Saturday, November 28, 2015

Heaven Sent: Ey-Aye, Ey-Aye, Adios!

'As you come into this world, something else is also born. You begin your life and it begins a journey towards you. It moves slowly and never stops. Wherever you go, whatever path you take, it will follow. Never faster, never slower, always coming, You will run, it will walk. You will rest, it will not. One day, you will linger in the same place too long, you will sit too still or sleep too deep. And when, too late, you rise to go you will notice a second shadow next to yours. Your life will then be over.'
'Always the teacher. What's the right question, then?'
'Are you gardeners? I hate gardening. What sort of  person has a power complex about flowers? It's dictatorship for inadequates. Or, to put it another way, it's dictatorship. Come on, chop, chop, The Doctor will see you now. Show me what you've got. I've just watched my best friend die in agony, my day can't get any worse. Let's see what we can do about yours!'
'I know you, I've seen you before. I used to know a trick, back when I was young and telepathic. Clearly you can't make an actual psychic link with a door for one very obvious reason. They're notoriously cross! I mean, imagine life as a door. People keep pushing past you! All of that knocking but it's never for you. And, you get locked up every night so if you are just a little bit nice ... See, Clara! Still got it! ... I can't, actually, see a way out of this. Finally run out of corridor. There's a life summed up!'
'Sorry I'm late, jumped out of a window! Certain death. Don't you want to know how I survived? Go on, ask me! No, of course I had to jump, the first rule of being interrogated is that you are the only irreplaceable person in the torture chamber. The room is yours. So, work it. If they're going to threaten you with death, show them who's boss! Die faster! You've seen me do that more than most. Rule one of dying: Don't! Rule two: Slow down. You've got the rest of your life, the faster you think the slower it will pass, so concentrate. Assume you're going to survive, always assume that. Imagine you've already survived. There's a storeroom in your mind, lock the door and think. This is my storeroom. I always imagine that I'm back in my TARDIS, showing off. Tell you how I escaped. Making you laugh. That's what I'm doing right now. I am falling, Clara. I am dying. And I'm going to explain to you how I survived.'
'When I was a very little boy there was an old lady who died. They covered her in veils but it was a very sunny, hot day and the flies came. I had nightmares for years. So, who's been stealing my nightmares?'
'It's not just truth it wants, that's not enough, it's confession. I have to tell truths I've never told before. That's the only thing that stops it. You see the problem is, there are truths that I can never tell, not for anything. But I'm scared and I'm alone. Alone, and very very scared. I confess.'
'I'm not scared of Hell. It's just Heaven for bad people! How long will I have to be here? Forever?'
'Am I spoiling the magic? I work at this stuff, you know?!'
'My life is a countdown ... Eighty two minutes to eat, sleep and work. My work is finding room twelve. The castle wants me too, it's luring me.'
'It's funny, the day you lose someone isn't the worst, at least you've got something to do. It's all the days they stay dead.'
'There are two events in everybody's life that nobody remembers. Two moments experienced by every living thing, yet no one remembers anything about them. Nobody remembers being born and nobody remembers dying. Is that why we always stare into the eye-sockets of a skull? Because we're asking "what was it like?" "Does it hurt?" "Are you still scared?"'
'Clara said I shouldn't "take revenge." You should know, I don't always listen.'
'Do you want me to tell you a story? ... 'There was this emperor and he asks a shepherd's boy how many seconds are in eternity. The shepherd's boy says "there's this mountain made of pure diamond, it takes an hour to climb it and an hour to go around it. Every hundred years a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on the diamond mountain. And, by the time the mountain is chiselled away, the first second of eternity will have passed." You must think that's a Hell of a long time. Personally, I think that's a Hell of a bird!'
'If they ask you who I am, tell them I came the long way round!'
'These screens, everywhere, it's showing me exactly where it is all the time. How far it's got. How near. Because it's trying to scare me. Putting its breath on my neck. That's the point, that's what it's doing, this is theatre. It's all about fear. Working hypotheses; we're in a fully-automated haunted house, a mechanical maze. It's a killing puzzle box designed to scare me to death and I'm trapped inside it. Must be Christmas!' Trapped in a world unlike any other he has seen, The Doctor faces the greatest challenge of his many (many) lives. One final test, a torture chamber of his own nightmares. And, he must face it alone. Well, almost alone. Pursued by a terrifying, faceless, nameless creature, he must attempt the impossible. If he makes it through, Gallifrey is waiting ... Well dear blog reader, guess what? Yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought that was great. Properly, mag-fekking-nificently, twenty four carat great. Then again, he usually does. Ask one of these these chaps, they'll tell you. (Well, maybe not the sixth one.)
The BBC have released two new publicity images for the forthcoming Doctor Who Christmas Special, which stars Peter Capaldi as The Doctor with Alex Kingston returning as River Song. The new edition of the Radio Times (the one with Benny Cumberbatch on the cover), features an interview with The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE), during which he confirms where in River's convoluted timeline this episode takes place: 'It doesn't really matter, but for those who care it's immediately after The Angels Take Manhattan: River’s just seen Matt Smith's Doctor lose Amy and Rory and, obviously, before The Name Of The Doctor because she's dead in that.' The Radio Times website has also revealed that the now traditional Doctor Who cover for the Christmas period will be on the issue dated 5 to 11 December, covering both the special and this year's series finale, Hell Bent.
The Lord Thy Steven Moffat (OBE) always knew that he was going to write Doctor Who – he told Missy at a party years ago. In the latest issue of Radio Times, the showrunner recounts the occasion in 2001 where he and Michelle Gomez, the wife of one of Moffat's Coupling actors, Jack Davenport, got drunk and predicted the future. 'She recalls and I do not – when we were all out in Montreux in 2001 and Coupling won the Silver Rose. We all partied, so drunk we could hardly speak, and I said, "I swear I'm gonna make Doctor Who one day." I like the fact that this conversation took place between the future showrunner and future Master.' In the wide-ranging interview, the showrunner reflects on his whinging critics among The Special People (that's very entertaining), the next companion and what he told Peter Capaldi before this series of Doctor Who: 'You're the raddled old rocker. If you want to play your electric guitar on top of a tank, you damn well do it.' Steven also discusses his shyness and how he takes inspiration from other writers: 'Some things you see on TV are so bad, you think you shouldn't write for a week in case you're contaminated, in case it's got into your head. The sheer rubbishness of the dialogue and story construction. You have to detox. But you read a script by Russell [Davies] and suddenly everything makes sense in an immaculate, clean way.' Talking about his own eventual departure from the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama and on finding on a worthy successor to run the show, The Moffinator added: 'That's an issue I'm actively engaged in. Everything is difficult in Doctor Who, including leaving. I'd never leave it in the lurch because it means too much to me. Let's not pretend it's not a big problem. But there will be a solution.'
Doctor Who's Christmas Special will feature Greg Davies and Matt Lucas. Fans already know that the episode will mark the first time that Peter Capaldi's Doctor meets his former wife, River Song. Now, it has been announced that Davies will play the character of King Hydroflax and Lucas will appear as Nardole. Davis is of course known for shows including The Inbetweeners, Man Down and Cuckoo, while Little Britain co-creator Lucas recently starred in Pompidou. Which was about as funny as a slap in the knackers with a wet haddock. The BBC has also published an official synopsis for the episode: 'It's Christmas Day on a remote human colony and The Doctor is hiding from Christmas Carols and Comedy Antlers. But, when a crashed spaceship calls upon The Doctor for help, he finds himself recruited into River Song's squad and hurled into a fast and frantic chase across the galaxy. King Hydroflax is furious and his giant robot bodyguard is out-of-control and coming for them all. Will Nardole survive? And when will River Song work out who The Doctor is? All will be revealed on a starliner full of galactic super-villains and a destination the Doctor has been avoiding for a very long time.' The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) told the Radio Times that the Christmas episode would be 'a great romp', but has warned fans there is 'not a lot of Christmas in it. The big deal is Doctor number twelve encountering River and vice versa,' he said. 'It's strange because they're now, in our human terms, the perfect couple. They're both sexy older people. It's always been slightly strange before with Matt Smith. Now they could actually be married. It works.' Moffat said that River provided 'a nice bridge' for fans mourning Clara. 'We've just lost Clara, so I didn't want to go straight into a new companion. I'll be honest, I brought River Song back in because I thought there was a possibility I'd never write [Doctor Who] again, so that'd be my goodbye. But also, I really fancied it. I hadn't written River for a couple of years, and I'd missed her.' Doctor Who is just one of the highlights of the BBC's 2015 Christmas schedule announced on Tuesday, along with the return of Luther and Sherlock. There will be Christmas specials of EastEnders, Top Of The Pops, Strictly Come Dancing, Detectorists and Call The Midwife. Dickensian sees Charles Dickens's most famous characters - including Scrooge, Fagin and Miss Havisham - intertwine in Nineteenth Century London, and there is also an adaptation of the best-selling crime novel of all time, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.
In 2013, the claim was widely made that Christopher Eccleston had declined to appear in Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary special, The Day Of The Doctor - a decision he reached after several meetings with showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE). Now - on the show's fifty second anniversary - The Moffat his very self has elaborated on what happened, in an interview with Radio Times. 'The first version [of the script] was David [Tennant], Matt [Smith] and Chris [Eccleston] together,' he confirmed. 'But, I knew that Chris was almost certainly going to say no. I met him a couple of times and he was absolutely lovely. He met with me because he didn't want to say no through his agent or a phone call or e-mail. He wanted to do it personally. And I three-quarters talked him into it. So I started a version of it but I got to a point where I could go no further unless it was going to be him. I went for another meeting with him and he decided no. His reasons are his business and he's a very private man. But it's reasonable to say he really cares about Doctor Who. He's well versed in what's happened since he left, and happily chatted away about Amy Pond by name.' Rewrites recast the Ninth Doctor as the War Doctor - with Moffat insisting that John Hurt was his top choice to play the battle-scarred incarnation of the Time Lord. 'He was top of our list and - God bless him for ever! - he said yes almost immediately. That was the first stroke of luck we had on that sodding show.' At one point, neither Matt Smith nor David Tennant were signed for The Day Of The Doctor, with only Jenna Coleman under contract for the special. 'I did come up with a plotline that was just Jenna,' Moff confessed. 'It was a nightmare.' In the end, Smith, Tennant, Hurt and Tom Baker all appeared in the event episode, which won positive reviews and a huge audience, the highest viewed drama on British TV during the entire year.
Ofcom has, rightly, decided against launching an investigation into an episode of Doctor Who that was branded insensitive for showing a plane being shot down soon after the crash of a flight out of Egypt. Because, they've got more important things to do with their time than waste it on such nonsense, presumably. The broadcasting regulator received thirty one whinges about the episode - from arsehole glakes with nothing better to do with their time, clearly - which was broadcast a week after a Metrojet airliner crashed, probably due to a terrorist bomb, killing all two hundred and twenty four people on board. In the scene, which - obviously - was filmed months earlier, a Zygon doppelganger of Clara, was shown trying to bring down the plane carrying The Doctor back to the UK using a shoulder-mounted bazooka. The plane is then shown blowing up in mid-air and two parachutes - The Doctor and Petronella Osgood - can be seen floating down to the beach. 'We received a number of complaints that it was insensitive to broadcast this episode, which featured a plane being shot down, so close to events in the Sinai peninsula,' said a spokesman for Ofcom, wearily. 'In our view, the science fiction nature of Doctor Who and the storyline created a sufficient distinction from [any] recent events. We therefore will not be taking the matter forward for investigation.' Sadly, Ofcom did not add to those thirty one waste-of-space knobs who had whinged about such rank and utter triiva, 'why don't you people grown the fek up.' They didn't do that, of course, because they are far too polite to do so. But, I'm not.
And, speaking of crass and ignorant whinging, ITV have been at it again. Big surprise. The BBC is aggressively targeting ITV's flagship dramas with the 'intensely competitive' scheduling of its own high-profile productions, the commercial broadcaster has claimed to ministers, according to the Torygraph. Although why where the BBC schedules the programmes it makes such be of any concern to anyone but the BBC themselves is a question well worth asking, one could argue. In a submission to a government review of the future of the BBC, ITV whinges that the corporation's 'commercially damaging' tactics have led to viewers increasingly choosing to 'timeshift' ITV dramas – recording them and then fast-forwarding through the adverts – in a move which threatens the commercial viability of the genre. Which appears to suggest that ITV would like to decide for themselves what the BBC broadcasts opposite selected programmes, something that even the BBC's biggest critic must, surely, agree is a nonsense of quite disgraceful proportions. ITV has long complained that the BBC chooses to schedule Strictly Come Dancing at a similar time to The X Factor, even going as far as to publish the transmission times of its singing show months in advance, to try to stave off a clash. Now the broadcaster whinges that the BBC is also targeting its drama output. Perhaps they are suggesting that the BBC should just show The Potters Wheel when ITV have a drama or an entertainment show on? Or the news? It really is getting pathetic now - talk about throwing toys out of prams. In a submission to ministers, ITV whinges that the BBC 'deliberately' scheduled Silent Witness, the popular long-running crime drama, against the second series of Broadchurch after the first series of the ITV drama became an overnight success. The broadcaster whinged: 'These tactics are particularly damaging commercially in the context of original drama. The comparison between the viewing and return on investment for ITV of Broadchurch series one and series two is particularly illuminating in this regard – as it demonstrates the impact of the BBC's scheduling behaviour on ITV drama performance.' The advent of personal video recorders, which allow viewers to easily store multiple episodes of dramas, is creating a headache for commercial channels. The Torygraph quotes Matt Hill, the research director of Thinkbox, which represents commercial broadcasters, saying: 'If an advert gets fast-forwarded through, advertisers do not get charged for it and so the commercial broadcaster does not make any money. Adverts that are viewed at normal speed more than seven days after the programme is recorded also do not yield a return.' Figures from Attentional, the ratings agency, show that the first series of Broadchurch was seen by an average of 9.4 million viewers per episode. The second series received more mixed reviews than the first but still garnered an average audience of 9.2 million. 'Two-thirds of viewers watched the first series, which went up against BBC documentaries such as Motorway Cops and The Prisoners, as it went out live,' the Torygraph claim. Which is only partly accurate as, among the other shows that the eight episodes of Broadchurch's first series faced were three dramas; Mayday and Shetland in its first two weeks and then Jonathan Creek on Easter Monday 2013. Bit of short term memory loss there, Torygraph? However, after the corporation scheduled Silent Witness against the second series, the proportion of viewers watching Broadchurch live dropped by a sixth, to fifty six per cent. ITV whinged in its submission: 'Given the enormous success of the first series of Broadchurch, when the second series arrived, the BBC scheduled one of its most reliable dramas – the latest series of Silent Witness – in direct competition to Broadchurch. The competitive scheduling of Silent Witness had a significant dampening effect on both overall viewing to Broadchurch, and also increased the proportion of Broadchurch viewing accounted for by timeshifting. The competitive scheduling by the BBC therefore materially reduced Broadchurch's ability to convert viewers into commercial impacts, resulting in lower revenue-generating potential on a like-for-like viewing basis, substantially damaging ITV's return on investment in Broadchurch.' The BBC which, let's remember, has long transmitted its popular dramas at 9pm, rejected these ludicrous, 'snitching to teacher' allegations. A spokesman said: 'It is illogical to say that you get less choice by having lots of quality drama – the public wins, not loses by having choice. We are not going to comment on ITV's output or their scheduling decisions, that is a matter for them and we wish them well. Our job is to focus on distinctiveness and quality, and that's why BBC drama is currently so popular.' A marvellously dignified and yet vicious back-handed bitch slapping there for ITV and its crass and ignorant whinging. Good on you, BBC, for showing some backbone to these clowns.
The Sherlock special has a title, a broadcast date - 1 January 2016 - and now, an official synopsis. The BBC has released a tantalising teaser for The Abominable Bride - a one-off episode of the hit crime drama which transports Sherlock (yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch) and John Watson (Martin Freeman his very self) back to their Victorian roots. 'Doctor John Watson, meet Misterr Sherlock Holmes. We've been here before - but what if this wasn't the modern day but the late Victorian period?' the synopsis begins. 'What if the world's most famous consulting detective and his best friend lived in a Baker Street of steam trains, hansom cabs, top hats and frock-coats? Welcome to Sherlock in 1895! Some things, though, remain reassuringly the same. Friendship, adventure and especially murder. Why is Thomas Ricoletti a little surprised to see his wife dressed in her old wedding gown? Because, just a few hours before, she took her own life. Mrs Ricoletti's ghost now appears to be prowling the streets with an unslakeable thirst for revenge. From fog-shrouded Limehouse to the bowels of a ruined church, Holmes, Watson and their friends must use all their cunning to combat an enemy seemingly from beyond the grave and the final, shocking truth about... the Abominable Bride!' This period special will be the first new Sherlock for two years. A full fourth series is expected to start shooting next year.
If, dear blog reader, when you heard that Sherlock was heading back to the Victorian age you thought, 'They're mad as toast!' then it turns out you're in good company. Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch told the press this week that he thought such a ploy was 'bonkers', until he heard the full pitch from The Lord he God Steven Moffat (OBE) and Mark Gatiss his very self. 'I genuinely didn't understand how they were going to get away with it,' Benny said. 'And then, the more detailed pitch came - we were talking about series four as well, and I went, "Okay, this is going to be great fun". And it really is. It's so nice to play [Sherlock] in his era.' The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat revealed that both Sherlock producer Sue Vertue and Ben Stephenson - then the BBC's Controller of Drama Commissioning - shared the same initial reservations. 'I remember both Sue and Ben hesitating, because there is a reasonable expectation on their part that we might be over-indulging ourselves. But we're not making a piss-take or a parody - and we're not going to get carried away. It's going to be really good. Our objective was that ten, fifteen minutes in, you're going to forget that we've changed it. You're just going to be watching a really good Sherlock Holmes story.' Martin Freeman had less of a problem with the time jump. In fact, he admitted that - back in 2010 - that he was originally 'resistant' to the idea of modernising the Sherlock Holmes stories. 'Before I read it, I thought "modern Sherlock Holmes? It could clearly be rubbish." So I was resistant to it, but then I saw how good the writing was. It could've been set in the Stone Age and if the writing's that good, I'm always up for it.' The Abominable Bride might be tweaking the classic Sherlock set-up, but Amanda Abbington is confident that the one-off episode will become a fan favourite. 'Personally, I think it's a fantastic idea, taking the special completely out of context [of the series],' she said. 'I like the fact that it's on hiatus, and we can do this, and it's just a different take on it. I have a feeling that the fans are going to love it.'
Sherlock is coming back for a special episode in the New Year - you might have noticed - but could this one-off format become the norm? Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch told the media this week that he is 'determined' to stick with the series, despite his increasingly busy schedule in being an international film star. 'I'm still enjoying it - and we'll see how the next series goes, but I've said many times before I'd love to keep ageing with [Sherlock],' Benny said. 'As actors, what intrigues us all to come back and play these characters is that there is scope for them to expand and change and evolve. It'd be an interesting experiment. Martin and I started this relatively young compared to a lot of pairings of Holmes and Watson, so why not?' Marty Freeman says that, likewise, he is 'committed' to Sherlock, though he added that the team's other projects can make it 'shockingly difficult' to pin down filming dates. 'I've always believed in doing things for as long as one wants to do them,' he said. 'But the truth is, it has got more and more difficult to factor in.' 'Whole civilisations have risen and fallen between seasons of Sherlock,' said Mark Gatiss. 'We've accidentally cast the two biggest stars in the country and it is quite tough [to schedule]. We're not deliberately trying to ruin people's lives. It's just very difficult!' 'I think if it becomes impossible to schedule a season every year - or year-and-a-half - then yeah, why not [do more specials]?' said Ben. 'It's a great deal of fun, this [new episode], but it does advance things. It's not just on it's own.'
ITV has strenuously denied a Sun story which claimed that Coronation Street was planning to broadcast a storyline in which a character is radicalised into an Islamic extremist. The Sun ran the story - which it claimed as 'an exclusive' - on Friday of this week headlined Jihadi plot in Corrie under banner text reading 'shock extremism scenes.' It was accompanied by a, rather crassly mocked-up, image of a man in a balaclava waving a black Isis flag outside the Rovers Return, captioned 'Hot plot. How jihadi would look on the cobbles.' Indeed. Ridiculous, basically. The risible tabloid, whose relationship to true and accurate reportage is. of course, a matter of public record for all the world to see, claimed that 'senior figures' at the ITV soap were planning a storyline showing a character becoming a Muslim extremist in 'what would be the show's most controversial plot so far.' Alleged 'sources' on the show were allegedly cited as allegedly saying that it is 'a very relevant issue' and that it is 'only right that we should be seriously considering it.' Whom these alleged 'sources' were remains unclear as they were anonymous. And, therefore, almost certainly fictitious. An ITV spokeswoman denied that any such plot was being considered. 'There are absolutely no plans to introduce a Muslim extremist or radicalisation storyline into Coronation Street, nor has there ever been,' she said. So, there you have it, dear blog reader, either ITV are lying, or the Sun's anonymous - and, therefore, probably fictitious - alleged 'source' is lying. Allegedly. Whom do you believe? It is understood that one of the soap's executives, John Whitson, was speaking at a Royal Television Society forum recently and was asked if there were any storylines that Coronation Street would not tackle. He is reported to have cited an example of how a radicalisation story had been 'discussed' at a storyline conference 'about a year ago', after being pitched by a writer, but that it was never pursued. He told the audience that plot lines on Coronation Street are derived from the show's characters. 'Many stories are pitched by writers and for every story that goes ahead many are not followed up, this was one of those cases,' an alleged 'source' allegedly said. A Sun spokesperson said that the newspaper's 'interpretation' of Whitson's comments at the RTS event were that a radicalisation storyline was 'an option.' Even though, that's not what the man said or anything even remotely like it. In fact, it's quite the opposite of what he said. Still, why let a little issue like that get in the way of a good story? 'At an event on Tuesday evening, the managing director of continuing drama on ITV said that they had "discussed radicalisation" and although it wasn't "right at the moment" they needed to do it "in a particular way for early evening on ITV1,"' claimed the spokesman. 'This was corroborated by a source on Coronation Street, who is quoted at length in the Sun story, which shows that this storyline is still in the plans of senior executives at ITV.' The Sun story does not contain any direct comments from the event at which Whiston, spoke. This is the second time in a week that the Sun has been criticised over hysterically overblown news stories related to Islamic extremism. On Monday, the paper ran what has since become an infamous front-page story about an opinion poll purporting to show that 'one in five' British Muslims 'had sympathy for jihadis.' The UK press regulator has received more than two thousand complaints about the story, while the company that carried out the polling, Survation, swiftly moved to distance itself from the story, saying that it did not 'support or endorse the way in which this poll’s findings have been interpreted' by the Sun. On Thursday, the Sun's News UK sister paper The Times printed a statement in the corrections and clarifications column admitting that the Sun story about the poll was 'misleading.' For which read 'a load of abject bollocks.' In 2010, the Sun ran an infamous story claiming that security had been increased around the Coronation Street set, over fears that it could be 'targeted by terrorists' during a live episode. The piece cited alleged comments given to the Bolton News by members of Greater Manchester Police. A few weeks later the Sun, belatedly, admitted that its 'exclusive' about the live episode being 'targeted by al-Qaeda' was, entirely, false. 'Further to our article about increased security at Coronation Street's studios for their live fiftieth anniversary episode,' the Sun wrote. 'We would like to make clear that while cast and crew were subject to full body searches, there was no specific threat from Al-Qaeda as we reported. We apologise for the misunderstanding and are happy to set the record straight.' Something that was, you know, not true, published in the Sun? Surely not?
It appears as if a major EastEnders character is about to be killed. The Mirra cites alleged, though again anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious 'sources' allegedly 'close to the soap' when reporting that Charlie Slater will soon meet his end in Albert Square. Reports of actor Derek Martin's departure come as a surprise, since his character Charlie was only recently announced to be returning to EastEnders. EastEnders producers have thus far refused to confirm or deny the report.

