Sunday, March 31, 2013

We Are Entranced

Doctor Who returned on Easter Saturday with a slot-winning overnight audience of 6.18m (and a peak audience of 6.68m) for The Bells of Saint John. Expect that figure to increase by around two million once consolidated timeshift viewers are taken into account in about a week's time. Doctor Who easily won the time slot with You've Been Framed! on ITV getting 3.6 million viewers. It was a decent (if unspectacular) night for both of the main channels, actually with The Voice's second series beginning with 6.24m (a peak of 8.15m). The most watched show of the day remained Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway which was watched by 6.7m on ITV from 7pm.
Incidentally, did you know dear blog reader, that the café scenes in The Bells of Saint John were shot on the roof terrace of the Grange St Paul's Hotel. These was originally scripted to be in Covent Garden, but the production team found a location with a better sight line of The Shard.
Oh, and as for 'Imagine that, human souls trapped like flies in the World Wide Web. Stuck forever. Crying out for help.' 'Isn't that basically Twitter?' Well, it's about time somebody said it!
Doctor Who has received three nominations at this year's Hugo Awards. The nominations for this year's ceremony were unveiled on Saturday. The BBC's popular long-running family SF drama series secured nominations in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category. These were secured for the Steven Moffat episodes Asylum of the Daleks, The Angels Take Manhattan and The Snowmen. The show, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year - you might have noticed - has triumphed on six previous occasions, as a trio of Moffat written stories, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, The Girl in the Fireplace and Blink won in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The Waters of Mars, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang and The Doctor's Wife also won in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively. Doctor Who takes three of the five nominations in the category this year. Other nominees are Fringe for Letters of Transit and Game of Thrones for Blackwater. The 2013 Hugo Awards take place between August 29 and September 2.

And, finally on the subject of Doctor Who, just in case you've been living in a cave since Friday, to confirm once again, the BBC have announced that former national hearth-throb David Tennant and yer actual Billie Piper will return to the show for its fiftieth anniversary special in November. They will be joined by the actor John Hurt in an episode described by Matt Smith his very self as 'spellbinding.' Which is jolly nice. And, it'll be in 3D an'all. For those that actually have 3D.
And, speaking of yer actual Ten his very self, now firmly established on ITV, Tennant commented to the Belfast Telegraph on how the Broadchurch story unfolded where the actors didn't know how it would develop: 'When you're playing those initial interviews with characters and you genuinely don't know what the truth is, you can't load those scenes with "actorly" tricks. You have to play it for what it is, which can only make it more real. You can be as exasperated about the mystery of the characters as the audience will be. It's great to be part of something where all the characters have powerful stories to tell. There's the whodunit aspect but there are other stories going on and such wonderful people portraying those parts.' Co-star Arthur Darvill also explained how he became involved with Broadchurch: 'Chris Chibnall came up to me while I was filming one of his [Doctor Who] episodes in Cardiff and said, "I've written you a part in a new TV series, will you do it?" I thought, "I can't say no to that, that's amazing!" We chatted about it, we discussed where the character would go, and I just found what he was trying to do really interesting, so I jumped at the chance. That's the first time somebody's ever written anything for me; it was very humbling. It's quite an honour,' Arty added.
BBC1's biggest primetime show on Thursday evening was the latest edition of the popular MasterChef, which was watched by 4.20 million at 8pm. The second episode of returning drama Prisoners' Wives' could only muster a rather disappointing 3.79 million at 9pm. Great British Menu continued to impress for BBC2, picking up two million punters at 7pm. It seems that cookery shows are popular right across the board at the moment. Except for Food Glorious Good. Because it's shite, basically. Also on BBC2 1.54 million watched James May's Man Lab at 8pm and Horizon had an audience of 1.59 million at 9pm. The BBC2 ratings don't include HD viewers. On ITV, The Martin Lewis Money Show had 3.17 million at 8.30pm, whilst the documentary Kids With Tourettes was watched by but 1.93 million at 9pm. The supposedly controversial Channel Four documentary Forty Year Old Virgins had an audience of 1.3 million at 9pm, while the latest episode of Gogglebox had nine hundred and forty thousand punters at 10pm. Channel Five's The Yorkshire Ripper: Crimes That Shook The World pulled an quietly impressive 1.05 million at 10pm. Earlier, Killers Behind Bars had an audience of eight hundred and eighty thousand at 9pm. On BBC4, a repeat of the excellent Ian Hislop's Goes Off The Rails was watched by seven hundred and ninety two thousand viewers at 9pm, while the latest edition of More4's US import Nashville managed two hundred and twenty seven thousand at 10pm.

Lord Hall, the BBC's incoming director general, will outline his vision for the future of the corporation when he takes up his new role next week in an attempt to draw a line under the Savile fiasco, which saw off his predecessor after just fifty four days in charge. Taking up his post on Tuesday on next week, Hall is planning 'a blitz' of broadcast interviews, part of a concerted response to accusations that the previous regime was 'not responsive enough' to the media. Mainly by elements of the media with a sick anti-BBC agenda. Hall's predecessor, the hapless George Entwistle, was reluctant to appear on camera – and in particular repeatedly declined to appear on ITV, Channel Four or Sky News. The arts broadcaster Lord Bragg said that Hall, who returns to the BBC after running the Royal Opera House, had 'no option' but to 'cut a swath' through BBC middle management in the wake of the 'damning conclusions' of The Pollard Report into the Savile fiasco. 'The Savile crisis has exposed a dire structure and I think he should go in with a cleansing sword. It's not just individuals – it's the system. He has shown he can do it – he was very good at the Royal Opera House. Savile exposed the problems with the middle management at the BBC, which clogs everything up. I speak as a great admirer of the BBC [but] it is amazing that they can get any programmes done at all,' said Bragg at a launch of his latest Sky Arts series last week. Hall will hold his first meeting with the BBC's management board on Tuesday morning at New Broadcasting House, with key executives including creative director Alan Yentob, BBC Worldwide chief executive Tim Davie and the newly recruited strategy and digital director, former lack of culture secretary and Labour MP James Purnell. He then plans to hold an informal staff meeting later in the day, and will follow that up with a Reithian style tour of the organisation's 'inform, educate, and entertain' operations by visiting BBC1's Panorama, its science department, Radio 1 and the 'tech ops' team which has kept the BBC's various services on air despite the recent bad weather. At the executive meeting, Hall is expected to outline his future strategy for the BBC and where he wants it to be in a decade from now in terms of programme-making, technology and culture. He will not look to undo any of the seven hundred million quid's worth of cost-cutting measures contained in Mark Thompson's wretched Delivering Quality First initiative, but will outline 'key areas' that he wants his management team to prioritise. At least, this is all according to the Gruniad Morning Star, a maggot-ridden shit-stirring scum organ which has done the BBC no favours in its coverage of the corporation for years. Meanwhile, although the initial impact of the Savile fiasco has subsided, more than eight hundred and fifty members of staff have, alleged 'raised concerns' with a review into alleged sexual harassment and alleged bullying at the corporation. Again, according to the Gruniad if not, actually, anybody that matters. The BBC's difficulties over the handling of the Savile fiasco, as exposed in Nick Pollard's report, also appeared to reveal a 'culture of mistrust' amongst executives and between executives and journalists, divisions which meant BBC executives were reluctant to believe Newsnight reporters who thought they could expose sexual abuse perpetrated by the late presenter. The new leader's most immediate task will be to restore faith in BBC News in the wake of Savile and Newsnight's calamitous report which led to the erroneously linking by some people on the Internet if the former Tory party chairman Lord McAlpine to child abuse. But, the subject is familiar to Hall, as he ran BBC News and Current Affairs between 1989 and 2001, largely during the ascendancy of John Birt at the corporation. Hall has to begin with the appointment of a new director of news after the incumbent, Helen Boaden, criticised in The Pollard Report, was moved to fill the vacant director of radio role. Some alleged - though entirely nameless - 'senior insiders' allegedly believe that the job could go to James Harding, the former editor of The Times. Again, according to the Gruniad so, as ever, take that with a vat of salt and a healthy dose of disbelief. Because, frankly, if one of those fekkers told this blogger that black was a darker shade than white he'd want a second opinion. 'News and current affairs is absolutely at the core of the BBC's brand and trustworthiness and is the number one reason we have the licence fee,' one alleged senior industry 'source' allegedly told some louse of no importance at the Gruniad. 'Arguably in the Internet era of news and gossip you need the BBC more than you ever needed it before. It is tarnished post-Savile and the whole meltdown on Newsnight. He has got to make the whole thing trustworthy again.' Hall's office is next to the corporation's sprawling news department on the fourth floor of the newly refurbished Broadcasting House. The new director general is also expected to make an early appearance on the Today programme, located a floor below. It was the inquisition on Today by John Humphrys, on 10 November last year, that finally sealed the fate of his predecessor, with Entwistle resigning about twelve hours later. It remains to be seen, though, whether Humphrys will be given the job of interviewing his new boss.'
The quest by PBS to fill the Downton Abbey-sized gap in American TV viewers' hearts continues this weekend with a boost to its line-up of British period drama imports. Season two of Call The Midwife and the ITV drama Mr Selfridge, based on the eponymous American department store mogul, premiere Sunday. At The New York Times Center on Thursday, PBS executives offered the first official US previews of the shows, which will attempt to capitalise on Downton Abbey's success in the US. Season one of Call The Midwife, while well-reviewed in the US, didn't grab audiences in the same way as Downton Abbey. Set in 1950s east London, Call The Midwife has a distinctly different kind of British sensibility that is more gritty than the obnoxious class-based escapist nonsense of Lord Snooty's Downton. The comical images of midwives administering nitrous oxide to women in labour are something of a shock to American viewers schooled in images of a prim, Bronte-influenced British countryside. Call The Midwife also lacks a Maggie Smith figure – a British star known in the US. Jenny Agutter, who plays Sister Julienne, the matriarch of a nursing convent, may have achieved iconic national-treasure status in the UK but she is little known in the US except for Logan's Run. The slapstick comedy shenanigans of Miranda Hart, who plays junior midwife Camilla Cholmondeley-Browne, have likewise somehow evaded American sensibilities. But in common with most British period dramas in PBS' Masterpiece Theater strand, Call The Midwife manages to deliver the careful nuances necessary to produce the period-piece glow that US television has failed to master. American audiences can also indulge in an array of cockney accents and references to the National Health Service – the mention of the latter earned applause from The New York Times Center audience. Those not swung by Call The Midwife may seek solace in Mr Selfridge, which makes its stateside début on Sunday. Cast against the splendour of a business magnate's world and grounded in consumerism and sex, Mr Selfridge has the potential to win over American fans in a way Midwife has not yet managed to. The show's lead is a brash American pulverising his way through turn-of-the-century London, creating a culturally dominant shopping institution along the way. In an early scene from episode one, two men reflect on the lead: 'That Mister Selfridge seems to have a damn high opinion of himself.' 'He's American. That's what they're like.' Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of Masterpiece Theater, said the channel was always looking for a British programme with 'an American tint.' When pressed by New York Times television writer Bill Carter about whether any of the slew of recent British hits would air at the same time in the US and UK, to avoid spoilers for the passionate US audience, Eaton said: 'Never say never.'

