Sunday, November 03, 2013

Week Forty Six: They Work So Hard And They Try To Be Strong

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat was in the 'enviable position' of knowing who the new Doctor would be – it was, after all, his own choice to cast yer actual Peter Capaldi – but that didn't mean the public speculation on the role entirely passed The Moffinator by. 'If I hear people on the radio talking about Doctor Who, I perk up. When they were speculating about the new Doctor, I found myself getting drawn into the rumours even though I knew it was my job to cast him,' Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before he) told Broadcast magazine. One trusts Steven was listening to BBC Newcastle when yer actual Keith Telly Topping confidently predicted that the next Doctor would probably be someone in their thirties, not particularly well-known to the general public and, possibly, non Caucasian. And, laughing his knob off! 'It is as great a job as my eight-year-old self thought it was – and as huge,' said the Doctor Who showrunner of his dream role, adding that the key to success is a combination of experience and the 'rawness' of the newcomer. 'On any series you start out raw, then you become an expert and you get slicker – but before it gets too polished, you've got to remember to keep enough rawness so you're not just churning them out,' he said.

Meanwhile, that bastion of always accurate reportage the Scottish Scum Express has claimed that Capaldi could see his role as the Time Lord 'finished after just thirteen shows.' 'The dramatic handover from Matt Smith, thirty one, will be seen in this year's festive special which will be one of the highlights of Christmas Day TV. After that Capaldi, fifty five, will star in two series of six episodes each before waving goodbye to the Time Lord - or signing a new deal depending on how popular he has been.' And, this is different to the situation of every actor who's played the part how, exactly? The piece also managed to misspell 'Steven' as 'Stephen'. And to claim that the forthcoming Doctor Who anniversary is the show's thirtieth rather than fiftieth. So, well done to one Gavin Docherty, apparently, for a new contender for the shittiest piece of criminally inept cut-and-paste crap masquerading as 'news' yet. Here's an idea, Gav, next time stick to you usual 'exclusives' about Susan Boyle. As one commentator noted: 'This is a badly researched piece cobbled together from different sources. You'll be getting hell for this from certain people. And the "best entrance to the TARDIS ever" quote refers to the fiftieth episode, not Capaldi's first episode. Read the interview again. Can't believe you get paid for such shoddy work.' You said it, pal.

Sacha Dhawan who plays Waris Hussein, director of the first Doctor Who serial An Unearthly Child, in Mark Gatiss's forthcoming drama about the birth and early years of the show, says that Hussein became 'quite emotional' while watching a screening of An Adventure In Space And Time. 'Waris started welling up and getting quite moved by it,' said Dhawan, who explained he made the most of getting to know the man he is portraying. 'He is quite a specific character and I wanted to make sure that I played him as truthfully as possible,' said Dhawan. 'He has a particular way of speaking as well, which I really wanted to hone in on.' When Hussein arrived at the BBC in 1963 to work on Doctor Who, it was as the Corporation's first Indian-born director. 'There were definitely challenges for Waris at the time,' said Dhawan. 'But, I think in the longer term it made him a better director. And I think Doctor Who was one of those projects that gave him immense confidence.' Despite the strange situation the pair found themselves in during the filming of An Adventure In Space and Time, Dhawan said he and Hussein got on immediately. 'We were a bit kind of weird with each other; we were both studying, looking at one another. He was looking at me thinking "You're watching everything I'm doing aren't you?" But, we hit it off straight away.' Dhawan said that he had even tweaked his musical tastes to get into the mood for the role: 'I listened to loads of Sixties music on the way to work, to get a certain kind of swagger.' The one-off drama for the BBC will explore the relationship between Hussein and the show's first producer, the legendary Verity Lambert (played by Call The Midwife's Jessica Raine), who formed a strong friendship during their time on set and went on to work on various projects together after Doctor Who. Of the end result, Sacha said: 'I think it appeals to those who aren't necessarily Doctor Who fans. I was very moved by the script, particularly William Hartnell's journey, which I relate to as an actor myself.'
Die hard Doctor Who fans who readily admit to 'worshipping' the show may well have sympathy for recent claims that the long-running popular BBC family SF drama has 'aided our cultural understanding of religion.' Doctor Andrew Crome, a lecturer in the History of Modern Christianity at the University of Manchester, and who is, obviously, not a complete mental nor nothing, claimed that Doctor Who has given viewers 'a much wider understanding of many religious traditions' during its fifty-year history – and even recommends that it be used to help teach Religious Studies in schools. 'In many ways, Doctor Who charts British attitudes to religion over the course of those 50 years,' suggests Crome. 'Over the show's long history on television – and in various spin-off TV shows, audio adventures, novels and comic books – religion and religious themes have consistently been a subject of interest. The show has attracted everything from Church of England conferences dedicated to its use in preaching, to guest appearances by Richard Dawkins.' Crome, himself a Doctor Who fan, is co-editor of a new book, Time and Relative Dimensions in Faith, examining the relationship between Doctor Who and religion. And so convinced is he that the series has valuable things to say about the subject, he believes it could be made part of the educational curriculum. 'Religion has always had some role within the universes of Doctor Who and I would argue there is a good case for using Doctor Who to teach Religious Studies' said Crome. Crome has identified 'numerous examples' of the appearance of religion and religious allegories in Doctor Who but says the 'exact focus' has 'varied' throughout the years. 'There's no single theme: in the 1970s, you might argue there was subversive element in that a number of Doctor Who episodes were critical of religion. But other episodes have endorsed different beliefs in that believers see the show as a way to define themselves.' Barry Letts, the influential director and producer on Doctor Who between 1967 and 1973, was a Buddhist who regularly referred to his religion through the show – perhaps most notably during the 1974 story Planet of The Spiders in which Jon Pertwee regenerates into Tom Baker with the help of Tibetan Buddhist monk. The Doctor's original enemies The Daleks have been depicted as religious fundamentalists according to Crome, while The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat is said to have shown the Church of England as 'a paramilitary Christian' group. The 2007 Christmas Special Voyage Of The Damned caused some Christian groups to whinge about overt messianic imagery, while Gridlock was viewed by others as 'a Christian allegory', and nominated for an Evangelical award in the US.
Around five hundred tickets have been snapped up for a special South East Today screening of the first Doctor Who episode, An Unearthly Child. The regional BBC programme is holding the event in the Kent coastal town of Herne Bay - where the popular long-running family SF drama's first scriptwriter, Anthony Coburn, lived and worked - in late November to mark the drama's fiftieth anniversary. Coburn, who died in 1977, was born in Australia but his widow and daughter still live in Herne Bay. Coincidentally, South East Today producer Stuart Maisner, who is helping to arrange the screening, was inspired to become a journalist at the age of six because of The Doctor's then companion, Sarah Jane Smith, played by the late actress Elisabeth Sladen. 'I have been a Doctor Who fan since I was tiny and my first childhood memory of anything was when Jon Pertwee joined in 1970,' he said. About nineteen years later, he conducted his first BBC interview with Pertwee while working at Radio 1's Newsbeat and watched Sylvester McCoy's last recordings from the second floor observation gallery at Television Centre. 'I've also named my first child Jamie after Frazer Hines' companion and we once had a three-legged rabbit called Turlough,' he added. Before the original series was put of hiatus by the BBC in 1989, Doctor Who filmed in Kent and Sussex on over twenty occasions and the show's actors have spoken about their memories to South East Today for the fiftieth anniversary.

