Friday, December 25, 2015

The Husbands Of River Song: Though You Say You're My Friend, I'm At My Wits End

'Nobody move or The Head gets it!' 'Do you really have a shooty trowel?' 'It's sonic!' 'A sonic trowel? Have you any idea how stupid that sounds?'
'I've never asked you to cheer me up with hologramatic antlers!'
'I think I'm going to need a bigger flow chart.'
'This might be an alarming question in the circumstances but, you really do think I'm the surgeon, don't you?'
'There's something in his brain.' 'You could've fooled me!'
'He's dying, we need to cut off his head and scoop out his brains, aren't we over-thinking things?'
'Do not put me in the bag!'
'What sort of medical school did you go to?' 'A really good one for Doctors!'
'Were you born boring or did you have to work at it?'
'Why are you frowning?' 'How do you know?' 'It's audible!'
'How could you know?' 'I'm an archaeologist from the future, I dug you up. See you in four hundred years!'
'I'll take the robot, you drive!'
'He's The Doctor, he doesn't go around falling in love with people. And, if you think he's that small, that ordinary, then you don't know the first thing about him.' So, dear blog reader, this blogger fully releases that this may come as a big surprise to y'all but, do you know what? Yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought that was great. 'Hello sweetie!'
We could be about to embark on Peter Capaldi's final year on Doctor Who – at least according to the actor his very self. With his second full series behind him, Yer actual Capaldi is confirmed to be back in the TARDIS for Doctor Who's tenth series which will begin filming sometime during the early months of 2016. In a recent interview with the Daily Torygraph, Peter said: 'This could be my final year – it's terrifying. I love Doctor Who but it can be quite an insular world and I do want to do other things. There will come a time when this is over. But I knew that when I started. I was thinking about my regeneration scene from the outset. That's my terrible melancholic nature. When you accept the job you know there'll come a day, inevitably, when you'll be saying goodbye.'
BBC Worldwide has revealed details of the upcoming complete box set for the latest season of Doctor Who. The Complete Ninth Series set will be released on Monday 7 March 2016 on DVD and Blu-ray. The set will contain all twelve episodes from Peter Capaldi's recently completed second series as The Doctor, plus the 2014 Christmas special Last Christmas and this year's festive episode The Husbands Of River Song, with more than four hours' worth of bonus features also included. How much it will cost is, as yet unknown. But it'll probably be lots.
Cheeky-chappie big-toothed unfunny Scouser, John Bishop came out on top of the ratings outside of soaps on Monday night. His (not in the slightest bit funny) Christmas 'special' on BBC1 - the imaginatively titled John Bishop Christmas Show - was watched an average overnight audience of 3.93 million punters who were, it would seem, too bored to pick up the remote control and switched over to something more entertaining elsewhere at 9pm. Earlier, the documentary Cue The Queen ​drew an audience of 3.39m at 7pm. On BBC2, the latest University Challenge​ Christmas episode - in which Trinity College, Cambridge overcame Oriel College, Oxford, featuring the lovely Peter Harness, by the narrowest of margins - was watched by 2.52m at 8pm, followed by another terrific episode of Only Connect​ with 2.11m at 8.30pm, Gorilla Family & Me​ with 1.94m at 9pm and Mock The Week​ with 1.70m at 10pm. ITV's making-of documentary for The Sound Of Music Live​ brought in 2.17m at 8pm (even less than the actual live event itself did on Sunday), while BAFTA's Downton Abbey​ celebration attracted 2.30m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Food Unwrapped Christmas​ appealed to 1.73​m at 8pm, followed by Rich Kids Of Instagram​ with 1.05m at 9pm. The final episode of Fargo​ was watched by five hundred and ninety thousand viewers at 10pm.
Luther ​concluded its short run with just under five million viewers on Tuesday night. The concluding second episode of the Idris Elba drama was watched by an average overnight audience of 4.77m at 9pm, dropping around two hundred thousand week-on-week. Earlier, Celebrity Mastermind​ drew and audience of 4.04m at 7pm. Meanwhile, a strong line-up of the much-anticipated Dad’s Army biopic, MasterChef and University Challenge helped BBC2 to a rare - but, thoroughly deserved - thumping of ITV through almost all of the peak-time viewing slots. On a terrific night for Beeb2, the latest University Challenge​ Christmas edition brought in 2.49m at 7.30pm, followed by MasterChef: The Professionals​ with 3.34m at 8pm. Then, Stephen Russell's excellent biopic We're Doomed! The Dad's Army Story​ appealed to 2.67m at 9pm, whilst a repeat of last year's Qi Christmas episode attracted 1.60m at 10pm. ITV broadcast a Tonight special Lonely This Christmas at 7.30pm, which drew 2.3 million. A Midsomer Murders repeat which was shown from 8pm to 10pm, drew an average of 2.3 million. Channel Four's How The Rich Live Longer​ was seen by 1.22m at 8pm, while Supervet At Christmas​ was watched by 1.68m at 9pm. On Channel Five, The Dog Rescuers At Christmas​ drew an audience of one million viewers at 8pm, followed by Michael Buble's latest Christmas 'special' - and, one uses that word quite wrongly - with nine hundred and fifty six thousand at 9pm.
The comedy moment of the week came in the - properly superb - We're Doomed: The Dad's Army Story, which continued the BBC's well-deserved reputation of celebrating British television's past as previously shown in biopics like The Road To Coronation Street, An Adventure In Space & Time, The Curse Of Steptoe, Most Sincerely et al. It came as Dick Croft and Jimmy Perry are discussing the potential casting of Captain Mainwaring with their boss, Michael Mills. Second choice, Jon Pertwee, will do it Croft, is told by his secretary (Thorley Walters has already turned the part down). 'Tell him what we're paying' Croft tells her followed, a moment later with comic timing worthy of the show they were creating itself by 'Jon Pertwee says "No!"'
Just think, there's probably an alternate universe somewhere not too far away in which Mister Pertwee did take the role and Arthur Lowe is still best known for Corrie, but Pertwee's cousin, Bill - played beautifully in We're Doomed by Shane Ritchie - didn't get the part of Warden Hodges and, instead, became The Doctor two years later. 'Put that light out, you'll have the The Autons all over us, the ruddy 'ooligans!'
Actually, this blogger's favourite performance in We're Doomed, out of many good and more than a couple of great ones (Julian Sands' John Le Mesurier was damned-near perfect) was one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, Michael Cochrane's Arnold Ridley. A beautifully sympathetic and nuanced take on a, by all accounts, genuinely sweet and lovely man who had all sorts of trials and tribulations in his life but suddenly, in his mid-seventies, found a fame that he'd never really sought. And, all of this in the same week in which Arnold's great-niece, Daisy, suddenly found herself catapulted into a similarly stratospheric 'rise from nowhere'. Albeit, at a much younger age, obviously!
Mind you, there was one moment in We're Doomed which rather rankled with the obsessive telly nerd part of this blogger's brain - which, let's face it, is most of it. It related to the long-haired beardy chap waiting to be auditioned along with Jimmy Perry for a part in "On The Pill". The man is, clearly, referred to by another character as 'Trevor Eve'. Now, presuming that he's supposed to be the Trevor Eve - Shoestring, Waking The Dead, Most Sincerely, Children Of A Lesser God et al - it's probably worth pointing out that in March 1967 when this scene was set, the Trevor Eve was still a fifteen year old schoolboy in Bromsgrove a full seven years away from his TV debut (in an episode of BBC2's Second House which broadcast selected scenes from Trev's theatre breakthrough role as Paul McCartney in Willy Russell's original West End production of John, Paul, George, Ringo & Bert). That's if long-haired, beardy hippy-bloke is supposed to be the Trevor Eve. If he's supposed to be another Trevor Eve, then it's less of a problem.
Then again, of course, it's always worth remembering the following caption ...
Which brings us nicely to a related subject, dear blog reader. For, it seems that the producers of the forthcoming - and not particularly anticipated indeed, rather, dreaded - movie adaptation of Dad's Army have made their own daft elementary schoolboy-type historical error in the latest trailer for the - not particularly anticipated - movie. A voiceover sets the scene at the start of the trailer, claiming that in 1944 Britain was 'on the verge of defeat' in the Second World War. Of course, as anyone with as little as a CSE Grade Five in history - or The World At War DVD box-set, for that matter - knows, the Allies held the upper hand in the war by that point. The error has, apparently, been prompting boos in cinemas and 'concerns that the Dad's Army movie is based on an inaccuracy.' Mind you, this is according to the Sun, a newspaper well known for their own superb record of accuracy. Personally, this blogger is far more worried about the fact that the last thing the movies' director and writer collaborated on was Johnny English Reborn. Which suggests that, a quality cast notwithstanding, the Dad's Army remake is going to be a right load of old shite. And it is that, rather than somebody getting a date wrong, which is far more likely the reason for all the booing. Rob Palmer, who is behind the British Military History website, told the Sun: 'I'm not surprised there's been booing. It's insensitive to change history for films when you consider the loss of life.' So, one imagines Rob wasn't a big fan of U-571 then? 'June in 1944 saw the D-Day invasion that led to the surrender of Nazi Germany. It's a complete travesty to change what happened.' Quite right, too. Although Rob appears to be somewhat guilty of a rather Stalinist-style rewriting history himself since, long before D-Day, a series of major Soviet victories on the Eastern front in the autumn and winter of 1943 - particularly the apocalyptic horrors of Stalingrad and Kursk - had already changed the course of the war before Operation Overlord opened up a second front in the West against the goosestepping fascist bully boy thugs (the damned Nazis that is, not the Sun. Obviously). The Dad's Army movie opens in UK cinemas on 5 February 2016. One imagines it probably won't be making the sort of money that The Force Awakens has.
BBC1's nature documentary special Snow Chick topped Wednesday night's primetime overnight ratings outside of soaps. Narrated by Kate Winslet, the hour-long documentary was seen by 3.68 million viewers from 8.30pm. The sitcom Boomers Christmas special followed at 9.30pm with 2.41m. On ITV, Philip Glenister's three-part thriller Prey continued to shed viewers faster than a dog sheds hair, concluding with but 2.04m overnight viewers at 9pm. Mind you, dear blog reader, if you think that's bad, the latest episode of Charlie Higson's colossal drama flop Jekyll & Hyde, shifted from Sunday where it's been doing so spectacularly badly, did even more spectacularly badly on Wednesday, attracting a mere 1.4 million viewers at 8pm. Apparently ITV have hastily rescheduled the final two episodes of the series to go out on Sunday 27 December, presumably to simply get shot of the damn thing as quickly as possible so that they can forget all about it. BBC2's Christmas series of University Challenge continued with 2.6 million at 8pm (almost double the audience of Jekyll & Hyde), followed by 2.93m for the penultimate episode of MasterChef: The Professionals at 8.30pm. In which Danilo got the old heave-ho. The Cherry Healey-fronted documentary Christmas Shopping Fever: John Lewis & The Retail Race was shown to 2.31m from 9.30pm, lifting the lid on the department store's festive preparations - including its flagship TV advertisement. Channel Four's documentary Posh Pawn At Christmas attracted an overnight audience of 1.15m from 8pm, followed by one-and-a-half-million punters for Twenty Four Hours In A&E at 9pm. Matt Berry's sitcom Toast Of London - featuring cameos from a host of guest stars including Jude Law and Martin Freeman - finished its third series with three hundred and sixty thousand at 10pm. Meanwhile, Channel Five's Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! concluded with 1.26m at 9pm and Detectorists' Christmas special was watched by five hundred and forty seven thousand at 10pm on BBC4.