A shoplifter has been arrested after appearing on TV earlier on the same day as her naughty shoplifting ways. Jay Cole was caught stealing from a Sainsbury's store on 27 February when police officers played back CCTV footage and recognised her as the woman who had been interviewed on ITV's This Morning just hours earlier. Quite what the police officers in question were doing watching This Morning had not been revealed at this time. Cole took forty two smackers worth of goods from the supermarket including cakes, pastries, biscuits, sandwiches, champagne and soft drinks, reports the Mirra. Cole, who weighs twenty two stone, appeared on the programme to discuss her difficulty finding a job due to her weight issues. 'I am a victim of fattism,' Cole told hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby. 'If I go for an interview, people just roll their eyes when they see me walk in. I want to work but people won't hire me. Why should I change who I am? A job is about qualifications, not because you look a certain way.' The twenty four-year-old, who had also robbed from the same shop eight days earlier, was cautioned by police for two counts of theft. And one count of appearing of This Morning without due care and attention. Probably.

A man who claimed that Andy Dick hit him in the face with his genitals is dropping his lawsuit against the US stand up comedian. Robert Tucker alleged that Dick took out his genitals at a comedy club in Dallas, Texas in 2010, and 'planted them' on his face. He had sought unspecified damages, insisting that he was left 'degraded and humiliated' in front of the work colleagues who had come with him to the comedy show and who subsequently 'harassed and ridiculed' him over the incident. According to the initial lawsuit, the 'assault' happened when Tucker asked Dick for an autograph as the comic was dressed in drag. Instead, the initial papers claimed, Dick 'took control of Plaintiff's head with his left hand and pulled down his costume skirt with right hand, exposing the fact that he was not wearing underwear beneath the skirt.' Dick then, 'while still controlling Plaintiff's head with his hand,' allegedly 'forced his genitals against the left side of Plaintiff's face. The Plaintiff immediately pulled away.' Tucker has now dismissed his claims and will not re-file it.

The Turin Shroud - which is revered by many Christians as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ even though it's a rather crude Medieval fake - has made its début on modern media platforms. Italy's Rai TV broadcast for the first time images of the linen cloth bearing a faint brownish image of what appears to be a man's body. A smartphone app was also created to show digital images of the cloth. Pope Francis contributed a message to the broadcast, shortly before he was to celebrate his first Easter vigil. The pontiff, who was elected earlier this month, presided over a vigil at St Peter's Basilica on Saturday evening - ahead of the main Easter Sunday celebrations. Viewers were able to watch live images of the Turin Shroud in a ninety-minute programme from Turin Cathedral. The images were also streamed on various websites. In a video message ahead of the exhibition, Pope Francis said: 'It speaks to our heart.' The pontiff described the cloth as 'an icon' but was careful not to authenticate it as a genuine relic - which it isn't. The shroud has never been officially recognised as authentic by The Vatican and rigorous scientific testing seems to indicate that it was woven between seven and eight hundred years ago. The presence of the Turin Shroud in Lirey, France, is only undoubtedly attested from 1390 when Bishop Pierre d'Arcis wrote a memorandum to Antipope Clement VII, stating that the shroud was a forgery and that the artist had confessed to his naughty ways. The only previous - recorded - TV broadcast of the shroud was in 1973. It was last shown to the general public three years ago when Pope Benedict travelled to Turin to view it. The Shroud has been kept in the northern Italian city for more than four centuries. It was taken there by members of the former Italian and French royal house of Savoy who originally acquired it in France in the belief that it had been brought to Europe by returning Crusaders.

Police in Brazil have used tear gas and smoke grenades to break up clashes between fans who were trying to buy tickets for the inaugural match in a stadium built for the 2014 World Cup. The football fans had queued overnight at a ticket office in the North Eastern state of Bahia, but fighting broke out as soon as it opened. The Arena Fonte Nova stadium cost three hundred and thirty million dollars - about fifty million over budget. Meanwhile, a builder was killed in an accident at another World Cup venue. Raimundo Nonato Lima Costa, forty nine, a construction worker at the Amazon Arena in Manaus, reportedly fell from a height of about five metres. Nobody was arrested after the clashes at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, police said. The company in charge of the new stadium issued a statement saying it would 'improve on the shortcomings' which became apparent on Friday. Witnesses said there were no barriers to separate the ticket booth queues. Lately, a series of events have led to criticism of Brazil's planning for the world's biggest football event. The inauguration date of iconic Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, set to host the final next year, has been delayed repeatedly. Originally due reopening in December 2012, its first match is now scheduled for 27 April. Last week, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro added to the embarrassment by closing the stadium due to host the athletics events at the 2016 Olympics, which was being used to replace Maracana at major football matches.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's good mate Mick Snowden made his latest short film, Hoax, in response to a request from ARC in Stockton-on-Tees, as a prelude to their performance of Bandages, a play by Kirsty Housley. Based on an improvisation about emotions in an acting class, and developed in response to a poem of the same name that formed the inspiration for Kirsty's play, Hoax explores the tensions which are caused when relationships are built on lies. Bandages will be showing at ARC on Thursday 18 April at 7.30pm. For more information or to book tickets visit here with Hoax acting as a support feature.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of yer actual Keith Telly Topping pondering the inherently ludicrous nature of existence from inside the data cloud. Well, it fills ten minutes on a boring Easter Sunday after watching the Doctor Who repeat.
And so, dear blog reader, to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, today, features a moment of glory and brilliance from Siouxsie and all of her Banshees.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Behold! The Revelator: The Bells Of Saint John

