Thursday, December 27, 2012

What We Have Said Will Always Remain

The Doctor Who Christmas episode, The Snowmen, had a audience Appreciation Index score of eighty seven, the BBC have revealed. For those who haven't been following this blogger's desperate efforts to educate the entire Interweb on exactly what the AIs are all about for the last few years, and let's face it that's probably most of you, the AI is a measure of how much the audience enjoyed a particular TV programme. The score, out of a hundred, is compiled by a specially selected panel of around five to six thousand punters who go online and rate and comment on programmes, with nought being 'I really didn't enjoy this programme at all' and one hundred being 'I really did enjoy this programme lots and lots and lots and lots. And lots.' Doctor Who scored higher than most of the Christmas Day output. The most appreciated programmes were two dramas which, traditionally, always score highly, Downton Abbey on ITV and Call The Midwife on BBC1, both of which were rated ninety. Broadly speaking a score of anything above seventy eight, or thereabouts, is considered good. Above eighty five is excellent. This year's score for Doctor Who is higher than the majority of the previous Christmas Day specials with last year's The Doctor, The Widow & The Wardrobe scoring eighty four. Only the first part of David Tennant's swan song, The End of Time, equalled the score of eighty seven. An additional 0.56 million watched The Snowmen, via the Boxing Day repeat on BBC3, where it achieved a 2.3 per cent share of the total TV audience. At the moment, the episode is also - by a considerable distance - top of the BBC iPlayer charts.

EastEnders has topped the soap ratings ahead of rival Coronation Street for the third night in a row, after winning on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Some 8.2m - a 32.3 per cent share of the available audience - tuned in to watch BBC1's Boxing Day episode of the soap, which focused on the Brannings' shock over dodgy Derek's fatal heart attack. BBC3's late-night repeat appealed to a further six hundred and seventy seven thousand punters at 10.30pm. Coronation Street's 7.30pm episode, which saw Kylie regret her dirty, shameful, drunken one-night stand with Nick, pulled in 7.84m. Emmerdale's 7pm episode, which culminated with murderer Cameron's warning to his ex, Debbie, grabbed 6.34m. Meanwhile, BBC1's Boxing Day comedy line-up of Miranda and Mrs Brown's Boys struck ratings gold for the corporation. The Miranda Hart sitcom, débuting on BBC1 for its third series opener, unexpectedly rated higher than any of the channel's Christmas Day output. Just under nine and a half million punters (9.47m, a 37.8 per cent audience share) watched Miranda at 9pm, over double the audience of the last new episode, which was broadcast on BBC2 in December 2010. It had an audience peak of just over ten million at 9.25pm. The series continues next Tuesday. Mrs Brown's Boys, which premiered on Christmas Eve with 8.8m, grew to 8.97m after Miranda in the 9.30pm slot. The BBC has been quick to point out that if the ratings juggernaut EastEnders is excluded then Miranda is the next most popular Boxing Day show to be broadcast since at least 2001. Earlier in the evening, the terrestrial premiere of Alice in Wonderland was watched by 4.62m between 7pm and 8.30pm, while later Match of the Day scored a hefty 4.25m from 10.25pm. Benefiting only slightly from a Coronation Street lead-in, the Curiously Orange Christine Bleakley's risible, odious alleged 'entertainment' special That Dog Can Dance! attracted a laughably bad 3.44m for ITV. Produced by Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads' Syco, which had been dubbed an 'X Factor for dogs' in pre-publicity, the one-hour show, co-hosted by the ludicrous Bleakley (still, seemingly, toxic in box office terms after the fiasco of Daybreak) and Britain's Got Talent winners Ashleigh and Pudsey (one of whom is a dog ... not sure which, I'll get back to you on that one later), it managed an utterly pathetic 15.3 per cent audience share in the 8pm slot. Back to the drawing board, Wee Shughie McFee. Or, should that be, back to the dog house? The network's audience then collapsed completely at 9pm when the drama adaptation of Ian Rankin's Doors Open could only muster but 1.98m and two hundred and thirty five thousand punters on ITV+1. A pity, actually, as it was quite good if you stuck with it. A comedy drama heist based on the novel by Rankin, which starred Stephen Fry and was produced by his production company, Sprout, it was originally scheduled to be broadcast in August (one assumes during the Bank Holiday weekend) but ITV delayed it to the Christmas period. This blogger is not sure if that decision was intended as 'burn off' but that's certainly what they achieved' That said, they didn't exactly help themselves with the scheduling - giving it a 3.5m lead-in from an utterly incompatible dancing dog show and broadcast it against BBC1's comedy double bill meant it was doomed to a dismally small audience from the off. Opposite that on BBC2, their own classy one-off drama, The Girl managed a similar average audience of 1.8m. Starring Toby Jones and Sienna Miller, it told the story of the obsession Alfred Hitchcock had with Tippi Hedren whom he cast in The Birds and Marnie. That was rather decent as well, yer actual Keith Telly Topping watching it after Doors Open had ended. Channel Four's Lord of the Rings season continued with The Two Towers, which was watched by 1.6m from 7pm. Sky Sports 1 won the edge over Channel Five as coverage of Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws' calamitous 3-1 defeat to Stoke City netted 1.16m, while TV's Fifty Greatest Magic Tricks entertained - or failed to entertain - but eight hundred and sixty six thousand viewers.