I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was again, depressingly, top of the overnight ratings jungle on Monday evening. A total of 8.66 million overnight punters tuned in to the Victorian freak show's latest episode. ITV dominated the night with two episodes of Coronation Street attracting 7.67 million and 7.46 million overnight viewers respectively. Sandwiched between those, The Martin Lewis Money Show was watched by 4.13 million, a figure which, perhaps, helps to explain why BBC1's EastEnders drew only 6.06 million viewers on what is, traditionally, the night of the week on which it draws its largest overnight audience. Earlier, The ONE Show had 4.32m. On BBC2, Only Connect began to recover some of its 'lost' audience climbing to 1.92 million, the popular lateral thinking quiz show's highest overnight figure since it was shifted from the 8:30 slot to 7:30 to make room for Nigella (she had her knockers) three weeks ago. It's interesting to note that Only Connect this week had, not only a Star Trek question on the wall but, also, one that included a Doctor Who reference (22 November being, in addition to the day that Aldous Huxley, CS Lewis and JFK died but also, the eve of Doctor Who's first episode). They know their audience, clearly! Simply Nigella was watched by 2.21 million people in search of yet more filth. And, by hell did they get it! In-between those two, a terrific match between Liverpool and Southampton in the latest University Challenge episode attracted 2.97 million viewers. On Channel Four, The Shopper's Guide To Saving Money drew 1.23m and the hastily scheduled ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled was seen by 1.40m. Channel Five's Police Interceptors was watched by 1.07m and Sepp Blatter Exposed: The Fall Of FIFA captured four hundred and forty three thousand. BBC4's Britain's Outlaws: Highwaymen, Pirates & Rogues beat its Channel Five opposition, being seen by five hundred and thirty one thousand viewers.