Do! Not! Click! It!'
So, dear blog reader, in episode seven hundred and ninety one of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama, Doctor Who, we learn that the Internet is, in fact, completely evil. (But, then, many of us already suspected that.) And, we also discovered that death is not, always, the final end. Especially when it comes to yer actual Clara Oswin. (But, we knew that as well, from past experience.) The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) - author of the episode - described the premise of The Bells of Saint John as 'the traditional Doctor Who thing of taking something omnipresent in your life and making it sinister.' Which puts this story in a very long and noble tradition of Doctor Who archetypes stretching back through things like The Christmas InvasionRose, Delta & The BannermenMawdryn Undead, The Android InvasionSpearhead From Space and The Invasion to The War Machines in 1966 (and, possibly, as far back as An Unearthly Child its very self). 'If something did get in the Wi-Fi, we'd be screwed. Nobody had really done it before, so I thought, "It's time to get kids frightened of Wi-Fi!"' The Moffinator, when pressed on the issue, denied that his intention was to give viewers a warning about the sinister advances of technology (the kind of thing Nigel Kneale used to do for fun), but rather to tell 'an adventure story' about a 'new way [for aliens] to invade' based on something which viewers would be familiar with. It was apparently the show's producer, Marcus Wilson, who suggested that the episode could become 'an urban thriller', as the story would need to be set in contemporary London to reintroduce Clara and that the Wi-Fi monsters were the perfect accompaniment to this. Moffat later compared the style of the episode to the James Bond movies and The Bourne Identity and, obvious budgetary considerations aside, you kind of see what he's getting at. There's an elegance and wit at play here which demonstrates to a thousand wannabes just why Moffat wins BAFTAs and is so highly regarded in Hollywood. So, anyway, we've got a review coming up from yer actual Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader. As ever,  beware of what is to come if you haven't seen the episode as there are many spoilers ahead. And, if you haven't watched the episode yet then, frankly, what the smegging hell are you doing reading From The North? Go and watch it, instantly, then come back here in fifty minutes time.
The Bells of Saint John starts off with a jolly clever little juxtaposition of two distinct sets of scenes across several centuries. In one time zone, we finds The Doctor his very self, living in a self-imposed, (and possibly self-flagellistic) exile at a monastery in the Cumbria of 1207 searching - inside himself - for answers to questions that he, possibly, hasn't even begun to fathom the true nature of. That is, until he is told - by The Monkees, no less - that the titular Bells of Saint John 'are ringing.' That's enough to make any Time Lord a believer, surely? At the other end of the metaphorical time tunnel, eight hundred and six years later (one presumes, anyway, since it appears to be contemporary London or, possibly, the very near future), is the actual object of his solitary ruminations - and, rather decent impressionistic watercolours at that. It is here, dear blog reader, that we find a twice dead soufflé girl and stone cold fox called Clara. Who can't get the Interweb to work.
The episode centres on the fascinating conceit of many people's souls being uploaded (without their permission, obviously) onto the Internet. You know, rather like videos on YouTube of hapless commuters being happy-slapped by hoodies. For the purposes of nefarious skulduggery in the area. Or, something. The so-called 'data cloud', as Miss Kizlet notes, is 'like immortality. But fatal' for those who find themselves, unwittingly, trapped within it. Something very, very dangerous is lurking deep within London's Wi-Fi signals, uploading people's minds and imprisoning them, disembodied, in some dark corner of the World Wide Web. Indeed, it is a kind of immortality, only without the free will. Or the annoying corporeal status. Or the ability to blog when angry. Among those targeted for upload is none other than the woman that The Doctor has travelled halfway across the galaxy to find. Which, as you can probably imagine, is something that he isn't too happy about. Neither is she for that matter, once she gets over the shock of finding a curious monk on her doorstep.
So, at length The Doctor tracks down Clara, and she's living in modern London as a childminder with unfulfilled dreams of travel and an - unseen - father who has a 'thing' about the government. They don't hit it off immediately, partly because of the weird costume The Doctor first turns up in ('monks are not cool'). That, plus the fact that Clara suspects his police box is nothing more than 'a snogging booth.' But the chemistry is soon - quite literally - exploding between Smudger and Jenna-Louise, who is (one certainly imagines) destined to become a hugely popular companion with fans of the show. Not to mention a head-scratching enigma over the course of the next eight weeks, that's pretty much a given. Of course, The Special People will probably find something to whinge about. They usually do. As for the episode itself it is, admittedly, somewhat low on plot overall. And what plot there is comes largely in the form of a major - from which read Brigadier-General - continuity revelation carried over from the Christmas episode, The Snowmen. It is, however, something of a breezy, one hundred miles per hour rip-roaring roller-coaster romp across the capital - full of gorgeous shots of London landmarks - and includes a big fek-off motorbike stunt worthy of yer actual Eddie Kidd. The technology-turns-against-humanity subplot is, as far as it goes, well-handled and pretty smart, full of very witty one-liners. 'We're living in a Wi-Fi soup,' warns The Doctor. 'Suppose there was something in the Wi-Fi harvesting human minds?' Is humanity just but click away from a living death? Or, is that just a decent description of bloody Twitter? The trail leads The Doctor and his new friend to The Shard and the high-rise offices of Miss Kizlet (a gloriously icy and Thatcheresque performance from the terrific Celia Imrie). But who, or what, is her mysterious client? If you're wondering, it turns out to be a - brief - return of The Great Intelligence and Richard E Grant. There you go, I told you you should have watched the episode first.
Ultimately, The Bells Of Saint John, is something of a curate's egg - inconsequential (albeit funny and fresh) in places but beautifully precise and quite dark in others. It's got loads of great lines, like: 'It's gone. The Internet. Why can't I find it?' And: 'Do we need another London activation? We can't always pass it off as a riot!' And: 'I can't tell the future, I just work there.' And: 'The abattoir is not a contradiction. No one loves cattle more than Burger King.' And: 'I'm ever so fond of Alexei. But, my conscience says we should probably kill him!' And: 'You're young. Shouldn't you be doing ... young things ... with young people?' It's an episode which sees the first use to the TARDIS's exterior telephone (which, isn't supposed to work) since The Empty Child and the first appearance of a London architectural icon as a base for evil since Doomsday. 'He loves and cares for humanity. In fact, he can't get enough of it.' This is an episode in which The Doctor once again asserts one of his mission statements; that 'It! is! Protected!' Respect is due, considerably, to Moffat for managing to juggle an awkward set of requirements (reintroducing another version of Clara, including and defeating the menace of the week and setting up the beginning of the rest of this series story arc) whilst also dropping in a few continuity references for the fans (the return of U.N.I.T) and, keeping the kids happy. In the case of the latter, Smudger and Clara, and the bike riding up the side of a building will have handled that, no problem. Not bad, overall, for an episode which includes not only a whole plate full of Jammy Dodgers®™ but, also, a fez.
And so the the news: Which you've probably already heard by now. But, if not, here it is. Yer actual David Tennant and Billie Piper her very self will appear in the fiftieth anniversary special of Doctor Who, the BBC has confirmed. Tennant played The Doctor between 2005 and 2010 whilst Piper played his on-screen companion, Rose Tyler. As if you didn't know. Filming on the special, which will also star the great John Hurt, will start next week. Hurt is one of the UK's most respected actors appearing in films such as John Merrick in The Elephant Man, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Scandal. On television he is best known for playing Caligula in I, Claudius and Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant. His distinctive voice has been used in many productions such as Watership Down and the animated The Lord of the Rings. He has received two Academy Award nominations, a Golden Globe Award, and four BAFTA Awards. Tennant's successor, Matt Smith - also, of course, in the special with his new assistant played by Jenna-Louise Coleman - said that fans 'will not be disappointed' by the 3D episode, due to be broadcast on 23 November. Tennant and Piper have long been rumoured to be making a return for the special, which is being written by the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama's executive producer and showrunner Steven Moffat. In January, Piper, appearing on The Graham Norton Show, denied she would be appearing. 'I wasn't asked, no,' she lied! 'I think Matt Smith may have said, in passing or in jest, it would be nice. I think maybe he said that and then it became something quite different, but no.' Smudger has said the show 'manages to pay homage to everything - and look forward. I read it and I clapped at the end. I think it's hilarious, it's epic and it's vast,' he said. Moffat, meanwhile, has said that he took 'special care' to protect the secrets of the story. 'One length I've gone to which is a really good security measure - I make sure I don't get a script, because I will lose it,' he said. 'I forbid people to hand me one. It's on my computer under lock and key.' Future episodes of the show, which is filmed in Cardiff, see the return of The Cybermen and The Ice Warriors, who last appeared during the Jon Pertwee era in 1974. Tennant starred in Doctor Who from 2005 to 2010 while Piper first appeared earlier in 2005 opposite yer actual Christopher Eccleston, who played the ninth Doctor. She left the show in 2006 but returned for a number of episodes in 2008 as well as for Tennant's final episode, broadcast on 1 January 2010. The first episode of Doctor Who, An Unearthly Child, starring William Hartnell as the Time Lord, was broadcast on 23 November 1963. As part of the anniversary events, the BBC will also broadcast An Adventure in Space and Time - a one-off drama looking at how the family SF drama came to be made.

One final point re The Bells of Saint John. I wonder what, exactly, is the clue of the 'missing' year in Clara's life glimpsed in her copy of 101 Places To See (what happened to her when she was twenty three?) And then there's the significance, or lack of it, of the leaf The Doctor finds, sniffs and, indeed, licks. I dare say we'll find out what relevance there is in these things in the weeks to come. Or, maybe we won't.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Collecting And Selecting Independent Views

Matt Smith has suggested that the character of Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) 'changes The Doctor's view of the universe.' Smudger offered a few tiny hints on this weekend's episode The Bells of St John to the Yorkshire Evening Post claiming that Clara is 'quite different' to any of The Doctor's previous companions. 'Clara reignites his curiosity in the universe and gives him his mojo back, for want of a better word,' the actor said. He added of new co-star Coleman: 'You'll see on-screen she's absolutely brilliant and it's been a joy. I'm really proud of the work we've done and I think it's exciting for the character, he's got a new lease of life somehow. Jenna's inventive, she works tirelessly hard. I like her, which is good because you've got to get on. And I'm really proud of what she's achieved and I'm pleased that it's gone so well for her because I think she's brilliant in it.'