Since he called time on his stint as a Time Lord, the former Doctor Who star yer actual David Tennant has certainly been busy. He's played some of Shakespeare's most famous characters on stage, and this year he also starred in the acclaimed TV drama Broadchurch. Now he's teamed up with the BAFTA winning writer behind [spooks] to play a barrister in the legal thriller The Escape Artist. David and writer David Wolstencroft joined BBC Breakfast to talk about the programme but before they did, there was a small matter of David Tennant's hair style that needed discussing. In a slightly camp and coquettish way, admittedly.
Strictly Come Dancing overnight ratings hit a series high on Saturday. The BBC1 dance competition continued its successful eleventh series with ten million viewers and a forty four per cent audience share, peaking at 11.1m. The X Factor was in second place again, with 7.65m tuning-in from 8pm. Back on BBC1, Atlantis attracted 4.46m from 8.15pm, while Casualty followed with 4.18m. A Dad's Army repeat on BBC2 had 1.35m at 8.30pm, followed by Live From The National Theatre: Fifty Years on Stage with nine hundred and forty seven thousand punters. On ITV, Fool Britannia had 2.11m from 6.30pm, followed by The Chase: Celebrity Special at 7pm with 3.5m. The Jonathan Ross Show attracted 3.19m at 9.50pm. On Channel Four, the network premiere of The Eagle appealed to 1.41m viewers, with a Grand Designs repeat which preceded it securing an audience of eight hundred and thirty thousand viewers. On Channel Five, the 2002 movie Collateral Damage had four hundred and forty four thousand from 9pm, followed by Alien Hunter at 11.15pm with four hundred and nineteen thousand.

BBC1 maintained its Friday night ratings grip outside of soaps, with Have I Got News For You and The Graham Norton Show securing more than a fifth of the available audience. This week's episode of topical panel show featured Kirsty Young as guest host, alongside Ian Hislop, Paul Merton, and guests Max Keiser and the excellent (if totally weird) Tony Law. The 9pm show - the best episode in several weeks - brought in 4.49 million viewers, with an audience share of just over twenty per cent.
It also provided saucy Kirst her very self with the TV comedy line of the week: 'Justice Saunders warned jurors not to go online "and read blogs by actors" ... or Hugh Grant.' Elsewhere, Citizen Khan attracted 2.86m viewers at 9.30pm. The Graham Norton Show returned BBC1 to the top of the ratings pile with 3.59m viewers - a twenty six per cent audience share. Risible, odious, oily twat Piers Morgan's Life Stories, with Riverdance chap Michael Flatley, attracted an audience of 3.82m to ITV. However, the channel's Friday night film, Closer, only pulled in six hundred and ten thousand viewers. Channel Four's Friday night comedy line-up continued to see a sharp decline in viewers week-on-week, with less than a million tuning in between 9pm and 10pm. Eight Out Of Ten Cats was watched by nine hundred thousand. Man Down attracted an audience of eight hundred thousand and Alan Carr: Chatty Man was seen by 1.17m who tuned-in to see Thor: The Dark World star Tom Hiddleston join Joan Collins, risible unfunny buffoon James Corden and Tinie Tempah (no, me neither) on the show. BBC2's nature-focused line-up performed well, with the channel's biggest audience tuning in for Gardeners World (2.5m). Autumnwatch attracted 2.23m. Later, Qi pulled in an audience of 1.92m at 10pm for an excellent episode featuring Danny Baker and Marcus Brigstocke (whom yer actual KTT used to think was a bit of an arsehole but, actually, now quite enjoys - just goes to show, everybody deserves one chance at redemption. Except, possibly, risible odious oily twat Piers Morgan). Channel Five saw an average audience of eight hundred and forty three thousand for countdown show Britain's Funniest Comedy Characters.Which was about as interesting as a growth on the bell-end. On BBC3 Orphan Black finished its first run with a double bill, drawing in two hundred and twelve thousand and two hundred and nineteen thousand punters respectively. The evening's most successful multichannel show was ITV3's 8pm repeat of A Touch of Frost, which saw four hundred and eighty two thousand tuning-in.
There was one other - truly outstanding - moment on Friday's Have I Got News For You when Ian Hislop noted in relation to the setting up last week of a Royal Charter into press regulation: 'It wasn't a good week because the chairman of the Conservative party said that if the BBC had any more perceived bias then it may well have its licence fee cut. And the BBC, of course, is set up by Royal Charter. And is independent. And, therefore, would never be interfered with by, say, the Chairman of the Conservative Party threatening to cut its licence.' Then he turned to the audience and added, 'just an argument [for you] to take home!' Top man, Ian Hislop.
Another topic which, inevitably, occupied much of this Have I Got News For You episode's time was the phone-hacking trial. And, especially, the judges comments regarding that Hislop-edited Private Eye cover. Which brings us nicely to ...
Hacking the phones of royal staff led the Scum of the World to run a story that Prince Harry had been a naughty boy and broken the rules at Sandhurst by asking an aide for help with an essay, the jury in the phone-hacking trial was told on Friday. Clive Goodman, the former Scum of the World royal editor, told the paper's then-editor, Andy Coulson, that Harry had asked his private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, a former soldier, for help on an essay about the Iranian embassy siege while studying at the military training academy. Andrew Edis QC, leading the prosecution, said that Lowther-Pinkerton's voicemail messages had been hacked by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator working for the disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid, shut in shame and ignominy in 2011. One message was from Harry asking the aide if he 'had any information at all' about the 1980 siege, 'because I need to write an essay quite quickly on that but I need some extra info. Please, please e-mail it to me or text me.' The court heard that Goodman was seeking 'a response' from Clarence House on the allegations, but did not want to be 'too precise' and mention the embassy siege because it might might expose his source. When Clarence House told Goodman it was not against the rules for cadets to seek advice on websites and books, Goodman and Coulson exchanged e-mails on 5 December 2005. Edis read aloud the e-mails in court: 'What's happening on your story?' Goodman was asked. he replied: 'Just finished the calls. Need to go through the tapes … as we know that's not exactly what he asked for but I couldn't press forward on that without exposing the source. As we know Harry wasn't only asking for websites. He was asking for information which is a different thing altogether.' Edis said: 'It means that if they say that what he was asking about was information about the Iranian embassy siege, everyone would know that they hacked his voicemail.' Other royal stories obtained through hacking included one about Prince William being shot during a night exercise at Aldershot, Edis said. On another occasion, in April 2006, Coulson e-mailed Goodman about a story concerning Harry and a woman, asking: 'How do we know [the Harry story is] true?' Goodman replied that it was from 'the same source we had on a retainer.' The e-mail read: 'We absolutely know it to be true, but I have to blag a confession out of Paddy [Harverson, Clarence House Public Relations officer] tomorrow. That might not be too difficult because I know from the info that his worst nightmare is that this woman is so upset she'll start making a fuss.' It continued: 'We can't get to her ourselves because there's no full name, no address. But Paddy doesn't know that and will hopefully walk straight into the snare.' Scum of the World's news editor Ian Edmondson that a story about William had come 'from William himself.' When asked to explain, Goodman wrote back: 'Not on e-mail.' Edis said Goodman and Coulson 'knew what was going on. These are really quite explicit e-mails. Although they are not as explicit as they might be.' They were being 'careful and guarded', he told the jury. 'They are being as careful as they can be but the truth, I'm afraid, is still there to be seen despite that. That's what we suggest.' The trial continues. And will do for months.