I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) continued its high ratings run on Tuesday, attracting over seven and a half million viewers on ITV. The latest episode featuring Ferne McCann's claustrophobic trial (apparently) brought in an average overnight audience of 7.53 million at 9pm, a million viewers down on the previous episode. Earlier, Emergency! Trains Versus Weather was watched by 2.44 million at 8pm. On BBC1, the new drama Capital began with an only slightly better than average 3.84 million at 9pm. Earlier Holby City drew 4.06 million and The ONE Show, with guest Eddie Izzard, was watched by 4.11 million. On BBC2, the first of this week's MasterChef: The Professionals episodes continued to get impressive numbers, with 3.19 million seeing an episode in which most of the chefs were hit by severe bouts of nerves. And, having to stand within striking distance of scowling, vexed Monica Galetti, who, in all honesty, can blame 'em? The Great Pottery Throwdown followed with 1.71 million viewers at 9pm. Channel Four's House Of Hypochondriacs had an audience of 1.13m at 8pm, followed by Twenty Four Hours In A&E with 1.22 million at 9pm and Catastrophe with a - pretty catastrophic - five hundred and sixty six thousand punters at 10pm. On Sky1, The Flash's latest episode attracted four hundred and sixty eight thousand at 8pm.

I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want)​ widened the gap over its BBC1 reality rival The Apprentice​ on Wednesday night. The ITV freak show was gawped at by an average overnight audience of 7.09m at 9pm, down around five hundred thousand from the previous episode. This was, nevertheless, over two million more punters than The Apprentice​, which dipped to a series low of 4.95m at 9pm could manage. Earlier, Cuffs​ brought in 3.21m at 8pm, while All-Star Mr & Mrs​ attracted 3.10m at 8pm on ITV. On BBC2, MasterChef: The Professionals​ appealed to 2.87m at 8pm. On Channel Five, Can't Pay, We'll Take It Away​ interested 1.05m at 9pm. Suspects​ returned with a mere three hundred and twenty nine thousand viewers at 10pm. On Channel Four, Supervet​ gathered 1.78m at 8pm, followed by Grand Designs​ with 1.26m at 9pm. Peep Show​ had an audience of seven hundred and twenty five thousand at 10pm, followed by Toast Of London​ with four hundred and forty three thousand viewers at 10.30pm.

Good old reliable MasterChef: The Professionals, dear blog reader; Wednesday's episode provided further examples of that truism we've noted on From The North so many times before. If you're a MasterChef contestant and you're doing the pre-cookery interview and the producers say to you, 'tell us how fabby-excellent you think you are,' just don't do it. Because, inevitably, if you then have a nightmare, which chances are you may, they're going to use the bits of the interview where you big yourself up and you'll look like a plank! And, the viewers know they'll use those bits so they're all simply waiting for the first chef to say 'yeah, I'm pure dead brilliant, me. I'm gonna rock your world with my outstanding mad-brilliance, so I will.' The average viewer will then say to his-or-her-self, 'aye, he (or she) is going to be leaving, probably with their tail between their legs. before the hour is up.' It always happens and it happened twice on Wednesday. First there was Shaun, twenty one but, already a head chef. So clearly, this kid has some talent. Trouble was, he knew it and he wanted everyone else to know it. 'When it comes to food, that's my form of creativity and art and that's how I like to showcase my knowledge. I have an attention to detail that not many other chefs do and I think that's what's going to set me apart.' Oh dear, Shaun. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. You knew what was coming next. And, like watching a car crash you just couldn't take your eyes away from the oncoming catastrophe. In the skills test, Shaun's lobster ravioli fell to pieces whilst being boiled and, in the next round showcasing the chef's own specialist dish, his effect included caramalised mousse. Or, it was supposed to. 'If this goes wrong, if you don't get your timings right, you're going to have a caramalised puddle,' Gregg Wallace warned. So, guess what happened, then? 'It clearly has melted,' said scowling Monica, rather unhelpfully this blogger thought as Shaun looked for all the world like he was about to burst into tears. 'It's not worked out well for you today.' And, the next contestant on Mastermind is Monica Galetti with her specialist subject, stating the bleeding obvious. Then, there was John, who works in a fine dining restaurant in Wiltshire. In the next couple of years, John told us, he wanted to be a head chef. Good, ambition without hubris. 'And then, the overall goal is to set up my own place, eventually pushing for a Michelin Star. I want to prove, to myself, that I can compete with the top professional chefs in the country ... I believe that I can.' Yep, there's another car crash coming up, dear blog reader. Given the, admittedly hard, task of boning - and stuffing - a pig's trotter, John spent fifteen minutes struggling with beast and didn't even get to the stuffing part. Might be an idea to forget about the Michelin Star for the moment until you've mastered how to stuff a bit of pig, John. 'I reckon I could come back tomorrow morning and you'd still be here,' said Monica, sticking the - boning - knife in and twisting it, viciously. John then had a slightly better second round but, still, the memory of him wrestling with a pig's foot and getting nowhere fast counted horribly against him. Now, compare those two with the rather lovely Joey, a private chef, who said at the start of the episode: 'I fear that the other chefs may be more skillful, but I hope I can keep up.' Good girl. That's the way to do it, guys, undersell yourself to the cameras! In the event, Joey - whom you could almost feel Marcus and Gregg as well as the entire audience falling head-over-heels in love with as the episode progressed - made an almost flawless ravioli that impressed all three judges (yes, even Monica) and then had a decent second round, making sea trout with crispy skin and an almond purée. Twisty-faced Monica whinged a bit about the purée not being smooth enough for her twisty-faced tastes, though Marcus said he liked it - and Joey was through to the quarter finals along with Joe (who recovered well after a horrible skills test) and experienced head chef Gavin who was steady, if unspectacular, through both rounds.
I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was watched an average overnight audience of 7.81 million at 9pm on Thursday - the same audience as the previous week's equivalent episode. Earlier, Paul O'Grady's For The Love Of Dogs appealed to 3.86m at 8.30pm. On BBC1, Watchdog brought in an audience of 3.52m at 8pm, whilst on BBC2, MasterChef: The Professionals was watched by 2.34m. The Last Kingdom attracted 1.55m viewers at 9pm, followed by Russell Howard's Good News with 1.18m at 10pm. On Channel Four, The Secret Life Of Five-Year-Olds drew 1.29m punters at 8pm, followed by The World's Most Expensive Food with 1.10m at 9pm and First Dates with 1.15m at 10pm. On E4, The Big Bang Theory topped the multichannels with 1.44m at 8.30pm.

I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was the most watched overnight show on Friday evening. Bet that surprised you,dear blog reader. No? It had an audience of 7.38 million viewers watching the first jungle elimination at 9pm on ITV. Earlier, Gino's Italian Escape attracted 2.49m at 8pm. On BBC1, The ONE Show attracted 3.44m at 7pm and A Question Of Sport had 3.17m at 8.30pm. Citizen Khan brought in 2.52m at 9pm, Have I Got News For You was seen by 3.71m at 9pm and Peter Kay's Car Share was watched by 1.78m at 9.30pm. Featuring appearances by Johnny Depp and yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch, The Graham Norton Show rounded the evening off with 3.23 million punters. On BBC2, Mastermind was seen by 1.99m at 8pm, An Island Paris: Falklands attracted 1.67m at 8.30pm, Great Continental Railway Journeys with old Mister Portaloo brought in 1.58m at 9pm and Qi had an overnight audience of 1.16m at 10pm. As usual, Gogglebox was Channel Four's most watched show with 2.34m tuning in at 9pm. Earlier, 1.14m watched TFI Friday at 8pm. The World's Strongest Man attracted four hundred and thirty four thousand at 7pm on Channel Five and Police Interceptors was seen by seven hundred and twenty three thousand at 8pm. NCIS: New Orleans brought in five hundred and forty three thousand at 9.15pm, NCIS attracted five hundred and ninety thousand at 10pm and NCIS: Los Angeles had three hundred andtwenty five thousand at 11pm.

Comedy line of the week, not unexpectedly, came from Friday's episode of Qi. It followed Alan Davies's - somewhat implausible - story about buying 'Anal Hoopla' as a Secret Santa present; this gift consisted, Davies claimed, of a stick ('which goes, guess where?') and three hoops. 'It's an ice breaker,' suggested Bill Bailey. Newcomer Greg Davies, meanwhile, looked rather horrified. 'The tone of this show is so difficult to get right' he noted whilst Stephen fry profusely apologised to such filth. Jo Brand then cracked a rather witty one-liner about wondering if such a thing would be on sale 'at the Arsenal football ground'. It was left to Bill, one of the great comic talents the UK has ever produced, to come up with the perfect punchline. He produced a string of guttural syllables, paused, then said: 'That's Klingon for "Anal Hoopla"? No thanks!'
Strictly Come Dancing continued to draw more than ten million overnight punters on Saturday. The popular BBC1 pro-celebrity dance competition was watched by 10.2 million viewers, sweeping aside ITV's The X Factor which had an overnight of 6.36 million. Doctor Who's Peter Capaldi one-man tour de force, Heaven Sent, appealed to 4.51 million, up fractionally (by around forty thousand viewers) from last week's overnight audience. Despite widespread media acclaim for the episode, and particularly for yer man Capaldi's performance, its audience Appreciation Index score was eighty out of one hundred, lower than scores which the series usually receives (they're normally around the mid-eighties). Personally, this blogger would've given the episode one hundred and one out of one hundred had he still been part of the AI panel but, hey, what can I do? Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is just one man. Anyway, the latest Casualty had 3.97 million at 9pm before Match Of The Day, featuring Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable and, seemingly, relegation-bound) Magpies' latest gutless, cowardly, shameful 'surrender before kick-off' against Crystal Palace, drew 3.15m punters. Earlier, at 6pm, Pointless Celebrities attracted an impressive overnight of 5.73m. In the afternoon Formula 1: The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying was watched by 2.05m and coverage of the doubles at the Davis Cup Final had 2.62m. On ITV, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was the second-most watched programme of the evening, with 7.35 million. The Jonathan Ross Show then attracted an audience of 2.25 million. The Chase: Celebrity Special could only manage but 2.38m. BBC2's most-watched programme was, once again, the always reliable Dad's Army with 1.86m at 8.40pm. Elsewhere a repeat of good old Mister Portaloo's Great Continental Railway Journeys was watched by seven hundred and sixty thousand, Japan: Earth's Enchanted Islands by 1.46m, and Qi XL by 1.17m. Channel Four enjoyed moderate success with the movie premiere of Two Guns which was watched by 1.11 million. Channel Five was, yet again, rather humiliated across the entire evening with audience shares hovering at or below two per cent throughout peaktime. A repeat of Can't Pay? We'll Take it Away! was the channel's evening 'high' - if you can call it that - with four hundred and seventy nine thousand viewers. Football League Tonight's audience fell yet again to a new low of three hundred and forty thousand. On the multichannels, 9pm's episode of The Bridge was watched by eight hundred and fifty six thousand viewers on BBC4. Just for a bit of contaxt, that's almost three times as many viewers as were watching Channel Five at that time. The following episode had an audience of six hundred and eighty two thousand an hour later.
Strictly Come Dancing​ once again towered above its competition on Sunday night and went 'cock-a-doodle-doo, matrey' all over The X Factor's upturned face. The BBC1 show's latest results episode attracted an average overnight audience of 10.5 million at 7.15pm, exactly four million overnight viewers above the figure achieved by The X Factor​. On ITV, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef of Crossroads's tired old talent format​ brought in 6.50m at 8pm. I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was watched by 8.72m at 9pm. Earlier on BBC1, Countryfile​ also beat The X Factor ​​- by around seven hundred thousand overnight punters - attracting 7.27m at 6.30pm. Antiques Roadshow​ gathered 5.74m at 8pm and The Hunt​ was seen by 3.80m at 9pm. ITV's collosol drama flop Jekyll & Hyde ​suffered a further drop in its, already low, audience with 1.53m tuning in at 7pm. On Channel Four, Guy Martin's Last Flight Of The Vulcan Bomber had an audience of 2.22m at 7.30pm. Homeland​'s latest episode was watched by nine hundred and seventy five thousand at 9pm. On BBC2, Robert Peston Goes Shopping drew 1.04m, Ireland With Simon Reeve was seen by 1.81m and Monty Don's Secret History Of British Pants had 1.25m. Channel Five's Police Interceptors attracted five hundred and eighty one thousand viewer whilst Impractical Jokers managed a mere three hundred and forty thousand.

