Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Week Nineteen: Shine On Me

As some of you dear blog readers who've arrived at From The North via Facebook or Gallifrey Base will already know, it is with great regret that yer actual Keith Telly Topping has to inform her - seemingly massive - online following that his mother, Lily Topping, died at around 10pm Saturday evening. Having, at least, let this blogger finish his Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS review literally moments before - she always did have impeccable timing, my mother! If she had lasted another two hours she would have left us on the twenty second anniversary of my father's death. That's, also, rather typical of me mam - always that little bit early for everything in case she upset anyone! As a consequence, obviously, bloggerisation has been in somewhat short supply for the last couple of days and, indeed, will continue to be so for the next couple too whilst the funeral arrangements get sorted (it's on Thursday at 10:30, as it happens). I've said this elsewhere, but it's worth repeating: She leaves behind three sons, two daughters-in-law, two grandchildren, a great granddaughter and two step-great granddaughters, a large extended family and a huge number of friends whose lives she touched, all of whom will miss her clarity, her wiseness, her kindness, her occasional sheer daftness and her needle-sharp sense of humour greatly. The world, today, seems a fractionally colder and less welcoming place without her. So, take care of yourselves, dear blog reader, and love the ones your with - without them, you're not the person you can be.

However, like the man said the show must go on. And we - however reluctantly - have to go on with it.

Britain's Got Toilets once again topped the ratings on Saturday with an average overnight audience of 9.31m. The ITV show, which was broadcast at 7pm, was down three hundred thousand punters on the previous week's overnight figure. On BBC1, ratings for The Voice at 8.05pm grew for the fourth consecutive week, scoring a new season high of 7.97 million and closing the gap between its audience and BGT's further. It peaked at 8.9 million. The new Doctor Who episode, Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS, attracted 4.89m viewers from 6.30pm, a slight drop from the previous episode's overnight - expect a six-and-a-half to seven million final figure for that one once timeshifting is taken into account. Later on ITV, game-show The Cube had 3.32m at 8.15pm and The Jonathan Ross Show took in 2.72m an hour later. BBC2's coverage of World Championship Snooker for an hour from 7pm, picked up nine hundred and twenty thousand. The documentary Young Margaret: Love, Life and Letters also interested nine hundred and twenty thousand viewers at 9pm. Channel Four showed the movie Season of the Witch at 9pm, bringing in 1.21m viewers. Earlier, Sarah Beeny's Selling Houses and Grand Designs attracted five hundred and thirty thousand and eight hundred and fifty thousand respectively in the two hours from 7pm. Channel Five's double bill of NCIS, scored five hundred and sixty seven thousand and seven hundred and eighty eight thousand respectively from 7.30pm. Lewis was the highest rated show on the multichannels, being watched by just over nine hundred thousand viewers on ITV3 at 9pm.

The show which replaced Lewis, Endeavour held steady in the ratings on Sunday evening for ITV, overnight data has revealed. The Inspector Morse prequel drama attracted 5.3 million punters at 8pm. Catchphrase had earlier being watched 4.50m glakes at 6.45pm, while Off Their Rockers - bogglingly - had an audience of 4.68m numskulls at 7.30pm. BBC1's Countryfile was once again the most watched show of the night, with 6.71m viewers at 7pm. Antiques Roadshow was seen by 5.53m at 8pm. The Village's penultimate episode attracted a slightly increased 4.82m at 9pm. BBC2's evening coverage of the World Snooker Championship racked up 1.02m at 7pm. The documentary about billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch, Battle With Britain was watched by eight hundred and three thousand at 9pm. The second part of Bill Bailey's Jungle Hero was marginally up from the previous week's figure to 1.64m at 8pm.

Here's the consolidated and final ratings for the Top Twenty Three programmes week-ending 21 April:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sat ITV - 11.15m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.78m
3 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 9.50m
4 Broadchurch - Mon ITV - 9.00m
5 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.72m
6 Emmerdale - Fri ITV - 6.87m
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.78m
8 Doctor Who - Sat BBC1 - 6.61m
9 Endeavour - Sun ITV - 6.48m
10 The Syndicate - Tue BBC1 - 6.37m
11 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 6.28m
12 The Village - Sun BBC1 - 6.19m
13 Scott & Bailey - Wed ITV - 6.05m
14 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.90m
15 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.74m
16 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.69m
17 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.53m
18 The Ice Cream Girls - Fri ITV - 5.53m*
19 MasterChef - Thu BBC1 - 5.26m
20 Panorama - Mon BBC1 - 5.14m
21 Six O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.94m
22 Catchphrase - Sun ITV - 4.79m*
23 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.68m

It's usually The Doctor who regenerates, but it looks like the TARDIS her very self may be making a return to the UK's high streets. The Daily Scum Mail (and, most of the other, proper, papers to be fair) report that 'thinktank' Policy Exchange has called for the blue police telephone boxes, which were phased out in the 1960s, to be brought back to save money and 'improve service to the public.' It says: 'These would be technologically enabled police contact points, featuring two-way audiovisual technology so the public could communicate directly with the police.' But could some hapless bobby walk into one and suddenly find him or herself on Skaro? You never know.

Broadchurch's Olivia Colman will appear opposite Sheridan Smith in new BBC1 drama The 7:39. Yer actual David Morrissey and Scott & Bailey's Sean Maguire will also appear in the two-part romance. Good cast. The 7:39 has been written by David Nicholls (scriptwriter of the excellent Starter For Ten) and is described by Nicholls as ;a love story for grown-ups. I'm delighted to be writing for the BBC again and working with such a terrific cast and production team,' said Nicholls. Exploring the romantic lives of commuters on the 7.39 train into Waterloo, the drama will explore the lives of frustrated husband Carl (Morrissey), his wife Maggie (Colman), health club manager Sally (Smith) and her personal trainer fiancé Ryan (Maguire). Over a fight for a seat, Sally and Carl meet and the pair soon find their lives transformed by their daily train journeys. Ben Stephenson, the Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, said: 'I'm bowled over by the award-winning and stellar cast starring in The 7.39. But it's perhaps no surprise given the wonderful scripts by David Nicholls, in his first television drama since his novel, One Day, became a worldwide phenomenon. Like that novel, The 7.39 is laugh out loud funny, painfully truthful, emotionally agonising and brilliantly British!'

Charlotte Moore has been appointed as the acting controller of BBC1. The current commissioning editor of documentaries will hold the role until a permanent appointment is made. The announcement was made by outgoing BBC1 controller Danny Cohen, who becomes BBC director of television on 7 May. 'Charlotte is a fantastic creative leader and I'm confident she will do a great job as interim controller following her spell recently in charge of the BBC Daytime portfolio,' Cohen said. 'The most important thing is that we carry on with business as usual and Charlotte will be empowered to make commissioning decisions and maintain BBC1's momentum.' Moore's past credits as producer/director have included Lagos Airport for Channel Four, Great Britons: Churchill and the excellent Living With Cancer. She became head of documentaries at IWC Media, before joining the BBC four years ago as commissioning executive of documentaries and was then promoted to commissioning editor in 2009.

Here's the next load of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 4 May
In tonight's Doctor Who - T'Crimson Horror 6:30 BBC1 - t'people of a Victorian Yorkshire mill town are t'terrified when t'bodies start washing up from t'river, bright red and wax-like - but with t'Doctor and t'Clara nowhere t'be seen, it's up to t'Siulrian detective Madame Vastra - last seen in the 2012 Christmas special T'Snowmen - along with her lesbian lover Jenny and Strax t'Sontaran t'take centre stage as they attempt to get t'bottom of t'mystery. It seems t'answer lies behind t'imposing gates of t'Sweetville mill, owned by t'plain-speaking Mrs Millyflower. 'Yorkshire: 1893' is apparently painted on a stone wall as t'camera rises to reveal factories belching 'orrible black smoke into grimly grey skies. It's t'ideal backdrop for yer actual Mark Gatiss t'weave his dark, period-horror magic, in a mildly steampunk-flecked story of deadly Victorian malarkey and t'doings. Central to it all is t'forbidding Gillyflower (a fruity turn from Dame Diana Rigg her very t'self), who leads a phalanx of bonneted biddies in a moral crusade. Against ... stuff. There's a big recruitment drive at the giant Sweetville factory (the idea of the model village for model workers is, clearly, inspired by Cadbury's real-life Birmingham dormitory town Bournville), but why are bright-red corpses turning up in the vicinity? And where, exactly, is The Doctor when there's trouble a t'mill? Full of Gothic grandeur and an embarrassment of grotesque riches, it's possibly the most purely entertaining episode of the series so far, full of naughty gags – some involving the improbable trio of Strax, Vastra and Jenny – and directorial chutzpah from Saul Metzstein: one extended flashback is particularly cheeky, taking the show into genuinely undiscovered country. Rigg and her real-life daughter, yer actual Rachael Stirling. guest star, along with Catrin Stewart, Neve McIntosh and Dan Starkey as the Time Lord's Earth-bound investigative pals.

In the third two-part adaptation of a crime novel by Arne Dahl - 9:00 BBC4 - a family's car blows up during a road trip in Holland, instantly killing everyone inside. So, we can probably discount suicide. The A Unit is immediately called upon to investigate, and soon discovers the man who died was a police officer working undercover at a restaurant belonging to celebrity chef David Billinger. The unit's various personal lives are increasingly dominating the action in this occasionally formulaic, but very watchable, Swedish thriller, but as they are such a likeable bunch of misfits that it's not too off-putting. Dear Viggo, who escaped crucifixion in the first episode, has a pleasant surprise, while likely lad Chavez strikes up a friendship with a female cop. Still, there is work to be done after the family dies when their car is bombed. The plot is, as usual, spindly and very complicated, involving the owner of a posh restaurant and a particularly dopey pair of thieves. But the main question is, what on earth is going on with that supernaturally omniscient police station office cleaner? Starring Irene Lindh.