Meanwhile, that well-known organ of completely accurate and truthful reportage, the Sun, has admitted that a story it carried recently, concerning six hundred thousand - alleged - benefit tourists was entirely false. The correction, however, was quite small. So, here's a blown up version which you can actually read.
And, on that bombshell, here's yer Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 9 November
Bruce Forsyth takes a break from presenting duties on Strictly Come Dancing - 6:30 BBC1 - leaving the dance floor clear for Claudia Whatsherface to 'help' Tess Daly introduce the remaining ten couples. Claudia has had some stick from viewers in previous years by all accounts but, when she stood in for a flu-felled Brucie earlier this series, Twitter was awash with positive comments describing her as 'breath of fresh air' and 'a natural presenter.' And, of course, as we all know, Twitter is The Final Arbiter of the Worth of All Things. At least according to some middle-class wankers in the Gruniad Morning Star. So ... It;s also possible to detect something of a change in many viewers' attitudes towards Craig Revel Horwood, who is definitely less waspish since his hip operation. After the horrors of the Hallow'een-themed show last week, we have a less scary edition tonight – although, if Dave Myers is still in the competition then there's probably plenty to be frightened about. But, apart from the change in presenter (and the obvious lack of Brucie's rank rotten jokes) it will be business as usual, with the celebrity dancers who upset the judges last week trying to do better - and hoping not to suffer the same fate as the eliminated couple - while those who have shown early promise aim to climb further up the leader board. And that.

The formula of the annual The Royal British Legion Festival Of Remembrance - 9:15 BBC1 - to honour British servicemen and women who have died serving their country doesn't really change and, it doesn't need to. Yet it is still one of the most moving ceremonies on television anywhere in the world. A combination of performance, spectacle and religious service, it is a celebration of the camaraderie of the forces as well as a poignant reminder of the victims of conflict. Among those performing at the Royal Albert Hall in front of the Queen this year are James Blunt (haven't these people suffered enough already without having that inflicted on them?), Alfie Boe and Britain's Got Talent's Jonathan and Charlotte. Which, one is sure, will delight those veterans filling the Royal Albert Hall. The Poppy Girls, five youngsters whose fathers are serving abroad in the armed forces and who were picked after an X Factor-style competition, will perform the official Poppy Appeal single, 'The Call (No Need To Say Goodbye)'. The evening ends, as always, with a two-minute silence and the falling of one million poppy petals, each one representing a life lost. Tomorrow, at 10.25am, BBC1 broadcasts the actual Service of Remembrance live from the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

When Boardwalk Empire - 9:00 Sky Atlantic - is on the kind of form its displaying at the moment, there's nothing remotely like it on television. On the face of it, the plot doesn't really march forward all that much, but deep down, tectonic plates are shifting. In tonight's episode, as usual, get a series of the most beautifully realised snapshots of 1920s America – at a college frat house, a Tampa hotel, a Harlem racketeer's headquarters and the Midwestern farm of war veteran Richard and his pregnant sister. Each one is like a sepia short story on its own right. Best of all we get more of Doctor Valentin Narcisse (the excellent Jeffrey Wright). 'Like all races,' he notes at one point, 'the Libyan race will be saved by exceptional men.' And, although he's certainly exceptional (he talks down to Arnold Rothstein, for a kick-off), Narcisse's chosen route isn't an easy one: We're talking heroin, forty odd years before Lou Reed attempted to make it cool. Nucky is in Florida on business and is reluctant to invest in a Tampa land deal engineered by bootlegger Bill McCoy, but changes his mind after bonding with speakeasy owner, Sally Wheet. Back in Atlantic City, Chalky White is smitten with beautiful jazz singer, Daughter Maitland, after Narcisse books her to perform at the Onyx Club and Gillian agrees to pose as Phillips' wife to impress a potential partner. Guest starring Patricia Arquette.

Sunday 10 November
For some reason tonight features a repeat of last Friday's - thirty minute - Qi episode and not the usual XL extended version - 10:00 BBC2. No one seems to know why. Anyway, never mind, let's celebrate what we've got rather than get annoyed about what we haven't. For an episode entitled Keeps, yer actual Stephen Fry his very national icon self introduces a one-off round called Keep Still or Scarper, turning on whether it's safer to run away or freeze when confronted with particular wild animals. Stephen's demonstration of how to proceed if you bump into, for example, a pack of wolves (roaring like an angry Victorian gentleman, basically) makes you long to see the confrontation for real. So long as, of course, Stephen is thoroughly armed (with a brick in a handbag, say). Elsewhere, there are insights into whether ants can hold their drink, the smile of a bowhead whale and a dispute between Stephen and Bill Bailey about Welsh accents. Also adding to the fun – Wor Geet Canny Sarah Millican and Jason Manford along with regular Alan Davies.

Remembrance Sunday is a fitting time for John Bridcut to investigate the changing shape of the requiem in the imaginatively titled Requiem - 9:00 BBC4. It all starts with Dies Irae, the Thirteenth Century poem which, as part of the requiem mass, describes the day of judgement in dark and terrifying terms. Once simply sung, it became the basis of moments of musical high drama; Verdi's big, banging requiem tilts almost into operatic territory. As commentary from conductor Edward Gardner, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the late Sir Colin Davis explains, these pieces often have a purpose beyond marking loss and grief. Some tell us huge amounts about the composer, some have political intent and, perhaps most powerfully, some evoke the horrors of war. Conducted by Gardner, the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales deliver spine-tingling performances.

