Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week Forty Nine: Millions Like Us

'Ten million viewers for your Bug-Eyed Monsters! So, what do I know?' Just in case you hadn't heard the only news which actually matters this weekend, dear blog reader, 10.2 million overnight viewers watched The Day Of The Doctor on BBC1 on Saturday night between 7:50pm and 9:05pm. Which was nice. It was the second highest overnight rating of the day - beaten only by Strictly Come Dancing's 10.6 million. The two popular BBC shows beat both The X Factor and I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want). Which was also nice (and, somewhat restores ones faith in the viewing public). Doctor Who had a thirty seven per cent audience share. These figures, of course, are only overnights and, therefore, do not take into account those people who recorded the show to watch it later, or who watched it on iPlayer. As a consequence, they are likely to rise once final, consolidated figures become available in about a week's time. They also don't take into account those who watched The Day Of The Doctor at a cinema, or on big screens in pubs and the like. Still, not at all bad for a daft little show about space monsters and time travel, eh? It was the BBC's long-running family SF drama's largest overnight audience since A Christmas Carol on Christmas Day 2010 (that had 10.3 million). The special pulled in more viewers than the 9.9 overnight million who watched it return with Christopher Eccleston in Rose in 2005. It was the fifth most-watched Doctor Who on overnights since then, behind three Christmas specials - in 2007, 2008 and 2010 - and David Tennant's farewell, The End Of Time on New Year's Day, 2010. The Christmas Day episode from 2007, Voyage Of The Damned guest starring yer actual Kylie Minogue, remains the most popular Doctor Who of the new era in terms of overnight ratings, with 12.4 million viewers (and, final consolidated rating of over fourteen million). The anniversary celebrations continued on BBC3 after the episode concluded, with - as this blogger had fearfully suspected - the thoroughly rotten Doctor Who Live: The Afterbirth at 9.05pm. 1.36m viewers joined witless, yammering presenters Zoe Ball and Rick Edwards (the blonde leading the bland) for this fiasco, which featured interviews with a rather uncomfortable-looking Steven Moffat, Smudger, John Hurt, and Tom Baker among others. And some of One Direction, apparently, although this blogger was long gone by that point. To watch Borgen, a programme made by grown-ups. And, whilst we're about it, a simple question, dear blog reader. That Zoe Ball. What use is she, exactly? What, in short, is she for? Anyway, the evening was rounded off with a repeat of Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide, which attracted seven hundred and twenty thousand punters at 10.05pm on BBC3. Strictly Come Dancing's ratings hit a series high with a peak overnight audience of 11.7 million. The BBC1 dancing competition, as noted, attracted an average of 10.6m viewers and a thirty seven per cent share of the available audience when it was broadcast immediately before Doctor Who from 6.30pm. Over on ITV, The X Factor was less successful with 7.3m at 8pm, dropping eight hundred and sixty thousand viewers from last week's episode. This was the talent contest's lowest overnight audience for a single episode since approximately 2007 (although, it has to be said, seven million is still a pretty decent overnight audience for anything in this day and age). Back on BBC1, the medical drama Casualty brought in 4.16m at 9pm. On BBC2, Dad's Army attracted 1.43m at 8pm, a Qi XL repeat (not the new episode which had been advertised) drew one million viewers from 8:30pm, while a Horizon special Comet Of The Century brought in 1.45m at 9.15pm. I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) topped the night for ITV, being watched by 8.7m at 9.30pm, its lowest audience of the series so far. Three million subsequently tuned in for The Jonathan Ross Show at 10.30pm, which included special guests Michelle Keegan, Simon Pegg and Gary Barlow. Opposite it, on BBC1 Match Of The Day (with highlights of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved - though unsellable - Magpies giving Norwich City their very selves a damned good twanking) drew 3.8 million punters. Channel Four had an even more quiet Saturday night than usual, with Tony Robinson's new series Walking Through History bringing in just under a million viewers for its first episode on Stonehenge at 8pm. Drama Killing Kennedy interested eight hundred and twenty thousand viewers at 9pm. On Channel Five, a showing of Mrs Miracle attracted 1.02m at 7.20pm, followed by the documentary Battle Scarred at 9.10pm which was seen by two hundred and fifty thousand. A Foyle's War repeat performed well for ITV3, bringing in nine hundred and thirty six thousand at 8pm.
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, upon being told that the overnight audience for The Day Of The Doctor was - let us repeat - ten point fekking two million, said: 'I'm astonished and moved - and that's only the score so far, that's just the overnights. I speak from personal experience when I say that there's nothing better the morning after your fiftieth birthday than knowing you've still got it.' Not 'alf, Moff. You done good, soldier.
Moffat also revealed that he 'always' planned for Doctor Who's fiftieth special to feature the show's next lead. 'It was the plan from the start - all the Doctors will fly in to save Gallifrey and change the timeline,' Moffat told the press at the official Doctor Who Celebration at London's ExCel. 'That meant we should have the new one. I knew there was going to be a new one, so I wrote it not knowing who would be doing that [scene]. We did manage to cast somebody where you can use less than half his face, for less than a second and everybody knows who it is!' he noted. 'It's just another treat - I was just trying to throw treats at the screen!'
The Day Of The Doctor scored an Appreciation Index figure of eighty eight for its broadcast on BBC1 on Saturday. Which is 'very good' in case you were wondering.
It has also been reported that the box office takings for the cinema showings of The Day Of The Doctor were 1.7 million smackers in Britain and one-and-a-half million dollars in Australia.