Meanwhile Jenna-Louise her very self has described her Doctor Who arc as 'mystifying but exciting.' The actress told Metro that getting to grips with her multiple roles on the BBC's popular family SF drama had been 'a challenge.' 'It's a hard backstory to get your head around,' admitted the actress - who played Oswin in 2012's Asylum of the Daleks, before returning as saucy Victorian governess Clara in the Christmas special The Snowmen and a Twenty First Century Clara in this Saturday's The Bells of Saint John. 'My approach was to play all three as individual people and trust that there would be a pay-off. It was mystifying but exciting to get the chance to play such a complex part. You never know where it's going to lead.' Jenna also claimed that 'the energy' required to work on Doctor Who is 'ridiculous. The difficulty is you're consistently running,' she explained. 'This isn't like any other show - I've never sat down and had a conversation in any episode. You're talking and moving all the time. I think it's all about finding the tune - at first all I could see were all the individual notes.'

One of Jenna-Louise's predecessors, Catherine Tate and yer actual Philip Glenister will star opposite David Walliams in new BBC1 sitcom Big School. The comedy, first announced in August, is co-written by Walliams and is set in an urban secondary school. Walliams will play chemistry teacher, Mr Church, while Tate is cast as enthusiastic new French mistress, Miss Postern. Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes legend Glenister will play Mr Gunn, a 'lothario gym teacher', with The Thick of It's Joanna Scanlan starring as interfering drama teacher Mrs Klebb. Also cast in Big School - which was originally titled Autumn Leaves - are Frances de la Tour as no-nonsense headmistress Ms Baron, Steve Speirs as miserly geography teacher Mr Barber and rising star Daniel Rigby as music teacher and wannabe rock star Mr Martin. 'Led by David Walliams, it's an absolute privilege to work with such a brilliant cast and off-screen production team,' said Mark Freeland, BBC head of in-house comedy. 'Like my Latin GCSE, nothing can go wrong. At least that's what I thought at the time.' Big School - a six-part thirty-minute series - will start filming in the coming weeks in the London area.

Sir Bruce Forsyth has hinted that he could reduce his role on the next series of Strictly Come Dancing. The eighty five-year-old presenter admitted that he has 'struggled' to cope with the demands of the BBC1 show as he's grown older. 'We've got a meeting [about the show] tomorrow,' he said during an appearance on Loose Women. 'There could be some other little ways of doing it, because it is hard. I'm not getting any younger. This always comes up because of my age.' Forsyth did not present the Sunday results shows during the last series, with Claudia Winkleman taking over hosting duties alongside Tess Daly. An alleged BBC 'source' previously - allegedly - told the Daily Scum Mail: 'Our hope is he will want to continue with Strictly. We love him and want him to keep doing it, although we understand he has to make a decision he is comfortable with.'

Mad Dogs is to be remade by US cable network FX. Because, seemingly, no one in American television has a single original idea in their collective head. At least it has one quality name attached to it, however, so it might not be a complete disaster. The Shield creator Shawn Ryan will executive produce the remake of the Sky1 series, Deadline reports. Ryan first announced that he was working with Mad Dogs creator Cris Cole on a US version back in November 2012. The original Mad Dogs starred John Simm, Marc Warren, Max Beesley and Philip Glenister as four middle-aged friends who take a holiday to Majorca but find themselves drawn into a world of crime, corruption and murder. Two four-part series have been shown on Sky1 in the UK, with a third run already in production. FX's remake will follow a similar premise, with four fortysomething friends heading to Belize to visit their old school friend, where events take an unexpected and dark turn. Ryan will executive produce alongside Cole, Andy Harries and Suzanne Mackie, with Sony Pictures Television producing the US Mad Dogs in association with Left Bank Pictures.

Good old made as toast Brian Blessed is to guest host an upcoming episode of Have I Got News for You, it has been announced. The seventy six-year-old acting legend first fronted the topical news quiz in 2008, when he brought an inimitable and chaotic presenting style to the programme in an episode which is now, rightly, regarded as a bit of a classic by the cognoscenti. Blessed will appear on the panel show in the second episode of the new series on Friday 12 April alongside regular team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton. The remaining two guests have yet to be confirmed. On returning to the hot seat for the episode, Blessed said: 'My favourite TV programme with my two favourite presenters. What an honour to be hosting the show again, it will be a joyful reunion.'

This could definitely ruin a reputation. Mad Frankie Boyle has, reportedly, shown his softer side after buying dinner for a bunch of students. The comic ordered around two dozen pizzas to be delivered to protesters occupying a building at the University of Sussex – where he, himself, studied English literature – in protest at the outsourcing of jobs. Student Michael Segelov said: 'There were so many – it was really nice of him. It means a lot.' Ah. Bless 'im.

It was an innocuous interview about a diplomatic conference that not every viewer would normally have found particularly interesting. But when the BBC got South African civil servant Rufus Lekala's name wrong in an on-screen caption, it ended up causing a far bigger stir than anticipated. Instead of 'Rufus Lekala', the caption called him 'Gay Marriage.' Lekala, chief harbour master at Transnet, South Africa's national transport company, spoke to BBC World News – said to have a global audience of seventy one million – on Tuesday about the summit of Brics nations in Durban. He was accompanied by an on-screen graphic that said 'Gay Marriage', presumably due to confusion with coverage of the debate in America over the legalising same sex unions. Viewers were quick to grab screen shots of the error and circulate them via e-mail as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Transnet, however, elected not to see the funny side of a - seemingly genuine - mistake and decided it could not leave the matter there. Lunga Ngcobo, a spokeswoman, told South Africa's Times newspaper: 'We understood that it was a mistake. But we have asked [the] BBC to explain how this happened. We want them to get the facts correct. We think it's a similar mistake that often happens [with] other media houses. But they apologised after [being] alerted about the error.' The BBC has now said sorry. A spokeswoman in London explained: 'During transmission of a recorded report on shipping in South Africa, a topline aston strap was erroneously transposed by our MosART automation system over a voiceclip from Captain Rufus Lekale from Transnet when the item played out in our 08:00 news bulletin. We apologise to Captain Lekale for any embarrassment this technical error may have caused.'
In the last year they have presided over court cases in which some of the country's top barristers and highest paid lawyers have argued for and against News International and its former and current staff facing legal action over alleged phone-hacking and/or corruption and other nefarious skulduggery, shenanigans and malarkey. But now the two judges who have heard all the preliminary hearings in relation to both civil litigation in the high court and criminal charges in the crown court, linked to allegations of phone-hacking at the Scum of the World and inappropriate payments to public officials by the Sun, are departing for higher office. Mr Justices Vos, a high court judge, and Fulford, a crown court equivalent, have both been elevated to become lord justices of appeal, Downing Street announced on Thursday. They are both expected to be sworn in by the end of this legal year. It means Fulford will not be presiding over the trials of former News International chief executive well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and that of the former director of communications at Downing Street, Andy Coulson, which have been pencilled in for early September. Both well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and the prime minister's former 'chum' Coulson, of course, deny any wrongdoing. The cases which relate to charges that emanated from Scotland Yard's Operation Weeting involve eight former Scum of the World staff. But he was also expected to preside over separate cases involving well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, her husband millionaire Old Etonian Charlie and several security staff, over charges linked to allegations that they conspired to pervert the court of justice. Fulford has also managed all the cases in relation to charges of corruption of public officials, including the sentencing of two former policeman and a former prison officer who were jailed on Wednesday for selling information to the Sun on the arrest of high profile celebrities and on Jamie Bulger's killer Jon Venables. While Fulford has dealt with the criminal charges, Vos has been a stalwart of the civil damages litigation against News International over Scum of the World phone-hacking badness, presiding over fourteen case management conferences so far. Vos is a familiar sight to legions of law firms Linklaters, which represents News International and is one of the most expensive law firms in the country. The firm regularly has half-a-dozen representatives in the high court for Vos's case management hearings. He has handled all the civil litigation cases since Sienna Miller made the first claim in 2010, overseeing the first tranche of settlements last January, including a payout of one hundred and thirty thousand smackers to Jude Law and forty grand to the former deputy prime minister John Prescott. The Scum of the World phone-hacking settlements was one of the highest profile cases of 2012 and attracted so much interest from media and solicitors acting for victims, there was standing room only in the high court's Rolls building. Vos accommodated the hordes by inviting journalists and lawyers to sit on the floor in front of his bench. Last week he was presiding again at the high court as it emerged that there could be up to six hundred fresh cases of phone-hacking after a former Scum of the World staffer allegedly 'turned supergrass.'

She has spent the past year fighting charges related to the phone-hacking scandal at the Scum of the World, but before she goes on trial in September, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks is reportedly nipping down to Australia for a break that, as it happens, coincides with one taken in the same country by her former boss billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. According to the Australian Financial Review, the former News International chief executive and Sun and Scum of the World editor will be down under over Easter just as Murdoch's staff prepare for a two-week visit from their boss, the man who once said well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's future was his top priority. The paper reported that the trip is 'a family holiday' – well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks will visit with her husband millionaire Old Etonian Charlie and their daughter Scarlett later this week with alleged 'sources' allegedly telling the paper it was possible Brooks 'could make time' to 'catch up' with 'senior company figures' including billionaire tyrant Murdroch and his son Lachlan, who is based in Australia. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks is currently facing several charges emanating from the phone-hacking scandal which blew up in July 2011: conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and conspiracy to intercept communications without lawful authority. She denies any wrongdoing. Her bail conditions do not prevent her from travelling and do not prevent her being in touch with his former boss or his family. Those who allegedly know her allegedly say she that 'remains close' to billionaire tyrant Murdoch and may even harbour a desire to return to working with him. When she was first charged last year well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and her husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie, vowed to 'fight to clear their names.' In a statement delivered on the steps of her solicitor's office, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks declared that 'one day the details of this case will emerge and people will see today as nothing more than an expensive sideshow, a waste of public money as a result of an unjust and weak decision.'

