuously failed to show so far.' A petition calling for the UK's three main party leaders to back the Leveson plan in its entirety has attracted more than ninety seven thousand signatures by Sunday morning. Gerry McCann, father of missing Madeleine, and Christopher Jefferies, the landlord wrongly arrested for the murder of Joanna Yeates, urged the public to back their online campaign. Jefferies told the Observer he could not understand how Cameron could tell the country he would accept the proposals if they were not 'bonkers' and then attempt to 'pick and choose' which bits he liked and which bits he didn't. He said: 'David Cameron used my name in the House of Commons. I call on Cameron to support Leveson's recommendations in full. There is nothing bonkers in any of Leveson's recommendations, the entire document appears to be entirely reasonable, moderate and proportionate. Cameron should be true to his word and support independent self-regulation of the press with statutory underpinning.' David Hass, the spokesman for the Hacked Off organisation, representing victims of press abuses and calling for statutory reform, said that his organisation would be making it certain this week 'that the voices of the victims of press intrusion and the views of the public are heard.' He said: 'We now know that eighty per cent of the public want to see an independent authority regulating the press and underpinned by statute and all the indications so far are that Labour party and the Lib Dems are determined to see the recommendations in Leveson's report carried out,' he said.

So here, dear blog reader, is the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-
Saturday 8 December
If the sodding snooker doesn't over-run (and, let's face it, that's some hope) then tonight's Qi XL will be on BBC2 at 10:00 and will, as always, be well worth watching. That's if the ruddy snooker doesn't over-run. Who the hell watches snooker as a spectator sport? Seriously! It's about as exciting as watching paint dry whilst being whipped with barbed-wire. Anyway, when some men have finished poking some balls around a table with sticks, national treasure Stephen Fry hosts an extended version of the popular quiz with a difference, finding out how much yer actual Professor Brian Cox, New Zealand stand-up comic Rhys Darby, Jason Manford and regular panellist Alan Davies know about justice, awarding points for the most interesting answers. Come on, you know the routine by now, it's only been going a decade.

A particular highlight on Channel Five tonight - 8:55 - is Tommy Cooper's Christmas Special. Just in case you were wondering if, behold, the miracle of the resurrection had occurred, no, this is a repeat. But it's a bloody good one. This is a festive edition of the comedy magic show from 1974 as Allan Cuthbertson, Tommy Godfrey, Glyn Houston, Damaris Hayman and Annette Potts join Tommy in a selection of skits and sketches. Providing the music are Irish singer Dana and American crooner Vic Damone and there is a guest appearance by French puppeteer Andre Tahon. Bootle, vase, vase bottle. Just like that. And, watch out for the bit with the blindfolded wooden duck picking out a card, it's comedy genius. Just like that.

Naughty Morgana is especially naughty in this week's episode of Merlin - 8:00 BBC1. Desperate to find the warlock's alter-ego Emrys, she seeks help from an old foe, the powerful wizard Alator. Merlin's life has never been in more danger, so when the mysterious Finna offers to help him, is he right to trust her? Probably not. Gary Lewis and Sorcha Cusack guest star with, of course, Colin Morgan, Katie McGrath, Bradley James and Angel Coulby.

Sunday 9 December
Dan Snow uses the latest satellite technology to reveal the secrets of ancient Rome in Rome's Lost Empire - 8:40 BBC1. Together with space archaeologist Sarah Parcak, Dan sets out to identify and then track down lost cities, amphitheatres and forts in an adventure that sees him travel through some of the most spectacular parts of the vast empire. Cutting-edge technology and traditional archaeology help build a better understanding of how Rome held such a large empire together for so long.

Saul catches up with an old friend and discovers evidence of covert activities by Estes in the latest episode of Homeland - 9:00 Channel Four. Brody and Vice President Walden find themselves at odds over the future of their political relationship, while Dana and Finn come to terms with their own differences. Thriller, starring Damian Lewis, Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin and David Harewood.
In Rod Stewart's Christmas - 9:40 ITV - Rockin' Rodney, former Ace Face and well-sexy t'boot, showcases his new CD, Merry Christmas, Baby, performing a selection of his favourite festive songs in the surroundings of Stirling Castle. Hoot's Mon, jings and crivens, help ma boab, y'ken. Rod The Mod, incidentally, was born in Highgate, North London. I'm just sayin' ... The show includes collaborations with Michael Buble and Kylie Minogue, and award-winning violinist Nicola Benedetti takes to the stage. Rod also talks about his life at home, revealing why Christmas is such a special time for him and his family.