Motor racing fans were left worried after Suzi Perry hinted that F1 might not be returning to the BBC next season. The presenter was speaking during Sunday's coverage of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when she said that she would 'hopefully' be back in 2016. She said: 'We've got our review show on Saturday 12 December, and of course, hopefully, we'll be back with you next year – [it's] the 20 March, the next race.' The comments caused concern on social media, with some users taking them as a bad sign for future BBC F1 coverage. Speculation is rife after the BBC began a financial review and recently announced a cut of thirty five million knicker to the sports rights budget. They previously warned: 'Meeting this savings target will be tough, particularly given the high levels of inflation in the market. We, therefore, anticipate this will lead to the loss of some existing rights and events.'

Here's the final and consolidated ratings of the Top Twenty Three programmes for week-ending Sunday 22 November 2015:-
1 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 11.77m
2 I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) - Mon ITV - 10.16m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.16m
4 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.84m
5 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.29m
6 The X Factor - Sat ITV - 7.18m
7 The Apprentice - Wed BBC1 - 6.97m
8 England Friendlies: England Versus France - Tues ITV - 6.50m
9 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 6.08m
10 Doctor Who - Sat BBC1 - 6.05m
11= Adele At The BBC - Fri BBC1 - 5.83m
11= Six O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 5.83m
13 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.65m
14 Emmerdale - Tues ITV - 5.55m*
16 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 5.35m
17 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.36m
18 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.19m
19 The Hunt - Sun BBC1 - 5.00m
20 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.90m
21 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 4.35m
22 Cuffs - Wed BBC1 - 4.16m
23 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 4.08m
Those ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. These figures, as usual, do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. The Sunday episode of Strictly Come Dancing drew an audience of 11.25 million. Doctor Who's timeshift over and above the initial overnight audience for Face The Raven was 1.61m (and, it's worth stressing once again that figure does not account for people who watched the episode on iPlayer). The X Factor's Saturday night episode drew 5.64m viewers, not counting HD viewers. For the first time, possibly ever, an episode of The X Factor did not feature in ITV HD's top ten list so this blogger is unable to give you the programme's full audience figure. On BBC2, the three episodes of MasterChef: The Professionals drew audiences of 3.38m, 3.34m and 3.12m placing the series first, second and fourth in the channel's weekly list of most-watched programmes. University Challenge attracted with 3.17m viewers, followed by Ireland With Simon Reeve (2.74m), The Last Kingdom (2.50m), The Great Pottery Throw Down (2.44m), Simply Nigella (2.41m), London Spy (2.23m), Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two (2.06m), Only Connect (1.99m) and Great Continental Railway Journeys (1.97m). Qi drew and audience of 1.58m whilst the XL edition was watched by 1.38m. Aside from Gogglebox, Channel Four's top-rated broadcasts included The Secret Life Of Four, Five & Six Year Olds (2.80m), Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.28m), SAS: Who Dares Wins (1.85m) and First Dates (1.71m). Channel Five's highest-rated broadcast was GPs Behind Closed Doors (1.45m), followed by a broadcast of the film Mrs Miracle (1.38m), Loch Lomand: A Year In The Wild (1.30m) and Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! (1.27m). An episode of The Big Bang Theory brought in a figure of 2.646, by a huge distance the largest audience for a multchannels broadcast of the week. Sky Sports 1's Live Ford Super Sunday and Stottingtot Hotshots versus West Hamsters United was watched by 1.26m punters whilst the previous day's Live Ford Saturday Night Football between Sheikh Yer Man City and Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws attracted 1.18m. Sky Sports 2's coverage of El Classico and Barcelona giving Real Madrid a reet good twanking was watched by four hundred and one thousand whilst the final Pakistan versus England ODI attracted two hundred and forty eight thousand for England's thrilling, Jos Buttler-inspired victory. Gillette Soccer Saturday was, as usual, Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast, with five hundred and one thousand punters. ITV4's broadcast World Series Of Darts coverage had four hundred and forty eight thousand viewers. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama with eight hundred and forty one thousand whilst Lewis was watched by seven hundred and sixty one thousand. The Bridge's return to BBC4 for a third series drew audience of 1.81m and 1.53m for its first two episodes. Detectorists drew six hundred and forty seven thousand, whilst the excellent documentary Roman Britain: A Timewatch Guide had six hundred and forty thousand, Tankies: Tank Heroes of WW2 was watched by four hundred and fifty three thousand, Timeshift: How Britain Won The Space Race also by three hundred and ninety five thousand and At Home With The Georgians by three hundred and eighty five thousand. Seven episodes of Family Guy made up the majority of BBC3's top ten list for the week, Sunday's episode with an audience of five hundred and fifty thousand being the most watched. The only programme in the soon-to-be-former channel's list that was made, specifically, for it was Don't Tell The Bride. And there are still people who wonder why BBC3 is not long for the TV world. Sky Atlantic's weekly-list was topped by The Panthers (three hundred and eighty five thousand). The Affair drew three hundred and fifty one thousand. On Sky Living, Elementary had nine hundred and forty five thousand and The Blacklist was watched by nine hundred and thirty one thousand. Sky 1's The Flash had an audience of 1.46m whilst Supergirl attracted 1.02m and Arrow 1.01m. Sky Arts' Landscape Artist Of the Year had two hundred and forty seven thousand. 5USA's Castle was watched by five hundred and seventy eight thousand viewers. FOX's The Walking Dead brought in 1.48 million viewers. American Horror Story: Hotel had three hundred and forty two thousand, Tyrant was watched by one hundred and eighty four thousand, Talking Dead by one hundred and sixty thousand, Da Vinci's Demons by one hundred and forty three thousand and NCIS by ninety five thousand. CBS Action's weekly-list was headed by Bad Girls (ninety thousand). The Universal Channel's Sleepy Hollow had an audience of two hundred and forty one thousand whilst Law & Order: Special Victims Unit attracted two hundred and thirty eight thousand. On Dave, Alan Davies: As Yet Unfunny was the channel's highest-rated programme, with three hundred and thirty two thousand. That was followed by Storage Hunters UK (three hundred and seventeen thousand), Blackadder: Back & Forth (three hundred and six thousand) and American Pickers (two hundred and ninety four thousand). Drama's Dalziel & Pascoe drew three hundred and ninety one thousand and New Tricks was watched by three hundred and seventy one thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programmes were Crossing Lines (two hundred and twenty nine thousand) and Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (one hundred and eighty four thousand). Watch's broadcast of Grimm was seen by five hundred and eighty one thousand and The Strain by three hundred and forty four thousand. Yesterday's repeat run of Keeping Up Appearances continued two hundred and sixty thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush was watched by five hundred and seventeen thousand punters. Fast N' Loud had one hundred and eighty four thousand, Alaska: The Last Frontier one hundred and forty four thousand and Tony Robinson's Wild West one hundred and twenty two thousand viewers. On Discovery History, Waterloo: the Ultimate Battle topped the weekly-list with audience of twenty four thousand punters. Gunslingers drew twenty thousand, as did Off The Rails and Who Was Jesus?. On Discovery Science, Mythbusters was watched by forty three thousand punters. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programme was Wheeler Dealers (forty six thousand). National Geographic's top ten was headed by Yukon Gold which had one hundred and seventeen thousand viewers. Deadly Devotion was ID's largest audience of the week (sixty seven thousand). CI's Homicide Hunter brought in sixty nine thousand viewers whilst Crimes That Shook Britain drew fifty two thousand. Eden's The Big Bang Machine was seen by forty one thousand and Professor Brian Cox's Wonders Of The Universe by thirty four thousand. GOLD's top ten was headed by Mrs Brown's Boys (three hundred and twenty three thousand). Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for The middle (three hundred and forty one thousand). On ITV Encore, The Frankenstein Chronicles was watched by two hundred and seventy eight thousand viewers. TLC's weekly-list was topped by Jodie Marsh Is Exposed Online (one hundred and thirty six thousand). Your TV's Snapped had forty three thousand viewers.

Jeremy Clarkson's Top Gear years are to feature in a two‐part extravaganza on the BBC this Christmas, with star guests presenting highlights of the motoring show before Jezza's controversial departure earlier this year. It is not known whether Top Gear: From A To Z will include 'F For Fracas' although, the possibility that it might gave some Middle Class hippy Communist lice of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star the opportunity for a right good sneer. They do that quite a lot, you might have noticed. Voiced by John Bishop, the 'daft alphabet' idea, will feature a number of high profile Top Gear fans highlighting the series' 'brilliant journalism, beautiful photography and the trio of middle-aged men who sat at the heart of the show.' Jezza is now, of course, making a show with fellow former presenters James May and Richard Hammond for rival subscription service Amazon Prime - and getting paid a fucking fortune for it - while Chris Evans is fronting a new version of Top Gear that is scheduled to be broadcast next year. Which, might be good, might be bad, might be something in between we just don't know yet. Among other festive BBC highlights announced on Tuesday is a BBC1 penguin documentary narrated by Kate Winslet. Snow Chick – a follow-up to the successful natural history series Penguins: Spy In The Huddle – follows a baby emperor penguin's struggle for survival in the Antarctic as it faces temperatures of minus sixty degrees and a battle for supremacy against rival Adélie penguins. Y'see, you never hear a penguin whinging about climate change, do you? The BBC will also showcase Dickensian, as well as an adaptation of the bestselling crime novel of all time, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, starring Poldark's Aidan Turner. The corporation's Christmas schedules will feature festive specials of popular shows such as Doctor Who, Call The Midwife, Top Of The Pops and EastEnders as well as a new sketch show from David Walliams (so, that'll be worth avoiding), featuring Joanna Lumley (oh, hang on, might not be worth avoiding, then). Plus an adaptation of Walliams's children's book Billionaire Boy. Children will also be catered for with an adaptation of Julia Donaldson's book Stick Man and festive editions of Clangers and Danger Mouse.