Ex-cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell has said that he is suing the Sun over claims he swore and called police officers 'plebs'. Mitchell has repeatedly denied the claims, first reported in the Sun, though he later resigned from his then position as government chief whip. His lawyer confirmed that a libel writ had been issued, while an alleged 'source' allegedly said that he wanted to address 'the campaign of vilification by the Sun against him.' A spokesman for the Sun said: 'We stand by our story and will defend this claim vigorously.' Earlier, police investigating the incident said that they had passed evidence to prosecutors. The Times and the Gruniad Morning Star reported that the police files sent to the Crown Prosecution Service contained 'no evidence' that Downing Street police officers involved in the incident had lied about their account of the confrontation. The role of the CPS is to examine the evidence to decide if any charges should be brought against the officers. Mitchell's lawyer Graham Atkins has indicated that further legal action could follow. 'I can confirm that I recently issued proceedings for libel against the owners of the Sun on behalf of Andrew Mitchell MP,' he said. 'There are a number of other potential actions being considered but I do not intend commenting any further at this stage.' An alleged 'source' allegedly close to Mitchell allegedly told the BBC: 'He felt that a point had to be made. It is always risky suing newspapers but he felt he had no alternative.' So far four people - including three police officers - have been arrested as part of the investigation into the incident, which occurred in September last year. Initial reports had claimed that the former Conservative cabinet minister 'lost his temper' and allegedly swore at police when they refused to open the gates for him as he cycled out. Mitchell admitted there was 'an exchange' and resigned from the cabinet as a consequence - but denied, and continues to deny, directly swearing at any officers or using the word 'pleb' attributed to him.
An eighty two-year-old man from Berkshire has been arrested on suspicion of sexual offences as part of a probe related to the Jimmy Savile inquiry, the Metropolitan Police have said. The man, who has not been named by police, is one of eleven people arrested so far as part of Operation Yewtree. It was set up in the wake of the Savile fiasco, but the arrest is part of the strand of the investigation looking at complaints against people not directly connected to the late DJ and presenter. The arrested man was bailed to a date in May. The Met have not disclosed what time the arrest was made on Thursday, but released a statement saying the arrest fell under the strand of the investigation they have termed 'others.' Following the death of dirty old scallywag and rotter Savile in 2011, hundreds of sex abuse allegations both about him and others came to light. Last month a Met Police report claimed that Savile had abused adults and children across the country over more than five decades. The NSPCC said Savile, who was eighty four when he died, had been one of the most prolific sex offenders in its one hundred and twenty nine-year history. Operation Yewtree is the Met's investigation into the allegations that have arisen since Savile was accused of abuse. High-profile names who have been arrested in connection with the investigation include PR consultant Max Clifford, alleged comedian Freddie Starr, former DJ Dave Lee Travis and Jim Davidson - all of whom deny any wrongdoing.

The opportunity to paint a portrait of double Booker-winning author Hilary Mantel is up for grabs in a new TV talent show fronted by comedian Frank Skinner and Dame Joan Bakewell. The winner of the six-part Sky Arts series will land a ten grand commission to depict the Wolf Hall writer. All of the finalists will have their work hung in the National Portrait Gallery, where a winner will be selected. The successful artwork will then be displayed at the British Library. Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery, will choose the victor with the other judges. They include the Royal Academy's Kathleen Soriano and Tai-Shan Schierenberg, winner of the 1989 BP Portrait Award. Heats will take place at art festivals over the summer, where competitors will be challenged to portray one of three sitters. 'I love the idea of rolling into town with our portrait roadshow and seeing who's got the guts and talent to step up to the easel,' said Skinner. 'I hope it inspires everyone to tap into their creative spirit,' added Dame Joan, suggesting the series might reveal 'the next Rembrandt.' Portrait Artist of the Year will be screened from November on Sky's dedicated arts channel. The National Portrait Gallery already has one portrait of Mantel in its collection, by the photographer Sally Soames.

New Zealand police say that they have arrested and charged a man over the assault on cricketer Jesse Ryder outside a bar in Christchurch. The twenty-year-old suspect is due to appear in the Christchurch District Court on 4 April, officials said. Police said they were also following 'a line of inquiry' in relation to another person. Ryder is in a medically induced coma after being attacked twice in quick succession as he left the bar. He is believed to have suffered serious head injuries after the assaults and is now in intensive care. At least ten or more people are thought to have witnessed the incident, a police spokesman said earlier. Ryder has a history of disciplinary lapses and alcohol-related incidents. Although he had been drinking before the assault on Thursday morning, police said alcohol was 'not a factor.' The cricketer was in Christchurch playing for Wellington against Canterbury in the domestic one-day competition. The twenty eight-year-old had been due to fly to Delhi to start his two hundred grand contract in the Indian Premier League. He had chosen not to play for New Zealand since a one day international against South Africa in February 2012 after he was disciplined by team management for being out drinking while carrying an injury. Police believe two or three men attacked Ryder outside the bar, before following him to a car park and launching a second, more serious assault on the cricketer. A witness told New Zealand's One News that she could 'hear the impact of the blows' from inside the bar. 'As soon as the fight started there were probably four or five guys that ran out to pull them off him and hold them back while he stumbled off over the road,' the witness said. Ryder's friends and domestic and international cricketers have sent messages of support via social media. New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said he was 'extremely concerned' for Ryder. Meanwhile, the head of the country's Cricket Players' Association, Heath Mills, has flown to Christchurch to be with Ryder. 'The cricket community's very shocked at what's happened to Jesse. It's a sad day for us,' he said. The attack has also been condemned by New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key, who expressed his shock over the 'sinister' and 'vicious' incident.

That marvellous, much-loved British character actor Richard Griffiths has died at the age of sixty five after complications following heart surgery. Richard received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor and a Tony Award for for his stage role as the teacher in The History Boys, a role he subsequently reprised in the movie adaptation. He was also well known for his portrayal of Vernon Darsley in the Harry Potter movie, naughty old rapscallion Uncle Monty in the cult classic Withnail and I, crime-solving chef Henry Crabbe in the BBC detective drama Pie in the Sky and King George II in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He also appeared in Richard Attenborough's Oscar-winning Gandhi portraying the role of a British journalist and in Martin Scorsese's Hugo. Richard was born in Thornaby-on-Tees in 1947, the son of a steelworker. His parents were both deaf so he learned sign language at an early age in order to communicate with them. Richard dropped out of Our Lady & St Bede School at the age of fifteen and worked as a porter until his boss convinced him to return to school. He decided to attend a drama classes at Stockton & Billingham College and continued his education in drama at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama. After a period working mainly in radio and local stage productions, his break into film came in It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet (1975). By the early 1980s, Richard was selected for the lead role in the BBC drama serial Bird of Prey, an early computer-conspiracy thriller. His character, Henry Jay, returned in Bird of Prey 2 (1984). He went on to supporting roles in a number of major films, including The French Lieutenant's Woman, Chariots of Fire and Gandhi. Richard's CV also included appearance in Gorky Park (1983), King Ralph (1991), The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991), Guarding Tess (1994) and Sleepy Hollow (1999). And on television in The Sweeney, Bergerac, The World Cup: A Captain's Tale, Whoops Apocalypse, The Cleopatras, Ffizz, Inspector Morse, In the Red, Hope and Glory, Gormenghast, Bleak House and Episodes. Richard was, reportedly, considered for the part of The Doctor in Doctor Who twice - firstly following Tom Baker's departure from the series in 1981, but he was unavailable at the time. He was also, strongly, considered to take over the role from Sylvester McCoy had the series continued past 1989. Richard also performed in adaptations of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, providing the voice for Slartibartfast for the radio adaptation of Life, the Universe and Everything and playing the Vogon Jeltz in the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He also appeared in Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler, and was a guest in A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. He was appointed an OBE in the 2008 New Year Honours. Sir Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, said Griffiths's unexpected death would devastate his 'army of friends.' He said: 'Richard Griffiths wasn't only one of the most loved and recognisable British actors - he was also one of the very greatest. His performance in The History Boys was quite overwhelming: a masterpiece of wit, delicacy, mischief and desolation, often simultaneously. His anecdotes were legendary. They were, literally, endless. They would go on for hours, apparently without destination, constantly side-splitting.' Richard is survived by his wife, Heather. The couple married in 1980 after they met during a production of Lady Windermere's Fan several years earlier.