Last week, yer actual Richard Hammond only went and created a CGI planet in Richard Hammond Builds A Universe - 9:00 BBC1. Tonight, he goes one stage further, standing at the top of his high tower and opening his cosmic toolbox to piece together a universe. There'll be scientists on hand to explain how it all fits together - and reveal how the entire cosmos impacts on the Earth - as well as experiments to back up the theories and eye-popping graphics to show how it all comes together.
A botched mummification led to the embalmed body of ancient Egypt's most famous Pharaoh spontaneously combusting inside his sarcophagus, according to new evidence to be revealed in a Channel Four documentary tonight. Tutankhamun: The Mystery Of The Burnt Mummy - 8:00 - returns to the files of Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered the treasure trove of the boy-king's tomb in 1922, prompting new analysis that shows how a chemical reaction between the embalming fluids caused the mummy to burn while sealed inside its coffin. As well as revealing that Tutankhamun’s mummification was rushed and, therefore, incorrectly carried out, the new work by Egyptologist Doctor Chris Nauton also helps explain exactly how he died, something which has been speculated upon for decades. Nauton enlisted the help of car crash investigators to run software simulations that lend support to the theory that Tutankhamun was killed in a chariot accident while leading an army into battle and that the Pharaoh was, in fact, a teenage warrior king. 'Despite all the attention Tut's mummy has received over the years the full extent of its strange condition has largely been overlooked,' said Nauton. 'The charring and possibility that a botched mummification led the body spontaneously combusting shortly after burial was entirely unexpected, something of a revelation in fact. I think what the project shows is that when it comes to ancient material there is always more to learn, and there probably will in the future, but with this study we have taken a big step forward in terms of understanding what happened at the end of Tut's life.' The tomb of Tutankhamun was excavated by Carter in 1922, unearthing the most intact Ancient Egyptian royal burial ever discovered and a cache of breathtaking treasures including the king's famous golden death mask. The discovery sparked a worldwide fascination with 'King Tut' which led to popular songs and tales of a curse said to have claimed the lives of several of those connected to the dig, including Carter's sponsor Lord Carnarvon.

Monday 11 November
'Mistreated by men, ignored, dismissed, used for carnal pursuits, dispossessed: The ill-used women of this city could number an army,' suggests Jane Cobden (Leanne Best), who is determined to improve the lot of The Sisterhood and becomes the first woman appointed to London County Council in the latest episode of Ripper Street - 9:00 BBC1. But Detective Inspector Reid isn't looking for an army, just a gang of angry females who've been pure dead naughty so they have and only been and gone and abducted a politician, a lawyer and a factory owner (all men, obviously). Unfortunately, Long Susan (MyAnna Buring) inadvertently gets caught up in their sinister myopic plot, much to Jackson's inevitable discombobulation. However, she gradually grows sympathetic to their cause until she, too, becomes indignant and radicalised by the injustice of the fact that men rule her life. Although the streets of Victorian Whitechapel are as grimy and squalid as ever, some nice frocks bring a splash of colour to proceedings while the music hall version of a 'Jack the Ripper' song is wonderfully gaudy. Ignore the occasional dialogue anachronism (last week's unforgivable reference to 'reverse engineering' for example) and just enjoy the sheer energy of it. And Matthew Macfadyen's hilarious mutton chops, obviously.
With its medieval halls, historical artefacts and spectacular views over the North Sea and Cheviot Hills, Bamburgh Castle is an extraordinary place to live. And, as this is where Chris Calvert and his family call home, it gives wor geet canny Robson Green the chance to joke about an Englishman's home being his, if you will, castle in the latest Tales From Northumberland With Wor Geet Canny Robson Green - 8:00 ITV. This goes down better than his attempts to communicate with seals: 'I think something's got lost in translation,' he grimaces. He also meets the country's youngest coastguard, twenty-year-old Ryan Douglas, who helps tourists stranded by incoming tides as they cross over to Lindisfarne.
Climbing Everest With A Mountain On My Back: The Sherpa's Story - 9:00 BBC4 - gives an insight into the Sherpa community, focusing on the lives of mountain guides Phurba, Ngima, Ngima Tenji and Gelu, who reveal the reality of their daily lives with their families after they return home from climbing expeditions, where their feats have become the stuff of legend. Generally secretive about their nation, culture and customs, this film provides a glimpse into the real heroes of Mount Everest.

Tuesday 12 November
Will Burton (yer actual David Tennant his very self) is in a right old pickle in the final episode of The Escape Artist - 9:00 BBC1. His wife has been murdered by the serial killer Liam Foyle, apparently because Will refused to shake his hand after he'd just got him off a murder charge. Now Will, his family life and career in tatters, decides to seek his own, very personal kind of bloody extracurricular vengeance. It's the final episode of a potentially fascinating but frequently infuriatingly illogical, self-important, muddled and implausible drama; why would Burton's wife return alone, apart from her small son, to their remote, dark cottage after she'd just been scared witless by a madman staring at her through the window as she took a bath? Did Foyle break into barrister Maggie Gardner's flat? And, there are some proper bizarre elements of this episode which simply don't stand scrutiny. Still, the ending has some clever little moments, and Tennant, as usual, has been brilliant throughout. With Sophie Okonedo, Toby Kebbell, Ashley Jensen and Tony Gardner.

That Dominic Sandbrook charts the effect on the UK of the global superpower stand-off after the end of the Second World War, firstly by considering the impact of a newly divided world on the nation in the opening episode of Strange Days: Cold War Britain - 9:00 BBC1. The historian traces the collapse of the wartime alliance by examining Winston Churchill's infamous 'Iron Curtain' speech and the hugely popular 1945 tour of Great Britain by Dynamo Moscow, the Soviet Unions's leading football team. He also investigates the influence on literature and cinema of the time and explores the scandal of the Cambridge spy ring. The high tension of the Cold War – part peace and prosperity, part constant fear of nuclear annihilation – gave rise to some very odd occurrences. Dominic is good at telling his audience strange tales with lots of connections and side cul-de-sacs (as his last series, The 70s, proved even if it was, occasionally, a bit an excuse to sting a load of cool archive clips together). The first of his three-part Cold War series, however, feels like a rather rudderless collection of grainy footage. There's a lot of jumping around, but the loose theme is about the West's response to Soviet Communism. In the early years, this took the form of everything from George Orwell's sickbed list of 'untrustworthy persons' to the formation of the welfare state, designed in part, Sandbrook claims, to offer 'all the benefits of Communism with none of the terror.' The avoidance of too much well-trodden ground, along with a rollicking period soundtrack, enlivens a chilly subject.