After the, mostly, rave reviews which followed Saturday night's screening of the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary special, the BBC has one more - not insignificant - plaudit to add to its collection, a proper, twenty four carat Guinness World Record. The Day Of The Doctor has been, officially, named as the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama after being successfully broadcast in ninety four countries across six continents simultaneously. 'For years, The Doctor has been stopping everyone else from conquering the world. Now, just to show off, he's gone and done it himself!' said yer actual Steven Moffat as he accepted the award at the official Doctor Who Celebration in London, alongside yer actual Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman her very self. 'Who else but the time-twisting Doctor could appear in ninety four countries at once?!' added Craig Glenday, Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief. 'This outstanding achievement is testament to the fact that the longest running sci-fi [sic] TV show in history is not just a well-loved UK institution but a truly global success adored by millions of people.' He has a point (even if it's 'SF' not 'sci-fi' - only weirdos and Americans call it that. He'll be starting on this 'Whovian' nonsense next, mark my words). While numerous national channels were keen to buy in the biggest episode in Doctor Who history, in countries where there was no broadcaster to pick up the episode, fans stepped in. In Sweden and Norway, for instance, they successfully petitioned local movie theatres to screen the episode, while in Argentina a major cinema chain was persuaded into showing the special. In the US, an initial ten thousand cinema tickets sold out in twenty eight minutes without any marketing or advertising. The episode was screened in 3D in over fifteen hundred cinemas worldwide, including in Britain, America, Canada, Australian, New Zealand, Latin America, Germany, Russia and Scandinavia, with over half-a-million tickets sold in total. Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Worldwide, who co-ordinated the simulcast, said: 'We knew we were attempting something unprecedented in broadcast history, not only because Doctor Who is a drama – unlike a live feed event such as a World Cup football match or a Royal Wedding – but because we had to deliver the episode in advance to the four corners of the world so that it could be dubbed and subtitled into fifteen different languages. If there was any doubt that Doctor Who is one of the world's biggest TV shows, this award should put that argument to rest – and how fitting for it to receive such an accolade in its fiftieth year.'
Directly after The Day Of The Doctor, viewers on BBC1 were treated to a trailer for the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special, the drama's eight hundredth episode, Smudger's last and the first (or, actually, as we now know, second) to feature yer actual Peter Capaldi his very self.
Matt Smith has credited starring in Doctor Who with transforming his life - 'for the better', obviously - and compared it to playing James Bond. Well, the bow-ties are similar. Smudger his very self will hand over the role of The Doctor to yer actual Peter Capaldi in the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama's Christmas special, after four years in the role. Matt has used an interview with USA Today to reflect on his tenure as the Time Lord. 'It's really transformed my life for the better,' he said. Matt added that it was 'a very difficult decision' to leave Doctor Who. 'It's one of those jobs you're always going to miss forever, because it's such a wonderful journey, but it felt like it was the right time for me to go,' he explained. The actor added: 'It's the kind of part that attracts a lot of people's opinions. It's like playing James Bond - people have their favourite James Bond, and people have their favourite Doctor. Some people go for yours, and some people don't. All you can do with anything is try your best, and that's what I've done. People can't ask for a lot more.'