The scene of Jezza's infamous 'fracas' with a Top Gear producer has been commemorated with a plaque at the hotel where the altercation took place. Simonstone Hall in the Yorkshire Dales shared a picture of the plaque, donated by a hotel guest, on Facebook. 'Here lies the BBC career of Jeremy Clarkson who had a fracas on this spot, 4 March 2015,' reads the plaque. 'The rest is legend.' Once again, just to repeat, Clarkson is now making a similarly formatted show for someone else and, reportedly, being paid a vast amount more than he ever got at the Beeb to do it.Just, you know, for a bit of context at this point. The Top Gear team were staying at the hotel during filming when producer Oisin Tymon was allegedly assaulted by Clarkson during a late-night argument over food. Or something. Following an internal investigation, the BBC announced that Clarkson's contract on Top Gear would not be renewed. 'We were presented with this plaque from one of our guests last night!' wrote Simonstone Hall, sharing a picture on social media. 'We think it would be quite appropriate to put it on the patio where the fracas took place!'
Meanwhile, Top Gear will relaunch on 5 May 2016, Chris Evans has revealed. Chris shared the start date for the rebooted series during an appearance on Saturday Kitchen, telling James Martin, 'you can expect a car show starting on 5 May.' One presumes he doesn't mean Jezz's new vehicle. Evans added that he had 'already started making the films, the films are good. We're going to America to make our first inter-continental in January [and we're] making another film next week. By the time we hit the air on 5 May, we'll have thirty two films in the can as they say.'
We finally know when Luther will be back on UK screens. Idris Elba has confirmed that the first part of Luther​'s fourth series will premiere on BBC1 on Tuesday15 December . It had already been announced that Luther's two new episodes would be broadcast as a three-hour movie event in the US on 17 December on BBC America. John Luther is called out of hiding once again as his former colleagues take down a cannibalistic serial killer. Joining the cast for this mini-series will be Rose Leslie, Laura Haddock and Patrick Malahide. Luther's third run was originally planned as the last on TV, but Elba recently explained why the show has been brought back: 'I don't think Neil Cross or I were satisfied with the ending of the last one.' Elba has also suggested that the new series would be a bit more 'evolved' than the previous three. Whatever that means.
Peter Davison made a guest appearance in a recent episode of Channel Four's - not especially funny - comedy Toast Of London. But, if you were looking very closely, dear blog reader, you might have seen another former Time Lord making a cameo appearance in the same episode.
Sue Perkins is to front a new BBC2 quiz show called Insert Name Here, which has been commissioned after a successful pilot this year. Richard Osman and Josh Widdicombe will join Perkins, acting as team captains on the six-part series. Each episode will revolve around a selected name, and those who have carried it in the past and present. Along with each team captain will be a guest comedian and a historian, and the sides will argue over who has found the greatest owner of the name. Sounds piss-awful frankly but, let's give it a chance. I mean, one of Sue's previous gigs, Don't Scare The Hare also sounded unpromising when it was announced. So, what could possibly go wrong? What? 'In Hebrew, the name Susan means "graceful lily" - in Khmer it means "girl with the bad puns" and in ancient Aztec it translates as "she with the cockerel hair and dirty glasses"' claimed Sexy Suzy. 'This particular Susan can't wait to get stuck into a whole host of Davids, Peters, Jonathans and Gertrudes - with the help of a magnificent Richard and a wonderful Joshua.'
Hans Rosenfeldt, the creator and writer of The Bridge, says that the current third series could be the last. 'It’s hard to say, I actually think three seasons is quite good,' the writer told the Radio Times. 'I think there are a few shows that have been going on a little too long actually. So three or perhaps four seasons. I don't think there should be a season nine of The Bridge, I don't think that's a good idea. The Killing did three, Borgen did three, Denmark has a history of making successful crime shows in threes.' The current third series is now being shown on BBC4 and sees Sofia Helin's Saga without Martin Rohde, her partner from the first two series. Kim Bodnia, the actor who played Martin, decided not to appear in the third series reportedly after disagreeing with Rosenfeldt over the direction of his character, who was arrested for murdering his son's killer at the end of series two. Bodnia thought he should stay in prison; Rosenfeldt wanted him free. In the end Bodnia pulled out in April 2014, leaving Rosenfeldt to make a number of last-minute rewrites for filming due that autumn. Much of the plot stayed intact but Saga was given a new partner, Henrik Sabroe, played by Thure Lindhardt. Rosenfeldt added that he would certainly not make another series of The Bridge if his female lead pulled out. 'We managed to stay alive losing one of our main characters. It would be hard to lose the other one.'

BBC2 will look back on the life and career of yer actual Stephen Fry his very self this Christmas​. Not that Stephen has died or anything so some might regard such a conceit as a little premature. A one-hour retrospective titled Stephen Fry: A Life On Screen will be shown next month, as a co-production of BAFTA and Whizz Kid Entertainment. The film will examine Stephen's comedy partnership with yer actual Hugh Laurie and his emergence as a fixture of UK television. BAFTA's director of production Clare Brown announced this week: 'BAFTA is delighted to have this opportunity to shine the spotlight on Stephen Fry, who has hosted our Film Awards with such great style for an incredible ten years.' During his career, Stephen won an EMMY for his film on mental illness and earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in the 1997 biopic Wilde. In October, Stephen revealed that he would be leaving his long-running role as host of the panel show Qi.
He is used to scrutinising the wonders of the natural world but Sir David Attenborough his very self will be the focus of a new BBC1 programme to mark his ninetieth birthday next year. Inspiring Attenborough: Sir David At Ninety will look at the broadcasting career of the man who has become synonymous with natural history programming and who was also a former controller of BBC2. During the show he will be interviewed in front of a studio audience by Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young. Young will ask David about the journeys across the globe which he has taken in pursuit of explaining nature to audiences, the people he has met and the experiences he has had. The one-hour special is being made by the BBC's own natural history unit in Bristol and will cover Attenborough's early work in the 1950s to the present, as he launches his latest adventure Great Barrier Reef and dinosaur-inspired Waking Giants in the new year. The man who once said that he planned to retire at eighty, shows no signs of slowing down with the BBC also announcing that he is to make a new programme about the world of bioluminescence called Light On Earth for BBC2. The groundbreaking programme uses new, ultra-sensitive and specially-designed cameras and a new generation of deep sea submersibles and robots to help show the light created by living things in a way that was seemingly invisible before. Natural history and special factual formats head of commissioning Tom McDonald said: 'The two new programmes demonstrate the integral role David continues to play in the success of natural history on the BBC. With Great Barrier Reef launching soon, Waking Giants in the new year and these two new titles for 2016, I'm delighted to have such a rich range of projects with David airing in the same year as his ninetieth birthday.'
House Of Cards' Michael Kelly has joined the cast of Steven Knight's Taboo, which started filming in London this week. Kelly will play an American doctor named Dumbarton in the eight-episode drama series to be directed by Kristoffer Nyholm. Tom Hardy leads a cast which also includes Jonathan Pryce, Oona Chaplin, David Hayman, Jessie Buckley, Ashley Walters and Jefferson Hall. Taboo follows James Keziah Delaney (played by Hardy), who returns to 1814 London after ten years in Africa to discover that he has been left a mysterious legacy by his late father. Driven to wage war on those who have wronged him in the past, Delaney finds himself in a face-off against the East India Company. 'The talent on- and off-screen is incredible and I am so excited to see Steve's captivating scripts come to life. Tom Hardy and the rest of the cast are set to bring this original and spectacular story to life in a unique and epic way,' said Polly Hill the Controller BBC Drama commissioning. Taboo is based on an original story by Hardy and his father, Chips Hardy, who is also the show's consulting producer. Knight has worked with Hardy before on both Peaky Blinders and Locke.
The three years since Harry Hill ebded Harry Hill's TV Burp have seen the once unmissable comic's career take something of a nose-dive. In particular, if his revival earlier this year of Stars In Their Eyes had been any more of a dog with out have shed hairs all over your carpet. Radio Times this week suggest that Hazza could be in line for a return to ITV and 'is in the process of developing a spoof cookery show.' According to alleged 'sources' allegedly 'close to the project', the show 'is still in the early stages of development.' But 'ITV bosses are understood to have high hopes for the proposed new series, which promises mayhem, jollity, some ridiculous cuisine.'

Don't think that you need to go to Lapland to take a sleigh ride this Christmas - BBC4 will be broadcasting one in what is, perhaps, this year's weirdest festive show. The two-hour The Sleigh Ride will fix a camera to a sleigh manned by an indigenous Sami reindeer herder and film what happens as it rides through the Arctic. For two hours. 'There is no engine noise,' BBC4 promised. 'All you can hear is the crunching of snow and the soft tinkle of a reindeer bell.' And, there's no commentary, music or presenter either but the BBC said that hopefully: 'If we're fortunate enough, maybe we'll spot the occasional wild moose or reindeer herd roaming across the landscape.' The rest of BBC4's festive offering is somewhat more standard, with a festive special of Detectorists and a celebration of children's television in the documentary From Andy Pandy To Zebedee which will include interviews from the likes of Bernard Cribbins and Johnny Ball. Budding astronomers will be treated to a Sky At Night Christmas special and this year's Royal Institution Christmas Lecture - How To Survive In Space - which will be delivered by Tim Peake direct from the International Space Station. And, viewers will also have their fair share of culture, with Michael Palin investigating female artist Artemisia Gentileschi, a documentary about Scottish art, the Royal Ballet's production of Carmen and the Royal Opera House's Andrea Chénier. Musical theatre fans will also be pleased to hear that a performance of the West End production of Gypsy - starring Imelda Staunton - will be broadcast. Elsewhere, Ten Pieces II - 'an exciting and immersive family film' which puts images to ten pieces of famous orchestral music - will feature Christopher Eccleston, James May, Pixie Lott and Clara Amfo. And, there is also a celebration of Roy Orbison, following his life and including interviews with his sons, friends and collaborators.
Poldark's Aidan Turner says that he expects the knives will be out for the second series of the hit BBC1 period drama. The actor, who plays the brooding Cornish mine-owner Ross Poldark, said that despite the new run having strong scripts and performances, there will inevitably be those who want to knock the show. 'Knives can be out for a second series. Especially when we got so much support for the first series and everybody was just overwhelmingly positive,' Turner told Radio Times. 'So next year, regardless of the quality of the show, people will tend to go: "Let's knock you down a peg or two. And, that's understandable. But the scripts are strong and the performances are all there, so we have every confidence that we're going to produce something great.' Poldark proved a huge hit for the BBC, peaking with nearly ten million viewers. The second series, adapted by Debbie Horsfield from the Winston Graham novels, will have two more episodes than the first eight-part run and is due to be broadcast next year. Viewers will next see Turner in a less hirsute, more morally ambiguous, role this Christmas: that of mercenary Philip Lombard in the BBC's all-star adaptation of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. Turner, who has cut his hair for the role, said that Poldark and Lombard were different kinds of characters, although he said that Poldark is not 'just a do-gooder – some decisions he makes are pretty dangerous and put other people at risk.' Despite the success of Poldark, Turner insists it has not changed his life, although when he walks down Carnaby Street, 'a couple more people notice me, but that's it.'
ITV has confirmed that it has secured The Voice in a three year deal thought to be worth about fifty million knicker, after the BBC gave up the battle for the show. ITV has reached a deal with the format's owner, Big Brother creator Jon De Mol's Talpa Global, to broadcast the singing competition for three seasons from January 2017. As part of the deal ITV has also agreed to make two seasons of The Voice Kids, a singing show for eight-to-fourteen-year olds, with an option on a third series if it proves successful. 'ITV is the natural home of big entertainment so we are thrilled that The Voice and The Voice Kids are both joining our family alongside brilliant shows like The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, Saturday Night Takeaway and I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want),' said the ITV director of television, Peter Fincham. ITV is expected to continue to broadcast The Voice in the January slot in which it previously aired on the BBC. The broadcaster did not say which TV production company will make The Voice; it is currently handled by Warner Bros-owned Wall To Wall. However, it is likely that the series will be made by ITV Studios, which acquired Talpa for an initial consideration of three hundred and fifty five million smackers in March. 'From the compelling blind auditions, through to the nail-biting battle rounds, knockouts and live shows, The Voice has become a worldwide sensation and we are very much looking forward to its arrival on ITV in 2017,' said the ITV director of entertainment and comedy, Elaine Bedell. The children's version could prove to be problematic for ITV. In 2009, there was a public outcry over the welfare of young contestants when ten-year-old Hollie Steel cried after messing up her perfomance on Britain's Got Talent. 'The welfare of the contestants who appear in our shows is our number one priority and we have a great deal of experience regarding best practice and duty of care required when children appear in such shows,' claimed a spokesman for ITV. One or two people even believed him. The Voice has been made into sixty five local versions broadcasting in one hundred and eighty territories while The Voice Kids has been adapted for thirty countries including Australia. 'We are delighted that The Voice has found a new home at ITV,' said De Mol. 'With the addition of The Voice Kids we are excited about working with ITV in 2017 to develop and expand The Voice experience for the UK audience after completing what we think will be a fantastic upcoming season on the BBC, who have been a great partner.' The writing was on the wall for the BBC, which could not afford to get into a bidding war and has been criticised by the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, for The Voice stretching the definition of public service broadcasting. As though that had anything whatsoever to do with himor any other of any party politician for that matter. Last week, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads made a rare appearance at ITV's all-star programming launch at the London Palladium. At the event Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads appeared at the end of an on-stage promotional session with fellow judge Nick Grimshaw and co-presenters Olly Murs and Caroline Flack. At the end of night question-and-answer session, led by Bradley Walsh, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads intervened to ask to say a few words direct to the two thousand-plus strong audience of advertisers and media buyers. He thanked the crowd of big spending advertising executives for supporting The X Factor over the years, a possibly telling moment given that come 2017, his show will face direct competition from The Voice for advertising spend. That is, of course, assuming that ITV renew contracts with Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Sctotish chef off Crossroads for The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent when they come up for negotiation next year. Many media observers believe that ITV will hold onto The X Factor which, despite having a somewhat disappointing year remains one of the biggest shows on commercial TV, in order to stack its TV schedule with light entertainment hits all year round. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has the still top-rating Britain's Got Toilets with which to counter ITV, who will probably look to strike a more advantageous deal using The Voice as leverage.