BBC1's rather arse-lickey but still quite amusing Peter Kay: Twenty Years Of Funny led the overnight viewing figures on Christmas Eve after the usual festive soap offerings. The Kay 'comedy special' attracted 4.84m at 9.05pm according to overnight figures. EastEnders topped the channel's ratings with 5.7m for an episode which saw Jack Branning's return to Walford. That was followed by the Pointless Celebrity Christmas special - and, in this case, one very much does use the word 'special' very wrongly - which saw Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman joined by a bunch of has-beens and never-weres that included Su Pollard, The Krankies and Colin Baker at 7.30pm. Honestly, I'm not making this up, this is 2015  not 1985. A total 3.87m overnight punters tuned in ... and then probably wished that they hadn't. Walliams & Friend - because, he's only go one, apparently - interested 3.83m at 10.05pm, while Would I Lie To You? and Celebrity Mastermind took 3.56m and 3.55m respectively earlier in the evening. On ITV, Tyrone's hopes for a Christmas miracle on Coronation Street drew the evening's biggest overnight audience, six million punters, at 8pm, with fellow soap Emmerdale being watched by 5.4m at 7.30pm. Soaps aside, however, the night was something of a disaster for ITV with The ABBA Christmas Party attracting 2.64m at 8.30pm and Keith Lemon's Through The Christmas Keyhole with but 1.94m at 9.45pm. One of these days, hopefully sooner rather than later, somebody at ITV is going to wake up and realise that whilst Leigh Francis can, undeniably, be a talented comedy creator, nobody apart from a bunch of gormless glakes who watch ITV2 all the time can stand the Keith Lemon character or anything that he appears in. Just sayin'. The MasterChef: The Professionals final led the viewing figures on BBC2 as 2.75m tuned in to see Mark Stinchcombe announced as the winner at 8pm. Christmas University Challenge was watched by 1.48m at 7.30pm and The Great History Quiz: The Tudors interested 1.17m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Jamie's Night Of Shite Before Christmas kicked off the evening's 'entertainment' (again, this being some new use of that word which this blogger hadn't come across before) at 7pm with 1.1m, followed by My Crazy Christmas Lights at 8pm (1.06m), Eight Out Of Ten Cats Christmas special at 9pm (1.8m) and Rude Tube: Christmas Cracker at 10pm (1.07m). The rarely-repeated 1981 episode of The Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show on Channel Five at 8.55pm was the highest-rated programme of the night with nine hundred and sixty four thousand, while the highlight on BBC4 was the much-trailed uninterrupted two-hour sleigh ride special All Aboard! The Sleigh Ride at 8pm which drew three hundred and sixteen thousand punters. This blogger, to be fair, managed about ten minutes of it.