Matt has also saluted The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat for 'breathing fresh life' into Doctor Who with The Day Of The Doctor. In this weekend's episode, the history of John Hurt's Doctor (number eight-and-a-half if you're keeping notes) was explained and it was also revealed that The Doctor's home planet, Gallifrey, was not actually destroyed in the climax to The Time War. The changes mean that Hurt is now, kind of officially, the Ninth Doctor, bumping Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith up one each. Speaking about the impact of the episode on BBC3's wretchedly awful, risible and trite Live Afterbirth programme, Matt said: 'Steven's changed the mythology of the character, which after fifty years is an achievement.' Johnny, who starred alongside Matt and David Tennant his very self in the feature-length episode, said that he was 'thrilled' to become part of the show's history. 'It turned out not to be so much fun, as much as extremely hard work,' John explained. 'It was great working with both the boys. It was a fabulous experience, it opened my eyes and I'm thrilled that I did it. I think [director] Nick [Hurran] did a fantastic job.' Meanwhile, Jenna Coleman confessed that she got 'a little starstruck' working alongside Matt, David and John at the same time. 'I was fan-girling a little bit, having three Doctors to play with,' she said.
Meanwhile Tom Baker his very self has described his seven years in Doctor Who as the 'happiest time of my whole life', following his cameo role in The Day Of The Doctor. The Fourth Doctor appeared at the end of The Day Of The Doctor, playing the enigmatic role of The Curator, directing Matt Smith's Doctor towards his next adventure. Whether The Curator is an alternate, aged version of Baker's Fourth Doctor, a future re-regeneration of the character or someone else entirely ... 'who knows?' Literally. Didn't really matter, it was just great to see Big Mad Tom back on the show he graced for seven years. Big Mad Tom, who played the character between 1974 and 1981 and for many people remains the person most obviously identified with the role, was interviewed for BBC3's Life Afterbirth fiasco following the transmission of The Day Of The Doctor and spoke about the significance of the popular long-running family SF drama series in his life. 'It's been my entire existence. I'm delighted to be celebrating it,' Tom said. 'It was the happiest time of my whole life.' Commenting on the show's fans, he added: 'They give me the credit for making Saturday more fun than it really was, in between the football, Basil Brush and Bruce Forsyth. I was right up there with all those legends and I'm grateful.' Earlier in the day five Doctors, Tom, Matt, Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy and the crap one received a standing ovation at the official - and very expensive - Doctor Who Convention at London's ExCeL Centre. When asked about their favourite Doctor, most cited the late Patrick Troughton. 'He always managed to sort things out without you knowing he'd done it', said the crap one, adding: 'Without Patrick none of us would be here.' At which the point, the ghost of the late Bill Hartnell shouted 'hang on a minute.' From beyond the grave.
At the same event, yer man Moffat also discussed The Doctor's regeneration limit following the events of the fiftieth anniversary special. The showrunner said that John Hurt's version of the Time Lord does not alter the numbering of other incarnations. As if anybody's actually bothered about stuff like that on a day like this! Speaking at the ExCel, Moffat said: 'He has no more ever called himself the eleventh Doctor than he would call himself Matt Smith. The Doctor doesn't know off the top of his head [what number he is]. If you worry about such things, and I do, then I specifically said John Hurt's Doctor doesn't use the title. [Smudger's Doctor] is in his twelfth body but he's the eleventh Doctor, however there is no such character as the eleveth Doctor - he's just The Doctor, that's what he calls himself. The numbering doesn't matter, except for those lists that you and I have been making for many years. So I've given you the option of not counting John Hurt numerically - he's The War Doctor.' Moffat also responded to questions about The Doctor's regeneration limit, which was introduced (as a throwaway line) in 1976 Tom Baker story The Deadly Assassin. 'Paul McGann turns into John Hurt so they're not the same incarnation. He used up another regeneration and I expect he'll be in trouble shortly - you can't break rules laid down in The Deadly Assassin,' he said. But, of course, they will when the time comes (so long as the show is still making enough coin to justify its existence). Moffat also talked of how he found it 'irresistible' to put Tom Baker into the fiftieth anniversary story. 'Tom didn't want to come and do a long thing and he didn't want to put the old costume on. He didn't want to do any of that, but his agent said that he wasn't against the idea of doing a short appearance.'
Orla Brady is reported to be appearing in the Doctor Who Christmas special. The Irish actress will appear opposite Matt Smith in the actor's final, as yet unnamed, episode. Orla's past credits include BBC1's Mistresses (which was awful), ITV's Eternal Law (which was really awful), Sky1's Sinbad and the American SF drama Fringe.