The Trouble with Aid - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary exploring forty five years of international humanitarian efforts in countries including Somalia, Ethiopia and Afghanistan, and examining why providing aid can sometimes have unintended and terrible consequences. With contributions by key players from some of the world's largest aid agencies. Plus Mr Bonio from The U2 Group. And, why not?

Monday 10 December
The remaining chefs are asked to prove their creativity, as judges Gregg Wallace and Michel Roux Jr push them to the limits of their ability in MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:30 BBC2. The contestants have to prepare two courses from a range of ingredients devoid of fish, meat or poultry, and only three cooks will progress to the next stage.
The Poison Tree - 9:00 ITV - is a two-part psychological thriller based on the novel by Erin Kelly, starring MyAnna Buring as a woman haunted by tragic events which took place twelve years ago. Flashbacks reveal Karen Clarke's story from the moment she entered the extraordinary world of Biba and Rex to reveal the secrets she is hiding. Now living on the Kent coast with Rex, following his release from prison, and their daughter Alice, Karen is stalked by a mysterious stranger and desperate to protect her family. With Matthew Goode, Ophelia Lovibond, Hebe Johnson and Patrick Baladi.

David Mitchell guest-hosts Have I Got a Bit More News For You - 10:35 BBC1 - an extended edition of the satirical quiz, with journalist and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter and comedian Susan Calman joining Ian Hislop and Paul Merton to take another sideways look at the week's news.

Tuesday 11 December
Two years after Cuba announced radical economic reforms, broadcaster Simon Reeve heads to the Caribbean island to look at the effects the liberalisation has had in This World - 9:00 BBC2. He meets Cubans whose lives are being transformed - from the owners of fledgling businesses to the newly rich estate agents selling properties valued at up to seven hundred and fifty thousand smackers - and asks if this new openness could lead to more political freedom. He also explores whether Cuba will be able to maintain the positive aspects of its long isolation under socialism - such as low crime, high-quality education and one of the best healthcare systems in the world - while embracing a form of capitalism.

Alan and Celia's disappearance has everyone in a panic, so a search party is organised, and when Gillian and Caroline come together in their shared concern, the future step-sisters forge a new bond in the fourth episode of Last Tango in Halifax - 9:00 BBC1. Meanwhile, oblivious to all the fuss they have caused, the elderly lovebirds are locked in the spooky Southowram Hall - but while she is worried ghosts are present, he is secretly concerned about chest pains. Sally Wainwright's drama, starring Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid, Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker.
A repeat, but a terrific one and highly recommended if you missed it first time around is tonight's Imagine - 10:35 BBC1. The story of Simon and Garfunkel's 1970 LP Bridge Over Troubled Water, made during a particularly creative period in the duo's career, but which turned out to be their final studio work together. The film covers all aspects of the record's creation, from technical breakthroughs to the emotional feelings the artists had for each other, and features recent interviews with Paul and Arty and their collaborators, including manager Mort Lewis and drummer Hal Blaine.

Wednesday 12 December
Mark is beginning to adjust to life in the town and finds a temporary position with the mayor's deputy at the council offices where his mum used to work, but he stumbles across a devastating secret about her that leaves him reeling in The Town - 9:00 ITV. Meanwhile, teenage sister Jodie seems to be going off the rails, mixing with a dangerous older boy from school, and grandmother Betty starts a job at a local hotel, where she strikes up an odd friendship with a younger man. Drama, starring Andrew Scott, Avigail Tlalim, Charlotte Riley, Julia McKenzie and Gerard Kearns.
When one of their sources is found dead in Soho, a shaken Bel wants the team to halt their pursuit of Cilenti - but Freddie is more determined than ever to carry on when he discovers a new lead in The Hour - 9:00 BBC2. Meanwhile, Hector impresses executives in a meeting with ITV and is tempted by the prospect of a job alongside Marnie as the channel's golden couple, and Randall and Lix are drawn further together as they search for their daughter. The final episode, bizarrely, is on tomorrow night at 9pm. It's almost as though the BBC can't get rid of this one quickly enough.

Big quiffed Marky Kermode looks back over the year in film on a special The Culture Show - 10:00 BBC2. Director David Cronenberg and actor Robert Pattinson discuss Cosmopolis. Ben Affleck talks about his acclaimed fact-based political thriller Argo and there is an interview with Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight Rises, the final instalment of his Batman trilogy. Investigative journalist John Sweeney joins Mark to review The Master by Paul Thomas Anderson, and the programme also features a conversation with William Friedkin about his black comedy Killer Joe.

Thursday 13 December
At 8pm on BBC2 after five gruelling weeks, the MasterChef: The Professionals finalists' last challenge is to prepare a three-course menu for Gregg Wallace and Michel Roux Jr, drawing on everything they have learned during the competition and over the course of their careers. The judges assess the hopefuls' efforts before deciding who is the winner of the competition, succeeding 2011 champion Ash Mair.