So, as noted, Mark Stinchcombe​ was crowned MasterChef: The Professionals champion for 2015. The twenty eight-year-old Worcester-based chef fought off competition from forty seven other chefs on the way to victory.​ He was awarded the title after beating competition from fellow finalists Nick Bennett and Scott Barnard. Judges Marcus Wareing and scowly-faced Monica Galetti saw Mark deliver three dishes to secure the title on Christmas Eve's episode. His starter of roasted scallops, his main of Fillet of Beef and his elderflower panna cotta were enough to please the judges. Mark said after winning: 'I can't believe it. I'm massively proud of what I've achieved; it's been such a long journey. It's been phenomenal.' Scowly-faced Monica went on to say: 'Mark's food is fabulous. This chef just continued to stun and wow us. I think he has got such a great future ahead of him.'
Things we learned from this year's Would I Lie To You? Christmas Eve episode. Number one: Last Christmas, Victoria Coren Mitchell bought David a top hat and a battery-operated wand (which may, or may not, be a sex-toy of some description). No one knows why (although this blogger imagines there's probably some erotic fiction being written online to explain it right about now). The hat does, undeniably, make David look like a bit of a tit, however! No, I'm sorry, that's being jolly unkind and appropriate on this day of all days. This blogger will rephrase that statement. It makes him look like a lot of a tit. There, that's much better.
And, from Christmas Eve, to Christmas Day  ...
Downton Abbey finished on Christmas Day, leading the primetime overnight ratings. The period drama's two-hour finale - which saw Edith's wedding and Thomas's departure from the Crawley estate - scored an overnight audience of 6.58m from 8.45pm on ITV. Earlier in the evening, Emmerdale picked up 4.26m as a vengeful Belle threatened to expose Zak's infidelity. Coronation Street continued with 5.59m from 7.45pm, as Tracy got an unexpected Christmas surprise and Tyrone finally proposed to Fiz. Our Cilla was watched by 1.98m later in the evening. But it was EastEnders that - just - came out top in a close battle of the soaps, drawing 5.73m to BBC1 from 8.45pm for Christmas Day drama including a murder plot, a case of mistaken identity and a car crash. Doctor Who's latest festive episode, the really rather good The Husbands Of River Song opened the night for BBC1 with 5.77m from 5.15pm (and an AI score of eighty two). The afternoon family offerings of the movie Brave (5.50m) and the charming Stick Man (6.36m) also pulled in big overnight audiences for BBC1. The Queen's annual broadcast to the nation was watched by 6.10m on BBC1 and a further 1.34m on ITV. Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas special - featuring a video message from Sir Bruce Forsyth, who is recovering from his recent operation - was seen by 6.49m from 6.15pm. Call The Midwife continued the festive programming with 5.8m at 7.30pm, while the first of two Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas specials drew in 6.41m at 9.45pm. Michael McIntyre's Big Christmas Show was seen by 3.62m at 10.25pm. BBC1 gained eight of the top ten programmes of the day although, for the third year running, overnight audiences were - generally - down on previous years as the way in which audiences consume television continues to change with the increased use of video-on-demand and various recording devices. The final, consolidated viewing figures for the day will, of course, be available in around seven days time. The Gogglebox spin-off Gogglesprogs was a medium-sized hit for Channel Four, being watched by 2.24m from 8pm. Alan Carr's two-hour Chatty Man festive thing, featuring guest appearances from Catherine Tate and One Direction, drew in an average of nine hundred and ninety thousand from 9pm. Darcey's Ballet Heroes attracted1.01m on BBC2 at 8.50pm. Dad's Army had an audience of 1.53m at 7.30pm, followed by The Two Ronnies Christmas Special (1.47m), Qi (eight hundred and thirteen thousand) and a repeat of We're Doomed! The Dad's Army Story (nine hundred and forty one thousand). Channel Five's top-rated primetime programme was Britain's Favourite Christmas Songs, averaging eight hundred and sixty three thousand from 6pm.

Scenes of flooding in the North of England as a consequence of Storm Frank (who the Hell names these things?) and shoppers scrambling for post-Christmas bargains were the most-watched television on Boxing Day, as BBC News At Ten topped the TV ratings. It attracted 6.2 million viewers as BBC1 swept the board of the top ten most watched shows of the day. The BBC's handsome new adaptation of And Then There Were None led the primetime ratings, according to overnight data. The opening episode of the three-part Agatha Christie adaptation - starring Aidan Turner, Sam Neill, Douglas Booth, Miranda Richardson, Toby Stephens, Anna Maxwell Martin, Noah Taylor and Charles Dance​ - launched with a promising audience of 6.01m from 9pm on BBC1. And, very good it was too. Earlier in the evening, EastEnders picked up 5.68m from 7.30pm as Fatboy was extremely killed in a grisly case of mistaken identity. So, just yer average Christmas period of peace and goodwill to all men in Walford, then. The start of series two of Still Open All Hours drew 5.15m from 8pm. The launch of big-budget Victorian drama Dickensian opened the night for BBC1 with 4.99m from 7pm, while 4.34m tuned in for a second episode from 8.30pm. The evening ended with Match Of The Day with 3.47 million punters. A family-friendly line-up also saw BBC1 proving popular during the day, with 4.8 million watching Shaun The Sheep: The Farmer's Llamas at 6.10pm. Surprise Surprise, featuring One Direction and rower James Cracknell, drew the biggest audience on what was a truly horrific night for ITV with a mere 2.46m from 7pm. Not only didn't they get a single programme into the top ten for the day, but not one of the network's other broadcasts besides Surprise Surprise attracted an overnight audience of more than two million viewers. And, its primetime share of the available audience - eight per cent - was beaten by Channel Four's 8.4 per cent. Horrorshow. The drama Peter & Wendy - starring Stanley Tucci, Laura Fraser and that bloody awful Paloma Faith woman as Tinkerbell - was seen by a dreadful 1.44m at 8pm, while the Boxing Day 'special' (and, one uses that word very wrongly) of The Jonathan Ross Show drew in a shockingly low overnight of 1.13m at 10.05pm. Earlier, The Nation's Favourite Disney Song was watched by 1.73 million. So, a night to forget for ITV, then. Channel Four's annual Big Fat Quiz Of The Year, which included the unforgetable sight of Jon Snow doing Drake's 'Hotline Bling' dance, was a hit for the channel as it was watched by 2.14m from 9pm beating ITV's ass hollow into the process. Inside Lego At Christmas attracted an audience of 1.77m at 8pm. Earlier in the evening, Britain's Favourite Children's Books with nowhere-near-as-popular-as-he-seems-to-think-he-is David Walliams drew six hundred and eighty thousand from 6.30pm. The repeat of The Secret Life Of Children At Christmas was watched by four hundred and ninety six thousand at 5.35pm. The first part of Top Gear: From A To Z was watched by an audience of 1.36m on BBC2 at 8pm, while Channel Five's top-rated primetime programme of the evening was the horribly-titled Christmas Makes You Laugh Out Loud (which, actually, it seldom, if ever, does) with six hundred and twenty two thousand from 7pm. That was followed by Chas & Dave's Christmas Knees Up with five hundred and seventy nine thousand and Football League Tonight with three hundred and eighty one thousand. On BBC2, A Gert Lush Christmas drew eight hundred and thirty thousand at 9pm, Country Strife: Abz On The Farm had an audience of five hundred and thirty nine thousand from 10pm and Backchat End Of Year Show Featuring Hateful Odious Risible Lanky Streak Of Worthless Rancid Piss Jack Whitehall ended the night with four hundred and seventy seven thousand people with nothing better to do with their time at 10.30pm. The third broadcast of We're Doomed! The Dad's Army Story in six days nevertheless managed to pull in another 1.37 million viewers.