A short deleted scene from The Day Of The Doctor has been released by the BBC online. The nineteen-second clip - which didn't make the final cut - features Matt, David and John. In the extract, the three versions of the Time Lord are seen walking together with shackled feet, and bickering over their current predicament.
Australian Doctor Who fans set their alarms and tuned in to ABC1 as The Day Of The Doctor was simulcast to ninety odd countries around the globe over the weekend. The live broadcast on ABC1, which went out at 6.50am in Sydney and 3.50am in Perth, achieved a five city metro overnight average audience of four hundred and twenty four thousand viewers and a total TV Share of thirty seven per cent. The 7.30pm repeat broadcast achieved an average audience of nine hundred and twenty two thousand viewers. The repeat was second in its timeslot to Sixty Minutes on Channel Nine. Across both the live and repeat broadcasts, the programme reached one and a half million Aussie punters. In addition, there were fifty thousand plays via iview. An Adventure In Space and Time, which followed the anniversary episode, achieved a five city metro average audience of six hundred and thirty three thousand. Ripper.

As noted on many occasions previously, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite TV reviewers currently working in the British media is Metro's Keith Watson, a man who actually appears to enjoy watching the TV he writes about. Case in point, check out his review of Thursday's An Adventure In Space And Time, dear blog reader: 'An Adventure In Space And Time was flagged up as the the story of the birth of Doctor Who, which indeed it was. On one level Mark Gatiss created a sharply observed and nostalgically affectionate portrait of a TV legend in the making, bright and ambitious young things in the early 1960s ruffling the feathers of the stuffy BBC higher ups with their science fiction frolics. But there was something else more poignant here than the fun of seeing the first kids do the Dalek "Exterminate! Exterminate!" on the top of a London Routemaster bus. For this was most potently a study of actor William Hartnell, the first Doctor and a man without whom, arguably, the next fifty years would never have happened. David Bradley didn't so much play Hartnell as inhabit him, giving us a conflicted soul, prickly with a soft underbelly, for whom soaraway success came, agonisingly, late in the day. He caught Hartnell's thwarted classical ambitions so acutely it brought a tear to the eye. In a line that felt like Hartnell was watching his whole life flash before his eyes as he was about to sign off as The Doctor, he recalled: "King Lear. I did it once. Carried a spear. A long time ago. A long, long time ago."'

Incidentally, Mark Gatiss his very self apparently shot a couple of scenes as yer actual Jon Pertwee for An Adventure In Space And Time, but they ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor. It's hard not to be jolly impressed by Mark, David Bradley and Reece Shearsmith recreating that famous tenth anniversary Radio Times cover.
I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) continued its - thoroughly baffling - winning streak on Friday night, topping the ratings once again according to overnight figures. Around 9.33 million sad, sorry victims of society watched Amy Willerton (no, me neither) tackle the latest Bushtucker Trial in ITV's sick Victorian Freak Show at 9pm. Earlier, Off The Beaten Track attracted 2.9m at 8pm. BBC1's Have I Got News For You - hosted by odious, risible, unfunny lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall - brought in 4.11m at 9pm, while a new series of Live At The Apollo, hosted by Eddie Izzard (who is funny), interested 2.74m afterwards at 9.30pm. On BBC2, 1.64m tuned in to watch Wales twank on Tonga at the Millenium Stadium in the Rugby Union international at 7pm. Matthew Sweet's beautiful The Culture Show Doctor Who special brought in eight hundred and seventy thousand punters at 9.30pm. Channel 4's highest ratings of the evening came from Alan Carr: Chatty Man, which attracted 1.29m at 10pm with guests including Sheridan Smith. Marvel's Agents of SHIELD continued with 1.17m earlier in the evening at 8pm. On Channel 5, Stobart: Trucks and Trailers was watched by nine hundred and ninety four thousand at 8pm, dramatised documentary The Nazi Killers pulled in six hundred and seventy thousand at 9pm and just over six hundred thousand watched a showing of Lethal Weapon 4 at 10pm. On BBC3, a repeat of Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide attracted five hundred and eighty three thousand at 7pm. On ITV3, Midsomer Murders pulled in nine hundred and ninety six thousand viewers at 9pm.

I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) also came out on top in the overnight Sunday ratings. The jungle japes and Ant and/or Dec and lots of people you've never heard of jumped over a million from Saturday's show to 10.33 million at 9pm. Earlier, The X Factor dipped by a fraction (around seventy thousand) from last Sunday result to 8.92m at 8pm. Before that, Surprise, Surprise spectacularly failed to entertain 3.95m at 7pm. On BBC1, Strictly Come Dancing climbed by almost five hundred thousand viewers from the previous Sunday episode to 10.03m at 7.15pm. If you missed it, Ben Cohen got the big heave-ho. Later, The Paradise was up by around six hundred thousand to 4.77m at 8pm, while Britain And The Sea interested 2.82m at 9pm. BBC2's Great Continental Railway Journeys appealed to 2.25m at 8pm, followed by Morecambe & Wise - The Whole Story with 1.95m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Finding Babylon's Hanging Gardens was watched by 1.12m at 8pm. The latest Homeland attracted 1.57m at 9pm. Channel Five's broadcast of Entrapment was watched by seven hundred thousand punter at 7pm.