The final round of blind auditions on The Voice - 8:05 BBC1 - the last chance for the remaining hopefuls to win a place on the coaches' teams. Once Jessie J, Will.He.Is, Tom Jones and Danny O'Donoghue have chosen their twelve, they will train them in readiness for next week's battle rounds. Holly Willoughby and Reggie Yates are backstage with the singers and their families.

Sunday 5 May
In the final part of The Village - 9:00 BBC1 - Old Bert's reminiscences reach the year 1920. The war may be over but it continues to cast a long shadow as the villagers try to come to terms with their losses - physical and emotional. Schoolteacher Gerard Eyre is released from prison, having been locked up as a conscientious objector, and returns to find a place of change - but when Bert, now eighteen, invites his former teacher to stay at the family farm, it leads to open hostility with John, as the Middletons struggle to come to terms with their own war-related grief. A war memorial is unveiled - but there is upset when one name is left off the list of the fallen. A mood of mourning has settled over the Derbyshire community. The veterans have returned. Eyre finds himself homeless and not widely welcomed. 'A hundred and thirty seven men went to fight from this village,' the pub landlord growls. 'Twenty five came back. And you.' Elsewhere, Bairstow – the quietly sinister Joe Armstrong – has become Allingham's political agent and helps him deal with an outbreak of Spanish 'flu. But the main drama surrounds the planned memorial, a subject on which the characters lecture each other a fair bit. Should dear, departed Joe be included? John Simm, Maxine Peake and Matt Stokoe star with Alfie Stewart taking on the role of the teenage Bert.

Snow lies as thick on the ground in Oxford as cowshit does in Texas and a wintry discontent hangs over Fred Thursday in Endeavour - 8:00 ITV. A London gangster with whom Fred has some unpleasant history arrives in the city and opens a nightclub. Fred (Roger Allam) is unhappy and that's not something anyone wants to see. And young Morse is rattled when he receives some bad news from his sister, Joyce, which sends him haring back up t'north. There are also crimes to investigate in the final episode of this four-part series, when an Oxford don is found dead in a suburban street, the apparent victim of a hit-and-run. As the sleuth studies for his forthcoming sergeant's exam, he investigates the hit-and-run. The victim had been at odds with his peers over the fate of a potentially lucrative parcel of college-owned land, and the case is complicated by the appearance of Thursday's old gangland enemy - whom he must face alone while Endeavour makes a trip back to Lincolnshire to visit his ailing father. It's, generally, been a classy quartet of stories – episode two, Fugue, in particular was superb – and Shaun Evans has quietly made himself comfortable as his very own Morse. We learn a bit more about him tonight and there's a nice little pay-off for Inspector Morse fans.

Tonight sees a timely repeat of Margaret - 9:00 BBC4 - one of the best portrayals of Margaret Thatcher on screen, this vivid, often funny, dramatisation of her downfall stars Lindsay Duncan as a hectoring, iron-willed Thatcher, yelling lines like, 'I will change the soul of this country, Willie. We shall prevail!' And, thankfully, not even attempting to do the voice. The impression is of a blazing personality surrounded by stuffed suits. John Sessions is scene-stealing as Geoffrey Howe, delivering a stiletto blow in his resignation speech; and in Michael Maloney's hands, John Major lurks cunningly in the wings of history waiting for his moment. In November 1990, deputy prime minister Howe resigns with a speech in which he urges his fellow Conservative Party members to 'consider their loyalty' to Thatcher. A leadership challenge is announced and former minister Michael Heseltine throws his hat into the ring, but the Iron Lady refuses to take it seriously - unaware her premiership will be over just nine days later. The blogger was a bit worried before watching the film in 2009 that it might be too similar in both style and tone to Granada's excellent Thatcher: The Final Days (1991), which covered, essentially, the same story. But the structure (with much use of flashbacks) made Margaret easily different enough to stand on its own merits. One of the prime source texts for the piece (specifically, the back-stage shenanigans) appeared to be The Alan Clark Diaries (particularly the extensive details of the secret meeting held at Tristan Garel-Jones' home on the night after the first ballot when, most commentators now agree, three quarters of the cabinet got together and decided to, effectively, stage a coup. I particularly enjoyed the, now infamous, sight of that oily little twat John Selwyn Gummer (nicely played by Ian Hughes as a man who appeared as wet as a slap in the face with a haddock) blubbling like a big girl as he tried to persuade Thatcher to quit with dignity. One can never get too much of a sight like that. Ian Diarmid portrays loyal husband Denis (and gets the best line of the drama watching the infamous moment when John Sergeant is addressing the camera just as Thatcher appears behind him and says: 'She's behind you, you pinko prat!' Michael Heseltine and Kenneth Clarke are played by Oliver Cotton and Kevin McNally. Roy Marsden is splendid as a spectacularly foul-mouthed Norman Tebbit. Michael Cochran is even better as a fouler-mouthed (but, very funny) Alan Clark. With Robert Hardy, James Fox, Phillip Jackson and Rosemary Leach as the Queen. Terrific stuff.

Monday 6 May
In the final part of James Nesbitt's Ireland - 8:00 ITV - the actor meets a restaurateur in training for the World Oyster Opening Championship in Galway, explores the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim and finds out about the life of a former pro-surfer who runs a surf school in Lahinch, County Clare. He also visits Dublin's busy port during preparations for the Tall Ships Races.
The Norfolk Broads have been managed by man for thousands of years, so there should be traces of ancient human activity everywhere. But the trick is spotting them, which is where aerial photography comes into its own. Over the past few years alone, photography of crop marks has revealed over nine hundred previously unsurveyed historic sites, and archaeologists are now beginning to understand how the land was first worked back in the Bronze Age. And, resolving mysteries about lost Roman towns and medieval monasteries as we discover in The Flying Archaeologist - 8:30 BBC4. Ben Robinson is an excellent guide, talking knowledgeably with fellow archaeologists, and transmitting the excitement of excavation and discovery. Ben, whom dear blog readers may know from his regular appearances in Time Team, flies over the Norfolk where aerial photographs have discovered nine hundred and forty five previously unknown ancient sites, many of which are making historians rethink the area. The fate of the Roman town of Caistor St Edmund has puzzled archaeologists for decades. It has long been a mystery why the centre never became a modern town. Now archaeologists have discovered a key piece of evidence. And, near Ormesby the first proof of Bronze Age settlement in the East of England has been revealed.

Manager Trish invites an army sergeant to Brownall Job Centre to hold an armed forces recruitment day and the soldier soon finds himself the object of intense scrutiny in the second episode of The Job Lot - 9:30 ITV. Elsewhere, benefit fraud investigator George goes undercover to catch a man who's signing on while working as a decorator. Everyone’s dander is up in week two of this finely observed - and, even, occasionally, funny - character piece. To boost target figures, frazzled Trish calls in Sergeant Steve Fox (played by Sean Pertwee) to set up a recruitment stand but only attracts the attention of the staff. Angela wants to bed him, Karl thinks he'll be a cool new mate, while Trish's ardour leads to an embarrassing entanglement in the ladies. Now in his late forties, Pertwee commands the screen even better than his dad, Jon, once did and should be on TV far more often than he is (not counting his wall-to-wall voice-work on adverts and MasterChef: The Professionals). Starring Sarah Hadland, Adeel Akhtar and Russell Tovey.

Tuesday 7 May
Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie begins another search for a candidate worthy of setting up in business with him - ideally one that won't take him to an industrial tribunal this time - with a a quarter of a million smackers investment to help get their idea off the ground in The Apprentice - 9:00 BBC1. As usual, the millionaire businessman sets out his stall with his introductory pep talk - but this one takes place at midnight, after which it's straight on with the first task. The sixteen contestants are divided into teams - boys versus girls as usual - and each group is taken to a shipping container full of imported products. Their challenge is to work through the night to sort the products out and then sell everything before 4pm. The search begins for businesses that will be interested and dawn deals are done - but with the clock ticking, the blunders begin. As a new batch of wannabe-moguls scramble around London on their first task flogging a load of what Lord Sugar-Sweetie likes to call 'tut' (bog roll, mugs, lucky waving cats et cetera), team leader Jason tries to raise morale: 'We're going to run like hell and we're going to sell these ukuleles!' he yells, in a rallying cry you would only hear on The Apprentice, thank God. It's a little spritz of the absurdity this series bottles so well, and series nine shows no sign of running dry. Jason has already confided that his intelligence is 'like a machete in the jungle' (blunt, presumably) but, in fact he turns out to be one of the relatively less ruthless, type-A personalities bundled together into a big scrum of vicious one-upmanship for our entertainment. 'I'm a businesswoman, darling!' announces one of his rivals, as if this ended all arguments. 'I'm half-machine,' crows another. 'I took inspiration from Napoleon,' says a third. Err ... he lost and ended his life on a desert island in shame and ignominy, matey. 'You're all a bloody waste of space!' bellows Lord Sugar-Sweetie. They can't all be, surely? The second episode is tomorrow at 9pm.

In the latest utterly pointless vehicle for, otherwise unemployable waste of oxygen Caroline Quentin, the actress presents a documentary exploring 'the natural beauty of three of Britain's most popular national parks', beginning with Loch Lomond and the Trossachs in the South-West of Scotland. It's called, with stunning originality, Caroline Quentin's National Parks - 8:00 ITV - and, it's sure to be diarrhoea just as everything else this woman touches these days is. At Inveraray Castle on the outskirts of the park, Caroline enjoys the annual Highland Games event, before spending the night with a group of volunteers monitoring bats on one of the loch's most picturesque islands, Inchcailloch. She also finds time to help tag a roost of owl chicks and take a dip in the icy cold water with a wild-swimming enthusiast. Wretched.

During a live TV news broadcast, a thunder storm and subsequent power cut cause the lights to go out in the studio and when they come back on twenty seconds later, the unpopular news anchor Theresa Shea who was sitting on her own at the desk has been murdered having been stabbed in the back. That's telly for you, dear blog reader. Clearly, then, a case for CSI - 9:00 Channel Five. 'Hmm, we have a locked-room mystery,' announces DB, but as that specialist in locked-room mysteries Jonathan Creek isn't available, the team are on their own. So DB comes up with an ingenious method based on a child's game to work out which of the three main suspects could have committed the dastardly opportunist crime. As the team examines the victim's private life, he ponders who had most to gain from Shea's demise. Plus – finally – Sara answers her mobile and we hear Grissom's voice once more. But, only briefly.