According to the Gruniad Morning Star, the BBC 'has won over a sceptical independent TV production community' to its plan to spin-off BBC Studios by offering the chance to make programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and Doctor Who. PACT, the body representing the independent TV production sector, had been against the corporation's plan, raising 'serious concerns' about the regulation and transparency of spinning-off its production business. Issues included the BBC refusing to open up enough of its programme budget to competition, including contracts to the biggest hits such as Strictly and EastEnders. The corporation has relented in order to gain industry approval for the BBC Studio plan, agreeing to allow independent studios the opportunity to pitch to make forty per cent of in-house shows by 2018. 'We welcome the agreement reached with PACT,' said James Purnell, the BBC's director of strategy and digital. 'Creative competition is in the best interest of audiences and BBC Studios is an essential part of the BBC's future.' In terms of its most popular shows, BBC commissioners will have discretion to pitch out a show if it needs 'freshening up.' Previously, the BBC had said that none of the 'flagship shows' produced in-house would ever be pitched to outside production companies. The corporation has also freed-up its rules regarding the proportion of children's, news and current affairs shows that will be made available for tender to outside production companies. While the BBC is not making those genres part of the BBC Studios spin-off business, the in-house guarantee is dropping from fifty to forty per cent of all programming. The proportion of shows that are guaranteed to go to an independent production company will rise from twenty five to forty per cent. 'PACT is pleased that we have been able to negotiate a progressive agreement with the BBC that will result in even more competition at the BBC for the best programmes, regardless of who makes them,' said John McVay, chief executive of Pact. The rights to shows that are made by outside production companies will remain with the BBC. This is similar to Question Time, which is owned by the BBC but made by Tinopolis-owned producer Mentorn Media.

Strictly Come Dancing's Aliona Vilani has announced that she is leaving the BBC show, three days after winning the glitterball trophy with Jay McGuiness. Vilani announced the news on Twitter, saying that she had gone into the most recent series having 'decided [it] would be [my] last one.' Vilani said that this year's series had been her 'best Strictly experience ever.' The winning couple are booked for the Strictly Come Dancing live tour, which starts on 22 January in Birmingham. Vilani and McGuiness were the bookmakers' favourites to win the competition after their jive won the first ten score of the series in October. It was the second time Vilani had been victorious in the competition, having previously won in 2011 with McFly's Harry Judd. Vilani has been on the show for seven years. Her previous partners include Rav Wilding, Matt Baker, Tony Jacklin and Gregg Wallace. The Kazakh native had to pull out of the 2013 series after fracturing her ankle in training in rehearsals with Johnny Ball. Vilani started ballroom dancing in Russia at the age of eleven and went on to study at the Broadway Dance Centre in New York. She moved to Los Angeles in 2006 and married her husband, sales director Vincent Kavanagh, in 2014. The professional dancers on the show are booked on a series-by-series contract, meaning no dancers are yet signed up for the 2016 series.

Countryfile is to get a new spin-off programme after achieving its highest ever ratings. The Sunday night BBC programme was watched by an average of six million overnight viewers in 2015, with one episode in November reaching 7.8 million. Countryfile beat The X Factor's Sunday night results show in the overnight ratings on two occasions last month. The new five-part daytime series, named Countryfile Diaries, will start in the spring on BBC1. Running across a week, the spin-off will feature country life through the changing of the seasons and will coincide with Countryfile's seasonal specials. BBC daytime controller Dan McGolpin said that the new programme would allow viewers 'to further enjoy the full splendour and sheer variety of life in the British countryside during key moments of the year.' Countryfile's presenters include Matt Baker and Anita Rani and the show achieved its highest audiences in the autumn when it was scheduled immediately before Strictly Come Dancing. More than 7.2 million households tuned in on average between 8 November and 13 December. Countryfile executive producer Bill Lyons said that the 'huge audience' had made the programme the most popular weekly factual series on TV - which he put down to 'the enduring love-affair between the British people and their countryside.' Even though large parts of it stink of cow shit, to be fair. The locations and presenters for Countryfile Diaries have not yet been announced.