Here, meanwhile, are the consolidated figures for the Top Twenty Five, week-ending 17 November 2013:-
1 I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) - Sun ITV - 13.05m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 11.46m
3 Children In Need - Fri BBC1 - 9.99m
4 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 9.78m
5 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.57m
6 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 8.41m
7 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.54m
8 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.04m
9 The Escape Artist - Tues BBC1 - 5.64m
10 Agatha Christie's Poirot - Wed ITV - 5.52m*
11 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.50m
12 Ten O'Clock News - Fri BBC1 - 5.46m
13 Atlantis - Sat BBC1 - 5.43m
14 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 5.34m
15 DIY SOS; The Big Build - Wed BBC1 - 5.17m
16 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 5.12m
17 Ripper Street - Mon BBC1 - 5.07m
18 The Paradise - Sun BBC1 - 5.03m
19 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.95m
20 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.71m
21 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.65m
22 Child In Need Rocks - Thurs BBC1 - 4.41m
23 Britain On The Fiddle - Wed BBC1 - 4.35m
24 Children In Need - Fri BBC2 - 4.30m
25 International Friendly: England Versus Chile - Fri ITV - 4.29m
ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top-rated show of the week apart from their Children In Need coverage was MasterChef: The Professionals which, again, saw all four of its weekly episodes top the three million mark, the highest being Tuesday's 3.88m. That was followed by Brian Cox's delightful The Science of Doctor Who (3.19m) and University Challenge (3.01m). Homeland topped Channel Four's ratings (2.81m) and Under The Dome was Channel Five's highest performed (1.92m). Borgen's return to BBC4 brought in an audience of 1.09m for its first episode (and nine hundred and forty thousand for the second). The Saturday night episode of The X Factor was watched by 9.14m on ITV and ITV HD. Strictly's Sunday audience was 10.17m.

A new teaser trailer for Sherlock's third series has been released by the BBC and was shown immediately after Saturday's Doctor Who thus getting a potential audience over ten million punters. Which was nice. The clip - titled Sherlock Lives - charts the reaction of the detective's fans to the news that Sherlock Holmes is, in fact, alive. And that, for ta least some scenes, John Watson is so upset by Sherlock's death that has allowed a small furry creature to take up residence on his top lip. Shocking.
Meanwhile, two new images of Sherlock have also been released. The behind-the-scenes pictures show yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self filming for the upcoming third series.
The next, twelfth, series of Qi, covering the letter L, has been commissioned and will be filmed during May and June 2014 according to the series' website.

Bruce Forsyth has admitted that he finds it 'tough' to keep up with his schedule as the host of Strictly Come Dancing, saying he is living on 'borrowed time.' And, this constitutes 'news', apparently.

And, with that bombshell, here's yer actual Top Telly Tips: -

Saturday 30 November
In tonight's episode of Qi XL - 9:30 BBC2 and, therefore, annoyingly scheduled opposite Borgen - toothy, full-of-her-own-importance horrorshow (and drag) Janet Street-Porter, Sandi Toksvig and Johnny Vegas join regular panellist Alan Davies on the comedy quiz. Host Stephen Fry asks a range of fiendish questions on the topic of Kinky, with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct ones.
And, speaking of the best TV drama in the world (that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title), in the latest episode of Borgen - 9:00 BBC4 - there is unrest among The New Democrats when the sex trade is placed on the agenda. This follows police in Copenhagen finding three women who have been locked up and forced to have sex against their will (a horribly topical story given recent events in the UK). Meanwhile, Torben's problems escalate when his new boss, vile and odious rascal Alex finds out about his affair. And, Birgitte wonders whether to introduce Jeremy to her children. In the following episode, immediately afterwards, The New Democrats finally have enough signatures to run for Parliament, but they still require more candidates and Birgitte suggests economics professor Soren Ravn. However, not all the candidates in the party share her enthusiasm, owing to him being a former member of the Communist Party. Torben is under pressure both at work and at home, but is offered sympathy from his colleague Pia. Danish drama, starring Sidse Babett Knudsen, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Lars Knutzon, Soren Malling and Pilou Asbaek. The second episode also features a guest appearance by the great Christopher Fairbanks (Moxey in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet).

In Charlie Brooker's How Videogames Changed the World - 9:00 Channel 4 - from Pong to Grand Theft Auto, Atari to Angry Birds, the sarky-but-loveable broadcaster and national treasure delves into the history of the games industry and celebrates a selection of its most significant titles. Chas explores how interactive entertainment has evolved from a penny arcade diversion into a medium that some believe is art, and shows how it is changing the way people work, communicate and play. Joined by Jonathan Ross and Dara O Briain (another sarky pair of bleeders at the best of times) and leading designers including Will Wright and John Romero, Charlie looks at how video games have become one of the most progressive art forms of the past forms years. If you're arguing against the stereotype that games are an anti-social hobby for man-children, Charlie might not be the best spokesman. Luckily, he's joined by gamers like Dara and children's laureate Malorie Blackman to reminisce about their favourite titles, and how they've had a positive impact on society. If the tone seems rather defensive, that's because the argument has already been won. Games like Grand Theft Auto outsell the biggest movies, while chartered accountants play Angry Birds on the train home. Everyone is a gamer now (well, except yer actual Keith Telly Topping who's never really seen the point, frankly).