Hang out the flags, dear blog reader, yer actual Hebburn is back - 10:00 BBC2. Jason Cook and Graham Duff's comedy is the best sitcom produced by British TV since Ideal ended. Last year The Times snooty arsehole of a critic, Andrew Bilton, described Hebburn as 'a place where comedy comes to die' which highlights two things; firstly that Bilton is a humourless Murdoch-hack scumbag shite who doesn't know his arse from a hole in the ground and secondly how badly we need more regional (specifically Northern) comedy to counter such ignorant middle-class London-centric bollocks as this. It's good to be back in the South Tyneside town again, with the chaotic, rambling and well-meaning Geordie family nestled in its warm heart. Young married couple Jack and Sarah (the excellent Chris Ramsey and Kimberley Nixon) are still unwilling lodgers with Jack's parents Pauline and Joe (the superb Gina McKee and Vic Reeves). But, Sarah's nesting instinct is overpowering now that she's pregnant, hormonal and desperate for a home of her own. Jack, meanwhile, is editing the hopeless local newspaper (Dog Burns Down Factory) and Jack's mother, the magnificently passive/aggressive Dot (Pat Dunn) is still hurling barbs at Pauline. There are some great satellite characters - deluded wannabe pop-star Gervaise and brassy care home worker Denise for example – and you'll find plenty to be amused by in a wry and gentle way. The Pearsons deal with the aftermath of dad Joe's stroke, with Pauline going back to work as an estate agent. Jack and Sarah have a baby on the way and need to find a place to live, while Vicki is inspired to make a better life for herself and Dot is looking for a way out of her retirement home. Keep your eyes open for a brief cameo by the terrific Toby Hadoke as a priest.

Wednesday 13 November
The four chefs from Monday's heat who have yet to face their skills test are challenged by sour-faced baby-eater Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace to prepare potato gnocchi and serve it with a garnish or sauce of their choice in MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:00 BBC2. Then, when one of them has been banished to the wilderness for not doing it right, the remaining quivering wrecks recreate Michel Roux Jr's dish of roast John Dory with artichoke barigoule, as well as a classic dish of their own choosing, before Monica and Michel decide which three contestants will advance to the quarter-final. And which ones haven't, obviously.

David Suchet takes on his final case as the Belgian sleuth in the last-ever episode of the long-running drama Agatha Christie's Poirot - 8:00 ITV. Hercule Poirot is old, arthritic and infirm. Huddled in a wheelchair, a blanket covering his legs, he looks a sad, diminished little figure. But, the little grey cells in his mind still tick with inexorable efficiency as he solves his very last mystery and we say au revoir both to him and to Suchet. Poirot and his old friend Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser) meet for the last time at the site of their first mystery, Styles, now a shabby guest house run by a warring couple. The other residents are a glum, troubled bunch and Poirot is convinced that one of them will be murdered, though he doesn't know the identity of killer or, indeed, the victim. It's a grim, claustrophobic, funereal story, but it's a fitting end for the wily detective as we see him at the height of his powers. With Anne Reid, Philip Glenister, silly little Helen Baxendale, Matthew McNulty, Anna Madeley and Shaun Dingwall. Curtain is followed by a documentary, Being Poirot, where Suchet explores Agatha Christie’s enduring creation.

Nothing ages faster than a haircut, they reckon. We look aghast at old pictures of ourselves, peering out from a teetering coiffure. Did we really think that looked good? In yer actual Keith Telly Topping's case, dead blog reader, it was his almost-but-not-quite-a-mullet phrase. He's not proud of it. Meanwhile, your faux-hawk with silver-grey highlights moves off-trend and into embarrassment. Bouffants, Beehives and Bobs: The Hairstyles That Shaped Britain - 9:00 BBC4 - is a rather fun documentary which gives a blow-by-blow history of the British haircut, from the beehive to the Beckham. There are some great salon characters, including Raymond 'Mister Teasy Weasy' who offered champagne rinses during wartime and Wizz Jones who campaigned for men's right to long hair. The suffering people are willing to endure is impressive, from intense heat to home made hairspray. But then, hair is important. This argues that haircuts are evidence of shifting social attitudes. The various styles and cuts perhaps get a little monotonous, but that's just, if you will, splitting hairs.

Thursday 14 November
In The Science of Doctor Who - 9:00 BBC2 - yer actual Professor Brian Cox takes an audience at the Royal Institution of Great Britain's lecture hall on a journey into the universe of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama Doctor Who, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this month. You might have noticed, dear blog reader. Foxy Coxy his very self reveals the science behind the show and explains the physics that allows The Doctor to travel through space and time, and also looks at evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial life. Featuring an appearance by yer actual Matt Smith.
Peter Powell presents a vintage edition of Top Of The Pops - 7:30 BBC4 - from 30 November 1978, with performances by The Rezillos, Boney M, Elton John, Heatwave, Buzzcocks, Leo Sayer, Blondie, The Barron Knights, Darts, Mankind (performing, of course, 'Dr Who') and Rod Stewart. Plus, dance sequences by Legs & Co.

Friday 15 November
Terry Wogan and Tess Daly present another bumper evening of fundraising fun in Chilidren In Need - BBC1 7:30 till late - which sees a massive line-up of stars singing, dancing or acting plain daft in support of disadvantaged children across the UK. The fun (it says here) kicks off with the cast of West End smash Matilda singing a medley of songs from the show, boy band JLS performing some of their greatest hits in Albert Square and a treat for Doctor Who fans with an exclusive clip from the long-awaited fiftieth anniversary episode. If that's all you're waiting for, you can turn off at that point. Later, ice-skating type people Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean swap their skates for dance shoes to go head-to-head in this year's Strictly Challenge. One Direction make their first appearance of the night, Gary Barlow introduces a nationwide choir of fifteen hundred children united in song and Frank Skinner banishes more celebrities' pet hates in a special edition of Room 101. Terry is then joined by co-host Fearne Cotton as Harry Hill presents his own remake of a classic 1980s pop video - with a host of celebrity cameos - Albert Square also comes alive with dance, as EastEnders favourites 'demonstrate a multitude of styles', including the Charleston, Bollywood, urban, tango and ballroom. The ONE Show's witless squalling waste-of-oxygen Alex Jones and Team Rickshaw complete their week-long seven hundred-mile journey, the cast of Call The Midwife tackle a song-and-dance medley and Ellie Goulding performs the official Children In Need single, 'How Long Will I Love You'. Continues after the News and the National Lottery Update. Catherine Tate revives her Nan character in a special edition of Holby City which sees the feisty pensioner causing trouble on the wards. There's a boy-band collision as McFly are joined on stage by their old pals Busted (no, me neither) and Internet sensation Ylvis make their British TV debut with 'The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)' Monty Python's Flying Circus star Eric Idle introduces a performance by the cast of West End hit Spamalot before Nick Grimshaw partners Sir Terry for the final leg of the night, which includes a comedy lip-sync duel between Greg James and Russell Kane (very popular with students). Wet Wet Wet perform 'Love Is All Around' (bet that'll be worth waiting up half the night for) and the cast of The Commitments stage show perform 'a rip-roaring R'n'B medley' of songs from the show. Before the team winds down for the night, there will be the usual highlights from the evening, before they announce the final total. Last year a record over twenty six million smackers was raised - can this figure possibly be bettered? Times or items may change. And, probably will.

There's also Live International Football, England versus Chile (Kick-off 8.00pm). Odious greed bucket (and drag) Adrian Chiles presents ITV's - wretched, as usual - coverage of this evening's friendly match at Wembley Stadium, as both nations continue their preparations for the 2014 World Cup. Chile finished third in the South American qualifiers to progress to the finals in Brazil, but lost half of their eight away fixtures in the process. And Roy Hodgson will expect his in-form England side to continue where they left off against Montenegro and Poland. This is one of three scheduled friendlies lined-up for England, with Germany to follow on Tuesday and Denmark in March, as Hodgson looks to explore his options ahead of the tournament. Commentary by Clive Tyldesley and the ridiculous Andy Townsend.