A Brazilian brewer has been warned after 'concerns' were raised surrounding a beer-flavoured ice cream advertisement. The national council of self-regulation, formed by advertisers and companies, is a non-governmental organisation and promotes the code of ethics in advertising campaigns to 'protect minors from harmful influences.' Beer company Skol introduced the unique flavour in November last year, but the product doesn't actually have any alcohol, reports AFP. However, they received criticism over an advertisement on their website and Facebook page featuring a yellow ice cream container with a lid resembling one on a beer can. The accompanying caption read: 'Shall we go to the bar to have an ice cream?' Even though there is no alcohol present, the ice cream cannot be sold to minors as it was produced by a brewing company.

The fortieth anniversary of yer actual Pink Floyd's 1973 Dark Side of the Moon LP is to marked on BBC Radio 2 by an hour-long audio drama written by Sir Tom Stoppard his very self. Dark Side, to be broadcast on 26 August, will incorporate music from the LP as part of its 'fantastical and psychedelic' story. Bill Nighy and Rufus Sewell will be in a 'stellar cast' headed by Misfits star Iwan Rheon and Amaka Okafor. Floyd member, David Gilmour his very self, said that he had found Sir Tom's script 'fascinating. I can't think of a better way to celebrate The Dark Side of the Moon's fortieth-year anniversary,' said the guitarist and vocalist. According to the BBC, Floyd fan Sir Tom was first approached with the suggestion of writing a play based on the LP in 1973. The seventy five-year-old welcomed the suggestion but had 'no idea' how to approach it until recently. Jeff Smith, Radio 2's head of music, said the play would be a 'dramatic examination' of the LP's themes, 'conflict, greed and madness' among them. The Dark Side of the Moon has sold an estimated fifty million copies (including three to yer actual Keith Telly Topping over the years!) and was recently admitted into the US Library of Congress as part of its National Recording Registry. Sir Tom's many stage plays include The Real Thing, Arcadia and the Hamlet-inspired classic Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. He shared an Oscar in 1999 for the screenplay he co-wrote for Shakespeare in Love and wrote Professional Foul, Squaring the Circle and adapted BBC2's 2012 drama Parade's End.
And, speaking of 1973, having, hopefully, survived the after-effects of a perfectly lethal Indian takeaway last evening, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will be celebrating this most Holy of days, dear blog reader, by doing absolutely nowt. Until tonight, that is, when he'll be attending Uncle Scunthorpe and Sheena Revolta's Glam Slam at the Tyneside. Get down and get with it, Droogies and wear yer star jumpers and yer Hai Karate Aftershave®™ with pride. Oh, and Uncle Scunthorpe, apparently, intends to 'play some Tip.' Which is always worthy of a Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, baby.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

You'll See Him In Your Head On The TV Screen

Full-of-his-own-importance Richard Arnold spoke to yer actual Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman her very self on Thursday morning's odious and risible ITV breakfast flop Daybreak, chatting about the return of Doctor Who, the character relationships, and what might happen in the forthcoming fiftieth anniversary. Jenna-Louse spoke about the relationship between the two characters: 'Clara has kind of been billed as the impossible woman to The Doctor because she's this unsolved mystery that he doesn't understand, and a woman twice dead. There's kind of a lot going on between the two of them, he's trying to figure her out, she doesn't quite know him, so there's a lot going on.' Matt responded to the description of the TARDIS as 'the snog box' by saying: '[It] gives him a fright and irritates him hugely I think because the idea of snogging in it is just redundant.' And on the subject of any potential romance between the two characters, he added: 'Perhaps, you'll have to wait and see - God knows how he'd react to romance, The Doctor - or my Doctor, anyway.' When asked about The Doctor's greatest secret, which Steven Moffat promises to reveal in the series finale in May, Jenna-Louise would only said: 'It's huge finale episode, it's a great build up into the fiftieth. It's a homage to the last fifty years, it's pretty epic.' Speaking about the fiftieth anniversary special itself, Smudger said: 'It's a thrill and a privilege, and I think it's going to be the biggest and best year and the most momentous occasion - we hope - in the show's history. I've read the script and it balances looking back and forward in a glorious way. I've become a fan of the show, in the same way as when you watch it there's that, and there's that, and there's this and there's that.'

Coronation Street actor Bill Roache has caused yet another stir by telling a television presenter that he would like to 'smack [her] bottom.' The actor - who plays Ken Barlow in the long-running soap - is currently in New Zealand after the controversy surrounding his suggestion that abuse victims were being punished for past actions. He made his latest comments on the cookery section of the Good Morning show, after he went to chop a tomato for a quiche but realised cookery host Jeanette Thomas had already done it. He said: 'You naughty girl! I would say I am going to smack your bottom but, I would love to do that, but we are not allowed to on TV.' As Thomas tried to laugh off his comments, Roache added: 'There's life in the old dog yet.' Oh God. A tip, Bill mate. When you're in a hole, it's usually a pretty good idea to stop digging. But, of course, being someone in the TV industry, he was unable to as he's in love with the sound of his own voice. Speaking on the show, Roache later discussed his beliefs as a member of spiritual group the Pure Love movement. He said: 'However horrible somebody is, if you love them, pour love back at them. That will help them to recognise who they are.'

Yer actual Alan Davies claims that he has 'solved' the mysterious cliffhanger ending to series two of BBC1 drama Sherlock thanks to a plot in his own detective series, Jonathan Creek. Davies said that a twist in the 1998 Jonathan Creek episode The Problem at Gallows Gate revealed a potential explanation for how Benedict Cumberbatch's character survived his leap off the top of a tall building onto an extremely concrete pavement beneath. 'I know how he got away with it, but I'm not telling you,' boasted the actor. 'We did a similar thing in Jonathan Creek when someone jumped off a roof at a party - that's all I'm saying.' In The Problem at Gallows Gate, a character faked their own death using accomplices and a grass-covered trapdoor with a net underneath. Explaining how it happened in the episode, Davies's character said: 'Everyone saw him but nobody saw him land. There was a gap of maybe seven or eight seconds, which is when they did the clever bit. He needed at least two accomplices: one up top, one below. Leaping off a second floor balcony's no big deal if there's something to catch you at the bottom - if you've dug yourself a big hole with a tightly-sprung net inside, [and] rigged up a camouflage frame covered in turf which slides across.'

Davies also revealed that he had threatened to quit Qi over the BBC's decision to axe his - really not very good at all - sitcom Whites. Which, as with most things that get cancelled, was cancelled because it was shite and no one was watching it. That's the way of the world, matey. He said that he is 'still annoyed' by the cancellation of the show, in which he played a chef at an exclusive country hotel. Look, let it go, Al! Nobody else seemed to think it was the comedy masterpiece that you, clearly, did. And, I say that not as a professional comedy writer or, indeed as a TV critic but, rather, as a viewer and licence fee payer. You know, one of 'the little people' who pay your wages. Davies told this week's Radio Times: 'I thought they were canning Whites because they had me doing another show. I asked, "Is that a factor? Can anyone give me a straight answer on that?" If it is a factor, I'd rather quit Qi. Will I get cast as anything else? What if someone wanted to cast me as a serial killer, and I'd be perfect for it? Totally bizarre. I nearly quit Qi over it. I'm still quite upset about it, and it's nearly three years ago.'
Pixie Lott is to make her TV acting début in BBC1's Inspector George Gently. Because, seemingly, we haven't got enough real actors in this country. The 1960s detective drama - starring Martin Shaw - will start shooting a new episode next month in Durham. Lott will play Megan, an 'entertainer' at the Blue Bird Holiday Camp in 1969. The singer previously made her feature film début in 2010, appearing in big-screen comedy Fred: The Movie. 'I love the fact that Inspector George Gently is a period drama set in the sixties and I can't wait to play the role of Megan,' said Lott, proving that she can walk in a straight line and talk at the same time, something many of us had, frankly, doubted. 'It will be great to be filming in the North East, and getting to play a role that gives me a real feel for the period.' Series producer Matthew Bird added that the cast and crew were 'delighted' to welcome Lott onto the show. 'Pixie was very excited about joining the cast and we are delighted that Pixie is to make her TV acting début in Inspector George Gently - we know she will bring something very special to the role.' The episode, written by Jess Williams, will see Gently and his partner Sergeant Bacchus (the excellent Lee Ingleby) visit a holiday camp when one of its entertainers is found washed up dead.
It seems to be something of a regular feature of the current series of MasterChef that the producers go out of their way with their editorial choices to introduce someone each episode who is so instantly dislikeable that the audience spend the next hour desperately hoping that they fall flat on their - collective - face. Into a custard pie. Which, they usually do. It's happened three weeks running now, the opening interview always seeming to include at least one contestant bigging themselves up as, like, the next Michel Roux. And, as sure as you can't make and omelette without breaking eggs, they're invariably the ones who will have an utter disaster in the invention and palate tests and get sent home to a soundtrack of guffaws from the four million viewers. Case in point this Wednesday, we had sales manager Sophie. Oh, full-of-herself, so she was. She appeared, frankly, to think she was it. 'I'm an Aries, we're head strong, we get what they want,' Sophie claimed. 'I will get what I want.' Well, the audience certainly did even if she didn't. Having claimed that she could handle pressure due to her highly pressurised job and that she is 'constantly tasting' when cooking, she came up possibly the classic one-liner for anyone that is about to make a fool of themselves on a cookery show on national TV. 'I live, eat and drink food.' Yeah, okay, but as for cooking it? Nah, not so much. It was at around this point that she presented to John and Gregg a lamb and lentil dish with so much lethal chilli powder in it that yer man Tordoe's eyes were, visibly, watering. 'It's got a lot of chilli powder in there, Sophie,' he rasped, in a barely audible choke. '[It's] literally stripping the back of my throat. As for the rest of my mouth, I can't taste much any more, it's all gone.' Sophie giggled. 'That is ferocious,' added Gregg Wallace, noting that, aside from the amount of chilli therein, the lentils weren't, actually, cooked enough. 'I wasn't very happy that I used too much spice in my dish,' Sophie confessed. So, what did she do in the palate test when attempting to recreate John's meatballs? Oh look, here comes the chilli again. You can probably guess the outcome, dear blog reader. What a fantastic guilty pleasure of a show this is!