When Mary Poppins creator PL Travers was on Desert Island Discs in the 1970s, the then-host, Roy Plomley, asked her about the 1964 Disney movie about her creation. 'I've seen it once or twice,' replied Travers, rather wearily. 'I've learned to live with it.' It's an amusing and illustrative clip which is used in a hugely affectionate and enjoyable Culture Show special from Victoria Coren Mitchell, a childhood fan of Travers's original Poppins stories. In The Secret Life of Mary Poppins, there are also recordings of Travers berating Mary Poppins's gifted composers, the Sherman brothers, as part of her role as 'consultant' (the subject of the new Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks film, Saving Mr Banks). Travers allegedly hated the movie; she despised the animations and found the whole thing too sickly and sentimental. And, not even remotely Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Victoria explores the dark and complex life of the writer, revealing her fractious twenty-year relationship with Walt Disney and how the big screen-adaptation overshadowed her writings but, at the same time, made her very rich indeed. Victoria looks into Travers's often difficult and unhappy personal life, and tries to capture the essence of someone described by a friend as 'a dramatic, complicated, profoundly unusual woman.' Much like The Divine Victoria her very self, in fact. With contributions by Emma Thompson and Cameron Mackintosh.

Sunday 1 December
The Battle of Hastings is among the most famous in English history, but with a lack of archaeological evidence for it, have historians put the battlefield in the wrong place? in a Time Team special 1066: The Lost Battlefield - 8:00 Channel 4 - Tony Robinson and the team set themselves the task of uncovering its true location, embarking on excavations at Battle Abbey and nearby Caldbec Hill to seek proof of either one being a battlefield.
The Man Who Brought The Blues To Britain: Big Bill Broonzy - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary exploring the life of the influential musician, uncovering the mystery of who he really was and charting his journey from the Deep South, to the clubs of Chicago, to becoming an internationally recognised star. Broonzy's numerous performances during the 1950s in the UK, and in particular at folk clubs in London and Edinburgh, were influential in the nascent British folk revival and the skiffle movement, with many British musicians citing him as an important influence. Featuring contributions from Pete Seeger, Ray Davies, Keith Richards, Martin Carthy, John Renbourn, members of the Broonzy family and Bill's own words read by Clarke Peters.

In Fifty Years of Rock Excess - Amps, Whips and Rebel Riffs - 10:00 Channel 4 - yer actual Alice Cooper his very self introduces a night of programmes dedicated to The Rock. This documentary kicks things off with an insight into the history of the music genre, telling the story of how the giant bands of the 1970s changed The Rock for ever. With contributions from Alice his very self and some other people that you won't have heard of, the programme journeys thought the greatest tales of extravagance, excess and indulgence from the world of The Rock and asks how the genre will continue to evolve in the digital age. And that.

Monday 2 December
A series of attacks on churches and synagogues leads Reid to believe someone is exploiting the fragile peace between Whitechapel's religious communities in the latest Ripper Street - 9:00 BBC2. He seeks the help of Jewish mathematician Isaac Bloom, whose findings prove surprising when they take the inspector beyond orthodox beliefs and into the world of the occult. Meanwhile, Drake's domestic happiness is disrupted by the arrival of a friend from Bella's past, the mysterious and charismatic scholar Gabriel Cain (guest star Paul Kaye).
After four weeks of competition the MasterChef: The Professionals semi-finals begin - 8:30 BBC2 - and the eight remaining contenders must prepare a dish to impress judge Gregg Wallace. They have just two hours to demonstrate their skill, flair and ability to deliver perfect flavours and immaculate presentation, with only the six best chefs progressing to the next stage.

Liberty of London - 9:00 Channel 4 - is a documentary going behind the scenes at one of London's oldest department stores as it gears up for a make-or-break festive season. The programme follows the race to get the Christmas shop open on time, via fashion weeks in the capital and in Paris, celebrity visits, and the daily rituals at the heart of Liberty. In the first edition, yuletide-themed stock arrives in the middle of a heatwave and a wealthy customer reveals how he views the store as his local corner shop.
Tuesday 3 December
The OAP couple's family continue to battle their various problems in Last Tango In Halifax - 9:00 BBC1. Gillian is devastated when Celia inadvertently reveals a huge personal secret her stepdaughter has been keeping ever since she was fifteen - and her already troubled relationship with Alan deteriorates as he distances himself from her. Meanwhile, Lawrence finds his mum Caroline's new relationship difficult to accept, making her girlfriend Kate feel awkward around the teenager. Sally Wainwright's light-hearted drama, starring Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid, Nicola Walker, Tony Gardner, Sarah Lancashire and Nina Sosanya.