Liz tires of her partnership with Red and after his efforts to incriminate Tom come to light, she severs all ties with him in The Blacklist - 9:00 Sky Living. The next case is that of a chemical explosion on a train, for which she has to seek out a guilty scientist by herself - but when she reaches a dead end, she finds herself going cap-in-hand back to the former fugitive, whose fascination with Liz causes great tension among the rest of the team. James Spader and Megan Boone star.

And so to the news: In the latest of From The North's recurring series, Examples of things that are, like, totally geet cush, and make the world a better place by their very existence, number seventeen: A girl in hot pants riding a chopper. The 1970s in a total nutshell there, ladies and gentlemen.
That's followed, as usual, by, Great Daft Moments From TV History. Today, number fifteen: There 'They say of the Acropolis Where the Parthenon is' routine from Qi.
As reported in a previous blog update, Paul Gambaccini has been arrested on suspicion of historical sexual offences as part of Scotland Yard's Operation Yewtree.
Gambaccini was held at his home in South London early on Tuesday morning and questioned in police custody, before being released on bail until January. A spokesman for Gambaccini said that he strenuously denied the allegations. The BBC said that the veteran broadcaster would not be presenting his usual Saturday Radio 2 show for the coming weeks. 'Paul Gambaccini has decided that, in light of today's media attention, he would rather not be on-air at present and we respect that decision,' a corporation spokesman said. 'Therefore, Paul will not be presenting on BBC Radio in coming weeks and replacement programmes for the period will be announced soon.' New York-born Gambaccini, who has a string of TV and radio shows and books to his name, presents music hits and classics from America on his show. He was due to present a thirty-minute documentary for Radio 4 about the music world's reaction to the assassination of President John F Kennedy, to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Kennedy's death. Gambaccini's spokesman said: 'Mr Gambaccini was interviewed by Operation Yewtree officers about historic allegations. He answered their questions and was co-operative. He denied all allegations.' Gambaccini is the fifteenth person to be held under Operation Yewtree, launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile fiasco. A sixteenth person, aged seventy four, who has not been named, was also arrested at a separate address in South London on Tuesday, and bailed until January. Operation Yewtree has been investigating historical sexual offences since claims of abuse were made against dirty old scallywag and rotter Savile, following his death in 2011. Gambaccini was arrested under the strand of the inquiry known as 'others'.

Robert Lindsay is to make his musical theatre comeback next year in a West End version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The Spys and My Family actor will play an urbane con-man plying his trade on the French Riviera - a role played in the 1988 film version by Sir Michael Caine. Rufus Hound will play his younger rival in the musical, which begins previews at London's Savoy theatre next March. Lindsay, sixty three, was last seen in a musical playing Fagin in Oliver!, a performance which won him an Olivier award in 1997. 'I have been waiting for the right musical to cross my path and feel like I have finally found it,' the former Citizen Smith star said. Hound will play Freddy Benson, the character Steve Martin played in the Frank Oz comedy, opposite Lindsay's Lawrence Jameson. The 1988 film was itself based on a 1964 movie called Bedtime Story, which starred David Niven and Marlon Brando in the leading roles. Lindsay and Hound will be joined on stage by Katherine Kingsley, who plays the millionaire soap heiress who comes between their characters. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will be directed and produced by Jerry Mitchell, winner of multiple Tonys for musicals including La Cage aux Folles, Legally Blonde and Kinky Boots. Known for his appearances in TV shows Celebrity Juice and Let's Dance for Sport Relief, Hound was recently seen in One Man, Two Guvnors in the West End. The thirty four-year-old promised his new show would be 'faithful enough for fans of the movie' and 'anchored in good, old-fashioned comedy.'

An Egyptian television station has refused to broadcast the latest episode of its star satirist's comedy series, after his show drew criticism for allegedly mocking the current fervour for Egypt's army. Which is, sort of, a satirist's job. CBC stopped the Friday night broadcast of Bassem Youssef's show just minutes before its 10pm airtime. Instead, a broadcaster read out a statement explaining that Youssef's production team was 'involved in a dispute' with the channel's board over 'contractual and content issues.' The channel did not give any further details. Earlier this week a CBC newscaster read a statement distancing the channel from Youssef's criticism of Egypt's widespread pro-army sentiment, censuring him for using 'phrases and innuendos that may lead to mocking national sentiment or symbols of the Egyptian state.' It came amid a bitter backlash against Youssef – from both the government and parts of the public. On Tuesday, prosecutors launched an investigation into the first episode of Youssef's new series, in which he controversially warned 'that fascism in the name of religion will be replaced by fascism in the name of patriotism and national security' – a clear criticism of the policies of Egypt's new army-backed government. A day later, army supporters held a protest outside the studio in central Cairo in which his second – and now cancelled – episode was being filmed. Bassem Youssef – known in the West as Egypt's Jon Stewart, after the American political satirist – rose to global prominence last year for lampooning Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president who was ousted in July. Then as now, his satire led to an official state investigation into his work. But whereas CBC stood by their star when he came under attack from the Morsi administration, six months later Youssef's channel appears unwilling to back his criticism of Morsi's successors. While the show was pulled by Youssef's employers, rather than the government, its removal will worry those who saw his show as a bellwether for free speech in post-Mubarak Egypt. There are currently few other anti-establishment voices in both private and state media, with media barons either solidly supportive of the current government, or too afraid to criticise it. Youssef flew to the United Arab Emirates on Friday morning, but it is understood that his trip is unrelated to the show's cancellation.

One of the jailed members of Pussy Riot and has vanished from sight since she was moved to a new prison ten days ago, reports from Russia claim. The husband of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova told a US news website that he had not received any news about his wife and her current location was being kept secret. Nadezhda had been on hunger strike at a penal colony in Mordovia. She and another band member were jailed over a protest they carried out in a Moscow cathedral. They were sentenced to two years' imprisonment after performing a protest song in February 2012. A third band member was released on appeal. Tolokonnikova has complained of abuses by the prison staff in Mordovia. Her husband said that he last knew her precise whereabouts on 21 October, when guards put her on a train en route to a different prison. She was seen on 24 October by a fellow passenger as the train arrived in the city of Chelyabinsk, in the Ural mountains. Her husband, Pyotr Verzilov, told the Buzzfeed website that he believed the decision to move his wife came from the authorities in Moscow: 'They want to cut her off from the outside world.' He said Tolokonnikova was still weak after two hunger strikes and accused the authorities of trying to punish her because of her protests. Pussy Riot's act was regarded as blasphemous by some Russians, but their disgraceful prosecution caused an international outcry. Mordovia, some two hundred and seventy five miles east of Moscow, has labour camps dating back to the notorious Gulag system set up by Joseph Stalin.