Wednesday 8 May
The Coast team examines stories related to the sea in tonight's episode - 8:00 BBC2. Novice sailor Nick Crane enters the annual one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight, while Mark Horton relates a gruesome tale of cannibalism and murder which scandalised Victorian Britain when survivors of an 1884 shipwreck killed a cabin boy and drank his blood to survive. In Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, Ruth Goodman investigates the story of the Dutch men who adapted their fishing skills to clear mines laid in the seas around British ports during the Second World War and naval historian Nick Hewitt explores the remains of a First World War German U-boat in the mud of the Medway estuary. Last in the current series.

Bosses, regulators and politicians give first-hand accounts of how the balance of power may have started to shift away from bankers, with the Government doing more to control their practices than ever before in a new series Bankers - 9:00 BBC2. The first edition gives an insight into the Libor interest-rate fixing scandal which rocked the industry last summer. Featuring contributions by former Barclays group chairman Marcus Agius, RBS head Philip Hampton, the Bank of England's prudential regulation deputy governor Andrew Bailey and European Central Bank ex-president Jean-Claude Trichet, who examine what the public require from bankers and whether their trust will ever be regained. Narrated by Alex Jennings.

Dorothy becomes concerned her granddaughter Taisie is being influenced by Rachel, while Janet is mortified when Gill berates her for inappropriate behaviour toward young sergeant Rob in Scott & Bailey - 9:00 ITV. The detective duo are sent to investigate the death of a man in a nursing home after his daughter complains about the level of care (or lack of it) he had been receiving. Will they find any evidence of foul play? Detective drama, starring Lesley Sharp, Suranne Jones and Danny Miller.
In the latest episode of Bones - 9:00 Sky Living - Brennan and Booth investigate the murder of a former child soldier from Sierra Leone whose body has been dumped in a barrel of chemicals. Meanwhile, Arastoo's secret romance with Cam proves increasingly difficult to maintain.

Thursday 9 May
A businesswoman's friendship with a charismatic homeless man leads to her learning a number of uncomfortable lessons about her work and private life in the latest Playhouse Presents, The Pavement Psychologist - 8:30 Sky Arts. The drama is written and directed by yer actual Idris Elba, starring Anna Friel, Nonso Anozie, Steven Mackintosh and Reggie Yates.
In the final episode of The Politicians Husband - 9:00 BBC2 - Aiden has to defend himself when a sex scandal threatens to derail any chance of a political comeback, as well as doing further damage to his marriage. He discovers Freya has been less than honest about her whereabouts and the time she is spending with Bruce, and decides to gamble everything to ensure he comes out on top. Drama, starring David Tennant and Emily Watson.

Murder on the Home Front - 9:00 ITV - is a two-part crime drama set (ala Foyle's War) during the Blitz, loosely based on the memoirs of writer Molly Lefebure. When several young women are found murdered, Detective Inspector Freddy Wilkins believes that the obvious suspect is loner Wilfred Ziegler, but Home Office pathologist Lennox Collins and his secretary Molly Cooper have their doubts and employ ground-breaking forensic techniques to ensure the right man is brought to justice. Starring Patrick Kennedy, Tamzin Merchant, David Sturzaker and James Fleet.
Lucie Green and Chris Lintott investigate a storm in Saturn's atmosphere, and reveal the latest news about its moons Titan and Enceladus in the latest The Sky At Night - 7:30 BBC4. Pete Lawrence and Paul Abel look at the planet's 'opposition effect' and also explore some globular clusters, while Chris North examines a new camera that will soon be fitted to the International Space Station, and which will capture Earth in stunning detail.
Friday 10 May
Charles Dance, Stephen Mangan, Isy Suttie and Gok Wan, girlfriend, join team captains David Mitchell and Lee Mack for Would I Lie To You? - 8:30 BBC1 - the comedy panel show, trying to hoodwink their opponents with absurd facts and plausible lies about themselves. Rob Brydon hosts. As usual.

Mancunian punk poet and Goddamn national treasure John Cooper Clarke and right-wing Conservative MP Michael Fabricant are an unlikely pair to find on a TV show, but they make up the teams as Paul Merton and Ian Hislop return for another headline battle in Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1. A guest host - yet to be announced - quizzes them about the events of the past seven days.
Amanda Vickery and Alastair Sooke oversee proceedings as a group of experts stage a Regency ball at Chawton House, Hampshire, to mark the two hundredth anniversary of the first publication of Jane Austen's classic novel in Pride & Prejudice: Having a Ball - 9:00 BBC2. The team uses music from the Austen family archives and dances and dishes mentioned in the author's novels and letters to recreate the experience, and Amanda is joined by literary historian John Mullan to reflect on the importance of the ball and its role in Nineteenth-Century society.

And, so to the news: The BBC has confirmed they have recommissioned a second series of critically acclaimed Sunday night drama, The Village for six more episodes. Written by Peter Moffat the drama stars Maxine Peake, John Simm and Nico Mirallegro among the cast. Moffat said: 'I'm thrilled at the prospect of bringing to the screen the plans I've got for all these characters (and some new ones) as the life of the village moves away from the horror of war and into the roaring Twenties. Boom and bust, the Charleston and the Black Bottom, motor cars, extreme politics, fish and chips, jazz, bananas, cinema, the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the middle classes – the outside world comes to the village, bringing with it the big drama that change always generates. I'm very grateful for the support the BBC have given this project right from the start. No other broadcaster I can think of would have the confidence to do it.' Danny Cohen, the - current - controller of BBC1 added: 'The Village is drama of the highest quality. Brilliantly written, beautifully produced, and performed with huge talent and imagination. I'm really proud to have it on the BBC and delighted it is coming back for a second series.'

Hayley Atwell will star in ITV's new police drama Life of Crime, which launches in May. Atwell is cast as risk-taking police officer Denise Woods and the show explores her career over three decades in the Met. The crime drama unravels across three episodes, which are based in 1985, with the backdrop of the Brixton riots, 1997 and 2013. Declan Croghan (of Waking the Dead and Ripper Street) wrote the series. Life of Crime starts on Friday 10 May at 9pm on ITV.

ITV has commissioned a four-part period drama based on the 1666 London fire. The Great Fire of London will follow historical and fictional characters at the time of the catastrophe which destroyed much of the city (although, curiously, killed only four people - this blogger learned that off Qi!) 'The scale and ambition of the drama will be immense,' a statement said. 'From the humble baker Thomas Farriner and his family to the ambitious Samuel Pepys and King Charles II, the characters' stories will interweave as the city, and their lives, are changed beyond imagining during one of our nation's greatest historical disasters.' The drama will follow the four consecutive days in September 1666 when the fire took hold. 'The fire consumes homes and lives as loyalties and friendships are tested and passions come to the fore. As the greatest city of the 17th century is destroyed, the fire is a catalyst to acts of forbidden love, deceit and despair,' the statement continued. 'Ultimately, London is changed forever, paving the way for the dawn of a new era, in which modern London will rise from the ashes.' The series, written by ITV News political editor Tom Bradby, is the first commission from Steve November, who was appointed director of drama at ITV this week.

Can a TV journalist sue their own programme? One only asks because Channel Four News's Jonathan Rugman would seem to have grounds for doing so after a taxi interview with the leader of Ukip saw the luckless reporter labelled and libelled as 'Nigel Farage' in a caption superimposed on his midriff. Next week: Krishnan Guru-Murthy is Boris Johnson.

This year's BAFTA TV Craft Awards have been dominated by coverage of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Three prizes were handed out to the technical teams behind coverage of last summer's games - including an award for coverage of the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford. The BBC's coverage of the ceremony was recognised with the Director: Multi Camera trophy, while coverage of 'Super Saturday' - the night on which Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford all won track and field gold - was honoured in the Sound: Factual field. Channel Four's coverage of the Paralympic Games won the award for Digital Creativity. Call The Midwife won the Director: Fiction and Make Up & Hair Design' awards, while The Hollow Crown took home accolades for Original Music and Sound: Fiction. The Fear also won a pair of awards, taking the award for Editing: Fiction and Photography & Lighting: Fiction. Other programmes honoured at Sunday's ceremony - which was hosted by Stephen Mangan - included Parade's End, Titanic and The Girl. Derren Brown: Apocalypse took the Entertainment Craft Team award, while Julia Davis and Sally Wainwright triumphed in the writing categories for Hunderby and Last Tango in Halifax respectively. Hamish Hamilton was honoured with the Special Award in recognition of his achievements in direction.

The good thing about out-going BBC1 controller Danny Cohen, from the viewer's point of view at least, is that he's always seemed eager to let you know when his own commissions are, in fact, rubbish – albeit only by where he has then put in the schedule. Ben Elton's latest twenty four carat turkey The Wright Way, for example, was hung out to dry at 10.35pm from episode one, like the Scouse slushathon Being Eileen; Film 2013 is lucky to finish before midnight, and even the prestigious, heavily promoted The Editors has already been ominously booted out to 11.25pm for this week's second outing. Let us all hope his replacement is just as prone to public self-flagellation.