John Cleese has revived his famous hotelier Basil Fawlty for a TV advert, thirty six years after the final episode of Fawlty Towers was broadcast. Cleese has recreated the 1975 scene in which a frustrated Fawlty berated his broken-down car before giving it a 'damn good thrashing' with a branch. Cleese agreed to rewrite the scene for Specsavers opticians as he thought it would be 'genuinely funny.' The advert sees Fawlty lose his patience with a sat nav and take out his anger on the wrong target - a police car. 'A lot of people have sent me Fawlty Towers scripts or Basil scripts, and they were always absolutely awful,' Cleese said. 'But these people had an idea, and I have to say, I met them and they were all very nice, and within twenty minutes we'd written the script. Because it was kind of obvious. And I looked at that, and I thought, "no I think that will work and it's genuinely funny."' The sitcom ran for just twelve episodes between 1975 and 1979. Cleese, who wrote the show with his then-wife and co-star Connie Booth, said that they did not make more because they did not want the quality to decline. Cleese is no stranger to advertising, having previously loaned his name to Sainsbury's, Schweppes and The AA among others.
Chris Evans's Top Gear has been struck a blow before production has even started on it, with the departure of executive producer Lisa Clark less than five months after being brought in to lead the relaunch of the BBC motoring show. Evans personally brought in Clark, who worked with him as a producer on The Big Breakfast, to help reinvent Top Gear following the departure of co-hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. Who've gone up the Amazon. You might've heard about it, it's featured in one or two newspapers. Her arrival was much hyped by Evans but, only a few months in – and with just five months until the first show is due to be broadcast on 8 May – Clark has left the BBC to 'pursue new projects.' 'We'd like to thank Lisa for all her incredible work over the last five months readying new Top Gear for its busy filming schedule in 2016 and planned return in May,' said the BBC in a statement. A BBC spokeswoman added that the production schedule for the show is 'unaffected' by the loss of Clark. Alex Renton, who has been series editor on Top Gear for a decade, will take over the reins on an interim basis until a new appointment is announced in the new year. Clark had been brought on-board to replace Andy Wilman, who has joined old school friend Clarkson up the Amazon. Clark set up a production company called Pett in 2001 with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. 'After an extremely busy five months I am moving on from Top Gear to new projects which I will be announcing in the new year,' said Clark. 'I'd like to wish production all the very best with the show.' At the time of her hiring, Evans said of Clark: 'Lisa is as good as it gets when it comes to making big, important television shows. She's funny, sassy, super-experienced and has always absolutely loved cars.'
     Meanwhile, the Torygraph has reported this week that German racing driver Sabine Schmitz and motoring journalist Chris Harris will be joining Evans and The Stig on the new series whilst former Formula 1 driver and broadcaster David Coulthard is also tipped for a role in the new series according to the Sun.
A former Director General of the BBC - one of the worst ones, admittedly - has warned that the corporation faces 'a much tougher political environment' now than five years ago and criticised the way the charter renewal negotiations have been handled so far. Mark Thompson said that it was 'wrong' to force the broadcaster to provide free licence fees for the over-seventy fives at a cost of seven hundred million smackers a year by the next decade. No shit? And, you worked that out all by yourself did you, mate? Blimey, a once-in-a-generation mind, that fellah. Giving his first interview about the BBC since he left in 2012, after eight years at the helm, Thompson said that the broadcaster was having to pay for government policy. 'It's welfare. It's totally inappropriate to use BBC to support social transfer in this country.' When oily George Osborne tried to impose the same cost on the BBC during negotiations in 2010, Thompson started writing his resignation letter, along with several BBC Trustees. This July the current Director General, Tony Hall, showed the sort of backbone the average mollusc does on a daily basis and agreed to shoulder the burden in return for relief from other costs. 'In 2015 the political circumstances are very different and it is much tougher for the BBC. In 2010 it was the coalition government and the Liberal Democrats played a very big part in securing a different and better settlement. That recourse has not been available to the BBC this year,' Thompson claimed. In July, the BBC accepted a government 'proposal' - or, a government order as most 'normal' people call it - to take on the costs of providing free TV licences for the over-seventy fives – a policy originally introduced by Gordon Brown's government and funded by the taxpayer as part of a deal that would allow the £145.50 a year licence fee to increase with inflation if the 'purposes and scope of the BBC' remain the same. Conducted over a few days of secret negotiations, Labour described the deal as 'a smash and grab raid.' The former Director General, who now runs the company behind the New York Times, believes BBC bosses should not have been made to agree a financial settlement eighteen months ahead of charter renewal in 2017, although he insisted that his remarks were 'not criticisms' of the current management. 'You have to be in the room and I am not going to second guess anything that Tony and the current leaders of the BBC have done', he said. However, Thompson said that he was 'worried' that it was 'difficult' to conduct a review of the BBC's operations – as required as part of the charter renewal process – having agreed its funding. 'The correct order is to discuss what the BBC should do and then work out what the funding should be.' The lack of a public commitment by ministers that will not seek a radical overhaul of the 'scale and scope' of the BBC and its output has been at the heart of the dispute between the broadcaster and government since the financial settlement was agreed. Executives believe ministers have promised not to radically alter the size of the corporation, whereas the Green Paper suggested 'a wide ranging review.' Thompson, who was the longest-serving Director General in more than thirty years, said that it was 'right' to ask 'fundamental questions' during charter renewal. 'I am just very anxious at the end of all the questioning that we come up with the right answers. And for me the right answer is a strong, properly funded BBC of scale and scope.' The BBC announced one hundred and fifty million knicker worth of cost savings this summer and is expected to outline how it will save a further five hundred and fifty million quid next spring, around the time the White Paper on charter renewal is expected. Thompson, who described himself as 'not the right person to talk to about cutting the BBC services', conceded that there might be 'some areas' the corporation could 'do a bit less of', such as sports rights and bought-in films. In 2010, Thompson's plans to close 6Music were blocked by the BBC Trust after a public campaign from Gruniad Morning Star readers and lots of people in the music industry who have never listened to 6Music in their lives and never will. 'Anyone who looks at the BBC and says "I'm sure they can cut some services" – either BBC radio, radio 3, BBC4 – starts discovering, bit-by-bit, that it is tough because those services are there for a reason and most of them have passionate support from the public.' A former executive on Panorama and Newsnight, as well as editor of the Nine O'Clock News, Thompson said that 'doing less news' should be 'a non-starter', as there was even greater need for an impartial BBC news in a difficult global political environment with increasing influence from Russia, China and the Middle East. 'I think the public clearly rely [on the BBC] at every level for local, regional, national and international news. The idea, given the underlying economics of local regional and even international newspapers, that a diminution of the BBC would lead to more investment in news is very big risk to take – and bad for the British public,' he said. His experience in the US over the past three years, where newspaper revenues and circulation numbers have been hit by a fall in digital advertising and greater online competition, suggests that the BBC is 'being blamed for other ills', he says. 'It is not as if there is any evidence at all that UK newspapers are doing worse than newspapers in countries without the BBC.' Although credited with some success at the BBC – from the launch of the iPlayer to the 2012 London Olympics – Thompson's tenure was also hit by several controversies, most notably pay-offs to senior executives and the one hundred million smackers cost of its failed digital media initiative. Not to mention what dirty old scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile and convicted ex offender Dave Lee Travis were getting up to. 'I have been absolutely shocked and horrified to hear that story and to hear what Jimmy Savile did at the BBC and other institutions. I feel appalled by that,' Thompson said, hurriedly adding that he had 'no personal link' with the disgraced presenter. 'It is also straightforwardly the truth that I didn't ever work with Jimmy Saville, or I don't believe that I ever met him and I wasn't aware of what he had done until after I had left the BBC.' Having spent three years at New York Times, Thompson says few Americans can believe that the BBC is facing such a difficult year: 'The BBC is one of the most important cultural institutions in the world. It is an absolute national treasure.'

Communications regulator Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - has upheld complaints made against Channel Four over an episode of The Simpsons which was shown before the 9pm watershed. The show was broadcast at 6pm on 6 October and featured Homer Simpson hanging by a noose from a tree. Two viewers - with, it would appear nothing better to do with their time than whinge about nonsense like this - felt this was 'inappropriate for an early evening broadcast when families would be watching.' One trusts that the irony of this specific complaint being over The Simpsons of all programmes - 'won't somebody think of the children!' - is lost on no one. Of course, it is probably worth pointing out at this juncture that The Simpsons is, you know, a cartoon and that no, actual, yellow-skinned balding human beings were hurt during the making of the episode in question. One feels rather like quoting the bit in an episode of Friends where concern is expressed that the character of Chandler Bing never cries. Not even, it is stated, when Bambi's mother died. 'Yes,' says Chandler by way of explanation. 'It was very sad when the man stopped drawing the deer.' Channel Four has apologised for 'any offence caused' and said 'it took its compliance responsibilities seriously.' Sadly, they didn't tell the two whinging individuals that whinged about such nonsense -and Ofcom, itself - to grow the fek up or, indeed, publicly name - and shame - the two numskull cretins in question so that we could all have a ruddy good laugh at their expense. An opportunity (or two) missed, one might suggest. Jesus, has everybody taken the frigging Stupid Pill this week, or what? Once again, dear blog reader, let us simply stand up and salute the shite and some people chose to care about. The broadcaster added that, after receiving two complaints about the episode, edits considered necessary to correct it 'were not put into effect.' The show, it went on, would not be repeated before the watershed. Ofcom noted that the plot of the episode 'prominently featured strangulation', raising issues around its scheduling. Rule 1.3 of the watchdog's code of conduct says: 'Children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.'
Channel Four News has been severely reprimanded by Ofcom over its reporting of the Shoreham air show crash. On its 24 August broadcast at 7pm, presented by full-of-her-own-importance Cathy Newman, a reporter stated that two people - Mark Trussler and Daniele Polito - were victims of the crash, when the pair had only officially been named as missing at the time. Ofcom found Channel Four News in breach of Rule 5.1 of the Code, which states that 'news, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.' They noted that they had taken into account Channel Four's grovelling apology over the incident and the attempts it made to contact the families involved. However, since the news item was pre-recorded, 'Channel Four could - and should - have identified the error before broadcast,' Ofcom said. 'It is essential that such events are reported with due accuracy. Ofcom considered the broadcast of the statement in a news item that two people had died without appropriate confirmation was a significant lapse in editorial judgement,' the ruling concluded. The decision means that Channel Four News has been found in breach of Rule 5.1 on three recent occasions and Ofcom is requesting that 'the Licensee attend a meeting to discuss its compliance in this area.' And, presumably, be given a damned good caning into the bargain.