In case you missed the bad news, dear blog reader, Leverage was cancelled a few days before Christmas with its final episode going out in the US on Christmas Day. The writing may well have been on the wall for Dean Devlin and his team as the final episode - The Long Goodbye Job - had the feeling of a series finale albeit made before the final decision had actually been made. In it, the team embarks on their riskiest con yet when Nate takes a case apparently linked to his son's death. Told almost entirely in flashback, Ellen Casey (played by The Shield's Catherine Dent) questions Nate as he recalls the job that supposedly got his entire team killed. The job was to steal 'The Black Book', a record of all illegal transactions made by bankers and the wealthy which led to the financial crisis of 2007–2008. However, it is revealed that far from being a disaster, the job was actually successful, the team is very much alive and Sterling (the great Mark Sheppard) allows Nate to walk away from possible imprisonment as a final favour to his old nemesis. Nate retires to marry Sophie and Parker, Eliot and Hardison plan to start 'Leverage International' with their newly-obtained information as the episode - and the series - ended as the pilot did five years ago with the line 'Right now, you are suffering under an enormous weight. We provide ... leverage!' Sadly, those are adventures we'll never get to see. This blogger, for one, will miss Leverage greatly. Not least, for the regular Doctor Who jokes therein.

Bets related to the EastEnders Christmas episode are being refunded by bookmakers William Hill. Bets on who killed Derek Branning have almost all been reimbursed due to the character dying from a heart attack rather than being - as previously rumours on the Interweb - murdered. The bookmakers, rather than reimbursing, did pay out for bets on Derek being his own killer, with odds for that option going from thirty three-to-one in October to five-to-two by the time the show started. A spokesman for William Hill, Joe Crilly, said: 'Derek had enough enemies to justify his murder but it seemed that nature did everyone a favour. Years of tough living took their toll and so we paid out on him and refunded on everyone else.' Bets are already being taken on next year's EastEnders Christmas episode, with William Hill offering ten-to-one that someone gets killed on Christmas Day next year. Take their money, dear blog reader, it's as easy as drowning kittens!

Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens has spoken about his alleged 'shock' departure from the costume drama. The actor, whose character Matthew Crawley was killed off on Christmas Day, made the decision not to renew his contract back in February. And, it had been pretty widely reported since, so really, his 'shock' exit wasn't that much of a shock. 'We were always optioned for three years. And when that came up it was a very difficult decision,' Stevens told the Daily Torygraph. Whose middle-class readership was weeping into its collective muesli at this point because they'd had their Christmas fucked up. Which, let's face it, was funny. 'But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things. It is a very monopolising job. So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be.' Stevens will be on stage as Morris Townsend in The Heiress in New York until February. He's also reportedly in talks to star in a new movie based on the story of WikiLeaks. 'It is a desire for freedom really,' he added - which is probably something Julian Assange would take issue with. oh yes. I don't just throw these things together, you know. 'I don't see money or a particular status as an actor as a goal but I want to do the best work I can in as interesting a range of roles as I can,' Stevens said. 'And I think a moment like this is quite unique and presents those opportunities more than ever before. None of us had any idea of how successful Downton was going to be. I thought I was signing up for another period drama that had a slightly modern feel. It had a freedom about it because it was coming out of the head of Julian Fellowes. Anything could happen and generally did. It was very emotional shooting the end of this series, because those guys are like family. We have been living together for three years and have been on the most amazing journey. I don't think any of us, with the possible exception of Maggie [Smith], have had this kind of explosion in our career paths, and may never again. It has been so bizarre, and only those who have been through it can understand it.'

ESPN has unveiled its advertising campaign for the 2012-13 FA Cup. The football tournament will be promoted in print, outdoor, on TV and in digital, and draws on the broadcaster's existing 'Cup of Dreams' marketing. Quite why the premier football cup tournament in the world needs utter bollocks the like of this to let people know it's happening is another matter entirely. It kicked off the first Saturday in January, just as it has since 1872. Anyway, associate marketing director of ESPN Europe Alex Lowe said: 'The FA Cup has a rich and glorious heritage that we celebrate proudly at ESPN. First and foremost, we are fans ourselves. We understand the passion. And through our new FA Cup campaign we aim to capture and bring to life a fan's anticipation, obsession and optimism for the tournament ahead of each round.' The main 'tranches' ,if you will, of the campaign, which has been produced by ESPN and BDA Creative, have been dubbed 'Electrician' and 'Play Room'. The former features an electrician fixing the lights in a tower block to look like the famed trophy, while the latter shows a father creating an FA Cup-style constellation out of stars in his daughter's bedroom. What a right load of old frigging toot. The campaign débuts outdoors and in digital and mobile media from 26 December and in print from 5 January. The 'Cup of Dreams' motif has also been integrated into the broadcaster's on-air spots on ESPN and ESPN Classic, incorporating Clown, Coffee, Pitch and Christmas Jumpers. ESPN will broadcast twenty five live and exclusive FA Cup matches in 2012-13 from the first round through to the final, with three matches from the third to fifth rounds, two quarter-finals, one semi-final and the FA Cup Final itself - along with selected replays. Its third round matches are Swansea versus The Arse, Mansfield versus Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and Cheltenham versus Everton.

Record numbers of punters visited UK retail websites on Boxing Day, with analysts suggesting that shoppers are also using the Internet to identify bargains. Information service Experian said consumers made one hundred and thirteen million visits to retailers' websites during 26 December. Some big name retailers started their online sales on Christmas Day. It's not all bad news for the High Streets, though, they are expected to be busy again for the post-Christmas sales, with large department stores such as John Lewis throwing open their doors. Indeed, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self picked up the BBC's five-disc Olympic DVD box set for just eleven quid in ASDA on Thursday morning. It's at least twenty notes just about everywhere else. The spirit of Christmas is alive and well and the January sales have kicked off early, dear blog reader! So, that's eleven quid into the national exchequer that it wouldn't have otherwise had. That sound you hear is George Osborne doing cartwheels. Right, if anybody wants me for the next eight hours, I'll be watching Bradley, Jessica, Mo, Nicola, Usain and co. You lot amuse yourselves in the meanwhile.