Him & Her is to return to BBC3 for a fourth and final series. The six-part Him & Her: The Wedding - starring Russell Tovey and Sarah Solemani - will be set entirely during Laura's wedding. In addition, the channel has recommissioned Pramface - the sitcom, which stars Scarlett Alice Johnson and Sean Michael Verey as two young parents, will return for a third series. Alongside the two returning series, BBC3 controller Zai Bennett has also ordered several new comedies for TV and online. Uncle stars stand-up comedian Nick Helm as Andy, a dissolute out-of work musician who forges an unlikely alliance with his eleven-year-old nephew, while People Just Do Nothing is a mockumentary about pirate radio station Kurupt FM and its crew. In addition, eight comedy pilots have been commissioned for BBC iPlayer to showcase up-and-coming comedy talent. Bamboo will follow 'two posh idiots' who try to set up their own nightclub, Fuzzbox is 'a comedic take' on 'a puppet show' and C Bomb will tell the story of 'the Godfather of the South Yorkshire dubstep scene.' Nick Helm's Heavy Entertainment is a studio-based comedy show, The Committee is a new sitcom set at a Welsh social club, while Going Native is another, if you will, mockumentary starring Mona Yusef as three different foreign women - a Russian gold digger, a Japanese Internet sensation and a Middle Eastern entrepreneur. The final online pilot is Kerry - a multi-character sketch show written by and starring Him & Her's Kerry Howard. 'New British comedy is king on BBC3, so I'm delighted to be able to announce we've commissioned Nick Helm's first TV series, Uncle, and that another one of last year's Comedy Feed pilots is going to full series in the fantastic People Just Do Nothing,' said Zai Bennett. 'We are also celebrating success on Three by recommissioning the delightful Pramface and the sublime Him & Her. To ensure we keep finding the hits of the future we are also soon showcasing our latest batch of eight Comedy Feed pilots on BBC iPlayer.'

Uncle, meanwhile, may seem familiar to Channel Four viewers. The comedy ran as one of the pilot on C4's 4Funnnies strand last year. Perhaps Shane Allen, the BBC's new controller of comedy commissioning, will have the last laugh on Jay Hunt, his former boss at Channel Four, after 'borrowing' a show his previous employer declined to turn into a series. Still, having Channel Four do the BBC's development work is good value for money for the licence-fee payer.

Not for the first time, The Politician's Husband has shown TV drama as hopeless on newspapers, with laughably dull, merely factual mocked-up Sun headlines – Hoynes loses leadership gamble and Freya out from husband's shadow (those would never be Sun headlines; three of the words have more than one syllable for a kick-off) – marking the first episode's crises. (In reality, the paper's splash for James Purnell's resignation, Paula Milne's probable model, was I quit now you quit). The Gruniad's politics blog was demeaned too by being depicted as running a piece with the hackneyed, puffy headline The rise and rise of Freya Gardner. BBC bosses will perhaps be more concerned, however, that the series portrays politicians and their backroom teams as getting their information from Sky News, contrary to an edict reportedly requiring dramas to feature their own news channel.

Hit film franchise Scream could be turned into a TV series, after MTV announced they had signed off on a one-hour pilot. Wes Craven, director of all four films in the series, is in talks to direct the pilot which will be broadcast next summer. The first slasher film, about a masked serial killer who stalks his victims, was released in 1996 and spawned three sequels. All four films starred Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette. The TV series will reinvent the franchise - acclaimed for its deconstruction of the horror genre - which was created and written by Kevin Williamson. The first film was widely credited with reinventing the horror movie in the 1990s. According to box office tracker, the four films have taken more than six hundred million dollars worldwide, with the original 1996 film reported to be the highest grossing slasher film in the US. Scream has joined Teen Wolf, another TV series commissioned by MTV off the back of a cult film, which is also expected to reach the small screen in 2014.

A woman who won ninety five thousand smackers on Deal or No Deal has been ordered to carry out two hundred and fifteen hours of unpaid work after admitting benefit fraud. Caroline Banana, from Stoke-on-Trent, had admitted wrongly receiving more than six grand in housing and council tax benefits and income support. Banana failed to declare her winnings from the Channel Four game show and did not disclose that she had found work. She received a twelve-month community order at North Staffordshire Justice Centre. Banana, who had found work including jobs at a chemists, hospital and doctors' surgery, falsely claimed the benefits between 28 March, 2011 and 13 May 2012. She also admitting falsely claiming free school meal allowances. Banana, of Whitridge Grove, Bentilee, failed to declare her windfall from November 2011 to Stoke City Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a top bit of Roxy.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS: Inside The Spaceship

'It's ... bigger ...' '... On the inside. You know, I get that a lot!' Although it took the best part of ten years to become the cliché we know and love, the idea of the TARDIS being something properly extraordinary goes all the way back to Doctor Who's opening episode in November 1963. Ian Chesterton's baffled 'Let me get this straight. A thing that looks like a police box, standing in a junkyard, it can move anywhere in time and space?' set the tone for fifty years of dimensionally obtuse adventures to follow. Or, as Chesterton's most recent successor in the role put it so beautifully in The Snowmen: 'It's smaller on the outside!' But, whilst the TARDIS's interior beyond the confines of the console room and its immediate surroundings has been the subject of visits in the past on a number of occasions (as early as 1964's extraordinary two-parter The Edge of Destruction, as recently as The Doctor's Wife just a year ago), delving into it has often been merely an excuse in having a different set of corridors for The Doctor and his companions to run around in. (See, for example, The Invasion of Time, Logopolis, Terminus, or Earthshock.) It was only, really, with the opening episode of Chris Bidmead's Castrovalva (1982) that the production began to suggest that this really was more than a mere (extraordinary) time and space machine (despite dialogue references to that effect going all the way back to the previously mentioned The Edge of Destruction and, even more specifically, The Power of the Daleks). The TARDIS, then, dear blog reader. The only proper constant in the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama from its very beginnings, is long overdue an examination of her innards. We know that she's dimensionally transcendent. We know she's ever-changing. We know she's capable of thought. We know she takes The Doctor not necessarily where he wants to go but where he needs to go. We know that she's Suranne Jones-shaped. Which is nice. And now, we know what's at her heart. And that's where things start to get really interesting.
'What do you keep in here?' Reportedly, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) gave the concept of an episode discovering the very centre of the TARDIS to his Sherlock colleague Stephen Thompson. Thompson (whose previous script for the series, The Curse Of The Black Spot got the usual whinges from the usual Special People but, them apart, appeared to be quite popular with ordinary viewers) explained that this was because Moffat was 'haunted' by the 1978 story The Invasion of Time, which was set on the TARDIS but used hastily-constructed sets. Haunted, we presume, not in a remotely good way because The Invasion of Time, whilst conceptually interesting, was crushed by its last two episodes which were, effectively, a fifty minute chase from lots of slightly different than usual corridors. An industrial strike - a frequent right pain in the dong for Doctor Who's production team in the late 1970s - which was eventually resolved shortly before production, forced the studio sets to be constructed within St Anne's Hospital in Redhill as the BBC's Christmas holiday light entertainment specials were being given priority in the regular studios. It's, perhaps, significant, that although frequently mentioned since - most, notably in The Eleventh Hour - this is the only time we've actually seen the TARDIS swimming pool. Until now. Thompson was also interested in mathematics and remarked, 'anything involving multi-dimensional geometry gets me excited.' This blogger is the same with big dirty women, personally. Anyway, Moffat left the rest of the story to be developed by Thompson. The episode finished filming in September. Guest star Ashley Walters (he is 'a popular beat combo', apparently, m'lud) got himself into loads of trouble with the producers on the first day of filming when he tweeted a picture of himself in his costume from his trailer, breaking the strict embargo that the show always has on releasing images before production has been completed. The picture was immediately removed and Ashley, one suspects, receiving a punishment beating, in da 'hood, worthy of inclusion in the lyrics of his next, if you will, rap.
'If you help me get her out, you get the machine. The salvage of a lifetime!' The TARDIS is captured by a motley two-man-and-one-alleged-android spaceship salvage team, sending its systems into total meltdown. As The Doctor introduces himself to the suspicious crew of galactic rag-and-bone men, he realises that Clara is still trapped within his malfunctioning ship, so he persuades his new acquaintances to help find her, taking them deep into the heart of his beloved time machine. But their hopes of a straightforward rescue are dashed when it turns out that Clara is not the only one down there - and if that weren't bad enough, they only have thirty minutes before the TARDIS self-destructs. Well, that last part's a complete and total lie sold, with seemingly absolute sincerity, by The Doctor despite his low opinion of his own deviousness ('it was all an act. Personally, I thought I rushed it a bit!') Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS starts with a splendidly knowing visual allusion to Red Dwarf (even the little musical snatch to accompany the ship's first appearance is pithily Howie Goodall-esque). As The Doctor and Carla bicker about the TARDIS's brilliance or lack of it ('we're not talking cheese grater, here!') the action, properly gets started. 'Red flashing light ... Means something bad.' Steven Thompson's task in creating a highly watchable episode is aided, firstly, by Mat King's assured, claustrophobic direction but, mainly, by Jenna-Louise Coleman wearing a summery red mini-dress and a pair of boots. A combo designed, no doubt, to give teenage boys everywhere the raging horn. Works on adults too. Trust me. Like The Doctor says: 'My ship, my rules!'

'If we're going to die here, you're going to tell me what they are.' 'I can't.' Clara's wanderings within the TARDIS begin as a veritable uber-fan's wet-dream of visual continuity references (River Song's cot, Amy's toy TARDIS, one of The Doctor's old umbrellas). But, that's just the beginning. Her Alice in Wonderland trip subsequently takes in her entrance into the library ('now, that's just showing off!'), lots of rather clever Logopolis-style recursive loops, a major raid into the series' audio archives (see how many you can spot), our first proper look at the - oft-mentioned - Eye of Harmony (and, the second reference to it in two weeks) and, what is sure by the current series end to become a major plot point, The Doctor's name and his reasons for wanting to keep it a secret from the universe. 'So, that's who ...' says Clara reading a book on the the history of the Time War (which, of course, handily opens at just the right page). 'Secrets protect us. Make us safe,' The Doctor notes when Clara threatens to reveal what she knows to Gregor and Tricky. 'Trust me, some things you don't want to know.' Mind you, here's a question worth asking; if nobody else survived the Time War and The Doctor doesn't want anyone knowing his name, why is it mentioned in a book which, if you think about it, only he can have written? Answer that and stay fashionable. Perhaps we don't need to - this is, after all, an episode which includes a, quite literal, leap of faith.
'I'm mentioned in a lot of books.' The other, really important, moment in the episode occurs when The Doctor finally confronts Clara about why she keeps dying (complete with continuity references to Asylum of the Daleks and The Snowmen). 'What are you? A trick? A trap?' He seems more than a little relieved by Clara's, apparently genuine, ignorance (and, not a little bit of fear) about what the hell he's talking about. So, the mystery of Clara lives to fight another day. That apart, this is a story about time anomalies and how, in its own unique way, the TARDIS manages to look after not only itself but also, indirectly, the time around it as well as within it (hence, the relatively happy ending for the salvage trio). As usual, it's also a dialogue-lover's banquet. 'Don't get into a spaceship with a mad man, didn't anybody teach you that?' And: 'Ever seen a spaceship get ugly?' And: 'Smart bunch, Time Lords. No dress sense, dreadful hats. But smart!' And; 'Good guys do not have zombie creatures. Rule number one!' And: 'The TARDIS is leaking.' 'Leaking what?' 'The past.' The 'burning zombie monsters', inevitably, turn out to be nothing even remotely close to what they seem to be, a mere echo from an aborted timeline that The Doctor renders null and void by stepping into a time rift crack and, performing a bit of necessary button pressing. 'There might be a certain amount of yelling!'