Retirement is usually a time to take things easy and enjoy a well-earned rest, but in the past twenty years the number of over-sixties doing time for a criminal offence has trebled - partly because sentences are becoming harsher and more pensioners are turning to crime, a story told in Pensioners Behind Bars - 9:00 ITV. Horribly tabloidesque title notwithstanding, this documentary meets some of those who have been jailed for their offences, as well as career criminals who have hit pensionable age while serving time. They include seventy-year-old Gerry Dennis and brother Roy, sixty nine, who have served seven sentences between them, seventy seven-year-old heroin dealer John Douglas, and father-of-five Trevor Cairns, sixty two, who was caught in possession of cannabis and black-market cigarettes.

David Jensen presents a vintage edition of Top of the Pops from 24 November 1977, featuring music by The Carvells, Bonnie Tyler, Hot Chocolate, Darts, Leo Sayer, Santa Esmeralda, ABBA, Wings and The Bee Gees. Plus Legs & Co perform a dance routine featuring the music of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers whilst dressed as camels. Yes, that one!
The latest Timeshift film, Wrestling's Golden Age: Grapples, Grunts And Grannies - 9:00 BBC4 - features an affectionate look back at the heyday of British wrestling, when it attracted sizeable TV audiences, and performers such as Mick McManus, Jackie Pallo, Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki and Big Daddy were household names. Featuring contributions from enthusiasts of the sport and fans, including the artist Peter Blake. One imagines that former wrestler Sir James Savile OBE will be conspicuous by his absence, of course. Oh no, very hot water.

Friday 14 December
In Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1 - Ian Hislop and Paul Merton take another sideways look at the week's news, with the help of their fellow panellists and a guest host. As usual. Meanwhile, tonight's Qi - 10:00 BBC2 - features Radio 4 presenter (and former Communard) the Reverend Richard Coles making his debut on the obscure general knowledge quiz. He joins Sarah Millican, David Mitchell and regular panellist Alan Davies to answer Stephen Fry's testing questions about jobs.

To mark fifty years since the cinema release of the first James Bond film, Dr No, the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Carl Davis, performs music from the 007 movies, including Diamonds Are Forever, GoldenEye, Live and Let Die and From Russia with Love in James Bond Fiftieth Anniversary Gala Concert - 9:00 BBC3. The concert, at London's Royal Festival Hall, also features singers Mary Carewe and Lance Ellington, and is presented by Goldfinger's Honor Blackman.

Phillip Schofield and Amanda Holden present the fifth annual gala event from London's Imperial War Museum, honouring brave and selfless acts by Britain's armed forces in A Night of Heroes: The Military Award - 9:00 ITV. They are joined by a host of stars from the worlds of film, TV, sport and music, including Ricky Gervais, David Jason and James Nesbitt, plus senior members of the royal family. Frank Lampard, Myleene Klass and Jeremy Clarkson are among the judges selecting award-winners in several categories, including Life Saver and Best Soldier.

And so to the news: David Morrissey has begun filming the second series of BBC Scotland's crime drama Field Of Blood in Glasgow. He plays editor Murray Devlin. Filming will continue until late December, with the thriller to be shown next year.
Meanwhile, Mozza's old Blackpool and Doctor Who oppo David Tennant has been talking to STV's Moviejuice about his starring roles in the new seasonal film Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger! in which he plays twins Donald and Roderick Peterson. Not only was the film improvised in its entirety, it was also shot in sequence, and Tennant said of the improvisational nature of the film: 'It was terrifying. But that's why you do certain things, isn't it? "I've never done that before, that'll be utterly terrifying – so I'll have a go."' The film also stars Jessica Hynes, Ian McNeice and Jason Watkins.
Adam Simmonds, the newly-elected police and crime commissioner for Northamptonshire, who sounds a bit mental, frankly, wants to see police boxes back on the county's streets. He said:'"I would like to bring a focal point back into villages. It's all about putting the police back on to the streets and I would love to be able to put TARDISes back in every community.' Mad as toast. if you're from Northamptonshire and you voted for this clown, you were done. Simmonds added that he hoped to work with Northampton-native yer actual Matt Smith to launch his 'Blue Box Initiative.'
A BBC producer thought Eric Morecambe should ditch Ernie Wise and go solo, according to a memo unearthed in the corporation archives. John Ammonds believed the double act would never make it - but thought Eric would stand a chance as a solo performer if he abandoned Ernie, whom he described as 'a big weakness.' Yet just two years after the June 1959 memo, the duo found fame on commercial television - and would go on to be Britain's biggest comedy stars (interestingly with Ammonds as their producer for much of their golden period on BBC1 in the 1970s). The Scum Mail on Sunday reveals that Ammonds considered the duo - who were variety and radio stars at the time - had become 'stuck in a rut and too reliant on outdated gags.' Ammonds - who had worked with the pair on radio wrote: 'After seeing Morecambe and Wise the other week in their show [in] Blackpool, I am not at all sure as to their strength on a TV programme. They are still working to old gags and in my opinion, frequently working the wrong type of mat­erial. They are quite a disappointment to me because I thought they had a great future. I always thought Eric Morecambe was a funny man and still think that he could be very successful on vision but only if he could be detached from Ernie, who I think is a big weakness. I really cannot see them making the grade in a TV series.' Morecambe and Wise were snapped up by commercial broadcaster ATV in 1961 to make their show, Two Of A Kind, which set them on the road to TV fame.