Channel Four did not break broadcasting rules with its undercover Dispatches investigation into ex-foreign secretaries Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Ofcom has ruled. The watchdog said that the programme's treatment of the former MPs had been 'fair' and 'in the public interest.' The pair were recorded discussing possible lobbying work with reporters posing as staff of a fake Chinese firm. Parliament's standards commissioner said that neither broke Commons rules. In her report earlier this year, standards commissioner Kathryn Hudson suggested that there had been 'errors of judgement' from Rifkind while Straw had breached the code of conduct 'by a minor misuse of parliamentary resources.' But, she attacked the undercover sting, carried out jointly by Channel Four's Dispatches and the Daily Torygraph, claiming - rather unconvincingly in the opinion of some - that if they 'had accurately reported what was said by the two members in their interviews, and measured their words against the rules of the House, it would have been possible to avoid the damage that has been done to the lives of two individuals and those around them, and to the reputation of the House.' The Parliamentary Standards Committee, chaired by Labour MP Sir Kevin Barron, also attacked the programme saying: 'By selection and omission the coverage distorted the truth and misled the public as to what had actually taken place.' Channel Four stuck by its story and called in Ofcom to rule on whether it had broken the rules on undercover investigations. In its report, Ofcom said that the makers of Dispatches: Politicians For Hire had 'taken reasonable steps to ensure that it avoided unjust or unfair treatment' of the two. The broadcaster had also 'taken reasonable care to satisfy itself that the facts were not presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that portrayed Sir Malcolm Rifkind or Mister Jack Straw unfairly in the programme as broadcast', it added. The regulator said that both men had been given enough time to respond to the allegations made in the programme and that their views had been represented 'in a fair manner' - and that the secret filming used in the programme complied with Ofcom's broadcasting code. The regulator described the programme as 'a serious piece of broadcast journalism,' which had 'a significant public interest' justification. Dispatches editor Daniel Pearl said that he was 'delighted' the programme 'has been thoroughly vindicated by the independent regulator.' The two then-MPs were secretly filmed by reporters claiming to represent a Hong Kong-based communications agency called PMR which was seeking to hire senior British politicians to join its advisory board. Rifkind was said to have claimed that he could arrange 'useful access' to every British ambassador in the world because of his status, while Straw boasted of operating 'under the radar' to 'use his influence' to change European Union rules on behalf of a commodity firm which paid him sixty thousand knicker per year. In a statement following the standards commissioner's ruling, Rifkind said: 'Channel Four Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph must recognise the judgment of the Standards Commissioner and the Standards Committee that they were responsible for "distortion" and for misleading the public in making these allegations.' Straw said: 'Throughout my thirty six years' parliamentary career I took great care to act with probity and to treat the rules of the House of Commons with the greatest respect. I am most grateful to the Committee on Standards for confirming this.' Neither men have yet commented on what they feel now that Ofcom has, effectively, cleared Channel Four of any wrongdoing. Though one is sure whatever they have to say, it'll be interesting.

A stalker found outside the home of EastEnders actress Samantha Womack has avoided being sent to prison. Peter Rombough, from Ditchingham in Norfolk, admitted travelling ninety three miles to stalk Womack at her home in Bedfordshire twice last year. He was handed an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for twelve months, at Great Yarmouth Magistrates' Court this week. In a statement read out to the court, Womack said that the events had left her feeling 'scared' in her own home. She added: 'These events have had a massive impact. I can't stop thinking about it. He's a total stranger, but I'm concerned about his well-being and do hope he is okay and needs to seek some help.' Following the discovery of Rombough outside the actress's home in September 2014, the police and the BBC jointly organised extra security, the court heard. Rombough had also been close to her house four months earlier, but had been unable to find the property in question. During his later visit, he left Womack a letter in which he said that he feared he 'couldn't deal with the consequences' of her 'rejecting' him. The court heard that Rombough admitted he had 'an unhealthy crush' on Womack which had first developed when he was sixteen. In mitigation, Nicola Burt told the court that Rombough accepted his actions were wrong 'and how they impacted the victim.' Presiding magistrate Robin Hornby made Rombough the subject of a two-year restraining order and mental health programme. 'We must disregard that this was a high profile victim,' he said. 'Stalking is stalking and it does not matter who it is. It is not a nice thing.'

An inmate has been released from a Georgian prison after performing in a TV song contest. Teona Kolbaia was jailed for armed robbery and general naughtiness in 2012, but this year she was allowed to sing in the Georgia version of The Voice, whose studios she visited under guard. In the show broadcast live by Imedi TV, Kolbaia was defeated by another contestant and thus failed to make it to the quarter-finals. But after the judge announced his decision, Prisons Minister Kakha Kakhishvili took to the stage to declare that she was freed on parole. 'We've been keeping a close eye on her,' the minister said, adding that a parole board decided to free Teona. He also thanked the TV show for helping her reintegrate back into society. One imagines that someone at Channel Five is currently thinking of adapting this format for a British audience. Which Crim Goes Loose? Mark my words, it'll be going into production any day now.