It's important, of course, to highlight the ending. No doubt some louder-voiced fans will have their foreheads nutting a keyboard in frustration right now on an Internet forum somewhere near you, dear blog reader: Because - when all is said and done - in this episode, the day was saved when 'a Big Friendly Button' was pushed and it, somehow, rewrote time. It's hard to remember another story in Doctor Who history which makes fun of an element of fandom quite so audaciously and pointedly. I mean, compared to this, the joke of the police box's windows being 'the wrong size' in Blink is nothing! 'Deus Ex Machina' someone who doesn't, actually, understand the meaning of the term will probably shout. Loudly. To anyone that will listen (and, indeed, anyone that wont). But wasn't it funny? In a sense, Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS is a kind-of sequel to The Doctor's Wife and the ship's personality is being developed very nicely indeed. From The Edge of Destruction through to last week's episode, where she was described as 'like a cat', the TARDIS is probably the most consistent character in Doctor Who. She's certainly the most well-characterised. So, Journey To The Centre of The TARDIS did what it said on the tin. 'You're telling me we're safe?' 'Apart from the monsters. And the TARDIS reconfiguring its architecture every five minutes, yes!' It's the Doctor Who episode that, in twenty years time, today's eight years olds will remember as 'the one with all the running up and down corridors and the Big Friendly Button at the end.' A bit like how older fans remember ... well, just about every story of the 1963-89 period, lots and lots of running around and a button getting pushed. It also had the best bit of dialogue exchange between The Doctor and Clara of the current series so far: 'You lot stay here, I'll check if it's safe, you can only stay for a minute in there.' 'What happens if you stay longer?' 'Our cells would liquefy and our skin would begin to burn.' 'I always feel so good after we've spoken!' 'Good. Keep this door shut.' 'That will not be a problem.'
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has revealed new details about the Doctor Who finale The Name Of The Doctor. The upcoming episode will introduce a new menace to the popular long-running BBC family SF drama, known as The Whispermen. 'Having brought back two of the classics, The Ice Warriors and The Cybermen, this year we wanted a brand new monster to create chills in the finale,' The Moffinator said. 'And the thought of stylish, whispering, almost faceless creatures was an idea that firstly scared me and that I thought would work well in an episode that looks forward and back.' The showrunner also promised that The Name Of The Doctor' will 'change the course of Doctor Who forever. It's full of surprises and questions that have never been answered in the history of Who, including The Doctor's greatest secret,' Moffat claimed. 'We'll also find out what makes his new companion so impossible and there's a surprise that no-one has got right so far.' Coleman previously appeared on Doctor Who as spacefaring Oswin and Victorian governess Clara, with The Doctor attempting to unravel the mystery of her multiple identities in recent episodes. Hinting at what to expect from the finale, Coleman said: 'All I can say is that Clara hasn't just met The Doctor three times before.'

TV comedy line of the week, as usual, came from Have I Got News For You on Friday evening. This time around it was straight toss-up between Ian Hislop's suggestion for an alternative Scots currency in the event of devolution ('the Mars Bar'), guest host Ray Winstone's observation that Scotland's economy does have it's advantages  their chief exports being, after all, 'oil, whisky, tartan and tramps' (to which Paul Merton added 'sometimes combined in one glorious package') and the always superb Reginald D Hunter telling fellow guest, Times journalist Camilla Long that he was very impressed with her cod-Bulgarian accent, adding helpfully, 'as I'm America, there's no subtext to my compliment!' That became a running joke throughout the episode, as, indeed, did Paul throwing water in his own face after Ian said a naughty word. There was also Ray noting that Alex Salmond's call for 'a sterling-zone' was fair enough but, 'the way the economy's going, I'd be calling it Pound Land!' And, on the report that an economist had told the Sun after the slightly better than expected GDP figures 'George Osborne can allow himself a moment of smugness', the retort: 'A moment's fine, but a lifetime's taking the piss!'
The three finalists in this year's MasterChef competition are Larkin Cen, Dale Williams and Natalie Coleman after a mad-tough climax to the semis, cooking for some of the most sour-faced food critics one can possibly imagine being under one roof (plus, Jay Rayner who, at least, is usally quite funny). Saira Hamilton, a particular favourite of this blogger, was the unlucky one of the final four to depart, a decision which, clearly, left John Tordoe in an emotional state of discombobulation. Many viewers were surprised (and some, extremely disappointed) to see Saira knocked out particularly after Larkin and Dale, both twenty eight and both from Welsh Wales, failed to impress Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing in one of the earlier challenges, in a round that Saira did very well in. Downright nasty to the lads, so he was. Almost as nasty as William Sitwell was about poor Saira's curry on Friday night. But Larkin and Dale pulled it back for the last round where they had to cook three courses for some of the UK's most feared food critics and secured their place in the final. To be fair, Saira, whose food this blogger would absolutely demolish every single time, before licking the plate clean and asking for some more, did still seem to be to the end, essentially, a home cook. A bloody brilliant home cook, let it be said - possibly the best home cook in the entire country, but perhaps not quite a practitioner of fine dining, which is what they're meant to be aiming for on MasterChef, after all. Still, she was lovely, lit up the competition and it was, genuinely, sad to see her go. Line of the night, perhaps inevitably, belongs to Jay Rayner who, when presented with Larkin's beef and black bean sauce dish opined: 'I don't know what to say about this. It's just smear with a dead thing. Lots of things have died, including my hope.' Natalie, who looked like the outsider of the four earlier in the week, now appears to be a very decent bet for the title. DJ Natalie, twenty nine, seems to be Torode's favourites, he has constantly praised her for going from strength-to-strength since she first appeared on the show. Tipped as the favourite to win because of her down-to-earth and likeable nature, Natalie's East End palare and love for cooking dishes for her beloved granddad, have made her a winner in a lot of viewers' eyes. And she said cooking her showstopper dish has been her highlight so far, telling the Digital Spy website: 'I made John cry. A lot was riding on that dish. And it's not something you cook every day, pigeon. That was something I'd never worked with before.' The three-episode finale will take place next week.
There's a very interesting interview with Larkin's proud parents at Wales Online: 'For Gong and Qiong Cen, Larkin's prowess in the kitchen is a bit of a surprise. Standing in the spotless takeaway they have run in Ely for 32 years, they are proud of their son, even if they did try to steer him away from a career in catering. Running the Mansang Chinese takeaway on Michaelston Road, Ely, since 1981, they have rarely had a holiday and know how hard it is to cook for a living. That’s why they wanted something different for Larkin and his younger brother Simon. "We tried to keep Larkin away from the kitchen and look for another career, because we know catering is long, long hours," admits Gong. "I always thought he had a talent for cooking though."' And, on a similar theme, a profile of Saira from her local paper, the Harlow Star, here.
Oh, and one final MasterChef-related comment. As regular dear blog readers will know, this blog occasionally gets hits from the most unexpected of places, sometimes seeking answers to the oddest of questions (last year's 'Anna Meares' bum' malarkey being, perhaps, the finest example). Now, this blogger welcomes all new visitors to From The North regardless of how they got here but he has been somewhat perplexed to find a number of hits on this site recently coming from people seemingly doing a Google search asking 'is Dale from MasterChef gay?' So, if you happen to have arrived here wondering that very thing, there are three answers which yer actual Keith Telly Topping can, in all confidence, give you: A) I don't know. B) I really don't care. And C) Does it, actually, matter? Next ...

The second episode of ITV's drama The Ice Cream Girls lost almost a million overnight viewers week-on-week. The second of the three-part series, based on the 2010 novel by Dorothy Koomson, was down nine hundred and fifty thousand punters on last week's opener with 3.9m viewers on Friday at 9pm. On BBC1, the MasterChef semi-finals was watched by 4.82m at 8.30pm and Have I Got News for You had a very similar figure - 4.77m - an hour later. Earlier, The ONE Show was watched by 3.61m at 7pm, while A Question of Sport had an audience of 2.82m at 7.30pm. To conclude the evening, The Graham Norton Show pulled in 3.2m at 10.45pm. On BBC2 The Genius of Turner: Painting The Industrial Revolution had 1.17m at 9pm. Gardener's World was watched by 1.96m half an hour earlier. Channel Four's Ben Earl: Trick Artist had an audience of nine hundred and twenty thousand at 8pm and Alan Carr's latest Chatty Man, which saw JLS member Oritsé Williams break down in crocodile tears over the band's split (due to 'musical similarities'), was watched by 1.31m sad crushed victims of society at 10pm.