Sarah is shocked when her dad turns up and reveals he's left her mother and needs a place to stay, while Pauline's cupcake business is thriving and Joe's stroke recovery takes a romantic turn in Hebburn - 10:00 BBC2. Gervaise isn't too pleased when Vicki invites the handsome and talented Lindsay to help with the recording of his debut CD.
Beckett and Castle investigate when the body of a former dock worker is found floating in the East River, and discover that the victim had recently bought a bar called The Old Haunt that had once belonged to his father in Castle - 10:00 Channel 5. When they visit the establishment, they find buckshot in the wall similar to that found during the post mortem. Crime drama, starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic.
Wednesday 4 December
In The Culture Show - 10:00 BBC2 - poet and author Nick Laird looks back on Derry-Londonderry's year as UK City of Culture, and talks to Frank Cottrell Boyce about The Return of Colmcille, the writer's two-day event celebrating the city's patron saint. He considers the legacy of Bloody Sunday at a photographic exhibition and reflects on the first staging in Northern Ireland of the traditional music festival Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann.

A visiting American academic delivers a controversial speech, with many audience members worried his ideas could be used to target ethnic minorities in a repeat of a particularly memorable episode of Lewis - The Indelible Stain - 9:00 ITV3. So, when he is found hanged the next morning and Doctor Hobson quickly discounts suicide, yer actual Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Hathaway his very self (Mr Billie Piper) realise they have many suspects - from the local anti-racism activist who was first in voicing her disgust at the professor's beliefs to the women who had bombarded him with threatening e-mails. But then another body turns up and the case takes on a new dimension. We know by now that Lewis has no time for intellectuals or intellectualism (he's a Geordie, what do you expect?) But, that can be a twin handicap when you work in one of the world's great university cities. But 'books are bad for your health'? Even for such a truculently anti-clever copper as Robbie Lewis, this is an outrageous conceit. He might say it wryly, but you can tell he means it. Mind you, who can honestly blame him for being so hangdog when he's bombarded with pomposity by the increasingly insufferable Detective Sergeant 'I don't like misplaced apostrophes' Hathaway, who really has become very rude of late, snapping at witnesses and parading his educated ways like a child with a toffee apple. The pair come up against the usual clutch of obstructive academics when a visiting professor is murdered after lecturing on the controversial theory of “criminal dangerousness”, picketed by shouting, pouting and scowling TV drama extras. Goddamn David Soul his very self and Patrick Baladi guest star.

Lionel Bart, Reviewing the Situation - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary telling the larger-than-life story of the composer of Oliver! - one of the greatest musicals of the past fifty years - and plenty more great works besides. Drawing on Bart's personal archive, and interviews with Barbara Windsor (who was in the original stage cast of another of Bart's masterpieces, Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be), Roy Hudd, Cameron Mackintosh, Marty Wilde and Ray Davies, the programme paints a vivid, poignant picture of the rise, fall and rise of the popular British songwriter.

Thursday 5 December
British, American and Soviet submarine crews recall their experiences of the Cold War, when their vessels engaged in perilous games of cat and mouse as each side battled to gain the tactical and technological advantage in The Silent War - 9:00 BBC2. The programme explores close encounters between the opposing navies that put lives at risk and servicemen talk about the pressures of lengthy underwater patrols that drove them to the edge of their physical and mental limits. Haydn Gwynne narrates.

The historian Simon Sebag Montefiore traces the sacred history of Istanbul in Byzantium: A Tale Of Three Cities - 9:00 BBC4. It was described as the 'city of the world's desire', having been the focus of three faiths - Paganism, Christianity and Islam - and the stage for some of the fiercest political and religious conflicts over the past two thousand five hundred years. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping even once set a Doctor Who novel there, dear blog reader. One of his better ones, as well. Anyway, enough about that, in the documentary Simon begins by uncovering its Greek roots and maps its transformation into the capital of the Roman Empire by Constantine the Great.