A rare solar eclipse allowing a view of the Sun that is totally or partially blocked by the Moon has taken place. It was first visible in the Southern United States, before sweeping East across the Atlantic and the African continent. NASA said the greatest total eclipse occurred over the Atlantic Ocean. One of the best views was in Northern Kenya, where tour companies organised trips to view a total blackout. Local myths there attribute the event to the Moon eating the Sun. Partial views were available in Eastern North America and parts of Southern Europe. This solar eclipse was a rare occurrence in that it was 'hybrid' - switching between an annular and total eclipse. In a total eclipse, the Moon completely covers the sun, while an annular eclipse occurs when the Moon is at its farthest from the Earth and does not block out the Sun completely, leaving a halo of sunlight (a corona) still visible around the Moon. The eclipse event began about one thousand kilometres East of Jacksonville, with an annular eclipse visible for four seconds at sunrise. As the Moon's shadow raced east the eclipse switched from annular to total along a narrow corridor. The greatest total eclipse occurred in the Atlantic, approximately three hundred kilometres South-West of Liberia, and lasted for more than a minute. The eclipse continued across Africa through the Congos until it passed through Northern Uganda and Northern Kenya, ending in Southern Ethiopia and Somalia. Either side, a partial eclipse was seen within a much broader path including eastern North America, Northern South America, Southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Never let it be said that the Hallow'een edition of BBC2's Newsnight was boring, after it ended with presenter Kirsty Wark joined by a bunch of zombies for an unlikely tribute to Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'. 'That just about all for this Hallow'een night,' said Kirst her very self. 'Be careful out there. Goodnight.' And then it all went a bit Night of the Living Dead. It was quite funny, actually, as previously mentioned on this blog. New editor Ian Katz, formerly the Gruniad's deputy editor, no stranger to getting his programme talked about on Twitter, enjoyed a mixed response from viewers. And, let us once again marvel at how Twitter is now, apparently, The Arbiter of the Worth of All Things, according to the Gruniad Morning Star. 'For a news programme that's embarrassing,' said one sour-faced Twatterer, or whatever it is that they're called, as if anybody actually gives a frigging knob-stroke about what this bell-end thinks. About anything. But Katz had the seal of approval from former BBC News executive Roger Mosey, now master of Selwyn College, Cambridge. 'I admire what Ian Katz has done to Newsnight,' tweeted Mosey. 'It's now talked about for the right reasons; and you need a dash of humour to end the day.' Wark's dance moves were to be admired (Daily Scum Mail alert: the zombies weren't wearing poppies) but one can't help wonder what it would have been like if Jezza Paxman had been in the presenter's chair. Channel Four News might argue they got there first, by quite some way, in the 'presenter doing a silly comedy dance stakes' with both Jon Snow ('The Harlem Shake') and Cathy Newman ('Gangnam Style') throwing a few shapes unsubtle of late. But then again, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise were getting news presenters to do it back in the 1970s.

French striking duo Yoan Gouffran and Loic Remy scored second-half goals to give yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though utterly unsellable) Magpies a well-deserved victory over in-form Moscow Chelski FC at St James' Park and sent the Premier League's only Russian club off back to Torpedo Stamford Bridge with their tails between their legs. And given that included John Terry, Ashley Cole and Christie Bleakley's bloke, trust me dear blog reader, that was a good thing. Moscow Chelski FC, on the back of six straight wins, edged the first-half as Terry hit the bar as easily as he once used to hit on his team-mates wives and then had another header cleared off the line. However, the Magpies dominated after the break and went ahead when Gouffran headed home Yohan Cabaye's pin-point free-kick. Victory was sealed when Remy curled in a shot from Vurnon Anita's pass shortly before the final whistle. And while it may still take some Newcastle supporters a bit of time to forget last weekend's calamitous defeat against local rivals relegation-haunted Blunderland at their Stadium of Plight, this result gives more promise of steady progression for United following their battling draw against Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and a victory at Cardiff which preceded that derby day defeat. This was a timely reminder that, for all of the animosity towards Newcastle's owner Mike Ashley, manager Alan Pardew does have a side who are capable of beating the best when they get it right and when they feel like it. It was a win that, for the time being at least, has given supporters depressed by Ashley's handling of their club (banning the local press for covering games because they dared to report criticism of him, no less), enormous pride in those who represent them in black and white stripes. The Toon's victory over Moscow Chelski FC, who started the day second in the Premier League, was built on a disciplined defensive display and a powerful second-half attacking performance which overwhelmed their below-par visitors. Moscow Chelski FC playmakers Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard were not given room to dictate play by United's hard-working midfield trio of Cabaye, Cheick Tioté and Moussa Sissoko, meaning that Fernando Torres was starved of the service. Newcastle kept their shape well, limiting Moscow Chelski FC to just two chances in a fairly subdued first-half - both of them from set-pieces. First Terry nipped in front of Mike Williamson to head Mata's corner against the bar before Davide Santon stooped to head the former England skipper's goal-bound header off the line. Moscow Chelski FC might have been dominating possession and pressing Newcastle back when they did lose the ball, but they lacked the penetration to break down their resolute hosts. It also served to offer Newcastle encouragement, and the home side gradually seized control after the break - Moscow Chelski keeper Petr Cech having to be alert to deny Sissoko and then Gouffran. The pressure finally told in the sixty eighth minute when Gouffran nipped in front of Branislav Ivanovic to head home Cabaye's pin-point free-kick. It appeared Alan Pardew had instructed Cabaye to put the free-kick where he did - although he played down the suggestion post-match - and the Newcastle manager was certainly getting the better of Mourinho in this particular tactical battle. Samuel Eto'o, Willian and Andre Schurrle were all introduced from the bench by the Moscow Chelski FC boss and Eto'o appealed for a penalty when his shot was deflected wide via Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa's hand although a penalty award would have been ridiculously harsh given that the French defender was lying on the ground at the time that Eto'o toe-ended the ball at him from about two feet away. Willian also had a shot well saved by Tim Krul while Eto'o's follow-up was blocked by Mathieu Debuchy. The game looked up for Moscow Chelski FC when Eden Hazard dragged a shot wide from twelve yards out and so it proved as Remy scored his sixth goal of the season via the inside of the post deep into injury time following good work by Anita and substitute Gabriel Obertan. It sealed a superb second-half performance by the hosts, who move up to ninth in the league, while Mourinho, who has never won at St James' Park, saw his side drop, briefly, to third. Mourinho did not hold back in his criticism, questioning his team's title credentials, their attitude and their heart. He was disgusted by the lack of energy and aggression, alarmed by the manner in which his side were out-played in the second-half and irritated by the mentality of players who failed to appreciate how tough games at places like St James' Park can be. 'I didn't like my team today,' he foamed. 'I made eleven mistakes in picking the team. That is how I feel at the moment. Of course this is an exaggeration, we had some players who had normal performances, but I feel as though I made a mistake.'