Yer actual David Tennant, former national heartthrob is, according to reports, set to be cast against type and play a 'seriously deranged' serial-killer in the new US-Canadian co-production Hannibal. The hugely in-demand actor - who recently played a police detective in the crime drama Broadchurch - will switch to the other side of the law in the drama, which is based on the novels of Thomas Harris, after impressing showrunner Bryan Fuller. Fuller said: 'I love David Tennant.' Well, yeah. So do millions of squeeing fangirls the world over, matey, get in line! 'He would have made an amazing Hannibal, there's no doubt in my mind. David is such a fantastic actor that I would love him to come and do the show as a seriously deranged serial killer. That would be amazing.' David initially auditioned for the lead part of psychopath Hannibal Lecter - portrayed by Sir Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs and, fellow Scot Brian Cox in Manunter - but he narrowly lost out to Hollywood star Mads Mikkelsen. The Danish actor will appear alongside his friend Hugh Dancy - who is to play special agent Will Graham in the series - and Bryan is looking forward to seeing the chemistry between the pair unfold in front of the camera. He is quoted by the Daily Lies as saying: 'Mads already had a friendship in real life with Hugh. This show is about a bromance and a friendship that goes horribly wrong. So we thought it would be interesting to take advantage of their chemistry as friends. "It felt like a true, traditional way to cast the role.' Tennant is currently appearing in the BBC's The Politician's Husband and recently completed filming on the reprise of his most famous role as The Doctor for the forthcoming fiftieth anniversary episode of Doctor Who.

One of the Qi elves has kindly informed us - on Twitter, obviously - that series K will be broadcast in the autumn (filming got under way this week) and that the one outstanding episode from series J - Just the Job, featuring Sandi Toksvig, Jezza Clarkson and Jason Manford - will be shown on BBC2 in August. And, about bloody time too. The first three 'K' series episodes were shot earlier this week - the good news is that Bill Bailey will guest-star in all three: Kings will also feature Jimmy Carr and Jeremy Clarkson. Additionally, there's Keys with first-timer panellists Tim Minchin and Isy Suttie and an as yet untitled third episode with Jason Manford and Wor Sarah Millican. Another three episodes are due to be filmed next Monday and Tuesday. Once again, sixteen episodes are scheduled to be filmed across April and May.

Based on a short story by Ian MacLeod, Snodgrass (Thursday part of Sky Arts' Playhouse Presents series) was a blackly comic play imagining how alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon's life might have turned out if he'd quit The Beatles in a strop just as they were about to make it big. We met him in 1991, aged fifty, trudging off to begin a job as an office temp stuffing envelopes. Former NME journo David Quantick's script brilliantly captured Lennon's sneering, nasty facetiousness and smart-alec wordplay. 'All right, keep your breakfast on, your corn flakes'll go cold.' Lennon's was the sort of antagonistic, spiteful humour that is tolerated, even celebrated, when it comes from young millionaire rock stars but is absolutely unbearable in a middle-aged nobody. Having walked out on The Beatles in 1962, Lennon is fifty years old and unemployed. Smoking a roll-up in a scruffy kitchen in Birmingham, he is four weeks behind on his rent when he is called to a job interview. Bitter and eccentric, Lennon hates jobsworths, yuppies and the mundanity of life and the working world and he fails to impress his potential boss (Kevin Doyle), until he is recognised as 'the guy who walked out of The Beatles over a song' and is given a temp job. Accosted by a female colleague who had a girlhood crush on Paul McCartney, he is forced to reflect on the tragedy of his decision. However, we also learn that, in Quantick and director David Blair's imagined world, The Fab Four failed to achieve the worldwide acclaim they did in real life. The reason? The band ignored Lennon's advice to release 'Love Me Do' as their début single and released 'How Do You Do It?' instead. 'We could have been bigger than The Hollies,' Lennon laments, as he watches a group of yoofs graffiti a Beatles Reunion Tour poster after walking out on his job. The Snodgrass Lennon, played by the excellent Ian Hart (his third turn as Lennon after The Hours & The Times and Backbeat), quipped relentlessly, not to entertain anyone but to keep them at bay. Pointed barbs were to him what spikes are to a hedgehog. Mainly the barbs were about what a loser everyone else was. Even at the bottom of the pile this Lennon, seemingly, felt able to look down on others. It's conceivable that yer actual Paul McCartney would have had a happy enough life without fame and riches. But, not Lennon. His type of personality meant that he had to succeed, to prove himself not only great but also superior. Since he was famous and made wonderful music, most people put up with the sarcasm. This is a different type of comedy for Quantick, who most recently worked regularly as one of the writing team on Harry Hill's TV Burp. It was funny but also strangely touching. In this parallel universe Lennon changed the course of history by leaving The Beatles, but it also meant that he was not shot by Mark Chapman. On the soundtrack Martin Carr, from The Boo Radleys, performed some wonderful pastiches that deftly imitated the dreaming melodic swirl of Lennon's solo work. In short, Snodgrass was terrific, its one flaw that it was just twenty five minutes long; a premise this promising was worth at least an hour.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's the natural enemy of the Clangers. 'Riddim is full'a kultcha, ya?'

Friday, April 26, 2013


Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have confirmed that they will return in a second series of Michael Winterbottom's The Trip. The BAFTA-winning six-episode series in 2010 featured both actors playing - wildly exaggerated - versions of themselves on an ill-fated restaurant road-trip. Coogan told Empire: 'We are going to Italy. I went there three weeks ago to meet Rob and Michael to go for dinner and talk about what we were going to do.' He added: 'We're supposed to be retracing the footsteps of the Romantics, of Shelley and Byron and Keats, and I don't know enough about it. I'm damned if Rob's going to come across as an authority on it. It'll be a great motivation for me to read up on it so that when we improvise, I can drop some information on him.' Brydon had earlier teased on Twitter that he was 'just back from a short trip with Mister Coogan', posting an image of himself and Coogan in an airport. This week he confirmed the news, telling followers that filming on The Trip 2 would start 'very soon' in Italy, taking in 'many and varied locations', while confirming that director Winterbottom was 'on board and in charge.' Hurrah. That is good news. The original series was, by a mile, the best thing either Coogan or Brydon has been involved in, literally, years.

The ONE Show is to continue for at least three more years under a new BBC deal. Outgoing BBC1 controller Danny Cohen has agreed a new commission that will see the early-evening topical magazine show remain on the air until 2016, Broadcast reports. The ONE Show originally launched in 2006, hosted by grumpy odious greed bucket (and drag) Adrian Chiles and Nadia Sawalha. Alex Jones is now the programme's regular host, accompanied by Matt Baker from Monday to Thursday and by Chris Evans on Fridays. Plans are also under way for The ONE Show to relocate from its BBC Media Village home to Central London's New Broadcasting House. A BBC spokeswoman confirmed: 'BBC1 has commissioned three more series of The ONE Show, which will see the topical live magazine programme shown on the channel for the next three years.'

The creator of the popular US period drama Mad Men has hit back at critics of the latest season saying 'fans don't run the show.' Some viewers expressed disappointment with season six, which began in America at the beginning of April. Speaking ahead of a Mad Men panel event, Matthew Weiner said that people were still watching and urged fans to 'sit back and enjoy where we're going.' It 'might be a little salacious, but that's what the show is,' he added. Weiner said he opened the season in 1968 because he believed it was 'one of the worst years in US history', but refused to give anything away about the direction of the plot. Viewers of the penultimate season have so far learned that advertising man Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, remains tormented and is cheating on new wife Megan (Jessica Pare). But Weiner says he believes his lead character remains redeemable despite his flaws. 'We'll have to see what the world hands him and if he's able to confront a problem that's following him around - that might actually be him,' he said.

On a similar 'why isn't everybody talking about me, me, me, me, me, me, me?' note, attention junkie John Barrowman has suggested that Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary special is being 'aimed at a new audience' rather than at 'the fans.' Which it isn't. Not even remotely close. It's being aimed (as Doctor Who has for most of its life) at the, roughly, eight to ten million people who regularly watch Doctor Who each week in the UK either on TV or on catch-up and the however many tens of millions more viewers worldwide, of whom, organised 'capital F' fandom make up a tiny fraction of one per cent. In other words, it's being made for 'normal' members of the general public, why is that bafflingly simple conceit so difficult for some to get their head around? Barrowman told The TV Addict: 'John Barrowman is disappointed ... but I totally understand.' Started referring to yourself in the third person, eh John? Yer actual Keith Telly Topping massively approves of this charming affectation. 'I remember Russell T Davies saying something to a fan once - the fan was saying, "You should bring back The Brigadier and you should bring back Leela and you should bring back all these different characters." Russell said, "No, it's not appropriate sometimes. It's not always about the uber-fan. It's about the viewer and the new audience who are watching."' Or, perhaps, people who've been watching for years - decades, even - but aren't 'fans', they're simply 'viewers'. Jeez, talk about making a crisis out of a drama.

Barrowman meanwhile, has also 'revealed' that he and Alex Kingston would like to star in their own Doctor Who spin-off series. Oh God, does a single solitary day go by without another manufactured story appearing concerning what John Barrowman does or doesn't want in relation to Doctor Who? A tip, sweetheart, this is all starting to look just a bit, you know, 'needy.'
Want to see the latest wholly shitehawk 'exclusive' anti-BBC piece from some arsehole bullyboy louse of no importance at the Daily Scum Mail, dear blog reader? No, me neither, frankly, but I present it here as a public service nevertheless. This is an article which was compiled, seemingly, after a brief trawl around Twitter to find a handful of negative comments about hygiene on the latest series of MasterChef. This is journalism, apparently. Twats. And then they wonder why Lord Leveson wants to throw them into the gutter along with all the other turds. Meanwhile, thankfully, there's a much funnier (and far more observant) piece on the show from the Sabotage Times's Joshua Burt: 'It's been a great series so far. Gregg's lost a load of weight and now looks like half-a-Gregg. Torode has started doing a bit where he cooks everyone dinner then gets them to cook him five dinners in return. That's how big businesses start. And there have been some shocking early casualties. A really posh guy who likes throwing dinner pardies for his cool mates looked like a contender at one point. There was a student from Edinburgh who moonlights as a goddess in the kitchen who got the hoof for undercooking either a seagull or a pigeon. That was an embarrassing shock for me on a personal level because I'd been telling everyone for weeks that she was definitely going to win. And when I say I was telling everyone for weeks, I mean the thought drifted in and out of my mind once.' I particularly enjoyed his description of Saira: 'This chick knows her way around a stove, and cooks a mean takeaway. So far she's done chops in a green sand made of spices and chillies, she fried an onion and popped it in a white paper bag, and when the teams were forced to cook a huge feast for a load of guys who were either strippers or actual firemen she threw together a sponge and custard that you'd probably serve to Zeus. Everyone loves her, she's more cheerful than a talking erection and if she doesn't win this thing someone else definitely will. I want her to win it for her kids.' Seemingly, Saira enjoyed this description too, recently reposting it on Twitter!