Sir Kenneth Branagh is to play Agatha Christie's Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in a new film version of Murder On the Orient Express. Sir Kenneth will also take charge behind the camera while The Martian director Ridley Scott will co-produce the movie. Branagh last appeared in and directed spy thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Hercule Poirot has most famously been played on film by Peter Ustinov and Alvert Finney and, on television, David Suchet became synonymous with the role. Hilary Strong from Agatha Christie Productions said that she was delighted with Sir Kenneth's casting. 'I cannot think of a better director or actor to bring the character to light than Kenneth Branagh,' said Strong. 'We have also been delivered an amazing team of producers and I have no doubt that the alchemy of this extraordinary group of talented individuals and Agatha Christie's brilliant story and character will create a cinematic feast that is truly memorable.' Sir Kenneth has starred in numerous films and television series, including his Oscar-nominated role in My Week With Marilyn and his long-running hit TV detective series Wallander. His other previous film directing credits include the Oscar-nominated Henry V, in which he also starred, his comic book adaptation Thor and his live-action version of Cinderella. He is currently co-directing and appearing on stage in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale and in Terrence Rattigan's Harlequinade as part of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company season at London's Garrick Theatre. The last, and most famous, movie version of Christie's Murder On The Orient Express was in 1974. Albert Finney starred as the detective with Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery and Ingrid Bergman co-starring. Suchet also starred in a feature length version of the story as part of ITV's long-running Agatha Christie's Poirot series. Ustinov made three big-screen Christie mysteries, including Death On The Nile and Evil Under The Sun. Christie's 1934 story sees the detective drawn into solving an intrigue on the famous Orient Express train travelling from Istanbul in Turkey to London. After an American passenger using a false name is murdered while the train is stuck in a snow drift, Poirot discovers everyone on the train had some connection to the murder victim and are all therefore under suspicion. And, if you've never seen it ... they all did it. Oh, did I just say that out loud? Sorry. Ignore that last bit.
Bargain Hunt presenter Tim Wonnacott has 'stepped down' from the show after twelve years. The antiques expert said that he had 'thoroughly enjoyed' his time presenting the popular daytime series. The BBC refused to comment on newspaper reports in September that Wonnacott had 'a bust-up' with the show's producers and had been suspended. Guest presenters were recruited to shoot the remaining half of the current series. The BBC said, at the time, 'We wouldn't comment on individual staff matters.' Wonnacott will be seen fronting new episodes being shown on BB1 until early in 2016. He said: 'I am pleased to have been part of Bargain Hunt for so many years and have thoroughly enjoyed every one of my, roughly, twelve hundred programmes hunting out bargains with the contestants. I look forward to developing new programme ideas.' The BBC said: 'We would like to thank Tim Wonnacott for his dedication to Bargain Hunt over the last twelve-years and for the great expertise that he has brought to the show in that time. Bargain Hunt will be moving in a new direction next year utilising a team of experts who present a number of shows each.' The BBC added that Wonnacott will 'continue to work with the BBC' on Antiques Road Trip. Wonnacott, a former director of Sotheby's, has been the host of the popular BBC1 programme since 2003. He was a contestant on last year's Strictly Come Dancing series and recently presented The Great Antiques Map Of Britain on BBC2.

Nazi-inspired advertising for the TV drama The Man In The High Castle has been removed from the subway in New York after complaints. The Amazon show concerns an alternate world where Nazi Germany and Japan rule the US after winning World War ll. The adverts showed an American flag with a German eagle and cross in place of the stars and an Imperial Japanese flag. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo intervened to get the advertising removed. The city's Mayor Bill de Blasio had also called on Amazon to remove the advertising, which he called 'irresponsible and offensive to World War Two and Holocaust survivors, their families and countless other New Yorkers.' The advertising was wrapped around the seats, walls and ceilings of one train on the shuttle line which connects Times Square and Grand Central Terminal. The Anti-Defamation League criticised the advertising for its lack of context. 'On the television programme, which explains this is the notion of an America controlled by Hitler, you get that context. On the train, seeing the American flag paired with a Nazi symbol is viscerally offensive because there is no context as to what it means. The fact that the flag is spread across the seats only compounds the effect.' Amazon released a statement about the programme which did not refer to the advertising specifically, but said that the drama was 'high-quality, provocative programming that spurs conversation.' The advertising was taken down after Governor Andrew Cuomo called the head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to ask him personally to ensure it was removed. Posters for the TV show, which is based on the Philip K Dick novel, are still in the subway. The show's creator and executive producer, Frank Spotnitz, told Entertainment Weekly that he 'understood' why people were upset by the advertising but said that Amazon had a tough job. 'It's very difficult with a show with subject matter like this to market it tastefully, so I understand they're walking a very difficult line. If they had asked me, I would have strongly advised them not to do it. Within the show, there is a context where you see why [they're used], but just to put them out like that without the context was unfortunate.'
The BBC Trust has approved proposals to move BBC3 online, on the condition that the channel's long-form programmes will be shown on BBC1 and BBC2. 'The decision to close a TV channel is a difficult one and one we have not taken lightly,' said BBC Trustee Suzanna Taverne. But added: 'The evidence is very clear that younger audiences are watching more online and less linear TV.' The channel will, effectively, go online-only from February. The decision follows a full public consultation over the proposed closure of BBC3 as an on-air channel. BBC Director General Tony Hall announced in March 2014 that the youth-oriented channel would be moved to iPlayer, with its budget slashed from eighty five millon knicker to twenty five million quid, as part of 'financially necessary' cost-cutting moves at the corporation. BBC3 - the original home to shows such as Gavin & Stacey, Little Britain and Torchwood - has been widely praised for its creativity and fostering of new talent. But, it has also faced criticism - not least from this blogger - for giving far too much air-time to lanky streak of worthless piss Jack Whitehall, Russell Kane (very popular with students) and other talentless, unfunny alleged 'comedians' with stupid hair. So, frankly, shoving them onto iPlayer where this blogger can avoid them like the plague is a jolly good move and the day that it happens will be a great day. A great day, dear blog reader. The channel was particularly popular with viewers under-twenty five (as I say, students, basically). On average, the channel is currently watched by between ten and eleven million people every week and reaches twenty five per cent of sixteen to twenty four year olds. What the other seventy five per cent are doing is another question entirely; probably drinking alcopops, getting into fights outside Indian takeaways and having some disappointing sex. Just a guess. However BBC3 is also currently the only BBC channel watched by nine hundred and twenty five thousand people in that age group - eighty per cent of whom will 'simply be lost', according to claims made in a public value assessment. Okay, and the problem with that is, exactly? That age group are the very people who, arguably, shouldn't be watching TV at all but should, instead, be out enjoying themselves. On Thursday, the Trust report outlined a number of conditions that the BBC must fulfil to ensure those younger audiences are not left out. Among them, the Trust stated that the corporation must offer 'distinctive new programmes' aimed at younger audiences and continue commissioning risk-taking shows that experiment with new talent and ideas. The Trust said it would monitor the progress of an online-only BBC3 across the next eighteen months, as well as checking to see whether the BBC was adhering to the terms set out in today's report. Lord Hall has said the thirty million quid saved by the closure of BBC3 will be invested in BBC1 drama. He said that the BBC was responding to 'a very tough financial situation' adding: 'Most importantly, it's a great opportunity to develop new formats, new forms of content and re-imagine what we can do for young audiences who are, as we know, increasingly online and on the go.' As part of Thursday's decision, the Trust also approved plans to extend the hours of CBBC to 21:00 (two hours later than the current finish time) and to develop iPlayer beyond a catch-up service, to include online-first and third party content. However, as outlined in June, the Trust formally rejected proposals for a new BBC1+1 channel, which it said would be at the expense of commercial rivals. Although what the hell that has to do with anything is a question well worth asking. This blogger always thought that the BBC Trust was supposed to be looking after the interests of BBC licence fee payers, not ITV's bank balance.

The latest episode of The Simpsons broadcast in the US paid a subtle tribute to the victims of the recent Paris terrorist attacks. The popular cartoon sitcom featured Lisa setting off for New York City, where a series of Broadway productions were shown in a short montage. One of them was a show called Lafayette The Musical, featuring artist Jean Julien's now famous Eiffel Tower peace sign created in the wake of the attacks. The animated show's executive producer, Al Jean, tweeted a still of the tribute, and thanked The Simpsons writer Stephanie Gillis for including it in the programme. The Simpsons previously made reference to the Charlie Hebdo attacks at the beginning of the year, by featuring Maggie holding a Je Suis Charlie flag which many tweeted at the time.
The government is to give the BBC two hundred and eighty nine million smackers over the next five years to invest in expanding the BBC World Service into countries such as North Korea as part of its strategy designed to strengthen the UK's 'soft power.' The cash injection was announced on Monday as part of the government's 'National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review', which is its five-year plan 'for a secure and prosperous United Kingdom, with global reach and global influence.' The review acknowledged that part of Britain's soft power influence is the BBC's reach 'into some of the most remote places in the world, providing a link to the UK for individuals and societies who would otherwise not have this opportunity.' Next year the BBC World Service will receive thirty four million notes, followed by eighty five million in 2017-18 and the same amount the following two financial years. In total it will invest two hundred and eighty nine million knicker which will be spent on a number of new services including new radio services in North Korea, Ethiopia and Eritrea; a better TV service in Africa; additional language broadcasts via digital and television in India and Nigeria; better regional content for the BBC Arabic Service, improved digital and TV services in Russia and for Russian speakers and improved video across its output. The amount invested is close to the two hundred and forty five million quid annual cost of the World Service that the corporation was forced to take on from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office last year as part of the 2010 licence fee settlement with the government. Oh, the irony. But, the investment will be seen as a win by Director General Tony Hall, who said in September that he was 'seeking financial support' for the expansion of the World Service from the government, particularly from George Osborne, the chancellor. At the time, Hall said: 'My own strong view is that this is one area where this country's voice could be much stronger – especially in the Middle East, India and Russia and the states that used to make up the Soviet Union. I am looking to go to the chancellor for help with the World Service.' The BBC currently reaches three hundred and eight million people worldwide and is aiming to reach five hundred million by 2022. Following Monday's announcement, Hall said: 'I warmly welcome today's announcement. It is fantastic news. This new funding is the single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed by any government. The millions announced today will help the BBC deliver on our commitment to uphold global democracy through accurate, impartial and independent news reporting. The World Service is one of the UK's most important cultural exports and one of our best sources of global influence. We can now further build on that. The funding will also help speed us on to our target of reaching half-a-billion people globally.'