But, as usual with Newcastle, every time there's a good news story to report, there's also a PR fiasco waiting just around the corner. According to a press report, risible clown Joe Kinnear thought that he had spotted a special talent on a scouting trip to Birmingham – only to be told he was ­already a Newcastle player, according to Alan Oliver in the Sunday People. The - alleged - director of football reportedly 'raved' to City chiefs about midfielder Shane Ferguson during the club's Capital One Cup tie against Swansea in September. But, when he asked about signing him, Brum bosses thought that he was winding them up – because Ferguson is currently on loan at St Andrews from Newcastle until the end of the season. Newcastle 'chiefs' (whoever they are) and manager yer actual Alan Pardew, were said 'not to be aware' of Kinnear’s ludicrous blunder. An alleged City 'source' snitched to the Sunday People Sport: 'Ferguson had a particularly good game that night and Joe Kinnear told one of our officials he was interested in signing him. At first our guy thought he was joking but then he realised Kinnear did not know Ferguson was already a Newcastle player.' The twenty two-year-old, who can play in midfield or at full-back, signed a five-year contract with Newcastle in 2011 and spent three months on loan at Birmingham last season. And, as Shaun Custis noted on Sky's Soccer Supplement on Sunday morning, it's not as if young Fergie is an unknown seventeen year old, he's played twenty odd times in the Premier League and is the sort of player whom, one would expect, the director of football at his club would know all about. If that director of football was anyone other than Joe Kinnear, that is. Blues boss and former Toon star Lee Clark agreed a deal in July to take the Northern Ireland international back on loan until the end of this season.

Elsewhere in the Premier League on Saturday, Sheikh Yer Man City put seven goals past a thoroughly woeful Norwich City and relegation-haunted Bunderland suffered their eighth defeat in ten Premier League games after Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena were both sent off for disgraceful tackles in the first half at Hull. Dirty Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic scored a bizarre wind-assisted goal after only thirteen seconds but Jay Rodriguez earned Southampton a deserved point at a windswept Britannia Stadium and West Bromwich Albinos condemned managerless bottom placed Crystal Palace to a seventh successive league defeat as they withstood the visitors' second-half revival at the Hawthorns. The Scum gave Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance a damned good hiding at Craven Cottage whilst, in the day's late game, The Arse maintained a five point lead at the top of the league after beating Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws 2-0.

Joanna Rowsell won her second Track Cycling World Cup gold medal in two days as she beat Australian Rebecca Wiasak in the individual pursuit. Scotland's Katie Archibald was third as Rowsell added to the gold she won in the women's team pursuit on Friday. Becky James defeated Olympic champion Anna Meares for bronze in the women's sprint but GB team-mate Jason Kenny missed the keirin podium in Manchester. France's Francois Pervis won the keirin with world champion Kenny fourth. Ireland's Martyn Irvine won the men's points race in impressive style, sprinting to collect the deciding points at the finish, as Britain's Owain Doull finished fourth. Rowsell expressed delight at laying some demons of 2013 to rest, having won team pursuit gold in a world-record time alongside Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker a day earlier. 'I've had a bit of a nightmare summer with illness and injury. This weekend was a really big target for me and all the hard work has paid off,' the twenty four-year-old Olympic gold medallist told BBC Sport. Archibald, the lone Scottish competitor racing for trade team Braveheart at this World Cup, perfectly paced her ride to overhaul Poland's Eugenia Busak for bronze. The nineteen-year-old had already won silver in Friday's women's scratch race. 'That was a fantastic ride by Katie,' said Rowsell. '[Busak] was four seconds up at one point but I thought "keep the faith." She's only nineteen, she's at that age where she's constantly improving. She's a really exciting young rider, which is what we need now.' In the women's sprint, Germany's Kristina Vogel - who lost to James at this year's World Championships final in Belarus - turned the tables on the Welsh rider in their semi-final before defeating Hong Kong's Sarah Lee for gold. Lee had earlier beaten Meares (and her magnificent bottom), who is competing in her first major event since winning Olympic gold last year, in a semi-final photo finish. James, who recently spent a month competing on the Japanese pro women's keirin circuit, won her best-of-three bronze medal ride-off against Meares in straight rides. 'I'm so chuffed,' said James. 'To have this many races today and to get a bronze medal, I'm really happy.' This World Cup marks one of very few chances for rivals like James and Meares to meet before the World Championships in Colombia in February. There is one other World Cup event - in Mexico next month - scheduled before the Worlds, though world governing body the UCI says it will confirm a third World Cup date in the next week. Three-time Olympic champion Kenny must use those remaining events to regain ground on his keirin rivals. Having won the world title in February, he breezed through the qualifying rounds here but left himself too much ground to cover from the back in the final. 'Right from the word go it started going pear-shaped and I never got in the race,' Kenny told BBC Sport. 'We just looked at the video now and there were a few split-second moments where I could have made some inroads, but I missed it.' In the points race, Irvine initially appeared off the pace following his ride in the individual pursuit earlier on Saturday - but he recovered to beat Denmark's Lasse Norman Hansen by twenty points to seventeen, earning the winning points in the last sprint. 'I was probably the laziest guy in the first half of the race, but I seem to rise to the top the nastier the race gets,' said the twenty eight-year-old, who is the world champion in the scratch race, another non-Olympic endurance event. Jon Dibben finished fifth overall for GB in the men's omnium, won by Belgian teenager Jasper de Buyst, while Andy Tennant was sixth in the men's individual pursuit. Olympic champion Trott lies sixth overnight in the omnium, finishing Saturday's racing with second in the elimination race behind Australia's Annette Edmondson. Sunday's concluding action includes Kenny in the men's individual sprint, James in the women's keirin and Trott in her remaining three omnium events.

On this very Monday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping will be guesting at the latest Steffen Peddie’s Chat Show Thing at The Stand. Steff his very self - soon to be seen as Big Keith in series two of Hebburn, of course - and an old acquaintance of yer actual of many years standing, notes: 'Our first guest has five different strings to his bow, journalist, author, broadcaster, raconteur and bloody nice bloke it's Keith Topping.' Gosh. I'm blushing. 'Our second guest is a star of the world of MMA and Cage Fighting, Colin Freakshow Fletcher. The Freakshow is joining us straight from training for his BAMMA World Lightweight Title Fight on 14 December (live on Channel Five). As always we have the nicest man in showbiz, Alfie Joey, carousing with some Vegas classics and our warm up act is Sean Turner. All this for only three quid a ticket? You will be a fool to miss it!' Well, indeed.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day something which yer actual Keith Telly Topping got reminded of this earlier in the week - from that time when The Old Grey Whistle Test used to make their own 'videos' for new releases in the days before bands routinely did such things themselves, here's one of the most perfect marriages of music and imagery that a fourteen year old Keith Telly Topping had ever seen back in November 1977. I bought the LP that it's from the very next day.