Incidentally, the best quote on last night's MasterChef episode was when John Torode said: 'I think he's playing with fire.' Yes John, that's called cooking.
The Politician's Husband began with very decent ratings for BBC2 on Thursday evening, overnight data has revealed. David Tennant and Emily Watson's new drama opened with 2.49 million viewers at 9pm. Earlier, the current series of James May's Man Lab ended with 1.19m at 8pm, while the start of the second series of Watson & Oliver was seen by nine hundred and three thousand punters at 10pm. On BBC1, MasterChef doesn't seem to have suffered too much from the - alleged - 'viewer disgust' which the Daily Scum Mail were unconvincingly claiming was running rampant across the country, as semi-finals  week continued with the highest overnight audience of this series so far, 5.21m at 8pm. Great Bear Stakeout took in 3.37m at 9pm, while Question Time attracted 2.62m at 10.45pm. ITV's - usual piss-poor - coverage of Moscow Chelski FC's Europa League win over Basle scored 3.76m at 7.45pm. On Channel Four, Secret Eaters gobbled up 1.32m at 8pm (did you see what yer actual Keith Telly Topping did there?)

The BBC has released a first image from upcoming drama The Musketeers. Skins star Luke Pasqualino will play D'Artagnan in the ten-parter, from Primeval co-creator Adrian Hodges. Pasqualino appears in the first promo shot for the series, opposite Merlin's Santiago Cabrera (as Aramis), The Hour's Tom Burke (as Athos) and Howard Charles playing Porthos. Peter Capaldi will also appear as the Cardinal Richlieu in the 'fresh and contemporary take' on Alexandre Dumas's classic novel. Additional cast members include Tamla Kari, Maimie McCoy and Hugo Speer.
Yer actual Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer his very self have revealed that they are 'over the moon' to be back on BBC2 with their new sitcom House of Fools. The duo, who have starred in Shooting Stars, Bang Bang ... It's Reeves and Mortimer and The Smell Of ... Reeves and Mortimer on BBC2 in the past, will film the new series later this year. Set in 'Bob's grubby flat', the studio-based sitcom will feature Matt Berry, Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Morgana Robinson. Vic and Bob play flatmates on the show and they will have lots of unwanted visitors including lady-obsessed lothario Beef (played by Berry), ex-con Bosh (Skinner) and 'man-eater' Julie (Robinson). In the same way that Shooting Stars bent the rules of the panel show, the duo's sitcom promises to be 'filled with uniquely surreal jokes, physical nonsense, daft songs, unimaginable props and impossible situations.' Sounds great. Shane Allen, BBC's new comedy commissioner, said: 'Vic and Bob are the daddies of daft comedy and it's a total joy to watch two men in their fifties goof about so gloriously. I'm extremely proud to bring them back to the BBC in this hilarious reincarnation.' Vic and Bob commented: 'We're back where we belong and over the moon about making a series of House of Fools for the BBC.' BBC2 head honcho Janice Hadlow said: 'I'm delighted to be welcoming Vic and Bob back to BBC2, bringing their unique blend of energy and brilliant comedy to the channel.'

Mel Giedroyc is to host Channel Four's new daytime series Draw It! Developed with the makers of the mobile app Draw Something, the show will see two teams - made up of one contestant and one celebrity - go head to head as they battle it out in three rounds of drawing challenges in an attempt to win five thousand smackers. Sounds ghastly. But then, so did The Great British Bake-Off and that turned out all right.

The BBC have finally confirmed that the Doctor Who Regeneration DVD set which has been listed on Internet sites such as the BBC Shop and Amazon will, indeed, be released in June. As the title implied, this release deals with The Doctor's various regenerations, and will be presented as a limited edition, 'coffee-table' book which will include six DVDs covering the adventures associated with the change of actor - and includes the premiere of the newly animation-enhanced The Tenth Planet on DVD. The full list of stories are: The Tenth Planet (1966), The War Games (1969), Planet of the Spiders (1974), Logopolis (1981), The Caves of Androzani (1984), Time and the Rani (1987), Doctor Who: The Movie (1996), Bad Wolf and The Parting of the Ways (2005) and The End of Time (2010). Regeneration will now be released on 24 June and not 10 June as originally scheduled.

Speculation over who would replace Danny Cohen as BBC1 controller sparked into life just minutes after he was unveiled as the BBC's next director of television. Cohen has already begun discussions about hiring an interim controller for BBC1 before starting his new role on 7 May, but it is not yet clear whether he will plump for a candidate who covets the position long term. He will pick the interim boss directly, but will be part of a larger interview board when it comes to finding his permanent successor. Several alleged BBC 'insiders' have allegedly named Ben Stephenson as a strong contender, while others have noted that the drama controller's equivalent in entertainment, Mark Linsey, may be plotting a tilt at the post. BBC3 controller Zai Bennett is also thought to be a credible candidate, and Cohen has shown that the channel can be a springboard for the BBC1 role.

An - excellently named - former Deal or No Deal contestant has admitted to six counts of benefit fraud. Caroline Banana (no, really) won ninety five thousand smackers on the Channel Four game show hosted by The Beard of Despair in 2011. However, she did not declare her winnings in official forms, and continued to claim income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit. Prosecutor Trevor Vernon told North Staffordshire Magistrates' Court: 'The trigger to the whole episode was Miss Banana completing an income support application on 12 April 2011. To the question, "Is there money owed to you or your children?" she ticked "no" on that form. This was quite clearly not the case because in March that year she won the ninety five thousand pounds and was awaiting payment of that money and that payment was due in May.' Banana had claimed a total of six thousand one hundred and forty seven quid in payments to which she was not entitled between 8 April 2011 and 23 March 2012. Judge David Taylor ordered a pre-sentence report on Banana, ahead of passing sentence on Monday of next week, warning her that she may be jailed for the false claims. He said: 'All options are appropriate in this particular case. It is the prosecution view that these offences are serious enough for immediate custody. Only once I have read the report will I have all the facts to decide your case.' A charge of 'helping to prolong the odious Noel Edmonds's career' does not appear to have been laid against her. Pity, really.

One of the episodes of American serial killer series Hannibal - œuf - has reportedly pulled from the schedule by the showrunner Bryan Fuller, who decided that the subject matter was 'not suitable for broadcast' due to certain representations of children in it. The episode revolved around kidnapped children who had been brainwashed into murdering their own former families. Fuller's decision was, it seems, made a short time before the Boston bombings and was, it has been stressed, not affected by it. The episode will apparently still be broadcast in other countries. Fuller said of the decision: 'With this episode, it wasn't about the graphic imagery or violence. It was the associations that came with the subject matter that I felt would inhibit the enjoyment of the overall episode. It was my own sensitivity. We want to be respectful of the social climate we're in right now.' Instead, Fuller has released the episode to YouTube as a series of webisodes. Unfortunately, if you're in the UK, you can't see them, presumably for copyright reasons.

Odious, risible greed bucket horrorshow (and drag) the curiously orange Christina Bleakley is reportedly facing a seventy per cent pay cut if she stays with Twatting About On Ice. And, wer'e supposed to, what, feel sorry for her? Not bloody likely. Bleakley has, according to reports, been earning around forty thousand smackers per show – four hundred grand for the series – as part of her four million knicker 'golden handcuffs' ITV contract. However, the deal comes to an end this summer, allowing ITV to offer a smaller contract of around twelve thousand quid per show, reports the Mirra. An alleged TV 'source' allegedly said: 'Christine has been paid an awful lot for not very much in recent times. Perhaps, the pendulum will swing back in our favour.' Bleakley's other presenting roles on ITV since being sacked in shame and ignominy from Daybreak in 2011 have been one-offs - Text Santa and That Dog Can Dance both risible flops. Last month, Bleakley was reported to be 'facing the axe' by ITV (although, tragically, it was a metaphorical, not an actuall axe), following the end of her contract in June. She recently delayed wedding plans to her boyfriend, soon to be former Moscow Chelski FC midfielder Frank Lampard, as he is yet to finalise where he will be playing football next season. Bleakley quit management company Avalon last month in order to sign up with James Grant, who also manages the likes of Phillip Schofield, Ant and/or Dec, Holly Willoughby and Davina McCall.
And, speaking of those who've quit the BBC in search of mega-botty elsewhere, Hilary Devey's first Channel Four series The Intern has been given a new - late night - slot following poor ratings. The new show from the former Dragons' Den judge launched to 1.11 million viewers earlier this month, but has steadily dropped since then. Its latest episode attracted just one hundred and fifty thousand punters. The Intern originally aired on Thursday nights at 9pm, but has now been moved to Wednesdays at 11pm. Devey was reportedly offered one million smackers for a two-year deal with Channel Four after she departed Dragons' Den last year. An alleged Channel Four 'insider' allegedly snitched to the Sun: 'It was a show about youth employment which is always going to be a gamble. Viewers don't seem to like it so we can't have it hogging a prime 9pm slot with such low figures. You can't win them all.' A spokesman for the channel said, rather matter-of-factly: 'The two remaining episodes of The Intern have been scheduled at 11pm.' Chances of another series? Two hopes. Bob hope or no hope.
'PR guru' (that's a job title, apparently) Max Clifford has been charged with eleven indecent assaults allegedly committed between 1966 and 1985. The alleged offences allegedly relate to seven different women and girls ranging in age from fourteen to nineteen years old. Clifford, from Surrey, who has denied any wrongdoing, will appear before magistrates on 28 May. He was arrested as part of Operation Yewtree - set up after claims were made against Jimmy Savile - although the arrest is said to be unrelated to the former DJ. Operation Yewtree has three strands. One concerns Savile's crimes exclusively, while another relates to allegations against Savile and others. The third strand, under which Clifford was arrested, concentrates on accusations unconnected to the Savile investigations but which emerged as a result of the publicity surrounding the Savile fiasco. Clifford, who was first arrested on 6 December 2012, was charged after answering bail at a London police station following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service. He was not charged over three further allegations as there was 'insufficient evidence to authorise charges', the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Zooey Deschanel has received an apology over a closed captioning error and an acknowledgement that she was not, in fact, the Boston bomber. Fox Four News' subtitles reported the actress as a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings last week. While covering the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Friday, the subtitles stated next to a picture of the suspect: 'He is nineteen-year-old Zooey Deschanel.' Kala J Patterson, President of Caption Solutions - the Kansas-based company behind the error - stated that the company 'deeply' regrets the error and 'sincerely apologises' to the well known actress, according to the New York Post.
I always thought she never done it.
A former policeman has admitted selling information to the Sun newspaper. James Bowes, from Steyning in West Sussex, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to one count of misconduct in public office. He is to be sentenced at a later date. Bowes is the fourth police officer to be convicted as part of Operation Elveden, Scotland Yard's investigation into corrupt payments to public officials. The other police officers convicted as part of the same investigation were given custodial sentences ranging from ten to fifteen months.