Crimewatch presenter Kirsty Young is to step down from the BBC programme after seven years. Young will host her final Crimewatch next month but will continue to present BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. 'There are very few TV programmes that are part of the national fabric and my years working with the Crimewatch team have been a great privilege,' she said. 'With the crucial help of viewers the show has played a pivotal role in solving crimes for more than thirty years.' The show launched in 1984 and asks its three million regular viewers for information to help crack serious cases. And, not to have nightmares. Young added: 'Long may that invaluable work continue.' Young's co-presenters are Matthew Amroliwala and Martin Bayfield. Since joining the show in 2008, she has fronted high-profile appeals, including the disappearance of Madeline McCann and the Hatton Garden heist. As well as hosting Desert Island Discs, Young will also front a number of one-off special programmes for the BBC. They will include a programme honouring the work of Sir David Attenborough in his ninetieth birthday year and a one-hour special about the Queen's annual festive message, titled Cue The Queen: Celebrating The Christmas Speech. BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore said: 'Kirsty has been such an integral part of Crimewatch over the last seven years and she will be greatly missed. Nevertheless, Kirsty will continue to play an important role on BBC1 and I'm looking forward to her special documentary about The Queen's Christmas message next month.' The BBC said that a new Crimewatch presenter will be announced in due course.
Downton Abbey creator Lord Snooty has received an International EMMY at an event in New York. Lord Snooty was presented with the honorary Founders Award by actress Elizabeth McGovern, who plays the Countess of Grantham in the thankfully soon-to-be-finished ITV period snob-fest. The other British winner was Sky's Fifty Ways To Kill Your Mammy in the non-scripted entertainment category. France was the big winner of the night, taking home three awards including best drama series. That was won by crime thriller Engrenages - shown on BBC4 under the translated title Spiraland a particular favourite of all of us here at From The North. It won the award for its fifth series. Executive producer Anne Landois paid tribute to the victims of the recent Paris terror attacks and thanked police for their efforts 'to preserve our values.' Engrenages star Caroline Proust added: 'I would like to dedicate this award to the victims of despair and hate and I hope that love and generosity will win in France and all over the world.' The Man Who Saved the Louvre - a film about Jacques Jaujard, the director of the French National Museums during the Nazi occupation of France - won best arts programming, while Soldat Blanc (White Soldier) won the TV movie/mini-series award. It tells the story of two soldiers, former friends who become deadly enemies during the Indochina war. Fifty Ways To Kill Your Mammy follows Irish presenter Baz Ashmawy as he takes his seventy one-year-old mother on thrill-seeking adventures including skydiving and alligator wrangling. Despite sounding like possibly the worst idea for a TV show ever, it's actually quite good in small doses. Ashmawy tweeted a picture of himself and his mother after the awards ceremony saying: 'Thanks everyone for all the love I'm very touched. Mum so happy!' Brazilian television won two EMMYs: Best telenovela - a limited-run serial drama - for Imperio (Empire) and best comedy for Doce De Mae (Sweet Mother). Best actor went to Maarten Heijmans of the Netherlands for Ramses, which chronicles the rise and fall of popular Dutch singer Ramses Shaffy. Norway's Anneke von der Lippe won best actress EMMY for Eyewitness, in which she plays a small town police chief caught in the middle of a murder investigation.
Many people have wondered how best to deal with the vile and odious Katie Hopkins and her offensive views which, disappointingly, receive so much media attention. On Monday, students at Brunel University demonstrated one way to deal with mouthy arseholes when they filled a theatre for a debate featuring Hopkins and then turned their backs on her and walked out as soon as she began speaking. The 'controversial columnist' (for which read professional offensive-giver) has ramped up her provocative statements in recent months. Her most infamous Sun column appeared to dehumanise refugees by comparing them to cockroaches and led for calls for her sacking in the wake of the refugee crisis and an official rebuke from a spokesman for the United Nations. She repeated her calls for boats carrying refugees to Europe to be sent back where they come from as she appeared at the UKiP conference in September. Where her repulsive and spiteful comments went down very well, apparently. No surprise there. Hopkins joined a panel at the university for the debate, Does the Welfare State have a place in 2015? as part of the University's fiftieth anniversary celebrations. Students in the audience stood up and turned their back to her as she began to speak and then walked out of the auditorium. Now, that's stand-up comedy.

Meanwhile, dear blog reader, here's a thought ...
And, not a very nice one, admittedly.

England wrapped up victory in the T20 series against Pakistan after a thrilling three-run victory in Dubai. Shahid Afridi's late cameo - twenty four off just eight deliveries - was not enough to help Pakistan over the line after England finished on one hundred and seventy two for eight. James Vince (thirty eight) top scored for England, with stand-in captain Jos Buttler (thirty three) and opener Jason Roy (twenty nine) also chipping in. Afridi was also the pick of the Pakistan bowlers, taking three for fifteen. The win was England's fifth consecutive T20 victory, with the World T20 set to take place in India in March. The tourists looked to be heading for a comfortable victory when Afridi strode to the crease with his side needing fifty three off twenty deliveries. But some lusty late hitting from the thirty five year old, including three sixes, brought the game back into the balance. It was an eventful game for Afridi, whose skiddy leg-breaks had earlier caused problems for the English batsmen. Alex Hales was dismissed by Afridi's first delivery for eleven, with Jason Roy edging behind in his next over. The wicket took Afridi ahead of team-mate Saeed Ajmal to become the highest wicket taker in international T20 cricket. It was a topsy-turvy match for Chris Woakes, who finished on fifteen not out, thirteen of them in the last over, when he batted. But when he bowled his third over went for twenty two, including a wide, a no ball, and three Afridi sixes over wide long off, deep square leg and deep cover, before the Pakistan captain was dismissed off the final delivery, Liam Plunkett doing well to hold on to a sharp catch when off balance. Woakes then bowled the final over under major pressure, with Pakistan needing eleven to win. Sarfraz dragged the first ball onto his stumps, before Sohail Tanvir dispatched his first delivery over square leg for four. With seven needed to win, Woakes held his nerve, with his final four deliveries going for just three runs. Earlier, a remarkable piece of fielding from Umar Akmal had the packed crowd in Dubai on their feet. Akmal got two hands to a Sam Billings slog at long on, but the pace of the ball carried him over the rope off balance. However, he managed to toss the ball high enough, before touching the ground beyond the boundary, to buy himself sufficient time to scamper back inside the rope to reclaim the ball and take an incredible catch. Once again, England looked to use their full squad, with Jos Buttler captaining England for the first time in Eoin Morgan's absence. Morgan was one of four players who featured in Thursday's fourteen-run victory in the first ODI to be rested. Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan and Reece Topley also made way, for Buttler, Joe Root, Woakes and David Willey. Liam Plunkett, who had not taken part in a competitive match on the tour until his three wickets in the first T20, was man of the match for his three for thirty three. Adil Rashid took two for eighteen, including the wicket of opener Rafatullah Mohmand, who was stumped for twenty three. With Stephen Parry having already dismissed Ahmed Shehzad in similar fashion, it meant it was the first time that both openers had been stumped in a T20 international. The final match of the series is on Monday in Sharjah.

A large chunk of an American space rocket has been found in the sea off the Isles of Scilly. A large section of a spacecraft, measuring about ten metres by four metres, was spotted on the surface between Bryher and Tresco. Coastguards believe it is from the unmanned SpaceX Falcon Nine which exploded after take-off in Florida in June. Local boatmen towed the section to Tresco where it is under guard on the beach. Joseph Thomas, from Tresco Boat Services, found the section of rocket while travelling around the North of the island. He said: 'There were lots of gulls on the water and I thought initially it was a dead whale and the birds were feeding off it."' Thomas found the debris, which was 'covered in goose barnacles', at about 2pm on Thursday about one hundred metres from the shore. 'I didn't know what it was. We tried to drag it ashore using a hook, but it bent it. First thoughts, were that it was part of a plane, but then we scraped the barnacles off and we saw it was part of a rocket. It's not everyday part of a rocket washes ashore at home.'
The first of Europe's ExoMars missions is finally ready to get under way. This initial venture will involve a satellite going to the Red Planet to study trace gases, such as methane, in the atmosphere. The orbiter will also drop a probe on to the surface to test technologies needed to land the second mission - a rover - that should arrive in 2019. The path to this point has been a tortuous one, with the programme coming close to collapse on several occasions. ExoMars has gone through several iterations since being approved formally by European Space Agency member states in 2005. Its vision has expanded from a small technology demonstration to a two-legged endeavour that will cost in the region of 1.3 billion euros. In all the upheaval, ExoMars has also now become a joint undertaking with the Russian space agency (Roscosmos). The new partner literally rescued the project when the Americans dropped it as a priority and will be providing key components and science instruments for both missions, as well as the Proton rockets to get all the hardware to Mars. Wednesday saw officials from both ESA and Roscosmos inspect the finished satellite and test lander at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France.
Gemma Arterton will take the lead role in Nell Gwynn when the critically acclaimed new play by Jessica Swale transfers to the West End. The production has been playing at London's Shakespeare's Globe but will move to the Apollo in February. The play charts the rise of the Seventeenth-Century actress from the slums to the stage - and into the court of the king. Arterton, best known for screen work, has proved herself in plays such as the Globe's The Duchess Of Malfi. Most recently, Arterton starred as Rita O'Grady in the West End musical Made In Dagenham, for which she won the Evening Standard best newcomer in a musical award. Her other theatre credits include The Little Dog Laughed, The Master Builder and Love's Labour's Lost, again at the Globe. She takes over the Nell Gwynn role from Gugu Mbatha-Raw whose Globe performance earned her a best actress nomination at the Evening Standard awards.
Serbia's TV watchdog has announced plans to banish all reality shows to a late-night slot in schedules, after repeated complaints about sex, violence and naughty language. Reality programmes will only be broadcast after 11pm under the new rules, the Beta news agency reports. There will be at least fifteen days of public discussion on the plan, then the ruling will 'come into force and be obligatory', Goran Karadzic, head of the Regulatory Authority of Electronic Media, told the agency. 'When we adopt it, everyone will have to respect it,' he added. Broadcasters have been asked to start applying the proposed watershed voluntarily in the meantime. As in many countries, reality shows have proved popular in Serbia since the first was launched there in 2006. But, concerns that the behaviour of some participants is 'inappropriate for younger viewers' have grown in recent months, with an online petition to have four of the shows banned gathering more than one hundred thousand signatures, the Balkan Insight website reports. Contestants have had sex on screen,-traded punches and on one programme - The Farm - one housemate is a convicted criminal whose jail sentence was reportedly delayed so that he could complete filming the series. One prosecutor has even tried to have The Farm banned outright, b92 TV reports. An executive from Happy TV says that its offering, called Couples, 'does no harm' and that the new rules are 'excessive', but added that the channel will comply with them. 'Those who think they will change Serbia by banning reality shows are megalomaniacs,' Milomir Maric told the Vecernje Novosti newspaper. 'Even if they were taken off the air, Serbia would remain the same - it will not be more cultured, more developed or more well-mannered.' A spokesman for the Pink channel, which broadcasts The Farm, said that the show would not be recommissioned, but denied that the new watershed had any impact on the decision.