Set List: Stand-Up Without A Net - 10:30 Sky Atlantic - each week sees three comedians deliver fully improvised routines to an audience on subjects presented to them on stage by fellow stand-ups Paul Provenza and Troy Conrad. The first edition features Frank Skinner, Richard Herring and TJ Miller.
Friday 6 December
Friday night is comedy night on the Beeb, as usual. Actress, director and national treasure Kathy Burke chairs tonight's episode of Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1. With actor and comedian Miles Jupp - he's funny - and Tory MP Tim Loughton making up the teams while Ian Hislop and Paul Merton have a reet good laugh and that at the expense of this week's news-makers. That's immediately followed by Live At The Apollo - 9:30 - as Sean Lock hosts an evening of stand-up at the Apollo Hammersmith, treating the audience to his own brand of humour before introducing routines by grumpy stand-up Romesh Ranganathan and Marcus Brigstocke. Then, on BBC2 - 10:00 - there's Qi. The divine Victoria Coren Mitchell, the also divine Sue Perkins and the Reverend Richard Coles (not divine, but considerably closer The Almighty than most us) join regular panellist Alan Davies on the comedy quiz. Stephen Fry his very self asks a range of fiendish questions on the topic of Knights And Knaves, with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct.
Fugitive Anslo Garrick has the FBI agents at his mercy in the second of a two-part The Blacklist - 9:00 Sky Living. While Red bargains with his captor to spare Ressler's life, it dawns on the ex-con that the only way to satisfy Anslo's appetite is to sacrifice himself. Elsewhere, Liz tries to disable the signal jammers cutting off contact with the outside world. Tom grows increasingly anxious about his wife's safety, and then the hold-up takes a startling turn.

Returning, sadly, to Doctor Who Live: The Afterbirth, for fans, the BBC's offerings on Saturday went from the sublime to the apocalypticly risible and dreadful. While The Day Of The Doctor has won stellar praise from pretty much everyone - that arsehole Jim Shelley in the Daily Scum Mail notwithstanding - BBC3's follow-up fiasco, rapidly spun into a black hole on nightmarish horror from which there was no escape (except via the remote control, of course). Zoe Ball (celebrating her own birthday, apparently) managed to be as thoroughly vacant and worthless as usual as she talked to a string of former Doctor Who companions. Her co-host, Rick Edwards (no, me neither), appeared increasingly bemused by the whole thing and flitted about aimlessly, lingering like a fart in a spacesuit. Matt Smith was typically amusing in his interview with Ball and Steven Moffat, interviewed alongside Smudger, Jenna Coleman and John Hurt, was on epic spiky form, yet again attacking Michael Grade - by name - for 'resting' the show in 1985. But then things started to go badly wrong. For some reason (to attract a younger audience, one imagines?), the producers of this disaster had decided to shoehorn One Direction into the show, live via satellite link from Los Angeles. Ball introduced two One Directioners - a popular beat combo, apparently - Louis and Niall. The Moff actually appeared to cringe as the boys appeared on screen, while Smith looked like he was flicking a V-sign at them. One couldn't blame him. To make things worse, the sound on the link was about fifteen seconds out of sync, making any sort of relaxed and interactive conversation impossible. Alleged Doctor Who 'fans' Louis and Niall read their questions from a cue card like a five year old on his first day at school, including gems such as 'how epic does it feel to have such a big episode?' Pretty epic, Louis. On a scale of one-to-five in terms of 'epicness' with one being 'not very epic at all' and five being, like, 'rilly very epic, a lot', we at From The North reckon it was probably a six. Smudger artfully fielded the question, managing not to have a look of disdain on his boat at any point, after which Ball dribbled 'It's incredible what we can do with television these days, but we can't get rid of a delay to LA.' At which point poor Steven Moffat had his head in his hands. We were right there with you, Steven. Trying to talk over a wall of delayed dialogue, Ball concluded: 'Get them to tweet you, it might be easier. One Direction, everybody. That went brilliantly.' 'I think we've redefined live link-up,' said Moffat dryly. From there, it could only go downhill (and, indeed, it did), with other low points including 'tributes' to Doctor Who from 'noted fans' Gary Lineker, Richard Madeley and the Strictly judges. The finale was an out-of-tune sing-along of 'Happy Birthday' from the studio guests. Christ, it was awful, dear blog reader, I mean rotten. Please, BBC, never, ever do that again.

Did anyone else, I wonder, notice that during the BBC's coverage of the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday, they caught a brief part of a ceremony which the organisers had put on to commemorate Mark Webber's final race before his retirement from F1 (he will join Porsche's assault on endurance racing, and particularly the Le Mans twenty four hour race, next season)? In the background a version of the popular Australian ballad 'Waltzing Matilda' was being played in tribute to the popular Australian racing driver. It was Rolf Harris's version. Almost certainly the only time you'll be hearing any of Rolf's tunes pretty much anywhere on telly until the outcome of his forthcoming appearance at Southwark Crown Court in January where he will face nine counts of indecent assault and four counts of making indecent images of children. Rolf, of course, denies the charges.

Here's the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which I'm sure you'll agree, dear blog reader, is remarkably appropriate.