Britain's tough libel laws have prevented the UK publication of Amanda Knox's account of the murder of Meredith Kercher, according to the book's publisher. Publication of the twenty five-year-old's memoir, Waiting To Be Heard, is due to go ahead as scheduled in the US, Canada and Australia on Tuesday. HarperCollins UK, the book publisher owned by billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, has been due to publish the 'tell-all' book early next month but has pulled out over fears of legal action according to the Gruniad Morning Star. 'Due to our legal system, and relying upon advice from our counsel, HarperCollins UK will not publish a British edition of Waiting To Be Heard, by Amanda Knox, at this time,' said a spokesman for HarperCollins UK. British readers will be able to buy the book online. Amazon's promotional blurb describes it as 'a remarkable story of innocence, resilience, and courage.' The publisher is concerned that the UK's stringent libel laws mean that it could run into legal difficulties because a retrial of Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, has been ordered by Italian authorities. In addition, the publisher is said to be 'closely monitoring' a number of libel cases in Italy where police and authorities are suing Knox and her parents for defamation over claims made in the press about how she was treated and her interrogation about the murder. It is thought HarperCollins UK's decision not to publish the book was influenced by the case of Lawrence Wright's tell-all about Scientology, Going Clear. The book, which Amazon describes as a 'clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration' into Scientology, had a global release on 17 January. However, the book, which is published by Random House subsidiary TransWorld, was not distributed in the UK because of what one alleged 'source' allegedly said was 'concerns' about libel laws. 'It was published pretty much everywhere but here,' the Gruniad quote the alleged 'source' as saying. Knox, who was reportedly paid four million dollars for her book deal, has given interviews in the run-up to the publication of Waiting To Be Heard. Her first TV interview, with ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer, will be broadcast on Tuesday. Last week she gave an interview to celebrity magazine People in which she said that she hoped that Meredith Kercher's family read her account. Kercher, a twenty one-year-old from South London, was a student studying in Italy when she was murdered in the Umbrian town of Perugia in November 2007. She was found in her bedroom in the villa she shared with Knox, like Kercher an exchange student and two Italian women. Knox and Sollecito were convicted in 2009 of the murder and sexual assault of Kercher, but had their convictions overturned by an Italian appeals court in 2011. Last month Italy's highest criminal court overturned Knox's acquittal and ordered a new trial.

So, dear blog reader are you distraught over the JLS split announced earlier this week - due, as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's mate Danny Blythe so wisely noted, to 'musical similarities'? Well, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's bud Uncle Scunthorpe Steve Drayton has some sage advice for you in such an event: 'When Take That split a national emergency and three days of mourning were announced. Refugee camps opened on both the Welsh and Scottish borders. I had a copy of Take That's Greatest Hits, even I was affected. Since the Take That days though, our culture has slipped. We're all Cowellites now. From Ant and Dec gurning away, guffawing at some inanity from Steven Mulhearn to that fucking dancing fucking dog, to "ordinary" people flapping about in sunshine yellow adverts to those over-smug-choir-twats in the Halifax commercial, everything is available to everyone as long as you're "normal" and a bit of a rough diamond, with a sob story about cancer or your grandma getting her knob caught in a mangle. That's how it works. The canonisation of JLS, though, is a new low. Sing a JLS song, go on, do it. No, me neither. They're the epitome of a cultural nothingness. A construct, a flim-flam, a highly-polished turd in a sewerage plant full of slightly-buffed jobbies. A million JLS fans can't be wrong. Surely if a million people like them, they must have something going for them? Once National Socialism had a million fans, look what happened there.' Aye. What he said. Love the complete disregard for Mister Godwin and his so-called frigging 'law' as well. I loathe the smug fekkers that bellow 'Godwin's' at regular intervals when you've just made a perfectly valid comparison between some aspect of fascism and, say, the fact that Alan Titchmarsh is alive and getting paid as well. Anyway ...
Speaking of Uncle Scuthorpe, Thursday's Record Player (The Kick Inside by Ms Bush her very self) was a jolly good night, particularly under the circumstances. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping and his friend Vicky won the quiz (top prize, a vinyl copy of Never Forever that'll be going straight up on eBay!) And yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self also got to tell his 'I actually met yer actual Kate Bush, actually' story at least three times to different groups of people. Which is always a laugh.

'You've actually met yer actual Kate Bush, actually, Keith Telly Topping?' I hear you bellow quizzically like a ... you know, big quizzical bellowing thing? Why yes I have, dear blog reader. Albeit briefly. And, it occurred on, probably, the most bizarre day of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's life. But, it makes a great story to drop into casual conversation, it must be said. What happened was, essentially, this: A mate of yer actual Keith Telly Topping, young Lee (big Doctor Who fan which is how we'd become acquainted), had just started work at Abbey Road as a recording engineer or something (tape operator, essentially). So, one day - this would have been during the summer 1985 (it was before Hounds of Love came out because I remember they were finishing off the mixing of that at the time; I note the LP came out in September so this would probably have been around July 85) - Lee said 'next time you're down in London, Keith Telly Topping, come over to the studio and I'll give you the tour.' So, yer actual Keith Telly Topping did just exactly that. He got The Clipper down to The Smoke, got tube from King's Cross up to St John's Wood, found Cavendish Avenue, walked down past what he presumed (by the massive security gates) to be McCartney's gaff, found Abbey Road, walked across the zebra crossing, walked across it again (yes, yes ... we've all done it) then went to the door and said, 'Hello, I'm Keith Telly Topping, I have an appointment.' He got signed in as 'a guest', and was ushered into studio two where he had his photo taken with his feet up on the mixing console once touched by George Martin his very self (see right). He met Geoff Emmerick who doing some mixing, then had a walk over to studio one and, eventually, went back to the room Lee was working in and listened to some the the recordings Lee had been working on recently, including a couple of songs from Hounds of Love which, as noted, was a couple of months away from release. And various other stuff (New Model Army was one, I seem to remember. Possibly some early Pet Shop Boys). Then, yer actual Keith Telly Topping found that he desperately needed the lavvy so he was pointed in the direction of the mens room, up a short flight of stairs. So, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is walking along the corridor and, of a sudden, a door to one side opens and only bleeding Paul McCartney MBE walks out and heads in Keith Telly Topping's direction, passing him with the briefest of nods. Keith Telly Topping, in something of a state of shock then finds the urinals at the end of the corridor (remember, the last time he'd encountered an ex-Beatle it had been stalking George Harrison down Oxford Street three years earlier). Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is now standing happily having a long (and much-needed) slash (there may have been ecstatic moaning at one point, yer actual Keith Telly Topping can't be certain) when he hears the door behind him open and, to his left, it's only bleeding Mister David Bowie arrived to use the next stall along for a leak. (Now, yer actual Keith Telly Topping has to inform you all at this point, dear blog reader, that Mr Bowie his very self is not a small man.) Okay, so that's all extremely bizarre. Then Lee says 'listen, Keith Telly Topping, I've got about half-an-hour's worth of stuff to do, I'll take you down the canteen for a cuppa.' So, Keith Telly Topping is thinking 'great, the EMI canteen. The Beatles drank in there!' We walk in and the gaff is deserted ... except for Miss Kate Bush sitting in the corner reading a book and having a coffee. 'Hello Kate,' says Lee. 'This is my mate Keith Telly Topping. He's from Newcastle.' I'm not sure exactly what reaction he thought that geographical revelation would get from Ms Bush but ... and, yer actual Keith Telly Topping swears to God this is true, her reply was: 'Wow! Hey! Wow!' Yes, yer actual Keith Telly Topping really did miss a trick by not replying to this 'un-be-leeeeee-va-bull!' But, tragically, he didn't. He merely said 'hello, I've just been listening to a couple of the songs off your new LP' (one of which, yer actual Keith Telly Topping always remembers was 'Big Sky', still a particular favourite of his). She said, 'Oh, great.' He said: 'They're very good.' And then he sat down with his tea and she drank her coffee and at one point he asked her why it'd been four years since her last record and she said it always took her a long time to write and there'd been 'a few distractions'. Then she went back to her book and he started leafing through a copy of Melody Maker that was lying on the table and fifteen minutes later she left. So, there you go, dear blog reader. Keith Telly Topping's day at Abbey Road with the Stars on 45. He went back to the gaff a couple of times after that over the next year or so to meet up with Lee (it was a useful stopping off point if we were going on to the Fitzroy that evening) but the only remotely famous person he saw on either of those occasions was Ben Watt of Everything But The Girl. Anyway ... true story, that!

So, on that bombshell, here's today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day in memory of a very strange but never less than memorable day. Wow. Unbelievable.