The real-life hotel that inspired John Cleese to write Fawlty Towers will be demolished. Developers have been given permission to convert the site of the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay into a retirement home, Western Morning News reports. Cleese's character Basil Fawlty was based on the hotel's former owner Donald Sinclair. 'This is a great outcome for the iconic Gleneagles Hotel site and I look forward to seeing the new development taking shape,' said councillor Mark King. The three-star hotel will be knocked down and replaced into twenty one-bedroom and eleven two-bedroom apartments.
A woman whose grandfather filmed the assassination of President John Kennedy as a home movie is suing the US government for its return. Gayle Nix Jackson is also seeking ten million dollars in compensation over the film, shot by Orville Nix, in November 1963. He sold the film to a news agency that year but it was later handed to the government for its inquiries. Nix Jackson says that she was told this year the government agency believed to be in possession did not have the film. The eight millimetre Nix film was shot from the opposite side of the presidential limousine from where the more famous Zapruder film was taken on 22 November 1963. The Nix film shows the bullet hitting the president, Jackie Kennedy climbing on to the boot of the limousine, and secret service agent Clint Hill jumping onto the vehicle. The film is shot from Dealey Plaza, showing Zapruder across the street and the famous grassy knoll, from where some witnesses claimed they heard a shot being fired. It is not as complete as the Zapruder movie, as it shows only part of the assassination. However, the lawsuit cites The Warren Commission - which investigated the assassination in 1964 - as saying the Nix film was 'nearly as important as the Zapruder film.' The government purchased the Zapruder film for sixteen million bucks in 1999 in a settlement with his heirs. Orville Nix sold his film to UPI for five thousand dollars with an agreement for its return after twenty five years. But it was handed to the government for the inquiry. Its last known sighting was with the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978. It was believed to have been handed to the National Archives and Records Administration, but the lawsuit says that the agency has told Nix Jackson, who lives in Fort Worth, it no longer has the movie. Nix Jackson told the Associated Press it was 'incomprehensible' that authorities would lose 'an important piece of historical evidence.' She said: 'I can understand little clerical issues I don't understand the loss of evidence like this.'
The writer and story editor Anthony Read has died, aged eighty. Born in 1935, Tony attended the Central School of Speech & Drama and, following his National Service, worked in Fleet Street in advertising, journalism and publishing before deciding to become a full time writer. Tony joined the BBC in November 1963 and his early work included writing for series like Detective, The Indian Tales Of Rudyard Kipling and This Man Craig and script editing the Peter Cushing series of Sherlock Holmes. In the second half of the decade he became best known for his work on Mogel, later The Troubleshooters (1965 to 1972), the popular petroleum industry drama for which he script edited, wrote and produced. He was also producer on the acclaimed Cretan drama The Lotus Eaters and The Dragon's Opponent. During the 1970s, Tony returned to freelancing, working on dramas as diverse as Marked Personnel, The Black Arrow, Crown Court and Z-Cars (a return to one of the first shows he had written for when he joined the BBC). In 1977 he came to be associated with Doctor Who, invited by producer Graham Williams - who had been Tony's script editor on Z Cars - to take over from Robert Holmes. Tony worked alongside the outgoing script editor on Image Of The Fendahl and The Sun Makers before formally taking charge of scripts with the serial Underworld. Having co-written the six part series finale The Invasion Of Time with Williams (under a psuedonym), the pair went on to devise the umbrella-themed Key To Time series in 1978, with Tony also taking on producer duties when his colleague became ill for a period. Having discovered a talented writer during that run, Tony recommended that Doctor Who's script editing role be passed to his protegé, Douglas Adams, and Tony returned to write a story for the following season, the well-remembered The Horns Of Nimon in 1979, featuring a villainous turn by Graham Crowden that was so far over the top it was down the other side. As this blogger and his colleagues Martin Day and Paul Cornell wrote in Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide (1995): 'By turns, brilliant and dull ... rather wonderful to watch with some friends and a bottle of wine!' After leaving Doctor Who, Tony contributed scripts to The Omega Factor, The Professionals, Hammer House Of Horror, One By One, Quiller and the science fantasy cults Into the Labyrinth and Sapphire & Steel (in which he contributed a script co-written with Don Houghton); he also dramatised all three series of ITV's Chocky, based on the novel by John Wyndham. In an interview for the DVD release of Chocky, Tony revealed that the Wyndham estate considered his series to be the best adaptation ever produced from one of Wyndham's novels. A return to the world of Sherlock Holmes with The Baker Street Boys earned Tony an award from the Writers' Guild of Great Britain. During the 1980s he moved away from writing for television, though he did contribute to the medium occasionally, notable writing several episodes for The Adventures Of Swiss Family Robinson in 1998. A long-time friend with David Fisher, the pair collaborated on a number of non-fiction works, including The Fall Of Berlin, The Proudest Day: India's Long Road To Independence and Colonel Z: The Secret Life Of A Master of Spies. Anthony also wrote a number of solo books, mainly focussed around the history of the Second World War, including winning the Wingate Literary Prize for Kristallnacht: The Unleashing Of the Holocaust. He was an active member of the Writers' Guild, serving as chair between 1981 and 1982 and drawing up an industry-wide code of practice on behalf of the young writers he was committed to nurturing, never taking pay or expenses for his work on the guild's behalf. He was also a director of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society. He co-wrote a proposal from the Writers' Guild and the Directors and Producers Association that was submitted to the Annan committee on the future of broadcasting and was subsequently used as part of the charter agreement for establishing Channel Four. Tony is survived by his wife, Rosemary, whom he married in 1958, and their two daughter.

The British soap opera pioneer Hazel Adair, who helped create Crossroads, Compact and the UK's first daily soap Sixpenny Corner, has died aged ninety five. Hazel created Crossroads with Peter Ling, based in a motel in the fictional village of King's Oak near Birmingham, in 1964 for ATV. At its height, in the late 1970s, it was regularly was watched by up to twenty million viewers including this blgoger's mother who was a big fan. The soap ran for twenty four years despite frequent - and, not always undeserved - criticism of its outlandish storylines, rickety sets and often woefully poor acting. Hazel's granddaughter, Cate Mackenzie, told the BBC that Hazel had died peacefully in her sleep over the weekend. She had spent two years living in a home and her health had gone downhill recently. Hazel and Ling also created Compact, a popular BBC soap (1962 to 1965) and the first British serial to feature a regular black character - a photographer called Jeff Armandez, played by Horace James. The series starred Jean Harvey as the magazine's editor, Joanne Minster, who was subsequently replaced by Ronald Allen (later David Hunter in Crossroads) as Ian Harmon. Hazel was born Hazel Joyce Willett in Darjeeling in 1920 but came to Britain with her parents, Edward and Alma, when she was nine months old. Her parents divorced when she was two and she saw her mother struggle to make ends meet. As consequence, Hazel wanted to be independent in life. Perhaps inspired by this, Compact also featured an unmarried mother as a character, Hazel having to fight BBC executives to keep the character in the show. However Mackenzie said that her grandmother would never have described herself as fighting a woman's corner - she just wanted to 'tell real stories.' Nevertheless, during Crossroads' early years, when she ran the Writers' Guild with Denis Norden, Hazel reportedly complained to Lew Grade about the money paid to scriptwriters. She recalled in an interview with Peter York in 2012: 'I thumped his desk and I said: "It's a disgrace what you pay us." He looked at me – no one had ever spoken like that to him before. I said: "It isn't fair and I'm going to call a strike."' Which she did. Grade caved in after six weeks. After leaving Woodridings School in Hatch End, Hazel achieved her ambition to act, changing her name to bring her to the top of alphabetical lists. She began her acting career shortly before marrying Gordon Mackenzie, a rancher from Brazil in 1940. They divorced in 1949 after having a son, Colin, later a noted journalist and the man who tracked down the armed robber Ronnie Biggs in Rio in 1974. During the war, Hazel worked as an ambulance driver, her experiences inspiring her 1983 novel Blitz On Balaclava Street, written under the pen name Clare Nicol. As an actress, she had small roles in the film My Brother Jonathan (1948) and a number of BBC television dramas, including The Dover Road (1949) and Lady Precious Stream (1950). In 1950, she remarried Ronald Marriott, an actor-writer who later produced and directed television dramas. After writing for BBC children's programmes At Your Service, Limited, Whirligig and Stranger From Space in the early 1950s, Hazel worked on the popular radio serial Mrs Dale's Diary with Peter Ling for the first time and, also, Jonquil Antony. The pair went on to create ITV's first soap opera, Sixpenny Corner, which ran from 1955 to 1956 and revolved around a rural garage run by newlyweds. Crossroads, which starred Noele Gordon in the lead role of Meg Mortimer, was created four years after the start of Coronation Street and ran daily from Monday to Friday from November 1964. It began in the Midlands region, before being taken up by other ITV regions over the next eight years. Later, Crossroads became the first British series to integrate a black family – Cameron James and his children, Winston and Linda – into its regular cast. Hazel always said her only motivation for such storylines was to 'portray reality.' In 1979, the Independent Broadcasting Authority, commercial television's regulator, demanded a reduction to three weekly episodes in an attempt to improve quality. 'People forget it was a limited budget and live television when it first started, but it was not ideal,' Hazel said in 2014. The series ended in 1988 though two attempts to revive the show - in 2001 and 2003 - failed to find an audience. Hazel's involvement in the series had ended in the late 1970s. Her other writing credits included the hospital drama Emergency - Ward 10, on which she scripted one of UK television's earliest interracial kisses in 1964. She also co-wrote the spin-off film, Life In Emergency Ward 10 and the 1961 Bob Monkhouse comedy Dentist On The Job and in the late 1960s co-wrote Champion House, a BBC drama series about a family-run textile firm. Hazel set up a production company, Pyramid Films, with Kent Walton and, using the credit Elton Hawke and other pseudonyms, produced a number of sex comedies and horrors such as the legendarily dreadful Virgin Witch (1972) and Keep It Up Downstairs (1976). She stepped outside the genre to make the 1979 thriller Game For Vultures, starring Richard Harris and Joan Collins. An unproduced Doctor Who script she wrote with Ling in 1967, Hexagora, was eventually adapted by Paul Finch and recorded as an audio story released on CD by Big Finish in 2011. Hazel also wrote for women's magazines including Woman's Own. Hazel's second husband, Ron Marriott, died in 1972. She is survived by her son Colin and the children of her second marriage, Charles, Craig, Carol, Janet and Maria, eleven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Cynthia Robinson, the trumpet player, singer and co-founder of Sly & The Family Stone, has died at the age of sixty nine. The musician disclosed that she had cancer last month. Her bandmate, Jerry Martini, confirmed that she succumbed to the disease on Monday of this week. Having joined the pre-Family Stone Sly & The Stoners as a nineteen year old in 1966, Cynthia was a pivotal part of The Family Stone's funky sound and image, in an era when being a female, African-American trumpet player in a major band was something of an achievement. Not that she paid attention to such things. 'I realised I was a girl playing with all of these great musicians,' she once told Rookie magazine. 'But race and gender never did cross my mind, really, until other people started talking about them. They weren't really an issue for me.' The band's original - multiracial - line-up released eight LPs, including the legendary There's A Riot Goin' On, producing hits such as 'Everyday People', 'I Want To Take You Higher', 'It's A Family Affair', 'Thank you (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)', 'Stand!' and their breakthrough 'Dance To The Music' which opened with Cynthia's call to a generation, 'get on up and dance to the music!' They were one of the headliners at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and, for about two years around 1970 were possibly the biggest band in the world. After The Family Stone dissolved in 1975, Cynthia was the only member to continue working with Sly Stone on his solo work. She also played with Prince and George Clinton's Funkadelica and in the band Graham Central Station with her Family Stone bandmate, Larry Graham. You can see her playing 'Dance To The Music' with The Family Stone in this extraordinary video from US TV in 1968. And bloody hot stuff it is, too. Robinson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Sly & The Family Stone in 1993. She is survived by her two daughters, Laura Marie and Sylvyette Phunne.

Big on the Stately Telly Topping playlist this week, dear blog reader, has been this little twenty four carat classic.
'I've been sorting my tape collection into alphabetical order,' the great Calum Gilhooley once said in an episode of Absolutely. 'But, when I finished, I noticed the were a lot of tapes under "T". Because of all the bands that begin with "The". So I did it all again, but this time ignoring the "The". But then, I came to "The The" ... So I threw that one away!' Infected is, of course, a magnificent, fierce, hard, dangerous record which this blogger first bought, on vinyl, on the day it came out, 27 November 1986 at the old Virgin Records shop in Eldon Square. Which is now, tragically, a branch of Spec Savers. This, dear blog reader, is progress, apparently. Since then, Keith Telly Topping bought it on CD at least twice; it's hard work at times and it'll often leave the listener drained at the end of it. But, it's stunningly put together and, like all great music, it comes from a place of anger and frustration. And, unlike most records, it is every single bit as relevant today as it was in 1986. If not more so. This blogger was thinking about this only the other day. In the week that Charlie Sheen announces he's HIV positive, in the week that Paris is bombed by fundamentalist terrorists, in the week that the US and Russia both announce they are increasing their bombing of Syria, in the month that the government announces further benefit cuts, in the month when senior members of the NHS suggest that the system is on the verge of total collapse ... Thirty fucking years on and not a damn thing has changed. So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, a state of the nation address from Matt Johnson. Heaven sent, and hell bent.