BBC1 won the primetime ratings battle, with MasterChef cooking up 4.87 million punters at 8pm and Margaret Mountford's excellent Pompeii documentary reaching 4.92m at 9pm. A figure which, frankly, somewhat restores ones faith that the viewing public as not complete brainless tits, somewhat. On BBC2, The Great British Menu attracted 1.74m at 7pm, A Very British Wedding had an audience of 1.29m at 8pm and Terry Pratchett: Facing Extinction had seven hundred and seventy one thousand punters at 9pm. ITV's Wednesday night line-up still continues to limp along like old wounded dog that needs putting out of its misery with Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's risibly appalling Food Glorious Food only bringing 2.53m at 8pm, and the flop drama series Lightfields being watched by 3.29m at 9pm. One Born Every Minute was Channel Four's highlight of the night with 1.98m. Channel Five's evening included Rolf's Animal Clinic, watched by 1.02m at 8pm and the popular NCIS, which drew 1.46m at 9pm. BBC4 secured a sizeable audience for Secret Knowledge, which had an audience of seven hundred and forty nine thousand 8pm.

The BBC has postponed an episode of Panorama and suspended one of its producers over allegations a security consultant was bribed for information. The programme was said to be an investigation into a company developing luxury homes in the Caribbean. The Times claimed that producer from the current affairs show e-mailed a security consultant and apparently suggested the BBC may offer him work for information. The BBC said disciplinary procedures were under way. The Panorama documentary, due to be broadcast last Monday, was described in the Radio Times as 'an investigation into financial scandals that could wipe out people's life savings.' The Times alleged that one of the programme's producers e-mailed a security consultant at a firm allegedly involved, Harlequin, via the professional networking website Linked In and apparently suggested that in return for confidential information about the company the BBC may offer him work. According to its own guidelines, the BBC has a 'zero-tolerance' approach to any suggestion of bribery and a commitment to acting professionally and with integrity in all its business dealings. The BBC said in a statement: 'In light of information received late in the production process of this film, the BBC decided to postpone broadcast. We are currently reviewing the facts. As a result a member of the team has been suspended and a disciplinary procedure is under way.'

Ant and/or Dec have revealed that they are in 'early talks' about taking their hit ITV entertainment show Saturday Night Takeaway to the US. The duo's fortunes are currently booming in Britain with Takeaway's tenth series surging in the ratings and yet another victory at the National Television Awards. Not to mention they get a pretty tasty discount at Morrison's these days as well. The pair also look likely to secure their first ever number one single with their 1990s 45, 'Let's Get Ready To Rhumble', on course for the top spot this weekend after a performance of the song on Takeaway. Watch us wreck the mic. Psyche. Ant and/or Dec previously attempted to break America in 2009 when they launched the game show Wanna Bet? on ABC. However, the show was cancelled after six episodes due to poor ratings.

The curiously orange Christine Bleakley has reportedly fired her manager to 'help improve her TV career.' Although, oddly, she doesn't appear to have taken the most obvious step to improve her TV career on 'not being shite.' The Twatting About On Ice co-host is said to have quit the management company Avalon in order to sign up with James Grant, who also manages the likes of Twatting About On Ice co-host Phillip Schofield, Ant and/or Dec, Holly Willoughby and Davina McCall. Christ, imagine getting all that lot together in one room. That would be a meeting of minds, and no mistake. It is the second time that Bleakley has departed from her manager in three years, having previously fired John Noel in 2010 after leaving the BBC for ITV. Noel reportedly advised her not to leave the BBC, advice which Bleakley did not take. And my, hasn't her career simply blossomed since? Bleakley's latest move is said to have been made in order to 'find more work', having only appeared on a small number of - almost universal flop - shows since being deliciously sacked from Daybreak, reports the Mirra. 'Since moving to ITV there is a feeling that she hasn't fulfilled her potential and could be doing more shows,' an alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'Many of their biggest and best stars are on the books with James Grant and so Christine wants to join them. They turned around Davina McCall's career when she was struggling a bit after Big Brother and the feeling is they can "do a Davina" with Christine and get her back on TV more often and in better shows. Since she was axed from Daybreak she has not spent enough time on-screen.' Bleakley's so-called golden-handcuffs deal with ITV reportedly comes to an end in June. ITV is said to be considering the futures of Bleakley, grumpy Adrian Chiles and Jonathan Ross, a trio of odious greed buckets (and drags) who made the move from the BBC in the expectation that riches beyond the dreams of avarice would simply fall at their feet. An alleged ITV 'insider' allegedly told the Daily Lies: 'It is fair to say that we paid top dollar for Jonathan, Christine and Adrian and, to be frank, they haven't delivered the ratings we had hoped and expected. Any new deal they might be offered would be on greatly reduced terms.' Bleakley was recently rumoured to be planning a move to America with her fiancé, the soon to be former Moscow Chelski FC midfielder Frank Lampard.
A former prison worker and two ex-policemen have been jailed for selling information to newspapers in separate cases at the Old Bailey. Firstly, a former Surrey Police officer was jailed for ten months for extreme naughtiness in selling information to the Sun. Alan Tierney, forty, sold details about the footballer John Terry's mother and mother-in-law and the Rolling Stone Rockin' Ronnie Wood. Tierney, of Hayling Island, appearing up a'fore the beak at the Bailey, admitting two counts of 'gross misconduct in a public office', dating back to 2009, earlier this month. Mr Justice Fulford said that Tierney's offences had been 'a disgraceful way for a police officer to act.' Tierney was charged as part of the Operation Elveden inquiry into corrupt payments made by journalists to police officers and other public officials, in return for information. He passed on details about two stories, the first of which was about Sue Terry and Sue Poole, the mother and mother-in-law respectively of Moscow Chelski FC captain John Terry, who had been cautioned for shoplifting. The other was about The Rolling Stones guitarist Rockin' Ronnie Wood, who was cautioned for assault after an incident involving his then girlfriend, Ekaterina Ivanova. Tierney's defence team, addressing the hearing, claimed that he had 'suffered a collapse of his mental health' since his arrest and had tried to commit suicide. The court was told Tierney had lost his wife, family and reputation as a result of his actions. The judge said it was 'wholly against the public interest for those who hold public office cynically to profit out of the misery or unfortunate circumstances of those for whom they are responsible.' The court was told Tierney had sold the name and address of a witness to the Wood incident. 'The most serious aspect of the two offences is that, in relation to count two, the defendant provided the name and, most significantly, the address of the witness,' said Mr Justice Fulford. The judge went on: 'The fact that the individual coincidentally tried to sell the story to another newspaper is neither here nor there in terms of what this defendant had in mind. Put bluntly, it could easily have led to that witness withdrawing all co-operation as regards being a witness.' Tierney is the second police officer to be extremely convicted under Operation Elveden, following the case of ex-counter-terrorism detective April Casburn. She was very much jailed for fifteen months after offering to sell information to the Scum of the World after the inquiry into hacking by the tabloid reopened in 2010.

Hardly had Tierney been hauled off to E-Wing before another naughty seller of secret information to the Sun, a former prison worker, joined Tierney at Her Majesty's Pleasure. Richard Trunkfield, thirty one, who worked at Woodhill prison near Milton Keynes, was jailed for sixteen months for passing on details about one of James Bulger's killers, Jon Venables. Justice Fulford, who passed sentence on both men in separate hearings, said: 'This country has long prided itself on the integrity of its public officials and cynical acts of betrayal of that high standard have a profoundly corrosive effect.' Trunkfield had earlier pleaded guilty to 'misconduct in a public office' between 2 March and 30 April 2010. The court heard that he was 'struggling with debt' at the time he sold the information, and had cared for his mother while she was suffering from cancer in 2008 and 2009. Legal restrictions meant it could not initially be reported that the prisoner involved was Venables, however Trunkfield - from Moulton, Northamptonshire - has since resigned from Woodhill prison and Venables is no longer being held there. meaning that reporting restrictions were lifted.‪ Venables and his accomplice, Robert Thompson, were ten years old when they abducted two-year-old James in Bootle, in February 1993 before torturing and murdering him.