Astronaut Tim Peake has tweeted a light-hearted apology after dialling a wrong number from space and asking the woman who answered: 'Hello, is this planet Earth?' Good have been worse, of course, he could have said 'this is Major Tim to Ground Control.' Which would have been taking the piss! Tim said on Twitter that it was not intended to be a 'prank call.' The astronaut, a father-of-two from Chichester arrived at the International Space Station on Tuesday 15 December. He is spending six months conducting scientific experiments on the station.
As a band, The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might have heard of them. And. if you haven't heard of them, read this) were famed for their adoption of new recording technology, everything from tape-looped studio trickery to double-tracked vocals, backward guitar effect and the use of exotic instruments like the sitar and the Moog synthesiser. But in more recent years their songs have been absent from that most modern of ways to consume music: streaming websites. Until now, that is. From Christmas Eve the full Be-Atles catalogue will become available on nine separate music streaming sites, including Spotify, Google Play and Amazon Prime. It will even be on Apple Music, eight years after the end of a long and brutal legal battle between the technology company and The Be-Atles' own Apple record label over the use of the Apple logo in the music business. Be-Atles songs were initially also absent from Apple's pay-to-own music site, iTunes, but appeared five years ago, after negotiations described by this newspaper, inevitably, as 'a long and winding download.' Solo material from Be-Atles members - Sir Paul, the late and much-lamented George, the drummer and the alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie - has previously been available on streaming sites. From midnight The Be-Atles' thirteen remastered studio CDs and four compilations will be available to users of the free, advert-financed users of Spotify, as well as its claimed twenty million paying subscribers. Along with Apple Music, which has fifteen million users, Google Play and Amazon Prime, the songs will be also be on Slacker, Tidal, Groove, Rhapsody and Deezer. And on your old CDs and vinyl, of course. Still, this blogger if now off to download Spotify. The free version, obviously.
As previously speculated, BBC Sport is to 'reluctantly' end its Formula 1 television contract three years early as part of savings across the corporation. Channel Four will take on the BBC's F1 broadcast rights from next season. 'The current financial position of the BBC means some tough and unwanted choices have to be made,' said Barbara Slater, the BBC's director of sport. However, BBC Radio 5Live has extended its commentary rights for F1 until the 2021 season. BBC Sport broadcast ten live races of Lewis Hamilton's world championship-winning season in 2015 with a one-hour build-up to each Grand Prix. It also offered extensive highlights of the nine other races. But as part of a one hundred and fifty million quid gap in the corporation's finances from next year, BBC Sport was asked to deliver thirty five million wonga's worth of savings. 'A significant chunk of BBC Sport's savings target will be delivered through the immediate termination of our TV rights agreement for Formula 1,' added Slater. 'Any decision to have to stop broadcasting a particular sport or sporting event is hugely disappointing and taken reluctantly. There are no easy solutions; all of the options available would be unpopular with audiences.' BBC Sport regained F1 rights from ITV in 2009 but - in another cost-saving move - had been sharing the broadcast rights with Sky Sports since the 2012 season. 'These are very challenging times for the BBC and sport is not immune to those financial pressures,' added Slater.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Uefa boss Michel Platini - neither of who are complete and total crooks, obviously - have both been extremely suspended for eight years from all football-related activities following an ethics investigation. They were found very guilty of breaches surrounding a 1.3 million quid 'disloyal payment' made to Platini in 2011. The FFIA ethics committee found that Blatter and Platini had demonstrated 'an abusive execution' of their positions. 'I will fight for me and for FIFA,' Blatter whinged at a news conference. Platini said the decision was 'a masquerade' intended to 'dirty' his name. Both men continue to deny wrongdoing and intend to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. To quote Mandy Rice Davies, 'well they would, wouldn't they?' Swiss Blatter and sixty-year-old Frenchman Platini have also been fined thirty three thousand seventy hundred knicker and fifty four thousand smackers respectively. Despite the ban, both Blatter and Platini will be allowed to attend football matches - including Euro 2016 in France - but only if they buy their own tickets 'in a private capacity.' FIFA boss since 1998, Blatter - who, just to repeat, is clearly not a complete and total crook - had already announced that he was quitting with a presidential erection in February. Platini was tipped as a future leader of football's world governing body and is a three-time European Footballer of the Year. He is also a former captain of France and has been in charge of UEFA - European football's governing body - since 2007.

A Massachusetts man has been accused of fraud and perjury by prosecutors for allegedly back-dating drawings which he used as evidence to sue the movie production company DreamWorks. Jayme Gordon took out a lawsuit in 2011 against the company behind the Kung Fu Panda films, claiming that he had invented the title character. Prosecutors claimed that Gordon created his scheme after seeing a trailer for the first film in the series in 2008. His lawyer, Robert Griffin, said that his client 'maintains his innocence.' Authorities allege that Gordon's idea was to make it look as though the film was based on a series of sketches he had made for a story he had already written, entitled Panda Power. He filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against DreamWorks and suggested a settlement of twelve million dollars, which the company - not unsurprisingly - rejected. Authorities said that Gordon had deleted evidence on his computer which he would have been required to hand over under court rules. It is alleged Gordon had traced some of his panda drawings from a Lion King colouring book published in 1996, dating his own drawings from 1993 and 1994. When DreamWorks produced this evidence to Gordon, he agreed to dismiss the legal action which had already cost the company three million bucks to defend. 'Mister Gordon went to great lengths to orchestrate and maintain this fraudulent scheme, trying to take credit for ideas he did not come up with,' suggested Boston FBI agent Harold Shaw. 'This case demonstrates the FBI's commitment to root out individuals who try to steal ideas and information from hard-working American companies.' Gordon is charged with four counts of wire fraud, three counts of perjury and one count of being a daft plank who thought he could get away with such a lame-ass scheme. He denies all of the charges. If convicted of the most serious charges, Gordon could face up to twenty years in the slammer. The original Kung Fu Panda film was released in 2008, with a sequel coming out three years later. The third film in the computer animated series will be released in January in the US and in March in the UK. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping recently saw the trailer. It looks exactly like the last two films. Next ...