Tributes from the music and film worlds have been paid to composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett who died aged seventy six on Christmas Eve. He produced more than two hundred concert pieces, ballets and operas but was best known for film and TV scores, including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Murder on the Orient Express and Doctor Who (check out, in particular, his score for one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite stories, 1964's The Aztecs). Richard won a BAFTA and was three times nominated for an Oscar. David Arnold, the Bond films composer, hailed him as 'one of our greats. Sad news about Richard Rodney Bennett,' he said on Twitter. Sir Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of London's Barbican arts centre, said Sir Richard was 'one of the most rounded musicians of our time.' BBC Radio 3 breakfast show presenter Petroc Trelawny said Richard was a man who shone in the concert hall and cabaret stage. Richard, who was born in Broadstairs, Kent in March 1936, began composing at the age of six and co-wrote his first work for the Sadlers Wells Opera Company in 1961. He was also a jazz singer and pianist. Richard's Oscar nominations were for Far From The Madding Crowd in 1968, Nicholas and Alexanda in 1972 and Murder on the Orient Express in 1975. He often said that he believed the best film music he composed was for the latter movie, specifically the scene in which the train is first seen, leaving the station at Istanbul. He was awarded a BAFTA for his work on the movie. He was awarded the Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 1998 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to music. Aged seventeen, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music and had several of his compositions performed professionally while he was still a student. He also supported his studies as a jazz musician and later began to work regularly with Cleo Laine. Bennett was equally at home with the cutting edge of serialism, penning respectable twelve-tone works by the age of sixteen, worshipping at the temple of Darmstadt with his friend Cornelius Cardew, and producing the chilling Expressionist opera The Mines of Sulphur, which was a hit at Sadler's Wells in 1965 thanks to the composer's remarkable ability to blend serialism with lyricism. But it was his work as a film score composer that brought him international recognition. His other film credits included Billy Liar, L'Imprécateur, Billion Dollar Brain, The Nanny, Equus, Yanks and Enchanted April and, on TV, Tender is The Night and Gormenghast. In 2004, Sir Richard composed Reflections on a Scottish Folk Song, commissioned by the Prince of Wales to honour the memory of the Queen Mother. He was knighted in 1998 for services to music. Chris Butler, head of publishing for Sir Richard's publisher, Music Sales Group, said: 'Richard was the most complete musician of his generation - lavishly gifted as a composer, performer and entertainer in a multiplicity of styles and genres. He was a loyal friend to music, musicians and music publishing and we will remember him with great respect and affection.' Richard came from an artistic family – his mother had studied composition with Gustav Holst, and his father was a writer of children’s books. He turned down a place at Oxford University in the 1950s in favour of studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London, alongside other distinguished composers including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Thea Musgrave. However, he was later dismissive of his education at the academy, describing it as 'a disaster. I learned much more in the Westminster Music Library in Buckingham Palace Road, which was an absolute treasure house of Twentieth-Century music,' he said. 'London was very exciting,' he added. 'It was cheap and we could live our own lives and be slightly bohemian without being raffish.' In his private life, he was known as a Scrabble enthusiast and a creator of enormous Christmas feasts. His colleague Gill Graham described him as 'determined, hilarious and a great influence.' Sir Richard died peacefully on Christmas Eve in New York, where he had lived for more than twenty years.

A British man has been arrested after driving his car onto an airport runway in Amsterdam. The man was reported to be drunk when he stole a car at Schiphol airport. The man drove the vehicle onto the Dutch airport's runway for 'a few minutes,' police said, after pushing an emergency exit button at a gate and stealing a contractor's car parked on the tarmac. Police spokesman Dennis Muller told the AFP news agency: 'He drove around for a few minutes but at no point was there any danger to flight traffic.' Muller revealed that the incident had taken place in the early morning of Christmas Day. 'There aren't many flights on Christmas Eve and there were none at all at the time he took the car,' he said. Muller added: 'We're investigating exactly where he went in the car. We don't know why he took the car, these are things you do when you're drunk. We'll interview him about what he's done and then it's up to the prosecutor to decide what to do with him.'

And, finally, here's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite headline of 2012.

Which brings us to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Bass, Bruce!
Oh, apparently, Pudsey is the dog. Ashleigh, isn't.