Subsequently, at the same court, a former police officer was also jailed for two years for selling information to a newspaper in an act that was described as 'utterly reprehensible' by the judge. The court heard that the officer had started supplying information to the newspaper, which apparently cannot be named for legal reasons, within a year of joining the police force and had received a sum which amounted to 'less than ten thousand pounds.' The former officer, who also cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to 'conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office' earlier this month. 'In my judgment this defendant was utterly indifferent as to whether his actions would harm particular police investigations and the course of justice, and overall he did not care what effect his activities would have on the victims,' said Mr Justice Fulford. 'The attitude revealed in the communication between the defendants and the reporter demonstrated an approach to the individuals who were in his care and for whom he had responsibility that was utterly reprehensible,' he added. Fulford said that what the former officer did had a 'corrosive effect' on public trust in the police. He added that the offence warranted a sentence of three years, but because of the former officer's early guilty plea he was reducing the sentence by a third.

Sir Norman Bettison would have a 'case to answer for gross misconduct' for actions following the publication of The Hillsborough Report if he was still a serving officer, the IPCC has found. The Independent Police Complaints Commission found the former chief constable 'attempted to manipulate the public perception.' The watchdog concluded that Bettison had 'a case to answer' for 'discreditable conduct and abuse of authority.' He resigned last year. Deborah Glass, deputy chair of the IPCC, said: 'It was the IPCC's view at the start of the investigation, as it was the view of his Police Authority, that Sir Norman's actions, if proven, fell so far short of what is expected of a chief constable that dismissal would be justified. The evidence uncovered during the investigation supports that view. While we cannot bring this case to misconduct proceedings, we can publish the evidence and our conclusions, so that the public can judge for themselves.' The investigation related to the period following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report, which laid bare odious and disgraceful police attempts to shift the blame for the tragedy from themselves to the victims. While serving with the South Yorkshire force, Bettison was a key figure in compiling its report into how it handled the aftermath of the tragedy. A separate IPCC investigation into his conduct at that time is ongoing but Bettison has always denied being involved in any 'cover-up.' Last autumn, following his resignation as chief constable, the West Yorkshire Police Authority asked the IPCC to investigate whether he had tried to interfere with its inquiries into his role at Hillsborough. The IPCC report concluded that while he had not tried to prevent the referral from happening he had 'attempted to manipulate the public perception of the referral process for his own self-interest.' When he resigned last October, five months before his scheduled retirement, Bettison said he would co-operate fully with the IPCC investigations.

On 16 September last year - while the Leveson Inquiry was sitting - the Sunday People published an - even by their own standards, spectacularly nasty and lightweight - article about the actor Roger Moore headlined I've had more women than James Bond. It - allegedly - quoted Roge as using those exact words and quite a bit more besides, which was odd because he, actually, did not give an interview to the paper. The People's story was, quickly, picked up by that noted Fleet Street jackdaw, the Daily Scum Mail, and repeated almost word for word. It goes without saying that Roger did not speak to the Scum Mail either and the paper obviously didn't check on the story's veracity. Or, as it happened, lack of it. Roger did not use the services of the Press Complaints Commission to complain to the newspapers in question, preferring to pursue them through his lawyers. The upside of this, of course, was that he could obtain substantial damages. The downside, however, is that this is a slower process than the PCC. Thus, it wasn't until 20 January, four months after the offending article was published, that the People carried a - thoroughly grovelling - apology in which it admitted having 'claimed' that Moore had spoken 'to our journalist about his private life.' It continued: 'We now accept that Sir Roger did not give an interview to our reporter and did not make the comments that were reported in the headline. We apologise for any distress and embarrassment our article has caused to Sir Roger Moore and we have agreed to pay him damages and legal costs.' So, in other words, the reporter lied. However, the Scum Mail, repeater of a false story, held out until this week - nearly seven months after printing its odious lies - before, belatedly, apologising for its error: 'An article on September 17 (I've had more lovers than 007) included comments attributed to Sir Roger Moore by a Sunday newspaper about his private life. That newspaper has now accepted its report did not accurately reflect a conversation with Sir Roger Moore and he did not make the comments it reported. We apologise for any distress and embarrassment caused.' Note the particularly weasel choice words - 'did not accurately reflect a conversation.' What conversation? One that never took place? The People had admitted that Moore didn't give an interview to its reporter. Note, also, no mention of damages and payment for costs. If any dear blog reader wants a measure of the 'distress and embarrassment caused' just Google the People's headline. The story has been repeated around the world, as the New Statesman found when doing some checking of its own. Some have since been taken down, but, for instance, the story is still up on many websites, including that of The Times of India. So, why does the Daily Scum Mail take longer than most to say sorry? Apart from the fact that those running the paper are thuggish jack-booted bullyboys, of course. The straightforward answer is that it's part of the scummy right-wing paper's internal culture. The Scum Mail is the most reluctant newspaper in Britain to apologise, correct and clarify. It is given to testing the validity of any complaint, spending time and resources in order to see whether it can find any possible grounds to reject such a complaint. It intensely dislikes putting its hands up. And, as you will have noted above, it takes pains with the wording of apologies in order to suggest it is not as culpable as the complainant might suggest.

The BBC is to stop providing radio news to Sri Lanka's state broadcaster because of 'continued interruption and interference' in its Tamil programming. Both English language and Tamil services broadcast via the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation have been stopped with immediate effect. The BBC took similar action in 2009 when its services were also disrupted. Audiences in Sri Lanka can continue to listen to the BBC on shortwave and via its online services. The Sri Lankan authorities have not so far commented on the announcement. BBC World Service Director Peter Horrocks announced the suspension on Tuesday. 'We regret the disruption in service to our loyal audiences in Sri Lanka, but such targeted interference in our programmes is a serious breach of trust with those audiences, which the BBC cannot allow,' he said. 'We spoke to SLBC last week about interference that took place on 16 to 18 March and warned them they were in breach of their broadcasting agreement. Further disruption on Monday 25 March has left the BBC with no alternative but to suspend the service with immediate effect.' Horrocks said that if the SLBC had specific complaints about any BBC output 'they should take them up with us, as we have invited them to do, and not interfere directly with broadcasts in ways that are unacceptable to the BBC and misleading to our audiences.'

A controversial American reality series, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, will be shown in the UK on new entertainment channel TLC. Discovery Networks International will launch TLC in Britain and Ireland on Tuesday 30 April and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo will be among the 'exclusive content' premiering on the channel. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was a hit in the US - then again, so was The Dukes of Hazzard so that's not, exactly, a ringing endorsement - but was strongly attacked by some critics, who accused the show of 'exploiting' its central star, seven-year-old beauty pageant contestant Alana Thompson. One critic described the show as a 'horror story posing as a reality television programme.' TLC's other content will include another US ratings hit Breaking Amish, which follows the lives of five young Amish/Mennonite men and women who move to New York, and Oprah Winfrey's Oprah's Next Chapter. UK commissions include fashion series Ultimate Shopper, which will feature Holly Valance, Brix Smith Start and Paul Hartnett as judges (Christ almighty, that's gonna be another meeting of minds), Lisa Snowdon makeover show Your Style in His Hands and Dawn Porter's documentary Undercover Mums. The producers of Embarrassing Bodies will also be launching two new shows on the channel, My Naked Secret and Last Chance Salon. 'TLC is a unique entertainment channel that brings together a huge range of characters from the UK and US. It is full of stories that will get people talking and we hope it will become part of the rich and varied TV culture in the UK,' said Discovery Networks UK SVP and General Manager Susanna Dinnage.

Huge Bonneville has revealed that he would 'consider' a move to EastEnders when Downton Abbey comes to an end. The actor, famous for his role as the Earl of Grantham, made a brief cameo appearance in the BBC soap in 1995 when he played a headmaster for a single episode. Speaking to the Mirra, he said: 'I might go back. I am a jobbing actor and I will take whatever comes along, thank you very much. I would never say "never." The actors who work in soaps are the hardest-working actors. The amount of material they have to learn is so much. It's phenomenal.' Bonneville's comments come after Downton writer Lord Snooty his very self cast doubt over the show's long-term future after revealing that he is writing a new drama series called The Gilded Age, which he hopes will be picked up by American network NBC. 'I honestly don't know how long Julian can go on with Downton – I don't know if there will be a fifth series,' Bonneville added. 'I am sure the money men would like it to go on forever and ever because it does sell extremely well around the world. I hope Julian quits while he is ahead but he is a wise soul.'

The Rolling Stones have been named as one of the three headline acts for the Glastonbury Festival 2013. It will be the first time The Stones have played at the festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset, which will draw about one hundred and thirty five thousand punters. The other headline acts at the festival, taking place on the final weekend of June, are posh public schoolboys Mumford and Sons and The Arctic Monkeys. The Stones will be performing on the Saturday night. Yer actual Sir Mick Jagger tweeted: 'Can't wait to play Glastonbury. I have my wellies and my yurt!' Glastonbury was not held last year because of the Olympics and to allow the farmland to recover from the previous festival. The full line-up, announced on the official website includes Primal Scream, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Elvis Costello, with chart acts such as Professor Green and Dizzee Rascal also appearing. Surprises include country star Kenny Rogers, who is among the figures playing the Pyramid Stage. This year's Glastonbury is already a sell-out but there will be some re-sales next month.

Which brings us, rather nicely, to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, to one of the bands which will be featured in a muddy field in Somerset come mid-June. Sing, Nicholas.