An advertisement for Nesquik hot chocolate featuring a rabbit cartoon has been banned by the UK's advertising watchdog, which found it 'encouraged poor nutritional habits in children.' A claim that the drink gave 'a great start to the day' suggested it 'promoted health', the watchdog found. Which, this blogger thinks is a bit of a leap. After all, a nice wank is also a great start to the day but it doesn't, really, have anything to do with nutrition. Well known child poisoners, Nestlé, the firm behind the drink, said that it was 'disappointed with the ruling' but that it would remove the strapline. It added that it was 'actively looking for solutions to help us reduce sugar.' One or two people even believed them. An advert on ASDA's own-brand milk labels for Nesquik hot chocolate featured a rabbit a cartoon character with the strapline 'For a great start to the day!' and a badge labelled 'Nutristart.' Following a complaint from The Children's Food Campaign, the Advertising Standards Authority found that the advert in context suggested health benefits without putting forward specific health claims, in contravention of European law. Nestlé acknowledged that a two hundred millilitre drink made with three teaspoons of Nesquik hot chocolate contained 20.2 grams of sugars, which is 'high' under the traffic light system of food labelling. But, it said more than half the sugar in the prepared drink came from lactose, which occurs in milk. It said that the drink had added vitamin C and D, and zinc and iron. A Nestlé UK spokesperson said: 'The advert for Nesquik Hot Chocolate shown on the label of a family-sized bottle of milk was undoubtedly targeted at adults who were shopping for their family, making it clear that the product should be consumed over a number of days, rather than in excess. However, we always listen to concerns when they are raised. As a responsible manufacturer and to remove any ambiguity in future, we will no longer use the statement: "For a great start to the day!" in our UK advertisements.' ASDA said that it had 'no part' in creating or approving the advert, which had been given directly to its milk supplier by Nestlé. Top bit of Copper's Narking there, ASDA by the way. 'Not our fault, guv, it was them lot there than done it, honest.' An ASDA spokeswoman said: 'We respect the ASA's decision and will work with our suppliers to ensure the ruling is adhered to in future marketing.' The Children's Food Campaign said the 'Nesquik bunny' was in 'a fresh marketing stew. It is the second time in almost as many years that we have forced Nesquik to change their advertising because it encouraged poor nutritional habits in children and could be seen to mislead parents about the health benefits of such a sugary product,' said Malcolm Clark, coordinator of the Children's Food Campaign.
Adverts that really get right on yer actual Keith Telly Topping's tit-end, big-style. Number seven: A thought always seems to strike this blogger whenever he is watching the JML Direct 'footsie blanket' advert. And the thought is, "Why don't you just wear a pair of socks, you bloody daft plank!!"
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has smashed the record for the biggest box office début weekend globally, with ticket sales of five hundred and twenty nine million dollars. The previous record, of five hundred and twenty five million, was set by Jurassic World in June. The seventh instalment of the forty-year-old space saga opened with a record-breaking two hundred and forty eight million bucks in the US and Canada. JJ Abrams' film has also achieved the largest four-day weekend total in British and Irish cinemas with thirty four million smackers. Which, includes yer actual Keith Telly Topping's six quid when he went to see the movie on Monday of this week. He thought it was great, by the way. That sum is almost twenty eight times more than its nearest rival, the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler comedy Sisters with £1.2m. The Force Awakens' takings were almost fifteen million notes more than the £19.3m which saw Jurassic World claim the record for the largest four-day weekend in the UK and Ireland earlier this year. But it cannot claim to have had the biggest opening ever in British and Irish cinemas - a record currently held by the most recent James Bond film, Spectre. That film's forty one million knicker first-week tally, however, was based on seven days of takings as the film opened on a Monday. The latest film returns to 'a galaxy far, far away' some thirty years on from the action of 1983's Return Of The Jedi. It sees original trilogy stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill reprise their Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker roles alongside younger franchise newcomers like the excellent Daisy Ridley. 'Our sole focus has been creating a film that delivers that one-of-a-kind Star Wars experience, and director JJ Abrams, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and the Lucasfilm team have outdone themselves,' Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said.
A full moon will appear in the skies over Britain on Christmas Day, for the first time in decades. The last time there was a full moon on 25 December was 1977 and there won't be another one until 2034 - so, unless you want a long wait to catch a sight of this rare astronomical occurrence, it might be an idea to head outside and look up on Christmas. The full moon, which is the last of the year, is called the Full Cold Moon because it occurs at the start of winter. According to NASA (who know a lot about this sort of thing), the full moon will peak at 11:11pm, proving a great view in the night sky.
Former Newcastle United goalkeeper Pavel Srníček had a 'stable night' in hospital on Tuesday following his shock heart attack earlier in the week, his agent has said. However, his overall condition remains unchanged. Pav, forty seven, who also had spells with Sheffield Wednesday, Portsmouth and West Ham United, is reported to have collapsed whilst out jogging in Ostrava on Sunday. It is hoped that he will have a CT scan later this week once his condition has improved. 'His body is healing. However, there is a long, long way to go,' his agent said, adding: 'If they can perform the CT scan, we should know a lot more about his chances.' Pav became a huge fans' favourite and cult figure on Tyneside during his first spell with the Magpies between 1991 and 1998. He was signed by manager Jim Smith and then played under Ossie Ardiles, Kevin Keegan and latterly Kenny Dalglish during his seven years with the Magpies during which time he played one hundred and fifty league games for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) United. While Keegan was in charge, Pav helped Newcastle to win promotion to the top flight during the 1992-93 season. The former Czech Republic international was also an integral part of the squad that came close to winning the Premier League title in the 1995-96 campaign. Srníček was brought back to the club on a season-long deal in September 2006 as cover for the injured Shay Given. He also played in Italy for Brescia and Cosenza, in Portugal for Beira-Mar and in his native country for Banik Ostrava. Srníček played internationally for the Czech Republic, from 1994 until 2001, taking part in Euro 2000 and earning a total of forty nine caps. Only last week, Pav was on Tyneside appearing on local TV shows and radio to promote his recently published autobiography, Pavel Is A Geordie (named after a popular terrace chant during Pav's first period at Newcastle). His family has, reportedly, been 'inundated' with messages of sympathy and support from both inside and outside the game. And, obviously all of us at From The North wish to send Pav - seen below with yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self in 1995 - our very best and most sincere wishes for a speedy recovery.
Somalia's government - who sound like a right bunch of joyless fuckers - has banned the celebration of Christmas, warning that such Christian festivities could threaten the nation's Muslim faith. 'Those celebrations are not in any way related to Islam,' an official at the religious affairs ministry said. Security agencies have been directed to stay alert to stop any gatherings. With fixed bayonets, if necessary. Foreigners are free to mark the Christian holiday in their own homes, but hotels and other public places have been prohibited from marking the day. 'Having Muslims celebrate Christmas in Somalia is not the right thing, such things are akin to the abandonment,' local media quotes Mohamed Kheyrow, a top official at Somalia's justice and religious affairs ministry from stamping out anything that makes people cheerful, as saying. Correspondents say that as the country recovers from years of civil war, a growing number of Somalis who grew up in the diaspora are returning home, some of them bringing Western customs - and loud popular music - with them. Christmas is not widely celebrated in Somalia, which officially adopted Sharia in 2009, but the odd event was held - especially as an excuse to hold a party. Mogadishu's mayor, Yusuf Hussein Jimale, told the BBC that such gatherings might also be a target for the Islamist al-Shabab group that has targeted hotels in the city in the past. And enjoy nothing more than cutting off the knackers of anybody who even thinks about having a good time. Quite right too. This country, of course, has its own equivalent of the religious affairs ministry. It's called the Department of Health & Welfare.
And, still on the subject of Johnny Foreigner and his strange and baffling ways to our Western worldview, Sri Lanka's president has said that the organisers of an Enrique Iglesias gig should be 'whipped' as punishment over the behaviour of some female fans. Personally, this blogger thinks the organisers of any Enrique Inglesias gig should be whipped. On general principle. But, that's another matter entirely. Maithripala Sirisena suggested that scenes of local women running on stage to kiss the singer and throwing their knickers and bras at him, was 'most uncivilised'. He added that the organisers of the concert should be 'whipped with toxic stingray tails' - an ancient punishment in the country. And, to think, you have to pay good money for that sort of thing over here. Anyway ...

For Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day for this very special day, dear blog reader, here's a very special example of the genius of Nick Lowe.
The Christmas Day playlist at Stately Telly Topping Manor, in case you were wondering, was this -
Well, it was either that, an LP produced by a convicted murderer or an horrifically wretched single by the alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie and Yoko Bloody Ono. So, it had to be Motown, then. And, a jolly 'Bah humbug' t'the lot you and all of your family and friends, dear blog reader! Hope you didn't get too sick on all the Yorkshire pud, Bailey's and chocolate.