The executive producer of Downton Abbey has suggested that writer Lord Snooty 'learned an awful lot' about serial drama writing from watching Coronation Street. Including, seemingly, everything he knows about the working classes. A fourth Downton series and Christmas 2013 special were announced last week by ITV and this year's two-hour Christmas special will be broadcast at 9pm on Christmas Day on ITV. Executive producer Gareth Neame commented: 'The main credit for the success of Downton is by far and away down to Julian. I've not had the fortune to work with anyone else who combines so many talents. He has learned an awful lot as a viewer of Coronation Street and has an extraordinary sense of serial drama writing. Julian knows that you want a core group of characters who almost become an extension of your family. But you also need new blood coming in to shake things up a bit. Not only is he a superb craftsman, he also has an extraordinary work ethic. It is a mammoth undertaking to write all those episodes.' He continued: 'Downton has a whole life beyond the episodes themselves. It has leapt [sic] out of the television set and become part of both the national and global conversation. It is now part of culture and society and that's a very different experience for all of us involved in making the show.'

A new, unknown work from the vast Anthony Burgess archive in Manchester has seen the light of day for the first time. The late writer's drama charting the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte through the ranks during the early years of the French Revolution had its premiere on BBC Radio 3 on Saturday. Humorous and historically detailed, Burgess' story is set against the background of the general's tumultuous relationship with Josephine. Manchester-born Burgess, who died in 1993, wrote thirty three novels, including the notoriously subversive A Clockwork Orange. Researches in his archive, left to the Burgess Foundation by his widow Liana, have now revealed that he wrote a total of twenty five works of non-fiction, two volumes of autobiography, three symphonies, and more than two hundred and fifty other musical works, including a piano concerto, a ballet and stage musicals. Burgess, who also contributed regularly to the Observer, had a long-term fascination with Napoleon and wrote a novel, Napoleon Symphony, based on the structure of Beethoven's Eroica symphony. Burgess approached director Stanley Kubrick about making it into a film, but Kubrick, who had directed the film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, declined. Burgess then wrote his play, although it never reached the stage. Now at last the drama, which stars Toby Jones as Napoleon in the adaptation for radio by Anjum Malik, can be heard for the first time as part of a wider Bonaparte season on Radio 3, marking two hundred years since the historic retreat from Moscow.

Police in San Diego are hunting for two men who stole three hundred pairs of Victoria's Secret knickers in an afternoon raid. The thieves - nicknamed the Knicker Nickers - targeted a store in Horton Plaza shopping mall at 4.45pm on Wednesday, NBC San Diego reports. Detectives said that one suspect pretended to browse the store, while another held a shopping bag open at an underwear display. The first man scooped around three hundred pairs of panties into the bag before the men left separately. Staff at the shop were 'not aware' any merchandise had been stolen until the disturbed display was noticed. Around half of the underwear had been removed from the stand. The theft was caught on CCTV, which is being examined as part of the investigation.

A man told police that 'prayer' was his motivation to rob two banks in West Alabama, where the cowshit lies thick. And, seemingly, so does the bullshit by the sound of it. Christopher Bruce is accused of robbing the First Financial Bank in Vance and the West Alabama Bank in Woodstock, but when arrested told police that prayer led him to the theft, in the name of The Lord. Vance police chief Ralph Burnell told FOX 19: 'He said he couldn't get a break and he didn't know how he was going to survive. He said he even pulled over on the side of the road and prayed about it. He just couldn't find it in himself to do anything different.' Bruce is a very convicted criminal and told police that he was finding it difficult to get a legitimate job. He is being held on outstanding warrants in Bibb County, as well as facing charges for the bank robberies in Vance and Woodstock.

So, that brings us nicely to today Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which is this one, obviously.